At Least I Know I'm Free: A Myth That Unites

Monday, January 4, AD 2010

I was talking with a relative recently who was telling me about an incident a while back where the maintenance staff at the building he worked at had gone on strike and were picketing the building. Emails had gone out from the building management telling people not to get into arguments or cause incidents with the picketers, and it became a source of quite a bit of topic around the office. My relative was amused to hear expressed several times the sentiment, “That’s what makes our country different from the rest of the world. Here, they have the freedom to hold a protest like that.”

It if, of course, true that they have the freedom to picket their employer here. However, that’s not necessarily a contrast with the rest of the developed world. They could do the same in thing in Canada, or the UK or France or Germany, etc. There is, as my relative pointed out, a tendency at times for Americans to assume that because our country was very consciously founded in order to secure certain freedoms, that this means that people who don’t live in the US don’t have the same freedoms. Obviously, some don’t. One’s freedom of political and economic expression is severely limited if you live in North Korea or China or Cuba or some such nation. But there are many other countries in which people enjoy basically all the same freedoms that we do.

This American tendency to assume that we are the only ones to enjoy the freedoms outlined in our Bill of Rights is something which very much annoys many people who consider the US to be dangerously nationalistic, or who would prefer that we see the US as just one other region, not better or worse than others.

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16 Responses to At Least I Know I'm Free: A Myth That Unites

  • “Before people get angry about Americans acting like they have a monopoly on freedom,”

    Considering the speech codes in place in many countries that claim to be democracies, America may not have a monopoly on it, but I think we take the concept a great deal more seriously than most other countries. The link below sets out laws against “hate speech” in various countries around the world.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech

    A great many countries around the world which are considered to be free are manifestly less free in the key area of speech than we Americans are. All Americans should take rightful pride in this.

  • except that we have our own “unofficial” speech codes. Not as bad as other places, but less free than we used to be. I suppose if a rising tide raises all boats, a receding tide must also have the equal and opposite effect.

  • They don’t have free speech in Canada or England.

  • I think this is a bit of a false dichotomy. I think we can be aware of strikes in France (which always seem to involve setting cars on fire for some reason) without descending into ethnic cleansing.

    Although I think we do tend to do the same thing based purely on political/philosophical ideals. I think democratic socialism would be great. I totally have the right to say that in the US, England, France, Germany, etc. If I said that at a Tea Party, however, I’d be lucky if all got was spit on.

  • Though if you said you thought democratic capitalism was great in France, Germany etc. you might be lucky if you only got spit on.

  • One supposes you meant “Aryan” [whatever that is] and not “Arian”.

    For the rest “comparisons are odious” to quote grandma. There are severe restraints on various freedoms in this country.

    Am I mistaken in believing that the Constitution does not “speak” of freedoms or of anything else? It is a document that established the government and continues to modify it.

  • Spelling correction made, thanks.

  • “Am I mistaken in believing that the Constitution does not “speak” of freedoms or of anything else?”

    Yes. See the bill of rights and various other portions of the Constitution and the amendments thereto.

  • I would take the word of Donald, he is a lawyer after all.

  • “I would take the word of Donald, he is a lawyer after all.”

    Heaven forfend Tito!

  • “Yes. See the bill of rights”

    And don’t forget that it almost didn’t make it into the final draft. Thank you Thomas Jefferson 🙂

  • Thank you Thomas Jefferson indeed!

    He was not a deist, but a Christian. He knew full well the importance of Christianity to the new fledgling American Republic. 🙂

  • Dunno about the Christianity, Tito; read some of his letters. Though I’ll grant he (like Franklin) understood the importance of the Christian worldview to the republic.

    Having spent my formative years living in the shadow of Mistah Jefferson’s Little Mountain, I confess something of a love-hate relationship with the man’s legacy. While he was instrumental in the formation of our nation, he had plenty of notions that I am greatful were not generally implemented. While the man was neither such a hero nor such a villain as is often made out, he was a crotchety fellow to say the least (my DH is of the opinion that he had Maoist tendencies long before Mao, but I’ll leave that to him to explain.)

    Darwin,
    Don’t forget that crucial freedom-of-religion thing. One or two (occasionally a few extra) established churches are the norm even in most “free” countries. Consider that a country with an official belief system (even if that system is wonderful) has ample leverage to subjugate it or even abolish it in favor of a belief system more congenial to its ambitions. This is much more difficult to accomplish in a country with no official belief system and no official policy of hostility to religion.

  • Cminor, that is exactly my reaction to Jefferson. I love the Declaration of Independence, the Louisiana Purchase and his strictures against the dangers of government. I hate his infatuation with the French Revolution, his dalliance with the doctrine of state nullification, and assine statements he often made, for example,”The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.”-that from a man who never served a day in the Continental Army and put his own skin to risk on a battlefield! Yeah, Jefferson definitely qualifies for love-hate in my book.

    Jefferson was in no sense a Christian as his scissors attempt to remove the miracles from the Gospels indicated. Jefferson was most definitely a Deist.

  • I too love Jefferson. No, I despise him. Wait, yes, love-hate, that’s the ticket. Oddly enough I feel the same way about America. I love her Christian and republican (small r) ideals – I hate her Masonic and totalitarian trajectory. America was doomed long before the Continental Congress met and it is a miracle (no matter how many TJ cut out of his Bible) that the united States of America ever came to be. It is a miracle we are still here.

    Are we different than all the other ‘free’ countries in the world? You bethca. Why do so many immigrants, like me, come here instead of say, China or Zimbabwe (Rhodesia)? There is no contest as much as this country sucks, we are the best the world has ever seen – warts an all.

    If someone doesn’t like it, they are welcome to leave or just never come here in the first place. The rest of the world owes America a great big thank you for the freedoms that have been preserved by this nation and the sacrifices of many of her people especially our fine military folks. Deservedly or not, we provide the blanket of freedom for the world. Can you imagine the atrocities that will be rampant when America eventually goes down?

    But, not yet. I think our best days are ahead of us. I also think that we’ve only gotten this far because so many of us (sadly not as many Catholics as I’d like to see) are faithful to Christ Jesus. Compare Christianity in American with that in say what used to be Europe (now Eurabia).

    Sadly, we have the stain of Masonic infiltration and that needs to be purged in all of its ill forms from the Federal Reserve to the current socialist/communist trajectory of our corrupt politicians. America does not like Jacobins, Luciferians or Shriners.

    I think it is safe to keep the America in the American Catholic and know that it means uSA (despite what our southern continental brethren may think). May God bless the united States of America (and the American Catholic).

Humpty Dumpty Defines Conservatism

Wednesday, December 16, AD 2009

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,'” Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t – till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!'”
“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,'” Alice objected.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll 

For whatever reason, adults on the internet often fall into relabelling each others politics with all the glee that second graders find in saying, “Am not!”, “Are too!”, “Am not!” 

Sometimes, it gets downright silly, as in this comment:

Hah! Nobody has yet addressed my basic point – American arch-liberals, direct offsprings of the Enlightenment, are under some illusion that they are “conservative”. Couldn’t be more wrong. As for me, I’m an old-style Christian Democrat with not much time for rights-based individualism, the so-called separation of church and state, lassez-faire liberalism, or muscular nationalism. I’m a corporatist, I’m fully on baord with Bendict’s world political authority, and I’ll take Catholic social teaching over American Calvinist economics any day, thank you very much.
 
Who is supposed to be the conservative again? 

Now, let’s think for a moment on what “conservative” means, if you’re not Humpty Dumpty.

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47 Responses to Humpty Dumpty Defines Conservatism

  • This is a hilarious post. Apparently conservatives are not about the conservation of traditional understandings of conservatism, and instead want to redefine it all the while trying to say it is those who are conserving the tradition who are the ones redefining it.

    Sorry, the yoke’s on you.

  • DC, while there is an intellectual ancestry of contemporary conservatism which stretches back a couple centuries, the commenter is still correct that American operates with the boundaries set by the Enlightenment, and that in the context of those debates, contemporary conservatives *are* liberals in the broader sense (I’m thinking of MacIntyre’s taxonomy of radical liberals [Marxists], liberal liberals [contemporary progressives], and conservative liberals [contemporary conservatives]).

    Second, wouldn’t it be the case that a political position which sought to re-establish “pre-Enlightenment” conservatism would in justly be deemed conservative, even if it rejected aspects of the intervening 200+ years?

  • Chris,

    Agreed that all viable political movements at this point represent some form of liberalism. What I was attempting to highlight here is that we have someone comparing the two following:

    American conservatism: [social conservatism] + [18th century political and economic liberalism]
    European Christian Democrats: [social conservatism] (at least, by European standards) + [19th century political and economic liberalism]

    I’m very much unclear how one compares these two and concludes that American conservatism is more liberal than the Christian Democrat tradition.

    If the commenter’s contention was simply, “I may be liberal, but so are you, because we both draw our ideas from post-Enlightenment thought” I would have no issue. It’s claiming that American conservatism is liberal while Christian Democrats are not that I don’t think will fly.

  • Henry,

    This is a hilarious post. Apparently conservatives are not about the conservation of traditional understandings of conservatism, and instead want to redefine it all the while trying to say it is those who are conserving the tradition who are the ones redefining it.

    Perhaps it’s because you were laughing so hard when you wrote your comment, but it’s a little hard to understand what you’re actually attempting to say here. What I pointed out is that:

    1) American conservatism represents a significantly older political movement than the Christian Democratic parties do.
    2) American conservatism draws on the oldest political philosophy still surviving in America (there are no loyalist/royalist parties that I’m aware of at this time) and as such is clearly “conservative” within the American political context. Trying to transplant in a movement which evolved later in Europe for very different reasons would in no sense be “conservative”.

    In what sense can Christian Democrats be considered to be “conserving the tradition” when they represent a much more recent (and more liberal) compromise with liberalism than American conservatism (which might also be termed “classical liberalism”)?

  • I, for one, am interested in hearing more about “Bendict’s [sic] world political authority.”

  • Actually, I should ammend: The commenter’s point would make sense if one were able to tenably hold the view that Christian Democrats are entirely bypassing Liberalism and the intellectual heritage of the Englightenment (French and Scottish) and represent some sort of a revival of a pre-Englightenment political ideal.

    I’m just very unclear how one could hold this view. Christian Democracy does take some elements of traditional, pre-Enlightenment society and culture, but then, so does American conservatism, which consciously adopted ideas dating back to Aristotle, Polybius and Cicero as well as traditions of English common law. But it is also, clearly, the result of an attempt to draw together those elements from conservative, free market, progressive and socialist lines of political thought which seemed most compatible with Christianity and develop a hybrid political programme. As such, Christian Democracy draws on a great deal of progressivism and socialism, as well as classical liberalism and traditional European culture. One can hardly see it as being a return to pre-Enlightenment thought.

  • And there he goes against with the indiscriminate use of “Calvinist.” What exactly about free-market economics corresponds to the Calvinist belief in human depravity and God’s predestination? And why does MM always suppose that when he writes on the Internet, his words are being read by people who hate Protestants with such an irrational passion that merely using the label “Calvinist” — no matter how absurdly inapt — will make them recoil and become social democrats?

  • DC, your replies make sense… thanks for offering the clarification.

  • The direct ancestors of American conservatism were Whigs that advocated a cautious, rooted social and economic progress against the perceived (correctly, it turns out) radicalism of abstracted universalism.

    The argument, in other words, was within the large umbrella of liberalism. This is different from the European (non-British) conservative tradition. Yet, even though the Australians have it more right (Liberal v. Labour), there is an American conservative tradition that can properly lay claim to the word. What is awkward is that it is a defense of a revolution (actually two: 1688 and 1776). The reason this claim is proper is because it is, by comparison, not radical, and because different cultures and nations will necessarily have differing labels for similiar notions.

  • Darwin,

    My issue with this is that Christian Democracy clearly evolved beyond 19th century “liberal” economics, especially after Pius XI declared that whole edifice to be gravely immoral in Quadragesimo Anno. The development of Christian Democracy after WWII saw it turn more towards welfare-statism.

    As for this view that Benedict wants something akin to a global government, it is false. And I have to say, given what I see coming out of the UN these days, especially when it comes to population control and “family planning”, I find it hard to believe that Benedict would be on board with any of that.

    Right now the forces of globalism are almost entirely dominated by pro-abortion, pro-eugenics fanatics who believe the world is “overpopulated.” In theory I believe greater international cooperation and even, one day in the future, a planetary government would be great. In reality, I want absolutely nothing to do with a “world order” dominated by people who are so hostile to life and liberty.

    I move closer to “nationalism” because and only because America as a sovereign state has a political process through which abortion and other threats to life can be defeated – a process that we see has been increasingly abrogated in Europe, Canada, and other countries. And Pope Benedict has remarked on other occasions that he too prefers the American system when it comes to the ability Christians have to influence public policy, something sorely lacking in Europe.

  • Despite the joke, this is a deadly serious topic, and I’ll treat it as much.

    Somebody once pointed out that the Church still has not made its peace with liberalism. Perhaps not, but Christian democracy is the best attempt yet. Is Christian democracy influenced to some extent by liberalism? Without question. But it is also based on Catholic social teaching, which is the Church’s “official” answer to liberalism and modernism, at least so far.

    Remember, CST challenges and condemns both individualism and collectivism, because they are based on flawed anthropologies. American liberalism is underpinned first and foremost by the autonomy of the individual – it is this that gives rise to a strong laissez-faire ethic and the denigration of any role for government in economic life (but not in broader social life).

    But CST is not based on this underlying premise. It sees a properly defined role for govermment within the social order, geared toward the common good. It is for this reason that I believe modern Christian democracy is far more “conservative” than is American liberalism. Rememeber, the founders of CST were deeply conservative (think of Leo XIII and Pius XI). They saw a correct role for government in both economic and social affairs, and indeed – drawing subsidiarity to its logical conclusion – saw that some responsibilities should be assigned to the supra-national entity. So in this sense, I believe it does flow from what you call “pre-Enlightenment” thought.

  • But CST is not based on this underlying premise. It sees a properly defined role for govermment within the social order, geared toward the common good. It is for this reason that I believe modern Christian democracy is far more “conservative” than is American liberalism.

    I largely concur with your comment, but this aspect of your characterization would need the qualifiers of locality when in characterization of governmental organization. This is why it is so difficult, especially as one highly concerned with social issues, to make common cause with leftist politicans (and there is a lot of room for commonality with “traditionalist conservatives,” especially in areas of foreign policy and “free trade”) within the context of a liberal democracy. The tendency toward statism in that socio-political context produces terribly toxic social policy enforced at levels far beyond the local – abortion out of the democratic process through Roe, homosexual activists using the courts to bypass the democratic process, the imposition of “no fault divorce”…the list goes on.

    Now granted much of this flows from the elevation of “rights” and “autonomy,” but that does not mean that leftist/social democrat types should be such strong advocates. And I’m afraid that Christian democrat types can’t or won’t do much, in practical terms, for the cause of locality and social traditionalism.

  • S.B. Says:
    “I, for one, am interested in hearing more about “Bendict’s [sic] world political authority.”

    Here is the paragraph they are probably pointing to:

    67. In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth. One also senses the urgent need to find innovative ways of implementing the principle of the responsibility to protect[146] and of giving poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making. This seems necessary in order to arrive at a political, juridical and economic order which can increase and give direction to international cooperation for the development of all peoples in solidarity. To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago. Such an authority would need to be regulated by law, to observe consistently the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, to seek to establish the common good[147], and to make a commitment to securing authentic integral human development inspired by the values of charity in truth. Furthermore, such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights[148]. Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties, and also with the coordinated measures adopted in various international forums. Without this, despite the great progress accomplished in various sectors, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations. The integral development of peoples and international cooperation require the establishment of a greater degree of international ordering, marked by subsidiarity, for the management of globalization[149]. They also require the construction of a social order that at last conforms to the moral order, to the interconnection between moral and social spheres, and to the link between politics and the economic and civil spheres, as envisaged by the Charter of the United Nations.

    But if you go to the footnotes (citing to the Compendium of Social Doctrine), you’ll see a global super state is not the intent:

    441. Concern for an ordered and peaceful coexistence within the human family prompts the Magisterium to insist on the need to establish ?some universal public authority acknowledged as such by all and endowed with effective power to safeguard, on the behalf of all, security, regard for justice, and respect for rights?.[913] In the course of history, despite the changing viewpoints of the different eras, there has been a constant awareness of the need for a similar authority to respond to worldwide problems arising from the quest for the common good: it is essential that such an authority arise from mutual agreement and that it not be imposed, nor must it be understood as a kind of ?global super-State?

  • I don’t quite get the (widespread) view that Christian Democratic parties are socially conservative but economically liberal.* It’s true that CD parties (at least in Europe) tend to be more economically liberal than the Republican party, but they also tend to be more socially liberal. It’s also true that CD parties are more socially conservative than other major parties in Europe, but they also tend to be more economically conservative than those parties. CD parties basically occupy the same political space in Europe that the Republican party does in the U.S.; it’s just that because European countries tend to have more left leaning populations the center-right parties in those countries are more left leaning (both socially and economically) than is the center-right party in America.

    * For purposes of this comment I’m using ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ in their American sense.

  • Also, when MM says that he’s a Christian Democrat, it’s important to remember that he’s not talking about the existing Christian Democratic parties (just the other day he was revelling in the fact that the head of Italy’s CD party was physically assaulted).

  • “American conservatism: [social conservatism] + [18th century political and economic liberalism]”.

    Throw in support for a strong national defense and that pretty well defines me politically, along, I think, with a plurality of Republicans. To understand American conservatism, a good starting point is to compare and contrast the American and French Revolutions, and why Edmund Burke looked kindly upon the Americans and urged a war to the end against the French Revolution.

  • Is American Liberalism really “underpinned first and foremost by the autonomy of the individual?”

  • Christian Democrat? Sounds nice, but just how Christian are European Christian Democrats in 2009? Since the early post-war years the CD has become increasingly secular. MM can admire some ideal of Christian Democracy that exists solely in his head, but his version is not the one which exists in Europe today. It’s like me saying I am a member of the Whig Party. Here’s Catholic Belgian Paul Belien, writing about new EU president Herman Van Rompuy

    “In the mid-1980s, Van Rompuy, a conservative Catholic, born in 1947, was active in the youth section of the Flemish Christian-Democrat Party. He wrote books and articles about the importance of traditional values, the role of religion, the protection of the unborn life, the Christian roots of Europe and the need to preserve them,…,

    In April 1990, the King did in fact abdicate over the abortion issue, and the Christian-Democrat Party, led by Herman Van Rompuy, who had always prided himself on being a good Catholic, had one of Europe’s most liberal abortion bills signed by the college of ministers, a procedure provided by the Belgian Constitution for situations when there is no King. Then they had the King voted back on the throne the following day.;…,

    Now, Herman has moved on to lead Europe. Like Belgium, the European Union is an undemocratic institution, which needs shrewd leaders who are capable of renouncing everything they once believed in and who know how to impose decisions on the people against the will of the people. Never mind democracy, morality or the rule of law, our betters know what is good for us more than we do. And Herman is now one of our betters. He has come a long way since the days when he was disgusted with Belgian-style politics.
    Herman is like Saruman, the wise wizard in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, who went over to the other side. He used to care about the things we cared about. But no longer. He has built himself a high tower from where he rules over all of us.”

    No, none of that cursed individualism there! Also, not very much in the way of Christianity.

    http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/4181

  • Zach: I’ve recently begin rereading Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” which I first read as an undergrad. Tocqueville understood that that, just as checks and balances were built into the American political system, religion and community life served as a check on individualism run riot. He wasn’t just talking about Protestants either:

    “In the United States there is no single religious doctrine which is hostile to democratic and republican institutions. All the clergy there speak the same language. Thus American Catholics are both the most obedient believers and the most independent citizens.”

  • In any event, conservatism in America is intended to conserve certain things which are here now, and to restore certain things where were here at the founding of the republic and are no longer because they were changed by “progressives.”

    Self-described conservatives vary according to which items from the founding of the republic they think need restoring, and how important they are. And, they vary according to which things currently present need conserving.

    However, inasmuch as they intend either to prevent change from the status quo — to “stand athwart history yelling stop!” in the famous (and slightly ironical) formulation — or to restore that which was lost during the 20th century, they uniformly represent a looking-back approach to social progress.

    And that instinct, to look back, makes the label “conservative” a reasonable one to apply. I suppose one could distinguish between the items where they want to keep the status quo, and those where they want to reverse 20th century changes to the status quo, by calling them “conservatism” and “restorationism” respectively. But the latter isn’t really in-use except with respect to restoring monarchies, so using it here would cause confusion.

    So I expect “conservative” is a reasonable selection of moniker, so long as the audience…

    (a.) …understands that conservatism means something different in the U.S., where it’s related to strict-constructionist Constitutional Republicanism, than in other countries, where because their history differs, it may refer to communism (Russia) or theocratism (Iran) or even monarchism (restorationism again).

    (b.) …is willing to exercise the modicum of care needed to understand how a particular speaker is using the word “conservatism,” and adapt to it without submitting overmuch to the nerdy-student’s urge to constantly correct his usage with niggling historical details that aren’t relevant to the speaker communicating his meaning.

  • You all have inspired me to write 🙂

    I’m gonna have a lot to say about all this very soon.

  • MM,

    I appreciate the serious engagement despite the humorous framing of the post.

    Somebody once pointed out that the Church still has not made its peace with liberalism. Perhaps not, but Christian democracy is the best attempt yet. Is Christian democracy influenced to some extent by liberalism? Without question. But it is also based on Catholic social teaching, which is the Church’s “official” answer to liberalism and modernism, at least so far.

    I must admit, I’m not always entirely sure what people mean when they talk about the Church not having made its peace with liberalism. Does the Church deny the ideal of providing all citizens with equal rights under the law? Does it deny the validity of representative government or the idea of legitimacy stemming from the consent of the governed in the secular realm?

    I think, at most, it can be taken to mean two things:

    1) The Church is itself not by any means a democracy, and so it does not rule itself through “liberal” means. This makes some people very angry, but it seems to me pretty much an irrelevance since the Church is clearly something wholly different in kind from secular governments. That the Church does not (indeed, cannot) rule itself via liberal forms of government is no more a statement for or against liberalism in the secular political realm than that fact that families are not ruled through liberal institutions.

    2) Arguably, in some senses our moral theology has not fully grappled with the implications of liberal political institutions. For instance, much of our moral understanding of political actions is centered around how rulers and subjects should behave, while the partly self determining, mostly subject state in which a single citizen of a representative democracy finds himself is rather less well explored.

    My impression is that you mean by saying that Christian Democracy is the best rapprochement between the Church and liberalism yet that Christian Democracy is less inimical to Christianity than socialism and communism, yet in the post-WW2 era has become strongly associated with the comprehensive welfare state, strong employment regulation, etc. That, in itself, is something Catholics can debate (and I’d rather not get sidetracked into it now) but for the present purposes, I’m not clear how that makes Christian Democracy “conservative” in that the welfare state is something which only sprang into existence post 1840 or so. And strong labor policy only began to appear several decades after that. I suppose one can argue that it was somehow in the spirit of the old Catholic monarchies, but since none of the old Catholic monarchies practices such policies (indeed, state coffers were very small by modern standards, taxes were often highly regressive, and spending was primarily military and construction) I just don’t see how the argument works.

    Remember, CST challenges and condemns both individualism and collectivism, because they are based on flawed anthropologies. American liberalism is underpinned first and foremost by the autonomy of the individual – it is this that gives rise to a strong laissez-faire ethic and the denigration of any role for government in economic life (but not in broader social life).

    I’m unclear how American liberalism is underpinned primarily by the autonomy of the individual in a way that European liberalism (and Christian Democracy in particular) is not. It’s true that the writing of the era of the founding places a strong emphases of individual liberty and due process — but that only makes sense as it was written against the backdrop of absolutism. The earliest forms of continental liberalism (circa the French Revolution) showed similar tendencies, indeed far more radical and dangerous ones which nearly all of the American founders reacted against.

    Perhaps one of the main differences here is that while the US has remained in existence and retained the same constitution for 200 years and change, the continental governments have all turned over many times during that period, with most of them now having constitutions or institutions established shortly after WW2. As such, their founding concerns have much more to do with labor relations and the problems of a mass society than do those of the US, which was overwhelmingly and agricultural society at the time of its founding and for some time after.

    Because of this political ancestry (and perhaps due to some more general social factor which seems to make European culture more subject to collective action — judging from movements good and ill over the last couple hundred years) there is a greater degree of collectivism in Christian Democracy than in American conservatism, but it seems to me far from sure that the tendency to vote oneself and one’s class greater assurance of economic security is necessarily less “individualistic” than supporting greater opportunity. What it reflects more than individualism vs. solidarity is a divergence in the degree to which people think it is possible to better themselves at all through their own effort.

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  • Of course the Church has not “made its peace with liberalism”, and it never will–Catholicism and liberalism are two logically incompatible belief systems. Liberalism’s ideal is state neutrality towards competing “comprehensive” theories of the good. Practically, it means reducing society to a means for maximizing and equalizing the satisfaction of private desires. Conservatives and Christians think it inevitable and good that society should be held together and legitimated by a traditional way of life and a common, substantive vision of justice. The purpose of the state is to protect the common good (not private goods, or even their sum) and defend the moral consensus. Catholics in particular believe that God’s authority extends not only over each of us as individuals, but over corporate groups, including states.

    The contradiction between liberalism and Catholicism extends to virtually every point. Liberals are egalitarian; Catholics are corporatist and hierarchical. Catholics defend distinction of roles based on sex, age, familial relationship, and clerical status. Liberals are cosmopolitan; Catholics recognize the duty of piety towards ancestors and fatherland.

    Incidentally, the idea of “legitimacy stemming from the consent of the governed” is absurd in any realm. As real conservatives like de Maistre realized, the whole distinctive essence of authority is that you are morally obliged to obey even if you don’t want to. If I say “this person has authority over me, because I decide to grant it to him”, there is no real relationship of authority at all. As soon as I get an order I don’t like, I can just revoke my grant of consent.

  • DarwinCatholic,

    Rereading my response, I think it sounds too dismissive and disrespectful, and I apologize for that. I have enjoyed many of your postings, and I think you’re right that the Christian Democrats aren’t more conservative than American conservatives.
    I think we “Throne and Altar” types have both of you beaten in that department.

  • “As real conservatives like de Maistre realized, the whole distinctive essence of authority is that you are morally obliged to obey even if you don’t want to.”

    Hardly. Someone may have had a crown because some ancestor conquered a territory or was chosen by nobles after an old line died out, but that did not impose a moral obligation on those subject to them to obey their commands, as the multitudinous civil wars and rebellions that afflicted most monarchies attested. A monarch might well claim that a subject was morally obliged to obey him, but such a claim does not thereby create a moral obligation to obey. All government does in fact rest ultimately on the consent of the governed long term. When that consent is withheld long enough by a large enough segment of the population, any state, no matter its form of government, will ultimately totter and fall.

  • Bonald,

    I’ll certainly cede to you that Throne and Altar types are significantly more conservative that either Christian Democrats or American conservatives!

    Trying to answer major points concisely:

    – I’m not sure that Liberalism is indifferent to competing theories of the good, as it recognizes that we cannot be sure that people will correctly recognize the good. So for instance, I think there’s a very clear answer as to whether statist, universal health care is a good idea — but I’d be hesitant to be confident that, if the US had a king, the king would arrive at the correct conclusion in the matter. The virtue of Liberalism in this regard is that one can at least be sure that the majority will get what they deserve in regards to the rule of their country, even if they don’t get what’s right. Now, in that regard, I guess I’m conditionally liberal (in the classical liberal sense) in that I would, for one, make no move to demand more liberal institutions if I lived in a monarchy or aristocracy and didn’t think that the current rulers were ruling badly. But in a situation where one is forced to demand some sort of change because of bad rule, I would advocate liberal institutions over simply changing dynasties.

    – On legitimacy stemming from the consent of the governed: It strikes me as something which can only apply to the whole (or at any rate, majority) of the governed, not to individuals. The fact that I don’t like Obama does not allow me to disobey laws with impunity. I would mostly follow Socrates in Phaedo in regards to the claim that since I have so willingly lived in the US for so long, it would be immoral of me to suddenly claim that I am not governed by its laws now.

    However, even in a monarchy, there are points when victory in a dynastic war results in a different succession of rulers gaining power — essentially because the realm as a whole is willing to follow the one and not the other. And, for instance, it strikes me that by the 1860s, one could no longer really claim the the Bourbons were the “legitimate” rulers of France. They had simply lost their credibility by the time of the Second Empire. They were the descendants of kings, but they were no longer meaningfully kings.

  • When that consent is withheld long enough by a large enough segment of the population, any state, no matter its form of government, will ultimately totter and fall.

    So Stalin ruled by the consent of the governed? Who knew!

  • One might point out that deliberative institutions at all levels were prevalent in medieval Europe. They were not dependant for their operation on conceptions of legitimacy associated with John Locke being ambient in any part of the populace.

  • Well, in a sense, didn’t he?

    Sure, Stalin had a finger on a scale in the sense that anyone who expressed dissent was killed or sent to Siberia (along with a lot of people who hadn’t even expressed dissent), but didn’t it essentially amount to the fact that people were more willing to be ruled by him than to pay the price of getting rid of him?

    By comparison, Hitler was not able to maintain rule over the parts of Russia which he conquered — primarily because the USSR was successful in getting millions of people to die in order to prevent him.

    Trying to think this through, I’m coming up with a couple of possibilities as to what “consent of the governed” might be taken to mean (if it means anything):

    1) Rulers ought to rule through the consent of their subjects, in a way which their subjects do not object to, and those who rule through force/oppression instead of through consent are “illegitimate”.

    2) A ruler derives his ability to rule through the willingness of others to listen to him, regardsless of whether he achieves this through ruling well or oppression. This may be very nearly a tautology, in that it basically amounts to saying: you’re a ruler if people follow you for some reason. On the other hand it does seem to provide a working definition which both ruler and subjects could consult: You are only the ruler if, for some reason, most of your subjects actually acknowledge you to be the ruler. (If not, you’re a pretender.)

  • So the Soviet Union still exists BA, who knew? Force can work short term, and Stalin’s reign of less than three decades was short term, but ultimately any regime cannot govern when a substantial portion of the population simply refuses to give their consent over the long term to the regime.

  • I might also note that even the Nazi regime was quite concerned about German public opinion. A good example is the successful Rosenstrasse protest of German women opposing the removal of their Jewish husbands from Berlin to concentration camps in 1943.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenstrasse_protest

  • but ultimately any regime cannot govern when a substantial portion of the population simply refuses to give their consent over the long term to the regime.

    Not so sure about the relation between the political class and the populace. With regard to events in Soviet Russia during the years running from 1953 to 1957, I think you see evidence toward the proposition that a totalitarian order can be unsustainable because the will to sustain it hardly exists outside its author. By one account, while Stalin was on his deathbed, Laverenti Beria stood by him reviling him.

  • “By one account, while Stalin was on his deathbed, Laverenti Beria stood by him reviling him.”

    True. Then Stalin looked as if he was going to regain consciousness and Beria began kissing his hand. Little did Beria realize, although he soon found out, that Stalin’s support was the only thing keeping him alive.

    The massive bloodletting that Stalin and Mao engaged in domestically is simply unsustainable for any society. Short term they reigned supreme, long term they damaged the communist brand fatally among most of their populations.

  • A lot of Russians thought Stalin didn’t know about the oppression they suffered under – and that if he only did, he would stop it.

  • Fair point. For such an unlikeable figure, Stalin was surprisingly beloved.

  • Traditionally the Russian peasantry would say the same thing about the Tsars. “If only the little Father knew!” Stalin’s cult of personality was a knowing attempt to place himself in the Tsar’s place. When his aged mother asked Stalin just what his job was, he responded “Well mama, do you remember the Tsars? I’m sort of like a Tsar.”

  • Force can work short term, and Stalin’s reign of less than three decades was short term

    Three decades is the short term?

    So the Soviet Union still exists BA, who knew?

    The Soviet Union didn’t cease to exist because Stalin lacked the consent of the governed, but if you want an example of a still existing totalitarianism, there’s North Korea. No doubt your answer to that will be that the North Korean regime’s days are numbered, and that eventually it too will fall based on its lack of consent by the governed. Not only does this render the claim nonfalsifiable, but it renders it somewhat vacuous as well. If all the consent of the governed idea means is that a state can’t exist without popular support for thirty, er, sixty (ninety?) years then that isn’t saying much.

  • Stalin had a finger on a scale in the sense that anyone who expressed dissent was killed or sent to Siberia (along with a lot of people who hadn’t even expressed dissent), but didn’t it essentially amount to the fact that people were more willing to be ruled by him than to pay the price of getting rid of him?

    If I hand over my money to a mugger rather than be killed by him, does that mean I have consented to his having my money?

  • “No doubt your answer to that will be that the North Korean regime’s days are numbered, and that eventually it too will fall based on its lack of consent by the governed.”

    Of course it will, and you know it. North Korea isn’t a nation but rather a vast concentration camp as indicated by the starving defectors that escape from it. It is a prime example of the devastating consequences of leaders attempting to rule without the consent of the governed: a truly Orwellian nightmare of a “nation” of prisoners ruled by a few guards. Unlike Orwell’s dystopia however, North Korea is not an example of the trend of the future but rather an example of an extreme despotism doomed to die. Rather than aiding your case BA it strengthens my contention that the consent of the governed is necessary for any regime long term. A substantial portion of any population withholding that consent for long enough is going to doom any regime. Every state if it wishes to endure long term has to get consent and acceptance from most of its population.

  • I would not say that. I think you can say that in Occidental civilization, political systems with genuine durability tend to incorporate a modicum of pluralism and make ample use of deliberative institutions and political authority exercised face-to-face. The Hohenzollern and Romanov monarchies would be the notable exceptions. It also appears that the Occidental pattern is now global (more or less).

  • I’m happy that my remarks on legitimacy have stirred up so many interesting comments. I see that several people pointed out the best argument for the “legitimacy comes from consent” position–namely that if nobody recognizes a ruler as legitimate, he is not, in fact, legitimate. I would say that authority has the interesting property of being based on recognition, but not on consent. We all recognize a duty to obey the state, whether or not we consent to it (even implicitly). Where does this duty come from? Like all authority, it comes from God. I must obey the state because, strange as it may seem, for me the U.S. government symbolizes God in His role of judge and ruler. If the state only represented the will of the majority, and not God, than my obeying it would be nothing but herd-mentality servility.

    Haven’t I just pushed the problem back one more step? What gives the U.S. this symbolic value for me rather than, say, the king of Spain? I suppose its the fact that I’m part of a people, a collective consciousness, with its distinct culture, traditions, and ways of symbolizing the world. Every people must symbolize God’s authority over them, both individually and collectively, and they do that partly through the state. To withdraw allegiance from the state would be to sever myself from my ancestors and my countrymen by removing myself from their symbolic universe. Filial piety forbids me to do this.

    I hope this makes sense.

  • “If I hand over my money to a mugger rather than be killed by him, does that mean I have consented to his having my money?”

    Yes. To live instead of die is a choice.

    But, that isn’t why people follow and obey dictators, at least not in the long-term.

    Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro – none of them would have been able to come to or stay in power without the support of at least the majority. Heck, Hitler was elected. He didn’t win a majority but he did win more votes than any other candidate. Even Lenin wouldn’t make a move until election results showed that a majority of Russia’s urban workers supported the Bolsheviks (even though they were overwhelmingly opposed by the rest of Russia). While they were in the minority among the group they believed they needed to win, Lenin insisted on pacifism for purely pragmatic reasons. Castro and Mao and other third world dictators had legions of followers who supported their rise and maintained their power.

    Anti-imperialism was a popular and powerful force. The hearts and minds of the young were swiftly captured and turned against skeptical or resistant parents. People believed they were breathing the air of genuine freedom – from domination by Western powers. They saw measures we would consider totalitarian and unworthy of human dignity as necessities in the struggle against imperialism.

    Sure, these totalitarian regimes will eventually collapse – new leaders that don’t have the same charisma will replace the ones that did have it. The old problems that the leaders sought to address will vanish, or their successors will make things worse than they were. It only takes a few military units to sour on the regime for the whole thing to come tumbling down.

  • “If I hand over my money to a mugger rather than be killed by him, does that mean I have consented to his having my money?”

    Yes. To live instead of die is a choice.

    By this logic rape would be impossible. Rape is sex without consent. But when a man with a gun threatens to kill a woman unless she submits, she chooses to live instead of die, which is a choice. Hence the sex is consensual, and hence not rape.

    Of course the above argument is invalid, because it just isn’t the case that you consent to something when forced into it at the point of a gun.

  • Well, first of all, it wouldn’t be impossible – if you physically pin a person down, even their choice to resist wouldn’t matter.

    In your example, how is a choice NOT being made? To say there is no choice is to say that there is literally no other possibility. This is simply false.

    Perhaps there is a difference between simply making a choice, and “consenting” – I’ll grant that. But there is a choice.

  • Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro – none of them would have been able to come to or stay in power without the support of at least the majority.

    There is a distinction between organizational skills and popular support. Moqtada al-Sadr was able to establish himself as a power in Iraq even though his political party has clocked in with less than 5% of the vote in competitive elections. Columbia’s insurgent groups made a brief foray into electoral politics twenty years ago and their performance suggested a base of similar size; those characters have been making a mess of Columbian public life since 1964 or therabouts..

  • In your example, how is a choice NOT being made?

    Did I say there was no choice being made? I said there was no consent.

I Want One Of Them Stimulous Jobs

Friday, November 6, AD 2009

There is something in me which, when it sees to related numbers, wants to immediately do a calculation, so when I saw a news story stating that the $215 billion in stimulous money given out thus far had resulted in 640,329 jobs, my first question was, “How much is that per job?”

Answer? $312,339.44

Not too shabby, eh? I’d like one of them jobs just fine.

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One Response to I Want One Of Them Stimulous Jobs

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.

Let's find the fallacy!

Tuesday, October 13, AD 2009

Yesterday The Nation‘s John Nichols wrote a rather scathing piece about President Obama: the piece is entitled “Whiner-in-Chief” and the first line reads, “The Obama administration really needs to get over itself.”

Of course, I tend to agree with perspectives like that. 🙂  But near the end of the piece Nichols tries to argue that the country isn’t as divided as the White House thinks, and along the way, he makes a heckuva non sequitur:

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4 Responses to Let's find the fallacy!

What He Said

Friday, October 2, AD 2009

Here’s Prof. David Post at the Volokh Conspiracy describing politics through an analogy to sports (the easiest way to explain anything to me):

I then said something like – “but it does seem like the overall level of defense is improving all over – I see so many great plays these days . . .” before I recognized how stupid a comment that was.  Of course I was seeing more great defensive plays than I had 10 or 20 years before – because 10 or 20 years before there had been no Sportscenter (or equivalent).  In 1992 (or whenever exactly this was), I could turn on the TV and catch 20 or 30 minutes of great highlights every night, including 5 or 6 truly spectacular defensive plays; in 1980, or 1960, to see 5 or 6 truly spectacular defensive plays, you had to watch 20 or 25 hours of baseball, minimum.  [That’s what ESPN was doing, in effect – watching 10 or 12 games simultaneously and pulling out the highlights].  It was just my mind playing a trick on me; I had unconsciously made a very simple mistake.  The way in which I was perceiving the world of baseball had, with Sportscenter, changed fundamentally, but I hadn’t taken that into account.  Without thinking about it, I had plugged into a simple formula:  Old Days:             5 spectacular plays in 25 hours of baseball watching. New Days:          5 spectacular plays in ½ hour of baseball watching. And I had reached the obvious (and obviously wrong, on reflection) conclusion that the rate of spectacular playmaking had gone up.

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17 Responses to What He Said

  • I think there’s a lot to that — plus just that people have a short political memory. When you want to talk about sheer political bile, there’s nothing like the first 40 years of the country.

  • Yeah, back when U.S. Presidents(!) wrote stuff like “the tree of liberty needs to be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

  • Or when both parties made it a practice to openly question the parentage and sexual practices of the other party’s candidates in mainstream newspapers.

  • Said by Thomas Jefferson. I suspect if he had actually served in the Continental Army and participated in a battle or two he wouldn’t have been so glib about bloodshed.

    I think the political bile in our country probably reached a peak just before the Civil War. Of course it has never been particularly genteel. Truman would sometimes refer to some Republicans as fascists and Republicans would refer to Dean Acheson, Truman’s Secretary of State, a strong anti-Communist, as the “Red Dean”.

  • I agree with this theory, but an alternative view is: the anonymity of the Internet allows for more unvarnished airing of thoughts – ?

  • Well, I think there are many things going on. But I also do believe that conspiracy theories are becoming quite popular and easily spread via the internet; and once you get the theory out, the solution is “revolt” or “coup.”

    If you want to see an example of this, read the following thread from Godlikeproductions (a rather freaky place, and yet, apparently of great influence on the dark corners of the internet):

    http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message891244/pg1

  • An awful lot of politics is best understood by analogy to team sports.

  • Is our team winning?

  • Henry, you do manage to dig up the weirdest stuff. Maybe it’s influential in your circles, but I doubt if anyone else here has ever heard of that website.

  • Anon

    Godlikeproductions is currently in the throes of a major anti-Obama campaign, and is a source of many “tea party” and “Glen Beck” fans. It’s that kind of crowd. I run into all kinds of things and groups on the internet. But this is a rather big forum. I like looking at what the kook/conspiracy people are talking about — because, a few weeks later, much of what they say becomes talking points.

    I think it was someone there who originally made the first Obama-Joker poster, btw. I could be wrong, but I know that was the claim I saw.

  • Plus, look at the number of page views a day — it’s huge. Currently: 381,411 with 762 users online — at one time. This is not a small place.

  • I must admit I’ve never even been to this site and y’all didn’t get my curiousity up. I will observe one thing though. It is easy to write off the ‘conspiracy theorists’ but are we to assume all conspiracies are just kooky hypotheses? Is it possible that some are plausible theories?

    I don’t think that thinking aliens spawned man in the days before history, or even kidnapped people in the 1950s or simply blame it on the Jews is sane. Those are obviously kooky. I am referring to plausible conspiracies.

    Obviously the biggest real conspiracy is sited in Ephesians 6:12, but how is it manifested? Wouldn’t it make sense that evil men are conspiring to bring about Satan’s reign?

    McCarthy exposed the Communist conspiracy (it is still going on though). The Federal Reserve is a conspiracy. Watergate was a conspiracy. The diamond market is a conspiracy. There must be more. The difficulty is sorting the truth from myth, but I think we have to be careful not to dismiss all conspiracy theories as kooky. I am sure the conspirators like all the dissinformation and kooky theories becuase it provides them cover.

    For example Area 51, a favorit among UFO enthusiasts. I am fairly confident that their are no space aliens there, but something secret is going on. Maybe they developed the stealth technology there and used the alien cover up to keep the Sovs and other enemies confused. I’m OK with that, one of the few things I think government should keep secret is defense tech and defense intel, with Congressional oversight though – but we shouldn’t know about. That is a benign ‘conspiracy’ becuase it benefits national security. Are there others? Are some sinister?

    We have to be prudent and use proper discernment but I think outright dismissal is just as bad a mistake.

    I could be wrong because the Great Gazoo just dictated this whole post to me and he invented a machine that will destroy the space-time continuum.

  • Henry,

    A forum that has 700 people online at a time may be “not small”, but in the context of the US population, it’s certainly not large either. Plugging it into Alexa and comparing it to sites like freerepublic.com and redstate.com, it looks like godlikeproductions.com has a fair amount of traffic, though much of it from the same people visiting again and again. Comparing it to several other political and news sites, it shows up, but it’s pretty small fries.

    http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/foxnews.com+godlikeproductions.com+freerepublic.com+dailykos.com+huffingtonpost.com

    As for who came up with the Obama as Joker image, that one was broken by the mainstream media: It was a Kucinich supporter in Chicago.

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2009/08/obama-joker-artist.html

  • DC

    When talking about big, it is of course in relation to the internet. Quantcast rates it 4992 in the top 5000, and says it reaches 325K people a month. godlikeproductions.com

    http://www.quantcast.com/godlikeproductions.com

    Second, that doesn’t say he is not a member of GLP.

  • Another thing that might be playing into the effect you note is that folks are more and more willing to speak up with uneducated and/or poorly sourced opinions– for example, the other day I saw my dad get mad at the TV for the first time _EVER_ when he was looking for a news program to watch in some rare free time– MSNBC was doing a thing on the mustang roundups, and the “expert” they were interviewing stated that if these “wild animals” weren’t “saved,” they’d be butchered for dog meat right in that very state. It’s been illegal to butcher horses for years in the US, as dad knows because of the horrific abuse it results in.
    Dad didn’t get upset until the newscaster treated such a flat-ignorant statement as gospel truth– basic fact-checking should’ve stopped that, and it wasn’t even a live interview. They just couldn’t be bothered to fact-check the person they were interviewing as an expert.

    If a cable news company spreads such at best ignorant information, of course there’s going to be a lot more folks who believe deeply, honestly and honorably things that are in no way shape or form related to objective reality, just because they have a tainted information source. (Don’t get me started on Wiki…..)

  • Henry,

    Ah, thanks for setting them up on quantcast (or at least, their data wasn’t available on there last night.)

    Interesting data on what other sites those folks are into:

    Affinity
    zetatalk.com 164.0x
    whatdoesitmean.com 134.0x
    urbansurvival.com 129.1x
    surfingtheapocalypse… 128.0x
    mt.net 100.4x
    rumormillnews.com 100.3x
    conspiracyplanet.com 94.8x
    theforbiddenknowledg… 91.5x

    Looks like it appeals to a pretty generic conspiracy demographic more than a right wing one, though that doesn’t mean that among conspiracy theorists they aren’t more right leaning than left leaning. (Though of course, when you get that fringy, the two wings tend to meet. For instance, the “what if McCain is a Manchurian candidate” meme you were interested in back during the election held appeal for both right wing and left wing crazies, as I recall. Indeed, now I look at it, one of your sources was NewsMax. Might want to find better reading material…)

    300k estimated people viewing a month is certainly a large number, though of course smaller than the 1 million people per month for NationalReview.com and the 8.8 million per month for FoxNews.com. (And showing where Americas real priorities are, a full 16 million hit ESPN.com every month and 82 million hit YouTube.)

    I’ll agree it’s disturbing that 0.1% of the US population per month bother with such conspiracy mongering, though I suppose we can hope that many of them are reasonable people who just happen to follow a google link and then high tail it away with disgust once they look around a bit.

    Still, that it gets any attention at all I suppose just goes to show why no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

  • I’ll agree it’s disturbing that 0.1% of the US population per month bother with such conspiracy mongering, though I suppose we can hope that many of them are reasonable people who just happen to follow a google link and then high tail it away with disgust once they look around a bit.

    Don’t underestimate the entertainment value, either– I adore “Coast to Coast AM” and “PID Radio” and “Cryptomundo,” among other hidden knowlege type media… of course, I also use to like buying “Weekly World News.” (Batboy!)
    Just because folks are visiting doesn’t mean they’re agreeing.

    I kind of wonder what the effect of identity blocking measures would be on the site metrics, too– if it’s raw click-throughs, then folks who are visiting the same page several times will inflate the number, while if it’s visits-per-IP-in-a-day, the folks worried about being tracked will inflate the numbers, as would folks who click through at work and home. The more fringe-ie folks are more likely to use measures to keep from being tracked….

Signs and Portents

Thursday, October 1, AD 2009

Gallup Party ID

The first in an on-going series.  I have never been interested in sports, much to the quiet chagrin of my late father.  Other than hockey in my college days, I can’t recall ever spending any money to see a sporting event.  On the weekends no sounds of athletic contests emanate from the McClarey household TV.  I suspect that my strong interest in politics takes the place of sports for me.  I am endlessly fascinated by it, pay close attention to all news regarding politics and have familiarized myself over the years with a fair amount of the technical aspects of the craft.  For political junkies like me our season is about to begin.  Next year’s congressional elections are just a little over a year away and I think looking at the political tea leaves as they stand now might be amusing to those of our readers who share some portion of my passion.

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46 Responses to Signs and Portents

  • There is no question that the Democrats are on their heels. As an independent voter, who votes Republican, or third party primarily for life issues, I can say that Democrats have little to no appeal for right-minded voters.

    The problem for Republicans is that they are clamoring to figure out how to use this to their advantage. Country-club, Rockefeller, neo-cons and other RINOS are political opportunists and the current sentiment in the country is to NOT trust them becuase, well, “they lie”.

    What the elephants need to do is become genuinely conservative and come to the voters with a simple, concise, direct message and not the usual pandering to pro-lifers, small government and low tax voters. They need to actually mean it and execute it – not just talk about and then give us more taxes, big government, intervention and other similar BS.

    It needs to be real and genuine. Instead of being wordsmiths that try to appeal to all voters they need to be honest, true and defend their positions. In Virgnina the governors race is ramping up over pro-life issues. The Demoncrat is painting the Republican as a woman-hating troglodyte! Despite the fact that he has three accomplished daughters, one of whom served in uniform. They are also attacking him becuase he expresses a sentiment that women, who are mothers, may actually want to stay home (harder work than any ‘man’s” job) and raise their own children. He also thinks that contraception may be a problem. How crazy is that? Contraception has made our lives so much better, hasn’t it??!!!!

    If he sticks to his guns and doesn’t pander and unapologetically puts forth his true conservative beleifs, the Old Dominion will respond well. Excluding the bulk of enemy-occupied Northern Virginia. But there are 400,000 Catholics in No Va and if they are properly catechized (big IF) he can even win in this sad area.

    As this well written article points out – the economy is the primary issue (how money gets ahead of life is a whole other matter). It is highly likely that the Federal Reserve will keep rates artificially low and may even pull back (deflate) the money supply in order to stem inflation among the myriad of ohter tools to tamper with the economy. The goal will be to continue and even accelerate this false spring we are experiencing to give the Dems a push in elections.

    It won’t last. It can’t. The economy and the markets want to correct becuase this is conrolled chaos and the natural forces of the market will overcome the Fed and it will all come crashing down. It is possible, even probable, that Bernanke can sustain this ‘recovery’ through Nov. 2010 – but not much longer. The other possibility is to crash it even more and find some way to blame the obstructionist Republicans.

    Either way, a true, solid, unwavering, conservative message will sway voters away from the left – at least for a little while – Americans are fickle.

  • Too early, too too early to derive any meaning from this.

    November 2010 is an eternity away.

  • The main practical effects currently Dale are in recruitment for GOP candidates and raising funds. Signs of a good election result for next year have worked wonders for the GOP in both categories. Additionally of course Blue Dogs looking at the same information have become increasingly resistant to signing on to Obama initiatives. I agree that 13 months is an eternity in politics but political tea leaves do have their practical impact here and now. Look for all this to ramp up considerably if the Republicans do take the state houses in Virginia and New Jersey.

  • November 2010 is an eternity away.

    Apologies, but I’m not all that excited over Obama’s imminent re-election, which would most likely occur then given the temperature of the general populace who are more so hypnotized by that man’s charisma than anything else.

  • That’s a good point, Donald. While the election is waaaaay too far away to derive meaning to this, candidate recruitment is important. My understanding from reading Barrone, Cook and others who spend their lives analyzing these races is that the GOP has actually done a great job with recruitment and the field of candidates is a decided step up from previous cycles. They are doing what the Dems did in 06 and 08. Of course that doesn’t mean that the GOP should expect a huge win, but at least it gives them hope.

  • Why should we honestly care about the GOP and GOP recruitment, or any of these ‘tea leaves’? If the GOP makes any kind of comeback, we can be assured zero changes in direction. More warfare and more welfare, thats all either party is capable of giving us.

    The GOP is shaping up to be about as pathetic in 2012 as they were in 2008. Victories in the next two elections cycles for Republicans will only be because of an anti-Obama/Pelosi/Reid sentiment— NOT because of a genuine shift in American political outlook. I see zero shift in ideals within the mainstream of politics. I see more people fed up with both parties, but they still feel inevitably cornered into voting for one of them.

    Until a new party or one of the parties can successfully merge anti-war, anti-Fed, pro-life, pro-small government and pro-Constitution ideals AND demonstrate a willingness to actually ACT accordingly, we will continue to seesaw between the two parties and continue to be disappointed with our political class.

    Not voting has become a legitimate option in my mind, given the kind of political environment we now face.

  • “merge anti-war, anti-Fed, pro-life, pro-small government and pro-Constitution ideals”

    Such parties are out there Anthony, they simply fail to get any votes. Most people who are pro-life and anti-big government do not treasure an isolationist foreign policy that imagines that a Fortress America strategy is possible. Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul speak for very few Americans. Libertarians who are usually pro-abort often embrace small government and a Fortress America policy and have shown over the decades a spectacular inability to gain votes. Most conservatives simply do not embrace your constellation of issues and hence your considering not voting. That is completely up to you. Personally I do appreciate all non-voters. I appreciate being able to help choose their elected officials for them.

  • Personally I do appreciate all non-voters. I appreciate being able to help choose their elected officials for them.

    This is one of the reasons why the Obama administration prevailed in the last year’s November elections.

    Had we the support of the great majority of supposedly Pro-Life/Catholic non-voters, perhaps we might have prevented such a fiercely Pro-Abort administration from taking the reins of power.

  • I certainly will Don!

  • Sadly it is tempting not to vote becuase the choices are so poor but voting is NOT only a RIGHT it is also a DUTY. We have to vote. Vote your consciencev- if you can’t vote for flip-sides of the same party there are many other choices – sadly, it is not likely they will win without a major paradigm shift in the public’s mind. We need to revitalize one of the parties and the one is the Republican party. Why do you think a libertarian like Ron Paul runs as a Republican?

    As for conservatives not agreeing on those issues, I disagree. I think authentically conservative people do agree on ALL of those. RINOs don’t becuase they are just closet leftists.

    Why wouldn’t a right tinking person be for the strict constructionist interpretation of the Constitution? For life? For a small limited government? For sound money and market-based banking? It is natural to be against the Federal Reserve – they ruin everything. No one in their right mind can be for such an evil insitution if they knew how it worked. It is also natural to be anti-war, no Christian should be for war, but we will be for waging to the fullest with a quick resolution when it is absolutely necessary.

    Aren’t those the true conservative values?

  • I think authentically conservative people do agree on ALL of those.

    I strongly disagree.

    If you recall the great isolationist/interventionist debate back then, there were a great number of key conservatives from both sides.

    Conservatives with an isolationist bent often resorted to Washington’s spiel about entangling foreign alliances whilst other conservatives went for Churchill.

    Please don’t tell me you used to be one of those folks who participated in America First rallies.

  • e.,

    I am not too familiar with America First rallies – that may be from before I was born. I am not old enought to have ever voted for Reagan.

    I think that being anti-war, is essentially being a peacemaker and that is a Beatitude. Of course, in common speak, anti-war and peace bring hippies and other idiots carrying the broken cross of Christ to mind, because they work, knowingly or unkowingly, for the Communists and Soviets.

    Nevertheless, in truth we should all want peace and sometimes that means war. The problem with our modern paradigm is that it is a lie. Democrats are peaceful and Republicans are warmongers. Why is it that most of our wars were started by Democrats and prolonged by Democrats? That is until Iraq (the second time, not the first).

    Warfare is the external apparatus of big government and welfare is the internal. Airstrip One was at war with Eastasia or Eurasia – perpetually.

    The fact is that war is the best way to control a populace and destroy infrastructure and commit resources to the work of death. If we are for a culture of life and against a culture of death, that has to encompass much more than abortion.

    This is not to say that you do not prepare for war or that you do not commit to war. Being a peacemaker without a weapon is a fool’s errand for mortal men. But you always have to ask, qui bono?

    Transnational bankers always profit from every conflict on all sides and no matter who wins. That is just sick.

    Most of our wars could have been avoided and not in an appeasment manner; rather, they could have been avoided by possesing overwhelming strength and being willing to use it when absolutely neccessary. Of course if you are the one with the most powerful military no enemy in his right mind would engage in war with you. Terrorism and espionage sure, but war, no way.

    Our problem is that we share our strength, appease our enemies, fund our enemies and bankroll the whole thing with debt. If we had to use sound money, we could have a force of overwhelming power and avoid having to use it. When pushed to use it, we would be in and out with victory before a hippie could skip another bath.

    So I stress again, an authentic conservative is anti-war but willing to wage it to the fullest when absolutely necessary.

    Korea never had to be fought. We could have taken out all the bridges before the conflict and destroyed the enemy before he entered the theater. One week, victory USA.

    Vietnam – ten days tops. We just had to bomb the crap out of their Soviet supply lines and the harbor.

    Iraq would have taken a little longer but we should have wiped out Sadam’s army ba’ath command and replaced it with Iraqi nationalists and set-up a parliamentary monarchy friendly to us. Those people aren’t prepared for a representative government without a monarch. They are tribal. We had to have over 800 years of development before the Constitution could have been written with an authentic and organic development.

    So perhaps we should all get on the avoid war bandwagon, build up an overwhelming military might and NOT share it with anyone else and stop asking the global elite for permission to put up so much as a latrine by going hat in hand to the UN.

    Reagan won the cold war without having to fire a shot because the Sovs knew he would’t hesitate to do it if they didn’t cave and they were frightened by the overwhelming advantage that SDI would have given us.

    Before anyone jumps on me that SDI didn’t work – that isn’t the point – the Sovs thought it did, or they knew that a free-market system could develop it becuase they knew that Communist oligrachies can’t innovate their way out of a paper bag, assuming the paper and the bag aren’t rationed.

    War sucks and we are at war. When you go to war you CONSERVE your blood and treasure by winning quickly wihtout fail, everytime.

  • I still can’t believe there are people who cannot, or refuse to, distinguish between isolationism and non-intervention. Believing that our military forces should not be spread across the globe, that exposure to foreign conflicts further endangers our national security is hardly ‘isolationist’. If it is, then I’d like to promptly accuse the other side of ‘warmongering’… an equally as loaded word.

  • …foreign conflicts further endangers our national security

    If only the United States possessed your wisdom, Anthony, that if we exposed ourselves to foreign conflicts, we only endanger our national security.

    Perhaps if we possessed such remarkable wisdom, the United States could have pervented disastrous tragedies that actually did so like: Pearl Harbor!

    Oh wait — it was exactly because we refused to engage in foreign conflicts that we actually endangered our national security then!

  • “It is natural to be against the Federal Reserve – they ruin everything. No one in their right mind can be for such an evil insitution if they knew how it worked.”

    An evil institution? Really? Please explain.

  • Not certain you can claim that the Federal Reserve is actually an evil institution; although, they have been said to be largely responsible for inflating U.S. currency ever since its inception.

  • That is the kind of us vs. them thinking that transnational bankers have geared our press and academy to plant in our minds.

    They utilize a twisted form a patriotism to get the ‘right’ fired up to go overseas looking for dragons to slay and the pink-pantied ‘left’ to complain that we are a mean and racist country trying to kill Asians, Africans, Arabs and Muslims.

    It is a poorly constructed paradigm and a little perspective reveals it for what it is.

    We don’t need to have bases in over 100 countries. We don’t need to be entangled in a myriad of treaties that oblige us to wage war. We don’t need to go to war against abstract concpets like ‘terror’.

    We need a true conservative principle, Peace through strength. Overwhelming military superiorty. We can deploy anywhere in the world from right here. Superior force, superior technology, a missle defense system and an accurate identification of our enemies, both foreign and domestic.

    When the strongest people, with the military force that assures victory are committed to NOT waging war unless truly provoked and when provoked to win big and win fast. Enemies will fall before they rise.

    Does that assure that we would never go to war. Of course not. Until our Lord returns men will be in conflict. War is a result of sin. We are all sinners and we are all at war but our battle is not against flesh and blood.

    The wars we’ve been in have been fabricated. Western wealth, stolen by the transnational bankers through inflation and manipulation of the money supply have funded all of our enemies – the Soviets, the Nazis and now the Chinese. We need to stop funding and equipping the true warmongers that we will have to fight tomorrow so we can avoid the conflict in the first place.

    When the conflict is manifest anyway, like the inevitable conflict with Iran, fight fast, furious, no holds barred, slaughter ALL of the enemy combatants and end it before we lose too many soldiers and they lose too many civilians. The conflict with Iran is being facilitated by our equipment and our wealth through Russia, China and unAmerican corporate interests like GE. That can be stopped. What can’t be stopped is the fact that the wack jobs running Iran want a conflict of massive scale and they WILL initiate it. Can they win? NO! But that doesn’t matter. Winning a temporal victory isn’t their aim – they intnend to brng about Armageddon. Read the Qu’ran. The eschatology in it is the flip side of St. John’s Apocalypse. They intend to create chaos for the arrival of their messiah, who we know as anti-Christ. Will this happen? We don’t know, it is not for us to know. But they want it to happen and the devil is very subtle, he’ll use their false religion to cause chaos.

    Democrats are fools when it comes to war. They start them for all sorts of stupid reasons and using whatever flase flag they can muster and then they engineer the prosecution of the war to lose. Republicans need to stop approaching war like Democrats used to and appraoch war the way the Old Roman Republic used to. Maximum warrior capacity when one-sided diplomacy fails. Why one-sided, becuase it must be addressed with our interests first.

    Was it noble to defeat the Nazis and end the genocide of 6 million Jews and 10 million gentiles (especially Catholics)? Of course, but why were we funding the Nazis in the process? Why did we hand eastern Europe over to the Sovs? Why did we back Mao instead of Chang Kai Shek? That kind of BS doesn’t end wars in victory for the USA and the free people of the world. That kind of behavior fosters more wars for us to lose blood and treasure in. We could have mopped up the Nazis without provoking the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor. In any event proper intelligence would have ensured that the Japanese force would have met American air superiority instead of sitting ducks but when the White House is undermining our intelligence apparatus IN PUBLIC, we can be sure that we will never know who is going to hit us and from where. Thanks to the left we will be mired in perpetual warfare.

    Let the Democrats be the war idiots and promote a revitalized Republican party that seeks American SUPERIORITY to ensure peace through the fear of anyone going to war with the USA.

    Watch what happens to the numbers in the chart at the top.

  • We need a true conservative principle, Peace through strength. Overwhelming military superiorty. We can deploy anywhere in the world from right here.

    No — for the most part, our arsenal and resources are spent due to the Iraq debacle, among other things.

    Superior force, superior technology, a missle defense system and an accurate identification of our enemies, both foreign and domestic.

    Well, I don’t know how the latter can be achieved, especially given our loose immigration policy which would only go on to permit such enemies in further inflitrating our country.

  • j. christian,

    This will take us way off topic. I would be happy to get into it, but I prefer if one of the moderators will give the go ahead or set up another thread for that.

    Briefly: The so-called Federal Reserve System is a private banking monopoly that has control over our money supply. They are of the same ilk as the money lenders in the Temple that Christ evicted. They are usurers, warmongers, powermongers, thieves and a ost of other evils.

    To keep this short here is a quote from one of the first transnational bankers, blood ancestor of some of the designers of the Monster from Jekyl Island called the Fed:

    “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.”

    A. M. Rothschild

    As long as there is a Federal Reserve System, or the First or Second Bank of the United States or any central bank at all the numbers at the top of the page don’t matter because policy is set in secret no matter which party has a majority. It is a ruse.

  • American Knight:

    I don’t mean to deride you in any way, but do you actually know why the Federal Reserve came into being?

    It’s just I find it ironic that you would condemn the very institution that was born as a result of the same series of adverse circumstances that we just recently endured.

  • One of the few legitimate powers of government is NATIONAL DEFENSE – that includes securing the borders, all of them – land, sea and air. Our borders are a joke. It is not that we can’t secure them, it is that we won’t. Instead of having our fine soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines stationed across the globe post them on our borders (with the guns pointed out).

    We can do all of these things but if we don’t win the culture, we will implode without any foreign enemies. 50,000,000 Americans murdered in the last four decades and millions more ‘educated’ by our domestic enemies. You used to have to go overseas to be immersed in a foreign culture, now you can just go to any college campus.

    By foreign, I don’t mean just non-Americans, foreign can also mean strange and not normal custom this includes people with homosexual prclivities promoted as a lifestyle, athiests being ‘tolerated’ more than flag waving Republicans or the worst offenders Christians, especially the highly intolerant Catholics!

    Our culture is the first line of defense. Are the Republicans engaging American culture or pandering to the Democrat/socialist zeitgeist?

  • e.,

    I would ask you the same question? The Federal Reserve has caused the ‘series of adverse circumstances’ and before it came on line the perpetrators caused other similar situations in order to fool us into accepting it in the first place.

    In any event, that is another topic for another thread. Suffice to say that the Constitution does NOT allow Congress to delegate its power to coin money and set weights and measures. Certianly not to a private, unnacountable monopoly.

  • By foreign, I don’t mean just non-Americans, foreign can also mean strange and not normal custom this includes people with homosexual prclivities promoted as a lifestyle, athiests being ‘tolerated’ more than flag waving Republicans or the worst offenders Christians, especially the highly intolerant Catholics!

    Okay, now your comment here doesn’t appear to make sense.

    One glaring contradiction is that you voice your anger about how folks are wrongly tolerating such immorality; however, at the conclusion, you attack so-called “highly intolerant Catholics”?

    In my book, it is because of tolerant Catholics who are the ones actually responsible for fostering such immorality, like abortion and homosexuality.

  • I would ask you the same question? The Federal Reserve has caused the ‘series of adverse circumstances’ and before it came on line the perpetrators caused other similar situations in order to fool us into accepting it in the first place.

    Uhhhh…. no.

    You’ll need to study up on its history.

    Besides, I would think after last year’s bank run and the height of the economic collapse then, I would think you would’ve been more appreciative.

    In any event, that is another topic for another thread. Suffice to say that the Constitution does NOT allow Congress to delegate its power to coin money and set weights and measures. Certianly not to a private, unnacountable monopoly.

    So what? The original Constitution used to support slave trade in article 1 section 9.

    It is not the infallible document you seem to claim it to be.

    It is something that, by all means, must be respected; however, we shouldn’t think it is perfect or even God-breathed.

  • e., the comment about intolerant Catholics was tongue in cheek. My apologies for the poorly worded sentence. My brain is slighlty faster than my search and peck typing.

    I do NOT think the Constituion is infallible or God-breathed, but it was a miracle.

    Slavery was and is immoral and the Constitution did allow it and that is a shame, but, slavery could have ended without a war and the Constitution is amendable.

    My problem is that most of the illicit work being done by both parties in charge is outside the parameters of the Constitution properly amended.

    The Constitution MUST be ROCK SOLID and RESPECTED or we have built our nation on sand and it will slip away.

    Congress has NO POWER to delegate the coingage of money for use in public affairs. A free market of money is fine for all private affairs but our common, public affairs need to be funded by a stable monetary unit, with the weight set and fixed by the people’s Congress.

    I don’t think this thread is the right place to get into a Federal Reserve discussion but it is a proveable, verifiable FACT that the business-cycle is the result of the central bank. So are inflation, income taxes, warfare and welfare. An undending supply of money leads to corruption. A fixed quantity of money promotes thrift.

    I think I am going to refrain for further discussion on the Fed, outside of the R vs. D issue in this thread until a moderator gives the go ahead or sets up another thread.

  • American Knight:

    I’ve got to admit, this topic would’ve been one that I would’ve loved discussing with you.

    Yet, you’re right; this isn’t the thread to do that.

    Thanks for your thoughts though.

  • The Fed is independent. We could abolish the Fed, but then we’d have the money supply controlled by the thieves in Congress. Is that a better solution?

  • Well, it’s much more complicated than that, I’m afraid.

    Besides, there’s also the IMF to consider, too.

  • Keep tempting me.

    I hope I don’t get kicked off here for this but I can’t help it.

    j. christian,

    The Fed is independent becuase it is private and we don’t even truly know who the shareholders are.

    It is accountable to NO ONE. It is secret. It has the power to level this country and/or rob us blind. Since the beast came to be in 1913 the US Dollar (AKA Federal Reserve NOTE) has lost 95% of its value. The owners of the Fed have the wealth that was stolen by that devaluation.

    If Congress coined the money, as in set the weight of measure of money at a fixed number, things would be stable. As e., said it is far more complex than this. The point being is that the Congress is accountable to the people, the House members every two and the Senate every six years. The Fed is NOT accountable at all. Did you know that it has never even been audited?

  • e. and American Knight,

    Can you two guys fill out a WordPress account and put a nice pic to your names so you two can add some ambiance to our American Catholic website while you guys grace us with your wisdom and knowledge.

  • “The Fed is independent. We could abolish the Fed, but then we’d have the money supply controlled by the thieves in Congress. Is that a better solution?”

    Or you could allow the market to determine what kind of money it uses and at what interest. Thats the option I prefer. Why give that power to any group of thieves?

  • “Perhaps if we possessed such remarkable wisdom, the United States could have pervented disastrous tragedies that actually did so like: Pearl Harbor!

    Oh wait — it was exactly because we refused to engage in foreign conflicts that we actually endangered our national security then!”

    You’re kidding, right? A.)The United States wasn’t exactly uninvolved in the run up to our military intervention in WWII, or WWI for that matter. The country might have been ignoring events, the government certainly was not.

    b.) We were attacked at Pearl Harbor. Thus, a response is warranted. Yes e., you do have to wait for someone to do violence unto you before you can legitimately use force in self defense. Are you trying to say that things would have been better had we simply inaugurated the violence ourselves? How would that make you any better or justified?

  • “Personally I do appreciate all non-voters. I appreciate being able to help choose their elected officials for them.”

    I tend to take the view that giving them my vote gives them legitimacy. If more people don’t vote, even if they come to power their sense of importance will steadily erode.

    Just my personal thinking on how real ‘change’ will come to America: people will just slowly walk away and ignore their government. The more government squeezes us through their wars, inflations, regulations, etc. people will simply ‘give up’ and quietly find ways to make their living.

  • “Briefly: The so-called Federal Reserve System is a private banking monopoly that has control over our money supply. They are of the same ilk as the money lenders in the Temple that Christ evicted. They are usurers, warmongers, powermongers, thieves and a ost of other evils.”

    Loving your diatribe against the Fed, American Knight: but I would adjust this statement to to describe the Fed as “quasi-private/public”. Its a creature of the worst kind, incorporating the worst bits of both worlds. It has private interests, but has been granted its monopoly powers by the government! Aside from its political appointments by the President, the Fed is also ‘public’ in the sense that Congress could have oversight of it, or outright abolish it tomorrow.

    The Fed is evil. There is no other way to describe it or its tools. Congressman Paul is correct to be pushing for its auditing and its eventual abolishment. Freedom in this country will have a better fighting chance without the Fed than anything delivered by military victory abroad.

  • The market *did* determine the currency. How do you think money becomes fiat money in the first place? You think people want to carry around bags of gold everywhere? No, so they issue notes as legal tender. Eventually no one cares what’s behind the notes — why should they? They don’t need to redeem them if they continue to function as a medium of exchange.

  • Anthony,

    You are correct. Again, I was trying to avoid going into too much detail about the Fed in a post about the popularity contest between the flip-sides of the same political party.

    The Fed is public/private, as in fascist or corpratist; however, the key point is that it has been given power by Congress (public) to manage the money supply with all the immediate benefits going to unknown, unnacountable individuals and entities (private). The core of the problem is the sinsiter men behind the curtain.

    Although Congress does have the legal authority to abolish the Fed since they are the ones that illegally sanctioned it in the middle of the night, during a recess, on December 23rd – signed by the usurper, Wilson (who later regretted it, may God have Mercy on his soul) – they are now addicted to the crack.

    Congress will not abolish, or even audit the Fed without an INTERVENTION. The scallawags of both parties desire the power behind the Fed when they are in majority. When in minority they won’t get rid of the power it may provide them when the political tides sway slightly in their favor.

    It will take the massive political will of the people to hold those scamps accountable, fire them all, start fresh and put people in there who have made a committment to abolish the Fed, obey the Constitution and restore the Republic.

    The success Ron Paul has enjoyed in getting this message out there (though he’s been talking about for decades) is becuase the sentiment in the country, among the few (and growing) sane people out here has finally gotten around to noticing that something stinks with both major parties and the way they do business. Is it too late? Will Ron Paul meet the same end as most others who have stood up to the beast? That remains to be seen, our part is simply to vote our INFORMED conscience and help others learn about the truth and the Truth.

    j. christian,

    The market determined that GOLD is money, but that isn’t even really that important. Here in the Old Dominion we used to use tobbacco. The comodity doesn’t matter so much, especially in these days when money is bits and bytes. What matters is that money is a unit of measure and units of measure MUST BE FIXED. Gold has porven to be the best commodity to set the weight of money with.

    Legal tender laws are NOT market generated. Legal tender laws are government force. Congress should set the weight of money and demand its use in public exchanges. Private dealings should be left to the market. In prisons the official government policy is to use federal reserve NOTES (NOTES are NOT money they are DEBT instruments); however, the prison population uses ciggarettes as currency. Money can be whatever the parties in a voluntary, mutually-beneficial exchange want it to be.

    When it comes to an entity that has been given power to DEMAND that its rules be followed, then it must set a fixed weight for money.

    Fiat money is a problem becuase the fiat is made by transnational bankers through the abrogation of the legitimate government’s power. That means that they can inflate, increase the quantity, at will. When the quantity of money is increased, the value per unit is reduced by the increase in ratio, save for whatever additional wealth is created to offset the increase. Which do you think is easier printing more money or working to create more wealth?

    In the last twelve months we’d have to have US wealth creation at a net 20 trillion. In a good year we have been able to perform at 13 trillion. Once the pyramiding multiplier effect kicks in the aggregate value will fall to levels not seen in this country.

    Do you really want some shadowy men with no love of this country or God to have that kind of power? Do you really think this is a market choice? Our system is based on checks, balances and seperation of powers to keep sinners from gaining too much power over other sinners – how is the Fed checked, balanced and if it has the monopoly power to controll ALL the money, where is the speration of powers?

  • We were attacked at Pearl Harbor. Thus, a response is warranted. Yes e., you do have to wait for someone to do violence unto you before you can legitimately use force in self defense. Are you trying to say that things would have been better had we simply inaugurated the violence ourselves? How would that make you any better or justified?

    Oh, and so now you’re saying that if we are victims of an attack, we are justified in committing action against those who have harmed/will likely do harm unto us again.

    You know, there was such an event even similar to that Pearl Harbor — perhaps you might’ve heard of it: September 11!

    How convenient that you should resort to this kind of argument only when it suits you!

  • Tito:

    Can you two guys fill out a WordPress account and put a nice pic to your names so you two can add some ambiance to our American Catholic website while you guys grace us with your wisdom and knowledge.

    I wouldn’t want to rob you of your glory. Given the remarkable content of your variously authored entries, you surely demonstrate the very heights of such knowledge and wisdom.

  • “Oh, and so now you’re saying that if we are victims of an attack, we are justified in committing action against those who have harmed/will likely do harm unto us again.

    You know, there was such an event even similar to that Pearl Harbor — perhaps you might’ve heard of it: September 11!

    How convenient that you should resort to this kind of argument only when it suits you!”

    My gosh, you’re right! I should use your amazing logic in my own life. Since I might be murdered one day, I should just kill anyone that gives me dirty looks or disagrees with me or worse: owns a gun. They have it coming. Or since I might loose my possessions one day, I should just steal what I need. After all, because I am so virtuous, I am more likely to put it to good and moral uses! Most other people are just evil and hate me because I’m successful.

  • You don’t get it.

    First, you detested U.S. engagement in the Middle East and attempted to call foul on it by saying that such foreign conflicts only harm us.

    Then, you attempted to muster the argument that where Pearl Harbor is concerned, it was only right that we engaged in foreign conflict such as WWII because we were attacked.

    Yet, your remarkable intelligence neglected to account for the fact that our engagement in the Middle East was actually DUE to our being attack on September 11!

    Like the Lefties, you employ the double-standard, utilizing such arguments only when they would appear to advance your agenda. How very typical, indeed.

  • Dearest e.,

    I’m going take your comments one at a time:

    “First, you detested U.S. engagement in the Middle East and attempted to call foul on it by saying that such foreign conflicts only harm us.”

    They do. It’s what the CIA calls ‘blowback’. But really its just common sense. If for decades the United States has been sticking its arm up a hornet’s nest (ie, Middle Eastern politics), then its not surprising that there will be reaction, even violent ones. If another country treated us in the same manner we too would be united in the effort to expel their influence from our territory.

    “Then, you attempted to muster the argument that where Pearl Harbor is concerned, it was only right that we engaged in foreign conflict such as WWII because we were attacked.”

    And that was wrong…how? Pearl Harbor was a violent act of war. Of course what I was also alluding to was that the government was well aware of, and in certain cases participating in, war-related events prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Rarely are these sorts of things genuine surprises. They may catch us off guard, but the drumbeats are there.

    “Yet, your remarkable intelligence neglected to account for the fact that our engagement in the Middle East was actually DUE to our being attack on September 11!”

    Oh e, how incorrect this statement is. History did not begin on September 11. Oh sure, the politicians might tell you that our involvement is only due to the terrorist attacks— but thats rather naive don’t you think? Our government has been actively involved in the Middle East for DECADES, especially post WWII. Whether it was messing with Iran’s politics in the 50s, the Soviets in Afghanistan or the first Gulf War— take your pick. We’ve been involved economically, politically and militarily long before the events on 9/11. Hell, we had a policy of ‘regime change’ as far back as the Clinton Administration.

    But lets get a little more specific. 9/11 certainly would deserve a response, but not necessarily the one we gave. What began (and should have remained) as a mission limited in scope to destroying Al-Qaeda and bringing their leadership to justice became instead a mission of nation building. Ironically, this sort of policy President Bush deplored in the 2000 election. Had he held to his ideals (not that he really had any), they would have served him well in crafting a clear and pointed strategy in the Afghan conflict. Maybe he could have even gone the Constitutional route and formally declared war. The Congress certainly would have obliged him.

    The war in Iraq is an entirely different story. This country did not participate at all in the 9/11 operation. She had run afoul of U.N. policies and for the most part was suffering under harsh and unproductive sanctions. True enough, Iraq had a foul history of using chemical weapons and an even fouler leadership, but U.S. long ago had missed out on a genuine rationale for invasion. Indeed, the nation of Iraq was no threat to the United States. This was a war of CHOICE, based on drummed up fear and political ambition. It was and continues to be an unjust war and occupation.

    “Like the Lefties, you employ the double-standard, utilizing such arguments only when they would appear to advance your agenda. How very typical, indeed.”

    No. Like libertarians and anyone else interested in thinking, I like to get to the essential truth of the matter and adjust policy accordingly in such a way that preserves American liberty, not to mention her soul. The agenda is to keep America free, not to spread ourselves across the globe for worthless causes or worse: thinking we can force the world to be free.

  • Woah! Anthony, bro, slowdown. I agree with your sentiment but pull back a little. Our government had no prior knowledge of Pearl Harbor or 911. Not our entire government or even the Constitutional system. Some elements in our government, probably, but I doubt that those are actually OUR government, they are foreign or treasonous elements that have hijacked our government. When we go off half-cocked and start blaming government we sound more like lefties than lefties do. Reasonable people will shut off.

    Additionally, government is a necessary thing for sinful man; however, just government comes only to moral and just people and I think most Americans still are moral and just, only fallen. Of course the quantity and audacity of Americans that are immoral and unjust has increased and is increasing – probably exponentially. May God have Mercy on us.

    Blowback is real; however, just because it happens doesn’t mean that it had to or that the original mission that caused it was bad, perhaps just improperly executed.

    The middle-east is, has been and will be a problem. Has America handled it well – not really, but that doesn’t mean ignoring it is the answer.

    The Iraq invasion may or may not have needed to happen; however, it isn’t really a problem that we got rid of Sadam and bases in Iraq are a strategic advantage for an inevitable conflict with Iran, or China or Russia. I think Iraq failed as a matter of execution and there are lessons to be learned there for those that want to learn them. Nevertheless, we are in Iraq and we cannot leave a vacuum. I am not in favor of foreign adventurism, but we cannot cut and run either. At this point we need to ensure total victory and an enforced peace. Yes, we cannot force people to be free, but we can make sure we don’t leave them exposed to more tyrants now that we are there.

    One thing to note about Arabs and Persians and those living in Muslim-controlled lands in general, I refer to leadership, not the man in the street, is that they will find any reason to hate the USA. Why, becuase we represent Dar al Harb, the House of War and either they are true beleivers in jihad or they are political animals that see a power-grab opportunity. Even if we weren’t directly involved in the middle-east, which is impossible with a petro-based industrial system, our interests and their’s would come into conflict somewhere at some time. Nature abhors a vacuum and we cannot create one. Despite all of our errors, we are the best chance for the world in occupying the space than anyone else.

    Now for anyone that perceives Anthony’s post as an attack on ‘conservatism’, I doubt that it is and Anthony brings up many good points. We have to shake loose of this us vs. them mentality, we are supposed to be the UNITED states of America. Reasonable people can have a difference of opinion on somethings. The problem with the ‘right’ is that we are too Republican, too neo-con and despise anything the left is for. Sometimes there is a convergance of interests, but in the spirit of dis-unity, Satan pits us against each other – this is how you lose a country. We CANNOT allow that.

    War is never good. War is always hell. War is sometime necessary.

    BTW-Anthony, Congress gave Bush the authority, rightly or wrongly, to wage war. Was it declared? No. The USA has made no declaration of war since WWII back when we had a Department of War and no United Nations. Since we changed to the benign sounding Department of Defense we have been engaged in perpetual police-actions and the like. It is disingenuous and we should have a Department of War and try NOT to wage war, yet, when we must, and in the modern world, sometimes that may have to be pre-emptive (but that is a slippery slope – whole different discussion), it must be waged fast and guarnatee an overwhelming victory in order to save blood and treasure.

  • Anthony,

    If only your reading skills were as sharp as your ability for manufacturing strawmen as well as for evasion and insult, then we might be getting somewhere.

    If we were to go back to what I originally wrote, I said:

    If you recall the great isolationist/interventionist debate back then, there were a great number of key conservatives from both sides. Conservatives with an isolationist bent often resorted to Washington’s spiel about entangling foreign alliances whilst other conservatives went for Churchill.

    To which you replied:

    I still can’t believe there are people who cannot, or refuse to, distinguish between isolationism and non-intervention. Believing that our military forces should not be spread across the globe, that exposure to foreign conflicts further endangers our national security is hardly isolationist. If it is, then I’d like to promptly accuse the other side of ‘warmongering’ an equally as loaded word.

    Your comment was as absurdly irrelevant as it was a rabid attack on a strawman!

    Were you even aware just what isolationist/interventionist debate I was referring to then?

    At any rate, I hardly think a person with such an ostensibly deficient cognitive ability as well as a penchant for deliberately manipulating the facts and creating strawmen such as the kind:

    My gosh, you’re right! I should use your amazing logic in my own life. Since I might be murdered one day, I should just kill anyone that gives me dirty looks or disagrees with me or worse: owns a gun. They have it coming. Or since I might loose my possessions one day, I should just steal what I need. After all, because I am so virtuous, I am more likely to put it to good and moral uses! Most other people are just evil and hate me because I’m successful.

    …actually worthy of any further discussion.

  • hahaha. man… you’re aces e.

  • Well, it’s would’ve been a waste of time arguing with somebody was also more interested in revisionist fairy tales than anything else.

    That is, to make it appear as though military action in Iraq was an endeavour solely advocated by Bush along with his Republican cohorts and not, say, 80% of the Democrats who actually fully supported the Iraq offensive is merely one of any number of lies you and your leftist feinds would like the general public to believe.

    Thank God for sources such as The Wall Street Journal, which have written extensively on how it was only after the debacle that had become of the Iraq War in subsequent years and how the Democrats wanted to refashion its image after the likes of Moveon.org in order to win public opinion and re-energize a then moribund Democrat platform, that it felt the need to withdraw what was originally unanimous Democrat support for the Iraq War and engage in outright revisionism, such as the kind you dare perpetrate yourself here!

Irving Kristol, 1920-2009

Monday, September 21, AD 2009

And so we lose another giant. A self-identified liberal “mugged by reality”, Irving Kristol, commonly heralded as the godfather of ‘neo’-conservatism, has died. Hillel Italie gives an account of his life for RealClearPolitics.com:

A Trotskyist in the 1930s, Kristol would soon sour on socialism, break from liberalism after the rise of the New Left in the 1960s and in the 1970s commit the unthinkable — support the Republican Party, once as “foreign to me as attending a Catholic Mass.”

He was a New York intellectual who left home, first politically, then physically, moving to Washington in 1988. … his turn to the right joined by countless others, including such future GOP Cabinet officials as Jeane Kirkpatrick and William Bennett and another neoconservative founder, Norman Podhoretz.

“The influence of Irving Kristol’s ideas has been one of the most important factors in reshaping the American climate of opinion over the past 40 years,” Podhoretz said.

Among the host of publications he is credited as founding and/or editing was Commentary magazine (from 1947 to 1952); The Public Interest (from 1965 to 2002) and The National Interest from 1985 to 2002.

Kristol’s life, along with that of his fellow “New York intellectuals” Irving Howe, Daniel Bell, and Nathan Glazer, was the subject of the 1998 documentary, Arguing the World. In July 2002 he was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush, the highest civilian honor in the United States.

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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.

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  • 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?

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A Public Option: the Left's Waterloo?

Wednesday, August 19, AD 2009

Blackadder has had a couple very interesting posts lately arguing that a public health insurance program wouldn’t sound the death-knell to private insurance companies (and hence competition for the consumer) which many have been arguing it would.

What I find interesting is the vehemence of the left regarding a public option… consider this quote from a WaPo story today:

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12 Responses to A Public Option: the Left's Waterloo?

  • One wonders how many of the people now loudly insisting that a public option is essential to health care reform had even heard of the idea a year ago.

  • Chris,

    At the same time, we find in the same article indications that the GOP’s strategy is yet again merely to try to take down ObamaCare without proposing a real alternative… Sen. Kyl from Arizona and Rep. Price from Georgia both offer comments critical of the co-op proposal, but offer nothing as an alternative strategy. Perhaps this is just the WaPo reporter leaving them out, but I have my doubts.

    You’re simply repeating the left’s talking point that the Republican’s don’t offer alternative reforms. The Republicans have offered numerous times reforms which have been defeated by Democrats at every turn.

    – tort reform!
    – allowing individuals to deduct their private health care premiums
    – allowing small businesses to pool across state lines to purchase health insurance for their employees

    John McCain’s health care proposal included eliminating the employer deduction in favor of an individual tax credit, this would eliminate the majority of “previous condition” issues because people would not lose their coverage if they lose their job.

    At the current time, due to Democrat majorities in both houses the Republicans can not bring any of these proposals to the floor, and the media is not cooperating in getting them out to the public.

  • Fair enough, Matt. I guess I’d like to see a more coordinated communications strategy on the part of the GOP, then, to get their word out. If the media isn’t cooperating… go around them. It’s not impossible.

  • Chris,

    Fair enough, Matt. I guess I’d like to see a more coordinated communications strategy on the part of the GOP, then, to get their word out. If the media isn’t cooperating… go around them. It’s not impossible.

    I agree, if we don’t figure out how to do this, we will fail, regardless of unfairness.

  • Obama appears to be stuck. He wants to jettison the public option portion of his health care plan out of (legitimate) concern that it could bring down the entire bill. It appears, however, that the more left-wing Democrats won’t vote for a bill without a public option.

    I’m not really in the business of helping Obama out. However, it might be interesting to see what sort of concessions he would be willing to make in order to garner Republican support for a public plan. Suppose, for example, that the health care bill kept a public option but was altered to include some or all of the reform items Matt mentioned above. Wouldn’t such a bill be preferable to the status quo?

  • BA,

    Wouldn’t such a bill be preferable to the status quo?

    I’d still be concerned by a lot of the other interventions in the existing bill. Also, it seems like the trade-off from a “public” option would be a “co-op” option, which is funded by the government and controlled by the government as a sort of trojan horse government option.

  • As a tangent. The “Death Panels” were supposed to be a figment of the right’s imagination. I wonder how that plays given this:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204683204574358590107981718.html

  • It’s certainly interesting to see how firmly the left has latched on to the fairly anemic public option in the current plan.

    I wonder if some of this is that the second half of the 20th century wasn’t exactly kind to collectivist-minded idealogues. The ideas of Smith turned out to be a lot better at creating liveable societies than those of Marx. But health care has, to many, remained the one area in which people can convince themselves “market bad, centralized planning good”. As such, having the government provide health care has an appeal to partisan Democrats out of proportion to the amount of good that a particular program is likely to do.

  • One thing that bothers me is that all the fuss over the public option has allowed the abortion provision in the bill to go unchallenged. As Catholics are we really more concerned about the economic implications of the bill vs its deadly intent to fund infanticide?

  • Fr. Charlie,

    I thunk you’re mistaken, the outrage over the government No private or blocked number calls please takeover is multifaceted and it include opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion, and coercive euthanasia. I don’t think there’s a shortage of vocal opposition to any of these aspects.

    All of these elements are a natural extension of the government takeover. Even if hey weren’t mentioned in the law they would become enshrined in practice. That’s part of the reason Catholics should oppose any government takeover.

  • er.. think.

  • I would like to think you are right Matt, but I don’t know. While the Ins. companies need some serious regulation, I am totally opposed to a govt. run health care system. But at the end of the day, I can live with almost anything except publically-funded abortion and euthanasia. The “death-panel” campaign may have protected us on the latter, but besides the US Bishops Conf, I hear almost nothing in the public debate about abortion. What I am saying is that some of the energy needs to go into exposing what this bill will do to the unborn.

I Really Hate This Part…

Tuesday, August 11, AD 2009

If I’ve seemed a bit reclusive on all the recent fuss over the health care bill, town hall meetings, etc., it’s because the debate over the current reform package has now entered the phase of American politics that I really don’t like. There’s an early stage in which ideas are discussed and bills are drafted. People try to put coallitions together, compromises are discussed, and various groups push their policy recommendations. That’s the realm I find interesting, and in my small corner of the blogsphere, I enjoy participating, in a strictly informal fashion, in the debate.

But then there’s a point when an actual bill (or bills) are on the table, and the democratic melee is let loose. Over the last week I’ve been reading Alessandro Barbero’s The Battle: A New History of Waterloo, and in light of that it strikes me that there’s a certain Napoleonic-battle aspect to all this. A month or two ago we were staring at maps and discussing the merits of different formations, but now everything is shrouded in smoke while innumerable combatants in this democratic struggle (most of whom, on both sides, honestly have a fairly rudimentary understanding of the overall debate) slug it out until we find out which side will hold the field and which will break and run.

In a democratic republic, this is a necessary part of our political process.

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8 Responses to I Really Hate This Part…

  • A few points, which may actually be significant in the current situation:

    Obama won just under 53% of the popular vote, not a vast majority of those who voted.

    Voter turnout was just over 131 million or approximately 63% of the eligible voters in the US.

    So Obama was elected by approximately 33% of the eligible voters in America.

  • I think unfortunately that your prediction of a watered down bill passing that satisfies no one may be a sage one. I am here to speak out as a Catholic Obama supporter. There are more of us than non-supporters. Taking care of our fellow Americans in terms of health is very much in line with my vision of peace, love and justice.

  • I hope your prediction pans out, but I’m not going to count Obamacare out for some time. Regardless, I agree with various commentators who have argued that one reason this is even an issue is because the GOP merely *defeated* Hillarycare rather than doing so *and* proposing a more sound alternative. While healthcare costs are certainly more of an issue today than they were in ’93, it wouldn’t have taken a Nostradamus to see that it would be a larger issue down the road. So this time around, we have to make sure we don’t just beat the bad plan but that we vigorously propose alternatives (which some are doing, of course).

  • The Obama Administration nneds to hit the whole rest button on this.

    I was thinking about the immigration reform debate saga and controversy. (I supported Bush and McCain on this) Both issues were controversal and envoked fierce opposition.

    One of the things that “worked” for us that supported the immigration bill was to get poll data on what was actually in the bill. If you asked the generic question are you for the “Immigration Bill” negatives were high. But if you went through the individual provisions Public support went way up on the whole.

    If anyone is noticing that is not occuring with the Health Care bill. No one seems to want to talk about the individual provisions because well they are mostly all unpopular. That is telling

    Opponents of the health care bill should not get too optimistic. This weekend I had a chance at a party to talks to two Staffers of two different GOP Senators. They are not at all optimistic that this can be stopped and think this will be rammed through the reconcilation committee and under “deficit” reduction will not have to deal with a filibuster.

    I think for any Bill too pass

    1- Abortion has to be excluded. I think the reason Obama is so stiff necked on this is he knows that in the end private insurance is going to wiped out. I would also say we need an Euthanasia exclusion. Thought that issue is not hot now I predict it will become a bigger issue in the next 5 years. We need to get that in now and start a precedent similar to the Hyde Amendment

    2-A lot more attention has to be given to how this bill or future bills could devastate rural health care. Something that the media(that lives in the Cities) see to be clueless about and that Catholic Social Justice Advocates seem not ot have considered.

    3- This Federal Reerve like Medicare Panel has got to be scaled back. THe American people are going to be very distrusting of anything that even Congress will have a hard time overturning.

  • I am bewildered that Catholics would oppose healthcare reform. I understand concerns about abortion and euthanasia, but this reform does not change the current practices.

    http://www.usnews.com/blogs/god-and-country/2009/08/06/healthcare-bills-abortion-curiosity.html

    arent we here to care of the least of our brothers?

  • Master C

    I am not sure it is a right observation that people oppose Helath Care reform or want medical care available to those in needs

    I think the concern is that this bill is going to be a disaster for the poor, middle Class and rich alike.

    According to Gallup there has been a 21 point drop in just 4 weeks in support of the Health care bill. That is a heck of a drop. No doubt many of those were Obama supporters and no doubt many of those were Catholic Obama supporters that want Health Care reform.

    That is perhaps one reason I have on the average found the Catholic defense of this bill much more muted than I expected

  • master c,

    I think a reflexive Catholic response says the Obama plan must pass. I think a reflective Catholic response can find many failures in social justice with the plan.

  • Actually, as currently drafted, the public option does indeed cover abortions, as this Associated Press analysis noted:

    http://asia.news.yahoo.com/ap/20090805/twl-us-health-care-overhaul-abortion-ef375f8.html

    It’s a simple bookkeeping trick to make an end-around of the Hyde Amendment. I’m in favor of universal health coverage, but any plan that funds abortion isn’t consistent with Catholic social justice principles. Period. The most telling action is the refusal to re-incorporate a straight ban on the use of any funds inconsistent with Hyde.

    Finally, given her role in administering the public option as the bill(s) are currently drafted, I don’t trust that radical pro-abort Kathleen Sebellius any further than I can toss her.

Clout and Catholic Education

Thursday, July 23, AD 2009

Too often, Catholic education, particularly at the high school level, seems to be valued not so much for its moral and religious content as for its prestige in the community, or for its ability to produce graduates who get into the “right” colleges and get higher-paying jobs later on.

In my experience, Catholic high schools tend to be known in their communities as 1) schools rich kids attend, 2) a way to escape poor-quality public schools, 3) athletic powerhouses, or 4) institutions whose graduates enjoy disproportionate wealth and influence — the quality Chicagoans famously call “clout.”

Just today, in fact, I heard someone refer to alumni of a local Catholic high school as a “Catholic mafia” that allegedly dominates local business and politics. Although this characterization is probably not entirely justified, many alums of this particular school do seem to end up in positions of influence in the community.

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19 Responses to Clout and Catholic Education

  • I wonder if it’s also because so many Illinois politicians exercising their clout are Catholic (Quinn, Durbin, Madigan, Daley, Emil Jones, the Strogers, etc.) so their social network, including the people they exercise influence on behalf of, is made up disproportionately of well-to-do Catholics. My downstate, public high school had 1 person, while the local Catholic school also had one.

  • I serve on the board of two Catholic high schools — my alma mater in Chicago (a south side school not mentioned in any of the Trib articles that I read) and my children’s alma mater in Atlanta. For the most part I agree with Elaine’s observations. That said, I would mention that in my experien the board leaders tend to be very serious about the school’s Catholicity and spiritual environment. Parents, however, are a mixed bag, and it is true that many have misplaced priorities (like most Americans). These schools operate in very competitive environments and must compete for students and teachers, and these constituencies often have imperfect priorities as well. The Chicago school is all boys and could not recruit students successfully without emphasizing athletics. Period. Just a fact of Chicago’s south side. The school’s president and the board view this emphasis as a tactic to attract boys so that we have an opportunity to educate and mold them into genuinely Catholic young gentlemen. The broader community may see us as athletics focused, but the board fully understands the distinction between means and ends. The co-ed school in Atlanta does not need to emphasize athletics quite as much, but does have to spend inordinately on unnecessary resources (in my view) in order to attract students and teachers. Private high schools in Atlanta (mostly non-Catholic) are much better endowed than us and have more attractive facilities. Both schools struggle mightily with keeping tuition as low as possible while balancing difficult budgets. Both schools are aware that a good percentage of students come from Catholic in name only families who are attracted to the educational value (good education at a bargain price compared to competitors). Overall, they do a pretty good job of imparting the faith in what is virtually a quasi-evangelical environment. I serve on many non-profit boards (Salvation Army, United Way, etc), but none are more challenged than the Catholic high schools.

    Finally, I am not as offended at “clout” as some others. I am more offended at the faith-oriented shortcomings of Catholic schools. I’m happy if Catholic kids get to attend U of I, even if assisted by a call or two. I just want them to have a sufficiently well-formed faith that they won’t lose as soon as they leave home.

  • ability to produce graduates who get into the “right” colleges and get higher-paying jobs later on

    You speak as if this is a bad thing. It’s as bad as holding a dance and asking if a church should have offered a Bible study instead. If the schools are deficient in morality training or religious education, it is fine to complain. To act as if they are values opposed to achievement in industry after graduation or the school’s prestige is just wrong.

  • Might the “clout” list include a lot of higher-income schools and Catholic schools because they have a better education results, and it’s unlikely that folks on those lists just suddenly got backing now, and have instead had backing to get into the “good” schools the entire time?

  • M.Z., I never said it was inherently “bad” for Catholic school graduates to get into good colleges or get good jobs. My concern is that when Catholic schools come to be known ONLY or primarily for those things, they may lose some of their potential to be “salt and light” to a fallen world. Just as there’s nothing wrong with a church sponsoring dances, bingo, or other social events, but when that’s ALL a church is known for doing, maybe they need to reexamine their priorities.

    Also, I’m not complaining about the quality of Catholic education so much as the perception that Catholic schools are only for the wealthy and powerful, or are dependent upon them for their survival. Any religious institution that depends upon the wealthy and powerful to survive has to take extra care not to lose sight of its mission.

  • Fox, I’m sure that kids from higher income schools (private or public) have always had a certain amount of “clout” or “pull” in the college admissions process. In the case of the U of I, however, it appears to have become much more blatant in the last few years. Plus since U of I admission has become highly competitive, anyone who gets in based on clout is more likely to deprive an equally or more qualified middle- or working-class student of admission.

  • M.Z.,

    I didn’t really understand Elaine as suggesting that worldly achievement or its facilitation is inimical to Catholic values, but that it should be subordinated to faith formation in terms of prioritization. I agree with her that many Catholic families are attracted to Catholic schools for the wrong reasons, and Catholic schools are often tempted to reorient their priorities accordingly. When that happens, “morality training or religious education” suffers. A number of years ago there was quite a public kerfuffle at a very affluent Catholic school when parents accused the school of being “too Catholic,” because the school administration was trying to beef up its religion courses and requirements. Eventually, many of these parents left when as a consequence. The irony is that the high school now sends an inordinate number of grads to Ivy League and other prestigious schools due to the efficacy of its “classical” education.

    The bottom line is that most graduates of Catholic schools are terribly catechized, and that is partly the result of the schools’ understanding that such catechises is not a primary value of most parents. The schools feel pressure to respond to the marketplace by replacing Catholicism with something called “in the Catholic tradition.”

    Finally, I do sense things are getting better. The schools that I serve are very conscious of their Catholic identity, and it is not watered down, even though I suspect (just suspect) that catechesis could be more rigorous. That said, I think high schools struggle with catechesis in part because most Catholic grade schools send students who are largely uncatechized. Most cannot name the seven sacraments or the ten commandments; and very few can explain the types or meanings of grace.

  • Elaine-
    I’m suggesting that the high school selections are part of the same process as the college, not that the selections themselves are “good.”

    If the kids got into “good” high schools in the same way as colleges, the same objections would exist– moreso for public schools than private, but it’d exist.

  • MZ — no one said, as far as I can tell, that morality is opposed to achievement. The post was about people who prioritize achievement (and not even real achievement but positions purchased by clout) over moral training. Do you have anything to say about that?

  • First, you are not going to find too many poor minority schools on the “clout list” because they have their own form of “clout list”, i.e. affirmative action, but it is too un-PC to mention in the public debate on this matter. I see these two forms of clout balancing each other out. As always it is the great majority of Americans in the middle that get s****ed.

    Of course, private universities have their own clout lists. When my daughter was accepted at Notre Dame they made it quite clear that she was admitted during the early admissions process because I was an alumni (she had a near perfect SAT and a 4.0 GPA but alot of ND applicants do). Should public universities be more egalitarian and fair in their admissions process because they are public . . . dream on.

    Secondly, I totally agree that Catholic Schools K-12 & universities have totally lost their initial mission, i.e., to educate Catholic children while keeping them strong in the faith. That is why I have never wasted my money on Catholic Schools for my kids (including my daughter who eventually accepted a full ride academic scholarship to a state school and got nothing from ND). It is also why my parents never spent a dime on Catholic education except my sisters and me except for CCD and when the nuns stopped teaching that in the late 1960’s they even stopped sending us to CCD. [We were poor enough where they didn’t have to pay for me to go to ND – I lived at home, worked and got enough in state scholarship funds to cover the rest.]

    Catholicism as taught in Catholic High Schools consists of call men with Roman collars “Father” and work in soup kitchens on weekends. I’d be shocked to learn of a current Catholic high school graduate who could define “transubstantiation” or discuss the notion of “baptismal regeneration” or list the 7 sacraments. This is why Cathoic Home schooling is growing in some communities – a notion unheard of 40 years ago except in communities without Catholic schools.

    Finally, a couple of years ago Bishop D’Arcy of the South Bend/Fort Wayne, IN Diocese ordered the dismissal of a popular teacher and coach at St. Joseph High School in South Bend because he had married a divorcee and had left the Church to become a Baptist. Parents and staff and faculty members of course were outraged. So, I also agree that Catholic High Schools are just supplying what the public wants – a good secular education with a thin religous veneer. Of course, the religous attitudes of most of these parents have also been shaped by the piss poor religous teaching that they have received from Catholic Schools and Cathoic pulpits during the past 40 years.

  • I think that Ms. Krewer’s argument is poorly drawn. Her concern is on a. perception of the school by outsiders and b. the desire of parents at a few Catholic schools to get their children into a good college. I don’t see anything about the students themselves!

    The schools can talk about a need for “public relations” work, but the reality is that the school has very little ability to change a perception that “its a sports school” or “its a rich kids’ school.” Such statements, in my experience, are always made by people with no real world exposure to the school, so how much credibility or concern can you put on such statements?

    Whether the parents want their children to go to a good college doesn’t seem to really be connected with whether the high school is a good Catholic school or not. I just don’t see the connection in her argument.

    That’s not to say that every Catholic high school is successful, either academically or spiritually. All Catholic high schools (that existed before Vatican II) were built around a clerical teaching staff. The decline in vocations has resulted in a largely lay teaching staff today. Does that make them less Catholic? Maybe, maybe not, depending on who got hired to replace those priests, nuns and brothers. I am a proud alum of a Catholic high school, which my children also attended. It was also all boys in my day and almost all clerical teachers. Now it’s co-ed and has only a handful of clergy. In my opinion, it is a much better school today, spiritually, academically and socially. This is a school where a survey found that seniors are more likely to attend Mass on Sunday than freshmen. The students have a choice on Friday between getting a jump on homework so they won’t have to do it on the weekend or going to Mass. Over two-thirds of the students choose Mass, including many of the people of other faiths.
    In my book, that’s a school that is religiously successful. But it has a reputation in the community as being only for athletes and only for rich kids.

    I would like to hear discussion about people of other faiths attending “Catholic” schools. Should “non-Catholics” be allowed to attend? How large a portion of the student body should be Catholic? Perhaps one can think about what the mission of the school is. Is it to teach Catholic kids so they will continue as Catholics? Is it to help raise the future of the students who otherwise face a bleak future, regardless of their religious faith? I’d point to the parallel of Catholic hospitals. Are they Catholic enough? How do you decide what ‘Catholic enough’ means?

  • If opposition between secular achievement and religious instruction was not being attempted, the comparison shouldn’t have been made. I remember talking to a Jewish graduate of Marquette High School. He felt he understood the Catholic faith adequately. He went to that school in part because of the hockey program. Was this a bad thing?

    I have nothing against trying to improve religious education. Serving on two school boards, Mr. Petrik is probably well aware that the parents that send their children to these schools for prestige and/or academics are the same parents that write large checks. These parents are given the deference they are given, because politicians (and the best pastors are good politicians) are willing to work with what they have in order to improve rather than tear what’s working down and create unnecessary animus. As seen from the Notre Dame saga, the one thing you couldn’t say about Notre Dame was that it was a pauper. (Yes, I know blessed are the poor, and I’ve embraced that more than I cared to have.) There have been more than a few start ups that have attempted to embrace the faith alone and ignore things like achievement or money only to find themselves tits up.

    Finally, I agree with Mr. Petrik that things are improving at a lot of schools. Certainly there is nothing wrong with encouraging that improvement.

  • would like to hear discussion about people of other faiths attending “Catholic” schools. Should “non-Catholics” be allowed to attend?

    I rather like the idea of non-Catholics in Catholic schools– partly because of the witnessing opportunity, partly because I have seen what it results in– a lady friend who recently passed went to a Catholic school when she was a kid, because it was the “best” school and that’s all her parents cared about. Sixty years later, though still a (highly irascible) vague Christian, she would jump down the throat of anyone who tried to spread the usual “Catholics worship Mary” type BS. She was better at defending the Church than most Catholics I know!

    I’d point to the parallel of Catholic hospitals. Are they Catholic enough? How do you decide what ‘Catholic enough’ means?

    My book? They follow Catholic teachings as related to their work, and allow or support the action on those teachings that aren’t related to their work. (don’t want to get mission bloat, it would make them not as good as hospitals)

  • I have no problem at all with non-Catholics attending Catholic schools, but would not want any Catholic kids displaced by non-Catholics without good reason. In general, a Catholic school’s primary mission is to serve the Catholic community by educating its children in a manner that is consonant with our faith.

    To MZ’s earlier point, quite frankly some of the most ardent Catholic parents are also the most generous, though that certainly is not always the case. The idea that somehow the financially successful are not as good Catholics as those of more modest means (which is not at all what MZ said) is just a silly conceit. I have observed little correlation. Many of our wealthier families are quite devout, and also quite generous, but certainly not all.

  • If opposition between secular achievement and religious instruction was not being attempted, the comparison shouldn’t have been made.

    You certainly have a point . . . CS Lewis notes somewhere, maybe in a letter, that readers are often like witless sheep who will take the first detour possible, even if it wasn’t intended.

  • I too have no problem with non-Catholics attending Catholic schools; in fact some of the first Catholic schools were set up in predominantly non-Christian areas as “mission schools”.

    To some extent a Catholic school cannot fully control how OTHERS in the community, who aren’t associated with the school, perceive it. But I’m sure there are other times when taking a look at oneself “from the outside” is helpful and a needed corrective.

    A big part of the problem with Catholic education as it exists today is that very few if any schools can survive on tuition alone — charging every parent the full cost of their child’s education would put it out of reach of all but the most wealthy — so a lot of time and effort has to be spent on fundraising and on extracurricular activities such as sports that make money for the school. Which usually translates into 1) hitting up wealthy alumni and business people for donations, 2) holding a lot of fundraising events (bingo, carnivals, auctions, dinner/dances, etc.), and 3) recruiting the best athletes.

    Now again, these things are not inherently evil or wrong in themselves, but they CAN become a diversion from the schools main mission if its administration isn’t careful. What to do about that?

    Perhaps the most radical approach has been taken by the Diocese of Wichita, Kans., where ALL Catholic schools are funded completely by tithing and NO tuition is charged to any Catholic student. This is done through a comprehensive stewardship program that emphasizes giving of “time, talent, and treasure” as a way of life. As a result, its schools are thriving (as are its priestly vocations) and other dioceses have taken interest in this approach. Whether it can be successfully transplanted to large urban dioceses, particularly those with large numbers of recent immigrants, remains to be seen; but I think it is worth looking at.

  • Elaine, I like the comments about funding. My pastor is the oldest of five boys in the family. His parents moved to a house down the street from the Catholic church. His non-Catholic parents went there and asked how much it would cost to send their children there. The answer was $500 a year (This would be back in the ’50s) if they were not Catholic and free if they were Catholic. “So we became Catholic!”
    Parishes in our archdiocese are limited to a certain percentage of their budget that can be devoted to the parish school (if any.) The rest of the cost has to come from the parents. I think there are good arguments for at least some funding to come from parents. First, you do not value anything that is free. You have no “skin in the game.” Second, parents have to be responsible for their children and that includes their education. The entire parish should not have to pay the family’s expenses. I’m sensitive to those parishioners who do not have children in the parish school. I guess the parallel is public education, where the general public pays the whole bill and they do so in a grudging fashion.

    There are also Catholic schools that would not exist if tuition were the only source of their income. I am familiar with a “Nativity” middle school locally, that only admits children whose families can’t pay (although they do charge $20 a month, for the first reason I mentioned above.) Their student body are from low income homes, almost all minority, almost all not Catholic, some are immigrants. They typically come to 6th grade with reading and math skills at the 2nd or 3rd grade level.

    My point is that there simply isn’t enough money to have a school like that if you only look at the neighborhood community. Their ability to raise funds from the Catholic community in our city is all that stands between these children and life on the streets. So does it make a difference if most of the students are Catholic?

    You posit that fund raising should not be a diversion from the school’s main mission. On the face of it, I agree. I just have a hard time analyzing how I would know, at a specific school, if it is a diversion.

    There is a Catholic high school in our city that puts the students to work to pay for the cost of running the school. The students have jobs in the community, one day a week, that covers their tuition. As I understand it, they have classroom work four days a week and they work the fifth. These students and their families do not have the economic means to pay tuition on their own. The kicker is that the work part makes their classroom work meaningful. “I need to learn how to write better because that’s what it takes at work.” (And that lack of understanding of why studying is meaningful is one of the biggest problems in public education, in my opinion, as a former school board member.) So you can paint their school as exploiting the students or you can paint it as giving them a meaningful education that they couldn’t otherwise obtain.

  • Any funding mechanism, within reason and morality, that keeps Catholic schools from becoming accessible only to the wealthy, or dependent entirely or almost entirely on wealthy people to keep them running, is OK by me. Charging a small or sliding amount of tuition to insure that families have “skin in the game” is fine, but again, the idea should always be to insure that Catholic education is accessible to all income levels.

    The Catholic high school you mention that has students work to earn their tuition one day a week — that sounds like a great idea to me, because it enables the students to gain real life job experience. I wouldn’t consider it “exploiting” them at all, unless the jobs in question were exceptionally dangerous or exhausting.

    Should parishioners who don’t have children be responsible for supporting a parish or diocesan school? Well, it depends on how you look at it. Is the school an integral part of the Church’s mission to which ALL Catholics have some obligation to contribute (in line with the Fifth Precept of the Church)? Or, is it a purely voluntary/optional service which only those who participate in it are obligated to support, like a sodality or men’s/women’s club?

    When does fundraising become a diversion for the school’s main mission? I would say the line is crossed if the school comes under pressure to compromise or downplay Catholic teachings or other practices (e.g. dress codes, rules against teachers being married or cohabiting outside the Church), or to look the other way at obviously immoral or egregious practices of a major donor, in order to avoid losing the funds upon which it is dependent for its survival.

    I really appreciate everyone’s thoughts on this matter, and hopefully it will get everyone thinking about how best to support Catholic education. I didn’t mean to be excessively hard on Catholic schools but simply to point out a potential stumbling block to their mission.

  • Eric called my attention to this entry last week, shortly after it had been posted, and in the chaos that was last week as one of my best friends got married, I left this open on my computer all week, not getting to it until this evening. I know the discussion has died down days ago, but if others are still interested in continuing the discussion, I find the Wichita approach very interesting. In response to the statement that what is free is not valued as much, I would like to call the attention back to the priest whose parents converted for the free education–their son had a vocation! That priest valued what he received so much that he ended up giving his life to God to continue to serve the same cause!

    I live in Houston, which is a large city with a number of immigrants (many of whom are Catholic), as well as many other “higher end” Catholics. It is interested that some parishes tend to serve either one end of the spectrum or another, based on location or other factors, but there are also parishes that are more “mixed”. I can’t speak for all parishes, but of these latter, I have seen a dichotomy within the parishes, where some kids can afford to go to the parochial school and others, no matter how devout of a home they come from, simply cannot afford it. They are then put through the public school system supplemented by a sub-standard Sunday catechesis, and we wonder why we have so many teens having pre-marital sex and a breakdown in families, especially in this lower-end demographic.

    It is because we have not taken it on as our responsibility as the Church to provide for the needs of our young people, all of them! One of the saddest things that has happened in the past half a century or so, at least in my opinion (which I believe can also contain an objective moral point), is the loss of the importance of the parochial school. I have been reading the history of a Franciscan religious order, which simultaneously tells the story of the development of Catholic schools in America. They were founded to further instill morals and an understanding of the Church teachings in all young people-immigrants, orphans, the poor, and yes, non-Catholics.

    Of course, the schools were easier to fund when they were run mostly by nuns. We didn’t have to pay competitive wages to lay men and women who have to take care of their families, and since we do rely on these people, we cannot cease to pay them now. But we can’t lose the mission to educate just because someone can’t afford the price tag of a solid Catholic education.

    In Wichita, I am sure that for this to function, many parents are aware of the cost of their child’s education, even if they aren’t the ones paying it in full. And if this is indeed working successfully, I am sure that there are parents who can afford it that write rather large checks as part of the lifestyle of stewardship. But to answer the question above, I do think that it is also appropriate that others who do not currently have children in the parochial school (or may never have children in it) to support it in some way or another. It is a vital ministry that ensures the future of the Church as it provides a place of the seeds of vocations to be nourished.

    I am curious if anyone knows more about other dioceses that are looking into this Wichita method and any studies being done, especially concerning the more urban areas.

Basing Victory on Failure

Monday, July 20, AD 2009

It is one of the interesting contradictions of politics that political factions sometimes rely on the problems they seek to eliminate for their existence. For instance, it has been widely noted that while it is generally part of the Democratic set of ideals to reduce economic disparity, while Republicans tend to be accepting of it, Democrats are most successfully elected in areas with high economic disparity and Republicans are most successfully elected in areas with economic homogeneity. One might imagine that this is because those who actually experience inequality see the folly of their actions and switch to become Democratic voters, and perhaps there’s some level of truth to this, but still it seems odd that the Democratic hold on a region strengthens as its inequality increases. In other words, they do better if their goal of creating a more egalitarian economy fails.

I was reminded of this reading an article this morning about a group of newly elected Democrats in the House who are from some of the nation’s wealthiest congressional districts. (Democrats now control 14 out of the 25 richest congressional districts in the country.) These congressmen are worried about a provision in the pending health care legislation which would fund much of the new spending with a tax increase of 1-5.4% on income groups making $350k/yr or more.

I don’t have an objection in principle to taxes that hit the rich harder than the poor. As was observed about the reasonableness of robbing banks (if one is going to be a robber): That’s where the money is.

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26 Responses to Basing Victory on Failure

  • “but still it seems odd that the Democratic hold on a region strengthens as its inequality increases. In other words, they do better if their goal of creating a more egalitarian economy fails.”

    About as odd, from another perspective, of doctors doing better when an epidemic breaks out.

  • It’s like the Republicans’ popularity rising whenever the U.S. gets struck by terrorism…even under the former’s watch.

  • My personal suspicion would be that the former is the explanation.

    Both.

  • But if the more doctors you got, the worse the epidemic became, might you after a while start to think that perhaps the doctors weren’t doing any good?

  • [I]t seems odd that the Democratic hold on a region strengthens as its inequality increases. In other words, they do better if their goal of creating a more egalitarian economy fails.

    I would tend to agree with Joe in not finding this quite so odd. MM pointed out a while back that Republicans tend to do better in states with higher rates of divorce, teen births, etc. I think you have the same phenomenon in both cases. Democrats say “elect me, and I’ll do something about the problem of economic inequality.” That’s likely to be an effective appeal if inequality seems like a problem to voters than if it doesn’t. Likewise, Republicans say “elect me, and I’ll do something about the decline in family values.” That appeal is more likely to resonate with voters if they think there has been such a decline and view it as a problem.

  • It’s like the Republicans’ popularity rising whenever the U.S. gets struck by terrorism…even under the former’s watch.

    Whenever? That would seem like a very small number of events to draw a trend from. Did Republicans gain support after the first World Trade Center bombing during the Clinton administration, or after the OKC bombing?

  • I’d certainly concede that to an extent, Joe & Blackadder. Though it seems to me that if one votes in Democratic local governments and representatives, and yet things still keep getting more and more unequal, one would have to start wondering after a while if the Democrats were actually good at reducing inequality or just good at appealing to both the rich and poor at the same time.

    It doesn’t seem like 30+ years of Democratic policies are able to help much in places like DC, Chicago, Detroit or New Orleans, but then, it may be that large cities in those regions are in bad shape for some unrelated reason.

    If it would help, I’ll consent to retract that side remark, since my main point was that funding all of Obama’s initiatives soley via taxes on the rich suggests both an intermittant revenue source and also a certain lack of faith on their part on the likelihood of their actually achieving greater income equality.

  • “Though it seems to me that if one votes in Democratic local governments and representatives, and yet things still keep getting more and more unequal, one would have to start wondering after a while if the Democrats were actually good at reducing inequality or just good at appealing to both the rich and poor at the same time.”

    Well, I am sympathetic to this point of view – Democrats have been, at least from the perspective of many leftists, been ‘moving to the right’ on economic issues for 30 years. The Bill Clinton years ushered in a “new” Democratic Party under the Democratic Leadership Council, and that is when much of this shift took place.

    Of course from a right-wing perspective, Democrats are still either socialists or close enough to. I think that’s a ridiculous assessment, having once belonged to a socialist organization myself – one that, like most other socialist groups, do nothing but complain about the Democrats (much in the same way, I might imagine, that people in the capital L Libertarian Party or Constitution Party complain about Republicans).

    “It doesn’t seem like 30+ years of Democratic policies are able to help much in places like DC, Chicago, Detroit or New Orleans, but then, it may be that large cities in those regions are in bad shape for some unrelated reason.”

    What did Democratic policies have to do without outsourcing, downsizing, ‘restructuring’ and all of the other processes that ushered in the disintegration of America’s manufacturing base that served as the economic backbone of these areas?

    Since I brought up socialism, I’ll paraphrase something Trotsky said about the Soviet economy – even good policies can’t turn manure into gold.

    “If it would help, I’ll consent to retract that side remark, since my main point was that funding all of Obama’s initiatives soley via taxes on the rich suggests both an intermittant revenue source and also a certain lack of faith on their part on the likelihood of their actually achieving greater income equality.”

    I also think this is a stretch, because few people narrow their vision of social equality to “income equality”. Wealth inequality or unequal living standards/conditions could be equalized – as they were in the past – by a transfer of wealth from the top to the bottom in the form of social programs without increasing anyone’s income.

    That said, I agree with you in substance – taxing the rich only isn’t a fair policy. Everyone needs to contribute to the common good. Those who have more, should contribute more and not complain about it. But even those who have less are obliged to contribute.

  • It doesn’t seem like 30+ years of Democratic policies are able to help much in places like DC, Chicago, Detroit or New Orleans,

    You can eliminate the “seem” when talking about New Orleans.

  • Oh, and there was not a complete collapse of our manufacturing base in those areas during this time…

  • “Democrats have been, at least from the perspective of many leftists, been ‘moving to the right’ on economic issues for 30 years.”

    That movement began to turn around with Howard Dean. With the ascent of Barack Obama, the far left of the party has the reigns.

    “What did Democratic policies have to do without outsourcing, downsizing, ‘restructuring’ and all of the other processes that ushered in the disintegration of America’s manufacturing base that served as the economic backbone of these areas?”

    These areas (DC, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans) were in rough shape before outsourcing etc. The recessions in the 70’s were brought on by a lack of competitiveness (as well as some oil shocks) from which certain economic sectors (automotive, to name one) still suffer. The policies you cite were reactions corporations took to deal with the situation, and which exacerbated the local economic impact. Perhaps the question should have been “what did unions and corporations have to do with the disintegration of the U.S. manufacturing base?”

    “Wealth inequality or unequal living standards/conditions could be equalized – as they were in the past – by a transfer of wealth from the top to the bottom in the form of social programs without increasing anyone’s income.”

    As the IRS will tell you, the receipt of goods or services in kind is an increase in income. (They get rather testy if you do not report such things.) If you are talking about public libraries, parks, etc. it is another matter.

    Re the topic of the post, it may be helpful to view the “greed” map at http://minoroutside.blogspot.com/2009/05/bible-belt-or-swath-of-sin.html and compare it to a electoral map (such as http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/results/president/map.html)

  • people go into business to make money not to take care of the so called “poor.” you take a large enough percentage of money from the rich business man and he will try to move his business elsewhere where he can make more money. you tie up his business so he can’t move it, he leaves it accepts the loss and takes whats left of his wealth elsewhere.

    and you’re suprised…

  • Oh, and there was not a complete collapse of our manufacturing base in those areas during this time…

    In some cases. I’m not sure DC every had much of a manufacturing base, did it?

    At the same time, one might ask: What exactly was it that caused those manufacturing base cities to double down on unionized manufacturing repeatedly, allowing cities further south like Atlanta, Nashville, and Houston to grab so much of the more diversified economic opportunities coming available?

    people go into business to make money not to take care of the so called “poor.” you take a large enough percentage of money from the rich business man and he will try to move his business elsewhere where he can make more money.

    I’m not sure if this is part of what you have in mind, but one of the things that will tend to drive people’s profit motive harder in a highly heterogeneous society is that people do not necessarily trust the political arbiters of the common good to dispose of their money as well as they would themselves. Someone who wants to hold onto his earnings is not necessarily planning to blow it all on lighting his Cuban cigars with $1000 bills. He may be wanting to use that money to start an additional business (which will provide jobs) or to fund some charitable cause, etc. A desire to control what happens with the money one earns is not necessarily “greed”.

  • “people go into business to make money not to take care of the so called “poor.””

    And people avoid libertarianism like the plague when those who identify with it speak this way. The “so-called poor” – as if they didn’t exist. “To make money” – as if that in itself were a worthy goal.

    Catholic social teaching may not presume to insist upon what economic policies must be in place, but it certainly can insist upon the values that are to guide individual behavior and attitudes.

    Yours are in need of a serious adjustment.

    For Darwin,

    “Someone who wants to hold onto his earnings is not necessarily planning to blow it all on lighting his Cuban cigars with $1000 bills.”

    No one said it is necessary. That it is even possible, however, while people are suffering is a sufficient reason for the community and for society, through its legitimate democratic institutions, to have some say over what happens to the wealth of society. No one’s “earnings” are entirely their own anyway – the production of all wealth is a social process, and in the final equation, all things belong to God.

  • That it is even possible, however, while people are suffering is a sufficient reason for the community and for society, through its legitimate democratic institutions, to have some say over what happens to the wealth of society.

    I’d agree that this is why it’s appropriate for the state to provide a certain minimum level of safety net. There are those out there who, left the opportunity to use their wealth for good, will do nothing. (On the bright side, when they go out and blow it on a $500k sports car instead, at least they end up providing employment to a bunch of people, though certainly not from the goodness of their hearts.)

    In this sense, I certainly wouldn’t support absolutism libertarianism. At the same time, though, I lean towards wanting to leave people as much room to do the right thing as possible. So I certainly wouldn’t support a leveling approach to taxation where one intentionally tries to take all the “extra” above a certain amount.

    For an analogy: Many parents do not perform their duties very well. I think it’s appropriate that the community have a means of stepping in which bad parenting hits catastrophic levels. But I don’t think it’s a good idea when the wider community tries to relieve parents of most of their responsibilities in order to assure that no bad parenting takes place.

    Now, I’d say that the right to private property is of lesser priority than the right of a parents to rear their own children, so I think there’s more latitude, but I do think that there’s a very big element of charity and humanity which is lost when people rely on the polis as the primary means of assuring that people help each other and refuse to leave anything to the true solidarity of human persons. Indeed, I worry that an excessive reliance on the state’s “safety net” can end up feeding into the cycle of individualism which weakens community ties.

  • “On the bright side, when they go out and blow it on a $500k sports car instead, at least they end up providing employment to a bunch of people”

    I don’t mean to be snotty with you, but I really dislike this point when it is made in the context of trying to justify freedom to the point of license (that isn’t what you did here but the logic is similar).

    Pimps provide jobs. Drug dealers provide jobs. The abortion industry employs thousands of people. So does the abortion lobby. Excessive consumption and a squandering of one’s personal wealth on obscene luxury items might be a degree below these evils, but only a degree. It is certainly not closer to the morally acceptable end of the spectrum.

    A lot of people who would draw the line at prostitution and drugs, or at abortion, wouldn’t draw it at the squandering of vast amounts of money on the production or purchase of goods and services that serve only the purpose of personal aggrandizement.

    That they would draw the line at all, however, means that they admit that not all job-creating activity is valid, that some of it is harmful to society, to the common good. If you accept it in one case, I don’t see why it can’t be accepted in another.

    I believe social harm is done when time, effort, natural resources and other vital commodities are used up in the pursuit not of happiness, but gluttony. It is an injustice to the people of the Earth who are struggling to get by, it makes a mockery of God through idolatry, it tramples over the Church’s understanding of the universal destination of goods.

    It weakens the bonds of solidarity, it creates envy in the lower classes and a sick desire to emulate greed and perversion at the lower levels of society, some of it understandable and all of it undesirable. That people wish to produce something, and others wish to buy it, cannot in themselves serve as justifications for the existence of certain goods and services. And everything the Church teaches about consumerism, the evils of excess and global imbalances, and the preferential option for the poor proclaims as much.

  • I don’t mean to be snotty with you, but I really dislike this point when it is made in the context of trying to justify freedom to the point of license (that isn’t what you did here but the logic is similar).

    Pimps provide jobs. Drug dealers provide jobs. The abortion industry employs thousands of people.

    While I don’t deny that greed and conspicuous consumption can be sins, I have a really hard time with the idea that simply producing a very high quality good, of the sort that could command a very high price, would be sinful.

    Is producing a Baldwin moral but doing so with a Steinway immoral? Is it moral to work for GM or Kia but immoral to work for Masarati or Bentley?

    The idea that it’s moral to do something like build a car, but immoral to do it really, really well just seems odd to me. And I suppose that I can’t necessarily see how it’s moral for GM workers to work on a couple dozen vehicles a day, but immoral for Lamborghini workers to spend months working on one vehicle. Does the world suffer for there being fewer vehicle that are well made instead of many cheap ones?

    Which is not to say that I’d ever feel right about spending $500k on a car. But it seems oddly utilitarian to condemn a mechanic or engineer to want to build the very best car possible, a true work of art. Heck, at that point would the Church’s critics be right to condemn it for having spent so much money on patronizing the arts over the centuries?

  • I think we’re getting some wires crossed here.

    There is no reason a worker can’t do the best job in the world on an affordable car.

    And I suppose it is true that a car can be a work of art.

    What makes today’s situation different than the era during which the Church heavily patronized the arts, however, is that we can, at least technically, come within striking distance of solving some of the worlds problems related to scarcity of necessities.

    In those days, it wouldn’t have been possible in spite of the best of intentions. And the Church had her priorities straight – she was, for over a thousand years, the chief support of the poor and the sick. Patronization of the arts never came at the expense of those social duties.

  • “It doesn’t seem like 30+ years of Democratic policies are able to help much in places like DC, Chicago, Detroit or New Orleans, but then, it may be that large cities in those regions are in bad shape for some unrelated reason.”

    What did Democratic policies have to do without outsourcing, downsizing, ‘restructuring’ and all of the other processes that ushered in the disintegration of America’s manufacturing base that served as the economic backbone of these areas?

    Speaking as a Louisiana Guy little of this had to do with the downfall of New Orleans that has been under Democratic rule since Reconstruction

  • “Why build a program on an income base you’re intent on destroying?”

    Politics. Democrats realize that imposing taxes on the middle class, as they used to do regularly prior to Reagan, would be political suicide. The problem with their current approach from a Democrat perspective is two fold however. First, a tax the rich strategy only simply doesn’t raise enough revenue from the uber rich. Second, more than a few of the uber rich are Democrats. Many of them are screaming mad now when they suddenly realize that Obama is targeting them. Nothing like a better than 50% effective tax rate to convert limousine liberals to taxophobic conservatives, or at least to ticked off liberals who aren’t going to dole out donations to the Democrats the next election cycle.

    The Washington Post has always been a faithful mirror of what most prosperous Democrats are thinking. This recent editorial describes their discontent well:

    “But there is no case to be made for the House Democratic majority’s proposal to fund health-care legislation through an ad hoc income tax surcharge for top-earning households. The new surtax would hit individual households earning $350,000 and above. It would start at 1 percent, bumping up to 1.5 percent at $500,000 in income and to 5.4 percent at $1 million. The new levy would begin in 2011 and is supposed to raise $540 billion over 10 years, about half the projected cost of health-care reform. The rest of the money would come from reduced spending on Medicare and Medicaid — though the surtax for the lower two categories would jump by a percentage point each in 2013 unless the Office of Management and Budget determines that the rest of the bill has saved more than $150 billion.

    The traditional argument against sharp increases in the marginal tax rates of a very narrow band of Americans is that it could distort their economic behavior — most likely by encouraging them to put more of their money into tax shelters as opposed to productive investments. This effect could be greatest in certain states, such as New York, where a higher federal rate would add to already substantial state income taxes. The deeper issue, though, is whether it is wise to pay for a far-reaching new federal social program by tapping a revenue source that would surely need to be tapped if and when Congress and the Obama administration get serious about the long-term federal deficit.

    That moment may be approaching faster than they would like. Even if Congress pulls off a budget-neutral expansion of health care, the gap between federal revenue and expenditures will reach 7 percent of gross domestic product in 2020, according to the Congressional Budget Office. And that’s assuming that the economy returns to full employment between now and then. The long-term deficit is driven by the aging of the population as well as by growing health-care costs, both contributing to Social Security and Medicare expenses. There is simply no way to close the gap by taxing a handful of high earners. The House actions echo President Obama’s unrealistic campaign promise that he can build a larger, more progressive government while raising taxes on only the wealthiest.”

    Translation from Post Speak: “Hey Obama, tax those blue collars and hicks in fly over country and leave us wealthly liberals alone!” Obama’s election and the Democrats’ complete control of Congress are going to shatter quite a few illusions on the Left in this country, and the old tax the rich mantra is merely one of many.

  • Donald: I find it amazing that Obama told people before the election that he would raise taxes on the rich and now the rich Democrats who voted for him are dismayed because – he intends to raise taxes on the rich. As Glenn Reynolds says, “Who are the rubes?”

    More Americans will join the chorus of dismay as the Dems continue to redefine the meaning of the word “rich.”

  • Lots of socially liberal people voted for Obama without paying much attention to his economic agenda. Now they are and the howls will only increase as the economy sinks and taxes increase. Your quote from Instapundit is dead on Donna.

  • “Lots of socially liberal people voted for Obama without paying much attention to his economic agenda.”

    This is true.

    But the right didn’t pay much attention either, since they were constantly referring to it as “socialism”.

  • Well, Joe, it’s things like this that make me suspect our President is a bit further to the left than he let on during the campaign. He has named Van Jones as his “Green Czar.” And who is Van Jones? A LAPD officer posting at NRO online lets us know:

    “Jones was a co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a San Francisco–area organization that once focused exclusively on so-called social-justice issues but now sees the pot of gold at the end of the green-jobs rainbow. In a 2007 entry on the Huffington Post, Jones marked the 15th anniversary of the riots that followed the acquittal of the four LAPD officers accused of beating Rodney King. Attached to the post is an essay he wrote in those heady days of 1992, which includes this account of the genesis of his revolutionary ardor:

    Our rallying cry was for justice; our demand was that the System be changed!

    Yes, the Great Revolutionary Moment had at long last come. And the time, clearly, was ours!

    So we stole stuff.

    Y’know, stole stuff. Radios, tennis shoes. Well, not everybody, of course.

    The vast majority (me included) just marched around and chanted slogans. But some set trash cans on fire. And smashed in car windows. And some kids stoned a few passing cars pretty good.

    And stole stuff, like I said.”

    Well, Abbie Hoffman did say “Property is theft,” a guy who sees nothing with stealing stuff will now be heading a government organization. At least, unlike most pols, he’ll be upfront about his thievery.

  • The “tax the rich to feed the poor” mantra is terribly defective from a pragmatic point of view.

    I know that many who post here prefer to speak from a philosophical or religious point of view, but it sometimes seems as though there is a disconnect between those points and the pragmatic. There simply MUST be a practical application to great thoughts or such sentiments, however valid, are impotent.

    The President says that we should levy taxes against the rich in order to force them to contribute to the greater good. However, America has tried to lean its social programs on the “rich” before and it has failed each time because wealth allows a person to “sit this one out.”

    Those of us earning more than the poverty guidelines and less than, to choose a number, $200,000/year are fully and directly engaged in the economy. We derive an income that leaves little left over after paying bills. We are on a treadmill and we cannot get off. Don’s point above gets to this reality – that we are “stable” tax payers because we will continue to earn and pay at a predictable rate.

    Those earning less than the poverty guidelines are far less “engaged” in the economy in the sense that their earnings often fluctuate wildly from year to year and are almost always entirely exempt direct taxation. Even if one WANTED to levy taxes on the poor, the only way to reach them is through taxes on the goods and services that they use. Joe’s point about “taxing those who have the money” fits their situation nicely.

    However, those earning over a certain amount – and it may well be $350,000 – enjoy a flexibility that the others do not. As has been noted above, they can manipulate their income and assets to avoid significant taxation. They NEED little that they purchase or use. Their interests more easily transcend borders.

    It is a mistake to think that one can tax the income of the wealthy and end up with anything close to the amount the government forecasts because, once one reaches the point of earning that much or acquiring that much in assets, tax avoidance becomes the consuming task rather than growing wealth. This means that they will, as they did on a large scale in the 1930s and the 1980s in the United States, shield their wealth while waiting out the Progressives.

    It is a simple calculation: If I am going to be taxed on income earned through investment, I will not invest. I don’t have to. They can’t reach my assets as easily as my income so I will “wait them out.” They will eventually be crying for me to invest again and will free me from those constraints.

    And so we have; each and every time.

    Simply stated, whether or not it is right or just to tax the high earners in order to provide social programs for the low earners is less significant a debate than the effect of doing so. It is THIS discussion that neither the Administration, nor the Legislature, is engaged in.

    How one can write legislation of so far reaching a consequence without analyzing its effects is beyond me.

  • “How one can write legislation of so far reaching a consequence without analyzing its effects is beyond me.”

    Because most politicians are far better at speaking than thinking, and once one removes the “tax the rich” panacea, hard and unpopular choices must be made by the same glib politicians.

Palin Resigns

Friday, July 3, AD 2009

Governor Sarah Palin announced today that she will not run for a second term as governor of Alaska, and that she will be stepping down shortly and handing the reigns over to the Lt. Governor. Among reasons cited are desire to take public scrutiny off her family, and the fact that Alaskan law does not allow a sitting governor to collect any kind of donations or outside payments — which means that her personal legal bills in defending herself against frivolous ethics complaints have left the family in very significant debt. (The resignation would allow her to make money from a book contract or speaking events.)

Governor Palin provoked a wide range of reactions as McCain’s running mate during the ’08 campaign, and provoked a truly revealing hate-fest among some partisan Democrats which was deeply revealing about their real attitudes towards class and women. Many Republicans hoped to see Gov. Palin make a run for the presidency in 2012 or 2016, while many others questioned whether she had the abilities and experience to be president.

Others may disagree, but I would tend to think that resigning before the end of her first time as governor indicates that she does not have future political plans. I don’t see the “quitter” reputation as being something one could overcome, regardless of the reason.

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50 Responses to Palin Resigns

  • Palin is not, and never has been, a conventional politician. Assuming she does wish to stay in politics, my guess is that she believes that Obama may be vulnerable in 2012, and she wishes to build up a mass organization to confront him. If that is the case I find the resignation refreshing rather than just ignoring the job she is paid to do, which is what most serving governors do when they run for President. She might also be ready to retire from politics altogether, sickened by the unending assaults on her family. Too little data to judge at the moment, although I suspect it will become clear rather quickly.

  • My impression is that Gov. Palin and her family have thrived in the very particular environment that is Alaska, and might not in some other locale, so it would be wise for her to forget about national politics.

    What was revealing about the reaction to her among not only the political opposition but among the chatterati with an affinity for the Republican Party (one thinks of David Frum and George Will and Megan McArdle) is that the only candidate running who had any experience as a political executive was derided as a lightweight while a thoroughgoing dilletente stood at the head of the Democratic Party’s ticket. Gov. Palin is likely not familiar with peculiarly federal issues, but does anyone think a man with less than three years under his belt as a working member of Congress is exactly seasoned? Most particularly when he appears to have made no effort to familiarize himself with possible pathyways out of the hideous banking crisis the world is in (“Sweden had, like, five banks.” No, Sen. Obama, Sweden had 114 banks.)?

    The whole business was another demonstration of Thomas Sowell’s observation that people fancy intelligence can substitute for expertise, and that to be articulate is the same as to be intelligent. And who traded in these confusions? People who make their living as word merchants.

  • While this decision is justified and understandable for many reasons it does not favor her running for president in 2012. If she couldn’t do her job as governor because of attacks by liberals, financial and family concerns, etc. how could she expect anyone to believe she could handle being president?

    However, she’s only 45 years old so time is on her side. She could take a break from politics for 2-4 years, then serve in Congress or get a Cabinet appointment (Interior? Energy?) under the next GOP president, then run for president in 2020 or 2024 (when she would be 60 years old, same age as Hillary Clinton was in ’08).

  • As far as GOP prospects for 2012, looks like Bobby Jindal or Tim Pawlenty may be the last candidates standing (at least among the governors).

  • More information on “grassroots” supporters gathering across the nation to support Sarah Palin for President in 2012 can be found online at http://www.palin4pres2012.com

    Note, the website is in danger of crashing due to the flood of readers and supporters signing up to show their interest in a Palin Candidacy. The GOP establishment had better watch out, Sarah Palin and Ron Paul combined with the power of the internet will remove the stranglehold of GOP special interests and the elites who have brought the party to its knees in defeat in the 2008 elections.

  • In 15 years, her daughter Piper will be (one wagers) done with her schooling and her husband will be nearing retirement age. Not sure Todd will be impressed with the hunting in West Virginia, but maybe past sixty he will be ready to downshift.

    Some time working in the business world in the intervening years and then some time in Washington (a couple of terms in Congress and or some time in charge of a federal agency) might render her well prepared. Certainly better prepared than some of the characters who have held the office in the last several decades.

  • Possibly her “You’re Not Going To Have Dick Nixon To Kick Around Anymore” moment?

  • Yeah, don’t get me wrong: I like Palin at a gut level. And while I think she had some pretty poor interview moments, the accusation that she’s inexperienced is pretty laughable considering the tenderfoot who sat at the top of the other ticket (and the bozo who plays second fiddle to him.)

    I must admit, this looks to me like a decision to leave politics. Otherwise, why not serve out the term? But I’d agree with the thought that if she did a come back in 2-4 years and spent some time in congress and/or at cabinet level she’d be a good prospect a says down the pike.

    I’m with Elaine on 2012. It’s a thin field, though I have hopes for Jindal. A smart, capable, Indian-American-Catholic with an expertise in healthcare is not a bad short for this next year, though I don’t know if he’ll be done with LA at that point or is thinking 2016.

  • Pingback: Sarah resigns: what next? « The Lewis Crusade
  • I’m thinking Palin does not plan on running for the presidency. Perhaps she may one day run for the Senate or the House, but I don’t see it any time soon.

    The Republican field continues to shrink and lack inspiration. I’m still one of those guys that believes the GOP must return to its core principles in practice (not rhetoric) if it wishes to stop loosing voters.

  • “As far as GOP prospects for 2012, looks like Bobby Jindal or Tim Pawlenty may be the last candidates standing”

    JIndal will not be running for President in 2012. All indications are that he is going to run for Governor in 2010. He cannot do that and just months later win the early crucial primary States that takes a huge amount of time and money. NOT HAPPENING

    Further JIndal to be honest is limited by MOther Nature. A major Hurricane is well always likely. Thought the tv cameras left after New Orelans survived the latest ones much of SOuth Louisiana looked like a War Zone. Bobby was sdielined for over a month dealing with it. Also a limitation on him during the crucial 2011 GOP primary campaigning mohts of July through Sept.

  • One other thought. My gut is telling me she is sick of it. The fact she is in Alaska make her not able to respond to the vicious campaign against her

    If that is the case I think it is sad and we are all partly to balme . Even Conservatives. We have an amazing ability to eat our own and cast the worst accusations on our friends in the poltical field. I saw this too Bush to a certain extent from many conservatives because he dared to take a view that was different on immigration reform. All last year there were in comment sections “they are all the same” and “they are just using us”. There is nothing wrong being cynical but at some point it becomes destructive

    Palin had her own foes in the various conservative camps and factions.

    Still it is worth noting that all the pundits we pay attention and who throw the criticism we all lap up rarely run for elective office. If they do they rarely win which should be telling.

    We bloggers that are experts on everything under the sun and are examning every flaw and threatening to take our toys home with us if poltician x does not do y rarely run for elected Office(with one notable Catholic exception of a person that comments here). I think we all know that the shoe would be on the other foot and it is not so much fun being “them” and getting the heat.

    Maybe this average person that had a great bit of smarts said the heck with it. I refuse. If that is the case well it is sad day.

  • Actually, time would be even more on Jindal’s side since — if I’m not mistaken — he’s only in his late 30s. He too has plenty of time to wait to run for president, if indeed he really WANTS to run for president. Cleaning up Louisiana (both politically and from the inevitable hurricanes) is a big job in itself and it requires his full attention.

  • On the other hand… there are also reports in the blogosphere of a possible scandal about to surface dating back to her tenure as mayor of Wasilla, involving the construction company which built both her home and the Wasilla Sports Complex.

    I really, really hate to say this, but that sounds plausible to me and would explain her “sudden” and “baffling” decision to resign. The contract issue apparently is something political junkies and statehouse reporters in Alaska have been following for a long time — the same way Illinois political junkies and statehouse reporters followed all the pay-to-play allegations against Blago long before the national media ever heard of him. It would NOT surprise me at all to discover that the national MSM totally missed the real story which Alaskans knew all along.

  • All that rumor among the “nutroots” lacks Elaine is any alleged factual basis to support it. I think it will join the long list of ethics complaints filed against Palin since she was the GOP veep nominee last year and found to be wanting.

    http://www.adn.com/palin/story/838912.html

    Of course this type of allegation against her by her opponents is what has caused her to accumulate a personal debt of $500,000 in legal fees responding to this type of tripe.

    I suspect that Mark Steyn may have got to the crux of the matter:

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=N2ZiOTA5MmU0MjQ0ODJmNWI3OGQ4ZTg2ZGE1Nzg5NmE=

  • Actually, the report I’m referring to is NOT among the 15 ethics complaints referred to above; it’s much more serious in that it MAY carry the potential for federal indictments. Also, I discovered it from a usually reliable and libertarian-leaning blogger and former journalist who is not given to spreading unsubstantiated rumors (Peoria Pundit).

    Mark Steyn’s article also raises an important point: when local and state media are tough on local/state level pols, their toughness tends to be based on actual knowledge of the person and how they govern, not on a “caricature” created by “malign late night comedians.” This is something local and state media in Alaska have been following, not just Daily Kos or other “nutroots.”

    You and I know that was true in Illinois; Blago was not impeached just for selling Obama’s Senate seat, or for having bad hair — it went way beyond that, and the situation had been brewing for years. But to the national talking heads who never heard of him before Dec. 9, it looked like a “rush to judgment.”

    Now, I’m not saying that Palin is necessarily guilty of anything or that these charges have merit. (Sen. Ted Stevens’ conviction was thrown out, so perhaps federal prosecutors and juries in Alaska are too aggressive.) I’m simply saying this goes beyond the “frivolous ethics complaints” we’ve been hearing about, and that it would provide a plausible explanation for her actions that the national media seems to have completely missed.

  • Elaine I realized the rumor you mentioned was not among the ethics complaint I referred to as I believe my comment made clear. I was merely noting that Palin’s foes have engaged in this type of baseless smear frequently and I suspect this is more of the same.

    Did your source give you any facts to support the allegations of the rumor? If not, I contend this is more of the same until such time as facts, those “stubborn things” in the words of John Adams, are brought forth.

  • Here is what Peoria Pundit wrote.

    http://peoriapundit.com/blogpeoria/2009/07/03/bloggers-not-mainstream-media-has-the-scoop-on-palin-resignation/#comments

    Here is the Brad Blog post, a rather far left blog, which is his “source”.

    http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7280

  • Elaine,

    Peoria Pundit cites two sources. One is Max Blumenthal of “The Nation Institute”, writing in The Daily Beast. Victor Navasky’s The Nation is an opinion magazine of low quality, not a venue for original reporting. After a discussion of ‘rumors’ that ‘federal investigators’ had been rummaging through the business records of a local building supplies company, Blumenthal offers this:

    Just months before Palin left city hall to campaign for governor, she awarded a contract to SBS to help build the $13 million Wasilla Sports Complex. The most expensive building project in Wasilla history, the complex cost the city an additional $1.3 million in legal fees and threw it into severe long-term debt. For SBS, however, the bloated and bungled project was a cash cow.

    Gov. Palin completed her second term as Mayor of Wasilla in 2002 and took up a position as chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission in 2003. She did not run for Governor until 2006. (The bond issues and tax increases to fund the sports complex were approved by referenda, by the way).

    Brad Blog recycles Blumenthal’s column and adds some material cribbed from the Village Voice. There is not the slightest discussion of the process by which the contracts to build the Wasilla sports complex were awarded. Both authors would prefer their readers draw a conclusion that there is something sinister about the fact that Todd Palin procured building supplies for his house from the same company, SBS, that sold supplies to the town to build the sports complex. However, Brad Blog’s sources describe SBS as Alaska’s leading provider of building supplies. They also would like you to believe that Todd Palin has been misleading the public by stating that he had built that house with the help of friends, though (apparently) he procured building supplies from SBS. Seriously, would anyone have interpreted Todd Palin’s remarks to mean that he and his buddies had milled their own lumber and manufactured their own cement?

    The contracts to construct the Wasilla sports complex were awarded seven years ago. I would think it unusual for a statute of limitations for embezzlement to extend to such a length of time. Blumenthal and ‘Brad’ report that a federal investigation is underway. Perhaps Mr. McClarey might inform us as to what statutes of limitations usually are under the U.S. Code, and whether, given that, it is at all likely that federal investigators would be at work here.

  • Palin’s move puts yet more pressure on Obama to finally get some results, as the soaring rhetoric isn’t hypnotizing the plebes like it used to. This week Helen Thomas, Colin Powell, and Warren Buffet all turned on him. Polls are looking droopy for The One lately.

    Obama’s porkulus program is a train wreck, all it’s done is bump interest rates and tank the dollar. We are being laughed at by bad guys like Tehran, Pyongyang, and Al Qaida who amazingly turned-down Barack’s friend-requests.

    Palin could trounce him in 2012, when Americans would vote for the Gipper-in-Heels in droves- while begging for lower taxes, free enterpise, a defense posture with some backbone… an end to the radical, anti-American nightmare we’ve got now.

    Go get ‘em Sarah-

  • Thank you Art for another informative comment. Most crimes under the Federal Code have a statute of limitations of five years, with a few exceptions that I do not believe would be relevant here. In my experience most federal investigations leak out to the press within a few months of their inception. Considering the microscopic and hostile media focus on Palin, if there were a federal investigation it has been a minor miracle that the media has not heard of it.

    Update: Below we have a link to proposed legislation introduced in January to have the statute of limitations on public corruption increased from five to six years, so it is clear that the relevant statute would be five years.

    http://leahy.senate.gov/press/200901/010609a.html

  • I don’t dislike Palin, but I’m not a big fan either. Her style of speech seems to get more and more disjointed to me, in comparison to her performance at the RNC convention where she pretty much went for the jugular.

    Whatever her reasons for this move, I do love seeing all the talking-head know-it-alls get wound up.

  • Perhaps the most revealing comment about the pistol-packing mama is
    “Governor Palin provoked a wide range of reactions as McCain’s running mate during the ‘08 campaign, and provoked a truly revealing hate-fest among some partisan Democrats which was deeply revealing about their real attitudes towards class and women”.

  • OK, maybe those usually reliable bloggers weren’t so reliable this time. Perhaps those “rumors” are more wishful thinking along the lines of predictions in 2005 that Karl Rove and Dick Cheney faced imminent indictment in the Valerie Plame case. (The term “Fitzmas,” referring to federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, originally was coined by Daily Kos bloggers to express the high level of anticipation of such indictments among that crowd.)

    It would be pretty difficult to hide a full-blown federal investigation of Palin from the press, or for journalists in Alaska not to notice it. However, again, I note that in the case of Blago a lot of the national media seemed not to be aware, or not to care, that he had been under federal investigation for over 3 years at the time of his arrest. Then again, he was not a presidential or vice presidential candidate at the time (though he had hoped and schemed to become one from the moment he became governor, if not before).

    Still, even the mere possibility of federal investigation or indictment is a whole new ballgame compared to “bogus” state ethics complaints. It would also explain her sudden decision to resign — trying to defend herself against those kind of charges, whether founded or not, would make it pretty much impossible for her to function as governor.

  • Elaine,

    She left office as Mayor of Wasilla in the fall of 2002. A federal indictment on corruption charges derived from her tenure in that post would be invalid due to the passage of time.

    The obvious questions to ask about this sort of controversy are as follows:

    1. Was there a competitive bidding process for the various elements of the construction of the sports complex;

    2. Is there any evidence of the bidding being rigged?;

    3. Is there any evidence that the contract(s) were written in such a way as to preclude enterprises other than a firm targeted to receive patronage from bidding on or winning the contract(s)?;

    Your ‘normally reliable bloggers’ pose none of these questions. That the statute of limitations might call into question the veracity of ‘rumors’ about a federal investigation seem not to have occurred to them either. If I interpret them correctly, they also seem to think that the mere possession of building materials by Todd Palin is suspicious, as if it cannot be assumed by default that he pays for drywall and lumber. I do not think I would pay too much attention to these three characters in the future.

    A better explanation of why she elected to resign is that she has to raise money to pay her legal fees; efforts by friends and admirers to do resulted in…another ethics charge (filed 27 April).

  • Perhaps the most revealing comment about the pistol-packing mama is

    Revealing about whom, and why?

  • I guess I’ve been looking at all political developments through Blago-colored glasses a little too long 🙂

    However, even if all these “bogus ethics complaints” are unfounded and merely a smear campaign, it does not change my belief that she was NOT adequately prepared to run for national office in ’08, and probably won’t be for some time to come.

  • I think most of her problem last year Elaine was that intially she was badly served by McCain’s handlers. Having her give interviews in hostile venues shortly after arriving on the national stage was simply bizarre. She performed much better as the campaign progressed and she did what she thought best and stopped listening to the McCain advisors. She bested Biden in the Veep debate, although since Joe truly is a blithering idiot, perhaps that wasn’t the hardest accomplishment in the world. Without Palin on the ticket McCain would have been lucky to break 40%. McCain lost 11 points among white men compared to the totals for Bush in 2004 and only lost four points among white women. There is only one reason for that difference: Palin.

    http://thehill.com/dick-morris/sarah-palin-saved-gop-from-landslide-defeat-2008-11-11.html

  • Here is a link to a statement from Palin’s legal counsel on the nutroots’ Wasilla Sports Complex fantasy.

    http://www.conservatives4palin.com/2009/07/statement-from-gov-palins-legal-counsel.html

  • Oh great, I hope I didn’t get you all in trouble! Maybe it’s not too late to give up blogging for Lent 🙂

  • Ha! Don’t worry Elaine, that is what second mortagages are for! 🙂

    The threat of litigation from Palin’s attorney is probably a bluff since Palin is a public figure whether or not she is governor of Alaska. However the facts he cites he finds I find persuasive. This is probably a shot across the bow to Palin’s more crazed critics and an indication that now that she is no longer an elected official she will no longer be constrained in the manner in which she responds to the endless slurs that are heaped upon her and her family every day.

  • The FBI now absolutely denies (in a statement to the L.A. Times) that there is or ever has been ANY federal investigation of Palin’s activities. Sorry to have gotten all worked up over the blogosphere reports. They sounded plausible to me at the time as an explanation for why she would resign so abruptly.

    Also plausible to me was the claim by a blogger who usually DOES cover events in his area far better than the local newspaper does (which probably says more about the low quality of the local paper than the crack journalistic skills of the blogger in question), that bloggers had beat the MSM to the punch on the “real” story. That is obviously not always the case.

  • I’ll paraphrase a friend and say my first thought was: Life just got a little less embarrassing for Republicans. I was a Palin fan when she was announced, and really liked the convention speech. I viewed her sympathetically because of the weird and deranged attacks and the irresponsible rumor-mongering facilitated by the major media outlets. But she is not a national politician, and nothing captured that better than her rambling, incoherent, contradictory resignation speech. She has been erratic and petulant since the Couric interviews; hopefully the resignation will bring her and her family some peace.

  • The talk shows had it down, she’s not some Ivy league graduate, she doesn’t fit in to some of the establishment. Who’d keep on making fun of a veep candidate 7 months after that side of the party lost,,, Michelle Ferrara or whomever. They are scared of her. $500,000 in debt from defending oneself against the smears of her detractors.

    Viva Sarah!

  • EXCERPT:

    “She resigned because of the tremendous pressure, time and financial burden of a litany of ethics complaints in the past several months, she said. The complaints were without merit and took away from the job she wanted to do for Alaskans, Palin said.”

    SOURCE: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/07/07/palin.resignation/

    So this is ‘presidential material’?

    If she can’t stand all this while merely governor, how much more if president?

    She’s proven to be nothing more than a pin-up babe.

    What an utter disappointment!

    I initially had high hopes for her last year due to her sanctity for life record; however, there’s much left to be desired unfortunately — especially given all the remarkably deplorable interviews she gave last year (most notably, the Katie Couric one), which merely demonstrated her immense ineptitude.

    As much as I abhor Hillary Clinton and her liberal breed; at the very least, she isn’t so dense and puerile as Palin.

  • Would you care to be saddled with her legal bills, ‘e.’?

    Can you please explain how the term ‘puerile’ applies to a 45 year old woman married 21 years with five children and a history of taking on unusual challenges?

  • ‘Puerile’ as in:

    “Waaah–Waaah, everybody’s pickin’ on lil’ ole me; I no more wanna be gov’ner!”

    As for taking on unusual challenges, I suppose honorably serving out her full term in spite of these seemingly hostile forces is just beyond her.

    For this, strangely enough, I bear greater respect for George W. Bush; at the very least, though he experienced considerably greater antagonism (much of which he deserved, by the way) and, yet, in spite of all these fierce obstacles which taunted him both physically & mentally (which perhaps taxed his already much too beleaguered congnitive abilities), still, he made the best of it.

  • ‘e.’, her legal bills are not a product of her attitude, but of defects in the Alaska Revised Statutes and defects in Alaska’s political culture. A different attitude is not going to pay her legal bills.

    She is under no obligation to continue in public life and there is no dishonor in departing public life to attend to matters that have priority. Politicians are replaceable. Members of your family are not.

    The campaign of harrassment against Gov. Palin has been unusual, to say the least, and the financial dimension of it leaves her with little room for maneuver. Your reaction to this is to describe her as ‘puerile’ and ‘nothing but a pin up girl’. One other reason she may want out of public life is the realization that the years you have are too short to squander them in the company of jerks.

  • ‘Art Deco’:

    Perhaps — if the latter you’ve suggested is even actually the case.

    If she is aiming for the highest office in the land(as some out there still suspect), I fail to see how bailing out on your responsiblities midway as governor of a state makes you out to be deserving of even greater responsibilities, such as President of the United States.

  • Pingback: A Plan For Palin, A New Contract With America? « The American Catholic
  • e.

    I fail to see how bailing out on your responsiblities midway as governor of a state makes you out to be deserving of even greater responsibilities, such as President of the United States.

    Granted, that not serving at least a full term in office is a detriment, let’s be honest, Obama didn’t serve even 2 years as a senator. I think you’re missing a key point. If her remaining in office as governor is a detriment to the people of Alaska, it is not irresponsible. Remember, in addition to the distractions, the state has spent $2,000,000 in her defense against absurd accusations. This may be a small number if you live in Texas, but in Alaska where the population is less than $1,000,000 it is not.

    It’s not possible to predict whether this will help or hurt her chances in 2012, it’s far too soon for that. It seems likely that her focus will be on 2010 at least for now (see the new post about a plan for Palin).

  • Please people, do not get behind this woman. She is quitting. She offers us no cogent reasons. She can not put together complete thoughts and has offered nothing in the way of initiatives or ways forward. Move on, and not to that insane version of a Catholic Jindahl.

  • She offered cogent reasons – she and her husband are now $500,000 in hock due to bogus ethics complaints.

  • Those are not monies that are not her responsibilities, they are part of the state
    budget. And, she herself opened up some of those investigations. What is she up to?

  • Her legal bills are her responsibility. Which of the ethics complaints lacked a plaintiff?

  • Art,

    Her legal bills are her responsibility. Which of the ethics complaints lacked a plaintiff?

    most of the costs of defending the governor in her official capacity are borne by the taxpayers of Alaska, that totals about $2,000,000. A portion were personally incurred, totaling about $500,000.

    I believe Palin requested that allegations be investigated to avoid the appearance of a coverup.

  • Back in September 2008, we saw her wagging her finger at Hillary Clinton, that Hillary should not whine about tough media coverage, she was not doing women any good, she should just plow through it, she should have known what she was getting into and should just try harder and prove herself. “WOW”, I guess she loves measuring others by standards that she does not follow. What a hypocrite, but expected from most political false prophets types. I guess all other “lame duck” governors should take her lead and quit (cut and run). Thank you for leading by example.

  • If you Paul had been subject to a tenth of the abuse that Palin and her family has been through you would have been screeching for your mommy long ago. The attack on her by the deranged left is beneath contempt.

  • Donald,

    What Palin’s suffering is not even a tenth of that which G.W. Bush suffered/continues to suffer.

  • e., somehow I do not recall Bush being accused of anything approaching faking the birth of a child, being forced to incur personal expenses of $500,000.00 in legal fees fighting off baseless ethics complaints, having a comedian suggesting the rape of a daughter, and the list could go on for considerable length. The vials of hatred poured on that woman and her family are a complete disgrace.

19 Responses to Channeling His Inner Reagan?

  • There is a chasm between these remarks and the speech you “wrote” for him this week. Look at Obama’s tone — the condemnation of official violence, the point about not interfering in Iran’s politics, it’s about Iran not the US, the emphasis on the justice, the reference to the amazing Cairo speech.

    You, on the other hand, wanted to take sides immediately, to threaten “serious consequences” beginning with sanctions, and couch it all in condescending language about the “free world”. The arrogant and un-nuanced Bush approach, in other words. And this was before the regime cracked down on the protestors — a distinction you fail to make.

    I find it truly amazing that we are seeing neocon history repeat itself. Just as the Iraqis were supposed to welcome the Ameicans with flowers, people like Fred Barnes think the young generation in Iran is pro-American and has forgotten all about 1953. Sbefore you start making comparions with Solidarnosc 1981, you should consider the ramifications of your advice.

    Let me jog your memory: US overthrows popular elected leader for despised shah to stop nationlization of oil companies. Fear that the US will yet again re-impose the shah in 1979 led to hostage crisis. US funds and arms Saddam Hussein in a brutal war in the 1980s, leading to a million deaths, and the use of chemical weapons by American’s then friend. US calls Iran part of “axis of evil” with two countries it despises. And this will now be all forgotten?

    We see now that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are desperately trying to pin this on foreign interference, whereas it is home-grown. Had Obama listened to you and your neocon frieds a week ago, he would have played right into their hands. The resistance movement might be beaten into submission right now, but it has not lost its legitimacy.

    Interestingly, I think the Cairo speech may have actually emboldened the Iranian opposition in the first place. After all, who could have predicted such excitement about a boring 68-year old former prime minister who is a firm believer in he revolution and the Islamic republic? Reaching out with the arm of friendship is always better than hypocritical hectoring. And the Church would say the same thing — the Vatican praised the Cairo speech.

  • I went on record as saying I thought a hands off approach by Obama was probably the most prudent action. However, let’s not just throw a bunch of excrement on the wall and call it an argument.

    And this was before the regime cracked down on the protestors — a distinction you fail to make…

    You say Donald’s speech came before the Iranian government cracked down and Obama’s came after. Not so, referencing my own comment in that thread I know there were at least 8 dead protesters at the time of Donald’s writing, and that Obama had characterized the whole thing as dialogue.

    …We see now that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are desperately trying to pin this on foreign interference, whereas it is home-grown. Had Obama listened to you and your neocon frieds a week ago, he would have played right into their hands. The resistance movement might be beaten into submission right now, but it has not lost its legitimacy….

    Actually, most of could see they were trying to pin it on foreign interference from the beginning, it was the sort of thing that could be expected, plus, well, the regime proclaimed it pretty loudly. And we understood, as I’m sure the regime does, that it is indeed home-grown. I’m not sure how this supports your argument though. And I’m not sure how you think the resistance movement has its legitimacy – are you saying it is because Obama finally spoke up or because it was legitimate before he spoke up?

    Also, you might find some a more support or persuade a number of people to your view if you refrained from being so patronizing and quick to assign the worst motives, beliefs, or ignorance to those you disagree with. We get that it’s important for your own thought process to categorize everyone into evil or good, American or good, Calvinist or good, neocon or good, etc., but it doesn’t make for convincing argument. Really, I’m sympathetic to some of your arguments until you start to act as if nobody but you are capable of understanding these things, because they’re just so evil or American.

  • Rick: “And I’m not sure how you think the resistance movement has its legitimacy – are you saying it is because Obama finally spoke up or because it was legitimate before he spoke up?”

    Legitimacy has absolutely nothing to do with Obama, or any other American for that matter. I’ve been saying since the outset that this is a domestic Iranian struggle, and has nothing to do with us. It’s precisely the neocon approach that sees this though US-tinted lenses — that these people desire western-style democracy and the American notion of “freedom”. Not so. I’m sure some are very western in their outlook (that doesn’t mean they would look too kindly on American “freedom”, including rampant pornography, liberal sexual ethics, mass availability of guns, just to same a few). Others, and I would say the majority outside the rather closeted society of North Tehran, are committed to the Islamic revolution but are sick and tired of Ahmadinejad, an embarrassment on the world stage.

    I think their reaction would be akin to America rigging the election in favor of McCain last October — could you imagine the public outrage? It would not be an indictment of the system itself, just legitimate anger over a great injustice. And imagine if such a scenario took place, would Americans like it if the Iranian leadership publicly sided with the protestors? I think not — imagine the Fox News headlines!

    I’m trying to figure out your last paragraph. The dualism you accuse me of is exactly the what I am opposed to, especially in the way neocons view the world. So, to go back to Donald’s Reagan reference, the Soviet Union was not an “evil empire”. There was and is no “axis of evil”. There are merely people who do evil things because of sin.

    John Allen had a nice analysis during the Iraq war when he talked to certain Vatican officials, who saw a whiff of Calvinism in what the US was doing. To quote “Calvinist concepts of the total depravity of the damned, the unconditional election of God’s favored, and the manifestation of election through earthly success, all seem to them to play a powerful role in shaping American cultural psychology” Well, Catholics do not divorce sin and evil from grace and redemption.

    So please — I have never called anybody “evil” (some possibly facetiously!), but I certainly think a lot of people around here are very influenced by this Calvinist outlook. As for me, I prefer the approach of Obama in Cairo to Reagan during the Cold War.

  • Tony, you shift your position as swiftly as your weather-vane president. As he continues to get tougher on Iran, and he will, you will find justifications for his change of policy, as I predicted you would last week. Of course, the simple truth is that Obama clearly misread initially not only the situation in Iran but the reaction of this nation to the brutality of the Iranian regime. Obama’s policy of sucking up to Ahmadinejad and the mullahs is in tatters, and so he runs to get in front of where most Americans currently are in regard to Iran. Obama has his gifts, but leadership is not one of them.

  • [1] Calvinist concepts of the total depravity of the damned, [2] the unconditional election of God’s favored, [3] and the manifestation of election through earthly success, all seem to them to play a powerful role in shaping American cultural psychology

    [1] and [2] don’t have much to do with the Iraq War. [3] is a fabrication; Calvinists don’t think that God’s election is shown by earthly success.

    * Needless to say, I’m talking about actual Calvinists here, which is a term that you seem to be unfamiliar with. John Calvin was a 16th century French theologian, and the term “Calvinist” refers to followers of John Calvin — currently found mostly in Presbyterian and Reformed churches.

  • Thanks for a thoughtful reply, MM.

    Legitimacy has absolutely nothing to do with Obama, or any other American for that matter. I’ve been saying since the outset that this is a domestic Iranian struggle, and has nothing to do with us.

    I agree as to the legitimacy of the movement, and frankly I haven’t heard anyone proclaim it otherwise, save the Iranian government – and I’m quite sure they know the reality. So when you brought up the legitimacy I reasoned that it was part of the argument you were making – an argument that still isn’t making sense to me.

    Anyway, my last paragraph was a rather lame attempt at mocking you while trying to point out that you might have a beam in your eye. I’m quite aware of you calling out dualism and such, however I think you do so often based on your presumption of what others are saying or thinking rather than the reality – and often enough, it’s easy enough to predict where you stand on any given issue simply based on where partisan lines are drawn. Your initial comment here is an example. Who said what’s happening in Iran is really about the US? Who thinks Iran should be USA Lite? Who believes for a moment that our system could or should be transplanted there? I doubt you could find one example. However, I bet you could cite a number that you attribute those thoughts to.

    If someone says they hope the Iranian people effect some change and gain for themselves more liberty and institute a just government – and even a government that’s not so hostile to the US – or that they think the US leadership should speak in support of the protesters or condemn the regime’s behavior, it doesn’t mean they think it’s all about the US, that Iran should be just like the US, etc. And if you were to find someone so wrong-headed, it certainly doesn’t mean that because others advocate the same or similar actions are necessarily wrong.

    One last thing. I think history has proven that Reagan’s “Evil Empire” thing was not the bad thing his critics on the left thought it was, but actually turned out to be a very powerful thing that led to a better world. I know you see dualism and hatred in it, but that’s what you’re looking for. If you’re concerned about the souls that have suffered under a system, a system that lacks much good and perpetuates the misery, you would have no problem calling it an evil empire. Most people can make the distinction between the system and governance of a state and its people.

  • Well, Donald, I would hope to change my opinion when facts and circumstances change. And it certainly makes sense to condemn a brutal repression today, when it made sense not to side with the mass protests 7-10 days ago. And even then, it makes sense to be cautious, to speak in terms of justice, and Obama has done that.

    Do you honestly think Obama’s policy is worse than the “tatters” of teh last 8 years? Do you really think the “codpiece diplomacy” worked. It might play well at home and help people feel good about themselves, but as policy, it’s been an unmitigated disaster.

    And do you think Obama’s Cairo speech helped rally people toward Moussavi (who let’s face it, is not exactly an inspiring figure)?

  • MM,

    I don’t think that the protests in Iran have much of anything to do with Obama’s Cairo speech. Sheesh, talk about it not all being about the US.

    And as for codpiece diplomacy — it was mostly in your head in the first place. Obama’s reaction now (as he gradually catches on to what’s going on in Iran — which admittedly wasn’t part of his “I will tame the regime through kind words” script, so he had to do a little expectatin resetting) is really not that different from the sort of thing we would have heard from Bush or McCain.

    The idea that they were running around hurling grenades and grunting, “Me good and free, you bad and oppressor” never really had much correllation to reality in the first place.

  • that doesn’t mean they would look too kindly on American “freedom”, including rampant pornography, liberal sexual ethics, mass availability of guns

    You are almost certainly correct on the first two, but given that Islam effectively proscribes pacifism, I’m not so sure they’d react with your reflexive horror to firearms ownership.

  • One of the reasons people find it hard to take your crusade against dualism seriously, MM, is that you are so dualistic in your approach to your opponents. You think they’re “know nothings”, that they don’t know the most basic things about local history, that they want to make war on everyone, that they want everyone to be completely Americanized, etc. Given that you’re so dualistic (and far from reality) in your approach to people you disagree with, it’s hard to take your claims that other people are dualists seriously.

  • Oh, the codpiece diplomacy was not a figment of my imagination — it was on full display during the GOP pirmary reason. Remember the juvenile machismo of Giulinia, Romney, Tancredo? OK, McCain was an adult in that group but he still was too attached to an emotive trigger-happy context free response.

    I will never ever forget the collective insanity that overtook this country in the aftermath of 9/11. I cannot comprehend how the authors and cheerleaders of the Iraq war are now being granted a soapbox to make the same idiotic statements about Iran, with the same ignorance of history, and the same demonization of the regime. So when I rail against know-nothings, I’m talking very recent history, with very concrete examples.

    You know well that I don’t like Obama’s continued occupation of Iraq and his ratcheting up the war mode in Afghanistan. But look how far we have come – the Cairo speech actually treats the Islamic world with respect, and calls for equal Palestinian and Israeli rights. And he’s actually backing up the talk on Israeli — much to Netanyahu’s disgust. Again, not perfect (my views here are aligned with the Vatican), and still too pro-Israel, but certainly infinintely better than what could have been.

    I do see a link between Cairo and Iran. Obama appealed to their better angels, and they responded. I would not overdo this, though — this is certainly a domestic Iranian issue. But nobody can fail to notice the sea-change in official US rhetoric, and nobody cannot be uplifted by it (except those who thrive on conflict and demonization, of course, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad included).

    But I’ve seen people go too far, pointing to the loss of Hezbollah’s coalition in Lebanon. No, sorry, Hezbollah won every seat it was expected to win, it’s just that its Christian ally, Michel Aoun, got trounced.

  • Obama helped spark the Iranian uprising? Tony, only an Obamabot could even suggest that with a straight face. Obama clearly thought he could work a deal with the mullahs, cue the horselaugh, and from the beginning he has completely misread what is going on in Iran.

    As to your comments about the aftermath of 9-11, it must truly pain you that you have to live in America currently to earn your bread and cheese. You seem to be constantly out of sorts with America, with the sole exception of the election of your candidate last year for President. This is going to be a long four years for you Tony as Obama dismally fails in his plans to transform the US into a large Sweden. After it is all over with, you can simply chalk it up to our innate stubborn American, “Calvinist” in your lexicon, natures!

  • Thug Ahmadinejad thinks Obama is channeling his inner Bush!

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090625/ts_nm/us_iran_election

  • I’m with Donald, MM. *Why* do you live here? You’re like the anti-de Tocqueville, an endless series of carping complaints and observations about the people, civics, culture and mindset of the nation you currently reside in.

    Any unique features of this place that you *do* like, or is every day here rather like continuing exposure to low-grade debilitating radiation?

  • MM,

    When I have a guest in my home who constantly complains about my food, hospitality and funishings, I politely ask him to leave.

    Perhaps having assisted this country in electing Obama, you can now find other, fruitful pursuits in another land.

  • MM:

    1. No apology for the complete fabrication about what Calvinists believe?

    2. So you’re back to the “codpiece” talk. Can you think of any insults that aren’t so crass and gutter-minded?

  • I live happily in the US because (i) I live in very international circles and (ii) the Americans I know do not believe in the American empire. No, the problem lies with the economically-backward regions, with their “culture” facing a demographic time bomb. Good riddance to it. I look forward to the day when this Protestant culture wanes as Hispanics become the dominant group. For that is what I love about the US — its openness to all peoples and cultures, its liberal immigration policies, its nature as a melting pot. Remember, Catholic culture has always been a vibrant urban culture…

    If you want to talk about Obama, it’s clear to me that the Ahmadi-Mousavi struggle is a little similar to Mccain-Obama — a jaded old regime, an embarrassment on the world stage, challenged by an upstart with huge popularity among the younger generation. Mousavi’s spokesman says as much, and there’s a ring of truth to it.

    And I notice that nobody criticizes the collective madness we lived through after 9/11….

  • Once upon a time the insult was to be called an ugly American. MM sets the new standard as the ugly European. Of course, for those of us who have lived there, there’s always been such.

  • No criticism was mentioned Tony of your statement in regard to 9-11 because it was too absurd to waste electrons on. Your belief that Hispanics will transform America into something more pleasing to you is ludicrous. Catholic ethnic groups in this country tend to hold views no more acceptable to you than their Protestant counter-parts. I might add that Hispanics are over-represented, by choice, in our military. I welcome them. Over time they will, as a group, be no more reliably Democrat votes in most states in this country than say Italian-Americans are now. Your beliefs are actually carbon-copies of those held by rich wasp liberal elites in this country, and so your sham pose of being in rebellion against some sort of Protestant ascendancy in this country is nothing but a pose. Your comparison of McCain to Ahmadinejad is of course nothing but the substition of vitriol for analysis.

The Abortion Issue as Pressure Without an Outlet

Tuesday, June 2, AD 2009

I have an reflexive admiration for writers who writers who actively think through questions and come to conclusions which are not necessarily indicated by their initial commitments — even though this effect is usually achieved by the writer disagreeing with me on at least some basic elements of worldview. Megal McArdle, who blogs for The Atlantic, is often one such, and she has a very interesting set of posts dealing with the murder of abortionist George Tiller.

The War on The War on Abortion

A Really Long Post About Abortion and Reasoning By Historical Analogy That is Going to Make Virtually All of My Readers Very Angry At Me

One More Post on Abortion

There are a couple more as well, but these struck me as the most fascinating. McArdle is basically pro-choice, and an economic libertarian, though in most ways was more an Obama supporter than a McCain one. But her take on this is event is a characteristically interesting one:

if you actually think late-term abortion is murder, then the murder of Dr. Tiller makes total sense. Putting up touching anecdotes about people he’s helped find adoptions, etc, doesn’t change the fact that if you think late-term abortions are murder, the man was systematically butchering hundreds of human beings a year–indeed, not merely butchering them, but vivisecting them without anaesthetic. I’m sure many mass murderers have done any number of kind things over the course of their lives, to which the correct response, if you’re trying to stop the murders, is “so?”

Imagine a future in which the moral consensus has changed, and our grandchildren regard abortion the way we regard slavery. Who will the hero of history be: Tiller, or his murderer? At the very least, they’ll be conflicted, the way we are about John Brown.

Continue reading...

25 Responses to The Abortion Issue as Pressure Without an Outlet

  • When I read this, it said to me that that if you believe that abortion is wrong – is murder – then it is noble to stop it by any means necessary. What a frightening thought! It is linear thinking like this that allows the Animal Liberation Front radicals to bomb Universities where there is animal testing and primate research. It is wrong-headed!

    I also watched Fr. Pavone’s video that was kindly posted a couple days ago. He needs to spend a few years in prayerful contemplation, I think.

    It must be hard to think so firmly in black and white. Or maybe it is easier, I don’t know. I believe in the morning-after pill and think if it was more widely available we would have fewer abortions. I cannot imagine a world where the law makes young girls who have been victims of incest or rape criminals. In Brazil a nine year old girl was molested and raped by her stepfather and became pregnant. The doctors claimed she would be at risk of death if she attempted to give birth so they followed through with an abortion. The Catholic Church ex-communicated the doctors and the mother, but, tellingly, did not ex-communicate the step-father. Here is a link.

  • In the days of Christ, there were Insurgents among the Jews, correct? They are even mentioned some in the New Testament. The Romans probably did some unjust things and these revolutionaries responded besides the fact that some of the local authorities, Kings and Sanhedrin were not necessarily kind either.

    So in this way, I think the situation of today compares to that one. Yet, Jesus tried to be peaceful and loving.

  • I cannot imagine a world where the law makes young girls who have been victims of incest or rape criminals.

    Nor can I. Nor do I advocate for one. Nor has, to my knowledge anyone here. The reaction of the prelates in Brazil was wrong. Especially with regard to the stepfather, who in a more civilized time would have been hanged by the neck until dead for his crime.

    I also cannot imagine a world where the law enshrines as sacrosanct the process of dismembering viable infants in the womb for the flimsiest of “health” reasons.

    That’s because I don’t have to imagine it–I live in it. And you defend it.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/99-830.ZD2.html

  • No, TomSVDP, Jesus WAS peaceful and loving.

  • Just an amazing post with amazing commentary, DC.

    The problem with taking the problem of abortion completely beyond the influence of regular Americans through democratic processes is that it can elicit an extreme response that seems like the only available reponse.

  • Personally, I think they should have hanged the father in that case, but I’m old fashioned…

    You are, however, significantly mis-reading Megan McArdle. Perhaps it would be easier to go over and read the three posts I linked to in order — they’re long posts and I was only able to quote the highlights.

    She does, however, bring up two important concerns that I think you’re failing to understand. First, we _do_ tend to admire people who resist what they see as evils through sometimes violent means. So for instance, in the recent Tom Cruise movie, the German officers who plotted to assassinate Hitler were the “good guys” not the “bad guys”. John Brown, who abolitionist though he was was also a bit of a wack job, is at least seen as a prophetic figure, if not a wholly good one. Given our cultural tendency to admire revolutionaries, that someone out near the fringes would take such an action is not surprising.

    Second, it is an observable fact that if you impose a detested political situation on a population and provide them with no way to change it through the peaceful political process, that violence will begin to occur. That doesn’t make it right, but it’s observably true. We are all familiar with this from watching the Middle East routinely engulfed violence on television. We should hardly be surprised if it applies in our own country as well.

    Megan deserves more thought than you’re giving her. The Atlantic is one of the more thoughtful mainstream outlets out there (to my mind, signficantly better than The New Yorker or the New York Review of Books) and Megan is one of the more interesting of their in-house bloggers. And on the moral question of abortion itself, you agrees with you more than with me. It’d be wise to get past the intellectual gag reflex and read what she has to say fairly.

  • DC,
    I will give it another read. I don’t want to interpret her unfairly. You went to a lot of work putting the diary together and it deserves a careful read.

  • viona walsch Says:
    Tuesday, June 2, 2009 A.D. at 12:44 pm

    No, TomSVDP, Jesus WAS peaceful and loving.

    ———————

    That is your righteousness revolting as it is. Now, let’s look grammatically at my sentence:

    ” Yet, Jesus tried to be peaceful and loving.”

    Now, you wish to change this grammatically to how??

    “Yet, Jesus WAS to be peaceful and loving.”

    Buzz off!

  • Ms McArdle is right. Roe was robbery. Period. The Court dishonestly removed a policy matter from the political process by simply declaring one side had one based on ficticious constitutional penumbra. If they had let the political process work normally, laws would differ among states but overall would be more restrictive — probably much like most of western Europe. Pro-life forces would continue their effort to tighten laws by persuading voters and their representatives of the righteousness of their cause. As it stands now, such efforts are largely feckless due to artificial and unfair judicial constraints. The other side one by cheating. It is hardly surprising that the cheated side gets angry, and that is why Ms. McArdle is right.

  • Information about the bishops in Brazil comes from Reuters, a source not known for its impartiality. I believe that we should not get our panties all into a twist about events in other countries, about which we are liable to be misinformed.
    The Church is not against abortion when the mother’s life is in danger. It tells the doctors simply that they must try to save both.
    The father would not have been excommunicated. Sin is not a cause for excommunication, or we would all be excommunicated.

  • May God have mercy on the souls of those associated with the website who’s hate-filled rhetoric (e.g., Tiller the Killer) is in part responsible for Tiller’s murder. His blood is on your hands. Hypocrites.

    [Editor: I’m leaving your comment up, Dave, as an example of how reflexively unthinking commenters can be, but if you have further content-less comments I’ll delete them to avoid tedium.]

  • Mr. Austin,
    I didn’t realize Reuters was biased. The article was also in the New York Times and several other papers.

    Tom,
    I am sorry I offended you. I wasn’t making a grammatical change to your comment, but only commenting on it. Your response is not appropriate.

  • Viona,
    Reuters is famously biased. Second only to the NYT.

    Dave,
    Tiller was a killer. Just in case you didn’t know.

  • The thing is, Dave is right – except for the part about being hypocrites.

    We are partially responsible, in that we speak the truth about abortion. I say, so what? It is more important to call abortion what it is than to worry about what happens to the abortionist. What would the Daves of the world have us say? That abortion isn’t murder? If it is wrong to summarily execute Tiller, it is also wrong to tell lies so that people like him aren’t killed – even though I am quite sure that people are capable, all on their own, without our help, of recognizing that what Tiller did was infanticide, a crime against humanity.

    Here’s a thought – if being in a business that half the country, possibly more, regards as child murder is dangerous, get out of that business. Stop chopping up babies as if they were pieces of meat.

    Unfortunately whats going to happen is what McArdle predicts – an irrational, hysterical, and senseless reaction that will be taken out on the victims of abortion by fighting even harder it. You just have to look at the commentary, both from the paid writers and bloggers of the left, and from their mobs of vicious com-boxers following in their wake, to realize what is coming next.

    It isn’t going to be a ‘dialogue’ about abortion, that’s for sure.

  • Darwin, you are exactly right about the democratic process here.

  • How many of Tiller’s procedures would have been illegal in many European countries?

    Moral conservatives and their critics often cite a scholastic dictum about laws not being so restrictive that they encourage disrespect for the law. Sometimes laws can be so permissive that they too encourage disrespect.

    It’s also possible that the media fail to relieve pressure on the abortion issue by ignoring it (though some certainly increase the pressure).

    People are going after O’Reilly for hitting Tiller hard before his lamentable murder, but if more “respectable” outlets were critical of Tiller then that could even have a moderating effect. If you have an ally in the MSM, you’re more inclined to think the system has a chance of changing. And that ally will be a person of moderation, not a fire-starter.

    McArdle’s ability for intellectual sympathy may advance this irenic attitude, even if she isn’t an ally of pro-lifers.

    I’m wary of saying that pro-lifers need to reexamine themselves because of what one violent man did. That would define an effort by its extreme.

    However, considering the cautionary example of “Bleeding Kansas” in the 1850s, I suggest we remind everybody who compares pro-lifers to American abolitionists:

    Abolitionists, and the reaction to them, helped cause a civil war that left 600,000 dead. We need better examples than them.

  • Good point, Kevin. And here’s another thing to consider: the recent jury nullification that acquitted Tiller of his blatant skirting of the minimal restrictions on medical referrals was another example of the failure of the current system.

  • Viona, you imply that victims of rape and incest would be turned into “criminals” if abortion were made illegal.

    Well, back when abortion was illegal, it was always the doctor or other medical “professional” who performed an abortion who was punished, NOT the woman who sought one. If anything the woman was seen as a second victim — someone whom the abortionist took advantage of in her desperation.

  • Well, back when abortion was illegal, it was always the doctor or other medical “professional” who performed an abortion who was punished, NOT the woman who sought one. If anything the woman was seen as a second victim — someone whom the abortionist took advantage of in her desperation.

    This is simply wrong. I can point to several states that have laws on the books with penalties for women who commit abortion.

  • “Studying two hundred years of legal history, the American Center for Bioethics concluded: “No evidence was found to support the proposition that women were prosecuted for undergoing or soliciting abortions. The charge that spontaneous miscarriages could result in criminal prosecution is similarly insupportable. There are no documented instances of prosecution of such women for murder or for any other species of homicide; nor is there evidence that states that had provisions enabling them to prosecute women for procuring abortions ever applied those laws. The vast majority of the courts were reluctant to implicate women, even in a secondary fashion, through complicity and conspiracy charges. Even in those rare instances where an abortionist persuaded the court to recognize the woman as his accomplice, charges were not filed against her. In short, women were not prosecuted for abortions. Abortionists were. The charges of Planned Parenthood and other “pro-choice” proponents are without factual basis. Given the American legal system’s reliance on precedent, it is unlikely that enforcement of future criminal sanctions on abortion would deviate substantially from past enforcement patterns.” Women and Abortion, Prospects of Criminal Charges Monograph, American Center for Bioethics, 422 C St., NE, Washington, DC 20002, Spring 1983

  • This is almost exactly the argument that Mary Ann Glendon (of Notre Dame fame) makes in her classic Abortion and Divorce in Western Law (Harvard, 1987). Abortion advocates constantly complain that Americans should follow the European example and avoid heated arguments over abortion. Glendon shows that European countries almost all formulated and revised their present abortion laws (more restrictive than our own) by democratic means.

  • This is simply wrong. I can point to several states that have laws on the books with penalties for women who commit abortion.

    As recently as 1989, adultery was a class b misdemeanor under the Penal Law of New York (and may still be). I am not sure I have ever heard of anyone being indicted for it. Prosecutors have a good deal of discretion. (I think it legitimate to prosecute women for procuring abortions).

  • Here is WI code on the matter:
    (3) Any pregnant woman who intentionally destroys the life
    of her unborn child or who consents to such destruction by another
    may be fined not more than $200 or imprisoned not more than 6
    months or both.
    (4) Any pregnant woman who intentionally destroys the life
    of her unborn quick child or who consents to such destruction by
    another is guilty of a Class I felony.

    http://www.legis.state.wi.us/Statutes/Stat0940.pdf

    One could point to Guatemala to find an example of a woman being prosecuted for abortion. The greater difficulty has always been finding evidence thereof. My understanding is that in former times, the charge of witchcraft was more often brought because the charge was easier to prove.

  • MZ,
    Your statement about laws is not incompatable with Elan’s statemtent about enforcement. Lots of crimes are on the “books,” but not subject to prosecution. Look it up. Notwithstanding the laws, research finds only one — one — women in America that was actually prosecuted. One. Again, look it up. I’m way too busy to find it, but have reserached the matter in the past.

  • I’m not advocating for Tiller’s murder, but in response to:

    “Jesus was peaceful and loving.”

    That is true, but Jesus’ love is often misconstrued as broad tolerance for everything. Don’t forget Matthew 10:34.

    “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.”

Rhetoric and Violence

Monday, June 1, AD 2009

As several commenters have pointed out in other threads, there were two potentially ideologically motivated murders in the last 48 hours.

On Sunday morning, a well-known late term abortionist was shot and killed while attending services at his Lutheran church.

On Monday morning, a man opened fire on the recruiters at an Army-Navy career center in Little Rock, Arkansas — killing one and injuring a second. (The military being a needed and honorable profession, my prayers are all with these men and their families.)

Suspects for both crimes are now in custody and doubtless the machinery of justice will do its work in due time.

However, only the first of these is considered national political news, and while many are calling for soul searching on the part of the pro-life movement (or in some cases for government surveillance and downright suppression on it) few seem to be making similar calls in regards to the anti-war movement.

Continue reading...

27 Responses to Rhetoric and Violence

  • D,

    The only thing I object to is the notion that killing Tiller – or the recruiters for that matter – is necessarily ‘eye of an eye’.

    A killing can be as much preventative as it is retributive. I’m not saying that makes it right, necessarily, but there IS a difference and in some cases, a moral difference. Perhaps not these cases.

  • Those who give a great deal of thought to class dynamics might observe that the elite which is responible for writing the news is much more sympathetic to the anti-war movement than to the pro-life movement — and further that a 60-year-old, white, upper middle class abortionist is part of their class, while military recruiters are not.

    Indeed. That violence is used to settle disputes between the lower classes is deemed tolerable, but violence used against the elite is the beginning of the end of society.

  • Excellent post Darwin.

    The narrative is clear that abortion is the elephant in the room that the left will do everything they can to ignore it if not to miss an opportunity to demonize the pro-life movement with.

  • I had just finished reading the report about the recruiter’s murder and was struck about the difference in language, tone, and emphasis between the that report and the ones on Tiller. I think you’re right that that difference suggests that this situation is being used for ends outside of justice for Tiller’s murder.

  • I had not heard of the second case, and yes, it is as wicked as the killing of Tiller.

    And yes, there is bias all the time. The people in rural and exurban communities are the first to defend their right to own guns, paying no heed to the implications of widespread availability of firearms in inner cities.

    You may be right about the media bias on this matter. I have always noticed a bias on Israel-Palestine. We always hear of Israeli deaths, and yet Palestinian deaths are downplated because the “conventional wisdom” is that Israel is somehow more in the right. For instance, how many media outlets have reported the Jewish settlers rampage this weekend, attacking Palestinians and burning their farmland?

  • MM,

    You have an interesting point, but lets keep to the topic here concerning the disparity of reporting between these two incidents that some on the extreme left are already hailing as an “eye for an eye”.

  • And yes, there is bias all the time. The people in rural and exurban communities are the first to defend their right to own guns, paying no heed to the implications of widespread availability of firearms in inner cities.

    Perhaps because they are dubious about the empirical relationship between the prevalence of gun ownership and rates of violent crime, the capacity of gun registration statutes to contain gun ownership among the wrong sort, and the relationship between the prevalence of sporting weapons in rural areas and small towns with muggings in city slums. Not only are they dubious, but econometricians who study these effects are dubious.

    You may be right about the media bias on this matter. I have always noticed a bias on Israel-Palestine. We always hear of Israeli deaths, and yet Palestinian deaths are downplated because the “conventional wisdom” is that Israel is somehow more in the right. For instance, how many media outlets have reported the Jewish settlers rampage this weekend, attacking Palestinians and burning their farmland?

    That ‘conventional wisdom’ might be based on the observation that the political objects of the local Arab population have been, in general, an ethnic cleansing extravaganza.

  • I have some real doubts as to whether my family’s deer rifles are responsible for kids getting shot in Chicago.

  • What a horrific tragedy! I will pray for these brave recruiters and their families. What senseless violence!

    However, I could find nothing online that pointed to an ideological motive. The news has said that assault weapons were found in the car, but that there is no known motive at this time.

    As Catholic, and like our Pope, I did not support the war in Iraq. I find it dubious that such a crime would be perpetrated by war protestors.

  • Steve,

    You’ve obviously been duped by a biased media.

    Viona,

    Of course. Only pro-lifers have such people on the fringe of their movement.

  • However, I could find nothing online that pointed to an ideological motive. The news has said that assault weapons were found in the car, but that there is no known motive at this time.

    Hmmmm. Someone drives up to a recruiting station and opens up on it with an assault rifle, but it’s not remotely possible that the person doing this considers the military or recruiters in particular to be evil? Not remotely possible there’s an ideological motive involved?

    Well, I don’t know… I do know that I’ve read self described pacifists denouncing recruiters as “scum”, “modern slavers”, “child predators” and “hitmen”. And, of course, all sorts of very graphic denunciations of the war itself and the suffering of Iraqis, Afghans, and others.

    Yet while you showed up very, very sure that the pro-life movement was at fault for Tiller’s killing, you seem a little more hesitant here. Any suggestions as to why?

    Is it possible that you’re okay with graphic denunciations you agree with, but hold that those you disagree with should not be able to express their beliefs fully without being denounced inciting violence?

  • Slight correction: the dead soldier wasn’t a recruiter, he was just out of basic– I’m going to guess the Army does the same thing as the Navy, and offers X-days free leave after basic to go help recruiters by offering a fresh perspective on what possible recruits will go through.

    Going to your old High School is another thing that’s encouraged during the week or so. (I got ten days, plus two for travel. Loved it!)

    I am darkly amused that every story I’ve read so far has emphasized that no-one has even a slight notion what could possibly be the motive, while all the Tiller killing ones announced it was the work of a pro-lifer….

    Recruiting commander Lt. Col Thomas Artis says the victims had just completed basic training and were spending two weeks in Little Rock training to recruit in their home area, showing the difference that less than two months of training made in their lives.

  • Well perhaps the shooter was a faithful member of the Religion of Peace:

    http://arkansasmatters.com/content/fulltext/?cid=226222

  • Phillip,

    Oh my goodness.

    Has President Obama called up the National Reserve? Is this being labeled as a “terrorist” act? Have they called them out as Muslim fanatics?

    Interesting how the two stories diverge in content and vitriol.

  • Thanks for the correction, Foxfier.

    I suppose we shall all have to wait and see whether there is a national call for people to pull back on rhetoric about the US’s involvement in the Middle East which might cause young Muslims to want to shoot up recruiting stations. Or will this remain “non-ideological” and “not religiously motivated”?

  • I don’t think it’s fair to categorize the anti-war movement as predominantly Marxist or Anarchist. In fact, the anti-war movement is heavily based on classical and principled pacifist thought, which does NOT encourage violent revolution. This horrible action AGAINST pacifist thought hurts the anti-war movement tremendously and is not seen as something light to be brushed off as you suggest.

  • Mary-
    Please read more carefully; he said :
    Whereas given the Marxist or anarchist leanings of many of the most hard core members of the anti-war movement

    Which is not making a characterization of the entire anti-war movement; the same flaw of reasoning, reversed, has folks acting like the Montana Freemen are the same as limited-gov’t conservatives or even libertarians.

    I can understand getting wroth, but it’s misplaced wrath, based on something not said.

  • I think Foxfier is still arguing that Mr. Roeder is not a true blue member of the anti-abortion movement. Strangely, on the dashboard of his car was found the home phone number of a top operative at Operation Rescue, a woman who had been jailed previously for bombing a clinic.

    He was a well-known protester and Operation rescue member. Let’s hope he was not also a catholic.

  • So well known that the only evidence anyone can call up is someone who remembers him from a dozen years ago (where he said he loved her work in justifying deadly violence for political goals) and two postings at a blog from two years ago, and now an unsupported claim that one bomber had the phone number of another?

    BTW, you never answered Darwin’s question– why are you so unwilling to make a better-supported leap to motive in the case of dead young soldiers than in the case of a dead abortionist?

  • However, only the first of these is considered national political news, and while many are calling for soul searching on the part of the pro-life movement (or in some cases for government surveillance and downright suppression on it) few seem to be making similar calls in regards to the anti-war movement.

    Good catch, Darwin.

  • Foxfier: Well, having just read through these threads, I think we know why Viona is so quick to jump to conclusions and wholeheartedly condemn in one case and so very er, “nuanced” when it comes to the other.

    In her eyes, Tiller was performing a necessary, “pro-woman” service – never mind that he hacked up the bodies of as many or more females as males. (It never seems to sink into thick feminist skulls that, world-wide, abortion is one of the most anti-female forces in the world. The male to female sex ratios in China and India are becoming seriously skewed as a result of girls being aborted at much higher rates than boys. “Freedom to choose” for many third-world women means freedom to rid themselves of their “worthless” girl babies in favor of much more valuable sons.)

    Those soldiers – well, they might have gone on to kill people overseas (since, for some reason, Obama didn’t bring all the troops home 5 minutes after he took office), so, well, it’s regrettable, but their lives just weren’t valuable in the eyes of the pro-abort left in the same way that a man who performs third-trimester abortions is.

    And all good pro-abort progressives know that the pro-life crowd is full of violent nutters, and anti-war protesters are always on the side of the angels and would never hurt anyone. Just ask Bill Ayers.

  • “And all good pro-abort progressives know that the pro-life crowd is full of violent nutters, and anti-war protesters are always on the side of the angels and would never hurt anyone. Just ask Bill Ayers.”

    The miserable thing is that a lot of pro-life people would say the same about anti-war protesters.

    I feel truly isolated, being both anti (this particular) war and pro-life at the same time. Either a whole bunch of people like what you have to say, or everyone hates you for different reasons.

  • It’s curious to me that while the pro-life movement actively responds to this incident rejecting and decrying it…the media portrays it as “being on the defensive”. There is absolutely no response from the Islamic community when an Islamic man kills a US soldier in cold blood, and yet, there is no media asking about it.

  • Joe Hargrave, do your beliefs extend to standing up for life in cases like the death penalty, cases like Terry Salvo, etc. as well?

  • Here’s an article with some background on Raeder:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/02/us/02tiller.html?_r=1&em

    It sounds like a case of mental illness, rather than overzealousness.

  • What I mean to say is that it sounds like he became unbalanced, which resulted in his becoming violently fanatical about certain issues … not that he was overzealously pro-life, which resulted in violence.

  • Joe: I disagree with you about the war, but I respect your opinion, and I certainly wouldn’t lump you or most anti-war people in with the Bill Ayers of this world. (I wish many anti-war people would also do me the favor of not assuming that I favored this war because I want us to get our hands on oil any way we can, or because I love seeing innocent Iraqis get killed. It is difficult, sometimes, to see the good intentions of those you disagree with when they are imputing the worst of motives to you – not that you yourself have done this.)