I am a big fan of stealing pages from the other side's playbook when it comes to policy. For starters, neither party has a monopoly on new or good ideas. In this morning's Washington Post, there is a story about how several counties in Texas are figuring out ways to expand Medicaid under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, even though their state's Governor, Rick "oops" Perry, has stated the Lone Star State will not participate in the expansion. The article reveals that these large counties have already engaged in a range of health care programs that help the poor and make their cities more livable. My guess is that there is a model here for some liberal federalism. And, if Mr. Ryan is so intent on finding subsidiarity in action, here it is. Will he endorse it?
Jeb Bush is right: The Obama campaign needs to stop blaming his brother, President George W. Bush, for the bad economy. (Of course, according to most polls, most Americans still hold Bush more responsible than Obama for the economy.) I do not think Bush's policies helped the economy, but I don't think they were completely responsible for the economic collapse either. The Glass-Steagall Act was on life support when a GOP Congress and President Bill Clinton finally drove a stake through its heart in the late 1990s, and it was the repeal of this Act that did more than anything else to lay the groundwork for the downturn.
But, the real culprits were not the politicians but the financiers, that class of investors who recklessly tried to exploit every opportunity for financial gain, no matter the economic or social consequences. So, stop blaming Bush and start blaming Romney, the venture capitalist extraordinaire.
It is one of the funnier characteristics of a certain kind of liberal Catholic, that they love to entertain "what if's" to explain why reality has not tended towards their views. So, they wonder, what if Pope John XXIII had lived to see the Council to completion? One obvious answer: the Mass would still be in Latin! The brief pontificate of Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I, was another such moment. Of course, when Pope John Paul II was first elected, liberals embraced him, hoping his penchant for skiing somehow indicated a desire for theological experimentation. But, within a year, the musings began - if only Papa Luciani had lived. (In Rome, bumper stickers appeared that read: "Paul come back. All is forgiven!")
In a story over at Vatican Insider, we find that the possibility of a liberal heyday under Pope John Paul I was unlikely. "The Lord wants us to obey the hierarchy," he is quoted as saying. Alas, he had a great smile, and he had an undeniable pastoral sensibility. But, he was no liberal.
Mitt Romney made a joke the other day, telling a Michigan audience that "No one ever asked to see my birth certificate." Setting aside whether the most scripted man in political memory is capable of an impromptu bit of humor, a range of GOP surrogates took to the airwaves yesterday to say that they thought it was a shame that no one can even tell a joke anymore.
I agree. I detest the culture of political correctness that takes umbrage too quickly. And, I wish with all my heart that Romney's comment could be interpreted merely as a joke, as a source of mirth. It could be so interpreted if birtherism was really a fringe idea held only by the fringe. But this is one fringe idea that, according to a poll last year, 51% of GOP primary voters believed. As in, a majority. In that context, Romney's joke was not funny, it was vile.
This weekend, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and his colleagues were discussing their latest poll which shows that 11 percent of the American electorate remains undecided about the presidential contest. Blitzer noted that both campaigns have pursued the kind of scorched earth strategy designed to fire up their base but which may not be persuasive for this group, the very people who will decide the election. Indeed.
This week, as the Republicans gather in Tampa, you can bet that they will try to avoid talking about the issue of abortion. In the wake of Congressman Todd Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape,” the issue appears toxic. Besides, the GOP, at least Mitt Romney’s GOP, has concluded that their best chance at victory emerges if the campaign remains focused on the economy. How could it be otherwise with a nominee who has defined himself in the public square by his private sector experience, and whose position on abortion over the years would do an Olympic gymnast proud.
Commonweal has an essay up by Angus Sibley, whose book "The Poisoned Spring of Economic Libertarianism" was one of my top five reads this past year, about the economic vision of those who are currently informing the GOP. Bishop Boyea and Archbishop Naumann spoke up at the USCCB meeting in June, and seemed to be reading from the Father Robert Sirico playbook. Sibley's essay rebuts Sirico and his ilk with both economic good sense and a firm grasp of magisterial teaching. And, before anyone embraces Paul Ryan too closely, they should be aware of the ideas that animate him, not just Ayn Rand, but Hayek and von Mises and this crowd of Austrian economists and their American acolytes.
Check out this article at LifeSiteNews.com about how Cong. Paul Ryan has decided to "back off" the "Akin feeding frenzy." I am sure some in the pro-life community were a bit shocked to find how quickly the entire GOP leadership, including Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan, threw Congressman Akin under the bus. Why they were shocked is a different matter. Fifty years after Roe, most of which years had a Republican in the White House, Roe is still the law of the land.
I had almost forgotten about this masterful essay by Jonathon Chait, from 2009, on Ayn Rand. Fortunately, the TNR website featured it this morning on their website. The title "Wealthcare" seems to me to perfectly encapsulate the Romney vision of America.
We have all learned more than we ever wanted to know about the genesis of the kookie idea that a woman's body can somehow "shut down" the possibility of pregnancy if she is raped, that is legitimately raped.
But, buried on page A5 of the Post was a story from Bloomberg News that Gov. Mitt Romney has said he would not re-appoint Ben Bernanke to the Fed. That scares the hell out of me. But, it was the last line of that story, which oddly is not on the Bloomberg site, that alarmed me the most. It read: "And a draft of the Republican Party platform calls for a "gold commission" to study the possibility of returning to the gold standard." Here is another report on the platform language.
The fallout over the news that Cardinal Timothy Dolan will give the benediction on the final night of the Republican Party Convention continues. It should not surprise Catholics that a symbol should take on such enormous meaning but, ask yourself: Can you name the priest or pastor who gave the benediction at the 2008 conventions? I can’t. So, why is this year different?
The nation’s politics could scarcely be more polarized. You have to go back many years, to 1800 and 1860 and 1932, to find a campaign in which the two competing parties are so divided on core principles and so willing to turn disagreements about policy into a meta-narrative in which the charge of “un-Americanism” so easily falls from the lips of our politicians. President Obama is not a European socialist who hates America. Paul Ryan is not an ogre. But, there are many people who think these things and their thoughts are nourished nightly on cable news.