Negative Politics 1800 Style

Sunday, October 31, AD 2010

Reason TV reminds us that there is nothing new in regard to negative politics.  The most vitriolic election in US history was probably, as the above video indicates,  the election of 1800 between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

The above video is for my co-blogger Paul, not the biggest fan, to put it mildly, of the Third President of the United States.  Jefferson and Adams were accused of every vice imaginable except, perhaps, of cannibalism.   If  television had been available in 1800 the attack ads would have been sulphurous.

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3 Responses to Negative Politics 1800 Style

  • The only real difference is the media available for disseminating information, especially tv and the internet – that and our population is about 75x bigger today than in 1800, so more people = more rancor to spread around.

  • I know Don has seen this… the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, IL, has a video display of what TV campaign commercials might have looked like in 1860 had they existed. The late Tim Russert appeared in these clips originally (don’t know whether he still does). Needless to say they contain a lot of over the top attacks among each of the four (count ’em, four) major candidates — Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, John Breckinridge, and John Bell.

  • I love those Elaine and I sit through them each year when I am down at the Museum. If they are ever posted on Youtube, I’ll have them up on TAC in heartbeat.

Constitutional Ignorance

Tuesday, October 19, AD 2010

I see that my co-blogger MJ Andrew has already posted about the Christine O’Donnell-Chris Coons debate, and I thank him as that saves me the trouble of having to sort through a whole bunch of links.

I disagree with him, though somewhat reservedly.  Having listened to the entire clip it does seem to me that O’Donnell is questioning whether the concept of the separation of Church and State is in the First Amendment, not the Establishment Clause.  There was some crosstalk at this point in the debate, and it appears to me that she’s just repeating her question with regards to the issue of separation.  It’s debatable, though, and a candidate should do a better job clearly establishing what she’s talking about in such a setting.

That being the case,  I was more intrigued by  Coons’s own response to the question.  While O’Donnell possibly made a gaffe – an unfortunate one if indeed it was a gaffe – Coons’s response is the more troubling aspect of this exchange.

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11 Responses to Constitutional Ignorance

  • I tend to agree with those who think the Establishment Clause does not mandate a strict separation of church and state, and I think Coons gets that bit wrong.

  • Coons believes that the Supreme Court is a perpetual Constitutional Convention which may amend the Constitution as it pleases, the text of the document be hanged.

  • I agree with you, but as MJ points out not knowing at least the gist of the 14th amendment is pretty bad.

  • “I agree with you, but as MJ points out not knowing at least the gist of the 14th amendment is pretty bad.”

    Michael, outside of attorneys who do criminal defense and constitutional law cases, I think many attorneys would have a hard time saying much about the 14th amendment, not to say anything of the Byzantine case law interpreting the amendment. Of course you law school sudents being force fed all of this put us practicing attorneys to shame in this area! 🙂

  • I think many attorneys would have a hard time saying much about the 14th amendment, not to say anything of the Byzantine case law interpreting the amendment.

    It’s true that after what SCOTUS has done to the poor amendment has rendered its meaning unintelligible to all but the wisest of men (obviously those being on the Court), I think knowing that 14th guarantees due process against state infringement and that this is the avenue of incorporation would be nice to know. After all, it’s the through the 14th that SCOTUS has brought its, er, unique modern approach to constitutional interpretation.

  • Substantive due process has been the gateway to practically every dubious Court decision of the past century plus.

  • Israel and Great Britain get along passably without a formally composed Constitution. It sometimes seems ours is just an excuse for our appellate judges to be officious nuisances.

  • I learn something new about the 14th Amendment every time some judge with an expansive view of his or her self worth puts pen to paper.

  • I knew the Constitution pretty well during Con Law class and just prior to taking the bar. After that, not so much. Although I do occassionaly peruse it when a particular issue comes up. God help anyone who has to rely upon my faulty memory.

  • My keyboard quotes marks are not working.

    Meanwhile, Cornell law prof William Jacobson comments: A literal reading of O’Donnell’s comments reflects that she was correct, but of course, the press and the blogosphere don’t want a literal reading, they want a living, breathing reading which comports with their preconceived notions.”

    And, Instapundit: The Constitution stands for things that are good. The things that we want are good. Therefore, the Constitution stands for what we want. QED. How can those dumb wingnuts (like ODonnell) not understand this simple logic?

  • Good catch on Coons – most people have missed it in the frenzy to attack or defend O’Donnell. Whatever one may think of O’Donnell’s views (and I agree with them – though I think she didn’t effectively advance her correct argument), Coons is clearly of that liberal mindset which holds to “if we like it, it’s Constitutional”. On his own ground, Coons is going to be fine – as long as he’s talking to ignorant MSMers or liberal who like the current status of Constitutional law, he’s going to look like a genius…put him in a room with anyone who actually holds that laws are meant to be obeyed, and he doesn’t come off so well.

    We’ll see if O’Donnell can actually do anything with this – Delaware may not be ready, yet, to ditch its liberal Ruling Class…but O’Donnell has dented it, and that’s good enough to go on.

Rank and File Conservatives & The Conservative Intelligentsia United In Outrage Over Mosque Near Ground Zero, Not So With Same-Sex Marriage

Sunday, August 15, AD 2010

The proposed mosque set to be built near Ground Zero, site of the September 11, 2001 attacks has brought a sweeping condemnation from both rank and file conservatives and the Conservative Intelligentsia. Now that President Barack Obama has weighed in the matter, seemingly supporting the effort, one can only imagine how this will be used in the fall elections. However, a rift has appeared to have been opened concerning the views of the rank and file conservatives and the Conservative Intelligentsia following the ruling of Judge Vaughn Walker over same-sex marriage. Many of the conservative intelligentsia, along with the establishment wing of the Republican Party has either been silent or voiced the view that the wished the whole gay marriage issue would simply go away. This has led to bewilderment from some conservative voices.

The best Catholic tie in with the efforts to build a mosque on Ground Zero came from the famed conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who is Jewish. In his opposition to the mosque being built near Ground Zero, he correctly pointed out that Pope John Paul II ordered Carmelite nuns, who were living right next to Auschwitz, to move closer to a nearby town, since the site had become a rallying point for Jewish identity. Krauthammer correctly pointed out that Christians had been murdered there too and the nuns were doing the heroic deed of praying for the souls of those who were viciously murdered. However, Krauthammer pointed out that the late Polish pontiff felt that it created the wrong perception.

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27 Responses to Rank and File Conservatives & The Conservative Intelligentsia United In Outrage Over Mosque Near Ground Zero, Not So With Same-Sex Marriage

  • Which members of the conservative intelligentsia who aren’t also rank and file Republicans, have expressed opposition to the mosque?

  • There are plenty of natural law and non-religious arguments against homosexuality. It is not a natural co-equal with heterosexuality. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Men and woman are complementary, not only physically, but emotionally and psychologically.

    Homosexuals have significantly higher levels of: mental health problems, psychological disorders such as suicide and depression, sexual addiction and coercion, promiscuity, STDs, violence, and addictions of all kinds including alcoholism and drug abuse.

    Almost every society, primitive and complex, has had laws and taboos against homosexuality. This isn’t just a Christian thing. There will always be a visceral reaction to homosexuality because it goes to the very heart of the survival of our species.

    Where homosexuality occurs in the animal world, it is primarily a temporary condition, and when the opportunity presents itself, animals will copulate heterosexually.

    Two-parent heterosexual families, despite the exceptions, are proven over history, across cultures, as the better way for healthy child development. Healthy children produce healthy societies.

    It’s time, in my opinion, for a Constitutional amendment that establishes once and for all that marriage is between one man and one woman. Then we can put this issue to bed.

  • I was rather hoping you would offer some analysis as to WHY so many self-described conservatives are backing away from the defense of traditional marriage. I suppose it is because Americans of all stripes have internalized the notion that it is “mean” to express “intolerance” toward homosexuality. Genuine intolerance, however, including intolerance toward Catholics, remains quite socially acceptable.

  • discarding Western Civilization’s definition of marriage (2,000+ years) is simply a non starter.

    As pointed out above, it’s not just Western Civ’s definition, it has been humanity’s definition since recorded history, and likely pre-dates that as well. try more like 5,000+ years.

  • From what I can tell, those members of the conservative “intelligencia” who aren’t members of Fox & Friends or proprieters of talk radio shows have mostly remained in favor of religious freedom — as they should.

  • Try on this one, Bunky:

    “Rank and file liberal catholics and the liberal catholic intelligentsia united in outrage over tax cuts for the rich, not so with abortion.”

  • I was rather hoping you would offer some analysis as to WHY so many self-described conservatives are backing away from the defense of traditional marriage.

    I suspect you usually could not do this without making evaluations of their personal disposition and conduct, as in noting that some folk appear other-directed by default (Ross Douthat, Rod Dreher) or have been married four times (Theodore Olson), or make use of the self-description ‘conservative’ to obfuscate (Conor Friedersdorf).

    Someone on the payroll of The American Conservative or the Rockford Institute can likely also supply a dismissive commentary to the effect that those resisting this burlesque have neglected some deeper cultural deficiency which these resisters are too shallow to detect and about which we can do nothing in any case.

  • “Rank and file liberal catholics and the liberal catholic intelligentsia united in outrage over tax cuts for the rich, not so with abortion.”

    Fits alright.

  • Homosexuals have significantly higher levels of: mental health problems, psychological disorders such as suicide and depression, sexual addiction and coercion, promiscuity, STDs, violence, and addictions of all kinds including alcoholism and drug abuse.

    Same can be said of blacks. I don’t find that a convincing argument. If you’re going to oppose gay marriage on secular grounds, I think you have to rest on the procreation argument.

  • I’d postulate that people don’t feel as threatened by gay marriage as they are by Islam. Homosexuals never killed 3000 people in my backyard.

  • Tide turning towards Catholicism? Just today I read a credible report saying that in the last 10+ Catholic marriages have decreased. One point of view is that the religion is too strict and another is that it is not needed with modern thinking. I just had a conversation with a liberal who said life is a pendulum goes from one extreme to the other finding it’s way in the middle. I do not believe this that societies do go by the wayside, that they undo themselves, with no virtue to survive pop trends.

  • I don’t find that a convincing argument. If you’re going to oppose gay marriage on secular grounds, I think you have to rest on the procreation argument.

    Why don’t you try making the case FOR it? Start with an explanation of why male friendships which do not incorporate sodomy as part of their daily practice should received less recognition than those which do.

  • Art Deco, I don’t know why you want me to make the case for it but you asked so I’ll try.

    The closer the relationship, the greater the rights and responsibilities between them are. If we want to legally protect expectation interests, we will want to recognize intimately committed couples in ways that we don’t recognize mere friendships. We may also want to legally recognize friendships but that’s not at issue here.

  • RR,

    We have an association that is sterile and undertaken in a social matrix where sexual activity is treated as fun-n-games. Why should this be honored? Why is it deemed ‘closer’ than the fraternity that bound my father to the man who was his dearest friend for 48 of his 51 years? What are ‘expectation interests’? Why do you want to protect them?

    My question was rhetorical. The gay lobby wants this as a gesture of deference. The only reason to give it to them is that they will be put out by refusal. Lots of people do not get their way, and public policy is enough of a zero sum game that that is inevitable. For some, it is incorporated into their amour-propre to regard some clamoring constituencies as composed of those who are So Very Special. Then there’s the rest of thus, who are not so well represented in the appellate judiciary.

  • AD,

    We have an association that is sterile and undertaken in a social matrix where sexual activity is treated as fun-n-games. Why should this be honored?

    It shouldn’t.

    Why is it deemed ‘closer’ than the fraternity that bound my father to the man who was his dearest friend for 48 of his 51 years? What are ‘expectation interests’? Why do you want to protect them?

    I assume your father and his friend didn’t rely on each other for financial support. When people form an association with the mutual expectation that they take on certain duties, it would be unjust to allow one party to escape their duties at the expense of the other(s). It’s why we enforce contracts. If your father and his friend did have such an arrangement, it should be enforced.

  • I’d postulate that people don’t feel as threatened by gay marriage as they are by Islam. Homosexuals never killed 3000 people in my backyard.

    Neither have illegal immigrants, but that hasn’t stopped an upsurge in hostility and resentment towards them as a group.

  • Pope John Paul II ordered Carmelite nuns, who were living right next to Auschwitz, to move closer to a nearby town, since the site had become a rallying point for Jewish identity. Krauthammer correctly pointed out that Christians had been murdered there too and the nuns were doing the heroic deed of praying for the souls of those who were viciously murdered. However, Krauthammer pointed out that the late Polish pontiff felt that it created the wrong perception.

    Nobody would object if those wanting to building the mosque volunteered to build it elsewhere. But who is the more honorable person? The Jew who welcomed the Carmelites or the Jew who told them to go somewhere else?

  • Neither have illegal immigrants, but that hasn’t stopped an upsurge in hostility and resentment towards them as a group.

    They ignored the law and act to frustrate lawfully constituted immigration policy. Can we have a wee bit o’ antagonism, pretty please?

  • I assume your father and his friend didn’t rely on each other for financial support.

    I cannot say if they borrowed money from each other or not. Ordinarily, working aged men are expected to be self-supporting if not disabled.

    When people form an association with the mutual expectation that they take on certain duties,

    Human relations are not commercial transactions and the law does not ordinarily enforce amorphous and unwritten ‘expectations’ that someone else is going to pay your rent.

    Right now, RR, I am pricing insurance policies. I was offered (unbidden) discount rates by the agent if I was in some sort of ‘committed relationship’ with some other dude. Uh, no, nothing like that Chez Deco, ever. I inquired about purchases for my sister. No discount offers there.

    Maybe sis and I can manufacture an ‘expectations interest’ and get you and Judge Walker to work on our problem.

  • And if it is written?

    Are you opposed to insurance discounts for spouses or for discounts for siblings?

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  • This article has a lot of interesting points. However, it rambles all over the place. The essay would have been easier to understand if it was broken up into three mini essays.

    There’s no intrinsic connection between the Cordoba Mosque, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage. Why lament that some conservatives have an opinion on one topic but not the other? You might (rightfully) argue that the establishment of a mosque near Ground Zero does not carry even a tenth of the socio-moral import of same sex marriage. But the logical independence of the two questions renders party lockstep on the two issues irrelevant. Let the GOP/right/conservative rank and file make up their own minds about the relationship between these two variables.

    Gratuitous aside: I know that you and other faithful/orthodox Catholic bloggers must boost reparative therapy. To not do so would negatively impact one’s orthodox Catholic street cred. Still, one can be a faithful Catholic, live morally, and not support COURAGE. Indeed, I found the meetings emotionally intrusive and psychologically manipulative. I wish that the Catholic orthodox/conservative/right would think twice before lavishing praise on an organization and therapeutic model that at the very least has emotionally troubled some participants. Sing your praises only after attending a meeting or two.

  • Sorta Catholic, the beauty of writing an article for a blog or newspaper column is that you have the freedom to write it as you see fit. Perhaps, some would like shorter columns, while others may favor longer columns, the choice is up to the writer.

    As for Courage, the group’s spiritual mentor is Father Benedict Groeschel, his credentials are certainly good enough for me. Perhaps, the meeting you attended was not run properly. I can only tell you that the group is trying to impart the Church’s teachings in a world that has become enamored with self, and not with faith.

    As for orthodox-minded street cred, we aren’t trying to impress anyone only help spread the message of Christ through His Church. We have divergent opinions on a variety of topics, but yet we fall under the same umbrella of supporting the Church’s teachings. The longer you submit to the will of God, the more you realize the wisdom of the 2,000 year old Catholic Church. It really does make you a more content indiviudal, free from the whims of the modern world. Take care!

  • It is a shame that the likes of Beck, Coulter and Limbaugh would let their libertarian views get the best of them when it comes to SSM. Divorcing that from their preaching for conservative values is not the charitable thing to do when the eternal salvation of those who engage in homosexual acts is at stake. Frankly, by doing so, they are committing the grievous sin of omission. A priest in Texas recently made that point clear when he said that Catholics have a moral duty to oppose abortion and SSM.

  • By the way, one of my favorite journalists, WorldNetDaily’s founder Joseph Farah, hits the nail on the head of this issue in offering his take on why some conservatives are “capitulating” to the gay agenda pushers: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=192761

  • Hi Dave,

    A person that bases his or her judgement of an organization on the perceived reputation of a founder/leader/mentor in that organization commits the logical fallacy of “appeal to authority”. Now, Fr. Groschel is an upstanding authority. I respect him as a religious leader even if I do not agree with many of his points. Even so, the absolute metric for any organization is its ideology/methodology. Perhaps you’ve provided a rigorous defense of reparative therapy elsewhere on your website. If so, point me there. Otherwise, an appeal to authority without prior analysis of an institution’s ideology or methodology is rather insubstantial.

    Appeals to authority or subjective statements such as “X is trying to impart the Church’s teachings […]” sometimes hide insufficient research. Also, “orthodoxy” (i.e. strict adherence to a religion’s dogma/doctrine) does not guarantee the success or failure of a particular therapy.

  • Hi SortaCatholic, I hope your day is going well. I must say that I find these sorts of exchanges very interesting. I don’t believe my “Appeal to Authority,” is some sort of man made or earthly authority. You see I have worked for the Church in a number of capacities. I have seen the good, bad and the ugly. There is some great people who work for the Church and some really inept ones. I have always felt with all of these inept folks, the Church would have to be who she says she is to have survived 2,000 years!

    Perhaps someone at Courage might come across this and answer some of your questions. I do know that God does help us and prayer does work, but rarely in the sort of miraculous way in which we would like it to happen. God sorts and sifts us. We all have our own sets of problems, blessings, gifts, talents and struggles. I have always found Christ’s words of seek and you shall find, knock and you will be heard to be very true (Matthew 7:7-11.) In addition, I have always found this Scripture reading from Hebrews about God showing us the way through trial and struggle very revealing in my own life (Hebrews 12:5-12.) Take care!

July 4, 1826

Thursday, July 1, AD 2010

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4, 1826, fifty years to the day from the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.  Jefferson died before Adams, and therefore Adams was in error when, with his last breath, he said “Thomas Jefferson survives.”  However, in a larger sense, a part of Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Adams and all the patriots who brought us our independence, will remain alive as long as Americans continue to read and remember the Declaration of Independence.

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5 Responses to July 4, 1826

  • What was that clip from Don? I’ve always had a appreciation for the story of Adams and Jefferson. Their opposing temperments and bitter disputes turning into profound respect and a great friendship. They represent America in more than one way. They’re not just two major players in the nation’s founding or just sequential presidents. Their personalities and ideas serve as a microcosm the whole. It was that ideological tension they bring that is what made this nation work. Either ideology would have failed, but the compromises (and even just the effect of having the debates) forged something greater than the parts.

    That either man (who both had a hand in writing the DoI) would die on the 4th or that they would die on the same day would be remarkable, but that they both died on the very same day and it was July 4th is amazing.

  • That was from the excellent John Adams HBO mini-series, which was based on David McCullough’s biography on Adams.

  • It’s a story McCullough has told wonderfully for years — read his book, and you get some of the full effect of the way he tells it personally.

  • I never saw the John Adams mini-series. I will certainly rent it. Incredible that Adams and Jefferson died exactly 50 years to the day after signing the Declaration of Independence.

    A happy 4th to you all! I am having family over to feast on the usual summer fare and to watch fireworks on the roof of my building. Independence Day is my favorite secular holiday. I hope AC readers all enjoy the day.

  • It is a masterpiece Donna, shockingly good. A happy Fourth to you and yours!

George Weigel: Defend Religious Freedom

Tuesday, May 18, AD 2010

George Weigel wrote a timely article in National Review Online titled, Defending Religious Freedom in Full.

In it cites the extremist attacks in expressing our Catholic faith in the public square.

The forms of these attacks are egregious because they that attack us are also tearing apart the moral fabric of this nation.

Case in point is the Washington Post, and in my opinion they represent secular humanism, when it comes to natural law they painted those that hold to natural law as extremists:

This past October, in the heat of a political campaign, the nation’s political newspaper of record, the Washington Post, ran an editorial condemning what it termed the “extremist views” of a candidate for attorney general of Virginia who had suggested that the natural moral law was still a useful guide to public policy.

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