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So let me get this straight…

September 30, 2009

This guy, along with (if he is to be believed) quite a few officers in the US military, loves the Constitution so much that he is willing to launch a coup against the democratically-elected Commander-in-Chief. And our readers wonder why we at Vox Nova are a bit wary of the Catholic Church being politically associated with people like this. A snippet:

So, if you are one of those observant military professionals, what do you do?

Wait until this president bungles into losing the war in Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s arsenal of nuclear bombs falls into the hands of militant Islam?

Wait until Israel is forced to launch air strikes on Iran’s nuclear-bomb plants, and the Middle East explodes, destabilizing or subjugating the Free World?

What happens if the generals Obama sent to win the Afghan war are told by this president (who now says, “I’m not interested in victory”) that they will be denied troops they must have to win? Do they follow orders they cannot carry out, consistent with their oath of duty? Do they resign en masse?

Or do they soldier on, hoping the 2010 congressional elections will reverse the situation? Do they dare gamble the national survival on such political whims?

Anyone who imagines that those thoughts are not weighing heavily on the intellect and conscience of America’s military leadership is lost in a fool’s fog.

[...]

Military intervention is what Obama’s exponentially accelerating agenda for “fundamental change” toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama’s radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.

Unthinkable? Then think up an alternative, non-violent solution to the Obama problem. Just don’t shrug and say, “We can always worry about that later.”

Permit me, if I may, to imagine the response of the Republican punditocracy to this bile:

  • Sean Hannity: run a big banner headline asking, “Imminent military coup?” and bring in a panel of “experts” to “discuss” the “possibility”–because that’s what responsible “journalists” do.
  • Glenn Beck: “No one is saying that a coup is coming. But the pot is boiling in America, and it would be irresponsible of you not to be prepared. After all, the tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of patriots.”
  • Michael Steele: “Well, Mr. Perry is a respected voice in the Republican Party and is someone with ideas. I may or may not agree with what he says or how he says it, but it’s understandable since Obama and the Democrat Party are trying to force a radical socialist agenda upon America.”

UPDATE:

I’m glad to know that NewsMax is not considered a reputable right-wing publication. I’m not really familiar with the world of the conservative blogosphere, so thank to several commentators for pointing that out.

In all honesty, though, is this really that different from what we’ve been hearing from Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Michelle Bachmann, et al. about “revolution” and “resistance to tyranny”? Perhaps the author of this article went further than that which is considered “mainstream” among Republican commentators, but not much further. And as we saw in the 90s, this kind of stuff is like a “dog whistle” for extremists who WILL take it seriously. Even if the conservative movement in America isn’t (yet) at the point suggested by this article, they have still embraced, rather than condemned, this kind of rhetoric (I am speaking of the movement as a whole, while admitting of individual exceptions including some conservatives in the Catholic blogosphere, and some of our regular commenters here on Vox Nova). And the Church founded by Jesus Christ shouldn’t be willing to touch that with a ten-foot pole.

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77 Comments
  1. September 30, 2009 9:32 am

    Mickey… Seriously. NewsMax? Calling them gutter journalism is insulting to gutters.

    This kind of idiocy has absolutely no support in the broader Republican party, nor the conservative movement. Newsmax won’t even load the piece any more, though a zillion liberal blogs quote chunks of it somewhere or another. This tells us nothing about what conservatives think, but a lot about how unreasonable and wicked many progressives would like to imagine that all conservatives are. And in that sense, harping on it only serves to create heat, not light.

    I’d say that this kind of piece is as fringy as the city councils in a few corners of the country who voted to convict Bush of warcrimes and gave their city police orders to arrest Bush for deportation to the Hague if he ever came into city limits — except that I imagine then one or two people would step up and say that those city councils were in the right. So let’s just say this is so fingy and silly as not to be worth bothering about.

  2. September 30, 2009 9:52 am

    Right, Darwin. It’s not like you people haven’t been supportive of any coups in, say, the last two months.

  3. phosphorious permalink
    September 30, 2009 10:02 am

    This tells us nothing about what conservatives think, but a lot about how unreasonable and wicked many progressives would like to imagine that all conservatives are.

    Those devious liberals! I knew they were to blame. They always are.

    Conservatives, of course, are blameless.

  4. Kurt permalink
    September 30, 2009 10:03 am

    I have sat in meetings of progressive coalitions and been able to pick up a list of organizations and indentify those that are Communist influenced fronts and strike them from any list of supporters.

    I don’t have the same skill for the Right, so I appreciate DC’s identification of NewsMax as a worthless organization.

    I am troubled by Chairman Steele’s quote.

    Hopefully, if things take a bad turn, our friends in Spain can be counted on to form a reverse Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

  5. September 30, 2009 10:31 am

    Actually, Michael, I did not support the coup in Honduras — it’s just that I don’t support Zelaya’s desire to become a president for life on the Chavez model either.

    It’s not like my views on the topic are unclear, I wrote a lengthy post on the topic:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/07/27/no-strongman-for-honduras/

    • September 30, 2009 10:59 am

      Darwin,

      I don’t much care what your own position on the coup in Honduras is. I hadn’t read your post previously. What I said was that most republicans I have seen DID support the coup in Honduras. Many even denied that it was a coup. You can distance yourself (again) from what mainstream conservatives believe, but that does not change the fact that most of you support(ed) it. And I must say, having looked at your post now, that your position on the coup is classic ends-justify-the-means thinking.

      It is also interesting how you claim that this report on a threatened “coup” in the u.s. merely represents the “fringe” element when so many conservatives are supporting the open carry movement and have been showing up to demonstrations armed. What else is carrying a gun to demonstration supposed to mean if not “we will defend our country from you, Obama, if we need to”?

  6. September 30, 2009 10:34 am

    I so agree with Darwin. Newsmax is the National Inquiror of the right. Get on their list and get all sort of emails for the most weirdest products and scams.

    There is no possibility of come Coup against the President.

    The people that dream ups such things are the same folks on both the left and right that think the Govt is about to put us in FEMA camps, and think there are other plots to suck away a pure natural bodily fluids

  7. awakaman permalink
    September 30, 2009 10:41 am

    Here is another of those right wing Republicans not calling for a military dictatorship but saying one is likely to happen because of Obama’s ineptitude.

    http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/the_way_we_live/article6854221.ece

  8. September 30, 2009 10:47 am

    DarwinCatholic,

    Please. Imagine that Newsmax is Democratic Underground, that Perry is a member of the “far left”, and that what he suggested about Obama were suggested about Bush.

    Are you honestly telling me that all the media outlets on the Right would dismiss him as having “absolutely no support in the [Democratic] party”? Wouldn’t they–indeed, HAVEN’T they–rather done the opposite: insinuate that all Democrats believe something close to what Perry had the courage to articulate, and go on for weeks demanding their guests to denounce Perry or be labeled as traitors? And wouldn’t the idiotic mainstream outlets like MSNBC and CNN pick up on this fabricated “controversy” and cover it as though it were a legitimate story with two sides to be heard? As I recall this phenomenon did, in fact, happen dozens of times throughout the past eight years?

    And where is the analogy to your “fringy city councils” here. Bush, after all, *did* commit war crimes, *did* lie about Iraq, *did* authorize torture: all this is not some fringe conspiracy but is easily documented by White House documents and Congressional Reports.

    It is simply NOT TRUE that there is any sort of analogy between the far left and the far right in this country for one simple reason. The far right occupies positions of power and prestige, and is taken seriously by “centrists”, whereas the far left is socially, economically, and structurally marginalized.

  9. September 30, 2009 11:01 am

    And our readers wonder why we at Vox Nova are a bit wary of the Catholic Church being politically associated with people like this.

    Ha. Is this a joke? I mean, you’re making the point that political partisans like to view their opponents in the worst possible light very effectively. But if you are actually suggesting that Catholics need to steer clear of conservatives because a significant percentage of them are planning or favor a coup, then you’ve gone waaaayyy off the deep end.

  10. phosphorious permalink
    September 30, 2009 11:21 am

    (What happened to the comment I was responding to? Seems a shame to remove it.)

  11. standmickey permalink
    September 30, 2009 11:52 am

    I’m glad to know that NewsMax is not considered a reputable right-wing publication. I’m not really familiar with the world of the conservative blogosphere, so thanks for pointing that out.

    In all honesty, though, is this any different from what we’ve been hearing from Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Michelle Bachmann, et al. about “revolution” and “resistance to tyranny”? Perhaps the author of this article went further than that which is considered “mainstream” among Republican commentators, but not much further. And as we saw in the 90s, this kind of stuff is like a “dog whistle” for extremists who WILL take it seriously. Even if the conservative movement in America isn’t (yet) at the point suggested by this article, they have still embraced, rather than condemned, this kind of rhetoric (I am speaking of the movement as a whole, while admitting of individual exceptions including some conservatives in the Catholic blogosphere). And the Church founded by Jesus Christ shouldn’t be willing to touch that with a ten-foot pole.

  12. standmickey permalink
    September 30, 2009 11:52 am

    Phos: I haven’t removed any comments. Maybe one of the other contributors did?

  13. September 30, 2009 11:56 am

    phosphorious and mickey – I accidentally approved Darwin’s original comment when it was mickey’s decision whether or not to do so. I then “unapproved” it so that mickey could do with it what he wanted. He has now approved it. Apologies for the confusion. Again, please bear with our new comment policy.

  14. standmickey permalink
    September 30, 2009 12:00 pm

    And Kurt, just to clarify, those aren’t actual quotes. I said “permit me to IMAGINE the response of the Republican punditocracy.” My Chairman Steele “quote” is based off of his statement about Rush Limbaugh after the latter said that he wanted Obama to fail (incidentally, I’m wondering what the Chairman thinks about Rush’s call for “segregated school busses”).

  15. Magdalena permalink
    September 30, 2009 12:04 pm

    Mickey, I think your contributions would be more valuable if you did more of your own original research and reading. It’s obvious you read this linked on some other political blog you frequent and decided to post it here, too. It basically does nothing to advance the discussion and it’s sort of meaningless since it comes from fringe-dwellers. It’s like my dad who dismisses the anti-war movement because of the small number of kooks associated with it and then provides some “evidence” posted by a right-wing blog to “prove” they are all whackos.

    While I understand the temptation to be sucked into the political pornography chamber, I think you are way too talented to waste your time that way. Don’t be a follower!

  16. September 30, 2009 12:08 pm

    In all honesty, though, is this any different from what we’ve been hearing from Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Michelle Bachmann, et al. about “revolution” and “resistance to tyranny”

    In a word, yes. Advocating a coup is treason. Ranting about socialism and tyranny to persuade people not to vote for Democrats is something else entirely. I’m no fan of Beck:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/09/28/on-glenn-beck-other-crazy-people/

    But, yeah, there’s a big, big difference.

  17. September 30, 2009 12:19 pm

    In a word, yes. Advocating a coup is treason. Ranting about socialism and tyranny to persuade people not to vote for Democrats is something else entirely.

    Um, what do americans think they have the right to do in the face of tyranny?

  18. September 30, 2009 12:25 pm

    Vote the ‘tyrants’ out, Michael. I don’t endorse the rhetoric; I think it’s pernicious. But it’s simply a lie to suggest they’re advocating a coup (particularly when the language they use is about defending the Constitution, not overthrowing it). Naturally, someone like you will be impossible to persuade on the point – you bend over backwards to view those you disagree with in the most unfavorable light. But some people are more reasonable.

  19. September 30, 2009 12:25 pm

    Kurt,

    I would certainly write off NewsMax columnists as being anything like mainstream — which isn’t to say that a Limbaugh type person might not reference a NewsMax article, but they’re way fringey, FEMA-camp type people.

    BTW, you noticed the Steele comment was what Mickey imagined Steele might say, correct? Steele has turned out to be a real bozo of a RNC chair, but I personally would be really shocked if he gave any credence to this kind of silliness.

    Phosphorious,

    Both liberals and conservatives often fall prey to legitimizing the fringiest of their opponents in order to make the rest look bad. However, it’s a dangerous approach to take. Legitimizing the fringes is seldom a good idea.

    wj,

    I can’t really predict for you what would happen on cable news programs, because I’ve made it a practice for six years plus never to watch TV news (with an occasional exception to watch presidential debates or election returns). However, I don’t recall from reading newspapers and blogs that many people were demanding mainstream Democrats take a position for or against either the city council silliness or the all too common left-wing fantasies about Bush being assassinated which did populate places like the Democratic Underground. They were held up for ridicule from time to time, but I don’t recall real politicians and commentators being asked to respond to them for the obvious reason that it’s just too silly.

    Michael I,

    The open carry folks are weird, and I think they’re wrong both to take guns to political protests and to want the right to carry loaded guns openly in public (something we don’t really need more of) — but they’re certainly not threatening to stage a coup. They’re self-defense nuts, but they’re honestly pretty harmless.

    Mickey,

    For good or ill, rhetoric about “revolution” is standard in American political discussion. Everyone, left and right, frequently talks about the need to overturn the old order, stage a revolution, destroy the status quo, etc. However, except for a few crazy people pretending to belong to militias in Montana, and a few more crazy people who like to run around wearing black at G-20 summits, no one seems to mean that literally.

    As for whether this ties with Beck, Hannity, etc. I don’t think any of them have _ever_ called for a coup. Yes, they do use narratives based on the American Revolution, but in no different a way than leftist commentators use narratives based on (sometimes violent) liberation movements in the Third World. But I think even they take words too seriously to endorse the idea of a coup.

    Personally, I don’t listen to them — so what I hear about them is filtered through the indignation of progressive writers demanding that I distance myself from them as a conservative. Since I don’t listen to them in the first place, I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to get more distant.

  20. standmickey permalink
    September 30, 2009 12:28 pm

    John: I tend to agree with Michael on this but I did read your post on Glenn Beck and I appreciate your thoughts.

    Mag: thank you. I’ll be the first to admit that when I read stuff like this that frankly scares the crap out of me, I feel the need to expose it because I really do fear for my country after seeing the level to which political rhetoric on the Right has descended. That said, in doing so, it is clear that I sometimes (okay, often) impugn innocent people, in mistaking the fringe for the mainstream. Fear and anger should have no place on a Catholic blog, anger because it is a capital vice and fear because it is contrary to the virtue of hope. I need to work on that. Perhaps it might be a good idea for me to engage in some Google Reader abstinence for a while! I imagine this stuff, whether it’s coming from the Left or the Right, probably isn’t great for my soul.

  21. September 30, 2009 12:31 pm

    Um, what do americans think they have the right to do in the face of tyranny?

    Exactly the same thing that all the people who thought Bush was an evil, wicked tyrant and our worst president in history had to do: wait a few years and vote for someone else.

    • September 30, 2009 12:39 pm

      Darwin and John:

      So they’re a “fringe” group, and they’re a “fringe” group, and they’re a “fringe” group, and they’re a “fringe” group… and oh, they’re just a “fringe” group….

      Please, at what point does this constitute the heart of american conservatism? Seems that maybe the Catholics who claim not to agree with any of this is the real “fringe” group.

      In order for me to take you seriously, you’re going to have to start distancing yourselves from these so-called “fringe” groups rather than defending them and claiming that all they are doing is the “flip side” of what Bush’s opponents did.

  22. September 30, 2009 12:33 pm

    Mickey,

    Did you read lefty blogs during the Bush years? Honestly, I don’t see any difference in the rhetoric. Did they ‘scare the crap out of you’?

  23. Pinky permalink
    September 30, 2009 12:35 pm

    I’m glad others have pointed out that Newsmax is outside the mainstream. I’m pretty sure it’s even outside the kook mainstream. It’s on the fringes of the kooks.

    Again, Micky, you’ve assigned future bad actions to people. This time Kurt mistook them for fact. This is a dangerous road you’re on.

  24. September 30, 2009 12:37 pm

    News max is largely a money making scam. It is associated with “conservative organziation (the left that has them too. whose main goal is that you send 20 bucks to them every 5 seconds on the latest issue that is a threat to the Republic. However one finds that little of that money goes to the “cause” but to a incest like chain of groups (Caging firms, PR companies, etc) all operated by the same folks and that keep 80 percent of eveyr dollar

    A conservative friend of mine has done a good expose on them

    I will have to see if see tranferred that to her new blog

  25. September 30, 2009 12:39 pm

    Mickey,

    That said, in doing so, it is clear that I sometimes (okay, often) impugn innocent people, in mistaking the fringe for the mainstream. Perhaps it might be a good idea for me to abstain from blog-reading for a while.

    Well, or you might want to upgrade where you look at what the opposition. As a conservative, I’d recommend that if you want to see what mainstream conservatives are actually thinking about you should probably try the blogs at National Review, The Weekly Standard, Commentary Magazine or First Things.

    On the flip side, when I’m trying to keep up with what progressives think, I read the blogs at The New Republic, The Nation or Commonweal.

    You’ll still find plenty to bridle at in the mainstream (Mornings Minion seems to read National Review’s “The Corner” at least as much as I do, and it doesn’t do wonders for his blood pressure) but it’ll give you a more realistic view of “the enemy”.

  26. Pinky permalink
    September 30, 2009 12:51 pm

    Michael, I’d say the following five sites represent mainstream conservative thought:

    nationalreview.com
    townhall.com
    weeklystandard.com
    newsbusters.org
    powerlineblog.com

    Up-and-coming is bighollywood.breitbart.com. On the right, I see a lot of crackpot stuff from the left represented as “mainstream” liberalism. I’d love to see a top 5 list of reasonable, quotable mainstream liberal sites from you. From anyone, really.

  27. phosphorious permalink
    September 30, 2009 1:04 pm

    I’m dying of curiosity: what does count as a reliable indicator of “mainstream” conservatism?

  28. September 30, 2009 1:12 pm

    “I’m glad to know that NewsMax is not considered a reputable right-wing publication.”

    Who says, Mickey? A few commentators here? That’d be news to Chris Ruddy, Vigeurie, Scaife, LeBoutillier, deBourchgrave, Kessler, Williams, Ruff et al.

    All these people are influential on the right. To attempt to diminish them by saying they are akin to the “national inquirer” doesn’t make sense. What does that make Fox.News? Or the most vocal of the Republican Members of the House and Senate? Or the RNC Chairman: Michael Steele? Where is the critical distinction? I see none.

  29. Magdalena permalink
    September 30, 2009 3:20 pm

    Mickey I can not promote Google Reader abstinence enough. For me it was Bloglines that I used and I had to stop because I realized it was becoming an occasion of sin for me. I come from a conservative stand-point so as you know there is just as much of it on the right as on the left, maybe even more since the people currently out of power are usually the angriest. Best piece of advice I ever received, if there is something in your life that makes it harder to love your brothers and sisters, cut it out of your life. You will not miss it.

  30. Mark Gordon permalink
    September 30, 2009 3:38 pm

    It’s not like you people haven’t been supportive of any coups in, say, the last two months.

    Uh, what happened to the new policy of civility in these comboxes? Does Iafrate’s compulsion to caricature and demonize those he disagrees with trump everything here?

  31. David Raber permalink
    September 30, 2009 3:47 pm

    As a US Navy veteran I have to say that “this guy” is more than out of the political mainstream, he is out of the mainstream of the whole history and culture of the US military, and he is not fit to serve in it.

    But it is not irrelevant to trot him out as an example of what some “conservatives” today believe is beyond the pale politically. Apparently some believe that both the Roosevelts were as bad as Stalin, and Johnson and Kennedy maybe equivalent to Hitler.

    For this we have to thank the California sage who once opined that “Government is not the solution, government is the problem,” and on his heels this incredible American talk radio business, an efficient machine for turning paranoia and hatred of authority into great streams of cash, with the side effect of more and more paranoia and hatred of authority. O tempora! O mores!

    • September 30, 2009 4:26 pm

      David,

      Look to some of the officers refusing to obey military orders because Obama is an usurper. There are a few of them. This never happened before.

      • September 30, 2009 5:01 pm

        BTW, I am not trying to say the officers refusing orders are conservatives. There are many issues going on with it and the birther phenomenon. However, many people who join in with it and fuel it are from those who already reject Obama and so get caught up in it (the Beck crowd). This is how it connects with the Tea Bag movement, though again I would say not all of the Tea Baggers are birthers. Many are, as can be seen in the footage from the march on Washington.

        And while people might give cases of refusing orders, that’s different from refusing orders because the President “can’t be President.” Again, that is something new, which does connect with the idea of “let’s do a coup.” Coups come out of the idea that someone in charge is not rightfully an authority. So I think there is probably a connection between the birther sentiment and the “let’s have a coup” sentiment. It’s not that this is mainstream; it’s that it is there which is the issue, I think.

  32. standmickey permalink
    September 30, 2009 3:55 pm

    OK, Mag, after reading your last comment and an excellent post at another Catholic blog (http://caelumetterra.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/winds-of-fear-works-of-mercy/), I decided it was a sign. Kos, ThinkProgress, and TalkingPointsMemo are off my list. The only other ones on there are Catholic blogs…and Stewart and Colbert, since it’s hard to be angry while laughing :)

  33. standmickey permalink
    September 30, 2009 4:15 pm

    Mark: first off, contributors are not subject to filtration. More to the point, though: I can’t speak for other contributors, but my personal policy is not to filter any comments other than those that are truly beyond the pale. I have not yet seen any comments on any of my posts that fit that criterion (which admittedly is subjective), from MI or from anyone else.

  34. September 30, 2009 4:18 pm

    Mr. Gordon, there is no “caricature” or “demonization” in that comment. Conservative Catholics have largely supported the coup in Honduras.

  35. standmickey permalink
    September 30, 2009 4:19 pm

    David: Though I have admitted to once again breaking my rule of not posting in anger and/or fear, your point is well taken, and get to the heart of why I did decide to post this anyway. I think that what the Newsmax article did was take the talk radio “arguments” to their logical extreme. And I think it’s perfectly legitimate, and not at all uncharitable, to point that out.

  36. September 30, 2009 4:43 pm

    Look to some of the officers refusing to obey military orders because Obama is an usurper. There are a few of them. This never happened before.

    That’s interesting. Thanks for pointing this out. Wonder how “good,” “patriotic” america will deal with that.

  37. standmickey permalink
    September 30, 2009 4:46 pm

    Good point, Henry.

  38. September 30, 2009 4:53 pm

    Henry,

    In a typical example of people always being more an expert in the opposition’s fringe than their own, I hadn’t even heard of that till you mentioned it and had to google to find that a few reserve officers have refused to deploy to Afghanistan because of birther claims that Obama isn’t the real president. (Personally, I think they should throw them in military prison and court martialed.)

    However, you’re wrong that this is a new phenomenon. Sadly, there was a variant under Clinton, with people refusing to deploy to Bosnia based on the claim they would be forced to be UN soldiers instead of US soldiers. (Related to the Clinton-era conspiracy theory that Clinton would use a UN army to make himself a dictator in the US.) Here’s an example:

    http://www.mikenew.com/

    That, of course, is different from the equally fringy left wingers who have been encouraging soldiers to go AWOL for the last eight years (and indeed a number did — rather more than are refusing Obama administration deployment orders) because… Well, because it’s scary, I guess.

  39. Pinky permalink
    September 30, 2009 4:56 pm

    Magdalena – Smart. One of the reasons I visit this site is because I’m tired of being labelled a “Christer” on other lib/con discussion boards. I know it’s blessed to be mocked for Him, but oftentimes it’s unproductive. While it’s valuable for all ideologies to teach and learn, that doesn’t always happen online.

    Speaking of which – Gerald – I’m pretty well-read, and I’ve never heard of half the guys on your list. Two of them (Ruddy and Kessler) apparently publish solely on Newsmax. They’re just not influential. Newsmax is a perfect example of a site that I wouldn’t visit for the reason Magdalena states.

  40. Gerald A. Naus permalink
    September 30, 2009 4:57 pm

    “radical socialist agenda”. Well, in Europe Obama’d be counted among conservatives. Every industrialized country save South Africa and the USA has universal health care. Sadly, in this country common sense & good are quite uncommon.

    As the Red Hot Chili Peppers sing
    Lunatics on pogo sticks
    Another southern fried freak on a crucifix
    Hicks don’t mix with politics

    Ironically, it’s secular people who frequently embody Christian values far more than a lot of right-wing Christians in this country.

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

  41. Magdalena permalink
    September 30, 2009 6:02 pm

    Mickey God bless you for being open to the Holy Spirit.

  42. Pinky permalink
    September 30, 2009 6:22 pm

    Henry, what are the details on this story? I googled “officers refusing orders”, and while it looks like the IDF has some serious problems, and a few people refused to go to Iraq in 2006, I didn’t see any stories related to President Obama.

  43. Pinky permalink
    September 30, 2009 6:51 pm

    Wow. Well, that’s what Fort Leavenworth is for.

    • October 1, 2009 3:22 am

      Pinky,

      Agreed. I think what happened with one of the officers is that they got a paid education from the military, and didn’t want to be sent off, and used the “birther” claims as an excuse. But others do not appear to be that way. I am sure, if there is any talk of coup (which I would expect is from a very very very small group), the ones who would have such talk are related to “birther” claims — and so it is even more reason to deal with that problem right now to stop the coup talk.

  44. September 30, 2009 7:16 pm

    “Speaking of which – Gerald – I’m pretty well-read, and I’ve never heard of half the guys on your list. Two of them (Ruddy and Kessler) apparently publish solely on Newsmax.”

    Apparently?

    Here’s a list of some publication by Ron Kessler:

    http://www.ronaldkessler.com/

    I could go into detail about the all others, but this is sufficient to demonstrate my point. The “neon sign” places like Weekly Standard or National Review are but a small part of the movement. Limbaugh, for instance, has more influence than all the conservative magazines put together. Newsmax reaches into a “beneath the radar” kind of audience. They serve a purpose and have an agenda. They are richly funded.

    The people associated with Newsmax have been recognized as having credibility. For instance, following Watergate, Nixon gave his first television interview on NBC to John LeBoutillier. Solzhenitsyn’s first interview to an American was granted to John LeBoutillier for broadcast on NBC in 1981. I was privileged to have arranged that interview.

  45. digbydolben permalink
    September 30, 2009 11:19 pm

    I really do fear for my country after seeing the level to which political rhetoric on the Right has descended.

    I “fear” for your “country” when I see what the lunatics on the “Right” AND the lunatics on the Left there are up.

    I also “fear” for your country because so many of you feel that “voting” is all that constitutes “participatory democracy.” Maybe there wouldn’t be so much talk of “coups” there if more of you had any skills whatsoever in “participatory democracy.” A whole lot of you seem to think that there is nothing in between a ballot box and a bayonet. And you folks want to give “lessons in democracy” to the whole rest of the world! What a hoot!

  46. digbydolben permalink
    September 30, 2009 11:22 pm

    “up TO,” of course, in the above.

    Don’t get me wrong: there have been a whole lot of people in history who couldn’t manage democracy. It really is a system that shouldn’t be tried by any but an educated, cultivated and self-discipline populace–of which there are very few in the world.

    It’s why I believe in strong albeit constitutional monarchies, which know that firing squads are for keeping obstreperous generals in check.

  47. October 1, 2009 9:12 am

    A coup is impossible in our military.

  48. October 1, 2009 10:12 am

    A coup is impossible in our military.

    Doubt that’ll stop these people from dreaming about it!

  49. Magdalena permalink
    October 1, 2009 11:47 am

    Henry I like your posts but I wish people wouldn’t call it the “tea bag movement” or refer to “tea baggers.” I think the correct term is “Tea Party.” Yes they are silly but the crude sexual reference isn’t helpful, I think it was Anderson Cooper who came up with that? Not good.

    • October 1, 2009 12:56 pm

      Anderson Cooper is not the origin of the term. He merely repeated what they said themselves.

  50. October 1, 2009 12:20 pm

    For those content to believe that Newsmax is merely an isolated fringe group like the National Inquirer, take note of this story in the Washington Independent:

    http://washingtonindependent.com/61650/rnc-advertises-with-newsmax-com

    What explains the compulsion among some Catholic conservatives to deny the network of associations that actually make up the right wing? Why are they not more critical of the Republican Party’s composition: 1) the religious right; 2) the secular right which includes libertarianism, business nationalism, and corporate internationalism; 3) the militarism of neoconservatives that appeals to military force as a means to spread democracy; and 4) the odd collection of influences that can be labeled as the xenophobic right.

    This political make-up presents itself as a circus oddity, especially when understood against the backdrop of basic questions we must ask ourselves: “What kind of country do we want to create? What kind of people do we want to become?

    With all due respect to his great work, Russell Kirk’s conservatism has long been blotted from today’s political reality. Indeed, it is ridiculous to speak as though his ideas, or even conservatism itself, constitute a coherent political influence in current Republican politics. Yet some argue as though that were the case.

    The truth is the Republican Party is now so removed from sanity that it is insane to think otherwise. What is sad is that too many Catholic conservatives are behaving not so much like the intellectual and critical force they could be but rather as a compliant voice for a political dynamic that is inclining this nation to degenerate into fascism. Could anything be more contrary to human integrity or Catholic consciousness? At what point will it end? Politics is serious business fraught with frightful possibilities. Is anyone awake?

  51. David Raber permalink
    October 1, 2009 12:44 pm

    Magdalena et. al.,

    Recently I noticed that when I sit down after Sunday mass to read my diocesan newspaper, one of the first things I go to is the column by George Weigel, whose ideas I do not find congenial, to say the least. What I am looking to get is that controversy fix–the smell of the gunpowder–that rush of outrage and feeling of moral and intellectual superiority that feels so good! I am not being very Christ-like in that moment.

    To be fair to myself, however, I have to say that the next thing I read after Weigel is the column by Fr. Ron Rolheiser, which is more of a theological/devotional thing, and which I nearly always find enlightening.

    About a week ago, for example, Fr. Ron had a column about how the conservative and liberal camps in the Church both have legitimate impulses and their own valuable sorts of wisdom to impart. Imagine that! Likely many die-hard conservatives and liberals look on the good padre as a limp dishrag, lukewarm water that Jesus spits out of his mouth. They are wrong.

    • October 1, 2009 12:58 pm

      David – Your diocescan paper carries Weigel’s column? Really? I thought my diocescan paper back home tended to be conservative but I’ve never seen him in it… Is that common in u.s. dioceses?

  52. October 1, 2009 3:17 pm

    Michael,

    I’m not clear that what columnists the diocesan newspaper carries indicates much about the politics of the diocese so much as which syndicates (if any) they work with. For instance, in Los Angeles, the Tidings carries both Weigal and Fr. McBrien. Here in Austin, we get neither.

    Gerald,

    I’m not clear how the fact that the RNC advertises through Newsmax proves that they are not a fringe group — they are, after all, a right wing fringe group, so it stands to reason that if any of them vote for one of the major parties they’d vote GOP rather than Democrat. The DNC also advertises in some rather unsavory outlets because they’re populated primarily by left wing (though fringy) people.

    The reason why your claim that conservatism has vanished from the GOP and that it has become a force “inclining this nation to degenerate into fascism” is that we actually read conservative periodicals and websites, spend time with conservative groups and people, and find our experience to be totally at odds with the description you are trying to pedal. One continues to hear Kirk, Burke, and other conservative thinkers discussed routinely. One hears a much better understanding of what fascism actually was and how conservatism is strongly opposed to it.

    Your descriptions of what the Republican party has become only make sense to other people who are not part of it, and who loath it so greatly that they have very little ability to understand it. (Which admittedly, is a large demographic in some places.)

    None of which is to say that the GOP is without flaw, nor that it is uniformly conservative. Conservatives are a group within the GOP coalition, just as genuine progressives or those genuinely concerned about social justice are but one group without the Democratic Party coalition, but conservatism is certainly a live movement within the GOP, and it’s reality, while far from ideal, is not nearly the intellectual and moral sinkhole which you seem to have spun in your head.

  53. standmickey permalink
    October 1, 2009 3:22 pm

    Gerald: to be fair, the left wing has its own “network of associations,” a network in which Planned Parenthood and NARAL seem to wield a disproportionate amount of power. Not to mention the fact that Democrats take just as much money from corporations as Republicans.

  54. October 1, 2009 5:08 pm

    Darwin,

    You are a relative new-comer to the Republican Party.

    Having worked for three Republican presidents, Republican Members of Congress, directed Republican congressional campaigns, and worked closely with Republican think tanks and conservative analysts for nearly four decades, I know what I’m talking about. You can opine all you want, but there is not one person I know having an historical perspective on the Republican Party who would disagree with anything I’ve written above. Yet, you want to dismiss it as making sense only to enemies of the Republican Party. What a joke!

    Take a look at John Dean’s book “Conservatives Without Conscience” if my caution is not sound enough for you. Or is he to be thrown overboard too? The simple truth is that the Republican Party and conservative movement have changed drastically over the years, and none of it has been for the good.

  55. October 1, 2009 5:21 pm

    Mickey,

    “the left wing has its own “network of associations”

    What does this have to do with the points I was making?

  56. Pinky permalink
    October 1, 2009 5:38 pm

    Michael, I’ve never heard that term used by supporters. Even if it were, it’s not really appropriate for a Catholic website.

    • October 1, 2009 5:48 pm

      Seems to be Fox News which brought out the term here with the “tea bag the White House.”

  57. October 1, 2009 7:03 pm

    Gerald,

    While I’m sure that we all have great respect for your work as, “Senior Advisor to the Director United States Information Agency, 1985-1990″ I’m not sure that necessarily means that you are the supreme analyst of what everyone thinks has happened to the conservative movement and the GOP over the last years. If there’s truly not one person that you know who has a historical perspective on the Republicn party who would disagree with your assessment that it has become increasingly fascistic over the last thirty years, I can only assume that means that your acquintance is primarily made up of other people who share your long term disenchantment with the party and the movement. People’s acquintance is often much like themselves, but that doesn’t make their acquintance definative.

    Indeed, your remarks are far enough off what what I’ve ever heard said by any actual conservatives that I must view them with extreme skepticism, even when you assure them that they come blessed with your own authority.

  58. October 1, 2009 7:04 pm

    It appears the tea bagger origins comes out of Ron Paul’s presidential efforts.

  59. October 1, 2009 10:38 pm

    I’m not clear that what columnists the diocesan newspaper carries indicates much about the politics of the diocese so much as which syndicates (if any) they work with.

    I didn’t say anything about the politics of the diocese but the politics of the newspaper. The former is much more complex as it covers the entire state of West Virginia. But the newspaper is fairly conservative.

    Michael, I’ve never heard that term used by supporters. Even if it were, it’s not really appropriate for a Catholic website.

    I think it’s safe to say that anyone who uses the term here at VN is not using it with whatever connotations you have in mind.

  60. Matt Talbot permalink*
    October 1, 2009 10:51 pm

    Mickey – I would amend Mag’s advice somewhat: the Catholic Blogosphere tends to the political right: I would say, go to sites that offer a range of approaches to political questions. If your politics are more left than right (at least in the American version of those “wings”) you’ll probably end up reading more left stuff than right, and that’s fine: I think (I’m not sure) Mag’s concern is that you don’t amplify the polemic of the day without more of your own analysis. (Is that right, Mag?)

  61. October 1, 2009 11:41 pm

    The full text of the original column, now vanished from the NewsMax website, can be found here:

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2009/09/full_text_of_newsmax_column_suggesting_military_co.php

  62. Matt Talbot permalink*
    October 1, 2009 11:56 pm

    Thanks, Michael.

  63. October 2, 2009 12:20 am

    Darwin,

    You say my comments “are far enough off what I’ve ever heard said by any actual conservatives that I must view them with extreme skepticism, even when you assure them that they come blessed with your own authority.”

    Perhaps that is true. Perhaps not. But, just as likely, it could be that what you are reading and trusting is a twisting and straining of conservatism. Wouldn’t that be a hoot, were it true!!!

    Would you consider John Dean to be an “actual conservative?” I am sure you are aware of his close relationship to Senator Barry Goldwater dating back to 1960.

    In any event, Barry Goldwater is the iconic figure of American conservatism. In 2008, his son, Barry Goldwater, Jr., and Dean published the late senator’s private journals (Pure Goldwater). In an article introducing the book, they wrote that Goldwater’s journals “serve as a reminder of what conservative ideals REALLY are, and how they have been DISTORTED by those who now claim the label.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-dean-and-barry-goldwater-jr/pure-goldwater_b_97027.html

    To be sure, this reference won’t necessary prove my point. Nor is it intended to do so. It is sufficient, however, to indicate that there are conservatives, like myself, who might judge you to be the one who is not an “actual conservative.”

    I hope you are watching Ken Burns documentary on the National Park System. Fascinating and depressing! Nothing has changed since the early struggles to create Yellowstone. The battle over health care reform is not unlike the struggle that went before to preserve and protect our common interest in the land.

    I did notice the irony that the son of the great American capitalist, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., was able to see so clearly beyond commercialism and the free market. There was something in his political and economic views that is missing in conservatism today. Any idea what that might be? Would he support the National Endowment for the Arts or the National Endowment for the Humanities? I think he would. Yes, there is something strangely different in the air today.

  64. Pinky permalink
    October 2, 2009 10:06 am

    Michael, the truth is that “tea bag” has come to be a derisive term and has unfortunate connotations. I haven’t seen this site use alienating language like “anti-life” or “baby-killer” to refer to the pro-choice position, because we realize that an offensive statement will shut down a debate. There was a recent article on the subject, about the imagination needed to reach those who disagree with you.

    There were also recent articles about comment policy and about anger. With those in mind, and with the knowledge that the term “tea bag” offends those you would describe by it, I would expect you to want to stop using it.

    • October 2, 2009 10:38 am

      It’s come to be a “derisive” term because of the death-dealing politics that these people hold, not because of the connotations you are concerned about. It’s “derisive” in the same way the term “birther” has become derisive. It makes no sense for these people to cry “we’re offended” while they have assault rifles and signs calling Obama a Nazi in their hands. If these people are now suddenly going to play the “we’re so offended” card, maybe they shouldn’t have let the cat out of the tea bag in the first place by coining the term.

      That said, I don’t find myself using the term all that much. “Republican” seems to work just fine.

  65. Pinky permalink
    October 2, 2009 8:08 pm

    Micky, I see that my last post didn’t make it to the page. That’s just as well; by its own internal logic, it wasn’t for mass consumption anyway. But if you could see that it gets “hand-delivered”, I’d be grateful.

  66. October 2, 2009 9:34 pm

    Pinky – I saw the comment to which you refer. I’m the one who deleted it. If you have already forgotten about our new comment policy (which would be hard to believe, but anything’s possible in the Roman Catholic blogosphere) I suggest you review it here: http://vox-nova.com/comments-policy/

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