It is not Dishonorable to be Honorable

Tuesday, August 21, AD 2012

Chris Johnson, whom Donald has labeled as Defender of the Faith, sums up my feelings on the Todd Akin affair both here and here. Darwin also has an eminently sensible take. Meanwhile, Akin continues to labor under the delusion that he can still defeat Senator McCaskill this November, bolstered by this preposterously over-Republican sampled poll showing that he maintains a one point lead. Evidently his idiocy extends to issues beyond rape.

What’s remarkable is that a hefty proportion of conservatives are calling for Akin to withdraw. When Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Ann Coulter and (kinda sorta) Rush Limbaugh are all urging you to get out of the race, it’s a sign that it’s not just establishment “RINOs” that have turned against you.

Now I do also think that Levin and our own Bonchamps make good points about Democrat hypocrisy on this issue. That said, those few who continue to defend Akin are relying on the most obnoxious tu quoque strategy in order to justify Akin’s continued presence in the Missouri Senate race. Chris and Dana Loesch have been Akin’s most ardent supporters on twitter. They haven’t necessarily defended his statement, but they have insisted that because Democrats say and do much viler things, and because leftists tend to rally around those Democrats who say and defend stupid things, it’s wrong for conservatives and Republicans to insist that Akin get out. They argue that conservatives opposed to Akin are being cowards who are chickening out in the face of Democrat aggression.

First of all, I would argue that the more cowardly and politically weak-minded thing to do is to essentially cede what should be a fairly easy pick-up for Republicans. More importantly,  blind partisan loyalty is not a virtue to be emulated, and the proper response to gutter politics is not to get in the gutter with your opponents.

Let’s take a look at two comments left on Bonchamps’ post.

Yes women get pregnant from rapes. No your body doesn’t shut that down. If a man ejaculates semen into a woman, she can get pregnant whether it’s consensual or it’s rape. I knew a woman who did indeed get pregnant after being gang raped. It happens. Apparently you folks think rape is a joke. Hardy har.

This was downright erudite in comparison to this one:

i hope all of you get raped and then you can feel what it is like, bunch of hypocrites

If you read the comments on Congressman Akin’s facebook page announcing that he is staying in, you’ll see comments from conservatives supporting him, comments from conservatives politely asking him to step down, and comments from unhinged leftists who think that Akin’s comments are a sign that he and all Republicans want women shackled and subservient. Twitter is alive with comments from the likes of Michael Moore:

Don’t let the Repubs paint Akin as a lone nut. HE is THEM. They all believe this: Gov’t MUST have control over what women do w/ their bodies

This is a sentiment that has been echoed in various corridors.

There’s really no charitable way to put it: these people are obviously out of their gourd. These are people not interested in dialogue, nor or they people who can be reasoned with. Yet these are types of people that Akin supporters, in a sense, want to emulate. Instead of being reviled by the viciousness or ruthlessness of the hyper-partisans on the left, some on the right are consumed with the idea of “fighting fire with fire.”

Don’t get me wrong. The Akin supporters (by and large) have not said anything nearly as dumb or vile as these people. Yet instead of recognizing the behavior of the other side as something anti-social and to be avoided, it’s as though certain conservatives see this, dig in their heels, and insist on playing a somewhat milder version of the same game.

A lot of the people on the right behaving like that think that they are simply following in the path of the late Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart, of course, was largely beloved on the right because of his take no prisoners attitude, and because he had an amazing ability to beat the left at their own game. But there’s a difference between sticking to your guns and blind partisan loyalty. I can sympathize with individuals who believe that Republicans are too soft at times and easily back down from political fights. Yet, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that Republicans actually are willing to hold other Republicans’ feet to the fire. In other words, there is nothing dishonorable about being honorable. I don’t think blind partisanship is something we need more of.

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16 Responses to It is not Dishonorable to be Honorable

  • Logical reasoning is not the strong suit of leftists nor Todd Akin apparently. Does he not recognize that his statement essentially says that if a woman is raped and gets pregnant she must not have been stressed out? If she’s not stressed out it’s a short step to saying she must have liked it. This is the same ballpark as that Repub opponent and loser to Ann Richards in Texas who made some buffoonish comments himself about this subject.

    I must say that Dem oppo research is light years beyond Repubs. The Dems knew apparently that Akin was a loose cannon and made a wonderful patsy for the Dems even before the primary vote. Repubs in Missouri were clueless though. Are the Repubs ready this fall for the little surprises that the Dems have ready? I doubt it.

  • Claire McCaskill wants him to run. She considers him a wounded bird now and is ready to squash him.

  • I don’t want to get unhinged in denouncing Akin either. That’s something else I’ve been seeing as well from some on the conservative side.

    He made a terrible blunder, yes. He should quit the race, yes.

    But what he was trying to say was not the monstrously evil thing that the hysterical left is making it out to be. It shouldn’t have been said a) because it has NOTHING to do with the morality of abortion and b) the man obviously cannot articulate these finer points of anatomy.

    I’m not going to look at the man as an evil villain.

  • Well to be fair, what the democrats are usually defending is far more egregious than some politically incorrect use of terminology. In other words its usually the result of either criminal or immoral behavior on the part of the dem.

    If we as conservatives want him to step down then it should be to the extent that the severity of the offense requires stepping down as a matter of justice or prudence.

    That being said conservatives can be their own worst enemies because of the tendency to have our own fall on the sword for what is hardly a “legitimate” capital offense.

  • ” Does he not recognize that his statement essentially says that if a woman is raped and gets pregnant she must not have been stressed out? If she’s not stressed out it’s a short step to saying she must have liked it. ”

    No, you see, people who think this is what he said are the ones who lack logical reasoning abilities. People are reading absolutes into what he said, when he used words and phrases to indicate that he believed rape pregnancies were rare, but still possible. COULD he have meant “she must not have been stressed out”? Maybe, but I doubt it. I don’t think he ever insisted that stress = no pregnancy 100% of the time or even implied it. In any case, we simply don’t know what he meant at that moment.

    My hunch: he was trying to say that he didn’t believe that rape pregnancy happened often enough to justify the constant invocation of the “hard cases” (of which rape is one) to support legalized abortion. It is common knowledge that the vast majority of abortions are not performed on rape victims – anywhere between 97-99%, from what I have read.

    He didn’t need to get into this issue to simply say that abortion is never justifiable, no matter what the circumstances.

  • I agree, Bonchamps. I think part of what is driving the angst against him is sheer frustration. He made comments that harm the pro-life cause politically, and he seems unable and/or unwilling to put personal political ambition aside for the good of the country. But his comments were merely stupid, and not indicative that he personally hold odious political views.

  • If the Missouri re-elects McCasKILL babies and America re-elects Soetoro, leader of the choom gang, it will tell us more about Missouri and America than about the two hate-filled liars.

    Abandon hope.

  • It’s one thing to make a stupid comment – and what Akin said was very, very stupid. What does it say about women who were raped and made the courageous decision to have the baby? Are you going to tell them they weren’t “really” raped? It’s that he became stubborn and prideful and mistakes his stubbornness for principle. And Akins doubled down on stupid during his interview with Hannity today. He said he honestly didn’t know that women could get pregnant via rape. What, did he think sperm need a signed consent form? I’m as pro-life as anybody, but what Akins did not only hand our enemies ammo, he gave them an tank division. His comments play into all the worst stereotypes people have of pro-lifers: that they are ignorant bible-thumpers who are “anti-science” and that they are insensitive toward women. And now he apparently believes God gave him a mission to lead the country. No, where this could lead to is the Dems keeping control of the Senate, even if Romney is elected. Obamacare stays and what chances do those future to-be-aborted babies have then?

    I’m not saying he should have abandoned his principles – but you can state them without stepping in it like he did. And saying “But look at what Dem pols get away with” won’t work either. We’ve been pointing out the hypocrisy for years – it doesn’t stop them because the media shields and protects Dems and savagely exploits any GOP gaffes (just ask Sarah Palin). They are working hard to present Akin as “the face of the Republican Party.” While I pray that most voters will see though that, some gulliable idiots may be swayed – and if they are in swing states, that might be enough.

    I still think the wind is at our backs and remind myself that it is still August, not October. This might not be a fatal error, but it was a big unforced one, in a race we should have won in a walk, and I’ve felt as angry at Akin all day as I felt at John Roberts when the SCOTUS ruling on Obamacare came down – 2 men who might end up dragging the country down because of their own egos.

  • This whole episode is interesting to me. Akin makes an incorrect statement in reliance on material published by pro-life forces that proves to be wrong (apparently). Thus he accidentally embarrasses himself, his party and the pro-life movement. Instead, of making the best of it by removing himself from the race he insists on staying in. Understandable but selfish — or at least insufficiently selfless. This I understand. I also understand the Dems grabbing the opportunity to take profoundly unfair (and weird) inferential liberties with his statement to render it callous rather than simply mistaken. But Donna V?

  • Mike: I am not saying he is callous (although he is certainly ignorant of biology). What I said that that he will be portrayed by libs as someone who doesn’t care about women, because that is the charge they always made, and his words can very easily be twisted to look that way. Like I said, if you are saying someone who was raped can’t get pregnant, how do you think a woman who has been through the terrible experience of rape and DID get pregnant and DID have the baby feels to be told she must have consented in some way or she would not have conceived? Sure, he may have meant well, but no amount of spin or explaining is going to make that comment acceptable.

    Perhaps in a normal election year, he could have apologized and gotten away with that. But this is NOT a normal election year. The balance of power in the Senate determines the fate of Obamacare. If he had recognized that and stepped down, I would think of him as an honorable man. But instead, pride and ego has driven him to compound his error and possible disaster may result – disaster not only to the people of Missouri, but to the people of the United States.

    Well meaning people can do terrible things, Mike. And politicans who assure themselves that only they and they alone can do the Lord’s work scare me.

  • Honorable to allow that a controversy from error make room for someone the people in Missouri want to speak for them.

    Dishonorable that the President saw this as an opportunity to have something to say to his Press Corps after many weeks away from them.

    Dishonorable that the tolerance the liberal democrats demand does not include those who have different moral standards.

    Dishonorable that mudslinging has become the form of communication for liberal democrats to the detriment of citizens, young and old, here and abroad.

  • Also, if I may add, I believe life begins at conception and that is true whether the baby was conceived during a rape or not. I do not fault Akin’s stance on that. But – Lord, if they announced tomorrow that all abortions EXCEPT those conceived through rape and incest were illegal, I would be doing handsprings, not because I don’t care about the babies conceived via rape and incest, but because the number of abortions in this country would be reduced by 99%.

    The number of pro-life Americans are growing – but they define themselves as “pro-life” in different ways. Most people feel disgust at the thought of late-term abortions, other people would ban abortions past the first trimester and require parental notification of underage children seeking abortions. Yet, we still live in a country where babies can have their brains sucked out a day before the due date and 16 year olds who can’t buy beer legally yet are getting their second abortion. It is the replusion with that that (I believe) the pro-life movement needs to tackle first. Many people who hate the thought of late-term abortions say they’re OK with abortion in the case of rape and incest. They’re wrong, but let’s go after the areas in which there is broader agreement first, before we jump to the rape and incest question. This is a battle of hearts and minds, and it is really stupid to jump into what is, for many, the thorniest, more difficult part of the abortion debate before while the aspects of abortion that are more obviously wrong and evil to the “squishy middle” continue unabated.

    Let me use an analogy to slavery. If you traveled in a time machine back to 1850 and found yourself in a Northern town, you would find quite a few people who would agree with you that slavery is terrible and should be against the law. A smaller group would agree that “black people are humans like us.” An even smaller group would agree that “blacks are as intelligent as whites.” And very few would agree that “blacks should be able to be doctors and lawyers and should be able to marry white people.” Even very liberal whites in the 1850’s would have had a very difficult time with that – not because they were evil, but because they were creatures of their times, just as the “squshy middle, not against abortion in all cases” people are products of our time. So, you start with “Slavery is evil” and go from there. That’s not a denial of the fact that blacks can be equals in all ways, or that even products of rape and incest are humans deserving of life – it’s a recognition of where public opinion was (and is) at this point in time.

    Gee, will somebody let me know if I’m making sense here? 😉 I feel I’ve expressed myself so clumsily.

  • You are doing fine. I got your point and that’s what counts. Now to react,….

    1. Know that you are right. Life begins at conception. That is not debated or debatable. It is a scientific fact. And a moral certainty. On that point the argument is complete and robust. The rest follows in fairly straightforward logical fashion.

    2. How to make progress toward getting rid of abortion? The detailed strategy for getting rid of abortion is more a matter of prudential judgment. The Church will welcome an effective strategy. I prefer open discussion and confrontation (and I want to do it in front of an audience, not just one person). The strategy is to perform an abortion procedure on pro-abort arguments in systematic fashion. Keep pulling them out into the bright light, piece by piece, — that’s gross when you think about it, which is just what I intended.

    It is slow work, but you will not lose — they can never win on the merits. When you reduce the pro-abort to hysteria, you won. And make sure the observers/readers see what you did; do a good recap. Be kind to your opponent, show that you like and respect him personally, and go home a winner. The pro-abort will not admit having lost, but you might have helped a number of observers to the truth. Serve it out generously!

    You are doing fine.

  • Donna V,
    I understand and agree with your fundamental point, which is that something is better than nothing. I also would be thrilled if the law of the land permitted abortions only in cases of rape or to save the live of the mother. Not perfect, but only fools let the perfect be the enemy of the good. My quarrel is only with the notion that Akin said or even implied that rape victims cannot get pregnant. That is simply not true. He said it was rare and explained one reason why. It turns out that his reason may be shaky, though that is not entirely clear, and he can be faulted for not responding more thoughtfully. But he never remotely suggested that a rape victim could not get pregnant or that a pregnancy was proof that the sex was consensual. Only a person who deliberately twists words can make that accusation.

  • “Let me use an analogy to slavery. If you traveled in a time machine back to 1850…”

    … or more precisely, 1854, you might find Abraham Lincoln making the same kind of argument you suggest. He used the actions and words of the Founding Fathers and later statesmen to demonstrate that even though the Declaration and the Constitution allowed slavery, the framers had reached a moral consensus that it was a bad thing that should not be allowed to exist indefinitely. If slavery were not wrong, he argued, why would past Congresses and presidents have placed restrictions upon the slave trade, or attempted to set geographic boundaries beyond which slavery would not be permitted? Lincoln did not, prior to the Civil War, believe that action to free the slaves in existing slave states was warranted (so abolitionists thought him too soft on the issue), but he believed that slavery should be confined only to existing slave states and NOT allowed to expand into new territories via the Kansas Nebraska Act (which made him dangerously radical in the eyes of the pro-slavery crowd). That way, he figured, slavery would eventually die out on its own. (Or to uborrow the words of a much later SCOTUS justice concerning Roe, it was “on a collision course with itself.”) Of course, the Civil War broke out before that approach could be tried. What you are suggesting, Donna, is taking the same approach to abortion today that Lincoln took toward slavery in the 1850s.

  • To a certain extent, I think it is pretty amazing that a 100% pro-life candidate does not have an answer to that question. If we are going to win the debate.. we need to be actually capable of debating.

Condescender In Chief

Sunday, May 15, AD 2011

Charles Krauthammer has an excellent column about President Obama’s immigration speech in El Paso the other day.  Here’s a sample:

The El Paso speech is notable not for breaking any new ground on immigration but for perfectly illustrating Obama’s political style: the professorial, almost therapeutic, invitation to civil discourse, wrapped around the basest of rhetorical devices — charges of malice compounded with accusations of bad faith. “They’ll never be satisfied,” said Obama about border control. “And I understand that. That’s politics.”

How understanding. The other side plays “politics,” Obama acts in the public interest. Their eyes are on poll numbers, political power, the next election; Obama’s rest fixedly on the little children.

This impugning of motives is an Obama constant. “They” play politics with deficit reduction, with government shutdowns, with health care. And now immigration. It is ironic that such a charge should be made in a speech that is nothing but politics. There is zero chance of any immigration legislation passing Congress in the next two years. El Paso was simply an attempt to gin up the Hispanic vote as part of an openly political two-city, three-event campaign swing in preparation for 2012.

Accordingly, the El Paso speech featured two other staples: the breathtaking invention and the statistical sleight of hand.

Krauthammer continues, calling out the president for his abuse of statistics and his demagoguery.

For a man who has blown so much hot air about civility and changing the dialogue in Washington, President Obama has been in fact more overtly partisan than any president I can recall, and my political memory dates back to Reagan.  Most of the president’s major addresses contain the following elements:

1 Discussion of other side’s opposition to his plans in tone that suggests mild surprise and even outrage that other people have differing viewpoints.  President Obama often pays lip service to respecting other’s viewpoints, but when he actually gets around to discussing policy issues his tone becomes sarcastic and mocking, as though no sentient human being could possibly think other than he does.

2Erecting strawman arguments and mischaracterizing opponents’ positions. An absolute staple of any Obama speech, as highlighted by Krauthammer above.

3 – Testily dismissing opponents.  Having characterized his opponents as people who want to starve the elderly, children, women, Asians, Eskimos, and puppies, President Obama then concludes this portion of his speech with a metaphorical wave of his hand.  On several occasions he has quite literally said that Republican input was not welcome.

What a uniter, that guy.

And here’s the thing.  In a certain sense I don’t really care.  There were times during George Bush’s presidency that I wanted him to be a bit feistier and take on his opponents more fiercely.  Presidents are supposed to be above the fray, but that’s a bit of hogwash.  Presidents can be partisan crusaders as long as they keep it within respectful limits.  In other words, they should be above the level of your typical comment box antagonist.

Besides, when President Obama gets into sarcastic mode it’s one of the few times he almost seems human and non-boring.  Most of the time Obama displays two rhetorical styles: faux Martin Luther King Jr, and robot teleprompter reader.  Either he’s doing his worst impression of a dynamic speaker or else he sounds like someone who has just woken from a deep nap.  I don’t know who these people are that think he’s a great speaker, but frankly he rarely speaks like a normal man except when he’s cranky and sarcastic.  In fact, if he were more regularly sarcastic and petty then I might be able to sit through more of his talks.  At least then they would be entertaining.

No, what grates about his divisive rhetoric is that it contradicts all his campaign blabber from 2008.  Oh, sure, it’s the same nonsense we hear from all camps every election season, and I’m sure several GOP candidates this Fall and Winter will go out of their way to make some appeal to “curing our partisan discord.”  Hopefully I will have my bucket at the ready for such moments.  But not only has Obama not kept this unkeepable promise, he actually has gone above and beyond to completely obliterate any sense of being some kind of uniter.

Unfortunately we will never learn, and again we’ll fall for this cheap rhetoric in the future.  As I said, we’ll get more of the same in 2o12.  Like the rising of the sun and its setting, empty campaign promises of entering into some non partisan fairy land are sure bets.  Such meaningless dribble overlooks two facts of life:  there have been very few times in American history when we have not been subject to deep partisan divides, and there will never be a time in America where people do not have passionate beliefs that are irreconcilable with other beliefs.  That’s not to say we have to be jerks about it, but it should make us wake up to the reality that differences of opinion will always exist in a free country, and glossing over those differences by vacuous campaign rhetoric won’t bring us any closer to bridging those gaps.

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11 Responses to Condescender In Chief

  • “President Obama often pays lip service to respecting other’s viewpoints, but when he actually gets around to discussing policy issues his tone becomes sarcastic and mocking, as though no sentient human being could possibly think other than he does.”

    Prior to becoming President, Obama had lived his life in an ideological bubble where Republicans could be safely disregarded. He lucked into running in 2008 when any Democrat after the economic meltdown in September was going to win, especially when the Republican standard bearer was John McCain who seemed to be running for the award of “Good Loser-2008” rather than President. Next year the GOP, if it can pick a candidate who wants to win rather than to fill in a blank space on a resume as “Defeated Republican candidate for President-2012”, might be able to breach the Obama bubble.

  • Recently, President Obama and his enablers in the libidinous, left-wing media responded to Congressman Ryan’s serious fiscal proposals with harsh, partisan demagoguery (similar to leftist cathi-clueless intellectualls’ calumnies and detractions against John Boehner).

    There is no reasonable Dem fiscal policy proposal or even an iota of a willingness to negotiate or compromise.

    Today’s CPI, if ’twere calculated the way it was calculated prior to 1990, is above 10%, and the unemployment rate would be 15%. The MISERY INDEX is the sum of the current inflation rate and the unemployment rate. The MISERY INDEX would be 25, a record, horrid high. That eclipses the Carter record rotten MISERY INDEX of 22 in June 1980.

    A repeat of Carter calamity is looking more and more like a best case scenario.

  • By now everyone should know that Obama lies. Almost every time he opens his mouth a lie drips out. He lies without embarrassment. He lies easily and repeatedly. He lies, he lies, he lies. And he gets away with it because of the suck-up lamestream media.

  • SaguaroJack, all, you’re right on.

    It’s going to be tough for the GOP in ’12, they have to run against Obama and the MSM. The MSM will do everthing in it’s power to make the GOP candidate look bad.

  • Today’s CPI, if ’twere calculated the way it was calculated prior to 1990, is above 10%, and the unemployment rate would be 15%.

    It is an error to take Mr. ShadowStats seriously.

  • President Ronald Reagan was attacked daily – but he never did back down and won big and Whoever runs against Obama need only to state the facts as President Reagan did – he called Jimmy Carter out every chance he got – remember – “there he goes again” and President Reagan would ripe him a new one – that is all it will take to win – the TRUTH.

  • “I don’t know who these people are that think he’s a great speaker, but frankly he rarely speaks like a normal man except when he’s cranky and sarcastic.” I agree. I have always found the claims that he is a fantastic speaker to be mystifying. Fantastic how??? I think it must just be a charisma thing. He has none, as far as I am concerned, but to the people who love him he doesn’t have to say or do anything, he just has to BE.

  • I don’t know where Stacy McCain ‘stands’ on Obama. Here is a quote.

    “Frankly, I think our current president still has a good way to go before he can merit the claim of being worse than Jimmy Carter, and too many Americans have forgotten exactly how wretched Jimmy was.”

    I think we are getting ‘there.’

  • This love of Obama is nothing other than idolatry. Being involved in nuclear energy, I know several very intelligent and competent nuclear engineers who are bloggers and yet are so in love with the “first black president” that nothing he says could be anything other than words from the mouth of Polymnia, muse of song and oratory. These bloggers know science and engineering to a depth that is astounding. But their minds are deceived and their hearts are hardened. It is almost as if a satanic spell is cast over their eyes and ears.

    The same is sadly true of liberal Demokrat “Catholics.”

  • Even when Obama is mocking good people, he has to use a teleprompter. When he speaks to grade school children, he needs a teleprompter. When expressing sadness about the injury of his friend Gaby Giffords, he needs a teleprompter. There are those who believe that Obama is charismatic and inspirational – he seems to deflate when his teleprompter misfunctions – he is only as intelligent as his teleprompter allows him to be. He has become more and more condescending and deceitful since being elected president. He seems to believe that he is irreplaceable – he will find out how wrong he is in 2012.

  • By the way, Obama is not the first ‘black’ president – he is bi-racial, raised by his white family.

The Advantage of Ideology

Thursday, July 8, AD 2010

One of the main problems with politics is that it is complicated. Take, for example, the recently passed health care bill. The bill was over 2,000 pages. I haven’t read it. Neither, I imagine, have most of our readers (indeed, it would not surprise me if no single person has read every word of the bill, though obviously each of the bill’s many provisions has been read by someone).

Of course, even if someone had read every word of the bill, this would not be sufficient to have a truly informed position on it. To have a truly informed position one would have to not only read the bill but understand it. And to do that would require a great deal of knowledge about fields as complicated and diverse as the law, medicine, political science, economics, bureaucratic management, etc.

And, mind you, even if one were somehow able to master and muster all of this information, that would only entitle one to a have a truly informed position on that one bill.

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  • I want to offer an alternative take on ideology. My starting point is the definition by the under-recognized genius of North American psychology, Silvan S. Tomkins.

    “Ideology is a tightly-woven set of ideas about things about which he can be least certain and therefore are most passionate.”

    What is the correct way to raise a child or a create a just and equal society? Are numbers discovered or invented.

    There are ideologies in all fields of human endeavor and we need to be as critical of our own ideologies as those of our opponents.

    Tomkins points out that all ideologies required faith precisely because of our inability to be certain.
    Thus there is the faith of the scientist and the Marxist, and the Christian.

    I think this approach is more fruitful and an accurate description of human affairs.

    Ideologies may be simple or complex whether of the right or the left. We are all ideologues. Pretending otherwise simply hides the rage and hate that is counter-productive to intelligent discussion and displaces them on to our ideological opponents.

    “We are rational; you are a destuctive ideologue.” This comes from both the right and the left. We need to debate critically all ideologies on their content, conservative vs liberal ideology.

    Let’s not pretend everyone of us without exception is an ideologue of a thousand ideologies about all sorts of things. We need to hold them lightly and critically lest we destroy each other with our unacknowledged and counter-productive passions, as Tocqueville has warned us.

  • Very interesting. Is there anything that can be done to get ideologues to realize the limits of their knowledge? Is there any way to get them to place their trust in people with more complex ideologies?

  • Excellent post here. I would elaborate on this further to say that, for the same reasons you find it impossible not to rely upon ideology/politics, I and others would find it impossible not to rely, at least to some extent, upon political action committees and lobbyists to advocate for the policies we favor.

    I know it’s practically de rigeur to decry the influence of lobbyists, PACs, etc. upon the political process — and don’t get me wrong, there is much that could be changed — but the bottom line is, lobbyists and PACs are simply individuals or groups who make it their full time job to track, advocate, and oppose legislation on behalf of other concerned citizens who don’t have the time, ability, or resources to do it themselves.

    Individual letters, e-mails, etc. are of course valuable, but the fact remains, if it weren’t for groups like the National Right to Life Committee, Susan B. Anthony List, state Catholic Conferences or National/State (fill in the blank) Associations writing newsletters, sending out action alerts, organizing trips to Washington or state capitals, etc. we’d have an even harder time getting our viewpoints heard. Of course, “our” lobbyists are devoted, hardworking advocates but “theirs” are merely fat cats trying to buy influence 🙂

  • I agree wholeheartedly about the limits of ideology; but I’m skeptical about your bias towards action. Why must we form an opinion about every political topic? Is articulating an uninformed and ideologically biased opinion a more valuable contribution to the common good than a simple statement that one is not informed enough to comment? It seems to me that on-line, at least, we have no shortage of the former, and that the effect is hardly salutary.

    For example, I have an antecedent bias against the current financial reform bill; this is based on my work experience with Sarbanes-Oxley, and a number of textbooks and papers I’ve read over the years that suggest to me as a general matter that Congressmen are woefully ignorant on these topics and that their actions are likely to do more harm than good.

    At the same time, I have not read the current financial reform bill or even enough secondary commentary on the bill to form an educated opinion. I am certain there is some wheat mixed with chaff (even a blind squirrel finds an acorn, etc.). For that reason, I’ve elected not to form a strong opinion about the bill one way or the other because, while I have ideological presuppositions, I lack a firm basis for their application in this circumstance. Forming an educated opinion about something is hard work. And most people have neither the time or the inclination (and sometimes the intellectual ability) to put in that hard work.

    I think your defense of ideology is fine insofar as it acknowledges a basic truth about the limits of being human; we cannot learn and think through everything, and so we must rely on ideologies and authority as shortcuts for decision-making in every day life. But I don’t see why we shouldn’t insist on ideology plus knowledge for political discourse (as opposed to every day life) – without both knowledge and ideology political discourse is, in my experience, a waste of time. I only care that my accountant can do my taxes; if he’s a 9/11 truther or has ‘questions’ about Obama’s birth certificate, that’s not really my problem as long as he does his job well. A political commentator who expresses such opinions, on the other hand, is pernicious, and I’d rather he or she either learned their facts or stopped talking. To put the point too strongly, it seems to me you’re suggesting they should just keep spewing ideological nonsense on the grounds that ideology is necessary (I agree it may be inevitable that they will keep spreading nonsense either way; I’m just not sure it’s desirable). Why shouldn’t we insist that people take the time to form educated opinions before opining?

  • How do political principles fit into the understanding of ideology you present here?

    Do you think there is such a thing as a true political principle?

  • Zach,

    A good political principle is one that is true in most, but not necessarily all, cases. One could perhaps come up with examples of political principles that were true in all cases, but I suspect they would be either overly complicated or vacuous.

  • Given the definitions here, it seems to me that probably there is a happy balance to be found between ideology and partisanship, in that based on an a set of ideological principles which hold true most of the time, one accepts the judgment of factions or individuals who also accept those principles as to how to apply those principles to individual circumstances and whether to make exceptions.

    One other though, in regards to John Henry’s point: I’d agree that it’s sometimes advisable not to sound off too much about a particular issue due to one’s lack of specific knowledge, however, I don’t think that necessarily means supporting (or not opposing) a specific measure. Though, of course, that may in turn be another ideological distinction: broadly speaking conservatives following “when in doubt, don’t change anything” approach while progressives follow a “when in doubt, redesign and regulate” approach.

  • BA,

    When I read the title of your post, I immediately completed the thought with: “…is that it lowers the transaction costs of political participation.”

    I didn’t even have to read the article because all that economics ideology did it for me. 🙂

  • Though, of course, that may in turn be another ideological distinction: broadly speaking conservatives following “when in doubt, don’t change anything” approach while progressives follow a “when in doubt, redesign and regulate” approach.

    I think that’s right. I guess my proposed ‘shut up unless you’re fully informed’ standard is open to two pretty strong critiques (and I’m sure there are others):

    1) It’s unrealistic; that’s not how people operate and it might actually hurt the level of discourse (a half-informed BA is probably better than the vast majority of partisans out there). It requires some level of sophistication for a person to even realize how uninformed they are – and those are hardly the people we want to exclude.

    2) There’s little evidence that the politicians who enact legislation meet this standard; if the people passing the laws often are guided by crude simplifications and caricatures, it’s not clear that citizens should be held to a higher standard in critiquing their votes.

  • John Henry,

    I think the issue you are raising is the issue of democracy. Throughout most of human history societies have been governed by a small elite, which in theory possessed a greater level of ability than average and could devote more time to studying the subject. Over the past few hundred years, more and more people have come around to the view that you can’t really trust a small group to act in the interest of society as a whole, and that whatever is gained in terms of increased information by those in politics is more than outweighed by the risk of self-dealing. On the other hand, most societies don’t operate via direct democracy, so there is still a sense that some level of expertise among the policy makers is advantageous, though it must be kept in check.

    If you want to decrease the role of ideology in politics, you have a couple of options. One would be to decrease your reliance on democracy. That might mean more reliance on experts or other authority figures, or it might involve a more libertarian approach, where certain questions are left up to the individual to decide for him or herself.

    The other option is education. The more educated a populace, the more sophisticated their views are likely to be. I don’t think it’s an accident that the rise of democracy and the rise of education have gone hand in hand.

  • Pingback: Round Up – August 6, 2010 « Restrained Radical

The Bi-Partisanship Fallacy

Wednesday, October 14, AD 2009

There’s a school of thought which greatly admires “bi-partisan” approaches to solving political problems. The idea of representatives and senators putting aside their differences to “reach across the aisle” and work together seems admirably, if only because our social training all points towards the importance of compromise in order to get along with others.

However, I’d like to question whether there are often pieces of legislation which are genuinely bi-partisan.

Some legislation is essentially non-partisan. Instituting a national alert system to help track down kidnapped children, for instance, is hardly something which has a major political faction aligned against it.

In other cases, there’s legislation which applies to factions within each party — a result of the fact that our two major political parties include sub-factions which disagree with each other on major issues. For instance, “bi-partisan” immigration reform might draw support both from the business faction within the GOP and the pro-immigration faction within the Democratic Party, while being opposed by labor focused Democrats and immigration focused Republicans.

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12 Responses to The Bi-Partisanship Fallacy

  • However, I’d like to question whether there are often pieces of legislation which are genuinely bi-partisan.

    Legislation supported by Olympia Snowe + Democrats = “bipartisan”!

  • I have a dim view of ‘bi-partisanship’

    To paraphrase Tom Woods: Americans have two parties- the stupid party and the evil party. Once in a while, they come together to do things both stupid and evil. This is called ‘bi-partisanship’.

  • I’m inclined to agree with Anthony. Any bill that passes overwhelmingly is liable to be a bad idea (the a national alert system being a case in point).

    Judging by common usage, I would say that a “bi-partisan” is a Democrat initiative with some Republican support. Republican initiatives don’t count as bi-partisan, even if they have the support of lots of Democrats.

  • Republican initiatives don’t count as bi-partisan, even if they have the support of lots of Democrats.

    That, or if there is a Republican initiative which gained support from some Democrats and actually worked out, it becomes the property of the Democrats, such as “Clinton’s welfare reform”.

  • In California we have a governor who does nothing when it comes to the will of the people and yet screams out in defense of his policies, “we have reached accross the aisle and have come to an agreement.” It seems to me that many times bi-partisanship is just an excuse to do what they want, the people be “darned”.

  • Obama lauded Olympia Snowe for her support of a ‘bi-partisan’ bill…does one ‘yes’ vote from a Republican make the bill bi-partisan? I don’t think so…

  • NCLB seemed to be bipartisan (stupid and evil it has been called by some, of course). One could argue that Obama’s inclusion of tax cuts as such a large portion of the stimulus package was a failed attempt to make it bipartisan.

  • To the extent that the two parties really do represent different political philosophies

    Indeed. Material for a post or ten, me thinks.

  • I thought everything from Wasington was bi-partisan since I can’t tell the difference between the Demoncrats and the Republican’ts. Is there a difference?

    Would that we had two parties rather than the tax more and tax a lot more party and the kill babies and proud of it and kill babies but pretend to have a problem with it party.

    Does anyone really fall for this malarkey?

  • I can’t tell the difference between the Demoncrats and the Republicant’s. Is there a difference?

    Well, you can’t tell the difference between certain Catholics and Protestants these days; so, it ain’t surprising.

    Besides, one need only look to California’s governor: a Demoncrat in RepubliCath’s clothing!

  • Really? I though it was a metal alloy skeleton with live human flesh on the outside.

  • To my knowledge, the only good thing about the Governator in whose state I am glad to no longer be a resident is that he’s not Grey Davis — but that’s a pretty meager accomplishment, and people have gotten rightly tired of it by now.

16 Responses to Was Kennedy "More Right Than Wrong"?

  • Actually Kennedy was more Left than either Right or Catholic, and that was his whole problem.

  • Outstanding post, Darwin!

    Kennedy is being lauded by the Catholic left for being a far-left Democrat, but they’re trying to dress it up as something more (witness Sr. Fiedler’s “he made me proud to be Catholic”). That’s the sum total of the lionizing the so-called “Lion of the Senate” is receiving by “progressive” Catholics.

  • Abortion, and the outrageous judicial power grab that forced it from the democratic process, is the most important issue in the public sphere.

    Here, Sen. Kennedy was a grave failure – both in his lamentable treatment of Judge Bork and in the many lamentable votes he cast related to the issues of life, abortion first among them.

    Just as his detractors should respect his passing and leave the scoring of “political points” for another time, so too should partisans like Winters and various bloggers refrain from elevating Kennedy as a great “Catholic example.”

    On the biggest issue of our time, he was gravely in the wrong.

  • Pingback: Was Kennedy “More Right Than Wrong”? | Pelican Project Pro-Life
  • To dismiss his career because of his stance on abortion is to be ignorant of the complicated way the issue of abortion manifested itself in the early 1970s: I think Kennedy got it wrong but I do not find it difficult to understand why and how he got it wrong. If the pro-life leaders would stop ranting for a second and study that history they might become more effective at advancing their cause.

    I find this paragraph fascinating. Mr. Winters apparently believes that all he has to do is assert that something is ‘complicated,’ and that ‘only ignorance’ could account for the criticism Mr. Kennedy received, and voila, it’s washed away. Moreover, if pro-lifers – you know, Catholics who agree with the Church – would stop ‘ranting,’ they would be able to more effectively advance their cause (despite the Herculean efforts of politicians like Mr. Kennedy to prevent such advancement, it is supposed).

    The fact of the matter, of course, is that Mr. Kennedy fought tooth and nail against the protection of unborn life. It was a deliberate political decision that was both tragic and reflected a near-complete rejection of the Catholic conception of the human person and the common good. His accomplishments in other areas should be given their due, but his faults were very real. Let’s not ignore either, particularly with patronizing nonsense about how ‘complicated’ abortion was in the 1970’s (through the late oughts?), or how voting along party lines was somehow a deep reflection of Catholic conviction. I should add that my intention here is to criticize Mr. Winters, rather than Mr. Kennedy. It is telling that Mr. Winters, while stating that he thinks Mr. Kennedy was wrong about abortion, shows far more sympathy to Mr. Kennedy than to either his “fellow” pro-lifers or the persons for which they seek legal protection.

  • It perplexes me that so much attention and credibility to given to a writer at AMERICA [THE Catholic weekly, except THE Catholic weekly is the Nat Cath Rep, except that Commonweal is THE Catholic weekly …].

    That journal [and the others] are quietly but vociferously declining. They are as like as peas in a pod. They have nothing interesting to say. Be kind; let them expire.

  • “I am an American and a Catholic; I love my country and treasure my faith,” Kennedy said. “But I do not assume that my conception of patriotism or policy is invariably correct, or that my convictions about religion should command any greater respect than any other faith in this pluralistic society. I believe there surely is such a thing as truth, but who among us can claim a monopoly on it?”

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32595251/ns/politics-edward_kennedy_19322009/

    Vile, pure and simple.

    What can be more wrong than facilitating and, thereby, enabling the deaths of what will amount to be so many millions of children?

    “Cruel & Unusual Punishment” has nothing on deliberate dissection of your very person while still alive in your mother’s womb!

    If only Catholics would stop trivializing abortion (and, more importantly, stop abortion altogether) as if it were some casual thing to be selected on some diner menu, then perhaps they would start acting and, even more, start being “Catholic”!

  • “I think we can be assured that such a deviation from liberal orthodoxoy would be considered far less “incidental” by Catholic progressives than his deviation from Church teaching on abortion.”

    Sadly, I believe this observation is 100% accurate.

  • A friend of mine remarked in an email that even those Catholics who didn’t have much respect for Kennedy attempted to deal initially with his death with sympathy. That it was the over the top attempt by some on the left to virtually canonize the reprobate that basically called for voices to be raised in service of truth.

    If I read something like that a couple days ago, I would have rejected the idea that we should take the bait and speak up. Not today. The attempts by the leftist ideologues to write a hagiography on Kennedy has only served to make us recall and shine a light on his true character and deeds. Let’s pray for him because if he’s going to experience the Beatific Vision it’s not going to be because of his defining deeds but in spite of them.

  • Rick,

    I have to agree. One would like to let time pass to assess the man. But at the same time, if that time is used to distort the record, then the demands of truth AND charity require speaking up.

  • Rick, you took the words right out of my mouth.

    Because Ted Kennedy’s life and legislative legacy have been so overrated and puffed up by the mainstream media and liberals, some on the other side can’t resist the temptation to go equally overboard in trashing him. I have in mind those bloggers (not here, of course) who were absolutely vicious about his cancer diagnosis and saying he deserved to suffer as much as possible, or those right now who are openly saying he is or should be burning in hell and expressing glee at the prospect.

    Gifted speaker, yes. Skilled politician, sure.
    Champion of the poor and downtrodden (provided they made it out of the womb intact), maybe.
    Lion of the Senate on a par with, say, Daniel Webster or Henry Clay — I don’t think so.
    Exemplary Catholic politician — excuse me while I go get a barf bag.

  • Has anyone read Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer column? Check it out here

  • The fact of the matter, of course, is that Mr. Kennedy fought tooth and nail against the protection of unborn life. It was a deliberate political decision that was both tragic and reflected a near-complete rejection of the Catholic conception of the human person and the common good.

    John Henry’s point is very important in understanding Kennedy’s legacy to Catholics in America. In rejecting the human-dignity principle, Kennedy kicked the base from under the many authentic human-rights causes he espoused–and thereby rendered almost all of them suspect in the minds of Catholics loyal to the magisterium. Some of these Catholics today reject not only Kennedy’s party but every plank in its platform–sometimes just because it is in that platform. Those who remain Democrats tend to cite their support for an assortment of “progressive” causes as evidence of their faith, even as their opposition to basic tenets of Catholic teaching–and to the authorities who periodically remind them of those tenets–grows ever more strident.

    There is no way to throw holy water on the ugly divide in American Catholicism that Senator Kennedy’s cynical choices may not have caused but certain helped to entrench. Everyone who posts here today but used to post on Vox Nova surely understands and regrets it.

  • I believe there surely is such a thing as truth, but who among us can claim a monopoly on it

    What garbage. If you cannot know the truth, what good is it?

  • Pingback: Which Comes First, the Church or the Party? « The American Catholic

Lesser of Two Evils or Worthy of Honor

Friday, April 17, AD 2009

Since the Notre Dame controversy has all the staying power of an inebriated relative after a dinner party, I’ll attempt one more brief comment on it.

It is a disappointment to me, though hardly a surprising one, that just about everyone in the Catholic blogsphere who advocated voting for Obama in the first place (or sympathized with those who did) now find so much to object to in those Catholics (including quite a few bishops — all who have address the topic to my knowledge) who are upset at Obama being made the commencement speaker for Notre Dame and awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

The argument, which was made frequently enough during the election, was that while Obama was far from perfect (and, we were always assured, the speaker was indeed deeply troubled by his positions on abortion) he was the better of two distinctly poor alternatives available on the ballot.

If such was one’s true position, I disagree, but with a fair amount of respect.  Sometimes both options available are very bad, and choosing the lesser of two evils is quite the judgment call.

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67 Responses to Lesser of Two Evils or Worthy of Honor

  • To be clear,

    I think the decision to honor Obama is wrong, and that the bishops are right to speak out against it.

    My problem was more with the tone of the com-boxers and others. Critique is one thing, wrath is another. I stick with what my priest told us about wrath; it is only moral when it is proportionate and productive. If it doesn’t lead to anything but a cathartic release, or a sense of righteousness, then it is a self-indulgent sin. I’ve confessed it more than once.

    Some people can’t or won’t make the distinction between principles and tactics. Disagree with one, and you necessarily hate the other. It is a distortion of logic to say the least. If I can’t disapprove of your tactics without simultaneously being opposed to your principles, then what you want is a cult following, not a rational discussion. Why should anyone have to put up with that?

  • I meant the general “you”. Not you Darwin.

  • My position is that I am upset about those who are making a huge deal about this because 1) they are singling out Obama but have had no problems with other anti-life politicians (like Bush and C. Rice) being similarly honored by Catholic institutions, so their protests ring hollow, and 2) because very few people are distinguishing between Obama receiving an honorary degree and him simply giving the commencement address, and 3) the over-the-top rhetoric is simply hateful and, quite frankly, insane. The latest letter this blog posted, from the bishop of Lincoln, is proof of that.

  • Michael I.,

    Considering that you’re an expert on hate and hating and accuse others of such nonsense is silly.

  • Catholic Anarchist, when pro-life Republicans were confronted with Rudolph Giuliani being a serious contender in 08, we made it clear to all and sundry, through the Stop Rudy movement and other efforts, that he was unacceptable and that we would prefer defeat to having him as the nominee. Leftists like yourself who claim to be pro-life, excluding the honorable exceptions, largely flocked to the banner of Obama, as you did, because the struggle against abortion is simply not very important to them compared to other political goals. Now you bash those of us outraged that Notre Dame is giving a forum to the most pro-abortion President in our nation’s history, a man who has raised campaign funds touting his opposition to banning the barely disguised infanticide known as partial birth abortion. Frankly Catholic Anarchist, since you are a de facto pro-abort, I would have been astonished if you had not behaved in just the fashion you have. For an anarchist, you are very predictable.

  • Meanwhile, you can add Bishop George Lucas of Springfield to the list of bishops addressing the Notre Dame mess/issue/scandal/disgrace/abomination. He states in this week’s issue of Catholic Times:

    “It is hard to imagine the university honoring someone, no matter his office, who had consistently spoken against the value of football. We are not being unreasonable when we expect the value of human life to be a central focus of a Catholic university.”

  • I personally would be satisfied, or at least less disturbed, if Notre Dame withdrew the honorary degree or if Obama decided not to accept it, and just went ahead with the commencement address. However, that really should have been done from the outset, and to do so now would be too little, too late. Also, if the “commencement” address were given separately from the commencement — say, the day before, at a different venue or somewhere off-campus, with ND graduates and their family given first crack at seating IF they choose to attend. That way, the graduation itself isn’t ruined for anyone who is either scandalized by the whole thing or just doesn’t want to deal with the security and media which are bound to be there.

    As I have stated in a previous post, I attended Eureka College while Reagan was president and saw how much security and media attention was imposed on the graduation Reagan spoke at. If there had also been a huge number of protesters there it would have been even worse. I expect that is what will occur at ND.

  • And I have to add this: Reagan didn’t come to my graduation, and even though I and my parents voted for Reagan and agreed with what he stood for, we were glad he didn’t. My elderly grandmother, both my parents and my brother came to my graduation and were really stressed out and snapping at one another by the end of the day.

    I can just imagine what it would have been like had they been marched through a gauntlet of Secret Service people and reporters. I can also only imagine what it would have been like for them had they been die-hard liberal Democrats who despised nearly everything he stood for. We probably would have just skipped the whole thing and had the diploma sent in the mail.

  • Agreed Elaine. I found my commencements to be crashing bores. When I got my JD I skipped the general commencement at the U of I and sold my tickets for a good price. My wife, then my fiancee, did the same. I wish I had scalped my lawschool commencement tickets also, since I found it tedious beyond belief.

  • Catholic Anarchist, when pro-life Republicans were confronted with Rudolph Giuliani being a serious contender in 08, we made it clear to all and sundry, through the Stop Rudy movement and other efforts, that he was unacceptable and that we would prefer defeat to having him as the nominee.

    I remember that movement. I supported it because of Guiliani’s anti-life views on abortion and war. I do not recall the republicatholic part of the movement saying that they would “prefer defeat.” Can you point me to that official statement?

    Leftists like yourself who claim to be pro-life, excluding the honorable exceptions, largely flocked to the banner of Obama, as you did, because the struggle against abortion is simply not very important to them compared to other political goals. Now you bash those of us outraged that Notre Dame is giving a forum to the most pro-abortion President in our nation’s history, a man who has raised campaign funds touting his opposition to banning the barely disguised infanticide known as partial birth abortion. Frankly Catholic Anarchist, since you are a de facto pro-abort, I would have been astonished if you had not behaved in just the fashion you have. For an anarchist, you are very predictable.

    I’m predictable? You are so predictable (and utterly boring) that I suspect you have this little passage saved on your computer and you cut-and-paste in whenever you need to tell a non-republicatholic that he or she is “really” a “pro-abort.” Just because you can repeat this nonsense over and over does not make it true.

    As I have said repeatedly, I oppose Obama receiving an honorary degree precisely because of his views, and more importantly his actions on abortion. If the bishops who have spoken out (relatively few) and you loudmouth republicatholic bloggers would focus on THAT and not get into the business of condemning Notre Dame and making personal attacks on Fr Jenkins’ personal faith, I could agree with you. But as usual, you turn into a bunch of blowhards eager to prove your own supposed piety and “respect” for life when you are, in fact, woefully inconsistent.

  • You can say that again. My brother graduated from Illinois State. The ceremony consisted of a five-minute speech by the chancellor, then sitting on hard chairs for 2 1/2 hours in a sweaty auditorium listening to 800 names being read. We had to sit through about 400 of them to get to my brother, since “Krewer” is in the middle of the alphabet 🙂 When my husband graduated from University of Illinois at Springfield, we didn’t even bother going. (Our married name, which I don’t use on this blog, is farther down in the alphabet.)

  • “I remember that movement. I supported it because of Guiliani’s anti-life views on abortion and war. I do not recall the republicatholic part of the movement saying that they would “prefer defeat.” Can you point me to that official statement?”

    We said it many times Catholic Anarchist, including in this thread on an obscure blog you may be familiar with, where “Alexham”, the founder of the movement, and I made our intentions quite clear.

    http://vox-nova.com/2007/11/27/rudys-evolution-on-abortion/

    Of course Catholic Anarchist, when put to the test, you went with your Leftist agenda, threw unborn children under the bus, and climbed on the Obama campaign bus.

  • Of course Catholic Anarchist, when put to the test, you went with your Leftist agenda, threw unborn children under the bus, and climbed on the Obama campaign bus.

    Once again, just because you can repeat some cliches does not make them true. I did not “campaign” for Obama.

  • Having read how terrible are those Conservatives who make a fuss about Fr. Jenkin’s awarding an honorary degree to Mr. Obama, I note with bemusement Mr. Lafrate’s words about the Conservatives:
    “You are so predictable [and utterly boring]…”
    “You loudmouth repubicatholic bloggers…”
    “Bunch of blowhards…”.

  • Climbed on board the campaign bus Catholic Anarchist is my way of saying you supported Obama. It goes nicely with my comment about you throwing the unborn children under the bus by your decision to support Obama.

  • Gabriel – Glad you got a kick out of it.

    Climbed on board the campaign bus Catholic Anarchist is my way of saying you supported Obama.

    I made pretty clear the extent to which I “supported” him. Too bad you ignored what I said.

    It goes nicely with my comment about you throwing the unborn children under the bus by your decision to support Obama.

    Only if you’re illiterate, and if you feel comfortable MAKING JOKES about throwing fetuses under buses. Unlike you, I don’t make jokes like that. Hope you’re proud of yourself, old man!

  • Oh, that part wasn’t a joke Catholic Anarchist. For you unborn children are completely expendable in order to accomplish more important political goals. The ironic thing is none of those other goals are probably going to be realized, certainly not in regard to foreign policy. You sold out on the issue of abortion for bupkis.

    You know, for someone who finds me boring, you certainly do spend a lot of time responding to my posts and comments on this blog.

  • You can keep repeating it, but it doesn’t make it true. Keep saying it. We’ll keep laughing, old man!

  • Glad you think dead babies are so funny!

  • Actually Catholic Anarchist you are the one repeating yourself. You have also been guilty of two ageism insults. It certainly doesn’t matter to me, since I have used my 52 years on this Earth productively, (besides my 14 year old daughter is a grandmaster at age jokes slung in my direction) but I am concerned that you may have to go to a progressive version of Confession in order to purge yourself of your sin against the PC gods.

  • How many more dead baby jokes do you think you can make in this thread, Don?

  • I’ve made none Catholic Anarchist. How many more dead unborn children do you think will result in this country and around the world from the pro-abortion policies of the man you voted for to be President?

  • More than what? The administration of the formerly pro-choice John McCain? The formerly pro-choice George W. Bush? The formerly pro-choice George H. W. Bush? The formerly pro-choice Ronald Reagan?

    I have no idea what results Obama’s abortion policies will bring. Neither do you.

    But leave it to you to make jokes about their deaths, feeling smug about having voted the “right way.” Haha, right?

  • I didn’t think the remark about throwing unborn children “under the bus” was meant as a joke at all, but rather as a metaphor for casting aside someone or something that is no longer useful to one’s cause. In that context, it would be entirely appropriate to say that Catholics who cast aside concern for life issues in their eagerness to elect Obama did indeed throw unborn children “under the campaign bus” in a figurative sense.

    Illinois residents may recall this this phrase having been used by Chicago Alderman Dick Mell to describe his now infamous son-in-law, ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, as someone who would “throw anyone under the bus” who got in the way of his ambitions.

  • I didn’t think the remark about throwing unborn children “under the bus” was meant as a joke at all, but rather as a metaphor for casting aside someone or something that is no longer useful to one’s cause. In that context, it would be entirely appropriate to say that Catholics who cast aside concern for life issues in their eagerness to elect Obama did indeed throw unborn children “under the campaign bus” in a figurative sense.

    It was not a joke in the sense of seeking to garner laughs. But Donald proves through his use of such language that he has absolutely no respect for the lives he claims to want to save. He’s only interested in voting the right way to preserve his moral “purity” while he kisses his grandkids and feels good about himself.

    Of course, the men he voted for have been directly responsible for the deliberate killing of human beings, but he could care less because they were (mostly) not pure little white american babies.

    The laugh is on him.

  • And once again Michael tries to depict opposition to abortion as somehow inspired by racism. What a hackish and unCatholic liar.

  • And once again Michael tries to depict opposition to abortion as somehow inspired by racism.

    Not at all, pal! Because I too am opposed to abortion! It is Donald’s disregard for human beings who are nto american and not babies that seems to be inspired by racism. In fact, one could say that Donald has “thrown Iraqis under the bus” because he did not oppose the Iraq War, right?

  • Above, the “nto” means “not,” ok?

  • Well then, Michael, if you ever use metaphors such as “walk through a minefield,” “drop the bomb,” “take no prisoners,” “go nuclear,” or “declare war on (fill in the blank)”, should we regard that as proof that you have no respect for the lives of civilians or soldiers killed in war and that your anti-war stances are therefore totally hypocritical?

  • Elaine – Donald’s views on respect for human life are inconsistent. And he’s proud of it. If I used those phrases in the way that Donald does, and if I demonstrated some inconsistency in who I regard worthy of respect when it comes to human life, sure, go to town and call me “hypocritical.” Have fun!

  • Joe,

    Yes, to be honest I think the topic has been discussed to much. Notre Dame University was wrong, it’s that simple. And I think little is gained from repeating the point and getting worked up. (Though at the same time, though I dislike the protest mentality, I have to admit that there are some good things that have come of protests. Civil rights comes to mind. And I fear that I am probably very much indicted by Martin Luther King’s discussion of what “moderate” civil rights supporters were like in the 60s.)

    Michael,

    I see no evidence that Donald lacks regard for lives which are not American and/or not babies. Can it.

    All,

    I have the feeling that things are going down hill on this thread. And so if anyone says anything rude before I complete my martini (which will take me roughly ten minutes) I will delete his or her comment[s].

  • I see no evidence that Donald lacks regard for lives which are not American and/or not babies. Can it.

    Could it be that you have similar views and this prevents you from having any sort of critical distance from Donald’s views? Just a question. Not trying to be rude. Enjoy your drink.

  • No, I think it’s that Donald and I both have a lot of regard for lives which are not American and/or not babies, but that you and we have very different ideas of what is actually conducive to helping others. And I think we’d all be a lot better off if we all kept that in mind before lobbing accusations.

    Speaking of helping others, try 1.5oz Plymouth Gin, 0.5oz Noilly Prat dry vermouth and a dash or orange bitters with two olives.

    Mmmmmm.

  • Even if you think that support for the Iraq war was racist (not at all proven), it’s being a bully to conflate the issues by accusing someone of opposing abortion only for “pure little white American babies.” That is, it is a complete lie to suggest that anyone around here is opposed to abortion only or primarily as to white babies . . . folks oppose abortion all around.

  • Darwin – I’m having a St Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, straight from Montreal.

    …you and we have very different ideas of what is actually conducive to helping others.

    Stress on the word “very” of course. You and S.B. and Donald are open to killing people as a way of “helping” them. I am not.

  • It may be a bit of a segue but Obama also threw his primary opponent for senate, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and his aged white grandmother under the bus. So the unborn CHILDREN are in good company when it comes to this guy’s political agenda.

  • You and S.B. and Donald are open to killing people as a way of “helping” them. I am not.

    It is at the door, Rabadash. It is lifting the latch…

  • Catholic Anarchist, as I have observed before, it is going to be a very long four years for you. Better attempt to sharpen up on those rationalizations of your support for the most pro-abort president in our nation’s history. You are going to need them.

  • Michael,

    The charge of racism directed toward anyone who is anti-abortion is horribly inconsistent given that in this country a disproportionate number of minority child are the victims of abortion. Planned Parenthood, darling “health care provider” of the left intentionally sets up facilities in minority areas. American pro-lifers are as much against our government facilitating abortion overseas as well and have indeed always made a stink about that, often citing how Obama would rescind the Mexico City policy among other actions that would certainly help destroy children of color.

    On the other hand, a charge of racism could be plausible against supporters of abortion and those who pay lip service to immorality of it but don’t really act on it or who are critical of those who do.

    Personally I think it is erroneous (and even unfair) to consider someone’s support of a given war to mean that they are indifferent to the suffering and/or deaths of others. However, while it’s noble that you do care about the innocent Iraqi’s caught in the cross-fire, perhaps you’d feel a little stronger in your opposition to abortion if you considered unborn babies just as worthy of life as Iraqi adults. When you do, maybe you’ll understand why many of us come to a different conclusion about the gravity of the problems, what can be done about them, as well as the lasting effects of each.

  • You and S.B. and Donald are open to killing people as a way of “helping” them. I am not.

    As always, the preening self-righteousness combined with the gross mischaracterization of other people’s views.

    News flash: Killing the Nazis (for example) wasn’t helping the Nazis. But it was helping the rest of Europe, not to mention Jewish people.

  • However, while it’s noble that you do care about the innocent Iraqi’s caught in the cross-fire, perhaps you’d feel a little stronger in your opposition to abortion if you considered unborn babies just as worthy of life as Iraqi adults.

    You have no reason to think that I do not consider the unborn just as worthy as life as Iraqi adults. I oppose both abortion and war, unlike your buddies here at Catholic America.

  • You give every reason to think that you could give a flying leap for the unborn the way you fawn and protect your hero President Obama, the most pro-abortion president in the History of the United States.

  • You have no reason to think that I do not consider the unborn just as worthy as life as Iraqi adults. I oppose both abortion and war, unlike your buddies here at Catholic America.

    Actually, I have no reason to think that you do consider the unborn as worthy of life as others. All I have to go on are the words you utter online that I read. From those very words I don’t see much in the way of advocacy for the unborn, but I do see much from you intended to draw attention away from the abortion issue, coupled with a hostility and apparent hatred of those who do consider a Christian duty to defend the innocent. If you think others are lacking in their commitment you can certainly try to lead them to a more complete understanding, but you do no such thing. You condemn and insult those who should be your natural allies (if you indeed consider abortion an abomination). Frankly, your rhetoric tends to trivialize the cause of the unborn. In spite of your proclamations of “I’m against abortion too”, your remarks like “baby worshiping weirdos” speaks volumes.

  • As a couple people have pointed out, waging a war does not mean that one does not care about or value the lives of the citizens of the country one is fighting against or in.

    Otherwise, for instance, we’d have to assume that John Paul II didn’t care about Serbians because he advocated using military force against them to stop the strife in Kosovo.

    However, on both sides, I don’t think anyone will gain anything by discussing who does or does not care about the unborn, Iraqis, etc. So I’m going to ask that we drop the “you don’t care” “no, I care. It’s you who don’t care” line or argument. And if we don’t, I’ll close the thread.

  • It’s very perplexing that a few of the VN bloggers take that approach. If they deign to discuss abortion at all, 90% of the time it’s to ridicule and sneer at other pro-lifers for their political strategies, to urge people not to let anti-abortion sentiment sway their voting, to dismiss Obama’s pro-choice moves as “trivial,” to claim that pro-lifers are hypocrites, to mock Republican judicial nominees (but NEVER their Democratic inquisitors) for saying nice but meaningless things about Roe.

    But they get all sniffy if anyone wonders whether they’re really committed to being against abortion, given that opposing people who oppose abortion seems to be so much a higher priority. Then, and ONLY then, will they say, “Of course I’m against abortion.” Gee, thanks. Now how about writing that with conviction? How about focusing your voluminous contempt, for once, on pro-choicers rather than on other pro-lifers?

  • …but I do see much from you intended to draw attention away from the abortion issue

    Not at all. My intention most of the time is precisely to connect the issue of war with the issue of abortion. Their sinfulness flows from the same sacrificial logic.

    As for my use of the term “baby worship,” it is not mean to suggest that babies should not be valued and protected as any other human being. They absolutely should, by individuals and by the law. It is meant, rather, as a way to criticize the real god of many right wing Catholics. It is possible to care virtually only for unborn babies and to ignore the rest of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. So many Catholics are merely baby worshipers.

    Tito – Your comment is not worth a response.

    If they deign to discuss abortion at all, 90% of the time it’s to ridicule and sneer at other pro-lifers for their political strategies…

    I don’t ridicule the strategies of pro-lifers. I am a pro-lifer. But I not only sneer but oppose the “political strategies” of some pro-lifers: those who believe voting for republicans is the the way to enact pro-life politics. There is nothing pro-life about republican politics.

    …to urge people not to let anti-abortion sentiment sway their voting…

    “Sway” is an interesting word. I would urge people to vote pro-life, period. But the Catholic sense of the word pro-life is not limited to abortion. The Catholic anti-abortion position should absolutely play a role in the decision of who to vote for. A candidate’s view on abortion is important but not the only consideration.

    …to dismiss Obama’s pro-choice moves as “trivial”…

    Who is saying that Obama’s pro-life moves are “trivial”? I’m certainly not.

    …to claim that pro-lifers are hypocrites…

    I don’t claim pro-life people are hypocrites. A lot of them certainly are. Thankfully, there are many pro-lifers who are consistent and who do not isolate abortion as if it were the only pro-life issue. Why would I claim that pro-lifers are “hypocrites” if I am a pro-lifer?

    …to mock Republican judicial nominees (but NEVER their Democratic inquisitors) for saying nice but meaningless things about Roe.

    I have no party loyalty. I will “mock” any politician who claims to be pro-life and whose concrete political acts reveal otherwise. I oppose pro-choice policies coming from either party.

  • The real sticking point is in my last question:

    How about focusing your voluminous contempt, for once, on pro-choicers rather than on other pro-lifers?

    Can’t do that, of course, as it would jeopardize one’s reputation among other leftists. If you say anything about pro-choicers, it had better be couched amidst much more vehement criticism distancing yourself from all the “other” pro-lifers.

  • “How about focusing your voluminous contempt, for once, on pro-choicers rather than on other pro-lifers?”

    Because you have to recognize that this is a movement dispute!

    Do you guys realize how much time people on the left spend arguing with one another? I was there, I know – if any of you think there is some sort of united coalition over there, you’re completely wrong. Leftists fight amongst each other more often than the lesser chimps struggle with alpha male. There is an endless battle, and an endless purge, for ideological purity. This doesn’t happen on the right nearly as much, for reasons I won’t get into here.

    The left-populist author Thomas Frank tells us in his book “What’s the Matter With Kansas” that the only place he has ever seen the same amount of detailed, intellectual in-fighting is the history of the Catholic Church. That may not be exactly what is happening here, but then, it may be.

    To clarify, I actually DO write about abortion. But I don’t even bother with the pro-choice movement, and I suspect others don’t as well, because it is simply a given that they are wrong about everything. What reinvent the wheel by pointing it all out once again? We focus on our pro-life brothers who we believe are in tactical error because we remember what Christ said, and what he didn’t say regarding doctors and health: the sick are in need of a doctor, not the healthy, and here I’ll add, not the dead (i.e. choicers).

    We spend our time on Catholic forums, around people who are mostly pro-life – does it do any good to talk about choicers as if they’re here, as if they’re reading and they care? That’s just howling at the wind.

    All of that said, I think Mr. Iafrate is going out of his way to be disliked around here, so I’m not endorsing anything he’s said. Looks like there is already a history of conflict between him and others here – that this is more personal than anything.

    And, if anyone cares, I supported Mike Huckabee until he was out of the running.

  • We spend our time on Catholic forums, around people who are mostly pro-life – does it do any good to talk about choicers as if they’re here, as if they’re reading and they care? That’s just howling at the wind.

    There are plenty of pro-choice people who read Vox Nova, including one of the bloggers. Michael could easily write something about them that wasn’t just an offhand aside hidden amidst thousands of words aimed at other pro-lifers.

  • “There are plenty of pro-choice people who read Vox Nova, including one of the bloggers.”

    Who would that be?

  • Gerald Campbell.

  • There are plenty of pro-choice people who read Vox Nova, including one of the bloggers. Michael could easily write something about them that wasn’t just an offhand aside hidden amidst thousands of words aimed at other pro-lifers.

    You and I have a different understanding of Gerald’s position, obviously. Your simple-minded witch hunt mentality is discernible in a variety of ways, most especially perhaps with the way you engage Gerald on abortion.

  • But he IS pro-choice — there is no other semantically accurate way to describe someone who expressly says, time and time again, that he does NOT want the law to restrict abortion. Why would you dissemble on his behalf?

  • When in doubt, go to the horse’s mouth:

    Gerald Campbell-Vox Nova-January 28, 2008

    “MZ Forrest,

    “My problem with the Democratic candidates is that they seem to embrace abortion as a positive good.”

    If your statement were true, your point would be compelling. But, it’s not that simple.

    One cannot conflate pro-choice and pro-abortion. They are not the same. Most who are pro-choice are not pro-abortion. Some are; most aren’t.

    The pro-choice concern is primarily with the intrusion of the Federal government into the lives of individuals. It’s about personal freedom. This is a reasonable concern.

    When it comes to the legal route, I agree with you. The legal course has no future.

    Even if decisions are eventually returned to the states, it still becomes a matter of choice, doesn’t it. But in such case, the choice is abstract and distant from the person. Indeed, the choice of state legislatures will be based on numbers. At least when the women herself decides, a personal and existential dimension preserved. Moral persuasion then becomes an option.

    The best approach is to change “hearts and minds.” It’s a difficult journey. But it is a way that reaches into the very fabric of the person. It touches the wellsprings of human behavior.”

    http://vox-nova.com/2008/01/28/for-whom-i-shall-not-vote/

    If Campbell isn’t a pro-abort, no one is a pro-abort.

  • Here’s a recent comment wherein Gerald Campbell expressly said that he doesn’t support additional legal restrictions on abortion.

    Joe — this is yet another reason to question the commitment of Michael (and a few of his co-bloggers) to the pro-life cause. I.e., they’ll never question a co-blogger who has taken the pro-choice position repeatedly (and has even suggested that having the government pay for abortion is a matter of “equity”). Quite the contrary: they act like it’s a “witch hunt” just to quote the guy.

  • His answer is not, “No,” but “not within the specific context.” His answer is the same as Kyle who suggested that legislation without consensus does no good. It’s a question of strategy to reach the goal, not the goal.

  • Baloney! Campbell’s a total pro-abort as his comment about personal freedom and the federal government intuding into our private life indicates. Typical pro-abort talking points. As for waiting for a consensus, under that logic blacks would still be treated like fifth class citizens. At least Campbell is logical. As a pro-abort he of course had no qualms about voting the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history. To attempt to claim that he is not a pro-abort, however, is simply risible.

  • More dissembling . . . “not within the specific context” simply means “pro-choice for the foreseeable future.”

  • This idea that Catholics can opt out of the struggle to make abortion illegal is contradicted by this provision in the catechism:

    “2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

    “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”80

    “The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”81

  • Well,

    It seem to me that Mr. Campbell does make a number of valid points – however, none of them make the pro-choice position logically necessary. To point to the limitations of the political approach is one thing, to deny them altogether is another.

    For instance, there is simply no way to deny that Roe will remain in force for at least the next 4-8 years. Given that reality, it would be a tactical error to focus time and resources on a political fight that cannot be won. No general would fight a battle on principle alone. To choose an imprudent course of action is to put its success in jeopardy, which is also immoral (and that isn’t what I do on immigration, contrary to what some people may think).

    What the pro-life movement has often done, at least as I have seen it in action, is also fight for the lesser victories that have a long-term cumulative effect. Educational campaigns go a long way towards influencing not only voters but lawmakers themselves. Show a video of an abortion to a panel of state legislatures, and they become more sympathetic.

    I also have to agree that “pro-choice” is not always a sinister cover for “pro-abortion”. Some people genuinely believe that legal abortion is the lesser of two or more alternative evils; others believe it is a positive good. And that difference usually manifests itself in policy – the difference between those who are willing to restrict, if not outlaw abortion, and those who struggle against all restrictions. The enemy camp, in other words, is rife with exploitable dissent.

    The problem on the pro-life side is that it has lately been using the language of slavery and the Holocaust to compare abortion to – PETA does the same thing with respect to animal rights. In both cases it backfires, because like it or not, no one is forced by the state to get an abortion, and it is not a practice that is confined to less than 10% of the population. It’s something 1/3 of women will go through in their lifetime, and that also means 1/3 of men will be complicit. There’s no need to compare abortion to these things to demonstrate its evil. Evil is evil.

    That’s a lot of people and a lot of choices. And that’s really what we’re up against. So to me, real change begins at the level of community, and culture therein – the services and alternatives we can provide to women in need, sidewalk counseling, crisis pregnancy centers, educational campaigns, public prayer, adoption, etc.

  • Donald’s speaking to hear himself talk, as he did in the “Worthless Political Hack” piece…

    Yawn.

  • See Joe’s newest post. In one post, he’s already said more words in defense of the pro-life cause, and critiquing pro-choice logic, than Michael has managed in years of blogging.

  • Donald,

    Is there a reason you permit the humorless dissident Michael Iafrate to post here? He adds nothing to the conversation and insults you and your guests. In all his interminably verbose posts, I can’t recall a single point worth retaining.

  • Joe,

    It’s hard to pin down, because Gerald is very careful about how he says things on controversial topics, but I have the very strong impression from some of his more controversial comments on the topic that he thinks not merely that it’s not possible to substantially restrict abortion through legal means right now (which because of Roe and the political status quo is indeed very hard) but that it’s actively not a good idea to restrict abortion period. He argues that it is a moral decision which, in a theologically diverse society such as ours, should be left up to individuals.

    In this regard, I think he is very, very wrong, and quite arguably outside the bounds of where a Catholic ought to tread. If we think that positive law should reflect moral law at all, then we should support restricting abortion — even though right now we know that we can achieve only small and incremental steps.

    Mark,

    On the contrary, Donald is speaking in order to voice the truth, which is always a worthy effort — though occasionally one with a sort of tragic futility.

    Rich,

    We tend to each make the rules on our own posts, and I generally take a pretty libertarian approach to the whole thing. However, I think we’ve indeed reached the point of total futility on this thread with him. I’m going to go ahead and close comments on the thread, which among other things give me the benefit of the last word. 😉

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Partisanship and Empty Rhetoric

Wednesday, March 4, AD 2009

It seems in recent week that an ever-increasing focus has fallen on Rush Limbaugh and his radio show.  Not only have the usual suspects worked themselves into a frenzy over him, but we’ve even had President Obama command Congressional Republicans to ignore him.  And the White House has yet to let up on speaking against him.  White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has even taken a few stabs at Limbaugh.  Even more amazingly, Republican Chairman Michael Steele has voiced disapproval of Limbaugh’s talks.

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52 Responses to Partisanship and Empty Rhetoric

  • Lambasting Limbaugh serves two purposes for Obama: (1) icing the Republicans who have emerged as the more serious party in the debates surrounding the stimulus bill and (2) making a grotesque caricature of him the poster boy for the Fairness Doctrine.

  • And a very stupid move it is for Obama. Mud wrestling with a pundit is never a good move for a President, especially someone who reaches 20,000,000 listeners a week. Other than driving up the ratings for Rush, I can’t think of anything positive that Obama will accomplish by this. It is all downside for him.

  • I am baffled by the Limbaugh discussions raging through the blogosphere. Limbaugh has been around forever and his schtick is wearyingly familiar. I suppose Republicans don’t have much else going for them, and Democrats would rather not talk about the stimulus because it’s not particularly popular. But who cares about Limbaugh? Compelling politicians and fundamentals control political outcomes; radio hosts do not. I don’t intend this to be a criticism of the post (which I basically agree with), just an observation.

  • Obama is not smart here. As a talking head said earlier today, it is counterproductive to get into a urinating contest with a skunk….

  • I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh (not since he had his television show, anyway) but I think it would be a rather entertaining debate were Barack Obama to respond to his challenge to debate. =)

  • Christopher,

    Limbaugh would mop the floor… unless Obama had a teleprompter.

  • Yeah, the head of Harvard Law review against the Oxymoron, that is, the moron addicted to Oxycotin.

  • Mark,

    high or not, Limbaugh embarrasses your boy.

  • ps. generally speaking POTUS is a higher office than head of Harvard Law Review, either way the man stutters whenever he’s put on the spot… not exactly quick on his feet (except on the basketball court, better for the country he focuses on his jump shots, he’s hell on the economy, and the unborn).

  • “the moron addicted to Oxycotin.”

    A moron who has been the most powerful voice on radio for almost two decades? As for oxycotin, I believe that Rush licked that addiction. Of course if oxycotin is going to be brought against Rush then I assume that cocaine may be brought up against Obama.

  • I did not realize that A-C was populated by so many ditto-heads. Interesting; no, actually, quite understandable.

  • “A moron who has been the most powerful voice on radio ….”

    So was Father Coughlin in the 30s. Your point?

  • Father Coughlin, whatever else could be said about him, was no moron. You do not like Rush or his politics Mr. DeFrancisis, but you have given no evidence that he is a moron, and his success for 20 years in a highly competitive environment would argue otherwise. Your ideological soulmates at the moribund Air America could attest to that.

  • 1. To various other folks above me- no moron can maintain an audience of 20 mil over 20 years. Would have been wiped off the map long ago. 2. Love how the sensitive and caring always bring up the Oxycontin problems. Not the usual yes they’re sick people and we should care for them and so forth. Replaced his weight as the usual cheap shot point. See how these Christians care for one another. 3. There has been no one else in mass media history with his ability to get into your head and stay there. Polarizing and proud of it. Not enough media attention to his offer to debate the Apostle live- on his radio program- and handle all of the Apostle’s arrangements for transportation, luxury hotels, Secret Service demands, and post-debate party with Allen Bros. Kobe beef. Polarizing enough for the morning phone calls among Greenberg, Carville, Begala and Stephanopoulos to arrange talking points. Say- at least three of them work for major media organizations. Shouldn’t their bosses tell them- choose between the morning calls and your paychecks from us? Or would that be a concession to Limbaugh? 4. Libs need boogie men like Tiller the Killer needs poor dumb pregnant 18-year-olds. Since Richard Nixon. Rush is now Boogie Man Number One, in the absence of GWB and Company. Knows it. Relishes it. 5. Doesn’t faze him. Remember, Slick Willie once remarked that he was holding Rush accountable for the Oklahoma City bombings. 6. So much for the personal destruction- his CPAC speech last Saturday was carried live- start to finish- on both Fox News and CNN. Bad publicity is better than none at all. 7. I feel about him the way Walter Lippman wrote about another hero, H.L. Mencken- “the man increases your will to live.”

  • Yeah, the head of Harvard Law review against the Oxymoron, that is, the moron addicted to Oxycotin.

    Given that Obama has written about his own pot and cocaine episodes, is that really where one wants to go on the topic?

    I listened to Rush a lot back when he was fairly new and I was in high school — and in my previous job he used to always be on the radio when I was working out in the warehouse with the shipper and the drivers — but I haven’t heard him in years at this point.

    He takes a populist and sometimes hyperbolic approach to conservatism, and I don’t agree with him on all topics, but the guy is generally far smarter (and indeed far more polite to his opponents when they’re actually on the phone with him) than most liberals give him credit for.

    What in the world Obama’s administration thinks it can gain by picking him for a personal fight I don’t understand. Perhaps they actually believed their own rhetoric that the whole country would unify under their banner.

    For conservatives, however, it think Rush’s apparent dominance in the conservative debate right now is more of a mixed blessing. He’s a solid radio personality and a smart guy, but if his current prominance is the result of our lacking any clear policy direction or high profile leader (and I fear it is) that’s a problem.

  • Amazing. So quickly derailed…

    So tell me, guys, what do you think about my premise that partisanship and hard-fought arguments are necessary for the shaping of good legislation?

    And maybe I’m blind, but how exactly do Rush’s drug-abuse problems fit into that?

    Frankly I have no problem with an Obama/Limbaugh debate, if that’s what it takes to actually have a debate over issues. However, I’m leery of Limbaugh. I read through his speech to the CPAC, and maybe I’m blind, but I didn’t catch much of anything in the way of substance.

  • Along with that, I thought dissent was patriotic. Not that Limbaugh is always (nor necessarily even often) correct. But I think Obama is horrifically misguided in his policy choices at this time. Let them debate.

  • It doesn’t matter who the President is or who the pundit is, it wouldn’t be fair or appropriate for a President to have a debate with him. A President, even if he agrees on a particular point, might not be able so say so for prudential, diplomatic reasons. Ditto for valid arguments against the pundit. Also, a politician, regardless of his policy has to be mindful how he presents it if he is going to convince opposition or lead. A true statesman (not saying I think Obama is worthy of the title) with a clear and solid ideology and policy position would only do his cause damage by such an activity.

    The above is a defense for Obama as President and I would apply it to any President. However, I concur with those who believe that as far as having a well thought out and principled idea of policy and ideology – and one that he can proudly proclaim to the masses rather than obfuscate – Limbaugh would prevail.

    Sorry, Ryan. Yes, I agree that partisanship is important for proper governance, though I would qualify it. The partisanship demonstrated by this country’s founders was often fierce, but quite correct and the cream truly came to the top. The motivation on all sides was primarily what was best for going forward. These days, regardless of party affiliation, partisanship often exists for its own sake and for personal/party interest and I’m not so sure that a quality outcome is forged from the process.

  • Rick,

    the President already violated the principle here by personally attacking Rush Limbaugh, as well as Fox News. That’s exactly why he is being challenged.

    Matt

  • These days, regardless of party affiliation, partisanship often exists for its own sake and for personal/party interest and I’m not so sure that a quality outcome is forged from the process.

    I’ll agree quite a bit to that. However, I think there’s a problem in that people anymore perceive all partisanship as being of the cynical type you just mentioned. I think that works to the advantage of one party or another because any legitimate protest/partisanship can be written off (in the eyes of the public) as just more of the same political squabbling that gets nothing done.

    Still, one of the more remarkable conclusions about this that I’ve come to is that we keep trying to find a system in which, regardless of our fallen state, we’ll always end up at the right place with the right answer.

  • I understand that, Matt. I never said I thought Obama should have said anything about Limbaugh, Fox, or any other commentator. And even if put on the spot by a member of the press corp to address something a pundit said, he should decline or give a respectful but dismissive response. The office demands an air of dignity, the president shouldn’t attack pundits anymore than he should debate them. I’m happy to cry foul on Obama for his actions, but I think it wrong to want him to further damage his or the office’s credibility by debating a pundit. It’s all just wrong.

  • Rick,

    Limbaugh is pointing out the President’s error in diminishing his office by making personal attacks on pundits. Regardless, following up his smear campaign with a debate doesn’t seem to me to diminish it any further.

  • Regardless, following up his smear campaign with a debate doesn’t seem to me to diminish it any further.

    Maybe, maybe not. I still think it would. We can certainly disagree on that point and the world will continue to spin. 😉

  • Ryan:

    I knew immediately that this thread would become a debate about the merits of Rush. But as for the actual topic of your post, I completely agree, and have said as much on my blog in a previous post.

  • Sorry guys, the opportunity arose via one commenter to make it about Rush, and I did not resist the temptation.

    But I am surprised what we have learned in the course of derailment about Mr. McClarey’s thoughts in regards to Father Coughlin.

    I’ll leave it at that.

  • But I am surprised what we have learned in the course of derailment about Mr. McClarey’s thoughts in regards to Father Coughlin.

    [McClarey] Father Coughlin, whatever else could be said about him, was no moron.

    I don’t think Mr. McClarey shared us many of his thoughts at all on Fr. Coughlin. But the one thought he did share, that Fr. Coughlin wasn’t a moron [in spite of whatever else could be said about him] is fair and accurate. Like everyone else, Fr. Coughlin had some good traits and some bad traits, some of the bad ones were pretty bad too, but he still wasn’t a moron – a person of subnormal intelligence. He was actually quite intelligent, but even that doesn’t mean he was right on everything, especially his antisemitism streak.

    Mr. DeFrancisis, what was the purpose of the remark about Mr.McClarey and Fr. Coughlin? What point were you trying to make?

  • What point is Donald trying to make, that is the question.

  • It seemed apparent to me that he was taking issue with you labeling Fr. Coughlin a moron, just as he took issue with you labeling Limbaugh a moron. There’s nothing wrong with you disliking Limbaugh or anyone else who you think actively does harm or stands for destructive things, but it’s best to do so by speaking the truth to the best of our ability.

    I probably feel the same way about Obama as you do Limbaugh, but I wouldn’t say Obama is a moron. He’s clearly not. He might be a very ambitious fellow, have what I consider a very flawed worldview or moral foundation, and support what I consider horrendous positions. It would be easier to just say, he’s an evil moron, but that’s not correct or necessarily just and we’d all be best served if I explained why I thought those things if they weren’t readily apparent.

  • Mark,

    It means Donald is fair minded enough to recognize that not everyone he disagrees with is a moron.

    On Ryan’s original point,

    I think it’s a key distinction. I too want to see Obama’s financial plans fail, and fail quickly, so we can move on to something I think will work. To insist that everyone “hope for success” results in a curious sort of double talk.

    To try it on the right side, I would assume that those who opposed the Iraq war would not want to have been told, “If you care at all about the US and the Iraqi people, you should want the Iraq War to succeed — it’s just that your definition of success involves not going to war and keeping the Hussein dictatorship in place. But we all want ‘success’ for the war.”

    That would be a useless way to talk. For those who think that Obama’s financial and social plans would be a disaster for the country, it’s obviously the correct thing for them to want to see him fail.

  • Darwin,

    Perhaps you do not know of the “SOMEONE MUST BE BLAMED” Father Coughlin well enoung, maybe due to Mr. Lugari’s strange defense. Read Adorno on the hate-monger and scapegoater. (Yes, I purposely chose such charged words, as they are most appropraiate in this case).

  • I agree he was certainly an unsavory character — and an interesting example of how fascist/statist and left/populist instincts often met and blended in the 30s in a way that’s often forgotten now — but I don’t think he was a moron. Generally speaking, one does not come such a widely listened to and influential figure by being a moron, unless by “moron” one simply means “someone I don’t like”.

    So for example, I tend to think of John Edwards as being a living example of much of what is wrong (and badly and dangerously wrong) with the American left, but does that necessarily mean that I should refer to him as a moron?

  • A bit about Fr. Coughlin:

    “He was an early supporter of Roosevelt’s New Deal reforms and coined the phrase “Roosevelt or ruin”, which became famous during the early days of the first FDR administration. Another phrase he became known for was “The New Deal is Christ’s Deal.”[4] In January 1934, Coughlin testified before Congress in support of FDR’s policies, saying, “If Congress fails to back up the President in his monetary program, I predict a revolution in this country which will make the French Revolution look silly!” He further stated to the Congressional hearing, “God is directing President Roosevelt.” [5]

    Coughlin’s support for Roosevelt and his New Deal faded later in 1934, when he founded the National Union for Social Justice (NUSJ), a nationalistic worker’s rights organization which grew impatient with what it viewed as the President’s unconstitutional and pseudo-capitalistic monetary policies. His radio programs preached more and more about the negative influence of “money changers” and “permitting a group of private citizens to create money” on the general welfare of the public.[6] He also spoke about the need for monetary reform. Coughlin claimed that the Depression was a “cash famine”. Some modern economic historians, in part, agree with this assessment. [7] Coughlin proposed monetary reforms, including the elimination of the Federal Reserve System, as the solution.

    Among the articles of the NUSJ, were work and income guarantees, nationalizing “necessary” industry, wealth redistribution through taxation of the wealthy, federal protection of worker’s unions, and decreasing property rights in favor of the government controlling the country’s assets for “public good.” [8] Illustrative of his disdain for capitalism is his statement that, “We maintain the principle that there can be no lasting prosperity if free competition exists in industry. Therefore, it is the business of government not only to legislate for a minimum annual wage and maximum working schedule to be observed by industry, but also to curtail individualism that, if necessary, factories shall be licensed and their output shall be limited.” [9]”

    He probably would be writing for Obama today.

  • fascist/statist and left/populist instincts often met and blended

    At least until the last election. This describes Obama’s policies precisely.

  • Strange defense? How so? What was in error?

  • Maybe I should state something here. I think my assertion (Donald’s initially) is reasonable and factually correct. There is nothing to my knowledge that would indicate Fr. Coughlin was a moron. I agree with his views that FDR and the New Deal were bad, but I also disagree with a number of his prescriptions. I think he was good in that he cared about social justice, but bad in that bought into bigotry and antisemitism and harbored some sympathy for fascism as a whole (dislike his sympathy for National Socialism, but appreciate his support of Franco in Spain – different countries under different circumstances with different leaders and intentions).

    Fr. Coughlin was very dedicated to St. Therese, the Little Flower and was responsible for building a beautiful shrine to her here in Detroit. I don’t think it’s wise or just to minimize souls to good or evil, moron or brilliant, as Mr. DeFrancisis seems wont to do. Praise which is good and condemn which is evil, but always deal in truth and justice. For all we know, Fr. Coughlin is in Heaven praying for us – at any rate, he now knows where he was right and wrong, and what he was culpable for.

    To ditto some points others made, Fr. Coughlin should be viewed as a hero to many on the left.

  • I gues Democracy is a messy thing. Anyone can offer their opinion. Rush Limbaugh, Fr. Coughlin, Keith Olbermann etc. etc. Often those opinions are offered to us by political and academic elites. Often those opinions are no more correct than the guy next door.

  • Moron comes from the Greek “moros”, the latter of which means dull. Calling someone moronic can therefore connote dullness of mind to the extent that he/she lacks good or sharp judgment.

    I do not apologize for calling the someone who encouraged and exemplified a racist-tainted laziness of judgment towards Jews in the 30s a moron, his devotion to the Little Flower withstanding.

  • Of course promoting abortion is showing a lack of judgment. Therefore Obama is …

  • Touche. 😉

    But I’ve gone on too far already.

    I encourage all to return to the actual topic that Ryan means to discuss.

  • Good sport Mark.

  • Mark,

    so are you acknowledging that Obama is a moron, or that your moron comment was really just “partisanship and empty rhetoric”?

    Thanks,

    Matt

  • Matt,

    Mark acknowledged the point. Let’s just move on.

  • Mark acknowledged the point. Let’s just move on.

    In the spirit of the thread: Mega-dittos to John Henry.

  • Partisanship, wielded properly, is a necessary thing. Keeping the debates alive and lively is why we even bother having a two-party system.

    I agree, but the ‘wielded properly’ modifier does a lot of the work here. People have very different ideas about what is proper. In the debates over the stimulus, for example, Congressional Republicans claimed to be acting on small government, anti-pork principle. Democrats claimed they could not be taken seriously given their support for the Bush-era deficits, and that they were engaged in irresponsible political point-scoring. Obama suggested much the same thing with his efforts to depict himself as ‘post-partisan’.

    I think most people agree in principal that it is good to have multiple perspectives, etc. But they often find reasons to dismiss other perspectives with tu quoque’s in practice.

  • DC/JH,

    what point did he acknowledge? Ryan’s post is about partisanship and empty rhetoric. I would like to know if Mark’s admitting to engaging that practice, or that he thinks Obama’s a moron too.

    By the way, in the spirit of bipartisanship and intellectual honesty I condemn the actions of Sam Brownback, and believe that he is a MORON for supporting a rabid pro-abortion candidate for DHS. I will resist the temptation to impune his morality, that’s for his bishop to examine.

  • Well, unless it was cross posting the exchange appeared to be:

    Phillip Says:

    Of course promoting abortion is showing a lack of judgment. Therefore Obama is …

    Mark DeFrancisis Says:

    Touche. 😉

  • DarwinCatholic,

    I don’t think Mark D. would admit that Obama is a moron, so I presume he is retracting his accusation that Rush is, and acknowledging that he practices “partisanship and empty rhetoric”, but I could be mistaken. It would be more helpful if he would clarify his “touche”.

  • Matt,

    In the frey of verbal exchange, I broadened the definition of moronic. In doing so, I admitm I was seeking not primarily truth, but scoring immediate argumentative points.

    And I would not have even had the chance to succumb to such maneuvering, had I been more careful with what I chose to call both Limbaugh and Coughlin.

    But inasmuch as Obama clearly lacks good judgment with respect to the abortion issue, I conceded that he is/was moronic in that regard, using my broadened usage of the term.

    Any way, if I would have allowed the discussion to remain about what Ryan’s ultimate questions brought into focus and veer toward a discussion of Rush’s merits per se, none of this would have ever arisen.

    As I did contribute to furthering the conversation by actually changing its purposed content, I apologize to all involved, especially Ryan Harkins, who wrote a nice post.

    I hope that suffices.

    Does that suffice?

  • Mark,

    Does that suffice?

    absolutely.

  • John Henry,

    In the debates over the stimulus, for example, Congressional Republicans claimed to be acting on small government, anti-pork principle. Democrats claimed they could not be taken seriously given their support for the Bush-era deficits, and that they were engaged in irresponsible political point-scoring.

    This brings up one of the gray areas that always makes me stop and think when we talk about partisanship. As I said in my post, I’m against bringing up someone’s drug addiction…unless one can show how it pertains to the argument. Now, I think there’s is some reason, possibly some merit, to bickering in that sense, in that we’re questioning motive behind a particular stance.

    Now this example is made up, so don’t try to find anyone who matches. But suppose there’s someone who has been heavy into drugs, but supports open borders with Mexico. Questioning his border policy based on his past drug abuse might–and I say might, because even in this it might be stretching things a bit–be based on the premise that if the borders remain open, drugs keep flowing through, and thus he can get his drug fix so much easier. But even then, that doesn’t necessarily touch on the merits of his arguments, though it may make any legislation he tries to pass needing close scrutiny.

    To an extent, the seeming mud-flinging may serve some purpose in trying to judge whether or not we should trust a particular politician. For instance, while I hope Congressional Republicans block some, if not most, of this fiscal irresponsibility, I don’t trust them to be fiscally responsible themselves. And the point the Democrats made about Republicans not being true conservatives for having passed all of Bush’s spending is a valid point. But is valid so long as we’re trying to judge whether we can trust Congressional Republicans. It loses its edge when it becomes a debate between who we should trust more to be fiscally responsible.

    Thoughts?

    Mark,

    I hope that suffices.

    Does that suffice?

    Apology accepted, not that it is necessary. Besides, your very first comment still makes me chortle, and my wife got quite a kick out of it.