As the President prepares to meet with congressional leaders today in hopes of hammering out a deal that will raise the debt ceiling and begin to address the nation’s long-term fiscal problems, three options loom.
Marvin Olasky is not exactly a screaming leftie. But, he has a post up today in which he calls on conservatives to disassociate themselves from one of their heroes, Ayn Rand. Interestingly, Olasky says that there is still room for libertarians in the conservative ranks, something I think is not tenable in the long term, but he says there is no room for anti-Christians like Rand. Importantly, he calls on those who invoke Rand, from Congressman Paul Ryan to Rush Limbaugh, to explain what they do, and do not, like about Rand. Not sure how that will play out as there is nothing, repeat nothing, about rand that is worth salvaging. Some defenders say you can set aside Rand's anti-Christian views but embrace her economic and socio-cultural views, but those views are just as anti-Christian in their essence as her more explicitly anti-religious statements.
Nonetheless, you can forgive me for smiling at the prospect of conservatives warring with each other over Rand's significance. It is like the Iran-Iraq war.
In case you missed it on our homepage, NCR has an article up today by Robert Christian on the hyper-individualism that informs many of the talking points coming from the GOP in DC these days, and why that hyper-individualism does not cohere with Catholic social thought. Be sure to read it.
Robert is a graduate fellow at the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at Catholic University where I am a visiting fellow. One of the pleasures of working at the Institute has been working with him and the other bright, young graduate fellows. They are bright and engaged and, most importantly, they really love the Church, a fact that shines through in our conversations and is evident in Robert's article.
Here is an interesting article about the role of the Catholic Church in Cuba, specifically, the way it serves as the principal publishing house for articles that would not pass muster with the party censors.
The press, like unions, like the Church, is one of the principal instruments of civil society capable of expressing popular will in the face of government oppression. And, to be clear, in Cuba the government is still oppressive and Americans who throw that adjective at our government demean the word. Conservatives, of course, tend to only like unions and the press when they are in communist countries, but they serve a similar function in our own society: They allow divergent voices to manifest themselves and without such divergence, democracy has no vibrancy and human rights are more easily threatened.
I refused to watch a single moment of the Casey Anthony trial. I refused to watch a single news story about the trial. This took some doing and I had to replace the battery in my television clicker sooner than anticipated. The story was ubiquitous.
I refused to engage it for the same reason I would have refused to attend a gladiator fight had I lived two thousand years ago. In America today, the courtroom has replaced the ampitheater, but the lust for gruesomeness is the same. Shame on us.
The only good thing about the trial is that it is over.
The Society of our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity issued a press release yesterday regarding the sad case of Father John Corapi.
The entire episode makes me feel sick to my stomach, and this is not only because Father Corapi's view of the world bore little resemblance to my own. One of my most conservative priest friends, to whom I turn to see how the world and the Church are viewed in those precincts, previously sent me an email that perfectly elucidates some of the questions this episode raises:
I'll bet next month's collection that we're going to learn a bit more about Corapi before this is all done. Why was a religious priest living apart from his community? In a house he owns personally? Why was he in sole control of a corporation that has employees and makes a profit? Why was his company in the habit of signing confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with its employees? Was he turning over all income to his community? If not, is the IRS aware that he is a wealthy man?
Angus Sibley’s new book “The ‘Poisoned Spring’ of Economic Libertarianism,” recently published by Pax Romana, deals with some of the theoretical issues that have emerged in current debates about America’s long-term fiscal health. Specifically, Sibley argues that the “Austrian School” of economics has come to dominate conservative arguments about the economy and that this school could not be more antithetical to the traditional social teachings of the Catholic Church.
According to Ed Kilgore at the New Republic, Michelle Bachmann's frequent and intentional self-labelling as a "constitutional conservative" can mean different things to different people, but that to those who hear the "dog whistle" in the words, the vision is a little scary.
This is why we have elections: To find out just what the candidates mean by their slogans and it will be interesting to watch the media try and pin down Bachmann on this score. To her great credit, Bachmann does not shy away from media interviews with media outfits other than Fox, so there will be plenty of opportunity to find out just how much of the the phrase is principled and how much is scary.
Attentive readers will also note Kilgore's reference to Peter Berkowitz whom I have cited before as one of the leading lights of intelligent, informed conservative thought writing in America today.
In this morning's Washington Post, Eugene Robinson looks at the budget showdown or, more accurately, the high stakes politics of the showdown. Well worth the read.
If some readers have an RSS feed to my blog specifically, you may have missed my recent article for the print edition of NCR on the White House's outreach to Catholics. You can read it by clicking here.