So, Father Robert Sirico has come to the defense of Ayn Rand. I confess that I did not think that anything Fr. Sirico might write could shock me, but his little epistle shocked. Not only does he try and disentangle Rand’s foolishness from what he esteems in her thought, but he holds up her hero, John Galt, as a Christ-figure. Like a moth to a flame, like a ship to the Lodestone Rock, like Anthony Weiner with his blackberry, Sirico just cannot help himself.
The war of insults has begun among the GOP contenders. TNR has a rundown of the mud-wrestling so far.
I like Michael Gerson. Lord knows, he is one of the most thoughtful commentators from the right and, as a non-Catholic, has a deep appreciation for the value of Catholic Social Thought.
But, in an op-ed this morning about Grover Norquist's tax orthodoxies, Gerson begins with a reference to the theological battle with the Arians at the Council of Nicaea. It is unclear whether he thinks Norquist stands in the place of Arius or in the place of Athansius, but what is abundantly clear is that both Arius and Athanasius had reputable stances, although the former's position was heretical. Norquist may be an economic heretic. Who cares? The problem is that he is an economic idiot. Actually, that is one of the problems. The other is that Norquist is a political genuis and he has forced the GOP to adopt his insane position on taxes as if it really was as important as the debate at Nicaea over the divinity of Christ. It isn't.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney has had the temerity to suggest that climate change is a real issue. Conservative radio windbag Rush Limbaugh jumped all over him. So did former Sen. Rick Santorum who called it "junk science."
This is the GOP's problem. They should be focusing like a laser beam on the economy, but they will continually be drawn into debates over climate change, or Paul Revere, or immigration, or the Paul Ryan plan to eviscerate Medicare and Medicaid, or Obama's birth certificate, and in such debates, there is always an incentive to go further to the right to catch the media wave and appeal to the truest of true believers.
Ronald reagan used to joke, whenever there was some confusion about what his administration intended, that "the right hand often doesn't know what the far-right hand is doing." But that was a joke. The bad news for the GOP today is that it is no longer a joke.
Yesterday, in a presentation at the Brookings Institute, Robert P. Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute presented the results of new survey data about the moral views of Millenials, those aged 18-29, regarding abortion and same sex marriage. The results confirmed two essential facts: first, Millenials’ views on abortion track largely with older age cohorts, while they are decidedly more tolerant of same sex marriage and, second, Americans remain largely ambivalent about the legality of abortion.
The survey entailed 3,000 phone interviews. Critically, 750 of the interviews were conducted by cell phone, an important – and more expensive – method of polling but one that is essential for obtaining sound data on younger Americans, many of whom no longer have land lines. The poll went into the field in late April through early May of this year, so the data is current.
A friend sent a link to the website "Whosoever Desires" where they have a cute post about the 10 small pleasures of being Catholic. Check it out.
Joe Carter, writing at First Things, has finally - no, FINALLY - led the way for conservative Catholics to denounce Ayn Rand's writings. His adjective of choice: "satanic."
I am not a conservative Catholic, but I know it is healthy for the country's politics, and for the Church too, to have well-informed, literate, thoughtful conservative voices. That is why the silence regarding the manner in which Rand is held in esteem by some of the GOP's darlings has been so horrifying. Kudos to Carter for raising the banner of sanity. Welcome to the anti-Randians Mr. Carter. You may not agree with me and mine on anything else, but in the nation's debates about the social contract, this may be the most important to about which we should agree.
Over at the New Yorker, Rick Hertzberg writes about the play "The Noraml Heart" and in that column he writes these words: "Post-Stonewall but pre-AIDS, 'gay liberation' was largely about sexual freedom and plenty of it. Its black-power-inspired, yippie-inflected style of identity politics stressed difference from and sometimes contempt for the white-male-white-bread patriarchal nuclear family. (At the same time, the tiny suit-and-tie homosexual-rights legacy organizations took care not to be too pushy.) AIDS, a truly existential crisis, imposed a totally different perspective. In a seeming paradox, given that AIDS was seen as a 'gay disease,' the crisis made the movement more sympathetic in its focus and appeal (suffering and death are universal), more militant (there was no time to lose), and more practical (its agenda was highly specific and not at all theoretical or utopian). AIDS opened the closet door and brought families and friends, not just individuals, into the movement."
Yesterday, Michel Martin, host of the NPR show “Tell Me More” had a great segment featuring Dennis Mehiel, former chairman of the board at U.S. Corrugated and a member of the group “Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength.” Mehiel was joined by a small business owner here in DC, Andy Shallal, whose popular “Busboys and Poets” bookstore/cafes are a quintessential form of small business. Both men helped debunk some of the ideological nonsense that has, so far, succeeded to skewing the entire debate about our nation’s economic future.
The Patriotic Millionaires were begun in November 2010. Their open letter to the President, Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Reid states: “Our country has been good to us. It provided a foundation through which we could succeed. Now, we want to do our part to keep that foundation strong so that others can succeed as we have. Please do the right thing for our country. Raise our taxes.”
John Gehring, writing at the blog of Faith in Public Life, provides a fine takedown of George Weigel's lastest diatribe in Crisis magazine. Gehring always makes good points, even when the target is an easy one like Weigel which is harder than it might seem to the casual reader. Weigel's latest work has been so bad that you actually have to stop laughing while reading. This greatly increases the difficulty of formulating a response.
I can see why someone would pay the author of "Tranquillitas Ordinis" for a column, or a speech, or endow a chair for him at a think tank. But, the George Weigel who penned that thoughtful, careful book is no more. He has become a mere shill for his Republican paymasters.