Monthly Archives: May 2009

Oak Park’s Congressman: Socialists liked him

Interesting Oak Park and Danny Davis reference here from the March-April 1996 “New Ground,” published by the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), revving up for the coming primry:

The Seventh Congressional District runs from the lakefront straight west to the Cook County border. If you’d like to get involved, contact the Davis for Congress headquarters: (312) 626-1996. Folks out in Oak Park can also call Larry Shapiro at (708) 445-0072.

Contributions can be sent to Davis for Congress, 5730 W. Division, Chicago, IL 60651. Note that Federal law requires political committees (i.e. Davis for Congress) to report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer for each individual whose contributions aggregate in excess of $200 in a calendar year.

Davis won in April and November, has been Illinois 7th’s man in Congress since that time.  Before he had put a foot in Congress, he had socialists’ support.  “New Ground” tells why:

Danny Davis is certainly not foreign to Chicago DSA. From the very beginning, he has always been willing to help: appearing as a speaker with Michael Harrington, serving as a Master of Ceremonies without peer at the annual Debs – Thomas – Harrington Dinner.

If there’s been dissatisfaction with him on socialists’ part since then, it has not surfaced.  At least in 2002, if not before and since, he belonged in Congress to the Progressive Caucus, with these leading-edge worthies:

Neil Abercrombie — Hawaii
Tammy Baldwin — Wisconsin
Xavier Becerra — California
David Bonior — Michigan
Corrine Brown — Florida
Sherron Brown — Ohio
Michael Capuano — Massachusetts
Julia Carson — Indiana
William “Lacy” Clay — Missouri
John Conyers — Michigan
Danny Davis — Illinois
Peter DeFazio — Oregon
Rosa DeLauro — Connecticut
Lane Evans — Illinois
Eni Faleomavaega — Am Samoa
Sam Farr — California
Chaka Fattah — Pennsylvania
Bob Filner — California
Barney Frank — Massachusetts
Luis Gutierrez — Illinois
Earl Hilliard — Alabama
Maurice Hinchey — New York
Jesse Jackson Jr. — Illinois
Sheila Jackson-Lee — Texas
Stephanie Tubbs Jones — Ohio
Marcy Kaptur — Ohio
Dennis Kucinich — Ohio
Tom Lantos — California
Barbara Lee — California
John Lewis — Georgia
Jim McDermott — Washington
James P. McGovern — Massachusetts
Cynthia McKinney — Georgia
Carrie Meek — Florida
George Miller — California
Patsy Mink — Hawaii
Jerry Nadler — New York
Eleanor Holmes Norton — D.C.
John Olver — Massachusetts
Major Owens — New York
Ed Pastor — Arizona
Donald Payne — New Jersey
Nancy Pelosi — California
Bobby Rush — Illinois
Bernie Sanders — Vermont [Socialist]
Jan Schakowsky — Illinois
Jose Serrano — New York
Hilda Solis — California
Pete Stark — California
Bennie Thompson — Mississippi
John Tierney — Massachusetts
Tom Udall — New Mexico
Nydia Velazquez — New York
Maxine Waters — California
Diane Watson — California
Mel Watt — North Carolina
Henry Waxman — California
Paul Wellstone — Minnesota
Lynn Woolsey — California

She knows life in the Bronx, anyhow

Has Sotomayor any business experience?  She knows how the world works, says Obama, but like him knows not the pressures and realities of profit and loss?  I’m alluding to his test for a good S.C. justice. 

I’d prefer a keen legal mind and a propensity to call it by the book.  Why does Obama privilege (as they say in academe and its offshoots) some kinds of experience and not others? 

We know why: he’s a leftist radical who is skilled in vote-getting.  But we few — we unhappy few — would like a majority to know it, wouldn’t we?

Here’s a case in point, demonstrating her baffling lack of common sense in the business arena.

Episcopal church and its gay bishop

A look at religion Episcopalian-style, from the pews:

A year ago, Mary Slusser was dreadfully upset about her church. The Anglican Communion was seething, as issues of sexual morality divided it. Two African churches, Nigeria and Uganda, were leading a charge, with a view to schism or expulsion of liberal churches, primarily the Episcopal Church in the United States.

It’s the market, stupid

Don Boudreaux of George Mason U. offers a neat capsule pro-market statement, quoting Pietra Rivoli’s 2005 book The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, as in this excerpt:

A system that ignores market signals, that provides no incentives, that subsidizes losers cannot be efficient in producing goods and services. Central planners will produce the wrong goods, use the wrong inputs, set the wrong prices, hire the wrong people, and ultimately produce shoddy products, and not enough of them, anyway.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (White House), the fixers are bound to decide they know all those things and can do it better.  They just know, that’s all. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States

Here’s a little something off the top of one’s head:

America’s 46th president, Seamas McDoherty-O’Rahilly, fresh from his commencement address and honorary doctorate at Notre Dame in May, 2013, set himself to put things right with Catholic voters. He had angered them by banning Polish surnames, leaving Sitko, Czarobski, Lujack and others languishing pseudonymously in the record books. In addition, after the election, which he had won with heavy Catholic support, he had come out as a Presbyterian.

At the commencement he announced revocation of the Polish-name ban, and a week later he paraded distant Catholic cousins at a White House reception. But what really did it for him was an unexpected shift in Catholic thinking on political-economic matters.

Officially and with considerable grassroots approval, the church began to emphasize the seventh commandment (as Catholics number them), “Thou shalt not steal,” somewhat to the detriment of its longstanding emphasis on the Catholic sixth, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and the don’t-even-think-about-it 9th, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”

Similarly, new emphasis was placed on the Catholic tenth, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods,” rarely invoked and largely replaced with social-justice exhortations. No change was apparent in emphasis on the fifth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” as in opposition to abortion and capital punishment and in its ongoing flirtation with pacifism.

The shift to the anti-stealing seventh came gradually, as Catholic shifts always do, though far less gradually than most. It was virtual confiscation of money and property by the government from citizens and their companies, mainly by way of the money-printing spree known as the stimulus bill that got the bishops off a dime.

Then came the auto company bailouts and subsequent transfer of ownership. “It’s the Chrysler thing, stupid,” anti-Obama publicists said when they weren’t saying, “It’s the economy, stupid” and “It’s the inflation, stupid.”

Implicated in this was the car czar, an auto-industry newcomer under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for activities predating his czar appointment. Under his management, for instance, General Motors became known as UAW Motors. The Treasury department played its role. “Treasury hath given, treasury hath taken away” was the relevant campaign slogan. Major banks found themselves owned in part by the government.

It became too much for the bishops, until then vocal almost exclusively about abortion and immigration. The boldest of them counseled withholding Communion not only from abortion-enablers but also from various abrogators of property rights. Several Catholic senators switched to suburban mega churches rather than be embarrassed.

Rome finally spoke. Even when supporting a free market, Pope John Paul II had said that the market should be “appropriately controlled by the forces of society and by the State,” giving what some called a license to steal to creative officials. But the newly crowned Pope John Paul III quoted a 16th-century Jesuit named Mariana, who said, “The private goods of citizens are not at the disposal of the king.”

Times were a-changing. McDoherty-O’Rahilly climbed on this churchly bandwagon and sailed ahead toward mid-term elections with the wind at his back.

Wisconsin conviction of Donald McGuire

The first McGuire conviction has been upheld.

MADISON, Wis. – An appeals court on Wednesday upheld the 2006 conviction of a once-prominent Jesuit priest on charges he abused two students during retreats in Wisconsin in the 1960s.

Donald McGuire, once a spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa and her religious order of nuns, is one of the most influential religious figures convicted in the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal.

On Wednesday, the District 2 Court of Appeals rejected his request for a new trial on charges he sexually abused two teenagers during trips to a cottage in southeastern Wisconsin in 1967 and 1968.

It may not be over yet, his lawyer says.

Robert Henak, a Milwaukee lawyer who represented McGuire during his appeal, blasted Wednesday’s decision and continued to insist the victims were not credible. He said he would consider asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to overturn the decision or pursue an appeal in federal court.

“It’s very difficult to understand how somebody can wait 36 years to bring charges like this, wait until after all of the witnesses who could rebut your story are dead, and that can still be allowed to go to court,” he said. “It just boggles the mind. To allow something like this simply in my mind is not justice.”

McGuire is serving a 25–year federal sentence [where?] and will not be returned to Wisconsin, the Wisconsin prosecutor said.

Alinsky lives

Wall St. Journal has a story about an activist who “terrorizes” bankers who foreclose.  He uses pure Alinsky-style tactics (“If the end doesn’t justify the means, what does?”):

In the 1990s, Mr. Marks leaked details of a banker’s divorce to the press and organized a protest at the school of another banker’s child. He says he would use such tactics again. “We have to terrorize these bankers,” Mr. Marks says.

We are living in a revisited age of people’s republic guerilla tactics.  Barbarians at the gate and all that.

Judge Noonan at Notre Dame: Not looking for trouble

By the time Notre Dame “Laetare Remarks” speaker John Noonan finished naming people or groups that will not solve the abortion impasse, declaring it

too serious to be settled by pollsters and pundits; too delicate to be decided by physical force or by banners and slogans, pickets and placards; too basic for settlement to be based on a vote by judges

there was no one left but the president and the Congress.  He had nothing to say about the latter, but he pronounced Obama, sitting a few steps away, the possessor of “great goodness” and “a man of conscience.”

Earlier, he had told of Lincoln advising emancipated slaves to move south of the border, “somewhere in Central America” — a “ridiculous” idea, said ex-slave Frederick Douglass.  But a month or so later, Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation,” providing long after the fact an example for Noonan of changing your mind and doing the right thing.

His comments at the graduation seemed geared to changing Obama’s mind and were anything but the dynamic game-changer envisioned as possible by the National Post writer mentioned in the blog item below. 

In fact, Noonan took pains to distance himself from the refusal of Mary Ann Glendon to receive this year’s Laetare, precisely because the man Noonan apparently hopes to convert would be honored at the same ceremony.

He was careful, punctilious, in fact, about not blaming Glendon, the Harvard prof and former ambassador to the Vatican, calling her “a friend . . . whose absence I regret” and her decision “lonely, courageous, and conscientious.”

[S]he declined the honor she deserved. I respect her decision.

He gave his own rationale for taking her place on the platform (without receiving the award, which he received decades ago):

I am here to confirm that all consciences are not the same; that we can recognize great goodness in our nation’s president without defending all of his multitudinous decisions; and that we can rejoice on this wholly happy occasion.

Words which warmed the cockles of the heart of ND President Rev. John Jenkins, to be sure.  And which demonstrate Glendon’s point, that a commencement ceremony is no place to argue abortion with the President of the U.S. 

Noonan apparently agreed, and settled for the softest of sells, emphasis on conscience, which may not make cowards of us all but probably is the only element in the abortion debate on which agreement can be reached with the most abortion-minded President in 220 years.

Obama at Notre Dame: Noonan speech?

Holy Post at National Post (of Canada) analyzes the Obama-Notre Dame business as an opportunity.  U.S. Judge and former Notre Dame law prof John Noonan holds the key, in the view of Brian Lilley.

Fr. Jenkins has been able to withstand pressure to rescind the invitation to the president by saying the dialogue on this issue is in the best Catholic tradition. His ability to hold his job may depend on whether Mr. Noonan is up to the task of challenging a visiting president.

Was he?  Nothing’s been reported yet, and this avid listener was not present, but Montreal-born Lilley, Ottawa Bureau Chief for CFRB 1010, an AM station in Toronto and CJAD 800, an AM station in Montreal, and associate editor of (a very interesting site), cites him on abortion.  Once:

His 1970 contribution to a book called The Morality of Abortion lays out the Christian thinking on abortion going back to the apostles, clearly showing that although there have been differences on where life starts at different points of scientific understanding, the prohibition against abortion has been consistent and clear.


In his 1979 book A Private Choice, Mr. Noonan put forth secular arguments against abortion, ending with this line: “There must be a limit to a liberty so mistaken in its foundations, so far-reaching in its malignant consequences, and so deadly in its exercise, There must be a surpassing of such liberty by love.”

Lilley prognosticates:

If Mr. Noonan was to put those views forward on Saturday [sic], it would be one of the most profound discussions of abortion at the national level that America has seen in years. This could ignite the conversation on this divisive issue in way campaign politics never could.

Well you wouldn’t know it from CNN and Fox News accounts, which named Noonan not once.  CNN, by the way, gave Rev. James Martin, S.J., his opportunity to flack for Obama.  Martin gave several over-the-top statements in support of The One and unreservedly praising his performance. 

Martin Arroyo of EWTN, on the other hand, left the anchor lady fumbling for the text she wanted to rebut him after he demonstrated from the speech the Obama way with words which is at the heart of his appeal.

Martin and the other America Mag Jesuits have fallen head over heels for the president.  I knew that but was in a certain degree of denial.  After this display, I have no doubt of it.

Anti-abortion frenzy reconsidered

A more or less line-by-line discussion (commentary, correction) of Neil Steinberg’s column today, “What’s behind anti-abortion frenzy?”:

. . . . The abortion issue seems to be heating up in a way beyond the flap of a prominent Catholic school conferring an honorary degree upon a president who supports a woman’s right to end her pregnancy.

End the life of her unwanted unborn.

According to the latest polls, suddenly more Americans call themselves “pro-life” than “pro-choice” — 51 percent vs. 42 percent — a dramatic shift from just last year, when 50 percent were pro-choice and 44 percent pro-life.

Good for him, to bring that out.

What does this mean? Well, I suppose if you are pro-life, it means the nation has had an unexpected moral reassessment. As if waking from a dream, it gazes down and suddenly sees the blood on its hands, and recoils in moral horror.

Sounds about right.

Or, if you are pro-choice, you might dismiss the polls as meaning nothing, a hard rightward swing among Republicans and nothing more.

Arbitrary dismissal, it seems.

You might point out that human rights are not determined by majority vote, thank goodness, and that just as the pro-life movement didn’t fold its tents and go home in 1995, when 56 percent of Americans told pollsters they were pro-choice while 33 percent said they were pro-life, so now the shifting numbers don’t affect bedrock reality [as he sees it: argues nothing] — that this is a decision a woman should be able to make for herself and not one made for her by her husband or her deacon or anybody else.

Make for herself?  No public interest here?

The first question about abortion is whether it is an absolute or not. [No.  What it is comes first.] If you believe abortion is wrong under all circumstances [like any other direct killing of an innocent person], that abortion the day after conception is the same as 250 days in, a crime and a sin and an atrocity, well, you can proceed to the next page because this isn’t something under consideration, for you.

But it’s at the heart of this knotty issue.

No shame there, and I’m not criticizing you, or ridiculing your religion, just saying that we are thinking about the issue here, evaluating it, and if you are only willing to play a game where you are guaranteed to win at the end, then it isn’t quite fair to pretend you’re part of the discussion. “Abortion is murder.” We get it; thanks.

It’s an otiose argument?  How so?

Myself, I consider this a gray region. Abortion isn’t murder — well, not until the last stage of pregnancy, when it is [How did Neil figure that out, besides counting Supreme Court votes?] — but rather a sort of murder, murder lite, and I’m glad that I’ve conducted my life in such a way that I’ve never been party to one.

Where to start with this?  This gray region has to do with direct killing of innocent people, so it’s either-or, take your pick?  But juries need beyond-a-shadow evidence for a guilty verdict.  Not in this case?  Murder lite is like pregnancy lite, which if left to go its course gives us a baby?

That said, I don’t consider a fertilized egg the size of the period at the end of this sentence to be the equivalent of the Gerber baby, and find people who do to be curious, especially for the anger they bring to the debate.

Honestly stated, and typical, even typal.  Neil can’t imagine concern for the fertized egg, and that decides it.  Imagination rules?

If being pro-life meant an across-the-board reverence for life — if pro-life activists were also Human Rights Watch members, also fierce opponents to capital punishment and vigorous battlers of AIDS in Africa, and of course anti-handgun and anti-war — then I could almost understand the compressed rage that pro-lifers often exhibit.

Sure, but that would not affect the argument, whomever it persuaded.

But they aren’t. Nor are they in favor of the contraception that would prevent abortions, a tipoff that this — at its core — is not about preventing violence to the unborn so much as it is about unraveling a modern society where women are able to plan their pregnancies.

If as a group they aren’t anti-executions, etc., some are.  Do these convince Neil?  Moreover, is it wise to focus on the angry ones?  To adapt The Master, the angry we have always with us.

Stealing is bad, and religion speaks against it, but no congregation ever took to the streets to protest theft. There is an intensity — at times a frenzy — behind the abortion debate, which hints that something else is going on, that religion is attacking modern sexually open society at its weakest point, taking a stand that requires them to not only see abortion as a morally significant act, which it is, but to insist that morality cannot shift under any circumstance, and that having an abortion is the same if you’re 14, or 24, or 64.

Wait.  Fr. Pfleger leads marches all the time, protesting murder.  As for intensity, that’s bound to ramp up if it’s murder that pro-lifers have in mind — and they do.  As for sexually open society’s weakest point, yes, and a very weak one indeed.  And no, morality does not shift in cases of murder.  It’s murder no matter the ages involved.

The “abortion is murder” line is just that — a slogan. The people saying it obviously don’t really believe that, in their hearts, because otherwise they’d be even more extreme than they already are. If it’s murder, then why aren’t they talking about, not only banning abortion, but also conducting enormous public trials to prosecute the millions of women who have had one? That doesn’t seem to be on the table.

Well there you are, intense in opposition to abortion because you think it’s murder?  He doesn’t believe that, because if you believed that, you’d be even more intense.  And how much wood would a woodchuck chuck . . . ?  No cry for enormous public trials?  They just don’t have the imagination for that.  Not as big as Neil’s anyhow.

I called this issue the “Hundred Years War” above, after checking to see what year Margaret Sanger went to prison for running a birth control clinic — 1917. Not quite a century, but I’m confident that whatever Barack Obama says Sunday, we’ll still be arguing this at the end of his second term.

Yes, Margaret Sanger, whose argument was eugenicist until she found a better one, freedom from childbirth for women.  Does Neil know that about Sanger?  Does he know what she wrote in 1939 in a letter to a physician ally, Clarence J. Gamble, who used his Proctor & Gamble inheritance money to finance birth control worldwide?

“We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”

She knew how to handle rebellious Negroes.  As for settling the issue, what’s that got to do with it?  Rebellious pro-lifers should shut up about it if the end is not in sight?  Their lives’ end is in sight.  Will they want to meet it having kept their mouths shut?

It helps to connect the abortion debate to the contraception debate because it is a continuum, the way World War II was really the second act of World War I. If you believe that sex is for procreation and nothing else, then a pro-life stance flows naturally. If you believe it’s for procreation, at certain times, but also for fun, then you’re pro-choice. Don’t hate me for bringing the news, but the for-fun element seems to be winning, no matter what last week’s poll numbers say.

I’ll buy the continuity — partly — except that no one says anyone is killed with birth control.  Which is where the government comes in, with its longstanding opposition to killing innocent people.  Another ball game entirely, we might say.

As for birth control, I wrote a book about it, in fact — Bending the Rules: What American Priests Tell American Catholics — in which veteran pastors coast to coast told of letting birth control go, having no parishioners ask about it, but to a man rejected abortion.  Their pastoral concerns were with helping women get over one or helping them adopt out their child or do this or that, never with advising them to get one.  Not the same situation at all.

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