The Obama Spending Spree

by Jimmy Akin

in Current Affairs

Most of the talk in the Catholic blogosphere right now regarding President Obama concerns his shameful appearance at Notre Dame. This is conversation that needs to be had, and I hope that it leads to a tougher statement from the U.S. bishops on the honoring of pro-babykilling figures and to a thorough housecleaning at Notre Dame.

Anyone who favors babykilling on demand should not be honored by a Catholic institution. Period.

Any Catholic university official who honors such an individual deserves to be removed from his position. Period.

While this issue is developing, though, I also want to talk a bit about how horrendously frightening Obama's spending spree is.

Bush's spending spree was bad. Very bad. But Obama's is unprecedented and threatens to do horrific things to our economy and, thus, to our nation.

As a downpayment (pun intended) on that discussion, here are two intersting ways to visualize just how much debt and just how little savings we're talking about.

CHT: Volokh.


If you liked this post, you should join Jimmy's Secret Information Club to get more great info!

What is the Secret Information Club?I value your email privacy


Serena May 18, 2009 at 9:54 pm

It looks like a pattern. Killing children and wasting money go together. It’s some kind of mental inability to tell the difference between healing (women, the economy, whatever) and butchering (children, the economy, what have you). At least he acknowledged that there is no compromise — a backflip from his campaign position. Another pattern, the sudden backward somersault after the election.

Hans May 18, 2009 at 10:03 pm

And now, too, you know what that farthing is that you read about in those old mystery stories. It’s a fourth of a penny, which was important when a penny was a lot of money.

BillyHW May 18, 2009 at 10:43 pm

But Jimmy, what about Catholic Social Teaching™?
And hopenchange? Can’t you feel the hopenchange?

BillyHW May 18, 2009 at 10:50 pm

Oh, and I forgot to mention also, what about the death penalty? And the war in Grenada?
Huh Jimmy? What about those?
What about the war in Grenada?

Tim Lacy May 19, 2009 at 7:00 am

Dear Jimmy,
I love your site, but you should stick to apologetics and canon law.
You first revealed your less than thorough knowledge of history a week or so back with the post on Truman and the use of the atomic bomb. Now you’ve lost track of how government spending has worked in U.S. history. Yes, I’m going to bring up the New Deal. FDR spent more by percentage of our GDP/GNP on his programs than Obama is proposing to spend, but our banking and industrial production situation is just as bad. Sure, there’s some speculative fear operating here, but the same thing happened in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Read up on the New Deal (stick to Schlesinger and J.K. Galbraith) and you’ll see what I mean. What Obama is doing is not unprecedented, and the precedents involve some success (notwithstanding LBJ and his horrendous Vietnam spending—which is worse than what we have going on now for our wars).
On Catholic universities honoring non-Catholics, even those like Obama and Notre Dame, well, it’s pointless to criticize the Notre Dame position unless you articulate a full view of how a university should operate per its Catholicism. For instance, do you believe that there’s a not a cohort of law and political science professors at other Catholic universities (not just in the U.S. and excepting Ave Maria) who see more than one path toward the elimination of abortion in the United States. Furthermore, shouldn’t so-called Catholic universities learn how to be consistent within themselves, among nuts and bolts faculty issues, before worrying about honoring a president who clearly desires fewer abortions even if he deplores the criminalization of the same act in a society that is clearly multicultural and generally agnostic? Asking to make abortion illegal when a democratic majority of the population clearly favors legality is like kicking against the goads. As such, Obama was the lesser of two evils, not evil incarnate. And honoring him for his general position and the good that he does is not unprecedented. And none of this I’ve written addresses the general dilution of honorary degrees in society in general, not too mention American Catholicism’s deplorable antebellum history on the subject of slavery.
On my philosophy of higher education in light of my faith, well, the term uni-versity implies the attempted unification of divergent views. Catholicism, apart from learning, generally stands for unity in religion. As such, the term Catholic university, strictly speaking, is an oxymoron. I’m not the first to point this out. That’s why former ND president Hesburgh’s articulating the lighthouse/crossroads view is apt. To be the very best Catholic university possible, one has to accept that there are differing political views on how to end abortion (i.e. budget vs. making illegal).
Tim Lacy
Chicago, IL

Adam D May 19, 2009 at 7:15 am

pet peeve of mine; telling a person to avoid discussing subjects on his blog. Why should Jimmy only discuss the field in which he’s an expert? He’s a smart guy and many find his opinion valuable, even when they disagree with them. Besides that, he clearly welcomes civil disagreement, as you see in his “Da Rulz.”
Your disagreement is plenty civil Tim Lacy, just drop the “I love your site, but you should stick to apologetics and canon law.” There’s no good reason to limit himself to apologetics and canon law. It’s his blog, not a peer-reviewed journal. sheesh.

Tim Lacy May 19, 2009 at 7:22 am

Adam D: Point taken. I countered what I perceived as an intellectual lack of humility with my own overstatement. It’s hard not to express some emotion when you’re reading a post that contains emotion. With that, the next time I hear the sentiment (“favors babykilling”) in relation to Obama—a flat out distortion and a lie—I think I’ll explode. I thought better of Jimmy in relation to expressing such a thing. – TL

John Huntley May 19, 2009 at 7:24 am

The changes will take place on “Church Time”. The response of the greater number of the American Bishops to the ND scandal is a very positive sign. Over time there will be changes. I applaud the actions of the Cardinal Newman society for fulfilling an action appropriate to the Laity. The Laity is each of us individually. Don’t let the appearance of “having no effect” keep you from taking some action. As an example, The “red letter campaign” has been noticed by the White House.
I will risk being marginalized, by some, by stating that the inaction of individuals is what led to the Nazis assuming more power over time in Germany.
Three words do apply to our President. Politician, Relativist, Utilitiarian. First he is clearly a Politician. The second was obvious with the statement in Chicago “I am the change”. We have gone from CEO as rockstar to President as Rockstar. Utilitarian. What is in it for me? Will it hurt me? He has been willing to “throw people under the bus” (to use a media phrase). I do anticipate that several prominent Catholic politicians will be minimalized very shortly. Just as his approach was “I am the change” it is likely that he will change that to “I am the Dem party.” We must remember what we have been taught in the Bible: “By their fruits you will know them.”
I will apologize in advance as my next remark will bait the trolls, though that is not my intent. (some of them are still trapped in “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”) From what I have seen so far, it appears to me that George Bush was more a Statesman than President Obama.

Margarita May 19, 2009 at 7:38 am

Obama’s [spending spree] threatens to do horrific things to our economy and, thus, to our nation.
This may be true, but how would you tell?

4ddintx May 19, 2009 at 7:38 am

As to the issue of the national debt, I highly recommend the documentary I.O.U.S.A. I got it on netflix and learned a lot. It was filmed before the Obama spending spree, so you’ll really get a sense of where we are headed as a nation with that in mind.

Adam D May 19, 2009 at 8:45 am

Tim Lacy says

On Catholic universities honoring non-Catholics, even those like Obama and Notre Dame, well, it’s pointless to criticize the Notre Dame position unless you articulate a full view of how a university should operate per its Catholicism.

Isay, to the contrary, the outcry over honoring Obama at Notre Dame (and all along it his been about the honorary degree being bestowed, not about simply his invitation) has been appropriate and good. Perhaps we do need a coherent position articulating how a Catholic university should operate and that’s precisely what the outcry has been about. The bishops of the U.S. seem pretty clear to be on the side of men like Jimmy Akin saying that it’s inappropriate to honor a man like Obama who so strongly supports abortion “rights.” 100% of the growing number of bishops who have addressed the issue agree on this.
So we are doing, in this public debate, precisely what you want, Tim Lacy, approaching a consensus on how a Catholic university works. Established: Catholic universities shouldn’t offer honors to politicians promoting abortion.
I was heartened to read Obama’s speech too and consider it proof positive that such an outcry was absolutely the right thing to do. Just some months ago, on the campaign trail, Obama said (exactly contrary to the position enunciated at ND) that he wanted to see the abortion debate ended. This was at the same speech to Planned Parenthood where he infamously promised to make his first act as President the signing of FOCA.
So,to see Obama now say the debate is healthy and appropriate, that our laws need conscience clauses and such, tells me we are absolutely doing the right thing. I pray that his new rhetoric is reflected in his policy.

David B. May 19, 2009 at 9:37 am

Tim lacy,
I can tell you’re equipped for a different, more in-depth debate, but permit me to add my pedestrian commentary.
If I’m not wrong you said, in so many words, that the New Deal set a precedent which involved some success. I would point out that, in the opinion of many historians, the economy was brought out of the Depression not by spending, but through WWII. I therefore find Jimmy’s commentary, as usual, to be completely uninfluenced by speculative fear.
Furthermore, I do not find the characterization of Obama as favoring babykilling to be a ‘flat out distortion and a lie’. How can a man who says that abortion should be legal and who has implemented many pro-death decision-making not be accurately called out as favoring babykilling? He can offer whatever “personally opposed but” or “safe, legal, and rare (which doesn’t make sense if you think it’s a right)” rationalizations he wants, but he is still actively forwarding the abortion cause. That riles me up.

JoAnna May 19, 2009 at 9:39 am

Tim Lacy, is it your assertion that Obama does NOT support killing babies? If so, could you clarify? Every shred of evidence I’ve seen supports the opposite assertion.

Matheus May 19, 2009 at 9:48 am

No one does mental gymnastics like the “Obama Catholics“. I think the could even make 2 + 2 to be 5…

The Masked Chicken May 19, 2009 at 10:27 am

David B. made the comment:
I would point out that, in the opinion of many historians, the economy was brought out of the Depression not by spending, but through WWII.
Much more complicated history. The Depression, with its need for people to humbly work together, brought the country out of a self-indulgent adolescent-controlled post-WWI phase where societal cohesion was breaking down (much as it is, today) and that enabled the country to mobilize quickly without too much resistance after Pearl Harbor and create the gigantic unified war movement. This would have been impossible in 1925. The situation would have been like trying to fight WWII in 1965 – it would never have worked. Both eras were short-sighted narcissistic periods in our history (we have continued much longer in this phase after WWII without a correction – there are signs that the current economic crisis might do this, but I doubt it for other reasons). A really good book that can be read online, called, Only Yesterday, was written by an eyewitness to the pre-Depression period and shows just how similar the 1920 period was to what would happen in the 1950-1960 period. The parallels are amazing.
Give the massive commonly shared pain and the need to work together during the depression for sheer survival, it was easier to deploy Keynsian economics, which is what ultimately brought us out of the Depression, as we were forced into an interventionist policy and overspending (thus, Keynsianism) by the war.
That being said, it appears that this is Obama’s idea – to spend us out of depression, as Keynes would want, but the circumstances are not the same as in 1932. Society is fragmented and very suspicious of government. There is no cohesion or loyalty in the society, no extended families (indeed, the concept of the family is distorted). Money cannot flow freely in this sort of environment, so his policies, which will provide relief in the short term, will, I suspect, cause an even bigger economic collapse within fifteen years. You see, for all of the fear-mongering, we are not in a depression, yet, and we are not in a state where Keysianism will work. To employ it, now, may push us into a genuine global depression and because of the globalism that has occurred since the 1980’s, those would be truly frightening times.
My opinion, of course. Ask me in fifteen years is I were right.
The Chicken
P. S., what is it with typepad and the flaky links? Sometimes they show up, sometimes, not.

Tim Lacy May 19, 2009 at 11:25 am

Joanna: That is my assertion. No ~he~ does not. No way. Not any more than you support the killing of innocent Iraqis and Afghans through your tax money or by your interpretive beliefs in just war. As for a “shred” of evidence to the contrary, read the Notre Dame address. This is silly.
Matheus: As long you concede the same about “Bush Catholics” and “McCain Catholics,” whatever.
David B: Yes, the economy was brought ~fully~ out of the Depression by WWII. But no sane historian denies that FDR/New Deal policies bettered the situation. Many argue that those policies neared getting us out of the Depression. Keep in mind that FDR only had about 8-9 years to correct structural problems left uncorrected from the Progressive Era (i.e. better regulation of financial markets, under-spending on infrastructure, etc.).
Masked Chicken: Your comment gets closer to my thinking. Priming the pump is the duty of government. But I don’t understand your argument about how the effects of gov’t spending are somehow less than desired because of, ahem, “no cohesion or loyalty in the society, no extended families,” therefore “money cannot flow freely.” Please explain. I’m missing some steps here. Yes, Keynesianism can be over-extended or used, such as during the LBJ’s administration (social programs AND and expensive war), but that’s not the same scale of trouble that we’re facing now.
Adam D: The initial uproar over Obama at ND was, indeed, about his person being there rather than his just being honored. The honoring critique came later in the discussion, so we can’t neglect the initial anti-intellectualism in attacks on Obama’s appearance there. Still, you and others overestimate—and over parse too finely—what honors are about. Jenkins made it clear in his introduction that Notre Dame wasn’t honoring Obama for his legal views on abortion.
…That’s enough typing for now. – TL

TMS1178 May 19, 2009 at 11:51 am

It was such a shame that a pro-life hero like Dr. Keyes sat in jail while a fervent supporter of murdering babies like Mr. Obama was honored by an allegedly Catholic university. Their roles would have been reversed in a just society.

Mary May 19, 2009 at 11:56 am

Let’s quote an expert on whether spending got us out of the Great Depression:
“We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong… somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises… I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started… And an enormous debt to boot!”
– Henry Morgenthau, FDR’s Treasury Secretary, which means — this is an admission against interest

Mary May 19, 2009 at 11:59 am

no sane historian denies that FDR/New Deal policies bettered the situation.
Then there are a whole heck of a lot of insane historians — and economists! — out there.
Indeed, in my experience, the only thing economists argue about is which of FDR’s policies actually caused the Great Depression.

Tim Lacy May 19, 2009 at 12:08 pm

TMS1178: If Keyes is your hero, well, enough said. He had it wrong on Obama while in Illinois, and he has it wrong now. He’s a one-trick pony, which is why can’t get elected to public office—apart from his general lack of intelligence and political acumen.
Mary: Citing Henry Morgenthau as an authority on the effectiveness of New Deal spending is like asking a penny pincher about the virtues of stopping for every penny on a sidewalk. Morgenthau was a notorious balanced budget guy—and so was FDR, by the way. But FDR become convinced of the wisdom and necessity of deficit spending during down times. In other words, learn your history before you cite it. And don’t just cite one or two historians who argue against the grain when the VAST MAJORITY of professional historians (David Kennedy, Schlesinger, Galbraith, etc.) argue for the virtues of FDR/New Deal policies.
– TL

The Masked Chicken May 19, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Dear Tim Lacy,
You wrote:
But I don’t understand your argument about how the effects of gov’t spending are somehow less than desired because of, ahem, “no cohesion or loyalty in the society, no extended families,” therefore “money cannot flow freely.” Please explain. I’m missing some steps here.
In order for money to be utilized properly, there have to be clear channels of reception and use. In a society that is dysfunctional, much of the money gets used up trying in trying to correct the dysfunctionality of the society, sometimes in hidden ways, and does not get to make more money, in itself. The distribution and use of money is inhibited by the very defects in cohesion within companies (mismanagement, fast buyouts, etc.), and society at large. In the war economy, there was a clear, unimpeded path (for the most part) for the flow of money into production. The simpler the society, the easier it is to give money and make money – real money, as opposed to merely credit (a symptom of the current societal dsyfunctionality) which is counted as money.
Look at it this way, the lower the entropy in a system, the easier the path for energy to flow.
I’m probably not clear enough. I need to think of how to say this, better. There is no argument that society simplified many processes and streamlined red tape during the war nor that marriages were more stable and morality simplified. Had the mentality of the 1920’s continued with the idle rich class and disenfranchised youths left over from WWI, there would have been a fragmented society when Pearl Harbor was attacked and it would have delayed the U. S. entry into the war.
The Chicken

JoAnna May 19, 2009 at 12:37 pm

I read the Notre Dame address, Tim, and nowhere did Obama say that he opposed abortion. He made a lot of vapid remarks about dialogue and such, but nowhere did he say that abortion was a moral evil. In fact, his remarks to PP and elsewhere — especially where he supported the killing of his hypothetical grandchildren, not to mention his objections to saving infants via the BAPA — suggest he does indeed think that baby killing is an acceptable practice.

David B. May 19, 2009 at 12:43 pm

“The honoring critique came later in the discussion, so we can’t neglect the initial anti-intellectualism in attacks on Obama’s appearance there.”
That’s a serious allegation against the protesters. I think that they were upset that a Catholic U. had decided to open the ears of its graduating class to the platitudes of a extremely pro-abortion President in a non-debate forum.

Tim Lacy May 19, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Joanna: Please. The address was as anti-abortion as you’ll get for a politician outside of Bush (his only real virtue as a politico) and other Catholic politicians. We’ll have to agree to disagree here. Amongst non-Catholic citizen and politicians, where this is ~no agreement on life beginning at conception~, there’s a difference between baby killing and “legitimate” abortion. You and I disagree with those “legit” folks, for sure. But Obama and a large number of Americans (including McCain, if all reports about his history are to be believed) do not believe the same way we do. We have a lot of ground-level, nuts-and-bolts ~education~ to do before our culture will support anti-abortion laws with real teeth. I wish you well as you struggle to find a way to express our beliefs politically. I know I’ve struggled with it.
Masked Chicken: I look forward to your reply.
– TL

bill912 May 19, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Mary, how gauche! Bringing up inconvenient facts!

Laura May 19, 2009 at 1:11 pm

I understand next to nothing about economics, so I’m not going to comment on that part of this discussion. I am going to ask, however, how Tim Lacy can say “this is silly” in response to the belief that President Obama is pro-abortion. Until his ND speech, his history with the abortion issue has been to vote AGAINST every pro-life bill, including a bill that would have extended protection to infants born alive after an abortion attempt, to reverse the Mexico City policy so that our tax dollars pay for abortions in other countries, to appoint “pro-choice” people to every position he has had the opportunity to appoint someone to, to pledge to sign FOCA into law, etc. etc. This is not how someone who truly desires to “reduce abortions” would conduct themselves. How can any sane person say that someone with this history is pro-life? It is only very recently that he has made any indication of being open to any pro-life positions, like the conscience clause. If he does protect pro-life workers’ right to not be forced to perform abortions against their conscience, it will be a surprise to all who have seen and heard nothing but pro-abortion votes and rhetoric from him.

Adam D May 19, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Tim Lacy,
I’ll agree with you when you commend Obama for his speech at Notre Dame. For a pro-choice politician that was a balanced, charitable speech and the kind of guy who could possibly be dialogued fruitfully with. But the man has a lot of other speeches and votes that say exactly the opposite.
If the ND speech represents something positive regarding Obama’s position on abortion, then it represents a fundamental turning point, because so much else of his previous rhetoric and, more importantly, policy decisions (or cabinet appointments) paint him as far and away the most pro-abortion president we’ve ever had.
I’d love if his ND speech represents his future positions but, Tim Lacy, you are certainly painting too rosy a portrait of our president in this combox. He still has to back up that speech with substance. Putting aside this one speech, I agree with JoAnna that it appears he actively favors babykilling. His record of policies and votes and previous speeches indicate this pretty damn clearly.

Dave Mueller May 19, 2009 at 2:10 pm

You say “To be the very best Catholic university possible, one has to accept that there are differing political views on how to end abortion (i.e. budget vs. making illegal).”
The problem with that statement is that, for a Catholic, making abortion illegal must be a fundamental goal.
“Consequently, laws which legitimize the direct killing of innocent human beings through abortion or euthanasia are in complete opposition to the inviolable right to life proper to every individual; they thus deny the equality of everyone before the law…Laws which authorize and promote abortion and euthanasia are therefore radically opposed not only to the good of the individual but also to the common good; as such they are completely lacking in authentic juridical validity.” (Evangelium Vitae 72)
In Evangelium Vitae 101, the Pope goes as far as to say that the society lacks a solid foundation without the guarantee of a right to life: “A society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized.”

Tim Lacy May 19, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Dear Laura and Adam D,
Obama hasn’t changed overnight with ND. Even in light of FOCA (which I oppose), he has consistently spoken for the ~legality of abortion~. The ND speech didn’t change that. What has changed is a certainly clarity, a focus, with regard to his support for economic deterrents to abortion. But, to be fair, that’s an area on which both Republicans and Democrats have only recently focused. It’s an across the board development that’s an alternative to the usual Supreme Court/Roe fight. Democrats rolled out the PWSA in both the Senate and House recently. Nothing like that act has been seen before. Indeed, it was only recently that Republicans stopped harping on the Reagan era straw woman of dead-beat welfare moms.
In sum, read Obama’s two books and you’ll see that he’s not pro-baby killing.
Signing off this thread for good,

Tim Lacy May 19, 2009 at 2:17 pm

One can agree with Evangelium Vitae and still have voted for Obama. In a perfect world we’d have candidates that gave us that alternative. The last election didn’t, in my and many others opinions. If you want to deny yourself the vote in America, then go ahead. I’ll take voting under duress to not voting at all.
Plus, by citing EV you’re losing sight of the ultimate end. The real goal is to eliminate abortions. Working against the legal system is secondary—dependent on the circumstances of any one season and year. In this last election working against the legal abortion regime was secondary to both candidates. But at least one, Obama, supported the reduction of abortions via economic means.
Really signing off,

bill912 May 19, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Look at Obama’s voting record, and you’ll see he IS pro-baby killing.

TMS1178 May 19, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Tim – Please don’t leave! Who will correct every thought we have?!

JoAnna May 19, 2009 at 2:34 pm

TimL – on the contrary, Obama does not only support “keeping abortion legal” but also removing all restrictions. Pretty significant point. How can one profess to want to reduce abortion while at the same time encourage the removal of all restrictions? And what about his refusal to protect babies who survive a botched abortion? That is support for infanticide – baby-killing at its worst.
An analogy: let’s say that I want to reduce heroin use. So, I legalize heroin, make it widely available to the general public, and remove any age limits or restrictions on heroin use. I even go on TV and encourage my daughters to use heroin someday, if they feel so inclined. Would you still say that I am against heroin use?

Adam D May 19, 2009 at 2:35 pm

In sum, read Obama’s two books and you’ll see that he’s not pro-baby killing.
Signing off this thread for good,
Don’t sign off yet, Tim! To make anything like a cogent case, you still have to reconcile the man’s words with his actions. Obama’s words certainly don’t say “I view abortion as a positive good to be desired” but his policies (voting against provisions to protect infants born from botched abortions!) really do. I’ve heard him say, quite eloquently, “nobody is pro-abortion.” But then he rescinds the Mexico City policy and, if you believe the reasonable argument at this link works against his own stated goals of respecting conscience clauses?
Words are cheap. How do you reconcile your positive outlook of Obama with his actual policies?

Dave Mueller May 19, 2009 at 2:38 pm

I think we can see the danger of attaching oneself too closely to a political party. We run the danger of completely denying reality in the process of trying to reconcile our party to the Faith.

Adam D May 19, 2009 at 2:38 pm

dang, where’d my link go? Here’s the url:
It’s regarding Obama not respecting his own commitment to conscience clauses.

Yeoman May 19, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Regarding the observation of Mr. Lacy that;
“On my philosophy of higher education in light of my faith, well, the term uni-versity implies the attempted unification of divergent views. Catholicism, apart from learning, generally stands for unity in religion. As such, the term Catholic university, strictly speaking, is an oxymoron.”
University, in terms of an educational institution, merely implies that it offers all fields, i.e., it’s a universal college, not a College of Medicine, or College or Arts.
Catholic actually means “universal”. It’s the Universal Church. The Church that was for all people, not just one people.
So no oxymoron is involved. The observation that an education “university” involves an attempted unification of divergent views wholly misunderstands the origin of the phrase “University” in this context. Catholicism does stand for unity in that the Catholic Church is the Universal Church, but that in n way creates an oxymoron.
While on this topic, fwiw, it would do us well to remember that the concept of divergent views in Universities is quite recent. This was not at all the view prior to the 1960s. Prior to the 1960s, the Ivy League schools were Protestant schools, and tended to have chapel requirements. They did not have a divergent view they adhered to, but rather were upper class Protestant Universities. Notre Dame came about as these schools were not tolerant of Catholicism in the sense that they were Protestant schools in one sense or another, and a Catholic could effectively not attend them, and remain true to his Faith. I’m not criticizing them for that, it’s simply the way it was. The idea that all ideas must be tolerated within a university really only came about during the 1960s, when radicals of one kind or another found open expression in some university departments and argued for that view. Whether the view is legitimate or not, it was not the original purpose of a university, nor an aspect of their original features.

Opey May 19, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Aside from the fact that I am pretty sure he wasn’t supposed to cut the penny in half….that is sad. And he is right, the bigger the numbers get, the harder it is to comprehend exactly what is going on.
On the abortion issue and ND/Obama.
I am not buying it for one minute that Obama “really hates that women kill their babies” but he “has no choice/they should decide” bull. He chose to use the word “child” in his speech. Why? I am not going to ask him because if anyone can sit down with Cardinal George and answer him, when questioned about exporting abortion, and the President flat out denies it….has some serious problems with language and the abuse of it. Or, in other words, he is a good looking liar. There. You call him on it and he changes (pun intended) sort of. But credit to him that he admitted it, the abortion debate, was irreconciable. And the last time I checked….dialogue ended when something like that is stated. But then again, I like the way Archbishop Chaput called Fr. Jenkins what he really is….vain.

Mary May 19, 2009 at 6:38 pm

“In other words, learn your history before you cite it.”
You’re projecting.

SDG May 19, 2009 at 7:30 pm

“Plus, by citing EV you’re losing sight of the ultimate end. The real goal is to eliminate abortions.”

Not so. The goal is twofold. The end of evil laws not just a means to the end of eliminating abortion, but an end in itself.
Following EV, as I’ve argued before, before and apart from a single actual abortion, laws protecting the right to abortion poison the entire system of law at its very root.
In principle, a state with no abortions at all, but with the legally protected right to abortion, is a state bereft of legitimate authority, a society built on sand, a culture of death.

Hans May 19, 2009 at 9:20 pm

“Amongst non-Catholic citizen and politicians, where this is ~no agreement on life beginning at conception~”
Tim L., whether in humans or any other animal (and one could go further), it makes no sense biologically to say that life doesn’t begin at conception, when the egg is fertilized. It was one of the triumphs of modern biology to show that life doesn’t begin spontaneously from something not-alive. It was demonstrated conclusively by Louis Pasteur (though others had made major contributions) in the 1860s.
Now we know even more, for instance that the fertilized egg has its own distinct DNA, and that that distinction makes it a distinct individual. We know that change and growth begin spontaneously and quickly after fertilization, whereas the unfertilized egg will eventually decay. In the normal course of events, that growth and change proceeds until the organism (you or me, for instance) dies. It characterizes life, and birth has no effect on it, so birth cannot be the starting point for life. It must begin at conception, at fertilization, from a biological point of view.
The point is that it doesn’t really matter what some people may believe about life not beginning at conception — the truth (as someone once said) is otherwise. Some people used to believe that they had the right to own slaves, for instance, but they were also wrong.

JohnE May 20, 2009 at 6:50 am

Like many politicians, President Obama makes it seem like there is much more common ground than there actually is. If the mainstream media was doing its job, he would never get away with talking out of both sides of his mouth. By his words alone you might actually think he favors the legal protection of human life:
“We must find a way to live together as one human family.”
“We too often seek advantage over others.”
“Too many of us only view life through the lens of immediate self-interest and crass materialism.”
“The strong too often dominate the weak.”
“Let’s make adoption more available.”
“Let’s provide care and support for women who DO carry their children to term.”
All great statements, but here’s what Obama leaves unspoken verbally with each statement, but speaks loudly and clearly through his actions and policies:
“We must find a way to live together as one human family (‘we’ optionally including the unborn)”
“Whatever advantages are to be had by killing the unborn should not be restricted.”
“Self-interest and crass materialism should not be a reason to restrict abortion.”
“The strong too often dominate the weak, but there’s nothing I’m going to do to provide the weakest of all with any legal protections (and thanks for the honorary degree, by the way).”
“Let’s make abortion more available too.”
“Let’s provide care and support for women who DON’T carry their children to term.”
Finally, I find this statement of his somewhat odd:
“Let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions”.
Why not just say “let us work together to reduce abortions”? Or maybe if the number of women decrease, then the number who seek them will also naturally decrease? Along with breast cancer, domestic abuse, and every other bad (and good) thing that happens to women?
Ok, what he actually means is, “let’s promote contraception in order to reduce unwanted pregnancies.” Or in other words, “let’s add some more oil to the slippery slope”. So whether you’re at the bottom of the slope or somewhere on it sliding down or standing at the edge, surely we can open our hearts and minds to each other and find some common ground between us…can’t we?

Tim Lacy May 20, 2009 at 7:23 am

Dear All,
I’m returning for more flogging. I woke in a masochistic mood, I guess.
SDG wrote: “A state with no abortions at all, but with the legally protected right to abortion, is a state bereft of legitimate authority, a society built on sand, a culture of death.” …My reply: It seems that many hard-line Catholics miss a point here. There’s a reason why JPII used the specific term “culture.” This term hints at the root of many disagreements between conservatives and liberals, and even among those within each camp. The key issue is this: Does law cause change, or culture, or both? The wise answer is to split the middle and say both. But we have to look deeper. Cultural change occurs slowly, so long-term issues move along that arc. The law is good regulating the present and the future, but not at effecting deep cultural change. For long-term problems, cultural change must occur first, then the law will reflect difference. So it’s entirely possible that Catholics could change culture from within, and we end up with liberal laws that no longer reflect newer, Catholic friendly cultural norms/truths. If that’s the case, then changing the law won’t be a struggle, it’ll be a natural to-do in light of new majorities. Abortion has obviously not proceeded along these lines. Like it or not, Roe has been settled law for nearly 35 years—nearly two generations—not to mention whatever silent consensus about abortion allowed Roe to come into being in the first place. So to change Roe, we have to change our culture first. It’s tough and hard. It’ll be difficult. But education and evangelization are the only solutions—and you can’t evangelize with the law. So, SDG, I believe you’re overdramatizing to say that a state that legally protects abortion poisons everything at the root. The root of society, of culture, is the family, the school, local parish, and one’s friends. Change beings there first. Finally, the law gives license, but doesn’t encourage abortions. License is not the same, just like the freedom of speech is not an encouragement to slander or deliver hate speech, or the second amendment does not deliver the right to creatively abuse gun ownership.
Hans: You’re missing my point. It’s not ME that’s arguing against life beginning at conception. I’m speaking for others.
Mary: I’m an historian. Get real.
Adam D: Why this insistence that the Mexico City policy kept people only from abortion and not methods of contraception that the non-Catholic world finds acceptable? I’ve not seen one set of numbers from a reliable source about how the Mexico City policy saved lives that would’ve otherwise been lost.
Dave Mueller: Where were folks when the Republican Catholic Partisans did this all through the 90s with Bush?
– TL

bill912 May 20, 2009 at 8:39 am

“Mary: I’m an historian. Get real.”
An ill-mannered historian.
Mary, of course, was correct in the (inconvenient) facts she cited.

Tim Lacy May 20, 2009 at 8:51 am

bill912: Frustration with faulty citations of history breed bad manners. The context of this discussion matters, as does historical context. On the latter, Mary cited the wrong facts about the New Deal in relation to Morgenthau, as well as in relation to the effects of the New Deal. I corrected her, and she didn’t like it. People don’t like to be corrected. You’re seeing only the tail end of things. – TL

bill912 May 20, 2009 at 8:57 am

“You’re seeing only the tail end of things.”
Perhaps he discussed something with Mary that’s not on this thread.

bill912 May 20, 2009 at 8:59 am

“Frustration with faulty citations of history breed bad manners.”
ENglish translation: It’s Mary’s fault I was rude.

Hal Duston May 20, 2009 at 9:03 am

David B.
Re: “safe, legal, and rare (which doesn’t make sense if you think it’s a right)”
This was a part of the abortion the plank put in the Democratic platform for the 1992 DNC convention by the Clinton team. It was removed after some discussion for the 2008 DNC convention by the committee, for that very reason you mention. The committee saw the word RARE as allowing that there was a moral problem with abortion, and since they disagreed with that position, the changed the language. The abortion plank in the Democratic Party Platform now reads as follows:
“The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”
The sole concession made to reducing abortions is to reduce conceptions via family planning thusly:
“The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to comprehensive affordable family planning services and age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.”


Tim Lacy May 20, 2009 at 9:07 am

bill912: Look, you’re baiting/flaming me. Morgenthau is/was not an historian with perspective. He was a Treasury Secretary who disagreed with the president, but has been proven wrong since by more historians than otherwise. So Mary is wrong in citing him. In addition, here are some questions for you: What’s your interest in this? Try contributing something other than (1) defending Mary’s faulty historical citations and (2) adding one liners. And, who are you? Why hide behind a pseudonym? It contributes to a feeling that you’re being less than sincere, that you’re trolling and flaming. – TL

Matheus May 20, 2009 at 9:14 am

I woke in a masochistic mood, I guess.
Tim Lacy
So, apparently, did us who keep reading what you write here.
For my part, I agree with you on one thing: outlawing abortion isn’t the most important thing for us Catholics, indeed. But what’s more important now is that we get rid of the fifth column of useful idiots for the abortion ideology like you.

JoAnna May 20, 2009 at 9:15 am

But Tim, how is culture going to change if culture itself sends the message that baby killing is okay? The mental gymnastics you’re going through to justify abortion are astonishing.
As a historian, you should be aware that in many instances, laws changed before the culture did — for example, slavery and racism.
Also, see my earlier post regarding the heroin analogy. Coulsd you respond?

Dave Mueller May 20, 2009 at 9:17 am

Good morning Tim,
You stated, “Dave Mueller: Where were folks when the Republican Catholic Partisans did this all through the 90s with Bush?”
Do you mean the current decade with Bush II? At any rate, there were plenty who pointed out, and continue to point out, that many Catholics were far too comfy with the GOP, and too easily disagreed with the Pope’s assessment that the Iraq war was not just. Torture is another example of the same.
It’s definitely a danger on both sides, there is no question about that. However, I think it is a very major stretch, to the point of tearing the fabric of reality, to say that Obama is not a pro-abortion candidate (hint: watch his actions and votes, not his words, and even in his words the truth sometimes slips out) and even worse to say that the Dems are somehow more pro-life than the GOP.
I think a fair assessment would say that the GOP in general is somewhat tepid on abortion, but Bush II and the GOP did (1) reinstate the Mexico City policy; (2) restrict ESCR such that no new embryos were being created for research, at least not on the federal dime; (3) used the bully pulpit to put the phrase “culture of life” in the common parlance; (4) create conscience protection laws; (5) enact laws stopping partial birth abortion and other abortion restrictions; (6) put Roberts and Alito on the Supreme Court, and that’s just off the top of my head.
In all six of those cases, President Obama has enacted or has stated support for policies, laws, and judges much more friendly to legal abortion and Roe vs. Wade than Bush II did.

Adam D May 20, 2009 at 9:23 am

Tim L.
I’m not intent on pressing the Mexico City policy. What I want to press on you is your overly complimentary descriptions of Obama when his actions and policies to date have communicated a message nearly the polar opposite the lovely idealism of compromises in his speeches.
I appreciate your perspective and think you’ve got some good points. It’s rare that I think someone scores a point on SDG in these comboxes (he’s such a sharp individual) but I’ll agree with your last response to him that our battle is cultural, after which we can make it a legal battle but you keep indicating a belief that Obama is our ally in this cultural battle. This is just plain absurd. If all I had to go by were his speeches I’d be wont to agree in the limited sense that you describe him as an ally but when I look at what the man’s actually done the picture is clearly of a man opposing the pro-life movement at every possible turn. How can you look at his record and talk so glowingly of him?

Tim J. May 20, 2009 at 9:25 am

Tim Lacy,
Should elective amputation be safe, legal and rare? Why, or why not?
If it remains illegal, people will just get back-alley amputations, or do it themselves. What we need to focus on is changing the culture.,2933,448005,00.html

bill912 May 20, 2009 at 9:35 am

“Look you’re baiting/flaming me.”
No, I pointed out that Mary correctly stated facts which you find inconvenient, and I pointed out your bad manners toward Mary.
“…but has been proven wrong since by more historians than otherwise.”
Huh? Rightness/wrongness is proven by evidence, not historians.

Dave Mueller May 20, 2009 at 9:38 am

As Tim L., changing the culture and changing the laws is not an either/or. We can and must work on both. I do not see, however, how a Democratic administration does anything to help change the culture to be pro-life. If anything it reinforces the lie that it is possible to be “compassionate” (the word the Dems would like to have voters see themselves as) and yet favor the right to abortion.

Tim Lacy May 20, 2009 at 11:05 am

Addressing a few illegitimate jabs against me:
1. Matheus: Thanks for the productive contribution! Jerk.
2. bill912: Beat…head…against…wall. Please come back and raise your hand when you (and Mary) do your assigned homework.
3. Tim J: Specious analogy. A majority of society agrees on what the definition of amputation is. A majority doesn’t on abortion and its legality. You’re better over using slavery, but never forget that the solution to that problem was a federal one.
Now on to substance:
Adam D—Thanks for your civil reply and the concessions. I understand what you’re thinking, but again, it’s still a bit early to judge the administration on what it’s done/undone. The first crisis has been the economy, which is already shown to have correlation with abortion—hazarding a NYT link: On Obama and the cultural battle in general, I think he’s an ally to a point. I haven’t emphasized that “point” here because, yes, I’ve been fighting the monster/babykiller interpretive angle. Let’s view him a bit more to the middle, then our criticisms/contributions will have some weight. It’s easier to convince a friend of your deeper views than bullying. Right now the Church is in bully mode—both within and without. And I do think that Obama views the Church as bullying people into agreement rather than being those that walk alongside in love.
Dave Mueller—Thanks for your very civil reply. You’ll note that I didn’t paint the situation, in my 7:33 AM comment today, as an either/or. I came down in the middle, but caveated the means of change by timeframe and culture. On how Democrats are helping effect change, please give a fair look at the growing influence of pro-life Democrats and the very important lobbying group Democrats for Life of America (DFLA). The latter is playing an increasingly prominent role, and helps explain why the Democrat segment of pro-lifers having more success with Obama. I think they’ve been critical in getting him to change course on conscience clauses. It’s critical that Catholics not be shoe-horned into either not voting or voting Republican every election. Catholics deserve choices, and DFLA helps enlarge the sphere. The Church and pro-lifers everywhere would be wise to POUR money into DFLA—if for no other reason than to even the playing field. Per your other comment, I did mean Bush II. But, conservative Catholics weren’t hard enough on him in 04, and they paid the price with losing influence/objectivity with regard to Obama/McCain (not that McCain was in any way a superior choice).
– TL

Jimmy Akin May 20, 2009 at 11:12 am

And, who are you? Why hide behind a pseudonym? It contributes to a feeling that you’re being less than sincere, that you’re trolling and flaming
This is why newbies should act a little circumspectly when starting to comment on a board.
In fact, Bill912 is a regular and is not a troll or flamer.
If Tim Lacy were a regular, he’d know that, but he’s a newbie.
In general, Lacy should be a bit more circumspect in how he deals with people.
Thus far he has come across as ill mannered.

TMS1178 May 20, 2009 at 11:13 am

G.K. Chesterton was such am impressive debator because in addition to always being right he was always charitable. An argument can be made on any subject without trying to demean someone or call their intelligence into question.

Tim Lacy May 20, 2009 at 11:19 am

FYI: For Mary and bill912 and Jimmy A on deficit spending: Robert H. Frank is an economist at Cornell. – TL

Tim Lacy May 20, 2009 at 11:22 am

Look Jimmy, my comments were civil from the start, but became less so after being attacked and flamed. And you’ve made no effort to curb things until now. Indeed, I’m more regular with your blog than you know. I’ve been a silent observer for almost two years. But bill912’s regular presence here gives him no more right to rudeness than any “newbie.” – TL

Tim J. May 20, 2009 at 11:25 am

“Specious analogy.”
I disagree, obviously, or I wouldn’t have offered it.
“A majority of society agrees on what the definition of amputation is. A majority doesn’t on abortion and its legality.”
A majority of society doesn’t agree on the definition of “abortion”? Then what are we all arguing over? On the contrary, what defines “an amputation” or “an abortion” is very widely agreed on… the disagreement is over the moral dimensions of the acts involved.
I take it, then, that if a majority agreed that elective amputation was a legitimate moral choice, you would support legalizing it? It’s not far off.

Tim Lacy May 20, 2009 at 11:31 am

TimJ: You wrote: “Then what are we all arguing over?” My reply: Exactly. Catholics believe that certain types of birth control are abortifacients. Catholics agree that the Morning After Pill is an abortion. Catholics believe fetuses are people, not fetuses or a blob of cells. Not all of our Christian, Jewish, and Islamic brethren believe these things. Ergo, as a society—even one with religion—we can’t agree on what are abortions. This is what Obama is tapping into: we live in a multi-religious society and scientists do not all agree on when a fetus becomes human. Catholics agree, but we live an non-Catholic society.
See, I’m civil when addressed civilly! :) – TL

Tim J. May 20, 2009 at 11:33 am

May I remind you, Tim L., that you opened your commentary by very civilly informing Jimmy that he should stick to apologetics and canon law?
If you had agreed with his opinion, would you have offered the same condescension?

Tim Lacy May 20, 2009 at 11:36 am

TimJ (and Jimmy): That’s not exactly a mean-spirited cavil, but something I believed when I wrote it. And it was a reaction to the “babykilling” repetition in the post. Even so, I conceded it wasn’t the best in my May 19, 2009 7:22:49 AM comment to Adam D. – TL

Tim J. May 20, 2009 at 11:52 am

“Exactly. Catholics believe that certain types of birth control are abortifacients.”
That’s a bit silly. A thing is abortafacient or it isn’t. It is not a matter of belief or opinion.
“Catholics agree that the Morning After Pill is an abortion.”
If the morning after pill does not result in an abortion, then why do people take it? What do they hope to achieve by taking it?
“Catholics believe fetuses are people, not fetuses…”
Again, fetuses are either human beings or they are not. How you or I feel about it is immaterial to the fact, one way or the other. If fetuses are not human beings, the current level of scientific knowledge places the burden of proof squarely on those who deny the status of fetuses as human beings.
“…we live in a multi-religious society and scientists do not all agree on when a fetus becomes human.”
It looks like we owe the Inca, the Maya and the Aztecs a big apology for our overreaction to their practice of ritual human sacrifice.

Adam D May 20, 2009 at 12:12 pm

“On Obama and the cultural battle in general, I think he’s an ally to a point. I haven’t emphasized that “point” here because, yes, I’ve been fighting the monster/babykiller interpretive angle. Let’s view him a bit more to the middle, then our criticisms/contributions will have some weight. It’s easier to convince a friend of your deeper views than bullying. Right now the Church is in bully mode—both within and without. And I do think that Obama views the Church as bullying people … ”
But this is still overly optimistic, Tim L. Maybe he has accomplished only a little policy-wise in advancing abortion “rights” as president but bearly all of his major appointments have been for individuals well known as staunchly pro-abortion and his stance in Chicago against extending protection to infants born alive from botched abortions is simply monstrous. All of his votes as a senator and all his policies in Chicago make for a very clear policy record. Which is something because he had been remarkably non-commital to so many other policies, voting merely “present” on so many other votes.
And, to nuance the concession I made to you, regarding the fight for a culture before a legal fight, I wouldn’t mean it sound like I’m opposed (or that you should be) to overturning Roe V Wade today. Abortion should be illegalized as soon as possible. I think the point to be taken from your objection is just that this is unlikely to be accomplishable in a culture that so widely accepts abortion. You have a point insofar as a pragmatic understanding of what’s possible but from your back and forth with Tim J I get the impression you’d even reject supporting an overturn of Roe V Wade right now. If it could be done, it should be done because it’s right and moral.
Now, to say that the Church is bullying and that this is less effective than a more conciliatory tone, I say, posh! The Church, whatever Obama might think of their tone, has been conciliatory for decades! And the culture has sunk to where it is. On the contrary, I think it is only because the Church has become more vocal (beginning with Obama’s presidential campaign) especially on life issues, that I think we even see some conciliatory *speeches* from him. The Church doesn’t need to get more polite with our president, the Church needs to assert herself yet more. Maybe then these concessions in his speeches will become concessions in actual policies.

Matheus ("Jerk") May 20, 2009 at 12:27 pm

By the way, Steve Kellmeyer has just written about the experience of an exchange with mental gymnasts.
He also wrote about the issue discussed here and what happens when Catholics do what Tim Lacy types wants them to do.

David B. May 20, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Being the minority opinion might make one feel like everybody is ganging up on you. I know I’ve sometimes felt that way (not here), but that doesn’t mean it is the case.

Dave Mueller May 20, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Tim Lacy,
I pray that you and others will be able to release the strangehold that the abortion rights lobby has on the Democratic Party. I have voted for pro-life Democrat candidates before, and I’m sure I’ll do so again.
However, there seems to be a glass ceiling as far as how much influence a pro-lifer is allowed to have in the Democratic party. I hope you and your colleagues at DFLA are able to break this as well.

Tim J. May 20, 2009 at 1:39 pm

I’m curious as to what course of action the “seamless garment” Catholics would recommend if – after increasing government spending at every level for social programs – the hoped for reduction in abortions fails to materialize.
How long before you think we will be able to quantify a reduction in abortions? 5 years? 10 Years? 20?
If abortion rates remain as they are, or even increase, what response would you envision? At what point would the drastic measure of working to legally restrict abortion be appropriate?

Matheus May 21, 2009 at 6:10 am

Just in case Typepad’s link-eating feature that TMC has mentioned is turned on, here and here (I suppose) are the two links from my previous comment.

The Masked Chicken May 21, 2009 at 9:31 am

Dear Matheus,
The Link Monster ate your links :)
The Chicken

Matheus May 21, 2009 at 1:18 pm


The Link Monster ate your links :)

The (latest) links came back! The monster had a congestion and vomited them.

The Masked Chicken May 21, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Dear Matheus,
Typepad seems to be fickle or inconsistent or maybe it periodically gets Star Trek envy and decides it wants to reboot, too :)
The Chicken

bklyn catholic May 22, 2009 at 9:33 am

I’m coming late to this party, but I have a question about enforcement. I was born after Roe v Wade, so I don’t know what enforcement consisted of in states where abortion was illegal. What was the punishment for doctor and patient? I recall reading (perhaps mistakenly) that there was only a handful of prosecutions around abortion cases prior to Roe v Wade.
Because abortion has been legal and available for some 30+ years now, making it illegal now would require some rather clear enforcement guidelines.
Has the Church, select Bishops, or leaders of the Church posed ideas for enforcement? Jail time for the doctor alone? (the one performing the abortion.) Jail time or other sanctions against the woman (and her husband/partner, if complicit) as well? Closing of hospitals that perform abortions?
To just say that it needs to be illegal without considering enforcement seems a little short-sighted to me. What will be the deterent?

Mike Petrik May 23, 2009 at 7:41 am

Mr. Lacy:
“Baby killing” is quite apt I’m afraid. While an Illinois legislator Obama successfully quarterbacked the state effort to kill legislation that would have required hospitals to provide ordinary care to “babies” born as a consequence of a failed abortion. At that time state law interpretive authority provided that such care was required only if the attending physician pronounced the baby viable. Accordingly, a baby born alive was not entitled to ordinary care if it was not viable (i.e., was going to die). Consequently, live babies were being discarded as trash. Obama lead the opposition to the remedial legislation, cynically and falsely stating that such legislation was (i) unnecessary since hospitals already were required to provide ordinary care and (ii) dangerous because it would undercut Roe. Obama’s efforts in sabatoging the Illinois Born Alive Act were pure evil, and nothing you read in his books can change that. I find it rather incredible that you would not be aware of these facts, being that you are a historian and this is all rather recent history.
Furthermore, my undergraduate training is in economics, not history. You should know that there is widespread agreement among economists that the Great Depression was caused and sustained by money supply mismanagement and protectionist trade polices. Whether the eventual implementation of aggressive Keynesian fiscal policy (i.e., deficit spending) was actually remedial is a matter of debate among economists, though most would, I think, say that it probably helped somewhat. Ultimately, the problem is that economic contractions do end naturally assuming sound monetary policy, and while Keynesian fiscal policies can also help they are difficult to execute due to timing challenges. To be more precise, the Keynesian multiplier effect often (probably usually) does not become effective until the economy is already rebounding organically, in which case it then operates to actually repress the rebound because of higher interest rates due to massive government borrowing. I could go on but it would just get pedantic and mathematical.
Finally, my graduate training is in law, and I taught constitutional law at a law school for many years. I’m happy to explain Roe to you as well if you wish.

Tim Lacy May 23, 2009 at 8:04 am

Dear Mike,
Thanks for the patronizing set of comments.
You wrote: “Obama’s efforts in sabatoging the Illinois Born Alive Act were pure evil.” You’re wrong–both on my awareness and the historical situation. Period. As an IL citizen and an historian, I’m well aware of all this. On IL Senator Obama and the BAIPA, read this: Keep reading Zorn for a detailed, accurate look at what happened in recent IL political history.
You wrote: “Great Depression was caused and sustained by money supply mismanagement and protectionist trade polices.” There’s some truth in this. But that mismanagement and those policy errors were ~all~ perpetuated in the 1920s under Republican Presidents. On FDR and the New Deal, well, Keynesian economic policies were implemented alongside monetary policy changes, which has somewhat complicated economic interpretations on the success of the New Deal. My only point in the comment above is that the New Deal, in contrast to comments by Mary and bill912, in no way caused the Great Depression. At best that is an anachronistic interp of history.
Thanks for the Roe offer, but that’s unnecessary. I’ll let you have the last word.
– Tim

Mike Petrik May 23, 2009 at 8:39 am

The most patronizing poster on this thread is sensitive to being patronized — that is both rich and unsurprising.
First, I invite you to explain why our President opposed the following legislative language: “(c) A live child born as a result of an abortion shall be fully recognized as a human person and accorded immediate protection under the law.” I have a hunch that will result in the most productive discussion.
Second, I do share your skepticism that Roosevelt’s deficit spending actually prolonged the Depression, at least in any serious way. But you dramatically overstate your case regarding Roosevelt generally. See . Your notion that the policies that rendered a recession into a great depression can be layed entirely at the doorstep of Hoover is simply not sustainable. The truth is that Roosevelt initally continued many of Hoover’s mistaken polices, and then experimented with many others — some sound, many not.

Tim Lacy May 23, 2009 at 10:41 am

First, read Eric Zorn. But I’ll summarize: Illinois already had a law on the books that covered the same thing. But don’t take my word for it: follow the steps of an IL reporter/columnist that covered the BAIPA for years.
Second, those UCLA economists are restating what every historian has known for year—and what FDR’s Brain Trust knew also: the first New Deal wasn’t as effective as they hoped. And it took them some years to make corrections. The culprit? The first New Deal favored “bigness,” both corporate and in terms of government programs. They also underspent. The second New Deal favored a more ground up approach, emphasizing smallness, or small to medium-sized business. They also increased gov’t spending again in 37-38 after a temporary dip in late 36-37.
It’s not patronizing when, as an historian, I know what I’m talking about. And if I took a negative tone in this thread at any point, it was only in response either to Mr. Akins’ original post or subsequent comments.
– TL

Nicholas Jagneaux May 23, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I’ll admit that I haven’t fully followed this thread; and that I have nothing original to offer.
However, I thought I’d draw attention to this: At Ignatius Insight Scoop, Carl Olson just posted an entry touching on Pres. Obama’s abortion policy that ties in with the flow of the discussion here.
Let me summarize the article:
Pres. Obama’s Director of Domestic Policy, Melody Barnes stated, “It is not our goal to reduce the number of abortions.” Rather, it is the goal to “reduce the need for abortion.”
But, how to reduce the need? Simple. By increasing the amount of contraceptives. However, statistics demonstrate that cultures that adopt a “contraceptive mentality” also see an increase in abortions, not a decrease.
I don’t see how Pres. Obama’s approach shares ANY common ground with our Catholic faith.

TMS1178 May 23, 2009 at 2:30 pm

While Mr. Obama was at Notre Dame, he should have had a long chat with professor emeritus Charles Rice who authored “50 Questions On The Natural Law: What It Is And Why We Need It”.

Adam D May 23, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Well, after reading that link from Tim Lacy, I don’t come away any more impressed with Obama’s position on the born-alive legislations he opposed in Illinois. Zorn surely expands on the issue to show it as a more drawn out, complicated affair than some depictions of it with a lot of argumentation focusing around neutrality clauses to make the Illinois legislation identical with the federal law and insuring all the pro-abortion folk that these laws are not meant to infringe on the basic rights to abortion secured in roe-V-wade. But according to Zorn Obama continued to oppose such legislation even after such neutrality clauses were written in.
I think Zorn’s argument breaks down in this paragraph:

The history makes it clear that Obama’s role in delaying “born-alive” legislation was minor and based on very understandable reservations of many pro abortion rights legislators in Springfield. There is simply no way to paint him as an “extremist” when multiple versions of this same legislation failed in both chambers, often over bi-partisan concerns — though Jill Stanek is apparently having some success pushing this angle with those who don’t have the patience you’ve had to wade through all the bills and arguments.

He’s correct that opposition to such legislation was partisan. As was support of such legislation. And the arguments were indeed spread out over many slightly different bills. But the fact is still the same: Obama consistently voted against bills meant to save the life of a baby, alive outside the womb. I don’t care if opposition to these bills was partisan or drawn out or nearly unanimous. The popularity of a position doesn’t make the position less extreme. It just means all the Democrats held the same extreme position as Obama.
What the heck about that link makes you think Obama’s record on this matter mitigates his monstrous stance on this matter, Tim Lacy?

Adam D May 23, 2009 at 7:34 pm

well, my last sentence was pretty garbled. I meant, what content in that link mitigates the claim that Obama’s position is monstrous?

John Huntley May 23, 2009 at 8:04 pm

I’ve been setting back and watching the responses of the seemingly easily “patronized” TL. These are my observations. This IS NOT intended as an “ad hominem” attack on anyone but my observation of the tenor of some of the exchanges. They have occasionally seemed rather shrill for “those on the same side.”
Several responses could be taken from the “Rules for Radicals”.
Rule 3 “Go outside the experience of your opponent” This rule when coupled with a Credentialism can be used to establish a “better than thou” position.
Rule 5 “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon”. and Rule #11 “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it … Ignore attempts to shift the blame”. “You are patronizing me!”
Rule #10 “… Avoid being trapped by ….’..What would you do'”
If you are trying to make us think, I’m all for it. But it is hard for me to understand how the stridency helps.
I live by very strong orthodox (small O as in Roman) Catholic values. I believe ALL the Catholic Church teaches. Thanks to Nicholas for the link to Ignatius Scoop. Maybe there is no common ground and we do really need to “gird our loins” to stand our ground in prayer and meaningful objection. I will once again join my voice to the chorus of “Actions speak louder than words”.
For those others in IL, the house of representative intends to bring the “domestic partners” law to a vote on Tues or Wed of next week. Some of us will send our emails this weekend. The earliest chance to call to register an opinion by telephone is Tuesday. Perfect “under the radar” timing. They got buried under calls about the ILFOCA so it is not surprising that they attempt to hide it late in the session.
Finally, as a newbie to this combox, I don’t want to belittle the ongoing actions of those swimming against the tide with organizations like DFLA. I admit I had to google it to see what the reference was to. You are in my prayers.

Tim Lacy May 24, 2009 at 5:28 am

Adam D: Thanks for engaging me on the Zorn article. I respectfully disagree with your statement: “It just means all the Democrats held the same extreme position as Obama.” As I read the piece, it means that all IL Democrats believed that existing partial birth protections in IL were/are satisfactory. They didn’t believe that a second doctor was needed to verify the decision of the first. That doesn’t appear to be an extreme position in light of BAIPA and IL law.
As for the Olson link and the issues it raises, I thank Nicholas for it. Speaking objectively, trying to empathize/understand the non-Catholic view of contraception and abortion, the last part of the Olson link is troubling. Olson is saying (for us), that the 1960 book by Stanislas de Lestapis, *La limitation des naissances*, is, or should be, the authoritative word/work on whether contraception increases the need for abortion. Surely more recent work verifies or confirms this? I love Humanae Vitae, but this is no way to argue on its behalf. Why? Because those of us who practice NFP also seek at times to avoid conception. Those times have been legitimated by Church theology (i.e. married but out of work, etc.), so the same arguments applied around Lestapis’ work could be applied to orthodox practicing Catholics seeking, due to recognized circumstances, to prevent conception. Lestapis and those following that line, in a narrow way, as articulated by Olson per the 1980 H&PR article, are undermining “the other hand” of Church teaching by advocating a kind of “Quiver Full” mentality. I would hate to be in the eminently uncomfortable position, as a Church-loving Catholic, of making intramural arguments against NFP. Maybe I’m misunderstanding Olson or Lestapis’ point?
– TL

Nicholas Jagneaux May 24, 2009 at 6:06 am

Tim Lacy,
I don’t practice NFP (as I gather you do), but – as I understand it – it can only be superficially compared to using artificial contraceptives. There is a radical (from radix, or root) difference between the two methods.
While both methods are used to avoid pregnancy, only one can also be used to promote pregnancy – NFP. This radical difference speaks to the very heart of NFP.
Maybe someone on this board who practices NFP can comment, but as I understand it NFP allows the couple to practice the supernatural virtue of chastity. Surely, some may abuse the practice for selfish means. But that’s not the fault of NFP. That’s due to our sinful nature.
The birth control pill and other artifical forms of birth control, on the other hand, can only be about selfishness.
Pres. Obama wants to make artifical contraception widely available (and probably for free, paid by our tax dollars). Here is a quote from Pres. Obama (from Olson’s article):
“Access to contraceptives is essential to lowering the rate of unintended pregnancies in this country, and we need to make sure these drugs are affordable and accessible. I thank Planned Parenthood and this bill’s co-sponsors for supporting this common-sense and necessary legislation.” (Emphasis added)
Once again, Pres. Obama’s approach to reducing abortions is so radically opposed to Catholic teaching that I don’t know how the two can be reconciled.

Adam D May 24, 2009 at 6:54 am

Maybe the Illinois Democrats try justifying their position against the new BAIPA laws by making recourse to similar laws already on the books, but this is a cop out for them, and nothing for you to use justifying their position. Obviously, these laws were not effective at saving the lives of babies. The whole reason such new laws were being fought for is because of several known instances where born infants were left to die and, upon investigations, no charges were brought against anybody for such horrendous deeds. New laws were necessary. If I’m not mistaken, such a law is now passed too. And anyway, according to Zorn’s article, contrary to your characterization of events, the argument primarily focused around conscience clauses, not multiple laws (though I do remember Obama discussing the multiple law thing as a justification but, as I said, obviously that law didn’t protect any babies).
There’s no such problem decrying contraception given the Church’s acceptance of NFP. Briefly stated, contraception introduces a foreign component into sex, a physical or chemical barrier to essentially distort the marital union. NFP involves no such barrier, no change of the marital act. The ramifications spiritually and psychologically for the two approaches to family planning are dramatic and far reaching for couples and families.

Adam D May 24, 2009 at 7:08 am

sorry, I meant “neutrality clauses” not “conscience clauses”

JoAnna May 24, 2009 at 9:50 am

Tim Lacy, what you don’t understand is that contraception and avoiding conception are two entirely different things. Contraception literally means “Against conception” — it deliberately and artificially frustrates the natural procreative processes of the human body.
NFP does not do this; it is not contraception. With NFP, you obtain information about the natural procreative processes of the human body and use that information to make a choice to abstain or not abstain. With NFP, you work WITH the body’s natural procreative process designed by God, not against it. As a previous poster said, it can be used illicitly, but the method itself is not illicit. This is not true of artificial contraception.
I recommend reading Janet Smith’s Contraception: Why Not? for a more thorough explanation.

Mike Petrik May 24, 2009 at 9:51 am

I read Zorn. He spins like a top and disemmbles like a political hack. The real story is here:
According to this somehwat more objective source (it gets the facts right even if it seems disturbingly untroubled by infanticide), Obama lied, pure and simple, and then went on to call his accusers liars. The term “infanticide” is only inapt if one somehow believes that a born infant is not a person if he is not viable. I would hope that you have enough of a conscience to agree that such a belief is unacceptable for a thinking Christian.
Illinois most certainly did not “already have a law on the books that covered the same thing.” In the context of infants born as a consequence of a failed abortion, the existing law had been interpreted to require ordinary care only if such infants were viable. The BAIPA clarified that ordinary care was due regardless of viability. Obama and the rest of the abortion rights crowd were simply worried that extending rights to non-viable infants born in failed abortions could chip away at the the viability rationale of Roe and progeny. In their view, the distinction between viable and non-viable was too important to risk for born infants who were not going to live anyway. That is why they are so careful to call such infants fetuses, even though a born fetus is a legal and medical oxymoron.
Obama’s explanation that his opposition turned only on the need for the inclusion of the federal act’s neutrality provision does not withstand factual scrutiny. As explained by, it simply is not true.
Finally, as to Roosevelt and his policies your simplistic big versus small thesis cannot be squared with the UCLA findings. That said, I hardly blame Roosevelt. It is unfair to evaluate his performance (or Hoover’s) using a modern lens that assumes contemporary economic knowledge. Nonetheless, the notion that his policies, on balance, assisted us out of the recession may be the conventional wisdom among historians, but is very much an idiosyncratic one among economists. Instead, most of his policies were counterproductive, though I agree that his later polices were less so. Roosevelt certainly did not cause the recession, but he did prolong it. I just don’t see any reason to vilify him for this. It is by no means clear who would have done a better job. However, any idea that his administration gave us a template for successfully navigating through our current contraction is extremely wrong-headed and dangerous.

Adam D May 24, 2009 at 10:32 am

Mike Petrik brings up more good argument on the BAIPA issue (and I’m entirely unqualified to touch the economic question) but this brings to my mind some important questions. I’d really appreciate it, Tim Lacy, if you’d perhaps lay out all your cards for us. Because I’ve become a bit perplexed about your position and what you’re trying to get at in all this defense of Obama.
Where would you like to see others’ positions shifting? You want to see compromises on opposition to abortion? Is abortion really not “baby-killing?” Why support Obama so forcefully? Where are you actually willing to criticize him? Where do you oppose Obama?
Because you have come to sound like nothing more than a partisan Democrat, spinning anything you can to create support for party votes.

Mary May 24, 2009 at 11:59 am

“The term “infanticide” is only inapt if one somehow believes that a born infant is not a person if he is not viable.”
“The term “infanticide” is only inapt if one somehow believes that a born infant is not a person if he is CAllED not viable.”

Tim Lacy May 24, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Mike Petrik: Your very own link contradicts you. It says:
‘Whether opposing “born alive” legislation is the same as supporting “infanticide,” however, is entirely a matter of interpretation. That could be true only for those, such as Obama’s 2004 Republican opponent, Alan Keyes, who believe a fetus that doctors give no chance of surviving is an “infant.” It is worth noting that Illinois law already provided that physicians must protect the life of a fetus when there is “a reasonable likelihood of sustained survival of the fetus outside the womb, with or without artificial support.” ‘ (last para of summary). That backs up Zorn and my interpretation of Zorn. It’s not spinning like a top partisan. Please. At least be fair to a source that’s not from me and the very source ~you~ cited.
Furthermore, what economists are you citing? The Friedman school? The Laffer curve folks? Mike, I’m finding you to be one of the least fair, least objective participants in this discussion. And you can’t evaluate the New Deal only on the 33-37 period (where some improvement occurred until FDR slowed/held spending down for a year in 36-37). It lasted until 40 or so when war purchases from abroad started boosting our economy.
Adam D: What you see is what you get. My cards on decidedly on the table. I contend that Obama is not a babykiller. Some here do. I’m disputing them. That’s it. Spin is interpretation, and I do interpret some things differently (i.e. not all pro-choicers are babykillers, and not all pro-lifers are altruistic, non-partisan defenders of the unborn). This isn’t black and white stuff for the rest of the world. We Catholics know what we believe, but the world sees our position of human-at-conception as a one faith, not science. We have scientists on our side, to be sure, but not all of them by any means.
JoAnna: I’m fully aware of the difference between artificial and natural acts against conception. I’m only making a mild argument that NFP can allow for a (non-artificial) contraceptive mentality. You can still really, really, really not want to have that baby while you’re practicing NFP.
– TL

Tim Lacy May 24, 2009 at 12:52 pm

BTW, I’m now signing off this thread for good. I appreciate the engagement from some, but not all of you. I’ll join in some later Akin posts. I need a break. I’m just tired of the back and forth—but I’m not feeling defeated. – TL

Matheus May 24, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Is Tim Lacy another Joseph D’Hippolito?

Mike Petrik May 24, 2009 at 5:40 pm

I really don’t care about your opinion of my fairness, and honestly I doubt anyone does. I care about the facts.
You say:
“It is worth noting that Illinois law already provided that physicians must protect the life of a fetus when there is “a reasonable likelihood of sustained survival of the fetus outside the womb, with or without artificial support.” ‘ (last para of summary). That backs up Zorn and my interpretation of Zorn. It’s not spinning like a top partisan.”
Quite to the contrary. First, a fetus that is born (i.e., alive outside the womb) is not a fetus — it is an infant. There is no such thing as a born fetus. The entire point here — as the quote you rely on states — is that Illinois law afforded no protection for such infants unless they were viable — i.e. had a reasonable likelihood of survival. That is exactly what the legislation at issue was intended to remedy. A child that is dying still deserves ordinary care, even if it is born as a consequence of a failed abortion. Are you really so obtuse as to still not understand that? Try reading the quote again, this time slowly.
I will admit this, though. I agree that the term infanticide is a reach. Refusing ordinary care to a dying person is not the same as killing him. It is nonetheless evil. Obama supported that, and then lied about it; and then when he was called on it, he called his accusers liars. The record is clear on that. If you cannot understand it, then it is simply willfull ignorance on your part. Fairness has nothing to do with it.

BobCatholic May 24, 2009 at 7:48 pm

I’m going to miss this country. It was a nice experiment while it lasted.

Mike Petrik May 25, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Fair point, Mary. But I don’t think that we need to argue factual viablity to be morally correct. A person is entitled to ordinary care even if we know to a moral certainty that he is dying. Obama et al shrewdly refrain from expressly objecting to that principle, but they nonetheless oppose any legislation that would acknowledge the rather indisputable fact that a born child is such a person even if the birth was a result of a failed abortion. It is as simple as that. They view the ideas of “personhood” and “viablity” to be essential barriers in the fight to retain abortion rights, and if a child is born in a failed abortion that is just too close for them. It really is that simple and that heinous. The nonsense about the lack of neutrality provisions is all just noxious smoke and deceptive mirrors.

Patrick Thornton May 26, 2009 at 7:14 pm

I wonder if Mr. Lacy would make the same rationalizations if the subject were, say, a law. What if a law had been introduced increasing punishments on those convicted of the rape of a minor? Would Mr. Obama vote against it claiming, “well, there are already laws on that, so I oppose it.” Would he get a free pass on that?
Or what would we think of a politician who wanted to abolish laws against rape and instead work towards economic and cultural solutions that would make rapists not want to rape. Would we view that as a rational intellectually valid position?

Previous post:

Next post: