Prudence II

Prudence II November 8, 2012

When faced with defeat, a prudent person considers the possibility that something about his ideas, strategy, performance, behavior, personality, strength, intellect, morality, etc. may have contributed to the defeat.

The Thing that Used to be Conservatism–the Party of Personal Responsibility, if you please–has not done that for about 10 years. From the catastrophe of the Iraq War to the prostitution of American and Christian principles for torture to the Great Crash to the McCain nomination to the crowning surrealism of the Romney debacle and all of the delusional BS surrounding it, the Thing that Used to be Conservatism has indulged an epic stupid imprudence by refusing to face any facts about its own veil of illusion and has, instead, consistently chosen to find scapegoats. Result: Standard bearers like Rush Limbaugh making epic stupid declarations like this:

“Conservatism, in my humble opinion, did not lose last night. It’s just very difficult to beat Santa Claus.” — Rush Limbaugh

Yes.  The fault is those “so-called Americans” with their hands out.  The Thing that Used to be Conservatism did not fail; the unworthy American people failed the Thing that Used to be Conservatism.  Man was made for the ideology, not the ideology for man.  It has nothing whatever to do with the fact that a corporate welfare recipient and cynical duplicitous liar made extremely clear that Randian class warfare, militarism, contempt for the weak in a struggling economy, and utter moral rudderlessness (oh, and support for the current abortion regime veiled in prolife BS) were what the GOP stood for.  The Volk revealed themselves to be unworthy of the greatness of the Leader and his Vision.  National Review took a similar tack, declaring Americans unworthy of self-governance for failing the neocon ideology.

“The lessons of Ohio are that Barack Obama is a skillful demagogue, that the ancients were wise to number envy among the deadly sins, and that offering Americans a check is a more fruitful political strategy than offering them the opportunity to take control of and responsibility for their own lives,”  wrote Kevin D Williamson.  “This is what Oakeshott had in mind when he wrote that liberty was something that many people simply are not equipped to “enjoy as an opportunity rather than suffer as a burden.”

Again, the only conceivable reason Romney lost was because Americans who voted against him are moochers, takers, and Randian looters.  The fault, dear Brutus, was in the voters, not ourselves. The hilarious hypocrisy about “taking control of and responsibility for their own lives” is particularly delicious coming from a movement that is seeking a way to blame everybody but themselves for losing.  And manufacturers of illusion like Limbaugh, NRO and FOX are leading the charge.

The Greeks called this “hubris”.  The Christian tradition, pride.  It is the root sin: the thing that makes the devil the devil, got us kicked out of Eden, results in epic stupidity (among other things) and, in its current manifestation, loses the GOP elections and blinds members of the cult of the Thing That Used to be Conservatism to the bloody obvious fact that their movement is on life support for good reason.  If they wish to treat with reality, “conservatives” need to stop congratulating themselves and start cultivating the virtue of prudence by facing the culture of illusion they have fostered for 10 years.  You do this by learning to unflinchingly face what is so, even when the people telling you what is so are ritually impure and not Of The Tribe.  You learn to do it by holding up your most cherished dogmas and shibboleths to actual criticism.  You learn to do it by measuring what you think, believe and do by the teaching of the Church, not by trimming the teaching of the Church down to fit the ideology (that is, heresy) you are comfy with.

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  • Norris


    1) Please define “conservatism.”
    2) Please define “That Thing that Used to be Conservatism.”

    Your rapier wit is too esoteric and elliptical for those of us (well, me at least) not part of the “in” group and simply need simply language presently plainly.

  • kenneth

    If the black helicopter conservatives don’t manage to disconnect their minds from the fear-anger feedback generator of their own media, the movement won’t end with electoral defeats. It will end like Jonestown, or Waco.

    • MattyD

      That’s a jarring way to put it, Kenneth, but you may be on to something there.

  • Norris

    Kenneth, who are teh black helicopter conservatives.

    You do realize that beyond the commonality of mass death, the ending of Jonestown was due to dynamics extremely different from those that ended the folks in the compound in Waco, don’t you?

    • kenneth

      The Waco/Jonestown dynamics were almost exactly the same, at the core. Both were the result of people giving uncritical adulation to leaders who fed them a paranoid worldview of themselves versus a world of people too stupid or evil to grasp their genius.

      • Norris

        No Kenneth.

        One was mass suicide.

        One was mass murder.

        • Marthe Lépine

          But with the same cause

          • Norris

            Same cause?

            The FBI is not poison laced Kool-Aid.

            • Marthe Lépine

              That was the “means”, not the cause.

  • Fr. Rob Johansen


    I am right behind you in recognizing that Mitt Romney lost because he represented (or was made to represent) many of the worst things about The Thing that Used to be Conservatism. However, surely you would admit that Williamson is substantively right about the following:

    1. Barack Obama is a demagogue.
    2. Much of the Democratic campaign was (and has been for quite some time) an appeal to naked envy.
    3. Offering people “free” stuff (though, in reality, it is being paid for by confiscating stuff from others) is more politically fruitful in the short term than raising expectations of deferred gratification and self-reliance.
    4. A “Paris Hilton people” (as you have so wittily described the American volk) is going to come to fit the Oakshottian definition of a people inclined to regard liberty as something to suffer as a burden rather than enjoy as an opportunity.

    While Republican post-mortems about the election are wrong in many respects, don’t you think that Williamson is right that our culture is rapidly approaching the point where it is ripe for tyranny?

    • Mark Shea

      We’ve been ripe for tyranny for quite a while and the Dems are helping the Police State Republicans move that project along. Similarly, an alcoholic can always point to the fact that there are lot of other drunks in the world worse than him.

      So what? The Right *has* to stop this blame-shifting. It has to stop blaming other people for its own failure, just as an alcoholic has to stop saying, “Hey! There are a lot of worse drunks in the world!”

      • Norris

        Mark, is it allowed to simply say, “Conservatism is rejected by more than those who embrace it?”

        • Mark Shea

          Yes. Including by most conservatives, who are not interestied in conserving the Western tradition, but instead are dominated by an impoverished ideology of crony capitalism, atomized individualism, Randian class warfare, imperial war, and highly selective opposition to killing certain innocents combined with zeal for murdering other innocents.

          • Norris

            So Mark, is THAT your definition of conservatism?

            • Jon W

              That’s a pretty accurate description of the peculiarities of the Right in this country.

              • Norris

                You’re not Mark.

          • Norris

            Mark, is that your definition of conservatism?

            If not, what, please?

            And, either way, what is your definition of “That Thing that Used to be Conservatism?”

            • Mark Shea

              By “the Thing that Used to be Conservatism” I basically have in mind what is commonly referred to has Movement Conservatism. The sort of people who live in a media bubble of FOX, Limbaugh, Talk Radio, and National Review, augmented with stuff like the Blaze, Breitbart, and related propaganda organs. People who seriously believed that Tuesday would be a Romney landslide and who took seriously not merely the idea that Romney sucked less than Obama (intellectually defensible) but that he was a good candidate who was “prolife” and “conservative”. People who think the Bush years were not a catastrophe but a great thing, that the Iraq war was a good idea,that the erection of a police state only became a bad thing when Obama took over the project, that Ayn Rand is a thinker to be reckoned with, that Sarah Palin was a serious stateswoman and thinker, who never saw an Obama conspiracy theory or denunciation they didn’t like, who believe devoutly in the Immaculate Conception of the State of Israel, who think Mitt Romney was the embodiment of Christian Values, and who never listen to news media outside the bubble just described (except for Christian radio and/or EWTN) lest they be defiled.

              By “conservatism” I have in mind, basically, that which seeks to conserve (and intelligently develop) the best of the Western tradition. This means more than “Opposition to deliberately killing the right class of innocents”. It means opposition to deliberately killing all innocents, including in unjust wars beloved by neocons or in injust actions such as the mass murders of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Dresden. It means opposition to torture and abuse of prisoners and indefinite detention and cool awesome drone strikes that blow up swarthy foreign children we don’t look at too closely but dismiss as “collateral damage” and ignore. It includes the idea, not just of subsidiarity (the only part of Catholic social teaching the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism ever discusses–and misinterpets as a synonym for libertarianism), but solidarity and the common good. It includes even the bits about the preferential option for the poor, peace as the default position for dealing with tension between nations, and the notion that innocent blood cannot be shed, even when it seems expedient to win a war or look tough on terror. It is a thing that is intellectually curious and does not lionize figures like Sarah Palin. It is sober and does not lionize figures like Glenn Beck. It is morally consistent and does not lionize figures like Newt Gingrich. It believes the truth is attractive and so does not try to win by lying or propagandizing, but by argument. It thinks people can be persuaded by reason and should not be stampeded by fear. It governs by moral suasion and not by regarding citizens as beasts to be tempted or threatened. It takes seriously human dignity, even in criminals and terrorists. It abhors so much as the whiff of racism because it takes seriously the imago Dei. It rejects the entire consequentialist project that both left and right in this country totally embrace. It believes we are fallen and that the state exists for the common good of human persons, not human persons for the state. It puts the family at the center and sees human systems as existing to foster the family. It is as skeptical of the corporation as the state. It lives in reality and realizes that part of what the state does is “redistribute wealth” (we call this “taxation” in English) and so does not fall for demagoguery about “socialism” and “communism”. Conversely, it is skeptical of the perfectibility of man in this world and so reject all attempts, from utopian communism to utopian neocon dreams of “ending evil”, to immanentize the eschaton. But unlike Randian class warfare, it does not say, “IF the poor be like to die, they had better do it and help decrease the surplus population.” That is because it is rooted in the Tradition and recognizes the truth of Cardinal Chaput’s words: “If you neglect the poor, you will go to hell.” Finally, its hope is not in this earth, but in heaven. So it does not act like the Thing that Used to bbe Conservatism and wrap itself in false prophecy, lies, denial, blame-shifting and despair in order to fend off the self-denying “death” required to practice real self-evaluation, repent, learn and grow. If trusts that the truth will set you free. The Thing that Used to be Conservatism fears the truth and prefers illusion.

              How’s that?

              • ivan_the_mad

                Right on the money.

              • Norris

                How’s that? Well I must say that this post, like just about anything of yours I’ve ever read, produces more heat than light.

                Your writings always remind me of that thing criticized by Chesterton in Orthodoxy…

                “Most of the machinery of modern language is labour-saving machinery; and it saves mental labour very much more than it ought. Scientific phrases are used like scientific wheels and piston-rods to make swifter and smoother yet the path of the comfortable. Long words go rattling by us like long railway trains. We know they are carrying thousands who are too tired or too indolent to walk and think for themselves. It is a good exercise to try for once in a way to express any opinion one holds in words of one syllable. If you say “The social utility of the indeterminate sentence is recognized by all criminologists as a part of our sociological evolution towards a more humane and scientific view of punishment,” you can go on talking like that for hours with hardly a movement of the gray matter inside your skull. But if you begin “I wish Jones to go to gaol and Brown to say when Jones shall come out,” you will discover, with a thrill of horror, that you are obliged to think. The long words are not the hard words, it is the short words that are hard. There is much more metaphysical subtlety in the word “damn” than in the word “degeneration.””

                But in fact, while there is some truth in the comparison, the real likeness is found in your description of John Zmirak’s writing. As I read that I thought you were talking about yourself. You abject lack of self-reflective irony in that post is stupendous.

                It’s like the description of Protagoras in Plato’s dialogue; you are prone to run before the wind, launched upon a sea of words until out of sight of land.

                You could be brilliant but have settled on being clever. A clever demagogue. A very bright, verbose, clever demagogue.

                Unfortunately, the clever always seem to be able to draw a following.

                • Mark Shea

                  Oh well. I did my best.

                  • Norris

                    That’s a pity.

                    • Mark Shea

                      I guess I’m wondering what you think I should have said. Not generalities about what a failed human being I am, but what I should have said instead. Or do you think Movement Conservatism is the picture of health and it is not possible to articulate a better vision than the one emerging from the FOX/Limbaugh/NRO/GOP Axis of Illusion? What *should* I have written?

                • MattyD

                  Norris, I like your 200+ word quote to expound on the merits of *concision*. Are you sure it’s *Mark* that lacks self-reflective irony? Also, re: “more heat than light”, can you point me to a *better* moral critique of modern conservatism? Or is your critique, essentially, that he did not say what you wanted him to say, in your words? Lastly, re: “draw a crowd”, are you unfamiliar with Mark’s many funny attempts to *lose* FB friends by taking on positions that consistently challenge the left and the right? Can you point me to another blogger who more consistently *refuses* to pander to his readers? Honestly, your comment wins my combox prize this week for Most Puffed-Up Nonsense I’ve seen in a single post.

                  • Norris

                    Thanks for the prize.

                  • Norris

                    Oh, and Matt, for the record, Chesterton’s point was not that one should necessarily use fewer words, but to speak plainly and strictly and to not hide behind language.

                    Again, thank you.

                    • MattyD

                      Norris, again, would you be willing to refer us to a better-written critique of contemporary conservatism? If Mark’s attempt merits only derision, surely you can refer us to better ones, right?

              • MattyD

                I’d rank that somewhere between brilliant and inspired.

              • Mercury

                Wow. Can you make that a post? That was awesome.

              • tz

                I would say “The Natural Law, executed in the complementary ideas of Solidarity and Subsidiarity”.

                That might not be strictly “conservatism”, but we need to be mindful of what we are conserving – a beautiful meadow or a malarial swamp.

                Not all of “Western Civilization” is laudable, as it isn’t entirely Christendom.

                Aquinas has his treatise on law in the Summa. C. S. Lewis in the Abolition of Man. These are reason, not religion.

                Ayn Rand was not so much a (civil) pagan as a heretic, holding morality objective, but only seeing and accepting certain parts – those being specifically rejected by the communists in Russia and what was creeping into America. Most specifically the Church pushing the State to replace charity with taxation and redistribution. It is one thing to say “if you do not take care of the poor you will go to hell”. Another thing entirely “…that you will go to prison”.

                One thing she in the persona of John Galt said fits this discussion – “When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit”.

                We are all tempted not to recognize reality. Yet if we cannot accurately know the truth of what we do see, how can we expect to know the truth of what we do not see?

                I find it ironic that the Objectivists who idolize reason (as in breaking the 1st commandment) seem to be the ones who are denying reality. But that is Rand’s fatal flaw – Man is more and less than pure reason. There is a fallen will in there too, and failing to acknowledge that reality makes reason itself futile for it turns into rationalization, like when she committed adultery.

      • Fr. Rob Johansen


        I don’t see the Williamson piece as “blame shifting.” I see it as identifying some of the conditions that led to the Republican defeat. Not all of the conditions, and, as I said before, some of the Republican post-mortem analysis is blindingly wrong. But to identify the real conditions is necessary if you are to find ways to repair the condition.

        Personally, I don’t think the cultural problem is soluble. As my friend Scott Richert and his colleagues at the Rockford Institute are fond of saying, “there are no political solutions to cultural problems”. And cultures are formed over time, not constructed out of abstract principles. And my problems #3 and #4 above, it seems to me, is sufficient reason to believe the problem to be insoluble. A “conservative” culture of self-restraint, humility, deferred gratification, and respect for the the Permanent Things cannot survive (or be rebuilt) among a “Parish Hilton” people who have been debased and demagogued into envy and dependence.

    • The trends for tyranny are somewhat mixed. 2nd amendment trends make hard tyranny much less likely due to assassination fears. The development of the Semantic web (Web 3.0) will also improve democratic governance and the implosion of the incumbent media due to their business model no longer being viable is also likely to improve things. None of this will help conservatism if conservatives do not take advantage of the opportunities. So far the 2nd amendment people have adapted best but that sort of activism is a last ditch sort of thing.

    • Dan C

      The naked envy matter is gravely insulting. Those who are considered as receiving entitlements are those who are public servants. Those who are on the entitlement brigade are hospitals nurses and doctors.

      You want to change our salaries and pay us less, provide us with less benefits, or decrease the number of those folks in employment, fine. Let’s talk about it. Insulting us as being envious, because we are the moochocracy described, is not the beginning of the conversation.

      • Fr. Rob Johansen


        That you found my remarks about “naked envy” insulting is unfortunate. For the working man to desire a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work is not envy. It is justice.
        But I hold to my assertion that much of the Democratic campaign is an appeal to envy. The language of “going after” the “millionaires and billionaires” (when most of whom would be subjected to higher taxes are, in fact, neither), and the implicit (and sometimes explicit) contention that, merely by being “millionaires and billionaires” that they have done something deserving of punishment by taxation, is an appeal to envy. Furthermore, Obama’s recent remarks about voting for “revenge” lay the envy naked for all to see.

        • Dan C

          “Taxes are confiscatory” is a downstream conclusion of radical individualism that embraces absolute property rights relative to the needs of the community, suggesting no role for government in wealth redistribution. The burden on the person advancing this notion is to develop a sound philosophy that is within the Catholic Tradition, because right now it stands far apart from how we understand how communities and nations are to be oriented, recognizing also this is a departure from recent Encyclicals. Good luck with that. This is founded in an economic philosophy currently alien to Catholicism.

          It is also well within reason and prudence to declare, “the rich need to pay more taxes, they do not pay their share.” Such arguments can be based in reason and need not derive from envy or greed.

          • Blog Goliard

            It would help if that argument were accompanied by:

            a) A definition of “the rich”
            b) A statement of how much of the total tax burden is currently borne by people in that category
            c) An explanation of why that number is too low, and what the proper figure should be

            Then I might accept it as reason and not envy or crass populist demonization.

            • Dan C

              These are negotiable entities. To call the attempt to negotiate on these matters a subject on envy is problematic.

        • Marthe Lépine

          Because there is no evidence whatever that the millionaires and billionaires have anything to do at all, at all, with the Current difficulties of working man to earn a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. The millionaires and billionaires have absolutely nothing to do with exporting jobs abroad to “markets” where wages of a few pennies a day are considered “competitive” in order to increase their millions and billions , therefore depriving the working man’s opportunities to earn a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. You are convinced that it is naked envy that suggests that the success of those millionaires and billionaires, quite often obtained on the backs of ordinary working men in the US and abroad, could be “punished” by taxation. It is only naked envy that has spurred a number of Popes to write about “redistribution”, and such mentions of redistribution are only feeding naked envy. And I could say much more…

      • sal magundi

        “The naked envy matter is gravely insulting.”

        thank you dan, i was going to pop off about this crack too, but i’m trying to practice hesychia in difficult times.

      • Mark Stanzel

        Okay. Let me put my neck out, though late, on this subject. I’m offended by the misuse of the word “conservative”. America hasn’t seen true conservatism for much more than 10 years. The actual terms “Liberal” and “Conservative” have morphed into something new, mainly cronyism. Republicans are just as guilty, if not more, at blowing money that isn’t theirs. I think Crocket said it best:
        “We have the right as individuals to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money.”
        ― David Crockett
        “I am at liberty to vote as my conscience and judgment dictates to be right, without the yoke of any party on me… Look at my arms, you will find no party hand-cuff on them. ”
        ― David Crockett
        It’s time American’s pull their heads out of their duffel bags and start using their noggin better. The problem is that we are facing polarized perspectives that push extreme agendas inconsistent with our faith traditions, though some traditions are morphing to fit the new ideology being crammed down our throats. So called “conservatives” need to stop protecting corporate America as much as or more than citizens. And so called “Liberals” need to stop forcing dramatic change down our throats as well with issues like same sex marriage, taxpayer supported abortion on demand, etc. The irony in all of this is that during Democratic rule abortions go down more. The only explanation that makes any sense to me is that the citizens are prospering more. But Lord help us if we hinder corporate CEO’s multimillion dollar bonuses or a slight less profit. It’s war. God help us if we stand for values consistent with our ancient faith traditions too. The more polarized this nation becomes the more likely civil war will break out. A political science teacher in 1992, a retired Air Force Colonel, said that he predicts the U.S. will be in a civil war. He said he doesn’t know what it will be but that attitudes are growing at a rate similar to those of the pre-Civil War. He said, when asked what it would be about, that it could be anything … maybe environmental issues. As Big Government, on both sides, shove their extreme ideologies down our throat and become more inconsistent with typical American ideology. Just saying.

    • Dan C

      I do not think taxes are not confiscatory. Taxes are at all time lows for the US anyway. It is well within the goal of a community or a nation to determine that wealth redistribution is acceptable for the common good. Whether such is prudent or not, and to more precisely to what degree is the argument.

      It is a novelty in Catholic social theory to discuss taxation and wealth redistribution as confiscatory. It may be correct, but it is a new branch of inquiry and stands outside the routine discussions on such matters (such a Catholic Social Theory would require).

      The introduction of novel modes of economic inquiry, if acceptable on the right, will be acceptable on the left too. I suggest that the more the right uses novel tools of analysis (such as radical individualism and absolute rights to private property), the left will embrace tools outside the Catholic Tradition, too (think liberation theology and Marxism). This will probably not help the discussion for American Catholics, however.

      • Taxes are at all time lows for the US anyway.

        Impossible as the income tax didn’t exist in the USA until 1913.

        Before that you have say… the income tax of 1861 (to pay for the civil war) which taxed incomes over $800 at 3%. Then there was another in 1894 that was 2% on incomes over $4000.

        And that’s not even getting into all the state and local taxes that are collected now. In summation: your statement is factually wrong.

        • Norris

          Well put Nate, and you didn’t even mention all the other, non income related, taxes foisted by local, state, and federal government agencies.

        • Dan C

          In the past 50 years then.

        • Dan C

          I’ll take the Reagan tax structure.

          • Dan C

            In 1988, I would never believe I would be uttering such a comment calling for the institution of Reagan’s tax code as an example of a more liberal tax code. That is how far the discussion has turned.

  • Jonathan

    “an epic stupid imprudence”

    I like the fact that you used “epic” as an adverb.

  • You missed the part where Rush said, “you know what hasn’t been tried? True Conservatism.” And went on to explain that Mitt was not a conservative.
    Don’t mistake me for a Ditto Head, I just think its unfair not to acknowledge that Rush gave much more well-rounded analysis than that one sentence.

    • Mark Shea

      So “True Conservatism” says that the reason the GOP lost was because of moochers, takers, and Randian looters looking for a handout from Santa Claus. See, that’s your problem right there.

      • Art

        It is not the only problem, but it is the sad reality. Obama secured the most important voting demographic…. the uneducated.

        • Marthe Lépine

          Hey! Another insult maybe? With the cost of education, a lot of ordinary working families cannot afford a higher education than public schools, therefore they should just shut up and let the educated randians and the capitalists run the shoow?

          • Norris

            Martha, it is interesting to note that you equate receiving a public education with being uneducated.

            Further, I’m compelled to note that “educated randians” do not run the public schools in America.

            Make of that as you will.

            • Marthe Lépine

              Well, of course I am a foreigner… I have read so many complaints about the public education system in your country, particularly in the Catholic blogs from the right and the left, that I was led to conclude that it was not the best… And of course educated people, randians or other, do not run the public schools. But they seem fairly adept at claiming that the majority of people who do not accept their ideas are uneducated and therefore unable to express any opinion that matters…

              • Norris

                I didn’t know that about randians, but then I avoid them.

        • j. blum

          Really, the uneducated? I thought Libruls were pointy-headed elitists from the bubble world of college towns, tenured radicals, etc.

      • Dan C

        The logical construct of the loss as explained as due to the nominee failing as a “true conservative” and then saying that the electorate is a moochocracy voting in Santa Claus is mutually exclusive. They both cannot be logically correct.

      • You are an ass hole

        Please stop fucking insulting people you dick head

        • Mark Shea

          A persuasive argument. Well-thought-out. Articulate. And full of the true Christian love so lacking in a demagogic Judas Iscariot like me. And spoken with the courage of one not afraid to sign his name to his thought. You’ve won me over. Thanks.

  • Blog Goliard

    Williamson is sometimes quite wrong–much like the rest of us–but he’s one of several writers in the National Review stable who tries to think seriously about and engage real issues. He’s still got much to learn in certain ways (again, like the rest of us), but he’s not one of the hacks or one of the bomb-throwers.

    I see lots of serious self-examination going on among conservatives. I suspect that if Mark were wanting to find it–or even open to recognizing it–he’d see it too.

    But nah, it’s much more fun to gaily dance through the ranks of the defeated, shooting the wounded, mocking the despondent, and tilting at strawmen. Carry on then.

    • Mark Shea

      I see it too. I’m actually very hopeful. I’m seeing lots of health assessment going on. The American Catholic is doing it. Red State had a good piece. Steve Greydanus is counseling prudence. There are some very heartening initiatives on Facebook. Real growth is happening and I applaud it. However, I’m also running into a goodly percentage of conservatives attempting the same failed strategies that they have used for 10 years. And FOX is leading the way. It is not a straw man. It is quite real. This is not shooting the wounded. This is seizing a teaching moment. The Thing that Used to be Conservatism–the Party of Personal Responsibility–cannot afford to delay any longer taking that responsibility and asking itself what happened. So it cannot afford to listen to or promulgate or toy with the unreality woven on Bullshit Mountain one day longer. They have no let up weaving that veil of illusion. So the time to speak is now, not in a couple of weeks when the new narrative about why everybody else is at fault is woven and the Thing That used to be Conservatism keeps dragging Catholics into believing lies.

      • Blog Goliard

        Well, if you say you’re very hopeful, I’ll take your word for it, and am grateful to hear it.

  • Moreana

    Sorry, Mark, even the guy you voted for agrees with Rush:

    “The people in the Midwest voted against him: ‘Oh, we have to be taken care of!’ So that vote was sort of like what we are laughing at in Greece,” Mr. Paul said.
    “People do not want anything cut,” he said. “They want all the bailouts to come. They want the Fed to keep printing the money. And they don’t believe that we’ve gone off the cliff or are close to going off the cliff. They think we can patch it over, that we can somehow come up with some magic solution. But you can’t have a budgetary solution if you don’t change what the role of government should be. As long as you think we have to police the world and run this welfare state, all we are going to argue about is who will get the loot.”

    Read more: Ron Paul: Election shows U.S. ‘far gone’ – Washington Times
    Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

    • ivan_the_mad

      It is one of the more foolish of our modern political notions that supporting a politician requires one to conform to or justify all of their positions and statements.

      • Norris

        Isn’t that Mark’s position?

        • Blog Goliard

          If it’s not, then he owes Paul Ryan a huge apology, for starters.

          • Mark Shea


            • Blog Goliard

              On second thought, no point having that argument again. I withdraw the remark.

        • Irenist

          No. AFAIK, Mark just doesn’t want to vote for any advocates of grave intrinsic evil. If they’re wrong about lots of other stuff, but without advocating grave intrinsic evil, then Mark will consider voting for them, despite their imprudence on other matters, due to the dearth of candidates available who clear the low bar of not advocating grave intrinsic evil.

        • Mark Shea


    • Mark Shea

      He has the luxury of doing so. He doesn’t have to explain why he lost and try to win next time. And besides, he’s a libertarian who has always said such stuff. I didn’t vote for him because he’s a libertarian. I voted for him despite his libertarianism.

    • Michaelus

      Face what really is – that means face the fact that assassination and torture are evil and that health care is a basic human right. Face the fact that we do actually have a massive gap between rich and poor. Face the fact that the current legal system actually hurts women and children by subsidizing the destruction of families. Face the fact that the average black American is much worse off today than he was in 1950 or in 1920. Face the fact that secret subversion of foreign governments is not only evil but also never benefits us. Face the fact that all the guys who are going to get killed in Afghanistan from now until 2014 are going to die for no reason other than political negligence. Face the fact that Obamacare is not about improving health care but about empowering gigantic insurance companies to become the providers of health care. These are off the top of my head – yet I cannot recall Romney mentioning any of them. That was imprudent.

    • vickie

      I don’t like his quip about the Greeks here. However, he does talk about the problem of having all this welfare spending AND a bloated military; bot just poor people panicky about not making ends meet. Dave Stockman says the same thing, that his biggest mistake was letting the American people think that we can have all this stuff without having to pay for it. What libertarians seem to miss is the importance of civil society. Atomized individuals still need some one to take care of them when they are sick and if you don’t have family or other support networks, you need the State to step in.

    • I’m lost here. What exactly was wrong with what Paul said? He is saying, as I interpret it, that even as we approach the “fiscal cliff”, neither side is interested in cutting spending, but only in arguing about which unsustainable project should get the money.

      • vickie

        The fiscal cliff remark is just a statement of fact. The problematic part is a quick readof his statement could lead someone to conclude that he is agreeing with the ” makers vs takers” talk radio talking point. Maybe he does (I would disagree with him) or maybe he has a more expansive idea of takers -as in all the crony capitalists who get first dibs of Federal Reserve money printing (which is what he actually may have meant and with which I would agree).

  • Irenist

    Those who vote primarily around the Catholic Gospel of Life tend to vote Republican. Those who vote primarily around Catholic Social Teaching (which often involves the government, as well as private charity, giving stuff to poor people) tend to vote Democratic. It turns out that a slim majority of Catholics voted Democratic this year, and so did a super-majority of Hispanics. As the demographics of the Church change in this country, there will be more and more Hispanic Catholics who value both parts of Catholic teaching, not just the Gospel of Life.

    Perhaps it is time, for the sake of that Gospel of Life, for orthodox Catholics loyal to both parts of the Church’s witness to try to dislodge the pro-life movement (which is healthy) from its Buckleyan fusionist alliance with the anti-tax wing of the Republican party (which is in severe demographic decline).

    • Mark Shea


    • Art

      I would put money that Catholics in the northeast are hatch, match, and detach Catholics and are only Catholic by name and these people vote Democrat because of their culture, not because of their “Catholic Social Teaching”…. not buying it. I have seen it with my own eyes.

      People need to realize America is not the same country. We are not a Christian nation! We told God, back away…. we know what is best!!!! God said…. here you go! If this is what you want, then it is all yours!

      • Marthe Lépine

        And who has made you the judge of the Catholicism of those Catholics in the northeast? Because YOUR Catholicism is superior? Because not paying enough attention to pro-life issues is a worst sin than rejecting Catholic social teaching (or forcing it through some neo-liberal sieve)?

      • TheRealAaron

        I don’t live in the northeast, so I can’t comment on the demographics there. But most of my friends live in the Midwest, particularly three states that went Democrat. Among my friends who voted for Obama, a large number of them are faithful practicing Catholics. Their consciences are inadequately formed, in my opinion, if they think voting for Obama was a legitimate option. But they aren’t people who totally disregard Catholic teaching.

        I’m not bringing this up to justify what my friends did. I’m saying this because conservatives need to look at the truth. Many of the things Republicans stand for (or at least are perceived as standing for) are so repugnant to practicing Catholics that they found it better to vote for Obama than a Republican.

      • Marthe Lépine

        And who made you the judge of the Catholicism of Catholics in the northeast? What do you think makes your view of Catholicism so superior? Because not paying enough attention to pro-life issues and concentrating on the Church social teaching is a worse sin than not paying enough attention to the Church social teaching and concentrating on a few pro-life issues such as abortion while ignoring other things such as murdering foreigners with drones?

      • Hi there, Art! I’m a Catholic in the northeast, and I certainly have in the past voted for Democrats because of Catholic Social Teaching, and I most certainly am not a Catholic in name only. I take voting seriously, and I try very hard to choose the candidate I think will be the best all around. Abortion is an extremely important issue, but it is not the only one, and forgetting that is what has allowed the GOP to blackmail many Catholics into voting Republican every election, even though nothing ever gets done about abortion.

      • SpasticHedgehog

        Wow. Thank you for that sweeping generalization.

    • Moreana

      Oh yes let’s confiscate all the wealth of the hard workers. That’s what Jesus wants us to do.

      • Marthe Lépine

        Which hard workers are you talking about? The ordinary working men and women trying to make ends meet, or the guy sitting in front a computer monitor moving capitals around the world? Or maybe the guys who go around buying companies, laying off 25,000 workers (such as in this auto parts business that was the victim of Romney’s investment company) and sending the jobs to a developing country? The later is a faster way to get wealth, but I wonder it that kind of work is so hard…

    • Barbara Nicolosi

      And where should we pro-life people go? Especially those of us who understand that using taxes to help the poor has been a humanitarian disaster that has not only created more poor, but created a whole class of idle poor.

      P.S. It is not only idiotic to suggest that one can split the Gospel of Life from the Social Teaching of the Church, it is condescending to propose that pro-life Catholics are so much stupider than you that they wouldn’t even realize (as you do) that they are undermining themselves (not like you who are brilliant and discerning). Is condescension somewhere allowed in the Social Teaching of the Church as you understand it?” God help us. No wonder we lose.

      • Ted Seeber

        Blessed are the poor- for they shall give us somebody to care about.

  • John

    “Again, the only conceivable reason Romney lost was because Americans who voted against him are moochers, takers, and Randian looters. The fault, dear Brutus, was in the voters, not ourselves.” NICE!

    Moreana, Ron Paul has always been half right as far as true conservatives go. Half.

    As for some of the arguments, well MSNBC does it…I get that argument from my kids all the time… “Well she did it first!” It’s not a winner in my house.

  • c matt

    I don’t understand the dichotomy – why could it not be that a majority sided both with continued government largess coupled with the lower probability of foreign adventures?

    Government largess for the little guy is not likely in the GOP DNA, but they could do something about the affinity for foreign adventures.

  • Sometimes, I can’t believe you are a professional writer, Mark. Then I remember that you don’t submit stuff like this post to your editors and know how to post in a professional and reasonable tone. When you’re explaining things, you’re terrific.

    Most of your unedited political commentary is not prudent nor particularly thought through. You sound exactly like the shrill voices you are condemning. And I mostly agree with what you’re saying, except that I end up scanning it because it sounds more like Hunter Thompson on Richard Nixon than Mark Shea on Mary.

    I’m not condemning you, either. I love to string together parallel-structured insults, too. But I’ve stopped blogging because I’ve discovered that I sometimes lack the restraint to speak charitably. Now I post on Facebook; knowing my FB friends have a wide variety of viewpoints seems to moderate my need to nuke others from orbit.

    I’d love to say the Democrats are other-people’s-money spending, baby-killing, drone-warfare- loving, surveillance-state-supporting, context-manipulating, reality-shifting dupes who follow whatever Satan lie chooses to spew into the Zeitgeist on any given day. But that would be uncharitable and not properly take into account the diversity of opinion among the left, so I won’t say that. But heck, that was a fun sentence to write.


    • Norris

      Your last paragraph must be the best example of paralipsis ever. Well done.

  • Phil

    (Posted this in the wrong thread before)
    The funny thing about the all this negative talk about entitlements is that many of these things(like the expansion of the earned income or child tax credits) happened under republican presidents or with the approval of republican congreses. But now people just forget where all this stuff came from. The low cost phone planned often dubbed “obama phone” was originally a program intiated by Ronald Reagan. Perhaps conservatives are right that some of these things should be rolled back or that we can’t afford them anymore, but they also ought to acknowledge that their movement once had a hand in getting creating these things.

    • Art

      The issue is Democrats are running on the entitlement platform. Obama’s goal is to financially ruin this country… just wait!

  • Andrew

    I really think that what it boils down to is the fact that the culture of this country has shifted or is shifting. Shifting at a rate much faster than any of those who are *trying* to stop if from shifting can even imagine. Look around. I’m not being pessimistic either, I’m realistic. This election was lost because THE VAST majority of Americans are too emotionally/pridefully tied up to logically/reasonably figure out their values or even goals/dreams. THAT is why there has been name calling to those “47 percent”…..(regardless of the number and the fact that there’s no use in blaming anyone) because the majority of Americans truly look to their govt to solve their problems….even if that means looking for a hand-out. It’s just the truth of the matter. Whether we like it or not. Obama could flat out declare, right now, that he is a socialist or even a *communist* (whatever that would mean) and most Americans would accept it….as long as it meant bills were paid, food was on the table and they could sleep peacefully at night. This is where the country’s heading.
    Our job now is to cling to Christ, love and defend Mother Church and prepare ourselves for what is to come….and to help bring as many of our brothers and sisters with us.

    • Art

      Andrew you are 100% correct! These people are blind sheep for Obama. Their God-King can do no wrong!

      Obama Secured the Most Important Voting Demographic: The Idiots

      • Art, I will agree with you that 90% of the people who vote for Obama are idiots, and also add that a similar percentage of those who vote for Romney are idiots too. True critical thinking is gone for most people, and in its place rationalization has taken over.

        It is the second group of idiots that Mark is trying to reach with this piece.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Hey! What’s wrong with “as long as bills were paid, food was on the table and they could sleep peacefully at night.” These are the modest dreams of ordinary working men and women. But millions of them are left without the jobs needed to fulfill those dreams. Is not it normal then to turn to the government for these basic needs? Since it is no longer the responsibility of the rich to provide that work (according to this highly “respected” economist Milton Friedman, the only social responsibility of corporations is to make money for their shareholders), someone has to do it, considering that it is a human right to provide those basic human needs. And since the rich in your country are the ones who have exported the jobs, I cannot see anything wrong with asking them to do their share through taxation. I think the choice is simple and quite reasonable: either provide the jobs, or pay the taxes!

      • I think the choice is simple and quite reasonable: either provide the jobs, or pay the taxes!

        Wouldn’t they just… move away? Providing neither? Your plan then?

        • Marthe Lépine

          If they move away, it probably would not be a very great loss… They are only in your country to take advantage of bailouts, infrastructure and other things provided by the government as long as they do not have to pay for them (talk about entitlements!) As long as they do not move into my country, of course, we do not really need them either… Once they will have moved away, maybe other and smaller businesses will be able to fill the void by starting up without fear of being bought out or forced out of business by the unfair competition of the larger ones. Then there could be an opportunity to move the economy a little more towards a more distributive system.

        • j. blum

          Thus showing their true patriotismm, either joining their money in the Caymans or headed off for Galt’s Gulch. Would that they would–good widdance to bad wubbish.

      • Andrew

        Ok Marthe,

        Obviously you missed the exact point that I was trying to make.

        The tactics of th ruling class is “follow us. Compromise your values and do what we say. We’ll just make sure that your bills are paid, etc..”

        You can pretend to “help the poor” but eventually we’ll be in so much debt that we won’t be able to help ANYONE. Then what?!’

        • Marthe Lépine

          Well, maybe then it would be time to reduce military spending… Once the billionaires who benefit from the bailouts, as well as those who make their profits from weapon-making, plus those whose interests are served by some of the military operations abroad, are out of the way, some of the debt creation will no longer be necessary.

        • Marthe Lépine

          Besides, when smaller businesses will have begun to offer opportunities for people to have jobs in your country instead of abroad, there probably will be more taxes flowing back to the government, in addition to needing less expenditures to provide for the workers who are being left without jobs by the billionaires moving the jobs overseas… One advantage of jobs provided by smaller businesses, is that they will probably remain in your country for longer periods…

          • Andrew

            You’re right about small businesses!…..except small business have been crushed by Obamas policies. I know this because I work for a small business that has been crushed since he came in to office.

            So you’ll have to give me another option…..

            • Marthe Lépine

              I was not talking about Obama policies in particular. I was talking about the influence of corporations on governments, including your present one under Obama, that is being used to crush small businesses in order to eliminate competition. If and when billionaires actually leave your country, taking their corporations with them, there will be more room for small businesses to survive. It is contradictory to claim that billionaires and other rich people are job-creator therefore we need them to stay in the country, and to complain at the same time that they crush small businesses. Billionaires are more often job “exporters”, who also use their influence to crush small businesses because they are competition

              • Andrew

                So……….what exactly are you proposing?!

                No offense, Marthe, but what you’re saying isn’t making much sense…..

                • Marthe Lépine

                  I am not proposing anything in particular, just suggesting ways to look at things that might be a little out of the box. For more suggestions, you can go look at the Distributist Review, there is some good stuff there, and it could be the beginning of a reflection on other ways to see the economy. Actual propositions have to come from the “grassroots”. Crony capitalism, unlimited growth and individualism are not the only ways to look at the economy. Trying to think of what an economy could look like with fewer, or no, mammoth corporations seems like a useful exercize, and could generate totally new ideas.

                  • ivan_the_mad

                    “you can go look at the Distributist Review” I second this!

      • Mercury

        Before knocking Friedman, would it help to say that he was also a supporter of a a negative income tax a legitimate use of government – i.e. he believed in a fair minimum income, even regardless of hard someone worked, redistributed through the tax code? Shocking, from someone as “heartless” as Milton Friedman is accused of being.

        Such an idea, properly executed, would be brilliant – we could get rid of a lot of wasteful spending with overlapping welfare programs, AND minimum wage would not be an issue, since the tax code would be able to make sure everyone is provided for. By the way, Germany doesn’t do it exactly this way, but they do not have a minimum wage, instead hey have a guaranteed monthly income supplemented by the state.

        • ivan_the_mad

          IIRC, Friedman posited the NIT as a step along the road to no state welfare at all, intending that private charity was supposed to take over completely. As with most sola alimenta privata ideas, the problem is as much the road there as the goal. Neither looks to interior change of heart but to a utopian vision of an omnipotent and omniscient market. The goal, the intention, is important and should be the relief of the poor, and that should never be solely as “beneficial secondary effect”.

  • Art

    WRONG!!! Could not disagree more! You could have put the pope up for president against Obama and Obama would have won hands down. The issue is:

    1. Cult like following for Obama.
    2. High percentage of minorities find Obama glamorous.
    3. MSM is 100% behind him.
    4. America wants more Obama
    5. There are more uneducated Americans than educated

    • Andrew

      #4 is the key issue….and was the point I was trying to make on my comment.
      I’m starting to realize that America (as sad as this fact is for me to accept) voted for Obama because sadly, he appears to stand for what most Americans want.

      Im only 26 and I remember being told by my spiritual director in ’04 as I vented to him of my frustrations in being persecuted for my*radical Catholic* ideas at a very liberal secular college – “Don’t worry, it might seem that the USA is moving in the direction of seeing these things (same sex marriage, abortion-on-demand, etc) as normal, but I promise you that there are WAY TOO MANY Americans….the vast majority….who are too conservative and Christian to let that happen”

      It’s just simply not true anymore. Point is, we have to prepare for it to get worse……and cling to the fact that the Victory is already won.

      • Art

        Could not agree with you more. It is not true. Our country is lost and you have this younger generation 18 to 28 year olds to thank for that.

        I would also like to add that liberals not only have shifted the playing field, but it is now status quo to be an extreme left person and call yourself a moderate. This puts even the middle of the road conservative (IE ROMNEY) appear to be all the way on the right.

        MSM, Social Media advertisements, and the outspoken liberal friends on FB want to put people like you and me on a shelf and want to whip us into submission. This is their ultimate goal is having absolute power! You look at the election map and they have it, electoral speaking they do.


        • Dale Price

          “Our country is lost and you have this younger generation 18 to 28 year olds to thank for that.”

          What about their parents and grandparents? Plenty of blame to go around given our current crisis, and it’s not just “their” fault.

          • ivan_the_mad

            Yes, self-reflection is what is now needed, not blame shooting off like a fireworks display gone terribly awry.

        • “Our country is lost…”

          You know what? You may be right…but I am not going to give up. Despair doesn’t do us any good right now.

          Here’s what will do us some good:

          * Prayer
          * Fasting
          * Evangelization
          * Critical thinking about where the GOP/conservatives have gone wrong and how we can reclaim the core of conservatism.

          I still believe that Catholic social and moral teaching would win the day if presented to people by one party (well, maybe not in its fullness on the sexual moral teaching YET), but I choose to believe that the truth has a drawing power, and through God’s grace, is stronger than error. I may be naive here, but it’s worth a try.

          • Andrew

            Dave :

            I don’t think it’s a matter of “giving up”……..well, maybe it is. I think Mark’s posts recently have been just that – giving up – on the 2 parties in this country. As Catholics, it was difficult (although I still disagree with Mark about how difficult it really was) to vote Republican…..more difficult than the past years…….the party has been slowly moving away from the core values that us Catholics hold.

            I can’t imagine the same party in the next 4-5 years….much less the compromises that they will HAVE to make in order to be elected by the America we will be living then.

            Obviously, our call to fast, pray and evangelize is greater than ever. We just have to realize that times are dark and are a lot worse than we are being told.

            Heck, maybe that’ll motivate ‘lukewarm’ catholics to start evangelizing….maybe even motivate us in to having a sincere conversion to Our Lord and Savior!

            • Andrew, I think we basically agree. Giving up on the two parties is not the same as giving up on our country, though it may seem very close. The times are indeed very dark.

              I found this to be a very interesting take, and have found myself drawn in a similar direction:

              I do find it prudent now to start thinking about setting up structures that could survive the possible collapse of the U.S.

  • Dale Price

    Williamson’s not a bad guy. He wrote the remarkable “Repo Men” article blasting the finance crowd surrounding both the President and Gov. Romney. And he’s dead right about Obama’s demagoguery, if not exactly blaming the right folks.

    • Dan C

      Williamson is 100% in the “the moochocrats voted for Santa Claus” club. So is Hanson.

  • The Deuce

    It seems to be that this is a both/and proposition, not either/or. The reality is, for instance, that the single female vote went heavily Democratic based primarily on the desire for “free” birth control, abortion, etc, and to not have their socially liberal preferences disapproved of. Other groups also voted heavily based on the desire for a large welfare state.

    Conservatives are to blame for letting the culture get to this point by abandoning their principles and failing to communicate them in a civil and loving manner, but it does us no good to fail to recognize that we are indeed at this point.

  • Andrew

    The Deuce –

    I agree with you.

    Also, you’re right. One of the worst things we can do is ignore the problem and refuse to face our current situation. In fact, most of my Catholic friends and family who tell me that it’s “no use being negative and saying that the country is lost to liberalism” are in denial and refuse to believe that the media could possibly be more than a “bit biased” to the left.

    So we’ve got to face the facts and prepare. I don’t know what else there is to do.

  • Andrew #2

    My mom and I spoke Saturday at one of my kids soccer game. Politics came up. In short, her (70+) generation was highly involved and energetic with the election because she thought that the country was not too far gone and her generation had to fight for it even if it meant supporting Romney. My generation (40) votes but was largely disengaged and thinks things are too far gone to matter.

    My mom was saddened and disagreed with me. All I could say is, “I hate to say this, but in 10 or 15 years your generation will be dead, me and my kids will have to deal with this mess for decades to come. Better to prepare and acknowledge the worst than fight for something no one else wants.”

  • Andrew

    As per this conversation and the situation of the world, might I suggest everyone read Michael O’Brien’s FATHER ELIJAH, PLAGUE JOURNAL and all of his other works?!

    Seriously – it will blow your mind!

    • ivan_the_mad

      I read that and several of his other books. They’re not a bad way to spend an evening, but they’re essentially the Catholic version of the Left Behind series. I can’t see why they would blow your mind.

  • Steve S

    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” (John 14:1)
    Speak the Good News. Pray. And listen, really listen, to the words of Christ above. If anything, the political and social frustrations we’ve all encountered recently (and will continue to encounter) have reminded me that Christ is the source of the peace that the world cannot give.

  • Andy

    What is incredible – rather than look at the message and the messenger so many people are looking at Americans as being the problem.. Get a grip – the message sucked – it was based on making money and not about any type of pro-life belief. It was based on a false sense of envy. Rather than say people voted for Santa Clause – maybe people voted against Scrooge. Maybe people voted against greed of the whatever percent, and their belief that what is good for Mitt is good for the country.
    Damn – if the students I teach reacted to disappointments and criticism the way I see people on this thread react I would fail them.

  • Norris


    For some reason I cannot reply to you directly, so I’m re-posting here…

    “I guess I’m wondering what you think I should have said. Not generalities about what a failed human being I am, but what I should have said instead. Or do you think Movement Conservatism is the picture of health and it is not possible to articulate a better vision than the one emerging from the FOX/Limbaugh/NRO/GOP Axis of Illusion? What *should* I have written?”

    First let me say that you writing that the pity is that I don’t believe it is your best. I think you are called to be much better and have been given to gifts to achieve that.

    Second, as regards “what” you should have written, I think that’s the wrong question. It is at least a question I cannot answer (nor am I required; one need not know how to drive to recognize a car crash).

    However, I would recommend as answer to the question, “What should I have written?”


    You should write less. Much less (please cf. the Chesterton passage previously cited).

    It would also help if you didn’t paint every position with which you disagree with an overwhelming barrage of the most exteme, uncharitable straw men and ad hominem descriptions humanly possible.

    It really is the technique of the demagogue.

    I’m just not ready to give up on the idea that you better than that.

    Thus the pity.

    • Norris

      “First let me say that you writing that the pity is that I don’t believe it is your best. I think you are called to be much better and have been given to gifts to achieve that.”

      Talk about mangled.

      That should be…

      “First let me say that I wrote, “What a pity?” because I don’t believe it is your best. I think you are called to be much better and have been given to gifts to achieve that.”

      • Mark Shea

        Actually, it was my best–for a blog. I didn’t realize this was a test. I thought you wanted a quick and dirty description of my distinction between conservatism and the bizarre mutation that currently dominates the right. Now I come to discover you were looking for some sort of treatise. Who knew?

        So about my question. What *should* I have written?

        • Norris

          Ultimately, all life is a test, and you should have written what you decide to write.

          Who knew indeed.

          • Mark Shea

            So, no actual clue on what was wrong, what to improve, what was false. Just, I’m a demagogue and a wasted talent. Mkay. Seems a lot like ad hominem to me but there it is. I did in fact give it a fair shot. No pleasing everyone I guess. I do like the ominous “You have failed in the Hour of Your Visitation” note substituting for a reply though. Kinda biblical sounding.

            • Norris

              The charitable response would be to say yes, you have no actual clue on what was wrong, what to improve, what was false.

              The alternative less charitable conclusion is that you know exactly what I’m talking about, what I have said, but have decided to ignore it all and instead engage in a kind of rhetorical game of wits. That would be the clever thing to do.

              Either way, a pity.

              And yes, you are both a demagogue and wasted talent.

              • Mark Shea

                Actually, I really don’t know what you are talking about. I thought you were asking a question in order to try to understand what I meant by “conservatism” and “Thing that Used to be Conservatism”. So I dashed off a quick and dirty reply in a combox, not a treatise for the ages. Now I find myself arraigned as a demagogue and wasted talent, and with the choice of “liar” or “stupid” to explain my thinking. If I had known you were not asking a question but preparing a case for the Prosecution, I wouldn’t have bothered. I thought I was chatting in a bar. You act like you were preparing for an indictment. Sheesh.

                • Norris

                  You act like you already have a conviction.

                  • Mark Shea


                • Norris translated: “Shut up, Shea!”

                  • Mark Shea

                    That does seem to be the substance of it. But then you would say that because you are a sycophant who is under the spell of my demagoguery.

              • Marthe Lépine

                Why? Just because he does not write things that you can agree with does not mean he is a failure and a wasted talent. Maybe it is quite the opposite and the truth hurts,

                • Marthe Lépine

                  Clarification: I was trying to reply to Norris about the last sentence of his comment.

                • Norris

                  I may be wasted, but I wouldn’t say I’m a talent.

            • Jmac

              If you immediately know the candlelight is flame, then the meal was cooked a long time ago. Now you’ll never ascend to a higher plane of existence.

              • Mark Shea

                So it’s going to be one of *those* conversations. 🙂

    • Mark Shea

      Ah! I missed this. Yeah I was writing fast so I wrote more. The old paradox. Again with the demagogue thing. Okay. Whatever. Next time I will know better not to try to drop time from my busy day to answer your demands. I sort of was expecting. “Ah! I see what you mean by those terms.” and not “You Have Failed In the Hour of Your Visitation!” There’s gratitude for you.

  • Mercury

    It is almost humorous if it werent’ so sad to see the excuse-making on the part of the GOP. However, one thing I noticed in this election: Many, many Romney voters held their nose and voted for him, then took a shower. The love for Romney and his view of America was not to be felt, even among the ardent conservatives I know (especially among them).

    On the other hand, I am 30, and I find that almost every one of my friends, family, and acquaintances who voted for Obama did so because they wholeheartedly believe in his vision for this country. Because they believe abortion and gay marriage are human rights, and they really believe centralized control of the economy is the way of the future. I may be wrong, because I am just one man, but I have not met a single Obama voter who did so simply because it was a difficult choice and in the end they felt he was a better man for the job than Romney, but are not enthusiastic about him. I’m sure other readers have counterexamples.

    But regardless of Limbaugh’s bloviating, I think most Americans voted for Obama on Tuesday because they really and truly believe in him and his vision for America. Not because they are moochers – most people I know are young professionals. People just honestly see him as their leader and the embodiment of what they themselves believe. And that IS a scary thought.

    • kenneth

      Your observations are partly colored by your age and association with others who are still young enough to be idealistic and True Believers in anything. There is actually very little enthusiasm for Obama among his core liberal/progressive this time around. In 08, the liberals I knew would have died in a WW I trench for Obama. This time, they were mostly motivated by disgust and horror at the alternative. Romney deserved to lose just on the 47% comment alone.

      You are correct that a majority of Americans, and a very solid majority of people your age, believe more in Obama’s positions on social policies. The GOP mix of anti-immigrant sentiment, anti-SSM and the absolutist “legitimate rape” view on abortion is simply never going to gain national traction again in the foreseeable future.

      Most progressives who have been around any amount of time harbor no more illusions that Obama is one of them, nor even that he will do much else for the economy. The alternative was a coalition of billionaires who wanted to finish off the last remnants of the middle class, and an army of angry religious radicals. No one I know voted for Obama. They voted against the alternative.

  • antigon

    T’is obvious Mr. Norris wished to convey his critical analysis, & used the queries as but means for a rhetorical sucker punch. Possibly more honorable just to have cut straight to the critique, as arguably also to avoid the psychiatric technique of suggesting any dispute of the charge by definition vindicates it.

    Mr. Norris’ swift exposure – few words indeed this time! – of the false analogies between Jonestown & Waco were also obvious; but as they were no less potent for that, I hope he might forgive those who found it reminiscent of what his nemesis Mr. Shea so often does.