Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We Can't Handle The Truth

A democracy that cannot govern itself is arguably not a democracy at all, which makes the craven appeals that mark each candidate in the upcoming election less a symbol and accomplishment of our self-sovereignty than an indication of our enslavement to appetites over which we have no control. This latter condition was defined by the ancients as a condition of servitude, not liberty. Our leaders fear to tell us the truth, but their fear of electoral defeat pales in comparison to our unwillingness to level with ourselves. ~Prof. Patrick Deneen

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

His Name Is Henry Paulson...His Name...

The new story seems to be that if you do not think the government should save certain banks from their own mistakes, you are the political equivalent of Tyler Durden dreaming about obliterating the economic life of this country. ~Daniel Larison
Wait, and all this time I thought Ron Paul was Tyler Durden.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Can we nail that to the cathedral doors?

So Doug Kmiec has now stooped to turning his crusade ministry of reconciliation between Obama's pro-abortion absolutism and Catholic teachings into a cottage industry. So far this Obama phase of Kmiec's career has teased out underdeveloped threads in the Catholic pro-life position, which is good. But most of it has been filled with glaring, embarrassing dodges of the fact that Obama has not bended, does not and will not bend in his resolve to advance a maximalist pro-choice legal regime through the federal judiciary, Congress, and all Executive regulatory agencies.

A sign that Kmiec has totally jumped the shark is his assuming the now-all-too-familiar Victim's Pose. He's now shamelessly flaunting and politicizing the fact that one priest erroneously and stupidly denied Kmiec Communion once and only once. Check out the product description (back cover?) of his new book, Can A Catholic Support Him? (consider how an alternate, more direct title like "Can A Catholic Support Obama?" would have been too pedestrian, too unworthy of His Obamaness):
On April 18, 2008, Douglas W. Kmiec was denied Communion at a Catholic Mass in Westlake, California. Ironically, Kmiec had been invited by a Catholic business group to give a dinner address on the Bishop’s teaching of “Faithful Citizenship.” Kmiec had served as head of the Office of Legal Counsel for both Ronald Regan and George H. W. Bush. But now, he found himself rejected by his faith—simply for endorsing the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama.
What?! You mean you haven't marked the historic date yet? That's April 18, 2008, good people of America: a day which will live in infamy, the day the Great Kmiec started to free himself of all that "religulous" popery. Oh, dear, the poor Galileo, the poor, poor Martin Luther. Those bad, nasty, evil Catholics, still persecuting and tormenting the innocent, noble prophets of truth to power, grrrr.

Oh puhlease.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Slick and theatrical, but compelling. Catholic Church of the United States of America, remember thyself. Yes, it's just a vote. But it is a vote.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Noble Lies

I've been wondering why Obama fans seem invincibly incapable of applying their own critiques of McCain/conservatives to themselves or their guy. Virginia Postrel's Atlantic piece helps.
Obama’s glamour also accounts for some of his campaign’s other stumbles. Plenty of candidates attract supporters who disagree with them on some issues. Obama is unusual, however. He attracts supporters who not only disagree with his stated positions but assume he does too. They project their own views onto him and figure he is just saying what other, less discerning voters want to hear. So when Obama’s chief economic adviser supposedly told a Canadian official that, contrary to campaign rhetoric, the candidate didn’t want to revise NAFTA, reporters found the story credible. After all, nobody that thoughtful and sophisticated could really oppose free trade.
Like any candidate, Obama of course has position papers on specific issues. But even well-informed observers disagree about whether he represents the extreme left wing of the Democratic party or something more market-oriented and centrist. As the NAFTA flap demonstrates, his supporters can’t even decide what the candidate really thinks about free trade. His glamour makes it easy to imagine that a President Obama would dissolve differences, abolish hard choices, and achieve political consensus—or that he’s a stealth candidate who will translate his vague platform into a mandate for whatever policies you the voter happen to support.
At the risk of bitter disillusionment, perhaps Obama hopes to do for the country what his father’s image did for him: provide a noble lie that tricks us into self-improvement.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Beasts behaving humanly...Brilliant

Strange how it is that whenever we're overexposed and worn thin by 24/7 displays of the viciously bestial spectacle we call presidential campaigning, something in us starts craving displays of humanity by wild beasts.


While Giuliani's slam at Obama's community organizing experience only succeeded in reminding us what a smarmy scumbag he is, Palin's jab was far more subtle. I can't believe people are blurring the difference. Prof. Perry's back at his partisan worst:
Something from a MOJ Reader
from Mirror of Justice by Michael Perry

A MOJ reader sent this to me. I thought some other MOJ readers might like to see it. (I had not known about the web site Catholic Democrats, here.)
Palin Attacks Catholic Community Organizing by Senator Obama; No Mention of Economic Distress Across America

Minneapolis, Minn. - Sept 4, 2008 - Catholic Democrats is expressing surprise and shock that Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's acceptance speech tonight mocked work that her opponent had done in the 1980s for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. She belittled Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's experience as a community organizer in Catholic parishes on the South Side of Chicago, work he undertook instead of pursuing a lucrative career on Wall Street. In her acceptance speech, Ms. Palin said, "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities." Community organizing is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching to end poverty and promote social justice.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has operated the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, its domestic anti-poverty and social justice program, since 1969. In 1986, the Bishops issued Economic Justice for All: Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the US Economy, which said, "Human dignity can be realized and protected only in community." Senator Obama worked in several Catholic parishes, supported by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, helping to address severe joblessness and housing needs in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of Chicago.

"It is shocking that a vice presidential candidate would disparage an essential component of the Catholic Social Tradition with her condescending attack on urban community organizing," said Dr. Patrick Whelan, president of Catholic Democrats. "Her divisive rhetoric, repeatedly pitting small towns against urban communities, demonstrates not only a lack of charity toward the needs of some of the least among us but a fundamental disrespect for those who dedicate their lives to overcoming poverty across our country. Her sarcastic tone is also emblematic of the contempt that she and Senator McCain have shown toward actually addressing the economic distress that is gripping America in these difficult times. Economic issues, including extreme poverty, are among the most important to Catholics and other people of faith in this election."

"Why do Governor Palin and the McCain Campaign sarcastically attack efforts to organize unemployed Catholics and Protestants? Senator Obama has spoken warmly about his experiences as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago," said Lisa Schare, chair of Catholic Democrats of Ohio. "His work in helping people who were experiencing the real trauma of losing their jobs and livelihoods demonstrates an authentic Christian spirit and the real essence of Catholic Social Teaching, something strikingly absent from Governor Palin's remarks tonight."
I trained and worked with Alinsky-school community organizers and one thing I always admired about them was their selflessness and independence from partisan nonsense. They didn't care about what sort of credit they were getting from politicos or media outside the community. It almost was a tacit point of pride among them that the more "invisible" but effective they were, the greater their organizing chops. The more misunderstood by the media machines the better. They preferred to manipulate, and not be manipulated by, the media. They preferred to operate under the radar of conventional political strategists intent on chopping up and controling local political power according to party self-interest, not according to the real interests of real subsidiary communities like parishes and local congregations.

True organizers are political ninjas and would never stoop to this sort of demonstrative, affected, self-centered whining over how their "profession" got snubbed by national politicians on the stump. That Catholic Democrats are stirring up this typical victimization/identity-politics resentment shows either how little they understand traditional community organizing or how much community organizing has become mainstreamed and thus cheapened by our therapeutic politics.

Palin's speech cheapened our public discourse on plenty of matters, but she simply did not malign Catholic community organizers. She was making the point that if Democrats give so much credit to organizers named Obama, maybe they should give her some due for being a small town mayor, which does intrinsically carry an enhanced set of responsibilities. It was designed to belittle Obama's organizing experience, to be sure, but its effectiveness derived from Obamamania's unprovoked belittling of small town mayors. This is just how national parties play politics. To be "shocked" and wax indignant about the GOP's insufficient respect for community organizing just makes these Catholic Democrats look no less crass and bullying than Rudy.

Finally, community organizing is at the heart of the USCCB's Campaign for Human Development (CHD), not of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) per se. It's an important distinction. CST doesn't directly endorse without qualification specific social forms other than the family, the parish, and the diocese. The CHD is primarily a national philanthropic fund for local community organizing, not an organic community in itself. It is just as vulnerable to bureaucratic self-interest as any other NGO with trans-local scope. These Catholic Democrats are trying to squeeze as much anti-GOP and pro-Democrat juice out this and they're producing more bitter pulp than juice. Let's just remember that by their own self-identification, Catholic Democrats have a conflict of interest: party first, local communities somewhere after that. True organizers know that and should brush these political charlatans off their rolled-up sleeves.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I don't get "LifeNews"

Often I've found a link to a great article excerpted on someone's blog, only to click the link to a or site. As soon as I see the words "Life" in the title, I then have to worry about its impartiality and credibility. Now I'm all for full-throated partiality and partisanship for the unborn, but that doesn't help me when I want to forward a article to a pro-choice friend or one on the fence. Imagine getting a link to a news article reported on a site called ""

Secondly, articles, like this one on Justice Ginsberg's latest argument to a feminist group that abortion rights and slaves' rights are analogous, often have no external links to a less obviously partisan primary source. So now I have to wonder how seriously to take the piece. Now I have to Google it [sigh]. LifeNews should know LIFE is too short for pro-lifers to have to worry about these things.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Who's Afraid of Pat Buchanan?

That's a Google search I just did as I read all the frenzy of accusations against Palin for of all things, wearing a Buchanan button way back when. Not surprising that the Left thinks Buchanan's a right-wing neo-Nazi moonbat, even though he's held the Endearing Crazy Uncle chair at MSNBC longer than Olbermann's been doing Countdown. What is surprising is the GOP's total concession of the media-fabricated caricature of PB. No one is defending the poor guy. We all want to believe that the GOP has transformed itself overnight by swallowing the magic Palin pill. But it's the morning after and it's still an all too human political party. It's a shame the GOP isn't following through on this "libertarian-paleocon" window of opportunity. But then again, I was ready to hit the snooze button on McCain's VP announcement.

Lessons in Catholic Dissent

Our favorite pro-life Catholic legal turncoat, Doug Kmiec, has an interesting interview w/NYTimes:
Q. Would you like to see Roe v. Wade overturned?

A. Yes, but not on the terms usually suggested by Republicans. Roe is mistaken constitutional law not just because it invalidated state laws on the subject but because it is contrary to what is described as a self-evident truth in the Declaration of Independence, namely, that we have an unalienable right to life from our creator. It may surprise the general citizenry that not a single sitting justice utilizes the declaration as a source of interpretative guidance.

But even employing the jurisprudential methods applied by the modern court, there is no satisfactory showing that abortion as a matter of custom and tradition was properly found to be an implied aspect of the liberties protected by the 14th Amendment.
These are solid points. I agree w/Kmiec that pro-lifers need to take the limits of overturning Roe more seriously. Of course, Kmiec's points here would make Obama and any Obama supporter cringe since they are Roe v. Wade defenders to the extreme. So let's see if he addresses this glaring contradiction.
Q. Given those views, why do you support Barack Obama?

A. There is a widespread misconception that overturning Roe is the only way to be pro-life. In fact, overturning Roe simply returns the matter to the states, which in their individual legislative determinations could then be entirely pro-abortion. I doubt that many of our non-legally-trained pro-life friends fully grasp the limited effect of overturning Roe.

Secondly, pundits like to toss about the notion that the future of Roe depends on one vote, the mythical fifth vote to overturn the decision. There are serious problems with this assumption: first, Republicans have failed to achieve reversal in the five previous times they asked the court for it; and second, it is far from certain that only one additional vote is needed to reverse the decision in light of the principles of stare decisis by which a decided case ought not to be disturbed. Only Justices Thomas and Scalia have written and joined dissenting opinions suggesting the appropriateness of overturning Roe.

So given those views, the better question is how could a Catholic not support Barack Obama?
@#$%^&!??? What happened to that glaring contradiction between Kmiec's stated rejection of Roe and Obama's absolutist devotion to Roe? It's one thing to argue that overturning Roe doesn't get pro-lifers where they want to go, but if you're going to advocate a candidate who will not tolerate any derogation from Roe and who has expressly declared his intent to legislatively enshrine Roe into black letter law and wipe out all moderate limitations on Roe, then you must answer how Obama's pro-Roe absolutism squares with Kmiec's anti-Roe relativism. They aren't symmetrically opposed to each other, granted. But I just don't see how endorsing a pro-Roe absolutist and crusader is the logical next step after accepting Kmiec's qualified rejection of Roe.

Applying this to the issue of abortion, the senator has repeatedly indicated that he is not pro-abortion, that he understands the serious moral question it presents, and, most significantly, that he wants to move us beyond the 35 years of acrimony that have done next to nothing to reduce the unwanted pregnancies that give rise to abortions.

Senator Obama’s articulated concerns with the payment of a living wage, access to health care, stabilizing the market for shelter, special attention to the needs of the disadvantaged and the importance of community are all part of the church’s social justice mission.
Again, if Obama is against 35 years of acrimony, then please explain his crusading pro-Roe absolutism? I stress "crusading" because of Obama's public proclamation to absolutize Roe through the Freedom of Choice Act and through pro-choice litmus-tested judicial appointments. How is Obama's extremist hostility towards the Born Alive Infant Protection Act and the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act supposed to combat partisan acrimony? How is it NOT the epitome of in-your-face partisan acrimony?

Finally, Kmiec collapses into the Victim's Pose, demonstrating how he's worn out his brake pads in his headlong descent towards Victimization Derangement Syndrome.
Q. You have been fiercely attacked by some Catholic abortion opponents and in one instance barred from receiving communion. How do you feel about that?

A. To be the subject of an angry homily at Mass last April 18 and excoriated as giving scandal for endorsing Senator Obama and then to be denied communion for that “offense” was the most humiliating experience in my faith life.

To be separated in that public manner from the receipt of the eucharist, and to be effectively shunned or separated from the body of Christ in the sense of that particular congregation, has left, I very much regret to say, a permanent spiritual scar. Thankfully, it has also given me a new appreciation for the significance of the sacrament in my daily worship. And the priest, having been called to order by Cardinal Roger Mahony, sent me an apology, which of course I have accepted.

Nonetheless, I remain deeply troubled that other church leaders not fall into similar traps. That would do untold damage to the church within the context of American democracy.

There are clearly partisan forces that want nothing more than to manufacture or stir up faith-based opposition to their political opponents. The church has been careful to underscore that Catholics have unfettered latitude to vote for any candidate so long as the intent of the Catholic voter is not to express approval of a grave evil.
How American. What dissenting Catholics almost always fail to comprehend is that there IS a uniquely Catholic way of dissenting with honor/grace and that there is a dishonorable, disgraceful worldly way of dissenting. Their inability to first of all distinguish the two, and secondly, to take the high road, represents the tragedy of American Catholic thinking today, because it is endemic regardless of one's position on abortion.

Reflexive victimhood is the flagpin of liberal secularist thinking, regardless of the ideological content of your dissenting views. Whether you are a conservative dissenting from a liberal-dominated circle or a liberal dissenting from a conservative-dominated circle, it's liberal-secularist to publicly pose as the victim of some mean-spirited conspiracy to quash one's voice. Part and parcel of this pose is the bare assertion of a conspiracy or degenerate groupthink, which relies on the audience's readiness to presume the worst in the dominant circle from which one is dissenting.

A NYTimes audience is brimming with readiness to presume the Catholic Church is and has always been on that side of Hitler. Kmiec ought to know that and probably counts on it.

The ressourcement Catholics of the pre-Vatican II era knew how to dissent against Church hierarchy. Henri de Lubac and Yves Congar were both censured by the Magisterium and humbly understood their place and station, trusting that Truth tests all things and takes its own time to do it. Their spiritual disposition helped to ensure that many of their controversial insights would be vindicated. Respect for magisterial consensus and solidarity is a critical discipline in standing up for one's non-conforming beliefs. Above all, the dissenter must express the priority of the Body of Christ over one's own "revelations." To moralistically throw oneself a pity party for how a "bad" cleric imprudently denied him Communion and to impute that cleric's imprudence to the sensus fidelium is cheap and Oprah-school.