Articles and Posts by Tom Piatak:
A Daughter of Mary and Target for Herod(0)
Last night, my wife and I attended the vigil Mass for the Immaculate Conception at our parish. We sat immediately behind a family I had often seen but never sat by before, a woman in her forties with Down syndrome and her father. I could not help being moved by what I saw. During Mass, the woman held her father’s hand and they both smiled at each other. As people processed up for Communion, a young girl turned and smiled at the woman, who returned the smile and then shared the joy the smile caused with her father. Homilies often talk about love, but here was a very powerful homily on love unfolding right before me: there could be no doubting the deep love the father and the daughter shared for each other. After Mass, my wife told me the woman’s name. It is Mary, the same name given to the woman chosen by God to be the Mother of the Word Made Flesh.
Driving home, I was reminded of one of the finest things I ever read on the Internet, the story of Anne de Gaulle as told by the blogger the Western Confucian and those he linked to in that remarkable post. Just like the father who sat before me at Mass, God gave to Charles de Gaulle a daughter with Down syndrome. And just like that father, DeGaulle accepted his daughter as a gift from God, and he surrounded Anne with a fierce, protective love.
And then I had a more disturbing thought. Over 90% of children diagnosed with Down syndrome while in the womb are murdered before they can be born. It is not difficult to discern what Charles de Gaulle would have thought of this, and what his adversary in Nazi Germany would have thought. Sadly, that seems to make no difference at all.
No Halos, Please, We’re Eurocrats(0)
Slovakia’s plan to issue a two Euro coin commemorating the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Great Moravia, of which Slovakia was a part, has run afoul of Christophobic Eurocrats. It seems that the Slovaks want to show the Apostles to the Slavs with halos, and wearing pectoral crosses. The Eurocrats say no, since some sensitive souls might be offended by coins with halos and crosses. The patriarchal cross associated with the saints can remain, but only because it is the Slovak national symbol. Give the Eurocrats time, though: I suspect that soon they will be trying to strip crosses from flags and coats of arms. The Eurocrats’ hatred for Christianity, which is the wellspring of European civilization, continues to astonish and appall.
Too Old, Too White, Too Male(0)
After the election, Al Cardnenas, head of the American Conservative Union, complained that the Republican Party was “too old and too white and too male.” One wonders what Mr. Cardnenas would say about the Continental Congress or the Constitutional Convention. Of course, if Mr. Cardenas is upset at the thought of living in a country founded by old white males, there are plenty of other places untainted by white men for him to choose from. Maybe Burkina Faso would be more to his liking.
Something of the same spirit animated John Boehner’s comment yesterday supporting “comprehensive immigration reform,” otherwise known as amnesty. Boehner’s comment should be seen as the first significant result of Obama’s victory. House Republicans have been stalwart against amnesty, defying both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, but panic is starting to set in about the fact that the GOP is “too old and too white and too male.” This panic would not exist if Romney had won. Of course, the notion that giving amnesty to illegal immigrants will help the GOP politically is nonsense. As Heather MacDonald patiently explained in an excellent post at National Review, Hispanics support the Democrats because they support big government, and this will continue whether Republicans foolishly follow the likes of Cardenas and Boehner or not.
As Boehner’s remark brings home, winning is better than losing, especially losing to a leftist presdident who ran unabashedly as a leftist for reelection. Despite what some have been saying for months, Romney’s defeat was not a good thing. Unfortunately, this point will be brought home repeatedly over the course of the next four years.
Why Romney Lost Ohio(0)
Four years ago I wrote, “if Republicans want the joke to be on them, they can listen to [Rich]Lowry [of National Review], line up to damn the American auto industry, and look forward to losing the Great Lakes states year after year after year.” Tonight, I am sure that Mitt Romney regrets writing the op-ed piece the New York Times titled, perhaps unfairly, ”Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” On September 29, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published a poll showing that 62% of Ohio voters felt that the auto bailout had been a success, and Ohio Republicans certainly understood the danger that this posed to Romney. On September 30, former Senator George Voinovich had a piece in the Plain Dealer arguing that George W. Bush deserved substantial credit for saving the American auto industry, and current Senator Rob Portman argued in the October 26 Plain Dealer that Romney’s op-ed had been misunderstood, and that Romney had in fact supported aid for the American auto industry. But Voinovich and Portman were too late: a blizzard of Obama ads stressing Romney’s record at Bain Capital and appealing to economic patriotism had already convinced enough Ohioans that Romney was unconcerned about the fate of American manufacturing.
Four years later, Rich Lowry has conceded the political potency of appeals to economic patriotism. But his magazine is urging Republicans to stay the course and continues to argue that dogmatic adherence to free trade always makes sense, even when other nations use protectionist measures against us, and even though our trade policies have brought us to the point where 97% of jobs now being created in the United States are being created in sectors of the economy not subject to foreign competition. Voters in the industrial Midwest know, from decades of personal experience, that what National Review is peddling is a destructive fantasy. The sooner Republican politicians also come to realize this, the better off they will be.
UPDATE: Here is an interesting Associated Press story making the same point, and noting that the auto bailout even helped Obama win votes from people sympathetic to Republicans on social issues.
Diversity Threatened in the NBA(0)
The Minnesota Timberwolves will be fielding a team this year that is only one third black. That means that the Timberwolves will have a much higher percentage of blacks than the general population, though a far lower percentage of blacks than any other team in the NBA. And this prospect is quite upsetting to Ron Edwards, identified in a Yahoo sports story as a “longtime Minneapolis civil rights advocate.” According to Edwards, the Timberwolves’ decision to field a team that has more white players than Edwards wants to see represents a “nullification of diversity and a reversal of history.” Which tells you all you really need to know about what “diversity” actually means.
How Does A Traditionalist Vote?(0)
Recently, Dan McCarthy of the American Conservative had a piece asking, “How Does A Traditionalist Vote?” I would submit that an answer to that question can be gleaned by viewing this ad for Barack Obama, brought to my attention by one of America’s leading traditionalist thinkers, Chris Kopff. In it, a tattoed college age woman implicitly compares voting for Barack Obama to sexual intercourse. This is what the Obama people think America wants, and this is what those voting for Obama are endorsing. The answer to McCarthy’s question is that no traditionalist could ever countenance voting for Obama, who has been the most leftist president in our history on social and cultural issues.
UPDATE: Apparently the woman featued in the Obama ad is a celebrity of some sort. I am happy to report that I had never heard of hear, and, if I am lucky, will never hear of her again.
FURTHER UPDATE: A friend sent along this revealing biographical information about the woman who made this appalling ad. According to Wikipedia, “Her father, Carroll Dunham, is a painter of ‘overtly sexualised pop art,’ and her mother, Laurie Simmons, is a photographer and designer who creates ‘disquieting domestic tableaux’ with dolls.”
An Island of Saints(0)
Today, Pope Benedict XVI canonized Mother Marianne Cope, the second canonized saint who worked at the leper settlement on the island of Molokai. Cope, who was born in Germany and grew up in New York, answered a call from the King of Hawaii to work with the sick in Hawaii and ended up succeeding the heroic Father Damien in Molokai. Shortly after Damien’s death, Robert Louis Stevenson visited the island. This visit caused Stevenson to write an essay defending the recently deceased Flemish priest from aspersions cast on him by a Presbyterian minister, Rev. Dr. Hyde, whom Stevenson had met inHonolulu. (Stevenson’s brilliant essay continues to impress; Pat Buchanan has described it as ”among the most passionate, brilliant, brutal, and beautiful polemics I have ever read. Cicero did not do to Cataline, nor Burke to Warren Hastings, what R. L. Stevenson did to the Rev. Dr. Hyde.”) Stevenson also wrote this following short poem about Mother Marianne, touching on issues of perennial importance:
To the Reverend Sister Marianne,
Matron of the Bishop Home, Kalaupapa.
To see the infinite pity of this place,
The mangled limb, the devastated face,
The innocent sufferers smiling at the rod,
A fool were tempted to deny his God.
He sees, and shrinks; but if he look again,
Lo, beauty springing from the breasts of pain!
He marks the sisters on the painful shores,
And even a fool is silent and adores.
We would be fortunate indeed if we continue to produce women like Marianne Cope and writers like Robert Louis Stevenson, who was wise enough to be awed by true goodness.
Free Trade Still Doesn’t Work(0)
This morning the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran an important opinion piece by Alan Tonelson of the redoubtable United States Business and Industry Council on manufacturing and the presidential election. (The piece appeared earlier in other Ohio papers). In his piece, Tonelson highlights the importance of Ohio in the election and the importance of manufacturing to Ohio. Tonelson also explains why neither President Obama’s policies nor Romney’s are likely to reverse the long decline of American manufacturing, a decline that began well before either Obama or Romney were on the scene. Two years ago, the USBIC published Ian Fletcher’s Free Trade Doesn’t Work, an excellent refutation of all the arguments made for free trade. In his book, Fletcher explains that the decisive event in the decline of American manufacturing was the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, when we began moving away from the tariff. Fletcher also proposes a solution, a national strategic tariff of 30% phased in over five years. Fletcher chose 30% as the tariff rate “because it is in the historic range of U. S. tariffs and close to the net disadvantage American goods currently face due to America’s lack of a VAT.” As Fletcher notes, “Protectionism is, in fact, the real American way,” a history ably summarized by Pat Buchanan in his masterful, beautifully written The Great Betrayal. Sadly, neither Obama nor Romney have read Fletcher or Buchanan. But the candidate who finally heeds what they say will both win the industrial Midwest and begin the process of reclaiming the manufacturing jobs our elites so foolishly tossed aside.
America’s Secular Party(0)
Yesterday’s Washington Post reported that, according to a recent Pew Center study, 19.6% of Americans now describe themselves as having no religious affiliation. They are the new foot soldiers of the Democratic Party: 68% of those with no religious affilation lean Democrat, a number that increases to 73% among self-described atheists and agnostics. According to the Post, the religiously unaffiliated are now the largest “faith constituency” in the Democratic Party. This is consistent with a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study of the two major parties, which showed that a majority of Democrats belong to one of two groups identified by the Kaiser Family Foundation, “Urban Liberals” or the “Agnostic Left,” both of which are hostile to any religious influence in public life. Thus, the Obama Administration’s anti-Christian actions are a reflection of what many of today’s Democrats want, which is to use the federal government to make Christian organizations conform to the tenets of secular liberalism. The HHS contraceptive mandate, which Obama has refused to back away from in a tight election year, is likely only the beginning.
What’s Missing From This Picture?(0)
Yesterday’s New York Times carried a piece by Michael Shear and Ashley Parker stating that the Romney campaign was going to stop running a campaign focused solely on the economy: “Instead, Romney intends to hit the White House with a series of arguments–on energy, health care, taxes, spending and a more direct attack on Obama’s foreign policy record–in an effort to draw sharper distinctions between the candidates and to give voters a choice about who can best change Washington.”
Notably absent from this list is any mention of abortion, gay marriage, gun rights, affirmative action, or immigration, issues of vital importance for tens of millions of voters. Indeed, many voters support the Republican Party in presidential elections on the basis of those issues, in spite of skepticism about the hosannas to the free market that largely characterize Republican campaigns. The Obama Administration has been radical on all these issues. It has imposed, by administrative fiat, an amnesty for illegal immigrants; sought to entrench and expand affirmative action; endorsed gay marriage and refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, paving the way for a nationwide recognition of gay marriage, which would override the laws of the vast majority of the states; argued in court that there is no ministerial exemption to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, an argument consistent with the view that churches that refuse to ordain women should be liable for employment discrimination; and enacted a regulation ordering religious employers to provide insurance for contraceptives, including contraceptives that can act as abortifacients, and employed arguments in support of that regulation that would apply equally to an order requiring employers to pay for surgical abortions. If the Romney campaign really wished to draw distinctions between the candidates, these issues would be a great place to start.
If Romney cannot even talk about these issues, why would anyone expect him to do anything about them? Indeed, Romney is already beginning to retreat on immigration, even though his relative hard line on illegal immigration helped him win the Republican nomination. The sheer awfulness of the Obama Administration makes a strong case for Romney, and it is likely that Romney would at least reverse course on some of Obama’s most radical actions, such as the HHS contraceptive mandate. But the Romney campaign’s palpable timidity does not bode well either for victory or the conduct of a Romney Administration.