Nudging the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism Toward Treating with Reality

After watching the spectacle of readers trying to justify/deny the latest eruption of ObamaHitlerStalin freakoutery in my comboxes (on today’s menu of rationalizations: 1. The Left does it, so it’s okay when we do it. 2. Drudge is read by Lefties too, so it’s not expressing a very popular view on the Right. 3. This is a very effective way to persuade normal people that we are not hysterics or anything. 4. In the coming war with our government, it is wise to imagine that things will not end as they did for David Koresh.  5. Hitler. 6. Stalin.  7.  A little bit more Hitler. 8. And besides Drudge is just like Westboro Church and doesn’t resonate with a huge number of people on the Right–who should all be preparing for Obama’s executive order confiscating all guns because Hitler. 9.  Shea uses hyperbole, so calling Obama “Hitler” is sound political common sense.)

Last thing first, I enjoy hyperbole when it’s funny.  God King is funny, because everybody knows what’s being asserted is that Obama is behaving lawlessly, not that Obama literally is Pharaoh.  The problem with the HITLER stuff is that the people indulging in the hyperbole don’t seem to realize that it is, in fact, hyperbole.  They typically seem to really believe that Obama is the incarnation of mass-murder terror state power exactly like Hitler and Stalin.  That’s ‘ow you say, nuts.

But abortion!  Yeah.  Here’s the thing: our abortion regime, though it has murdered a lot more than Nazi Germany… is not Nazi Germany.  What pro-abort pols do is provide legal cover and funding so that we–we private citizens, freely and of our own volition, can commit murder.  That’s just not the same thing as a police state that rounds up millions of people at gunpoint and marches them into ovens.  It just isn’t.  The Holocaust had to be done with secrecy, because the Nazis knew they were committing a massive, state-orchestrated crime.  The genius of the American system of mass murder is that it is a triumph of private, individual initiative and pluck on the part of millions of Americans, working freely together, without a lot of state coercion, to commit mass murder.  Oh, sure. There is the usual amount of crony capitalism thrown in, with the state doing all in its power to send fed monies toward the blood-soaked butchers who “provide” the “service”.  But at the end of the day, if *we the People* did not cherish abortion and create the situations in which so many people imagine it is a solution to their problems, there would be no abortion in America.  Obama never ordered a single solitary woman to be rounded up and forced to abort at gunpoint.  He’s not even a Chinese Commie, much less Hitler or Stalin.  He just a garden variety technocrat of the Culture of Death, giving us what We the People want.  (And, by the way, what we want is lots and lots of trade with… states like China who force woment to abort at gunpoint: the genius of the free market.)  Our abortion culture is a creation of the American system of free enterprise and individual initiative.  That’s why it talks the language of libertarianism (that philosophy for people with no children) and perpetually yammers about the need to Keep the State Out of the Bedroom.  That’s a far cry from the Nazi and fascist ethos of “Everything within the State.  Nothing against the State.  Nothing Outside the State.”

So here’s the thing, people need to clear their minds of this “Hitler/Stalin” cant.  There’s this story called “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” that the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism should re-familiarize themselves with.  For four years, the Right has indulged itself not in critiquing Obama justly (and there is plenty to critique, including abortion, his love of secret unilateral death decrees–which Movement Conservatism thinks is pretty cool and gives him a pass on since it is used to prosecute the beloved War to End Evil–his tyrannical HHS Mandate), but has largely indulged itself in pure unadulterated irrational hatred of the guy.  Result: Everything he does, everything he says, is treated with absurd contempt and fear.  The man has only to clear his throat and no fantasy, no matter how ridiculous, is rejected if it looks like it could be useful to attack him.  So for four years, the TTUTBC has yammered about Obama the Kenyan Muslim Atheist Communist and his plans to erect a godless atheist communist Islamic shariah state, etc.  Each morning my FB page is filled with conspiracy theories filled with the resolute will to put the darkest possible construction on even the most innocuous stuff.

For people in the Normal American community (that is, the majority of Americans who do not eat, breathe, and sleep political infighting), what this creates is a mindset rather like those of the villagers in the Boy Who Cried Wolf.  When the TTUTBC community now erupts in “OBAMA IS HITLER AND STALIN, PUT TOGETHER” because Joe Biden spouted one of the random things he spouts, the Normal American  community tends to respond, not by saying, “Your ideas intrigue me and I want to subscribe to your newsletter” but by tuning out this latest fulmination from a community known for fulminating and having hysterics (they did it with the Bushitler Shriekers too–for the very sound reason that Bush was not Hitler either, even though he also led the country toward tyranny and signed his share of Executive Orders too.)

I think the Hysteria Strategy is bad, not because I don’t think we are edging toward tyranny (see “HHS Mandate” and “unilateral Executive murder authorizations”, not to mention “torture” and “Patriot Act”) but because, well, in the *real* world Obama is obviously not Hitler or Stalin any more than Bush was.  Amazingly, one can do tyrannical and dangerous things without being Hitler.  People interested in treating with reality need to acknowledge this piece of common sense and live accordingly.  People merely interested in self-medicating their hatred of Obama, carry on.  You will be excellent consumers of the Conservative Infotainment Complex.  You will not, however persuade anybody outside the bubble of your chosen unreality of anything other than the fact that you are panicky.

All this leads up to a letter I received from a reader, a serious Catholic who is both prolife and left-leaning.  I don’t agree with every word of it, but I think there is plenty for conservative Catholics to ruminate on about the way in which discourse on the Right is conducted.  Please feel free to discuss:

Conservatives biggest problem is that they hate, clearly and vehemently, hate their opponents.  Fear is mixed in this potent, nearly palpable stench of hate.  Hate and fear are the  intoxicating, energizing, motivating impulses.  Even those good causes on the right, such as the anti-abortion movement, are very poisoned by hate of its enemies.  The essay of Caelum et Terra is a demonstration of this.  That the author seemed to find noteworthy the actions of the Planned Parenthood nurses is more than a little problematic.

Many over-venerated Conservative Catholic blogs reek of this hatred.

It is not a caricature to think that conservatives perceive their liberal opponents as stoned, routinely adulterous, fornicating baby eaters who do not have anything but cartoon villain impulses, motivations, and machinations.  Conservatives ascribe a desire to do evil as the prime motivator for their opponents.  Most liberals hardly fulfill any of these points.   In fact, Catholic conservative leaders, despite their various techniques for propagandistic rallying of base motivations of their supporters, routinely socialize and dialogue with their greatest opponents.  Fr. Pavone has such relationships with pro-abortion leaders, as does Robert George, who has had a decades-long working and social relationship with both Art Caplan and Cornel West.

I suggest that the leaders of conservatives, including Catholic ones, do use base propagandistic language to gin up support and donations.  The extremely intelligent well-read conservative, and most are, need to use his instinct and desire for independence to intellectually test even folks’ like Fr. Pavone when he is making sensational statements.

Too many conservatives indulge in a fantasy world in which a few individuals will attempt to seize control of their communities and, after watching Red Dawn too often, think they will have a heroic future living some cowboy anarchic dream shooting at liberals (for God, of course) for the next decades in the Rocky Mountains.

This is not Catholic.  This is not even rational.  It makes the conservative seem unintelligent, fueling the “Sin makes you stupid” feedback cycle.  Feeding on hate, one’s own personal hates and fears, as well as leveraging and promoting such is clearly not a Christian impulse.  It is sinful.

Rational gun control, serious defense cuts, a return to taxes rates that Reagan would have thought of as low are not causes for panic.  There is serious, well-informed religious counsel from the USCCB and the Vatican agreeing with these.

A diet of fear, anger, and hate in our nation has bled into our faith.  Hate and fear are not Gospel values, and are not even grounded in rationality.

I think a study of faithful Catholic left voices would do conservatives well.  It may be important to understand the other half of the American Catholics.

Some ground rules.

1. Please avoid the genetic fallacy.  The author does not say these things because he is a CINO or an enemy of the Church.  He is a thoughtful serious practicing Catholic who has lived out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and assents to the Church’s teaching.

2. Please avoid the tu quoque.  Yes.  You can find plenty of hate in comboxes at the National Catholic Reporter.  Hitler comparisons too.  Goody.  One of the sure fire techniques used by people bent on avoiding reality is to say, “NO YOU!”  Stop it.

I think my reader is unfair to Daniel Nichols, who is trying to acknowledge–in an atmosphere where you can find yourself arraigned for heresy merely by thinking well of somebody outside the Tribe, or arraigned for heresy merely by criticizing, however mildly, one of the folk heroes of the tribe–that tribalism is bad.  I am too ignorant to know if my reader is unfair to Fr. Pavone since I don’t keep tabs on the press releases from Priest for Life and so don’t know if they do the ginning he says.  I do know that, as my reader points out, Fr. Pavone does a fine job of cultivating relationships and conversations with abortion supporters and I think the world of him for that.  And I agree with my reader that this stands in sharp contrast with the cartoonish and tribal denunciations of libruls (or, as another reader recently called me, “libtards”) one meets in cyberspace.  But, on the whole, I think my reader is seeing problems that are really there.  Those of us who hope for the emergence of a healthy and sane conservatism that can oppose the dangerous evils of the Left with sanity and not with another form of dementia continue to hope that the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism will think and pray its way out of its current predicament.  At present, the “OBAMA IS HITLER!” crowd are God’s gift–to Obama.

  • mike in kc, mo

    “Rational gun control, serious defense cuts, a return to taxes rates that Reagan would have thought of as low are not causes for panic.”
    - I would agree.

    First a disclaimer: While I have nothing against it, I don’t own any of the ‘battle plastic’ that is up for being banned, being strictly a bolt and revolver man myself.

    That being said, I think rational firearms policy has quite a lot of support inside the 2nd Amendment community. I know some must exist, but I have yet to find anyone who is against background checks to prevent felons or the mentally ill from acquiring weapons, or preventing the sale of serious destructive weaponry such as explosive ordinance, etc. etc.

    What I hear being discussed by our betters, however, is not what I would characterize as a rational policy. It is not rational because it contains two main flaws:
    1. It bases itself on the same premise of a widespread ban to be pushed on the law abiding that has not ever prevented any of the crime it is proposed as meaning to stop.
    2. It willfully ignores REAL social and cultural problems in favor of attacking a defined politically incorrect group that it gambles is currently out of favor. Our betters are doing this because to go after the real social and cultural ills of our country would mean attacking lots of very sacred cows, potentially alienating their base. It is far easier and safer to attack firearm owners because they usually (and I stress ‘usually’) vote Republican anyway.

    If the issue was, say, trying to solve the problem of teenage pregnancy and STDs for example, we know there is no quick, technological solution. It’s going to require a HUGE effort to change society and our culture to make a dent in that. But what do we hear on this issue? Why, we simply provide unlimited free contraception to kids. It’s the same level of thinking being applied: ‘what quick, technological fix can we slap on that will give the appearance that we ‘did something’ without having to, you know, actually do something?

    Trying to slap additional legal restrictions on the law abiding (restrictions that even their supporters like Michael Moore have admitted on TV won’t prevent another school massacre) while studiously refusing to attempt to fix the real problems doesn’t quite strike me as ‘rational’. It strikes me as a cop out.

    • The Deuce

      Yes, exactly. There may be some rational measures that could be called “gun control” in some sense, but actual gun control advocates aren’t advocating any of them. They also completely ignore all of the established facts and statistics regarding gun ownership and crime, and continue to push the exact same policies in defiance of reality.

      The stuff they propose is completely arbitrary, and it’s clear they’re simply trying to ban some guns – ANY guns – to set a precedent for banning the rest of the guns in the future. It’s also clear that they aren’t really interested in preventing crime (otherwise they would deal with the facts and act accordingly, rather than attempting the same arbitrary gun bans over and over), but are motivated by the desire to remove any potential for resistance to the sorts of tyranny and social engineering they want to expose us and our children to in the future.

      There’s really no room to engage them in debate, because they’re simply bullies who are arguing in bad faith. Those who argue in bad faith see your attempts at reasonableness and negotiation merely as weaknesses to be exploited, to wring concessions out of you while honoring none of their own promises in return. Once you realize that that is what’s happening, it’s time to extricate yourself from the conversation.

  • http://lightondarkwater.typepad.com Maclin Horton

    I agree that your reader is seeing something that is really there, and in my view the Caelum et Terra piece ought to be in the “hardly needs to be said” category, though of course it does in fact need to be said. However, I’d also ask that he (she?) try to hear the voices of progressives as they often sound to conservatives: to wit, “…biggest problem is that they hate, clearly and vehemently, hate their opponents. Fear is mixed in this potent, nearly palpable stench of hate. Hate and fear are the intoxicating, energizing, motivating impulses.”

    This is exactly the way far too many progressives sound as well. And I am not saying this in a tu quoque spirit, but rather trying to point out that the level of hatred is dangerously high on both sides, and each feeds the other’s hatred, and each needs to get a grip. And neither ought to deplore the hatred of the other while revving up his own. Your reader of course may not be guilty of any of this, but it is certainly not uncommon. I was reading a “discussion” about gun control on National Review’s blog last night, and found a progressive positively salivating at the possibility that he might someday get to see a tank crush one of his fellow citizens a la Tiananmen Square, and another asserting that he couldn’t wait till guns were illegal so that he could turn in his fellow citizens who possessed them.

    This is not a game. Anybody who thinks this level of hatred can’t end in violence–”it can’t happen here”–knows nothing of human nature.

    • The Deuce

      I don’t hate Progressives. I simply want them to leave me, my family, and my Church alone, and I’m increasingly agitated by their attempts to seize more and more power over me. They, on the other hand, hate others simply for not agreeing with their ideology and not wanting to be controlled.

      • Jon W

        Man, this is so weird. Go to Slate or Huffington Post or New York Times and read the comments that deal with conservatives. They all say the exact same thing as you.

        • The Deuce

          Well, they’re deluded. Am I trying to force them to pay for things they oppose under the guise of “health care”? No, I am not, nor am I trying to make them buy health care at all. Am I telling them what light bulbs they must buy (even when they are hazardous and cause cancer)? No, I am not. Am I trying to tell them what size soft drinks they can buy? No, I am not. Am I trying to take more of their hard-earned money from their families for whatever government programs I can think of? No, I am not. Am I trying to redefine the 1st Amendment before the courts as “freedom of worship” rather than free exercise of religion? No, I am not. Am I looking for ways to take their favored media heads off the air using government pressure? No, I am not. Am I trying to take away their means of self-defense? No, I am not. Am I trying to indoctrinate their students in public schools using federal tax monies? No I am not? Am I trying to penalize them for homeschooling their kids, or sending them to charter or private schools if they wish? No, I am not.

          The only reason they think otherwise is that they are so beholden to left-wing dogma, and the notion that the constant advance of progressivist ideology is just some basic law of nature, that they perceive any desire to simply not go along with it as an attack on their persons.

    • Mark Shea

      No argument from me. The blast furnace of real hate one sees on the Left (and a truly unthinking hatred when it comes to the Church, all too often) hits you in the face at lots of Lefty sites. Only here’s the thing: those people don’t claim to be Catholic, nor less to be “faithful” Catholics in distinction from all those awful
      CINOS’s and “fake” Catholics. They are frank and jolly pagans who see no problem with “Hate your enemy.” We are supposed to do better than room temperature paganism.

      • http://lightondarkwater.typepad.com Maclin Horton

        Certainly. I was thinking of conservatives and progressives at large, not just within the Church, though I know you were focused on the latter. I guess I don’t hang out in the problem places, because my experience of Catholic blogs in general, of whatever political and quasi-political stripe, is that the “blast furnace of real hate” is relatively rare.

        • Mark Shea

          ACtually, I’m thinking of secular lefty sites. With Catholic lefties, your mileage may vary. The Reporter’s got some real haters in the comboxes. America seems saner.

          • Dan C

            Commonweal has lots of folks that obviously never met a conservative in years. Their disdain is pretty clear when it comes to the right. And that is telling about our faith.

          • B-Rob

            I think part of the issue is you get your opinions of large quantities of people from online. From my experience, only certain types of people (on average, people with strong opinions and time on their hands) go to the trouble of creating an account and spend the time commenting on articles/sites, etc. I don’t think Conservatives, Liberals, Gay Activists, Gun Supporters, etc are that extreme…but the online variety seem to be.

            • Mark Shea

              No argument from me.

    • Kate

      I think one of the problems is that people do look upon this as a game – not as in let’s have a fun, but as in “We gotta win.” (grunt) My view is that more and more people treat politics like a football game. You can’t give any ground to your “enemy” or give them the ball, otherwise they’ll win the whole game. If you admit Obama is right on one thing or acts nobly on one occasion, then the lefties might take advantage of your weakness. Saying “yes” to global warming or unions or saying “no” to fracking or the Koch brothers could be the chink in your armor that brings you down to miserable defeat. I hate sports.

  • dabhidh

    “Conservatives biggest problem is that they hate, clearly and vehemently, hate their opponents. ”

    OMG, you really mean to tell me that it’s conservatives who “hate” their opponents, and this is some problem rightfully understood as unique to conservatives?

    Sorry, you just lost me there. If you think that’s a reasonable assertion, then I can no longer regard you as being an honest person. I know you’re not bothered, but there it is.

    • Mark Shea

      Uh, no. Neither he, nor I, mean to tell you that. But then you knew that. And since you don’t regard me as honest, I don’t see why I need to regard you as somebody I want in my combox. Any time you want to apologize, you are welcome back. Bye!

  • kara

    For what its worth, when I heard about the whole gun-control-executive-order flap, my first response was “Wait, Joe Biden said this? ‘Crazy Uncle Joe’? The guy who elicits facepalms from everyone on a regular basis? But this time its God’s honest truth? Huh?”

    • Mark Shea

      Bingo.

    • Stu

      As a Lieutenant, we were often called upon to brief items to Admirals that were sometimes of a contentious nature. The reason was that it allowed our bosses to dismiss what we said as wrong, or a misunderstanding, or simply inexperience for those ideas the Admirals didn’t like.

      But I’m sure politicians don’t resort to such things.

  • Stu

    Define “rational gun control.” That usually means anything the user of those words sees fit.
    I’m looking for targeted policies that actually address the defined problem set. I thought we were trying to avoid another Sandy Hook. Instead it looks like we are rolling out everyone pet gun law at this time because “guns are bad.”

    As to raising the tax rates and cutting defense. I have no issue with that. But here is the thing. We have raised taxes before. We have cut defense before. In fact, that’s pretty much always our first course of action and yet here we are. Just once. Just once, can we actually explore cutting back the rest of the overreaching Federal Government with real cuts and not just reductions in projected growth that usually outpaces inflation. Can we do that just once?

    And there was reason #10 for Drudge’s Headline yesterday.
    He makes money off of hits to his website. Advertising. So he creates headlines that attract people. I assume that is being done on this site as well. Someone must be buying the shirts with Jesus riding a dinosaur or ordering from Fingerhut.

    • Dan C

      How about enforceable laws and bans, as opposed to hardly enforceable laws (such as a law that says a felon can’t own a weapon and then claim-”look, here is a stiff gun law they can’t even enforce and they want more?”)?

      The current laws are built to make no impact and are only prosecutable (functioning only for deterrence) as opposed to preventative, which means bans and limiting access.

      In general, let’s begin with some policies that can in operation reduce the number of guns on the street and dangerous folks who have them.

      I would call such “rationale.”

      • Stu

        Anything specific that you can tie to preventing another Sandy Hook? Since that was the spark for this current debate, I assume that is your goal.

        You should be able to say, I propose “law A” which will prevent Sandy Hook by eliminating “aspect B” of the crime.

        • Peggy R

          I get worried when I hear some one say “We must do X so that this *bad thing* never happens again” meaning anywhere to anyone. While that is certainly a wonderful goal, we can’t be a free people. It is impossible any way to ensure that NOTHING BAD EVER HAPPENS TO ANYBODY EVER AGAIN. That’s not what man or government can guarantee. God can’t even guarantee that. It is a fallen world. We all sin.

          Hey, isn’t that the lesson for Marlin, the dad, in Nemo? Marlin wanted nothing bad to ever happen to Nemo. In fact, he wanted to ensure Nemo’s safety so much, he wanted NOTHING to ever happen–in any way, good or bad. In his fear, he stifled Nemo and engendered Nemo’s rebellion, which got Nemo into quite a scrape. But the father got out of his own comfort zone and crossed the sea to Sydney (musical: Aahhh!) to bring his boy back home.

          We should be discussing mental health law perhaps in addition to, or instead of, gun laws. We should be talking about ADD medications and boys as well.

      • Mike in KC, MO

        “How about enforceable laws and bans, as opposed to hardly enforceable laws (such as a law that says a felon can’t own a weapon and then claim-”look, here is a stiff gun law they can’t even enforce and they want more?”)?”
        - Hmm, let’s set you straight on a couple of things.
        None of our gun laws are ‘hardly enforceable’. “felon can’t own a weapon” is indeed a VERY enforceable law, and is indeed enforced all the time. Your logic doesn’t follow.

        “The current laws are built to make no impact”
        - This is rather silly and tells me you have little knowledge of actual firearm laws. I can rattle off dozens that do have some rather substantial effects. I think you confuse ‘breaking the law’ with ‘having no impact’.

        “which means bans and limiting access.”
        - This is funny, as you just tried to point out that ‘saying felons can’t have guns’ (ban and access limitation) is an example of ‘look here is a gun law they can’t enforce’.

        “reduce the number of guns on the street and dangerous folks who have them.”
        - The use of the pathetically silly term ‘on the street’ tells me you haven’t researched this much and are simply repeating things you’ve been told. Here’s the deal, if you really want to limit the ‘dangerous folk who have them’, you are barking up the wrong tree and are simply buying into the same ‘what kind of technological fix can we slap on this’ mentality I described above. In this, your idea isn’t rational, as it doesn’t address the actual problem.

  • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

    Thank you (and your reader) so much for this, Mark. This is why when either conservatives or liberals refer to their opponents as “fascists!” it drives me up the wall. Yes, our bipartisan corporate duopoly of abortion and war is tyrannical. No, it is not tyrannical in a fascist way. If you want to oppose it effectively, you must study the kind of media-enabled, individualistic conformity-as-rebellion kitsch that undergirds it and manufactures consent for it. Refighting WWII in your mind as a valiant member of the Resistance does not accomplish this. Serious political and economic study, followed by a practice of grassroots activism rooted in the subsidiarity of the local and engaged in with a spirit of solidarity for one’s democratic peers, refreshed and reformed through prayerful reflection on your few successes and many failures, is how this kind of tyranny is best fought. It’s not WWII.
    * * *
    A word, too, about your reader’s diagnosis of hate on the right. There is as much smug scorn on the left. The left can be incredibly hateful, and incredibly dismissive of opposing views. I’ve tried raising socially conservative points in left-leaning fora too many times not to know that.

    But what the right–particularly a certain subset of the white male right–presents is the spectacle of armed anger, fantasizing about insurrection. This worries me. Not so long ago, really, a group of angry white Southerners figured out that they weren’t going to beat the Party of Lincoln in any elections very soon. Bloody misery followed. In the next few years, barring great change of the sort that you, Mark, are crying out in the desert trying to promote, the G.O.P. will be so repugnant to the emerging majority of women, minorities, and libertine cosmopolites that it will become structurally unable to recapture the presidency for a very long time. Some of those angry white men with guns (not, to be sure, the responsible gun-owners in our comment threads here) will notice this.

    Perhaps they will rebel. They will fail. The majority will abhor them, and they will fail. But they may commit a great deal of McVeigh-in-Oklahoma-City style mayhem before they do. This is NOT, btw, an argument for disarmament of private citizens. It is an argument for cooling down our overheated (“Fascist!”) political rhetoric on both sides of the aisle. Now. Not after it kills people.

    • Dan C

      The left has at least three undeniably negative approaches to its assessment and interaction with the right wing.

      1. The secular left columnist interestingly largely ignores the Church (Catholics), has more recently lumped Catholics with Evangelicals, since the most politically powerful advocacy has centered around contraception and abortion in the past two years, and when referencing this is harsh, direct, dismissive, often disrespectful.

      2. The Catholic left seems to live in the part of the Church that never had a good relationship with a conservative, or even an honest discussion with one in the past 10 years. There is no sympathy or dialogical relationship. No talking whatsoever. These can be seen in the comboxes of Commonweal and NCR.

      3. The Catholic lefty does play the role of the victim of the oppressive right wing, ginning up support for themselves against the right wing of the Church in this dishonest way.

      • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

        What about the anti-abortion Catholic left that actually defers to the Magisterium on life issues AND social justice issues? There aren’t many of us in the U.S., but you’d be surprised how many friends on both sides of the aisle we (have to) have.

        • ivan_the_mad

          That’s a good group, from which I am blessed to have several good friends. We frequently disagree on judgements prudential, but it is a friendly disagreement where the primacy of Church teaching is an axiom such judgements.

    • abb3w

      While there is much smug and scorn on the left, the sociological data from the work of Altemeyer on Authoritarians suggests it is likely inaccurate to say there is as much. It seems likely you might also find that work unpaletably illuminating about your “certain subset”.

  • Anson

    So your correspondent wrote these two passages with only one paragraph separating them unironically?:

    “It is not a caricature to think that conservatives perceive their liberal opponents as stoned, routinely adulterous, fornicating baby eaters who do not have anything but cartoon villain impulses, motivations, and machinations. Conservatives ascribe a desire to do evil as the prime motivator for their opponents.”

    “Too many conservatives indulge in a fantasy world in which individuals will attempt to seize control of their communities and, after watching Red Dawn too often, think they will have a heroic future living some cowboy anarchic dream shooting at liberals (for God, of course) for the next decades in the Rocky Mountains.”

    • Stu

      Yeah, but the write is “rational.” Just ask him.

    • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

      Well, too many liberals really are stoned, adulterous, fornicating abortion-patients. Just not ALL of them. Similarly, a liberal would be mad to think that ALL (or even most, or even a lot of) conservatives are sitting there polishing their guns waiting for Red Dawn to happen, but even one patriot militia is “too many.”

      • Hezekiah Garrett

        If one is too many, federal law must make your head spin.

  • Andy, Bad Person

    Amazingly, one can do tyrannical and dangerous things without being Hitler.

    And you’ve lost me forever, fascist.

    See you tomorrow!

  • Dale Price

    Everybody needs to take a deep breath and attempt to become informed about the opposing argument. I don’t have a problem with defense cuts, but given how close my bank account skirts toward the redline every pay period, I don’t feel undertaxed. But I’ll bracket that for a moment.

    Here’s the thing about guns (and yes, my wife and I own a few, and are members of the NRA, so genetic fallacy away!):

    It wasn’t until four and a half years ago that the Supreme Court finally acknowledged that there was an individual right to keep and bear firearms. Prior to that, “rational gun control” included complete bans on gun ownership, supported a legal academy and jurists that routinely said there was no such individual right. Rather, the Second Amendment protected some unique “collective right,” or a right of States to a National Guard, or in the late Chief Justice Warren Burger’s gobsmacking formulation, the right of each state to maintain and equip individual armies. Somewhere in the afterlife, Jubal Early horse-laughed at that one. But no, any ownership of firearms was simply on the courtly sufferance of elites inclined to let the peons have their hunting blood sports. For the nonce.

    Heller changed that–sorta. The problem is, it was a razor-thin decision, and it has not been accepted either by the Court minority (which was still dissenting in the 2010 decision which extended Heller to the states) or a critical mass of those on the left. It is painfully clear that there are many who want it reversed. It’s too recent, and they spent too long trying to deny such rights to make me believe they’ve changed their minds. This mindset can be seen in the recent proposals of our betters to rewrite the Second Amendment to limit it to government sufferance, and to dismiss the entire Constitution all together.

    Couple that with a national government that has determined it can assassinate American citizens, detain them indefinitely without regard to the Bill of Rights, wiretap at near-whim, dictate what health care I can receive and tell me to provide products and services for free if I’m a certain type of business, and the hyperventilating has some basis in reality. Not fully, no. There’s some way out nuttiness that needs to be crap-canned. But Leviathan keeps metastatizing and looking for new problems to solve–and blaming all gun owners for the atrocity committed by [damnatio memoriae] in Newtown is the newest item on the agenda.

    Do I think the Biden Commission is going to propose confiscation? Nope. Do I think its left-wing members would ban firearms if they could? In a heartbeat.

    Believe me, I’m willing to talk, and see if we can’t meet halfway. You might be surprised. But put down the broadbrush, try to understand me, meet me halfway, and don’t assail my Catholicism or gospel values as part of your opener.

    • Mark Shea

      This all seems perfectly reasonable to me. But the Dale always is.

    • Dan C

      You don’t want a full-on ban on weapons.

      I would ban them all.

      But I would be willing to compromise on enforceable action that work to prevent disasters, rather than the current NRA-approved crop of laws enforceable only after the crime has happened. Bans that work and don’t tie the world up in ability to actually audit the activity as well as prevent the guns from getting into the wrong hands.

      • Dale Price

        We start, then, with a serious trust deficit. Also, apart from the word “ban,” there’s nothing for me to get a hold on. Let me try this counter-proposal, and one that may have prevented Newtown: a biometric gun safe that would only open with the fingerprint, etc, of the owner.

        Also: what kind of familiarity do you have with firearms?

        • Dan C

          I never shot one but was program director of a summer camp for Boy Scouts with an NRA-approved rifle and shotgun range. I don’t love guns, wouldn’t miss them for the world.

          I’ve lived in the inner city from 1989-2004. I have over a dozen of gun “experiences.” None that having a weapon personally would have done anything but create more problems. So-about gun experience nothing personally positive.

          I want anything changed. But I want real change. Not another law that is desinged to be unenforceable. I know how to run things. I know “safety systems.” Nothing in the current gun laws promote primary prevention.

          The biometric gun safe-would a fingerprint of the mother’s corpse dragged to open the safe suffice?

        • Dan C

          Well…it sounds like you too are an absolutist for whom any firearm should be available to the “right” kind of person if they want.

          The word “ban” usually upsets this position.

          And, the burden is on the “government” to prove one is not the “right” kind of person.

          That is an unenforceable arrangement.

        • Dan C

          I have lived and worked in the wild west of the inner city created by the pro-gun groups. I have no experience preventable by the well-armed gun-slinger that exists in the fantasy world of those promoting increased weaponry for general safety. The shoot-outs I’ve witnessed are often individuals or groups who exchange fire with each other-thus, there is no deterrence to “everyone being armed.” Guess what? The inner city is that social experiment, it just breeds more shoot outs and, the individual without experience of being under attack (“good guy” or “bad guy”) hits the little girl bicycling by because they are too scared to aim correctly (and close their eyes when they shoot). Being “under fire” does not promote good marksmanship for an individual unaccustomed to such an attack. And then the bullets go into the windows of the houses on the street, into the park, etc

          I live and work in the dream world of the NRA. Fail.

          • Dale Price

            Well…it sounds like you too are an absolutist for whom any firearm should be available to the “right” kind of person if they want.

            You presume too much, and wrongly.

            I live and work in the dream world of the NRA. Fail.

            We have nothing more to discuss.

            • Mark Shea

              If I may, at the risk of being a pain in the ass, intervene, let me suggest that you two do have more to discuss, since I know you both to be reasonable and good men.

          • ivan_the_mad

            Come on, Dan. You frequently have good things to say, but “I live and work in the dream world of the NRA. Fail.” isn’t one of them. Dale’s a good guy and so are you. You’re just turning folks off with that stuff.

            • Mark Shea

              Bear in mind that Dan, being a doctor, has seen rather a lot of the aftermath of gun violence in technicolor.

              • ivan_the_mad

                That he speaks from sad experience I have no doubt. It is in the hope that he is heeded more that I commented.

              • Hezekiah Garrett

                Being a doctor means no such thing. Er doctor or trauma surgeon, sure.

                But if he’s an ER doctor or trauma surgeon, then he’s seen A LOT more damage done by steel behemoths powered by infernal combustion. Wake me when he calls for banning those.

                Dan, you disappoint. Usually you’re the levelheaded and informed voice of the “Left” round these parts.

                • kenneth

                  There is no talk of banning motor vehicles because we have accepted the necessity of sensible regulation of them. We actually make people demonstrate a base level of responsibility and medical and mental competence before allowing people to own or operate them.

                  We also have many mechanisms for intervening proactively to revoke access to those who demonstrate patterns of irresponsibility or incompetence long before they lead to tragedy. That system depends on registration (don’t tell Hitler). It’s far from perfect, but it’s saved hundreds of thousands of lives over the decades, and that’s hard indisputable data.

                  If we’re going to equate cars and guns as public safety risks, we ought to look at the full picture, and then question why we’re not willing to even consider applying the most minimum of safeguards to ownership and operation of the latter.

                  • Hezekiah Garrett

                    No, we haven’t. Autos are not sensibly regulated in any sense of the word, in this country. Look at the regulatory system of, say, Italy. Then back at the US. Look at their fatalities versus ours. Their speed limits.

                    There is so much contradiction there that it boggles the mind.

                    • Sus

                      Trying to compare guns and cars is absurd. Mainly because cars are not manufactured for the sole purpose of killing the way guns are.

                      But if we are going to compare:

                      You need different licenses to operate the different kinds of transportation like a car versus a 18 wheeler.

                      Cars are built completely different than they were in the past because of regulations – seat belts and airbags come to mind.

                      Owners of cars must register their vehicles. Each vehicle has it’s own ID number.

                    • enness

                      Hezekiah: even looking within the country you will find that it probably has something to do with resources…I live in Connecticut. Not coincidentally, it is drowning in debt and I believe has had to lay off cops (there was also a ticket quota scandal that didn’t exactly help). I suspect one needs to be doing 80 or 90 in a 50 before it’s even worth a lone cop going after. I see cars horrifically smashed up in a way I wasn’t accustomed to before I moved, usually when it rains even a sprinkle, suggesting that people don’t have the sense to slow down. Of course, the speed limits are so unenforced that to try just looks like Don Quixote fighting windmills…a joke.

                      Sus: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if guns are made solely to kill people then I know quite a few people who are utterly incompetent at it in spite of being good shots.

                    • Hezekiah Garrett

                      Sus,

                      Thank you for acknowledging this issue is about social control and not preventing fatalities. The implication being that, for you, those children’s deaths are politically useful, as opposed to a tragedy of epic proportions.

                      Different licenses for different classes of vehicle have to do with tax and economic issues, not safety.

                      Airbags and Seatbelts are regulations aimed at manufacturers to encourage a safer product.

                      There is no requirement to register automobiles in order to own or possess them, only to operate them on the public roads.

                      Now, if you wish to require manufacturers to include biometric locks and require registration of firearms used in public, have at it.

                      My only point was that there is no serious move to regulate automobiles and drivers in an effort to actually reduce the mindboggling number of traffic fatalities. No one is seriously pushing to ban trucks and SUVs for any but military and police use, for example. And trucks and SUVs alone account for a staggering amount of highway deaths.

                      As I said, social control and the exploitation of murdered innocents.

                      And remember, I am in full support of a retroactive ban on all firearms, by executive fiat if necessary, with immediate house-to-house confiscation. I’m just honest about why I think it is desirable.

          • Mike in KC, MO

            The only ‘fail’ I see in your posts is your failure in describing ‘the hood’ as some kind of pro gunner dream land. Gangbangers blasting at each other with illegal weapons in turf wars for drug sale territory is not exactly a dream of mine. Maybe I missed that NRA meeting.

            Or, maybe you need to try to talk sense instead of smearing people you don’t know and obviously don’t understand.

            BTW, I work in the hood too (I deal in C and D class real estate).

            The inner city is the creation of many things, and the NRA is not one of the causes. You may indeed be a very good doctor sir, but you are slipshod in the extreme in debating firearms which you yourself admit you have zero real experience with. I have more experience in that field (from personal interest and previous employment) than I’d wager most of the commenters here, but I will not claim that that makes me even a passable doctor.

          • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

            The inner city is overwhelmingly run by anti-gun leftists. The policy results of their rule are pretty clear to see and not very admirable.

          • Anson

            I grew up in a completely different environment. I grew up in and currently live in the great state of Wyoming. There are no “rural counties” in Wyoming since they are all rural. I grew up in a house at the end of a gravel road eight miles from the city limits. Our law enforcement was provided by the sheriff’s office. At any given time there were only a handful of sheriff’s deputies on duty serving counties that were several hundred square miles in area. The nearest deputy might be within ten minutes or as many as forty minutes to an hour away. My parents still live in the house in which I grew up. Last summer dad had to call the sheriff because there was a car in the school bus turn around that was just parked there as numerous vehicles made there way to it and back from it. After about an hour the deputies showed up and made arrests for methamphetamine distribution.

            When I was in high school I saw some pretty traumatic things happen with firearms. One night at a party some kids were passing around a pistol. One kid pointed it at another who objected. To prove it wasn’t loaded the kid with the gun put it up to his head and pulled the trigger. A basement full of my classmates watched as one of their peers died on the carpet in front of them. I had a classmate who killed his one dad and then himself with a .38 revolver. A couple years after graduation two kids in the class just after mine were drinking and playing with a revolver when one of them accidentally shot the other in the neck and held him as he bled to death. Awful.

            But the topic of gun control is not very popular around. Firstly because so many people live in isolated settings like my parents. It may be cold and irrational, but to many people in this area it is better to brave the risks associated with firearms accidents than it is to go out in abject terror and malevolence like the poor family in the isolated farmhouse in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

            Another reason is because we know too many stories like the one of the retired police officer who was blind-sided by a sow grizzly. She broke his jaw and tore him up. When he came to his senses she was starting a second charge. He took the. 41 magnum Ruger Blackhawk revolver from the holster on his belt and shot and killed her before she could finish killing him. When I was a teenager I used to carry a Smith and Wesson Model 19 on my hip whenever I would venture into the hills north of my parents’ place. It wasn’t because I was wary of muggers. It was because there was an outbreak of rabies in the local skunk population, and I was prepared to deal with an agressive skunk suffering a severe neurological infection.

            So when we westerners hear that we have to give up our guns because of the problems in the inner cities it leaves us feeling cold. Why can’t you guys get your own act together and let those of us who depend on these tools in completely benign manners alone? Sure we have sympathy for the victims of urban violence, but why does that mean we should sacrifice our safety and our ways of life because you can’t manage your own house? Why should rural bow to urban?

            Is there a way you can address my concerns about gun control that speaks to my concerns as a rural American? Do you even care to hear the concerns that those of us in rural America might have?

            • Beccolina

              As a fellow Wyomingite, it’s nice to see you. I grew up here too, and my father was the local gunsmith for many years. He strongly stressed teaching kids exactly how deadly firearms can be, as well as how to safely handle them. He can hand me a firearm to admire now, and he will tell me it’s not loaded, but if I don’t double-check to make sure, he will dress me down. Gun safety says one should ALWAYS check, no matter who has assure one that the gun is not loaded. Everyone should be taught the basics of gun safety, just like everyone should be taught the basics of safely using matches and candles or a cooking stove.
              And, as a woman with children, whose husband sometimes works nights, it is a comfort to know that I have a firearm available just in case. I hope I NEVER have to use it for self-defense, but it’s nice to know it is there.

              • http://N/A Chris Rademacher

                Very good comment! I totally agree with you.

            • kenneth

              Re-read your post and see if you can see a pattern in the relative risk and benefits of having a gun handy. You cite the cases of three people you know of personally, in a sparsely populated area who died as a result of drunken idiocy or rage and guns. Deaths that simply would not have happened without the presence of guns (with the possible exception of the homicide). Weigh the risks of near-universal availability of guns mixed with ordinary human failings and contrast that with the risk of being murdered by random parolees in the middle of nowhere. I don’t know the precise incidence of that, but it can’t be too high, because such events are retold in story for decades after they occur. Bear attacks? About two a year from what I can find, and one or less fatalities annually. Gun deaths are running about 31,000 a year in this country.

              • Anson

                I feel that I posted an honest response to Dan C which you are now ridiculing by telling me to re-read it and look for a pattern. I was coming at this value-neutral which was the point of including the anecdotes about firearm injury. I was hoping that Dan C might engage me a bit. Maybe we could talk about gun culture of the west versus urban gun culture versus gun culture of post-bellum southern states. Each of these has their own cultures with their own nuances. But you decided that I was someone incapable of understand my own comment while I typed it. Thanks for that.

              • Hezekiah Garrett

                So do something about the roots of violent crime, or watch stabbings increase. The overwhelming majority of those gun deaths are criminals shooting one another and innocent bystanders. They aren’t going to bow to yet another regulatory regime if they’re already ignoring several, Dudgeonmaster.

      • The Deuce

        You’d ban *all* weapons? So, you want to put long kitchen knives on the chopping block as some doctors in England are trying to do?

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    What Dale said.

    A couple observations. First, the conservative can be dropped when bemoaning the worst parts of discourse, as has been said. Both sides have their examples.

    Second, I’m all for looking at ways to address the gun violence issue, but both sides have to be honest and real, and clearly both sides have those who are not (and, of course, those who are).

    Finally, and no offense intended, I’m not going to split hairs over a picture of Hitler or Stalin meant to strike a chord, any more than I will over ‘resist the tyrant!’ And while it was a Biden quote, I’ve not heard further clarifications by the White House, and it’s not as if nobody here has ever jumped up and down at a president overstepping authority or anything. I guess my point: unless we pull out the various rhetorical techniques, it’s best not to get too critical of other people’s rhetorical techniques.

  • SecretAgentMan

    This is sort of a switch. The earlier post was to the effect of, “Look how evil and looney these Right-wingers and/or gun nuts are. This isn’t hyperbole, foks. No, Right-wingers and/or gun nuts actually, truly believe Obama is Hitler and sieze on any rumor to flutter their wings. Sane Americans know better.” Now it’s rational counseling on the use (and abuses) of political rhetoric and how miscalculated hypebole can alienate everyone besides the choir. I suspect we’d have gotten Post 1.5 earlier if Mark realized that right-wingers and/or gun nuts had anything to be upset about in the first place.

    It’s difficult to be reasonable with people who think you’re insane for wanting a gun to begin with. It’s difficult to be congenial with people who think your concerns about small-f fascism make you some David Koresh wannabe imagining standoffs with the Marine Corps between hits of Jack Daniels. It’s difficult to have a productive conversation with people who think you have to justify your little gun-owning hobby by explaining the okay-ness of school massacres. It’s difficult to have an honest conversation with people mindlessly (and that’s not hyperbole in many cases) repeating false anti-gun propaganda put out by politicians who have proven they will lie and cheat at every turn to get one inch closer to gun-free nirvana. People who own guns have been putting up with all the above for 50 years.

    Your posts on gun control are very easily read as follows: (1) I’m a David Koresh, chicken-hawk wannabe who dreams of taking on the whole US government in some sort of orgasmic apocalypse of violence while caressing my AR-15; (2) I don’t really mind dozens of murdered children if that’s the price for #1; and 3) the result is my hysterical overreaction to talk about “common-sense” gun laws which, if they really are common sense, would do nothing to prevent school massacres but would require me to register my guns, forbid me from owning guns, and treat me like the potential criminal I am. And that’s why I need to be lectured to about hyperbole?

    • kenneth

      Not all of us who think the gun movement and conservatism have lost their minds are anti-gun genetic East Coast liberals, by a long shot. More than a few of us are gun owners themselves who see a lot of unexplored ground between the madness we have now and confiscation.

      We have no alliance with Cuomo or Feinstein, but we can no longer make common cause with the NRA or related elements in conservatism because they are saying and advocating things that we feel are irresponsible, extreme, and quite frankly, batshit crazy in many instances. What we’re hearing, consistently from “our side” is a refusal to participate in any, – any discussion of gun laws in tandem with a not-so-implicit threat of treason and terror if that debate leads somewhere they don’t like. I’ve been reading English, and people, for a long time. Many of these so-called “predictions” of civil war are obvious oblique endorsements of the idea. I will be damned if I cast my lot with such people. If they are to be my only choice of “allies”, I’d almost rather see the Cuomo faction get its way. If sectarian slaughter is our “Plan B”, there’s no America left worth killing or dying for.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        I would love to see some money put into rigorously finding out how many defensive gun uses actually go on out there. I would love to see gun reform aimed at bettering the ratio of defensive gun uses to offensive gun uses. I suspect that conversations on improving the relevant federal and state laws on those terms would yield wide support from the gun community including the NRA. That is simply not on offer from the left.

        And insofar as sectarian slaughter goes, this President has not had theatrical productions going over the idea of his assassination. The previous one did. Perhaps it is the right’s collective horror at the idea of President Biden but I don’t think that is it. I think that if you would honestly and impartially tote up the threats and overheated rhetoric, the right remains the less overheated of the two sides.

    • Mark Shea

      SAM: I haven’t said anything about registering or confiscating anybody gun. Neither, for that matter, did Biden. But it is simply a fact that an awful lot of the Right has traded in ObamaHitler rhetoric just as an awful lot of the Left traded in Bushitler rhetoric during his tenure. Such rhetoric is unhelpful. I’m not sure who you are addressing–me or my reader–in the Koresh remarks. I do think that the proposition that some sort of cross between the Civil War, Beirut 1983 and Fallujah fending off an attack by American Hitler as a rationale for gun ownership is not realistic. If the country is so far gone as that (and I don’t think it is) then I think American Hitler would not hesitate to lob a few WMDs to pacify troublesome areas and educate the rest of us on the cost of defiance. No. I don’t trust the state. But I think the endless comparison of our pols to Hitler and Stalin just makes us dumber.

      • kenneth

        It also destroys our ability to discern real tyranny from hyperbole. If we cry “Hitler” every time some policy proposal tips an inch in a direction we don’t like, nobody is going to listen, or even notice, which a real Hitler begins laying his plans. In fact, he will count on that poisoned, static-filled civic atmosphere to do his work and will probably carry himself off as the true voice of freedom and sanity. By that point, the populace will be too dumb and blind to spot him.

        • Mark Shea

          See “Wolf, Boy Who Cried”

      • B-Rob

        ” I do think that the proposition that some sort of cross between the Civil War, Beirut 1983 and Fallujah fending off an attack by American Hitler as a rationale for gun ownership is not realistic.”

        “Not Realistic” in the sense of the idea of “winning” being unrealistic? Even if a rebellion loses, the very fact that there could be a destructive rebellion is a deterrent of tyranny. And I’m not talking about a David Koresh type (btw, who didn’t even want to fight), but a simultaneous action by a sizeable percentage of the populace…such as the Civil War, or Afghanistan, etc.

        Just saying.

  • “joe”

    i agree with every word in that letter above. the pervasiveness of the irrational – exactly the right word – attitude described therein is one (but only one) reason i came to abandon catholicism finally. and despite comments like this common trope:
    “There is as much smug scorn on the left. The left can be incredibly hateful, and incredibly dismissive of opposing views”,
    the hate of the left (and exactly what “the left” is needs clarification) is nowhere near as widespread or as virulent as that on the right. no, it isn’t. smugness and scorn is ugly, but i have never, ever, seen the level of imputation and of degrading and violent rhetoric, as i have on rightwing catholic (or otherwise) boards (and rightwing is not the same as conservative, i grant, but conservatives who knew themselves wouldn’t act the way described in the letter).
    and now, here goes.
    calling nonbelievers pathological when they say what they think and won’t shut up when stared at (“new atheists”), covering oneself with the victim mantle (“christians will be first against the wall”), imputing the existence of an elite who “push” opinions whenever they voice opinions (as the guardian does, apparently; btw, do you know how deeply the guardian is reviled amongst real leftists?), is different in intensity but not in kind from the attitude described in that letter. talk like that implies a group of self-conscious oppressors who pay lots of attention to you, but they don’t. you’re only under attack when you’re under attack, as the copts are. and the proper response isn’t to fantasize about the motivations and psychology of others, it’s the response of the monks of tibherine, writ small to match the level of daily problems. the model of humility of those trappists might be enough to re-convince me of catholicism; but then lots of kinds of people suffer humbly.

    • kenneth

      The meta-narrative of politics in this country now creates a feedback loop of extremism because it tells us, on the right and left, that the other side is hopelessly extremist and that the only way to counter their extremism is with “our” extremism. This model suggest that opposite exremism sums to sanity, like two waveforms out of phase cancelling each other to zero amplitude with destructive interference. It turns out political extremism doesn’t work that way. Two forms of extremism of the same amplitude add together to create twice as much crazy, and too much crazy leads to things spinning out of control at some point.

    • Andy

      Joe – I guess relying on second amendment corrections is not violent; I know suggesting that Obama be killed is not violent or ugly. However, conservatives have not stood up to those who make these statements – when that happens then your comments will be real.

  • kenneth

    What the “conservative” movement needs is some session of electro-convulsive therapy, heavy neuroleptic drugs and re-indoctrination. It should be forcibly administered, but NOT by Obama or Biden or liberals of any sort. It should be done by Richard Nixon, reincarnated as a semi-omnipotent being along the lines of Doctor Manhattan. Real conservatives of yesteryear had some loons among the ranks like the John Birchers, but the party never let them into the control room and kept them tied to their beds and sedated in the attic when polite company was over. Now they run the joint.

    • Dale Price

      It’s very easy to point out the faults of people we don’t like, and to laud the virtues of safely-dead opponents. It’s also empty gasbagging.

    • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

      I grew up listening to liberals during the Reagan era. And I was a proud liberal in the day. It isn’t just conservatives. Again, that sort of thing cuts across party lines.

    • antigon

      While welcoming the cautions of Mr. Shea, not to say those of Mr. Chichikov’s regarding the pleasures of hatred, as well as the legitimate objections of Mr. Man, it is perhaps nonetheless comprehensible why matters have come to this pass.

      Mr. Kenneth inadvertently suggests why with his invocation of Richard Nixon. Had some Birch-like group in, say, 1964, proclaimed that within a decade mass murder of infants would be no less ubiquitous than the pornification of American society to the extent it indeed achieved, & that soon afterward fecal marriage would not only be promoted, but that opposition to it would preclude a preacher from an inaugural prayer, that group would have made the Birchers seem restrained by comparison.

      It would also have been right, with more insight not just than the Birchers. Thus it’s hardly surprising that today many instinctively sense ‘moderation’ likely to be as helpful now as it was then, to wit, little more than capitulation to a foul & demonic zeitgeist.

      Of course, it is always the devil’s trick to insist the only way to fight a heresy is by employing a counter-heresy. In the struggle to insist instead upon sanity – orthodoxy if you prefer – it behooves the orthodox thus not only to grasp motivations, but also to provide means of serious resistance. That’s easier said than done to be sure, yet failure in that regard contributes to the Drudge headlines, or at least to their popularity, perhaps no less than apostates like Beck do.

      The note of sanity Mr. Shea continues to defend is meanwhile always of inestimable value; you sometimes need the visions of a Jeanne d’Arc in order to uphold it tho.

      Speaking of meanwhiles, there is a whole calendar with names like Loyola, Ambrose, Kolbe – in our own day Linda Gibbons & Mary Wagner also come to mind – whose administrative possibilities are arguably richer than those of a disgraced president, or Dr. Manhattan.

  • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

    Point of information: Is anyone proposing to confiscate all firearms, period, full-stop? It couldn’t be done even if anyone wanted to. Not feasible physically, not feasible politically, nor culturally.

    A private militia is a different story. A private militia can be used to enforce protection rackets, extortion and other illicit activities. It can wage war against other militias, with citizen-bystanders in the crossfire. It is uncontrolled except by itself, and it is fueled by pure irresponsible power. Leaders can be eliminated and or engulfed by factions and criminal elements. It attracts the power and violence of more powerful actors.

    We have a public militia called the police. It is not perfect but any means, but it is subject to law, not individual whim.

    Once you go outside the law, nobody is safe. In that case there is no such thing as being on the right side or the wrong side, and even being on the side of power is no guarantee of safety. Anarchy devours not only its own but itself.

    But I sense that this country is verging on a nervous breakdown. We have forgotten God. There is a causal connection between the two.

    FD – I am a culturally conservative Catholic, maybe even a fossil.

    • Stu

      Section 10 of the United States Code classifies all males between the ages of 18 and 45 as part of the “unorganized militia.”

      But you ask, is anyone currently proposing to confiscate firearms? No. But they are proposing full registration of firearms. Since such a proposal in not in any way traceable to the crime at Sandy Hook, why do they want to do this? What is the end state?

      • kenneth

        Sandy Hook is not the only problem we have with a runaway, effectively unregulated firearms market in this country. It’s an emotional touchstone to be sure, but it’s a small part of the slaughter that goes on in this country from insane, irresponsible and criminal people taking advantage of an oversaturated loose market. We lose 20 people in a few days in my city alone on a bad week. Registration is not the only tool of gun regulation, nor necessarily the best in all circumstances, but it creates some mechanisms of accountability you can’t get with other regimes of regulation, and it is not inherently a first step toward confiscation. Several of the Nordic and Alpine countries make people register their guns, and jump through some hoops to prove their responsibility and sanity, but lots of people still own them, and they also have a tradition of citizen-militias. We’ve made machine gun owners register their stuff for 70 years or something, and we’ve seen no move to confiscate their gear, except for the few who choose to be irresponsible.

        • Stu

          I don’t live in Nordic and Alpine countries so I’m not all too eager to emulate their controlling practices. But you illustrate my point exactly. We go from a crisis situation to calling for action to trying to solve every problem by the employing the Federal Government.

          In the professional world, we call that “scope creep” and “micro-management.” It’s typically a sign of poor leadership. No shortage of that in DC. No shortage of the population willing to go along.

        • Mike in KC, MO

          There is some good stuff in what you say Ken, but I would caution you on a major fallacy that you have bought into:

          “Several of the Nordic and Alpine countries make people register their guns, and jump through some hoops to prove their responsibility and sanity, but lots of people still own them, and they also have a tradition of citizen-militias.”
          - Here’s the trouble: The United States is not just a copy of Norway that happens to be plopped down north of Mexico. There’s really no comparison. There are serious cultural, social and racial issues that exist in the US that are practically non-existent in countries like Sweden or the rest. Adding restrictions won’t turn us into peaceful Sweden, no more than relaxing restrictions in Sweden would turn it into Somalia.

          • kenneth

            No, we’re not Norway and no piece of legislation will make it so, but it’s important to realize that there is a middle path on gun laws that enhances public safety (by no means prevents all tragedies) while still respecting a tradition of private gun ownership and not leading to Hitler. It’s not at theoretical construct. It’s working somewhere in the real world, and it proves that we are being sold false choices by extremists on both sides of the debate.

            • Stu

              The extremists in this would have you believe there are no controls in place. There are myriad laws on the books with those being proposed being simply more of the same and not even targeted towards preventing another Sandy Hook.

              We are already in the middle on this.

              • kenneth

                We have lots of laws on the books, but none that sum to a realistic and reasonably effective public safety approach. Background checks, for example, are meaningless if they don’t apply to private sales. We have no handle at all on the mental health issue and no realistic way at present to know if the person buying a gun has even a rough grasp on reality. We have no common sense requirements for secure storage or requirements to make a good faith effort to report theft. With no limits on purchases or even pro-forma determination that the buyer has a proper personal interest in weapons, we have no way at all to discourage or detect straw purchasing and illegal trafficking until long after the fact. We have no recognition in law of the vast difference in destructive capability among different classes of weapons. The laws on the books are inadequate and too numerous at the same time. Proposed laws contain some good ideas and some useless distractions. They should be seen as starting points, not immovable battle lines. We aren’t in the middle on this, nor anywhere we should be.

                • Stu

                  I find most of your assertions to be unsupported and simply generalities. Further, most the policies that people want to enact are aimed at law-abiding citizens.

                  You have to focus your efforts on people who act like criminals and/or mentally ill. By definition, these folks work outside the norms. That, along with looking how these sorts of people choose their targets is another consideration.

                  The “more of the same” approach will only gets of “more of the same” results but with more bureaucracy. Somewhere that is considered “progress” I suppose.

                  • kenneth

                    Most laws on the books are aimed at law abiding people because law has a regulatory function. It has punitive provisions for the minority who flout the law, and blanket prohibitions on actions like theft and murder which cannot be tolerated in any civil society, but most of the law exist to define the boundaries of things that we are allowed to do. Driving, commercial activities, food and drug safety are but a few examples.

                    None are considered evil, but they all have elements of danger. We could just let people do whatever they want – drive as fast and drunk as they want, and then punish them after they victimize someone, but regulation makes a better first line of defense because it has a proactive function. We enact limits which enhance safety but inevitably place some burden on law-abiding people who would tend to do the right thing anyway. Ideally, we aim for the laws that will impose the least burden on good guys to produce maximum safety. I probably agree with you that many laws produce warm fuzzy feeling and ratings for politicians, burden good people too much and produce little in the way of safety. Where that line is is the subjective part.

                    • Stu

                      I’m not calling for no regulation.

                      I’m pointing out that in terms of gun control, regulations aimed at establishing norms and law abiding citizens have been played out and will reap diminishing returns at high cost.

                      Time to reconceptualize the approach. That is, if we are interested in achieving results.

      • Beccolina

        Our country confiscated firearms a century ago. It was considered necessary because we were at war with EVIL GERMANY so all those EVIL GERMAN (law abiding, farming) immigrants could not keep their guns. And no, they didn’t get them back when the war ended. A valuable asset was taken by the government, with no compensation, and never returned, for no other reason than ethnic heritage. I do not cherish the notion that we are so much more advanced than we were then. As for consequences, when a family relies on hunting to provide enough meat, removing their guns prevents that. Malnutrition is an ugly thing. When claiming to do things in the name of public safety, our government does not have a history of reacting with sense or compassion.

        • kenneth

          Do you suppose people of German descent or our country as a whole would be freer today if they had shot it out with federal troops?

          • Beccolina

            They were law-abiding citizens who had fled Germany for political/religious oppression. And, as law-abiding citizens, they handed over their guns, even to the detriment of their children’s nutrition. The issue isn’t, “well, would making a shooting solution be any better,” it is that, “the government has a history and tendency to be heavy-handed with their power–often in the name of safety, national security, etc.”. I don’t trust the government to make the right choices to keep my family safe and healthy because they have demonstrated int he past that they don’t really care about my safety or health, or that of my children, until it is a money-making, vote garnering photo-op.

            • kenneth

              Our government does often over-reach with abuses of power, especially during wartime. I don’t think it’s productive or realistic to frame it as something “they” are doing to us, or some of us. The anti-German hysteria of our government in WW I was not something invented by bureaucrats. They followed the lead of the public, who were often much more vicious to their German neighbors than anyone with a badge ever was. There was at least one lynching of a German, and it was not done by government proceeding. The same is true of the Patriot Act and torture etc in the most recent war. “We the people” were willing accomplices in that. A national consensus to stop feeding the political culture of unchecked power would do a lot more to safeguard us in the long run than our personal gun collections.

              • Beccolina

                Many see allowing the government to slowly encroach upon our right to own firearms as feeding the political culture of unchecked power. If you could guarantee me (and others) that the gun control would stop on limiting the number of rounds, or would stop with just basic registration, people would be more open to it. There just is no guarantee, though, so gun owners and the NRA see a slippery slope. It is also not viewed as an individual issue, but tied to issues of parental sovereignty, the right to homeschool, and religious freedom. It is not, for most I know and myself, isolated, but part of a whole constellation of issues dealing with government oversight and meddling.

                • Sus

                  I want guarantees too. If they bring guns into schools for protection, I want a guarantee that innocent people won’t be harmed.
                  I want the guarantee that my kid won’t be shot because I allowed them to go to a friend’s house and didn’t know there are unsecured guns.
                  I want guarantees that gun owners aren’t going to accidentally shoot a member of their family because they didn’t realize someone was hungry and got up for a midnight snack.

                  • Hezekiah Garrett

                    You live in a messed up society of man-children. Banning this or that won’t suddenly make you and your peers mature adults.

                • kenneth

                  Nobody can guarantee anything in perpetuity, if for no other reason than people get old and die and new people come up into power. Life, and certainly democracy, is a slippery slope. That’s the best incentive to stay involved in the process and to keep government accountable. Refusing to negotiate on any legislation is not a great bulwark against change either. Gun owners are increasingly being written off as extremists and obstacles to public safety to be gotten around or over. If we don’t present some face of reasonableness, I fear we’re going to find the debate driven by people who have no investment in our core freedom.

  • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

    THE HUNTING

    We came out of darkness into the light,
    Animals hide in a crevice within,
    Anger and malice, beasts that can bite,
    Fangs in the shadows, to shadow they blend

    This is the hunting that Christ carries on,
    In caverns of darkness He shines and pursues,
    Vermin are taken and slain one by one,
    And this is the dying that we undergo

    Little by little a part of us dies,
    Inhuman, instinctive, impetuous, vain,
    Cowardly, treacherous, greedy and sly,
    Till only the human inside us remains

    The hunting, the hunting, but we must admit
    The hunting of Christ to the darkness below,
    And even go with Him to guide and permit
    The riving of darkness, to go where He goes

    Pavel
    January 6, 2013

  • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

    You will fight the war against Christ by being more fully Christian, and no other way. Christianity in Russia survived 70 years of persecution and contempt by a powerful state. The state is gone and the Faith still lives.

    FOR A.I. ABRIKOSOVA
    A version of a poem by Fr. Sergei Solovyov

    Unearthly you came of a sudden,
    A specter before me appeared
    In a yard of Lefortovo prison,
    You came though I was not prepared

    There you were floating, composed,
    Serene indestructible sight,
    Amongst the tormented you rose
    A fair supernatural light

    Like she of Siena, the Virgin
    Overlooking the anguish of men,
    You gazed over granite and iron
    As if they were flowers of Eden

    High above like an ivory swan,
    As cold as the fiery frost,
    You printed your mercy upon
    The ages of blessings unlost

    In the gown of a reverent bride
    Reflecting on Christ’s agony
    In the cell of a sister you bide,
    Pondering Christ on the Tree

    But you amongst murdering lice,
    Thieves who belong in a prison,
    The kind who had crucified Christ
    You render the utmost devotion

    Flame of compassion, flame crucified
    Flash of a flame on the wing,
    Droplet that falls on my freedom denied,
    That wells from a God-blessed spring

    Pavel
    January 5, 2013

  • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

    Here’s is the original:

    А. И. Абрикосовой

    Тот миг не может быть случаен,
    Когда как призрак неземной
    Среди лефортовских окраин
    Ты вдруг возникла предо мной..

    Среди тюремных грозных зданий
    Ты безмятежная плыла
    Несокрушима средь страданий
    И сверхъестественно светла-

    Как дева оная Сиены
    Спокойно озирала ты
    Замки желзные и стены,
    Как рая красные цветы.

    Высокая, как лебедь белый,
    Холодная, как горний снег,
    Ты образ свой запечатлела
    В воспоминаниях навек.

    В одежде иноческой, скромной
    Уже предсозерцала крест-
    Года в цепях и келье тёмной,
    Награды Божиих невест!

    И ты в тюрьме, среди злодеев,
    Убийц, разбойников, как тот,
    Кто распятый рукой евреев
    Себя нам в пищу отдаёт!

    Гора любви, гора распятья-
    Твоя гора. В сей кракий миг-
    Упала капля благодати
    И в мой скудеющий родник!

    О. Сергей Соловьёв

  • Peggy R

    For myself, and I think many others, it is not personal in the sense that people on the right personally hate the man Barack Obama. What they hate is what the man does and says, what he stands for. His party as well. It is personal, however, in that my very life and my family’s lives are explicitly adversely affected by the policies pursued and pronounced by Barry et al.

    Further, as a economist, I am professionally full of loathing for the destructive, or wasteful at best, policies that Barry routinely articulates and has implemented so far. As an American citizen, I am very worried about Barry’s routine pronouncements against basic ideals of freedom we have enjoyed in the USA.

    Do you think he’s just evil and tyrannical on abortion and contraception, religious freedom? Why not on gun rights? Economic liberty? Property rights? Why not those areas as well?

    Quit playing devil’s advocate to the Right. It’s getting old. While I don’t agree with all positions on the Right, neither I nor Mark Shea is the keeper of the conservative movement. I can’t say that I know who is. We each have to work this out for ourselves, I suppose, for now.

    • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

      Do not hate, because if you hate you are helpless. Do not hate because you can not fight the demons by becoming a demon.

      Hatred creates nothing and destroys everything.

      Our Lord tells us not to hate. He is God.

      • Peggy R

        I understand.
        Filter wants more words. Nothing more to say….

  • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov
  • Hezekiah Garrett

    Irenist,

    You were born 250yrs too late. If only you had been able to talk sense in your bloodthirsty, daydreaming founders…

    • kenneth

      A lot of good people, Americans, who had nothing to do with Parliament’s abuses died or lost everything they had in our founding for simply choosing the wrong side. It was only by the grace of some extraordinarily gifted leaders, dumb luck and the legal traditions of our allegedly tyrannical parent society that we came out like we did, and not like the French Revolution. We have none of those factors in place on either end of the political spectrum now, so a repeated “revolution” would just be senseless slaughter followed by a fracturing into balkanized rump states and endless dictatorships.

      • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

        My boys ask me why so many people hate America. I tell them visit the Catholic blogosphere and they’ll find out.

      • Stu

        Kenneth,

        Who is calling for a revolution? Anyone of note? I think people have just expressed a desire to be prepared in the unlikely even that our own government turns on us. Is that far fetched? Does “American Exceptionalism” protect us from falling prey to a despot like almost every other place in the World has suffered?

        What would be your limit to where you would fight back? Is their any limit to what a potential despotic government here in the US could do to you or your family before you would fight back with your neighbor?

        • kenneth

          Is there some limit that would move me to armed resistance? Quite probably. I don’t know where that line is, but I know it lay a hell of a long way beyond passage of some law I don’t like, especially any of the federal gun proposals which have any realistic chance of passage in the foreseeable future. I can envision fighting if there was something like ethnic cleansing going on AND if there were some sane coalition of leadership who still represented the legitimate aspirations of our country and who had a legitimate mandate of the American people at large. There would have to be someone of the stature and decency of a Lincoln leading that movement who had a realistic prospect of reuniting the survivors into some worthwhile nation. None of the wingnuts burning up Fox News or the blogosphere with revolution fantasies rises to that level, and I don’t see them producing people of that caliber, ever. I would not turn a gun on my own people to advance the warlord aspirations of some crackpot Tea Party militia “colonel” nor just to try to prolong my days in some miserable scrubland bunker stocked with MREs.

          We talk about despotism in the abstract as if it just “happens” to people because they didn’t trouble to arm themselves. We have not avoided despotism simply by virtue of being American or by being armed. We have remained a (reasonably) free and functional country precisely because we have clung to a consensus that the gun is not a legitimate instrument of political power or the only sure guarantor of our own tribe’s safety or survival. We’ve remained free only because we bought into a sensible system of participatory governance where we all have a voice and many mechanisms for non-violent conflict resolution which lead to some semblance of justice more often than not.

          It has worked because all historically shared that vulnerability and that willingness to talk things out and the self-restraint to see the process, ugly as it is, play out, and to compromise, and to sometimes suck it up when we don’t get our way and then to invest our energies in future elections or court cases rather than bloodshed. The system works because we have invested ourselves in making it work through the good and ugly times. It will not fail us until we give up on it and reach for the gun. We tried that from time to time when the political route seemed unresponsive, and it turns out the gun did not lead us to happiness or more perfect justice. Just slaughter.

          The talk of revolution we’ve been hashing over in the context of the gun debate is not abstract tabletop scenario running that will help hedge against despotism. It is leading us down the path of a self-fulfilling prophecy by suggesting that civilized governance is only worth pursuing conditionally, and that war is a perfectly legitimate and proximate solution to settling policy questions.

          • Stu

            Kenneth,

            No one of note is calling for revolution based upon the current situation. What they are pointing out is that limits on firearms preclude citizens from taking action if the situation became so dire. Even you have now recognized that you have a limit as well at which you would take action. Hard to do that if you have either been disarmed or the government can simply stop by at any time and take your arms because they have such a nifty list that tells them where to go.

            I’m not particularly interested in giving the Feds more ground in areas of civil liberties. Good intentions often lead to bad results. Again, I point out things like the Patriot Act, invasive searches of innocent people, undefined periods of detentions, killing of Americans overseas and torture. All in the name of safety. What path is that leading us down?

            • kenneth

              I guess where we mostly differ is that I just don’t feel that any gun I could legally own or shoulder buys me any real margin of safety against tyranny by a modern state power. I especially don’t think a 30-round capacity semi-auto gives me any more real safety than a 10-rounder and only marginally more deterrence than a bolt rifle. A 30-rounder AR-15 is way more than I need for any realistic defense need I have and at the same time utterly inadequate to keep my government in check. In that gray area in between, it is wonderfully efficient for criminals and psychotics who want to mow down an office or classroom full of innocents. Given that, I wouldn’t feel that much of a loss if the things were banned and I certainly wouldn’t have any problem complying with some enhanced background checks or licensing.

              I think my contention that small arms alone are pretty much a non-factor in modern was illustrated by the actions of our own military in Afghanistan. In areas that were clearly hostile and which had no Second Amendment, we didn’t even bother to try to confiscate Kalashnikovs, only heavy machine guns, grenade launchers and explosives. To even provide the barest hedge against tyrannical government, the Second Amendment would have to be construed to allows unlimited and un-monitored possession of high explosives. We ought to be making policy decisions based on real conditions in the society we live rather than doomsday scenarios.

              • Stu

                You alone? Certainly not.
                You acting in concert with other like-minded men? Absolutely.

                My rifle is an M-1. I only have a 8 round clip. And I am comfortable with that. Why? Because I can reload in very minimal time. That’s why I think the desire to go after so-called high capacity magazines is really not an effective tactic. In fact, the Aurora shooter’s gun jammed specifically because he was using one of the high capacity magazines which given their design tend to function poorly.

                As to your comparison to Afghanistan. Do think we subjugated that country? From my point of view, we certainly did a lot of damage and took out the Taliban, but we did not even come close to conquering the country. We don’t try to confiscate their firearms because it would be a fools errand.

                • kenneth

                  I’d feel better about letting people own M-1s with fewer restriction than I’d place on high-capacity gear. It’s plenty powerful for any legitimate self-defense or even paramilitary use, but it also has plenty of features that make it fairly un-appealing for a mass killer like Adam Lanza.

                  The Garand is plenty lethal, but it’s not a gun that’s user-friendly in amateur hands, and especially the pipsqueaks that carry out many of these attacks. It’s a big heavy brute. It’s far less concealable. You can’t wheel it around quickly, or one-handed like a lightweight pistol gripped AR. It’s capable of a decent rate of fire in trained hands, but very few people are going to want or be able to put hundreds of rounds in the air in a few minutes.

                  That recoil is punishing and flinch-inducing, magazine changes are slower, and nobody is going to want to carry 500 rounds of that stuff, especially in en-bloc clips. It takes discipline and training to make a truly effective M-1 combat rifleman. These Glocks and Bushmasters are bullet hoses right out of the box, and video game training a day or two at the range is all it takes to engineer a slaughter.

      • Jon W

        I have never so agreed with kenneth in my life. This. So this.

      • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

        Who says that (in this admittedly very unlikely scenario) that there are not some intelligent, balanced folks who could take over and help restore sane governments on a local level? I wouldn’t bet against it.

    • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

      Not worthy to unbuckle their weird little eighteenth-century slipper shoes. That said, I do often find myself wondering if the two republics of which I am grateful to be a citizen (the U.S. and Ireland) were founded through unjust wars. In neither case was the ugliness of British behavior to the point where armed insurrection seems justified on my reading. Still, I thank Providence for the wonderful nations that have resulted.

  • Peggy R

    P.S. If you want to see hate from political people, it may be Media Research Org that has compiled deathwishes and other personally vicious things that many lefty pols and journalists have expressed for the likes of Dick Cheney (I’m no fan of his), Clarence Thomas, and others on the Right. The Right may have a couple of folks here and there who express such sentiments toward Lefties, but it is generally not their way.

    I think I read that journalist recently recommended the killing of gun owners. People on the Right don’t typically call for the murder of their opponents.

    • Andy

      People on the Right don’t typically call for the murder of their opponents. – other than second amendment responses or the need for a new revolutionary war or civil war. Those are deaths – and in thsi case a call for murder.

      • Peggy R

        It was not a call to kill any person. It was one person suggesting a revolution could be necessary. I was not a statement of a desire to kill a person on the opposition.

        Thomas Jefferson thought little revolutions every 20 years or so were a good thing. Too much instability for me.

  • Billy Bishop

    I just can’t buy into the Serios Reader’s premise. The Right does not hate. It would be passing strange if a group characterized by hate was more inclined to charitable giving than a group that isn’t supposed to be hateful. And yet, it is the case that conservatives out give liberals.

    The policy positions chosn are very interesting. We can and should be able to argue about gun control, tax rates, and the proper amount to spend on defense. None of this involve hate. A strong defence to defend liberty here and abroad, support of the right to keep and bear arms, low tax rates to stimulate growth are all positions that can be taken without hate. Indeed, the opposite position (that of the Left) can be taken without resorting to hate.

    In order to understand each other, we must judge groups by their healthy members. We must have the empathy to fully understand the other side’s arguments. Dialogue is heroic. When you say the other side’s biggest problem is hate, dialogue is foreclosed, empathy is foreclosed. All that is left is to defeat the other side. The Serious Reader of this blog may rejoice that for now that other side is being defeated. But is that what you really want for some of your Catholic brothers and sisters, their defeat?

    I’m more than willing to point the finger of blame at myself as I make accusations of lack of empathy. I would like to better understand the Left’s positions. As one Catholic to another, I’m more than willing to grant that you have a basis for your arguments, your policy positions. I’d only request the same courtesy from you. Further, I’d be more than willing to pray the novna to Mart, Undoer of Knots, with you, and with all people of good will.

    • Mark Shea

      The Right does not hate.

      This is as ridiculous a proposition as “The Left does not hate.”

  • Kalamazoo

    As Joe Sobran once said, the lazy use of the “left-right” continuum only furthers the cause of the dictatorship of relativism. Everyone should stop using it.

  • SteveP

    Too many conservatives indulge in a fantasy world in which a few individuals will attempt to seize control of their communities and, after watching Red Dawn too often, think they will have a heroic future living some cowboy anarchic dream shooting at liberals (for God, of course) for the next decades in the Rocky Mountains.

    Wait . . . was there a memo I missed?

  • Beccolina

    I could see an argument for some of the conservative talking heads being full of hate (listen to Hannity on a bad day–ouch!). But conservatives in general? What most conservatives of my acquaintance want is and end to government interference in everything. They want local control of their schools back. They want the devils’ partnership between big ag and the government ended. Same with the partnership between big business and government, big banks, big unions, etc. They are heartily sick of feeling like our policies are for sale to the biggest contributor. They are alarmed when they see more and more regulations, laws, and taxes coming down from on high, but no solutions, no cut in spending, no basic idea of sense or thrift that any citizen has to exercise to live a normal life. A friend of mine who owns his own, small manufacturing business has been fighting with the IRS for months now. They insist that he owns them $14 in back taxes, while at the same time, insisting that he overpaid taxes by $13,000 last year. But his manufacturing shop, worth a million or more, is forfeit over the $14 dollars. He’s doing great, wants to expand, employ some more people, but can’t until he deals with all the red tape and regs that say he can’t get his overpaid taxes back until he takes care of back taxes he doesn’t actually owe. So please, don’t get out your nation-wide brush, dip it in one paint bucket, and paint every conservative with the same color based on talking heads on the radio and TV and the hot-headedness that breeds in comboxes. I know a whole county of conservatives with guns. None of them want to shoot anyone in the government. None of them hate an individual. But they are worried and afraid, because they see the baby steps of this nation going in a direction that bodes ill for liberty. They feel helpless, as they see the money machine get it’s way, and people far away, with no thought or care for common sense, common courtesy, or the common man make laws and pass them without even reading them, impose regulations and laws alongside favors and back-pats, without even knowing what they’ve given up or done to others. They love this country–some a little too much–and like watching a person they love make bad choice, then worse choice, again and again with no way to stop or convince them otherwise, there is anger, and fear and impotence.

  • The Deuce

    Btw, the thing with Biden is, he doesn’t just say random, off-the-wall crap. Rather, he has a history of embarrassing the administration by saying what the administration thinks without the five layers of misdirection and propaganda that the administration likes to put in it.

    • Stu

      Bingo.

      He isn’t stupid.

      He is prideful and just can’t keep his mouth shut.


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