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In 2012, Who Is for Hope and Change? by Patrick J. Buchanan

“Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.”
So wrote John Jay in Federalist No. 2, wherein he describes Americans as a “band of brethren united to each other by the strongest ties.”
That “band of brethren united” no longer exists.
No longer are we “descended from the same ancestors.”
Indeed, as we are daily instructed, it is our “diversity” — our citizens can trace their ancestors to every member state of the United Nations — that “is our strength.” And this diversity makes us a stronger, better country than the America of Eisenhower and JFK.
No longer do we speak the same language. To tens of millions, Spanish is their language. Millions more do not use English in their homes. Nor are their children taught in English in the schools.
As for “professing the same religion,” the Christianity of Jay and the Founding Fathers has been purged from all public institutions. One in 5 Americans profess no religious faith. The mainline Protestant churches — the Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterian — have been losing congregants for a half-century. Secularism is the religion of the elites. It alone is promulgated in public schools.
Are we attached to “the same principles of government”?
Half the nation believes it is the duty of government to feed, house, educate and medicate the population and endlessly extract from the well-to-do whatever is required to make everybody more equal.
Egalitarianism has triumphed over freedom. Hierarchy, the natural concomitant of freedom, is seen as undemocratic.
Are we similar “in our manners and customs”? Are we agreed upon what is good or even tolerable in music, literature, art?
Do we all seek to live by the same moral code? Abortion, a felony in the 1950s, is now a constitutional right. Homosexual marriage, an absurdity not long ago, is the civil rights cause du jour.
Dissent from the intolerant new orthodoxy and you are a bigot, a hater, a homophobe, an enemy of women’s rights.
Recent wars — Vietnam, Iraq — have seen us not “fighting side by side” but fighting side against side.
Racially, morally, politically, culturally, socially, the America of Jay and the Federalist Papers is ancient history. Less and less do we have in common. And to listen to cable TV is to realize that Americans do not even like one another. If America did not exist as a nation, would these 50 disparate states surrender their sovereignty and independence to enter such a union as the United States of 2012?
Nor are we unique in sensing that we are no longer one. Scotland, Catalonia and Flanders maneuver to break free of the nations that contain their peoples. All over the world, peoples are disaggregating along the lines of creed, culture, tribe and faith.
What has this to do with the election of 2012? Everything.
For if America is to endure as a nation, her peoples are going to need the freedom to live differently and the space to live apart, according to their irreconcilable beliefs. Yet should Barack Obama win, the centralization of power and control will continue beyond the point of no return.
His replacement of any retiring Supreme Court justice with another judicial activist — a Sonia Sotomayor, an Elena Kagan — would negate a half-century of conservative labors and mean that abortion on demand — like slavery, a moral abomination to scores of millions — is forever law in all 50 states.
President Obama speaks now of a budget deal in which Democrats agree to $2.50 in spending cuts if the Republicans agree to $1 in tax increases. But given the character of his party — for whom Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, food stamps, Head Start, earned income tax credits and Pell Grants are holy icons — any deal Obama cuts with Republicans in return for higher taxes will be like the deal Ronald Reagan eternally regretted.
The tax hikes become permanent; the budget cuts are never made.
In the first debate, Mitt Romney said that in crafting a budget that consumes a fourth of the economy, he would ask one question: “Is the program so critical that it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?”
If a President Romney held to that rule, it would spell an end to any new wars of choice and all foreign aid and grants to global redistributionsts — such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It would entail a review of all U.S. alliances dating back to the Cold War, which have U.S. troops on every continent and in a hundred countries.
Obama offers more of the stalemate America has gone through for the past two years.
Romney alone offers a possibility of hope and change.
Published with permission of the author. Copyright 2012, Creators.com

Make no mistake, this election is about values by Russell Shaw

Make no mistake, this election is about values

By Russell Shaw

When Americans go to the polls next month, they will be participating in a national referendum on values. This “values” dimension makes the election, in the estimate of seasoned observers, the most important in many years. “The closest thing to political Armageddon since 1860,” Frank Gannon and Jeffrey Bell of the conservative Washington-based American Principles Project write. If that is stretching it, it’s not by much.

Values like justice and charity and economic self-determination are fundamental to economic policy. Values are at stake regarding the scope and configuration of government, the central challenge here being balancing solidarity and subsidiarity. Values speak to the question of America’s role in the world, including a realistic and constructive stance toward a resurgent and sometimes hostile Islam.

And it hardly needs saying that values are at the heart of the social issues — pre-eminently abortion and same-sex marriage — that are intimately linked to the sanctity of human life and the meaning of marriage and family. Apparently reflecting the preferences of both parties and their candidates, not a lot has been said about social issues in this year’s campaign. But whether the politicians and the media acknowledge it or not, everyone knows these issues are there, this year’s political version of the elephant in the living room. What role they will play in the election has yet to be seen.

In order to understand how America reached this present state of affairs, a bit of context will help. It comes from a Church source. Speaking at the world Synod of Bishops now nearing its close in Rome, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., referred to the “tsunami of secularization” that swept over Western Europe and much of the rest of the world in the last several decades.

Powerful currents from that cultural tidal wave also have pummeled — and, indeed, they continue to pummel — the United States. For fresh evidence of that, we need look no further than the new Pew Research Center study that shockingly found nearly 20 percent of Americans now describing themselves as religiously unaffiliated. (This group includes atheists, agnostics, and a significant number of people who just don’t identify with any particular denomination.)

The tsunami of secularism reflected in this situation didn’t come from nowhere. In his influential book “Modern Times,” historian Paul Johnson notes that the breakdown of the religious impulse among members of the West’s cultural elite occurring in the 19th century left in its wake what the author calls “a huge vacuum” of convictions and values. Efforts to fill that vacuum make up a large part of modern history.

Much of this work, as Johnson and others point out, has been done — usually with disastrous results — by zealots of secularist ideologies (think fascism, Nazism, communism) who busied themselves with constructing secularist utopias of one or another sort. The United States has, happily, been largely spared the most noxious expressions of this unhinged zealotry up to now, but the urge has been present all the same. Of late it has tended to take the form of a kind of statist populism, practiced to varying degrees by both political parties, that seeks to win and hold power by organizing coalitions of heterogeneous interest groups held together by rhetoric, habit and the promise of rewards.

And so we come to the election of 2012. Every election is a choice, but the choice this time focuses on an especially large question: what kind of values — contemporary secularist or modestly traditional — shall 21st century America officially espouse and practice? Good luck with that one.

Cardinal Dolan on the US Election, the Radical Abortion License, Religious Liberty, Marriage, Debt and Solidarity

Cardinal Dolan on the US Election, the Radical Abortion License, Religious Liberty, Marriage, Debt and Solidarity


By Deacon Keith Fournier


I am bothered that we are losing sight of voting as an exercise in moral judgment, in which certain priority issues-especially the life issues,

I am concerned about a culture that has become increasingly callous about the radical abortion license, and a legal system that affords more protection to endangered species of plants and animals than to unborn babies; that considers pregnancy a disease; that interprets “comprehensive health care” in such a way that it may be used to threaten the life of the baby in the womb (and, it should be noted, to exclude the undocumented immigrant as well).


NEW YORK, NY (Catholic Online) – On the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, one day before he headed for Rome to participate in the historic Synod on the New Evangelization, Cardinal Timothy Dolan authored another outstanding column. It was one in a series he regularly pens for the “Catholic New York”. The series is entitled “Lord, to Whom Shall We Go” and the article, entitled “Cherished Saint Brought Christ to World Around Him”, can be read in its entirety here

Our readers should be well aware of the leadership of this great Cardinal of the Church and the esteem with which he is held by this author. I write regularly about his courage and the clarity which he has brought to the leadership of the Conference of Bishops in the United States at this critical time in our history. You can click here to read the most recent of numerous articles I have written about the Cardinal Archbishop of New York. I have written many more and plan to continue the practice. He is one great gift to both Church and Nation.

However, though I share the Cardinal’s appreciation for St. Francis, the little poor man of Assisi, I was concerned that the title of the Cardinal’s recent column, dedicated to and written on the Feast of Francis, as well as its placement, might limit its readership. That would be tragic. The instruction and insights this column offers on the exercise of our faithful citizenship is simply too important! The concerns which the Cardinal shares must become the material out of which we approach this election and our own exercise of voting.

I offer below a portion of the Cardinals recent article for your serious and prayerful reflection as November 6, 2012 draws near.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan

“Those Americans who have faith in God, and in His Son, Jesus, and venerate saints such as Francis, also find themselves in the middle of the world, and cherish our freedom to bring the teaching of Jesus, which we hear both in the Good News proclaimed in the Bible and in the life of Francis, to the public square and political process.”

“We’ve certainly been reminded of that these past 10 months, which have seen the religious community in the United States engaged in a major conflict with the administration over the first freedom-religious liberty, our “first and most cherished freedom.” I am deeply grateful to the Catholic people of the United States, to my brother bishops and priests, to men and women of all faiths or none at all, for accepting this challenge, and for rising to the defense of religious liberty in full.”

“In that defense, we stand for every man and woman of conscience; we seek no special favors, but we insist that the inalienable rights of religion be respected and honored in law and federal regulatory practice.”

“In the document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” published by the bishops of the United States, we are reminded that, “In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. This obligation is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do.” And so, as I leave for Rome, I want to share with you some of the concerns that I will bring with me to the tombs of the apostles, SS. Peter and Paul, and to Assisi, the town of St. Francis.”

“I am concerned about a culture that has become increasingly callous about the radical abortion license, and a legal system that affords more protection to endangered species of plants and animals than to unborn babies; that considers pregnancy a disease; that interprets “comprehensive health care” in such a way that it may be used to threaten the life of the baby in the womb (and, it should be noted, to exclude the undocumented immigrant as well).”

“I am concerned as well for the infirm and elderly who are nearing the end of life, that they will not be treated with the respect, dignity and compassion that is their due, but instead be encouraged to seek a hasty death before they can become, according to some, “a burden to society.”

“I am worried that we may be reducing religious freedom to a kind of privacy right to recreational activities, reducing the practice of religion to a Sabbath hobby, instead of a force that should guide our public actions, as Michelle Obama recently noted, Monday through Friday.

“I am bothered by the prospect of this generation leaving a mountain of unpayable debt to its children and grandchildren, whose economic futures will be blighted by the amounts of the federal budget absorbed by debt service.”

“I am anxious that calls for a fiscally responsible society are met with claims that those calls come from men and women who don’t care about the poor; that we may be tempted to write off the underprivileged as problems to be solved, or as budget woes, rather than treating them with respect and dignity as people with potential and creativity; that we’re at times more willing to cut programs to help the sick, our elders, the hungry and homeless, than expenditures on Drone missiles.

“I am concerned that our elections increasingly resemble reality TV shows rather than exercises in serious democratic conversation.”

“I am bothered that we are losing sight of voting as an exercise in moral judgment, in which certain priority issues-especially the life issues, with the protection of unborn life being the premier civil rights issue of the day-must weigh heavily on our consciences as we make our political decisions”.
“I am worried by attempts to redefine marriage, and to label as “bigots” those who uphold the traditional, God-given definition of marriage.”

“I am anxious that we cannot seem to have a rational debate over immigration policy, and that we cannot find a way to combine America’s splendid tradition of hospitality to the stranger with respect for the rule of law, always treating the immigrant as a child of God, and never purposefully dividing a family”.

“I am worried about the persecution of people of faith around the world, especially with the hatred of Christians on a perilous incline; and the preference for violent attacks upon innocents instead of dialogue as the path to world peace.”

“I expect that many of you share these concerns. In the words of “Faithful Citizenship,” how we should respond is clear. The document says, “Our focus is not on party affiliation, ideology, economics, or even competence and capacity to perform duties, as important as such issues are. Rather, we focus on what protects or threatens human life and dignity.”

“As you consider these concerns, I will be praying for you in Rome that the humble, joyful Poverello of Assisi intercede for us, and that Mary Immaculate, patroness of the United States and Star of the New Evangelization, will inspire in us wisdom, prudence, and courage.”
– – –

Pope Benedict XVI’s Prayer Intentions for October 2012:

General Intention:New Evangelization. That the New Evangelization may progress in the oldest Christian countries.

Missionary Intention:World Mission Day.  That the celebration of World Mission Day may result in a renewed commitment to evangelization.

Keywords: Timothy Dolan,Cardinal Dolan,Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Faithful Citizenship, Catholic Vote, abortion, marriage, family, debt, solidarity, Romney, Ryan, Obama, Biden, Deacon Keith Fournier

Democrats Walking into “War on Women” Trap of their Own Making by Ed Morrissey

Democrats walking into “war on women” trap of their own making
August 30, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Do Democrats still plan to feature a “war on women” theme at their convention?  If they do, I argue in my column today for The Fiscal Times, they may well find themselves hoist with their own petard, after a week of watching accomplished Republican women speaking from the dais in Tampa.  Not only does the emphasis entirely miss the issues about which voters care most in this electoral cycle, the entire argument diminishes women to, well, to exactly what Code Pink reduced them in protests at the GOP convention:

The message from the Obama campaign and Democrats in general seems to be that women are somehow incapable of finding birth control on their own unless some paternal entity dispenses it to them, despite all evidence to the contrary.  They’re so incapable of this task that employers and schools have to hand it for them, no matter how much income they derive nor how much tuition they manage to pay otherwise.  This has already backfired during Team Obama’s “Life of Julia” campaign, which offered a creepy, solitary vision of a woman’s life approaching that of the song “Eleanor Rigby.”  Former CNN news anchor Campbell Brown wrote in The New York Times  that “Julia” was “a silly and embarrassing caricature based on the assumption that women look to government at every meaningful phase of their lives for help.”

But it’s even worse than that.  The strategy segregates women from other issues as if they only have deep concern in this election over the status of their genitalia.  This theme came to ludicrous fruition in demonstrations by Code Pink at the Republican convention in Tampa, when activists showed up dressed as gigantic labia.  The scene provided an unintentionally revealing portrait of just how progressives see women in modern American society.

That is the true risk for Democrats who pursue this strategy.  After three nights of watching successful and accomplished women in the Republican Party discuss economic policy, job creation, and reform of the federal government for deficit and debt reduction, viewers will tune in the following week to see women considered as interested in little more than sexual reproduction.  Voters might well conclude that there is a “war on women,” but that it’s not the Republicans who are waging it.

Here’s a case in point — the HHS contraception mandate that Democrats will be hailing as liberation for women in the workplace and in universities.  Sandra Fluke is already scheduled to deliver a major speech at the convention on this topic.  But contraception isn’t difficult to find, nor is it expensive to purchase on an individual basis.  Almost six months ago, US News researched the individual cost of contraception for all of the options — and found that nearly all of them fell between $150 and $600 per year.  Sterilization costs more up front ($4,000-$6,000), but over a 20-year period, the costs are at the lower end of the same range.  (In my column, I note that oral contraception can cost as little as $9 per month.) That’s probably why the CDC discovered in its 20-year study that 99% of all women who wanted to avoid pregnancy while being sexually active accessed birth control on their own, and that lack of access didn’t even figure in the reasons for unintended pregnancies.  For those who qualify for Medicaid, the federal government already subsidizes contraception through Title X, and has for nearly 40 years.

Democrats argue with their “war on women” strategy that modern women in the workforce can’t figure this out on their own, nor pay for it without the paternalistic mandate that employers and educators foot the bill.  Is that a winning argument?  I guess we’ll soon see, because this is the contrast that will take place during next week’s convention.  Republicans will have presented women as strong, independent, and focused on issues like economics, jobs, national security, education, and fiscal discipline.  Democrats will have presented a vision of women like this, solely focused on one thing:


Which approach actually respects women?  Voters will get the chance to make that choice, and Democrats might be surprised at the answer.

Ryan, Rand, and the Catholic Angle UPDATED by Thomas L. McDonald

Ryan, Rand, and the Catholic Angle UPDATED

August 13, 2012 By
Even though I misspent about a decade calling myself a Libertarian and paying party dues, I was never suckered in by that nasty old witch Ayn Rand and her cult of personality. Objectivism is a philosophy for college students and people who don’t have kids. A modest sense of enlightened self-interest is not necessarily an evil when it’s part of a more well-rounded philosophy, but it when it’s neither modest nor enlightened, it has no role in civilization. And when it is the sum total of one’s outlook on the world, it becomes downright dangerous. I wrote a bit about the end-point for this view of the world in my review of Bioshock. Since I returned to the Church, I’ve come to more fully appreciate that Objectivism/Libertarianism and Catholicism cannot coexist. (Politically, I now consider myself a Distributist.)

Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan for his VP unleashed a wave of vitriol, misinformation, and ready-made memes from the left, much of it focused on his alleged worship of Rand. Since noise pollution can actually have an effect on people’s perceptions, this kind of propaganda is a very real concern. If enough Facebook friends and Twits share cleverly-made memes suggesting that Ryan wants to end Medicare (a lie), cut food stamps (another lie), and sacrifice your children in a ritual to Moloch in order to exalt his Wall Street paymasters (probably a lie), you eventually get some impression that this is an unpleasant fellow who needs to be stopped by any means necessary.

Part of this stems from the emotional and creepily-quasi-religious element that’s developed around the Democratic party in general and Obama in particular. It’s a simple fact that more Democrats identify strongly with their party than Republicans. It becomes bound up in the liberal self-image, in which they see themselves caring very deeply about people while the other side cares not at all. The idea that people can care equally and differ on approaches and solutions seems lost on many of them. Although there are obviously exceptions (most notably among the more unhinged members of the anti-Obama faction), for the most part conservatives think liberals are misguided, while liberals think conservatives are evil.

I don’t really have a dog in that fight, since my place on the political spectrum (classical conservative: think Russell Kirk, Belloc, Eliot, Chesterton) isn’t represented at all. The left’s fealty to the suffocating state and their tendency to approach every problem with the magical healing power of massive amounts of extorted tax dollars is no more grounded in concern for the human family than the right’s passion for military adventurism and fealty to Wall Street oligarchs. If you proudly and without hesitation identify yourself with either of our major political parties, I think a little less of you. Sorry, but there it is. You may well side with one or the other because their goals and values appear to be closer to your own among a limited roster of options, but to claim membership in one of these disgusting and corrupt institutions is absurd. They are both merely representatives of a moneyed elite: a Ruling Class drunk on their own power. They need to be smashed, not encouraged.

All of this brings us back to Rand and Ryan. The image of Ryan that’s being nurtured by the left–fed by talking points from the Obama campaign and grotesque propaganda efforts from various PACs–is that he’s some kind of fire-breathing Objectivist monster looking to snatch food from children’s mouths and sell it in order to gild the toilets at Goldman Sachs.

For example, if you’re a member of “Catholics” United, you’re treated to this nauseting bit of casual slander and raw mendacity:

Propaganda for Soros-funded PAC “Catholics” United

I have problems with the Ryan budget, but they’re in the details, not in the big picture. And, say what you will about it, at least it’s reality-based, unlike the catastrophic fiscal policy of the Obama administration. We will spend years digging out of the hole dug by Obama, and while Ryan’s budget does not get us out of that hole (he still runs a deficit, albeit half of that run by the president) at least it doesn’t dig us in any deeper.

The left can shout all it wants about how Ryan is gutting Medicare, but under Obama’s plan Medicare is dead in a decade, unable to be funded any further. We’re heading for another crash (possibly driven by the popping of an “education bubble,” when all that student debt comes crashing down), and we’re not going to address it by printing money (the Obama solution) or borrowing it (ditto) or confiscating it and letting the government spend it (ditto). Money removed from the private sector in the form of taxation is lost money: it’s not capable of generating wealth or growth. Some of this is necessary to maintain society and the social safety net, but we’ve long since passed that point of expenditure.

And thus we come to a key part of Ryan’s outlook that will never get a fair hearing, partly because it’s complex and nuanced, and partly because it doesn’t fit the false narrative create by the elites. Ryan repeatedly states that his perspective on economics is shaped by his Catholicism. Catholic social teaching turns on two points: solidarity (the need to aid and uplift the poor) and subsidiarity (the fact that a problem should be addressed by the smallest practical political entity: the one closest to the problem being addressed).

This is not the way he is being portrayed by the media and the left (but I repeat myself). Yes, he’s admitted that Rand was a formative influence and that her emphasis on “individualism versus collectivism” remains important, but the image of him as doctrinaire Randian shouting “every man for himself!” is misleading.  When inquiring into someone’s beliefs, it’s a good idea to listen to what he says. Here’s Ryan addressing the question quite clearly (emphasis added):

“I, like millions of young people in America, read Rand’s novels when I was young. I enjoyed them,” Ryan says. “They spurred an interest in economics, in the Chicago School and Milton Friedman,” a subject he eventually studied as an undergraduate at Miami University in Ohio. “But it’s a big stretch to suggest that a person is therefore an Objectivist.”

I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.

Anything anyone else says about his beliefs needs to be considered against that statement. (And by the way: Yay for a politician who correctly and casually uses the word “epistemology.”) You think he’s lying? Prove it. The burden is on you. He said what he believes. Unless someone has a proven track record of bald-face lies, their statements about their own beliefs should be the final word. Simple charity demands that.

Ryan defended both his budget and his Catholic principles in an article for the National Catholic Register (disclosure: I write for the Register). It doesn’t get much more clear than this:

The debt is weighing on job creation today, closing off the most promising avenues for the poor to rise. As a result, more and more of society’s most vulnerable remain mired in public-assistance programs whose outdated structures often act as a trap that hinders upward mobility. And this economic stagnation and growing dependence fuels the growing national debt — a vicious cycle that calls for bold reforms equal to the challenge.

We cannot continue to ignore this problem. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has rightly termed this attitude “living in untruth … at the expense of future generations.” In approaching this problem as a lay Catholic in public life, I have found it useful to apply the twin principles of solidarity (recognition of the common ties that unite all human beings in equal dignity) and subsidiarity (respect for the relationships between individuals and intermediate social groups such as families, businesses, schools, local communities and state governments).

When applied in equal measure, these principles complete and balance each other. But when one is applied exclusively, the result can be harmful. For example, in a misapplication of solidarity, politicians in both parties expanded big government for decades. These policies have had dismal results. One out of every six people in the United States is now living below the poverty level — the largest number of poor people on record.

We need a better approach to restore the balance, and the House-passed budget offers one by reintroducing subsidiarity, which the Holy Father has called “the most effective antidote against any form of all-encompassing welfare state.” Our budget builds on the successful welfare reforms of the 1990s, using federal subsidium to empower state and local governments, communities and individuals — those closest to the problems of society. Our budget promotes opportunity and upward mobility by strengthening job-training programs to help those who have fallen on hard times.

Our budget ends welfare for those who don’t need it, but strengthens welfare programs for those who do. Government safety-net programs have been stretched to the breaking point in recent years, failing the very citizens who need help the most. When solidarity and subsidiarity are in balance, civil society is revitalized, not displaced. We rightly pride ourselves on looking out for one another — and government has an important role to play in that. But relying on distant government bureaucracies to lead this effort just hasn’t worked.

There’s far more, and I urge you to read every bit of it. He’s already said–repeatedly–that he welcomes disputes and disagreements on the details of his budget, and that he’s open to discussing any points. He wants to get into that discussion and start working out solutions, and has an obvious mastery of the data. The current administration, however, has rebuffed his overtures. Rather than discussing the details, they’ve rejected them out of hand, and both sides are playing politics with the issue. In the long run, the Republicans are helped politically by Obama’s failures, and the Democrats are helped politically by maintaining their false narrative of Evil Republicans Who Just Don’t Care.

I don’t have any illusion that Ryan is part of a real solution to the disease affecting the body politic. He’s voted time and again for things I find repellent (TARP, the GM bailout, war) and is a Washington insider. He remains part of the problem because he’s part of a system that is horribly broken and dysfunctional. However, he seems like a reasonable person, not an ideologue.

Because the stakes are so high in this election, I will almost certainly be voting for Romney-Ryan, albeit reluctantly. I really don’t believe we can survive four more years of Obama. In any case, as a Catholic I could never vote for him due to his unnecessary and provocative attacks on the Church with the HHS mandate, and his full-throated support (not tolerance: support) for abortion.

Catholics who try to wave this away need to look long and hard at what they really believe. There are many solutions offered by both the left and the right to the problems of poverty and want in America. (Only a mindless zealot believes the right is completely unconcerned for the poor and disadvantaged.) All those airy pronouncements about the poor, however, mean nothing without life itself. One side believes there are various ways to lift up those in need, but that the most vulnerable of all (the unborn) need to be protected. The other side believes there’s only one way to lift up those in need, and doesn’t worry itself too much about the most vulnerable of all. In this horrible political system of ours, with both sides almost indistinguishable on issues of military adventurism, it really does come down to that.

UPDATED: Mark Shea is unpersuaded. Fair enough, but I’m willing to take the man at his word. Unlike Shea, I was a Libertarian (and an agnostic and an anti-Catholic ex-Catholic gnostic what-have-you) at one point, and I’m sure all kinds of daffy quotes can be summoned to convict me. (In my early 20s, I wrote a horrifying piece about the transubstantiation that will certainly cost me a few thousand years of rolling boulders uphill in purgatory.)

I get no sense from Ryan that he’s some kind of slippery snake oil salesman trying to put one over on the rubes by embracing … St. Thomas Aquinas? Ayn Rand is hot right now, and has plenty of Tea Party appeal. Catholics? Meh. Not so hot.

For many years Rand stood as a strong voice for limited government. She was also anti-human, anti-religious, and contemptuous of those very people Christians are called upon to love the most: the weak and the poor. Consider her a nasty-tasting ipecac for the poisoned body politic, forcing it to vomit out the creeping statism of the post-New Deal era. As The Prophet said: “The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right.”

And Mark is certainly aware that Ron Paul (whom we both like) has never even made an effort to disavow Ayn Rand. A person’s intellectual and moral development is a complex thing. I embraced and rejected a great deal of Gnosticism, Jungianism, paganism, Buddhism, Taoism, New Age spirituality, and more on the way to becoming who I am at 44, but all of those false paths informed who I am and how I think as a completely orthodox Catholic. I’m willing to cut Ryan a great deal of slack on this one.

UPDATED II: Glenn Greenwald offers a dissent from the left.

I know I only said this once, and some people tend to scan overlong posts like this, but let me just say again: my vote for Romney-Ryan  will be a reluctant one. I disagree with a great deal from both of them, and as I pointed out (which Greenwald also points out) Ryan has a lot of crappy votes for big government and military intervention to his name. When all is said and done, however, I know for a fact what to expect from 4 more years of Obama: horrible economic policy, stupid foreign policy, anti-life and anti-religion policy, and general creepiness. At least Ryan is making a pleasing noise about debt reduction and life issues, which is more than can be said for the Amateur-in-Chief.

To get back to the original question that prompted this hideously long wad of text: Is Paul Ryan an Objectivist or a doctrinaire Randian? I’m satisfied the answer is no.

Ryan as VP pick continues election year focus on Catholicism

Ryan as VP pick continues election year focus on Catholicism

By Dan Gilgoff and Dan Merica

Washington (CNN) – Mitt Romney’s selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate promises to cast a spotlight on American Catholicism in an election year when the tradition has already been a major focus.

Ryan, a Catholic who chairs the House Budget Committee, is better known for his outspoken fiscal conservatism than for leading on conservative Catholic social causes like opposing abortion and gay marriage.

But Romney called attention to Ryan’s religion Saturday in introducing him as his running mate: “A faithful Catholic, Paul believes in the worth and dignity of every human life,” Romney said.

And socially conservative groups were quick to praise Ryan’s selection, with the president of National Right to Life saying that “Ryan has a deep, abiding respect for all human life, including unborn children and their mothers, the disabled and the elderly.”

Ryan’s advocacy for cutting taxes and trimming the deficit — he is the architect of the GOP’s proposed federal budget — married with his willingness to talk about fiscal belt-tightening in moral terms and his low-key social conservatism speak to a political moment in which the economic concerns of the Tea Party and the social focus of the Christian right have merged into a relatively cohesive anti-Obama movement.

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Ryan’s presence on the ticket also could increase Romney’s appeal among the millions of middle-of-the-road Catholic voters who populate key swing states, like Ohio and Pennsylvania. Catholics are considered the quintessential swing vote, and no presidential candidate has won the White House without winning Catholics since at least the early 1990s.

With Romney, a Mormon, selecting a Catholic, Obama is the only Protestant in the 2012 presidential race (Vice President Joe Biden is also Catholic).

“As a conservative Catholic, Ryan is likely to appeal to a number of Catholics in the Midwest,” said John Green, a professor of religion and politics at the University of Akron in Ohio. “Catholics who are concerned about religious liberty, he is certainly a positive there.”

The Catholic Church has helped frame this year’s election by strenuously opposing a rule in President Obama’s health care law that requires insurance companies to provide free contraception coverage to nearly all American employees, including those at Catholic colleges and hospitals. The Democrats have said that Romney’s and the GOP’s support for the Church’s position constitutes a “war on women,” while Romney and his party say Obama’s rule represents a “war on religion.”

In an interview with CNN, former GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich, who is Catholic, said that Ryan would shore up support in a Catholic community that feels it is “under siege.”

Romney released an ad Thursday repeating the war on religion charge. Next week, Sandra Fluke — a Georgetown University law student who was thrust into the national spotlight after radio show host Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” for her role in supporting Obama’s contraception rule — will introduce the president at a stop in Denver.

Ryan’s own Catholicism became a major issue this year, with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops criticizing his proposed federal budget for what the bishops said would be its adverse impact on the poor.

The bishops cautioned against overreaching budget cuts that endanger “poor and vulnerable people.” The bishops’ message called on “Congress and the administration to protect essential help for poor families and vulnerable children and to put the poor first in budget priorities.”

This split between politically conservative and liberal Catholics has existed for decades in the Catholic Church. But with Ryan running for vice president, some experts expect this divide to be sharpened.

“What Ryan will highlight is a division within the Catholic community,” Green said. “More politically liberal Catholics are very critical of the Republican approach and the Ryan budget, but Ryan has taken them head on.”

In an April speech at Georgetown, a Catholic school, Ryan defended his budget in religious terms.

“The work I do as a Catholic holding office conforms to the social doctrine as best I can make of it,” Ryan said. “What I have to say about the social doctrine of the Church is from the viewpoint of a Catholic in politics applying my understanding of the problems of the day.”

Ryan’s $3.53 trillion budget doubles down on past proposals to overhaul Medicare and other government programs that are seen as politically sensitive. While the budget has little chance to become law, it draws a distinct contrast with Democratic views on spending.

That speech, along with other statements that put his budget into religious terms, led liberal Catholic groups to openly protest Ryan’s budget.

In particular, NETWORK, a group founded by 47 Catholic nuns that speaks out on social justice issues, went on a bus tour around the country to protest the Ryan budget.

In an interview with CNN, Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of NETWORK, said Ryan has co-opted sacred Catholic teachings and twisted their meanings. *

This line of attack will intensify in the coming months because of Ryan’s nomination, says Deal Hudson, a religion and politics expert who ran President George. W. Bush’s Catholic outreach in 2000 and 2004.

“I think the Catholic left will make this the drumbeat about Congressman Ryan,” Hudson said. “That is why it is so important for the campaign to effectively get out in front of this argument.”

According to Hudson, it is possible to defend the Ryan budget from Catholic attacks, it will just take a campaign that “realizes this is what they face.”

*  Great article, but FBA’s Editors believe this charge to be bogus.

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