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27 August 2004

Hoo, boy, does this one smell of hypocrisy…

From today’s Times:

But when pressed repeatedly if he would specifically denounce the
advertisements, which Mr. Kerry has said were being run with the tacit
approval of the Bush campaign, the president refused to condemn then.
Instead, he said he would talk only of the “broader issue” of the
political committees that take to the airwaves with attack

“Five twenty-sevens – I think these ought to be
outlawed,” he said. “I think they should have been outlawed a year
ago. We have billionaires writing checks, large checks, to influence
the outcome of the election.”

Two thoughts.  First, he does exactly the thing that he thinks
should be eliminated.  And like any self-interested person, I
can’t imagine that he really means keeping billionaires out of politics
applies to him.  Just the ways that billionaires (i.e., George
Soros) work against him.

Second, why shouldn’t billionaires be able to do this?  They have
money, and they want to use that money to advance a candidate for
election.  What’s wrong with trying to influence the outcome of
the election?  That seems to be what we do whenever we register
people to vote, run ads, do mailers, talk to our friends and neighbors
about politics, and so forth.  We all work to influence elections,
with whatever tools are available to us.  And when people argue
that we shouldn’t allow money in politics, how would they propose that
we do this whole process?  (Unless you’re willing to argue that
elections should be entirely publicly financed, money has to be part of
the political process, whether you like money or not [as many of my
lefty friends seem to feel].  And what would those who want
publicly financed elections do until we get those [which could be quite
a while in our system]?)

But Bush’s comment seems hypocritical, because the 527s have tipped the
money balance toward the Dems in a way that many Republican operatives
were not anticipating, and so they are unprepared.  This is less
about money and more about advantage.  I surmise that Bush wants
to stop, not Swift Boat Veterans.

Posted in Politicks on 27 August 2004 at 11:07 am by Nate

Election predictor

This is quite interesting, as it uses each day’s new poll data to predict an electoral college score.

My own profession has pretty bad record at this sort of thing.  At the last electoral-year meeting of APSA,
all the models predicted a win for Gore (which you can argue actually
did happen, if you’d like), but th margins of victory were all over the
place.  There’s a panel on this again this year.

In this week’s New Yorker, Louis Menand has an excellent piece on political science approaches
to the question of “how people vote.”  You may be surprised or
dismayed to read what we know, especially those of you (many of the
readers of this blog, from what I can surmise) who fit into the
“ideologue” category (which is not at all what you would think if you
listen to our modern political discourse).

…This absence of “real opinions” is not from lack of brains; it’s
from lack of interest. “The typical citizen drops down to a lower level
of mental performance as soon as he enters the political field,” the
economic theorist Joseph Schumpeter wrote, in 1942. “He argues and
analyzes in a way which he would readily recognize as infantile within
the sphere of his real interests. He becomes a primitive again. His
thinking is associative and affective.” And Fiorina quotes a passage
from the political scientist Robert Putnam: “Most men are not political
animals. The world of public affairs is not their world. It is alien to
them—possibly benevolent, more probably threatening, but nearly always
alien. Most men are not interested in politics. Most do not participate
in politics.”

Man may not be a political animal, but he is certainly a social
animal. Voters do respond to the cues of commentators and campaigners,
but only when they can match those cues up with the buzz of their own
social group. Individual voters are not rational calculators of
self-interest (nobody truly is), and may not be very consistent users
of heuristic shortcuts, either. But they are not just random particles
bouncing off the walls of the voting booth. Voters go into the booth
carrying the imprint of the hopes and fears, the prejudices and
assumptions of their family, their friends, and their neighbors. For
most people, voting may be more meaningful and more understandable as a
social act than as a political act.

That it is hard to persuade some people with ideological arguments
does not mean that those people cannot be persuaded, but the things
that help to convince them are likely to make ideologues sick—things
like which candidate is more optimistic. For many liberals, it may have
been dismaying to listen to John Kerry and John Edwards, in their
speeches at the Democratic National Convention, utter impassioned
bromides about how “the sun is rising” and “our best days are still to
come.” But that is what a very large number of voters want to hear. If
they believe it, then Kerry and Edwards will get their votes. The ideas
won’t matter, and neither will the color of the buttons.

Posted in Politicks on 27 August 2004 at 10:53 am by Nate
26 August 2004

“we did not vote for him”

From Snarky Malarkey:

Posted in OnTheWeb on 26 August 2004 at 11:40 pm by Nate
25 August 2004

How liberal/conservative are you?

Take a quiz and “find out.”

Problems with this quiz:

  1. Almost all  the choices are dichotomous (agree/disagree),
    except that it’s not agree or disagree, it’s more like stating a
    problem and then offering two solutions to it.  If you wouldn’t
    choose either of the solutions, you’re still stuck choosing one.
  2. Sometimes the reason you disagree with an answer is because of the
    “because.”  For example, “As a society, we should spend more money
    to find a cure for AIDS than for cancer and heart disease because AIDS
    threatens younger people.”  Well, I disagree with the reasoning,
    but I don’t necessarily disagree with the premise.  But I choose
    disagree anyway, because I don’t think we should give HIV research
    higher funding because it more greatly affects younger people but because there are other reasons.
Posted in Politicks on 25 August 2004 at 2:15 pm by Nate
24 August 2004

Catholics may vote on a variety of issues!

(Boldface indicates emphases I have highlighted.)


By Andrew Greeley

Catholics can vote for John Kerry. They don’t have to, but it would not be
a sin to do so, according to a distinguished theologian:

“A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy
to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a
candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion
and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor
of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons,
it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the
presence of proportionate reasons.”

These are not the words of some radical liberal Catholic theologian who is
unconcerned about killing babies. Rather they were written by the cardinal
president of the Congregation for the Defense of the Faith, Joseph Ratzinger. It
says that Catholics are not obliged to vote on one issue, no matter how
important that issue might be. They may vote for John Kerry “for other reasons”
so long as they are not supporting him merely for his pro-choice

That ought to settle the matter. Catholics who have been confused by the
insistence of a few bishops, some priests and some pro-life laity that they must
vote against Sen. Kerry are free to make their choice balancing all issues – just as they always have been.

This theory of “indirect material cooperation” is traditional Catholic
moral teaching. Apparently, the few bishops who excluded Catholics from
communion if they voted for Kerry didn’t know much traditional moral theology –
which demonstrates what the qualifications are for the bishopric these

The bishops of the United States actually quoted the paragraph from
Ratzinger in the documentation with their recent statement on the

In response to the question “whether the denial of Holy Communion to some
Catholics in political life is necessary because of their public support for
abortion on demand,” the bishops did not endorse the policy of that small group
of their membership who wanted such denial. “Given the wide range of
circumstances involved in arriving at a prudent judgment on a matter of such
seriousness, we recognize that such decisions rest with the individual
bishop…. Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent
course of pastoral action.”

The moderate, if obscure, tone of their statement indicates the dilemma
Catholic leaders have found themselves in since Roe vs. Wade.

They believe, as they must, that a constitutional right to abortion is bad

On the other hand, they know that most American women – including most
Catholics – believe that it is a right they should have, even if they do not intend to exercise
Therefore, bishops are cast in the role of those who would take away the
rights of women by the exercise of political clout. This is not a good position
to be in when you avow, as they do in their statement, the need to “persuade”
and to “dialogue.”

But how do those who disagree with the Catholic Church dialogue with
religious leaders who believe that they are absolutely and clearly right, and
that others are absolutely and clearly wrong?

I can think of only one way that bishops might earn a hearing for their
teaching. While insisting on their convictions, they should refrain from
questioning the integrity and good faith of those who disagree. Then they should
become beacons of light on all issues concerning human life, the rights of
women, and the rights of the poor and the oppressed.

Thus, while granting, for the sake of the argument, that abortion is a more
serious issue than the death penalty or pre-emptive war (or depriving workers of
their pensions or health benefits or right to organize unions), bishops might
imitate the pope and more vigorously and noisily oppose the Iraq war and suggest
that Catholic politicians who insist on the death penalty are not following the
teachings of the Church.

Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s “consistent ethic of life” theory might help
bishops to look less like grand inquisitors fixated on one issue, however
important, and more like men of graceful and generous concern for human life and

[Sociologist / novelist / journalist Father Andrew Greeley recently
celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a Catholic priest. The
above article originally appeared in the July 16, 2004 edition of The Chicago
Sun-Times, and is reprinted here, with the permission of the author, as a
supplement to the August 1, 2004 issue of CACP News Notes, newsletter of
Catholics Against Capital Punishment (]
Posted in Politicks on 24 August 2004 at 12:51 pm by Nate

“How’s that again?” Department: A quote from President George W. Bush

“You believe as I do that every person, however frail or vulnerable, is a
blessing and has a place and a purpose in this world. We must stand for an
America in which every life counts and every life matters. Life is a creation of
God, not a commodity to be exploited by man.”

– Remarks made in a videotaped address to participants in the July 1-3
National Right to Life Convention in Arlington, Va., by President George W.
Bush, who presided over the execution of 152 persons while Governor of Texas in
addition to three federal executions while president (as quoted in the Arlington
Catholic Herald, July 7, 2004).
Posted in Politicks on 24 August 2004 at 12:45 pm by Nate
23 August 2004


I tend to use green.

Posted in IvoryTower on 23 August 2004 at 12:18 pm by Nate
22 August 2004

God is here, God is now

From the Salty Vicar:

I do wish that more Episcopalians felt more anchored – the
conservatives do have it right that the church has given its flock very
little. We progressive Christians have to recognize that fact and start
offering the Gospel, with clarity, with confidence, the Gospel that God
is here, now.

And this:

…When reading [conservative] blogs, you’ll find a lot of ridicule about
“inclusion.” They will attempt to diminish the radical power of “love
thy neighbor.” They caricature the liberal understanding of love by
conflating it with the “anything goes” gospel….

But, ye liberals, if someone ridicules “inclusion” you may bring up
Samaritans; you may bring up the Moabites, and you may bring up the
rules of hospitality. I advise, however, not to play the game.

Instead remind them that we don’t worship inclusion. Instead, it is
simply a practical way of bringing people to God. Surely, God invites
us into his love. This is what we mean by inclusion.

“Inclusion” is a tactic. It is not a religion.

Posted in Rayleejun on 22 August 2004 at 3:25 pm by Nate

“U2 isn’t Christian, but their songs are”

GetReligion’s article about U2 the other day spawned this very insightful comment:

I recently saw a CD in a Christian bookstore of U2 songs covered by
Christian artists
(“In the Name of Love”). When I asked the clerk if
the store carried CD’s by U2 themselves, I was greeted with a shocked
expression and told “No, we only carry CHRISTIAN CD’s here.” Apparently
the exact same song is “secular” if sung by U2 but “Christian” if
performed by Toby Mac.

Yes.  This is precisely the problem with many evangelical
Christians today.  Only when actions are taken by certain people
(designated “Christians”) can such actions be regarded as “good, holy,
and pleasing.”  Should the exact same action be taken by someone
who is not part of the designated group, it suddenly loses its approved
status.  The action’s ethical status depends entirely upon the
ethical status of the actor, not the action itself.

I’ve written about this before.

Posted in Rayleejun on 22 August 2004 at 12:40 pm by Nate
21 August 2004

The Real Deal: How a Philosophy Professor With a Checkered Past Became the Most Influential Catholic Layman in George W. Bush’s Washington

From the National Catholic Reporter, regarding the Deal Hudson affair:

past March 17, having paid tribute to the saint who drove the snakes
from Ireland, George W. Bush — first lady to his left, Irish prime
minister to his right — bounded off the Roosevelt Room podium. As he
began to work the crowd of Irish Americans and Gaelic-wannabees, the
president noticed a familiar face, a fellow Texan, among those
assembled at the annual St. Patrick’s Day White House

Immediately after George Bush spoke,” recalled former U.S.
ambassador to the Vatican Ray Flynn, “the first person he greeted was
Deal Hudson.”

Heady stuff, perhaps, to be the first among the gathered
Catholic glitterati to be singled out by the most powerful man in the
world. But by now Hudson — publisher of the conservative Catholic
monthly Crisis, Bush political operative, and one-time philosophy
professor — was accustomed to the treatment.

Hudson, a 54-year-old,
thrice-married former Baptist minister, is a regular White House
visitor, a leading Bush campaign Catholic proxy, and a widely quoted
partisan unafraid to use his pen to serve the Bush cause.

In more than
two dozen interviews conducted by NCR over a four-and-a-half-month
period, mostly with former friends and Hudson’s ideological kin, a
complicated portrait emerged. Though few of those interviewed would
speak on the record, many of them painted a far less flattering picture
of Hudson than his public moralizing would suggest, and several raised
questions about the allegations that ended his academic career.

Also check out The Revealer, which generally turns out good criticism of reporting at mainstream and niche press, left and right.

The National Catholic Reporter has just posted the article that sparked
the Deal Hudson affair — even before it was published. Joe Feuerherd’s
expose is what religion reporting should be: tough, theologically and
politically informed, empathetic, and attuned to the intersections of
faith and the world. Here’s why it matters to everyone, religious or
not: “The perception that [Deal] Hudson controls Catholic access to the
White House is widespread [and] largely accurate.”

This isn’t attack
journalism. Writes Feuerherd: “In my 20 years as a writer and
journalist I’ve written what could fairly be termed “favorable stories”
about such conservative Catholics as Cardinal John O’Connor, Opus Dei’s
Fr. C. John McCloskey, Patrick J. Buchanan, and Jim Towey, director of
the Bush Administration Office of Faith Based Initiatives. The notion
that this story was somehow politically motivated is incorrect. I went
where the story led me. “

Cross posted at Command Post.

Posted in Politicks on 21 August 2004 at 6:31 pm by Nate