In the previous part of this series, I gave a detailed comparison of the views of John Locke and Pope Leo XIII on the state of nature, the origin of private property, and the proper use of private property. In this final part, I want to make a few more points regarding what I think can be called “Lockean” thought, at least as it exists in contemporary America, explore the relationship between the Catholic Church and the United States, and explain why I think all that has been considered thus far is relevant for our political situation today.
In a recent column Washington Post columnist, E J Dionne noted that the Tea Party movement is a great scam. Quite an indictment coming from the self described progressive Catholic who still thinks government can never be big enough and the Church should tell the faithful more about the teachings of the agnostic Saul Alinsky than that of 2,000 year old teachings of the Catholic Church. Dionne has made it his business to comment on all matter of politics and religion for quite some time. His partner in left wing chicanery is New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd who never hesitates to go for the jugular. Though she says he she comes from humble Washington DC roots, you would never know it by how she mocks those who really came from humble surrounding and never forgot it. She probably grew up with many Sarah Palin’s and Christine O’Donnell’s around her. Yet, I doubt she mocked many to their face as she gleefully does now to the backs of Palin and O’Donnell.
Dionne and Dowd seem to have it backwards, they don’t think citizens should voice their views about the fallacies of liberal Big Government, but they do believe everyone knows better than the divine about religion. This is quite common for liberals who often seem to think they are divine. Dionne and Dowd are part of a movement who thinks they should control government and religion, and those who disagree with them are often labeled as unintelligent; the worst sin as far as liberals are concerned. However, who is the unintelligent one? Big Government has never worked. It has only brought huge debt which has to be repaid by future generations. Individuals who go into debt face a series of tough measures. Yet Dionne and Dowd seem oblivious to this and advocate the same disastrous path for the government, the end result being tough measures for everyone. In other words Big Government is a disaster that doesn’t work.
However, Big Government isn’t the only disaster Dionne and Dowd advocate. They want the Catholic Church to turn her back on its 2,000 year old teachings and embrace the Dictatorship of Relativism, so named by Pope Benedict XVI. Dionne and Dowd are happy to embrace dissident Catholics who espouse this sort of thinking. It seems Dionne and Dowd are more comfortable with the views of Marx, Alinsky and Freud than they are with Christ, St Paul, St Thomas Aquinas, St Joan of Arc and Pope Benedict XVI. Read the rest of this entry »
It would appear that those in the mainstream media who want to do hit pieces on Pope Benedict XVI need to take a number. The latest to engage in Yellow Journalism is CNN. The “network of record” dispatched Gary Tuchman to do the dirty work. One might recall that it was none other than Tuchman who remarked how distressing it was travelling in the heartland during the 2008 Election campaign. He complained that some who recognized him told him that their Middle American views and ideas were repeatedly mocked by the mainstream media, all the while those of the liberal establishment were hailed. Tuchman’s words were quite revealing when it comes to this story.
CNN has been advertising their hit piece on Pope Benedict XVI as if he was already guilty of some sort of cover up, even though during the Abuse Scandal it was none other than the New York Times who praised then Cardinal Ratzinger for tackling the tough problems. What tough problems did he tackle? The most notable example being Father founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Father Marcial Maciel was one of the few prominent conservatives caught up in the Abuse Scandal, most of the abusers were Church liberals who wanted to change the Church. Cardinal Ratzinger took on Father Maciel at the height of his power and popularity. One might recall that Father Maciel was quite close to Pope John Paul II. So from this example we can see that Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) showed no favorites and pulled no punches. The Legionaries of Christ were shaken to the core and as pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI removed their leadership and installed his own, hardly the work of someone who was timid.
The CNN piece was perhaps even more despicable than the New York Times hit piece, because in the interim much of the modus operandi of the Old Gray Lady was exposed. Still CNN used the same material and claimed that they had something new. There is nothing new here. The crux of their argument comes from material provided by Jeffrey Anderson the attorney who has made millions off the scandal. Anderson says he is one a mision to “reform the Church.” What kind of reform would that be? Some Catholic dioceses have been forced into bankruptcy, which means the poor whom they dioceses assisted through their social programs are left in the cold. For all his concern of “reform” Anderson hasn’t provided a penny to these particular poor.
There are many political fault lines that run through American society, perhaps more today than any point in recent history. We can all probably name a few of the ideological, cultural, and religious lines, but there is one in particular that I wish to explore with you today: divisions over whether or not, and to what extent, it is legitimate to resist the government. By resist, or rebel, I mean a refusal to comply with laws, though in the future it may mean something else entirely.
When “left” and “right” are set aside, what appears to separate the “mainstream” from “extremism” is the position they take on this vital question.
Naturally, in a country with revolutionary origins, whose founding document establishes the right of the people to overthrow governments that break their end of the social contract, talk of resistance or rebellion in general cannot be dismissed as insane, though some undoubtedly try to argue along those lines. There is also a broad political consensus in the mainstream that civil disobedience against overt racial injustice is legitimate; few Republicans these days have anything other than praise for the aging heroes of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
Rand and Ron Paul are the true face of the Tea Party. I support them 100% in the months and years to come.
Though I agree that with Rand that we don’t need to apologize to the world for our economic system, we do need to continually revise and update it in accordance with the demands of the moral law and human dignity. My hope is that Distributist ideas can continue to gain traction in America, and among the Catholics in the tea party and hopefully beyond.
A wrap-up of various items of political interest.
1. The video that heads this post is one of the reasons why my vote for McCain in 2008 was a two handed vote, with one hand holding my nose. McCain has long been an ardent supporter of amnesty and open borders. Now that he is in a tough primary race with J.D. Hayworth, he is a born again believer in locking down the border against illegal aliens. I certainly favor in making it tougher for illegals to get across the border, but I do not favor politicians who embrace positions simply to save their political skin. I hope that the voters in Arizona will finally bring McCain’s political career to a screeching halt by voting for his opponent in the primary.
2. It looks like Hawaii will soon have a new Republican Congressman. The Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee is pulling out of Hawaii 1 and basically conceding that Republican Charles Djou will win the special election on May 22. The Democrats have two candidates running who are splitting the vote and thus allowing the Republicans to take a Congressional seat that has been in Democrat hands for two decades.
3. The tea party movement claimed another scalp by causing the defeat of Republican Senator Bob Bennett at the Utah Gop Convention in his attempt to get the Republican nomination for a fourth term in the Senate. This should be a warning for all politicians: this year is different, no re-nomination or re-election can be taken for granted.
4. Faithful readers of this blog will know that I have quite a bit of respect for blogger Mickey Kaus who is taking on Senator Barbara Boxer in the Democrat primary in California. Shockingly last week the LA Times refused to endorse Boxer:
On the Democratic side, we find that we’re no fans of incumbent Barbara Boxer. She displays less intellectual firepower or leadership than she could. We appreciate the challenge brought by Robert “Mickey” Kaus, even though he’s not a realistic contender, because he asks pertinent questions about Boxer’s “lockstep liberalism” on labor, immigration and other matters. But we can’t endorse him, because he gives no indication that he would step up to the job and away from his Democratic-gadfly persona.
To have the LA Times refuse to endorse Boxer is a strong indication of just how weak she is this election year. She is probably strong enough to defeat Kaus (sorry Mickey!) in the primary, but there is blood in the water for the general election. Read the rest of this entry »
With President Obama demonizing Tea Party protesters and the recent comments of New York Mayor Bloomberg speculating that the Times Square bomber was a tea party protester, it is mind boggling how the evidence continues to stack up against their arguments of Tea Party protesters being intolerant and racists.
Especially in the light of breaking news that thieves have stolen the Mojave Desert Cross that was built to honor Americans who died in World War I. When just less than two weeks prior the U.S. Supreme allowed that Cross to remain on the property.
I’ll bet good money that some raving liberal removed the cross because of his or her dissatisfaction with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.
Yet where are the news of lynchings, swastikas painted on synagogues and burnt out black churches by Tea Party Protesters?
The cognitive dissonance on the Left is amazing.
Last night on the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric interviewed New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a non-affiliated party member, and asked him his thoughts on who it was that planted the bomb in New York’s Times Square and what were the motives behind it.
Mayor Bloomberg’s comments are incredulous to say the least (emphasis mine):
“Home-grown, maybe a mentally deranged person or somebody with a political agenda that doesn’t like the health care bill…”
…the health care bill Mr. Bloomberg?
As in the Tea Party Movement participants?
[Updates at the bottom of this post as of 4-29-2010 at 8:24pm]
Apparently President Obama is doing his best to paint the Tea Party movement as a group of extremists and racists.
Witness the video below as an army of riot police in full riot gear and snipers on rooftops wield their weapons to intimidate the Tea Party protesters.
Now here’s an interesting question – what if we had a black conservative for a president, say, Alan Keyes? I’d like to see how the race card would be played then.
The passage of Obamacare has qualitatively transformed the political polarization of Americans. For the 1/5th of the American people that describe themselves as liberal or very liberal – and for people from other countries, that means leftist – Obamacare is a triumph. Of course it is not as glorious a triumph as some would have liked, since leftists with consistent principles are dismayed by what amounts to a massive handout to the private insurance cartel. These, however, became a voiceless minority when Dennis Kucinich kissed Obama’s ring on Air Force One.
For the rest of America, identifying as centrist, conservative, or very conservative, the passage of Obamacare is a qualitative marker on what has been a long and often terrifying journey of government expansion. With the full acknowledgment that they could have been, and should have been, louder about these matters under Bush Jr. than they actually were, the rise of the tea party movement suggests that growing numbers of conservatives are no longer satisfied with the performance of the GOP. They will of course vote for GOP candidates come November – at the same time, many of those candidates my find themselves on the ballot because of this movement.
For our nation’s “political class”, a construct that shouldn’t even exist in the self-governing republic envisioned by the Founding Fathers, these developments are viewed with some alarm. This is not surprising, given what recent polls have discovered about the gap between this class, and mainstream America:
By a 62% to 12% margin, Mainstream Americans say the Tea Party is closer to their views. By a 90% to one percent (1%) margin, the Political Class feels closer to Congress.
The left side of the punditry and political establishment view the populist movement as something dangerous and irrational, and do their best to make sure that the handful of racists who show up with inflammatory signs are portrayed as it’s vanguard. Then they insinuate, with little to no evidence, that various figures such as Dick Armey or Sarah Palin are controlling the entire movement, though tea parties inspired by Ron Paul were taking place long before either of them arrived on the scene.
The right wing of the political class has viewed the tea party in two ways: with the same level of contempt as their liberal counterparts (isn’t it nice when they can agree?), or, on different occasions, with put-on enthusiasm in the hopes of co-opting and controlling the movement. That is, until David Brooks’ piece in the New York Times, titled “The Broken Society.”
Normally when a law is enacted in this country, that is that, and the debate is ended. Not always however. Sometimes laws are so ill-considered, so destructive of values held dear by large segments of the population, that the passage of the law only creates a new stage for an ongoing struggle over the law. Most polls show that most of the public opposes ObamaCare. Here are some thoughts on how this law can be defeated. Like most campaigns in the public square it will involve agitation, legal challenges and political action. Unlike most such campaigns we will add to it the element of prayer.
1. Legal Challenges: 13 states are pledged to bring litigation against ObamaCare. Individuals and groups should join in, the more, the merrier. ObamaCare is a highly complicated Act and the litigation could take years to play out. Whether it would ultimately succeed would depend I think largely on the political atmosphere by the time all of this reaches the Supreme Court. If there is unending public outrage over this, and if the American people have strongly indicated their rejection of ObamaCare at the ballot box, that will have an impact upon the Court, based upon the prior history of the Court.
2. Mass Rallies: Opponents should stage mass rallies at least one every few months to keep this issue front and center. Frequent rallies at the local level, a la the tea party rallies, must become a feature of American life in the months and years ahead.
3. State Action: State legislatures should draft petitions to Congress calling for the repeal of ObamaCare. Governors should draft proclamations calling for the repeal of ObamaCare. State legislation should be enacted to attack ObamaCare wherever possible. In legislation this complicated there will be many avenues of attack on the state level.
4. Education: A non-stop campaign must be mounted to educate the public about the provisions of ObamaCare, and the cost of implementing the provisions. Blogs can be especially useful in accomplishing this.
5. Citizen action: Activists should appear en masse at every town hall meeting of every Congress Critter in this country and peacefully demand the repeal of ObamaCare. Endless petitions should be submitted to Congress calling for the repeal of ObamaCare.
In my last post, I wrote about tensions, existing or potential, between the libertarian and social conservative elements in the tea party movement. Whereas before I was speaking of Christians in a broad and general sense, I will now turn to what I think the Catholic response to the tea party ought to be.
As I looked into this topic, I was dismayed by the utter predictability of responses from across the Catholic spectrum. The rad-trad response was irrational as always; the leftist response as arrogant and contemptuous as ever; and the mainstream response was unimaginative. Granted this is a very small sampling, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was accurately representative of these currents.
28% of the tea party movement, according to the one poll we have so far, is Catholic. This means Catholics are slightly over-represented in the movement. As I also reported last time, 68% of tea partiers attend religious services regularly; for Catholics, that ought to mean they go to Mass every Sunday. Now one thing I think I can say that isn’t very controversial is that when it comes to fidelity to the Church’s teaching on non-negotiable issues, such as abortion, marriage, and parental education rights, Catholics that regularly attend Mass are doing a heck of a lot better than Catholics who don’t. So these Catholics that are faithful to Church teaching on important issues are also supporting the tea party; that to me is an indicator that there is little in the tea party that fundamentally contradicts Church teaching.
In my previous post, I argued at length against both traditionalist Catholic and left-Catholic critiques of American history, and Catholicism’s place within it. Now I believe it is time to shift from the historical to the contemporary. A recent article in Politico by Ben Smith, “Tea parties stir evangelicals’ fears” (which might have been better titled, “Ben Smith seeks to stir evangelicals’ fears”), makes what I consider to be a rather weak attempt to stir the pot and inflame tensions between libertarians and evangelical Christians. You know he’s reaching when he’s hunting down “Christian conservatives” whose primary concern with the tea party is that it is unduly harsh on the noble personal character of President Obama, who, according to one of these evangelical leaders, “provides a tremendously positive role model for tens of millions of African-American men.”
My eyes were rolling so hard I could practically hear them squishing around in their sockets.
The more substantive claim worth addressing is that there is a secular libertarian streak in the tea party movement that is partially or wholly incompatible with the conservative Christian social agenda, which one of the evangelical critics claims has “a politics that’s irreligious”. When Smith was schooled by an article covering a poll that broke down, and dispelled some of the more ridiculous myths about the tea party movement, he continued to maintain that the tensions he pointed out could become problems in the future. So they may.
Glenn Greenswald has an excellent, spot on article over at Salon regarding the “relationship” between the GOP and the tea party movement. I believe it to be a credible analysis. Thoughts?
For those that do not yet know, a man named Joseph Andrew Stack flew and crashed a plane into an IRS building in Austin, TX. His lengthy suicide note makes clear that his act was politically motivated – Though the Department of Homeland Security has said that this, at least so far, has nothing to do with terrorism, as surely as the sun will set this evening, those who disagree with or oppose the political views of Mr. Stack will call it an act of domestic terrorism and seek to assign responsibility to everyone who shares some of his opinions or at least has the nerve to speak them publicly. Pro-lifers ought to know this routine by now – hysterical screeds that essentially argue guilt by association or even agreement, new calls for expanded police powers, and though they don’t apply in this case, restrictions on second amendment rights.
I condemn what Mr. Stack did. For right now, our political system is broken and wounded, but it is not dead. We still have a Bill of Rights, and especially a first amendment through which our freedoms of association, speech, and to petition government with our grievances is still in tact. Unfortunately both sides of the political spectrum – and which one is arguing this depends solely on whether or not “their guy”, Obama or Bush, Republican or Democrat is in power – seem to think that the basic idea of the Declaration of Independence is either outdated or immoral. That basic idea that governments can go too far and that the people have a right, and a duty, to resist them when they break their end of the social compact. Though the level of resistance offered today by Mr. Stack (whose soul I shall pray for) was wrong, at least under these conditions, that which is offered by the American citizens who will undoubtedly and unjustly be tarred with the same brush is.
So I want to take this opportunity to not only repeat what most people already believe – that violence in this context and reckless individual behavior are wrong – but to stand firmly in defense of the first amendment right of the tea party movement, and all political dissent, to exist. To reject the double-standard that says “protest is patriotic when the other party is in power, but dangerous extremism when my party is in power.” At least on this blog, I hope we can agree on these issues.
Update: Two things are worth adding to this piece. 1) The media, and especially the leftist blogs, did immediately try to associate Stack and his actions with the tea party movement. 2) Stack was not a member of the tea party movement, as the first link shows.
In my mispent youth back in the Sixties I read a lot of comics. My parents would give me and my brother a dollar each as our weekly allowance and at 12 cents a comic we could buy quite a few, even more if we purchased them for a nickel each used at an antiques\junk store in downtown Paris, Illinois. The most sacrificial Lent I have ever made was in 1965 at the age of 8 when I gave up my beloved comic books for Lent! Back then comics were quite safe for kids. On the whole I’d say they were beneficial for me, extending my vocabulary, introducing me to literary genres such as westerns and science fiction and the writing sometimes was of an unexpectedly high level. Some of the artists who drew the comics were of high calibre. Steve Ditko for example, the original artist who drew Spider-Man, had a very effective and memorable style of drawing. I stopped reading comics back around 1972, although I do buy silver age comic compilations for nostalgia and I keep half an eye on the industry as an aspect of popular culture.
I was not surprised to learn that a current story arc in Captain America has the Captain taking on the tea party movement. Comic book artists and writers have skewed heavily to the Left since the Sixties. My first protest letter, my first pre-computer attempt at a blog post, was a letter I wrote to Marvel Comics in pencil in 1969 protesting a story line in which Captain America was turning against US involvement in Vietnam.
In issue 602 of Captain America, the Captain and the Falcon, a black super-hero, see a tea party rally and decide that it poses a danger to, well that is not precisely clear, although I assume it is dangerous to the government. Captain America hits upon the brilliant plan to have the Falcon pose as a black IRS agent and go to a red neck bar and stir things up. (Hmmm, apparently plots and story lines have gone into steep decline since my day!) The hoot about this is that as long as the Republicans had the White House, the comics were filled with paranoid story lines involving evil government plots. With Obama in the White House, it is now evil to protest the government.
This of course has caused a huge amount of controversy. When controversy rears its head the comic book industry has a traditional response: back down faster than a man who has forgotten his wife’s birthday. Read the rest of this entry »
Sarah Palin in her speech at the Tea Party Convention mocked President Obama’s use of teleprompters. She herself was however caught with notes written on her left hand. The words “Energy”, “Tax,” and “Lift American Spirits” are clearly visible. There also appears to be the phrase “Budget Cuts” with the word “budget” crossed out.
To be clear, these notes were not for her speech, for which she used prepared remarks, but for the Q&A session that followed afterward, during which she glanced at her hand. Inevitably one must ask, how is this not worse?
Nothing in her hand is specific, but rather just general concepts of things that she supports as a political conservative. This same woman on “FOX News Sunday” declared she won’t “close the door” on a presidential bid in 2012.
Put another way: the leading contender, according to a recent poll, for the GOP nomination in 2012 cannot remember her own core principles as a conservative and must employ a cheat-sheet when asked about her beliefs.
In all honesty, I would vote for copy toner before I would ever think of voting for this woman.