Sunday, March 6, 2011

From the Catholic blogosphere's lost and found ads

LOST: My respect for Patrick Archbold. Last seen in the vicinity of this disgusting hit piece, in which Archbold essentially says that to be both authentically Catholic and actively pro-life, one must become a Republican shill, and that refusing to become a Republican shill means that one is neither authentically Catholic nor actively pro-life.

Hear that, sidewalk counselors, crisis pregnancy volunteers, 40 Days for Life participants, Rosary for Life devotees, and anyone else who prays and works daily to end abortion in America? You're not really pro-life unless you vote Republican; and if you hold your nose whilst doing so, you're probably an evil fifth columnist who will be first on the waterboard when the revolution comes.

If anyone finds my respect for Pat, please let me know. Otherwise, I'll just continue on as the kind of person who has for years now described our two parties this way:
Frankly, I've come to suspect that the unofficial motto of both major parties is, "Yes, America is Going to Hell in a Handbasket--But Our Handbasket is Better for America's Defense, Will Cost You Less, And Is Fashioned From Environmentally-Friendly Twigs, While Their Handbasket Will Kill You, Or At Least Beat You Up And Steal Your Lunch Money."

This is not to say that the two parties are identical. Democrats, for the most part, exclude pro-life Americans, while Republicans merely treat them with disdain and contempt until just before each major election. Republicans favor preemptive war with any nation that has threateningly large amounts of oil, while Democrats would prefer to stick to their oddly successful tactic of sending Jimmy Carter around the world to become the focal point of the world's anger, taking the heat off of the rest of us. Democrats are in favor of gay marriage, while Republicans are in favor of not being asked questions about that issue, which they invariably answer with mumblings about civil unions that don't fool anybody. Republicans are in favor of closing our borders, unless doing so would adversely affect the bottom line of any of the ginormous corporations who have rewarded Republicans for their loyalty; Democrats are in favor of securing the border, so long as that translates to "making the border safer for future Democrat voters to sneak across."

Lots of important distinctions, as you can see.
But, hey, according to Pat, believing that about our political parties--and being willing to say so--means that I'm in that company of smugly contemptuous armchair pro-lifers who aren't really willing to roll up their sleeves and do the real, honest-to-goodness pro-life work of voting and cheering for people who tend to favor unrestricted IVF, federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, and the widest possible dissemination of contraceptives to populations they'd prefer to see decrease, to say nothing of empire-building wars, "hang 'em all and let God sort 'em out later" capital punishment practices, and lots of economic relief to underprivileged multinational corporations. Because those people are the pro-life community's best and most reliable friends, and have been for the nearly four decades that abortion has been legal in America.

Patrick Archbold is, of course, perfectly free to believe that. What he's not free to do is to heap ire and loathing (his words) on those of us who have danced to that particular tune through a few election seasons already, only to wake up sadder and wiser when pro-"choice" RINOs and self-professed moderates garnered the lion's share of the ruling class's money and mandates, and ended up calling the shots.

Nobody would be happier than I would be if the Republican party truly became the party of life. But I haven't forgotten, if others have, that the 2012 election season will begin in earnest in a few short months, and that Republicans know quite well that they will have to energize the base early on if they hope to hold onto or even increase their House majority, pick up a majority in the Senate, and--dare they hope it?--offer a compelling alternative to a second Obama term.

With so much at stake from the party's perspective, why not rally the House to pass a measure to defund Planned Parenthood, knowing full well it has no chance in the Senate?

I can see the campaign mailings now:
"Dear Pro-Life Friend of the Pro-Life Caucus of the Pro-Life Committee of the Pro-Life Republicans,

As you know, our members in the House courageously and heroically and nobly voted to DEFUND Planned Parenthood! But the pro-aborts in the Senate made sure we would not prevail.

That's why we need YOUR help, right now, to save babies and work for life!

First, we need your prayers.

Next, we need your time! Can you volunteer, etc.?

But last--and you know I hate to ask this, friends--we need your money. Because, you see, the other side is well-funded. They have all the cash. Their candidates are rich and have rich friends. While we, the poor friend of the poor--and of Life!--struggle to pay our bills and keep the lights on..."

etc. ad infinitum.
I wish I could go back to a simpler time when I thought that one party wore white hats and fought fair, and the other side had curly mustaches and tied up innocents on railroad tracks. But the world doesn't work that way, and Catholics don't get to abdicate our morality just because one party tends to do a slightly better job of being less in favor of deeply evil things than the other. And if you don't think the Republicans aren't going to sway in favor of deeply evil things--you haven't been paying attention to the politics of gay marriage, let alone of various war related evils.

So, to get back to the classified ad: if you happen to see my lost respect for Pat Archbold, let me know. In the meantime, I'll just wear his deeply offensive labels as a badge of honor.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

A very admirable and principled post Erin. In saying that, I will NOT be quoting you as saying that it is all right for pro-life Catholics to vote for pro-choice Democrats because... never mind why, you didn't say any such thing. You just described politics as it is.

A few years ago, I ran across a page where a pro-life activist observed that democrats think abortion is acceptable, while Republicans think that abortion is acceptable, but have found that if you disparage it in your speeches it gets you many votes.

There are many things I genuinely don't see your way, but you are genuine and consistent. That's all one citizen of a republic can ask of another.

Red Cardigan said...

Thanks, Siarlys.

The truth is, I've never knowingly voted for a pro-abortion candidate. And I used to vote for Republicans even if I didn't know for sure they were pro-life (because, after all, the party was pro-life and that was what mattered). But many years ago I came to see that if I voted for *any* person who doesn't share my belief in the sanctity of human life, regardless of party affiliation, then I was voting for evil.

So now I vote only for candidates whom I can verify are pro-life. If I can't find out for sure, I don't vote in that particular race.

But apparently that's not good enough for Mr. Archbold; by not voting blindly for the people with the letter "R" beside their names I'm not really pro-life.

Frankly, my integrity is more important to me than being a party cheerleader. By God's grace may it always be so!

L. said...

It's interesting -- the same thing is going on, on the other side of the spectrum. I used to vote Democratic (even though I lean Republican on many issues) because they were the "pro-choice party," but that's not true anymore.

Sweeping generalizations aren't always helpful when it comes down to individual choices.

WillyJ said...

Well I guess Mr. Pat Archbold was just trying to expound on "proportionate reasons", but fails...miserably.

Anonymous said...

The naivete of some folks is amazing to me. After more than thirty years of pro-choice advocacy by Democrats, some still choose not to see. Republicans are certainly not perfect, but it is hard to imagine how electing Democrats will ever end the abortion holocaust. The point being that those who refuse to see this, even after decades of abortion advocacy by Democrats, are aiding the slaughter.

freddy said...

Actually, I thought it was a pretty good piece. And so's ya know, I usually vote third party.

I must be coming at it from an entirely different perspective.

Really, I read it as more of an expression of frustration with folks, and I do know some, who insist that the whole system is broken, that all Republicans are equally as evil as all Democrats, that there is no point in voting or getting involved either in local politics or in encouraging the ones in office, local or national, to to what is right.

I certainly didn't see this piece as aimed at people like me, and I rather doubt it was aimed at people like you, either. I don't agree with all of Pat's politics (he's a way more political animal than I am!), but he has an interesting point.

Paul Zummo said...

in which Archbold essentially says that to be both authentically Catholic and actively pro-life, one must become a Republican shill,

Strawman much?

But I guess engaging in strawman assassination is easier than engaging his points, which are pretty clear. All Pat is pointing out is that all of the major pro-life advances in recent years have been advanced by one political party. But I guess saying so out loud smashes that bit of sanctimonious self-satisfaction about being above it all. And isn't expressing one's moral sanctimony so much more important than actually doing something politically to end the abortion holocaust?

Jay Anderson said...

"LOST: My respect for Patrick Archbold. Last seen in the vicinity of this disgusting hit piece, in which Archbold essentially says that to be both authentically Catholic and actively pro-life, one must become a Republican shill, and that refusing to become a Republican shill means that one is neither authentically Catholic nor actively pro-life."

You know, your assessment of Pat's piece bears a far closer resemblance to "bearing false witness" than anything Lila Rose has done.

Bathilda said...

I used to vote pro choice only candidates, but now I just vote on who I like better, because I realise that most candidates don't and will never have anything to do with whether or not abortion remains legal. it's kind of a strange thing to hang your voting hat on for say, school board or county assessor. As for anyone claiming to be "pro life" voting Republican? Riiiiiiiiight.... They might be anti-abortion-ish, but that is not the same as "pro life" to me. Red is right, if not a little late on the game. The Republican Party is nothing but a money whore, and they know that Christian right is a huge paycheck. They will sit down to heaping plate of pandering and gobble it up with a spoon. It's disgusting. torture? fine. letting the rich getter richer and the poor die on the street? fine. What a bunch of hypocrites. (BOTH parties)

Jay Anderson said...

To expand upon my remarks above:

The notion that either of the Archbolds is a "Republican shill" or believes one must be a "Republican shill" to be truly pro-life is a laughable and contemptible LIE. Anyone who has read their blog or their NCRegister column on a regular basis knows this.

They routinely attack the GOP these days as much or more than they do Democrats. They routinely make it known that they will not support the GOP "frontrunners" that the Establishment is trying to foist off on the party. They are not interested in any "truce" candidates that might make the Republican nominee more electable, and they have made it clear that they will not support any such candidate.

What they are primarily concerned about is ending the holocaust of abortion. And to the extent the rare limited gains toward this end happen to made politically, it is due to the efforts of one party. THAT is what Pat is recognizing in his piece, while decrying the preening sanctimony of those who wish to remain above it all and pretend there's no difference between the parties.

The sad thing is that Erin KNOWS the facts about the Archbolds that I have related above. Which makes her disreputable misstatement of Pat's views all the more sad. Apparently, she has learned well at the feet of the great Shea. She has learned that one can get a lot of mileage out of hyperbole, strawman arguments, and outright misrepresentation of the viewpoints of those with whom one disagrees.

This will not end well.

Anonymous said...

That bewilders me too, Bathilda.

Red, can you or anyone explain what is the point of any abortion viewpoint from candidates running for the conservation and water district board, the library board or park board?

There are so many decisions that will impact the way of life for citizens of a political district. I'd rather have a "pro-choice" park board manager who believes that publicly-owned parks should remain that way than a "pro-life" person who is a Repub undercover agent for dismantling the idea that public parks should exist.

A Republican Minnesota politician balloon about selling Minnesota's public park lands. These are lovely places where the poor can enjoy a nice day as much as the wealthy can. Once our lake shores become private resorts, immigrant and poor families won't even be able to go to the beach without paying. I cannot see how that would advance the anti-abortion position in that case.

If the pro-choicer goes on to run for a position that does have some influence on the abortion debate, vote against him/her then.


Anonymous said...

Oops - bad self-editing above.

I meant to say that a
Republican politician in Minnesota floated a balloon of an idea about selling off park lands (that have been in the public domain since the city of Minneapolis existed).

Self-preening sanctimony and ideological purity don't do anything to stop abortion OR to make the rest of public live manageable. But I hear
Red's frustration. Too many pro-lifers are willing to hand our common future to the uber-rich in exchange for hints about ending abortion as a right in this country. Which most members of the "party of no" will not bother to do.


Anonymous said...

Funny, GOP shills say "amen" to GOP shilling.

Barbara C. said...

Well, Bathilda and Elizabeth,

Whose to say that the guy running for the library board today might not run for a different office that does have more impact on abortion later. You and I know that incumbency and name recognition influence uninformed voters. That's why it is important to know the abortion position of ever politician.

I like the voter guides that rate politicians running on a scale based on their stated position and past voting history. That gives me a starting point for a more informed decision.

It is true, though, that the candidates on the pro-life part of the spectrum are more likely to be Republican...the Democratic party just will not allow even nominally pro-life candidates to rise through their ranks. It seems to be the one thing the Democratic party is adamant about; for Republicans their adamant issue seems to be protection of the wealthy.

patrick barnes said...

I thought this was a great piece; glad *someone* has the guts to write it.

Anonymous said...

All one has to do is look at what Erin Manning wrote on her Bio:

"I'm conservative. Not Republican."


Phillip said...

"In a two-party system, legislative advances require activists to sometimes pick sides. Given that the Democrat party sold its soul years ago and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of big abortion, we are left with the Republicans. Pro-life advocates have for years tried to work with and through the mechanisms of the Republican Party. While they have had moderate successes on the local level, little has been accomplished on the federal level, but momentum is on their side."


What do you disagree with here? Do you think that political compromises can't be made? Even JP II accepted in the abortion matter they could. Do you think the Democratic Party isn't with rare individual exceptions completely in line with abortion? Does working with the Republican Party necessarily make one a "shill?" Is one morally obliged not to work with a Party towards a good end if there are objectionable features of the party's platform?

"Just in the last year there has been a sea change thanks to Republicans elected to State houses and Governorships nationwide and a young woman who didn’t take no for answer.

In Virginia, state legislators have passed one of the most sweeping reforms of the abortion industry ever voting to regulate abortion clinics the same way as hospitals. This may very well shut down abortion clinics around the state. You know who did that? Republicans did that."

Is this merely token or could it actually have a beneficial effect? Isn't it a good thing if the latter?

"And while the armchair pro-life argued about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, the Republican governor of New Jersey, armed with a fiscal crisis and the embarrassing sting videos, vetoed funding for Planned Parenthood. Who? The Republican governor, that’s who.

And now the Republican House put forth a plan to defund Planned Parenthood as well, setting up the looming battle with the Democrat Senate and the promised veto of the Democrat President."

Are these again not good things that Republicans are doing or are they merely tokens? Wouldn't it be good to work with them?

"Yet, the armchair pro-life continue to gripe. They point to the two-week continuing resolution, which did not defund Planned Parenthood, as all the evidence they need that alliance with Republicans gains us nothing. That the Republicans have already turned their backs on the pro-life movement and they retreat to their default position of “a pox on both their houses”.

Here I will deviate from questions and make statements. Unfortunately while a great deal of positive work was being done by(in the vast majority of cases) Republicans only, most Catholic bloggers ignored this work. The only time voices were raised was about the continuing resolution which may in fact be a legitimate political move. No words about the good. Only words about a morally neutral political move.

To keep saying the Republicans have done nothing the past few weeks may be an argument from ignorance as no one has been blogging about it. But I think if one really looks, they will see it is a lie.

Dan said...

I can only echo what Jay has said. This was pretty lousy, Erin. And just as we set about to start Lent. You need to take a step back and assess how you treat people. Your attacking good people is nothing new but this is a new low.

Anonymous said...

"his was pretty lousy, Erin. And just as we set about to start Lent. You need to take a step back and assess how you treat people. Your attacking good people is nothing new but this is a new low. "

For some, Lent started today.

And btw, the original article was the one doing the attack. Funny that.

Red Cardigan said...

All: I'm battling a wicked migraine today that just recently let even consider looking at a computer screen (and I'm still not sure that's a terribly good idea). Rest assured that I've read your comments and will respond, probably in a post, probably tomorrow.

For the record, though: I called Archbold's piece a "hit piece" for a reason. I firmly believe he is targeting one specific man with his writing, and that the whole point of this piece was to take down this person's reputation as a Catholic blogger for the crime of failing to be a cheerleader for the GOP (note: the person in question has said that he has sometimes voted for GOP candidates as well as independents. As have I, and as have many Catholics).

My take on the GOP today is: some of them are truly conservative and pro-life and will have my support. Some cynically manipulate conservatives and pro-lifers every election season and will only get my support if I, with equal cynicism, see them as the lesser of two handbaskets. Some, too many, are barely nominally pro-life or really pro-abortion (my own Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and representative Kay Granger for two) and have never and will NEVER get my support or vote.

And if that makes me some kind of smug superior armchair pro-lifer who really hates babies and wants Democrats to win--well, it doesn't, but I think plenty of Catholics run the risk of convincing themselves that even a pro-abort Republican is better than a Democrat, when there's really not a penny's worth of difference between them.

Chris-2-4 said...


Why no strong words about Mark's Disgusting and ill informed hit piece here:

It seems you never fail to make his fights your own and yet you call Pat a shill for the GOP?

Jay Anderson said...

"I firmly believe he is targeting one specific man with his writing, and that the whole point of this piece was to take down this person's reputation as a Catholic blogger for the crime of failing to be a cheerleader for the GOP ..."

If you truly "firmly believe" that, then I must question your discernment. As I've previously noted, there is NOTHING in Pat's piece or in anything he has previously written that indicates he is either a "Republican shill" or someone who would try to destroy someone's reputation for not sufficiently "cheerleading for the GOP". Pat is simply not the GOP sycophant that you disingenuously accuse him of being. Truth be told, I wouldn't read the Archbolds if they were. I, myself, am an independent and couldn't give a rat's about the GOP.

But, on the other hand, I, like Pat, have enough sense to recognize that one party is at least somewhat open to pro-lifers and their agenda while the other is bought and paid for by Planned Parenthood. You could hardly blame pro-lifers like Pat who want to advance the cause politically for trying to work with the one party who doesn't see them as the greatest evil on the planet and for taking umbrage at the cynicism and almost perverse pleasure that some take in poking them in the eye with "toldja sos" regarding that party's alleged shortcomings (especially when the alleged shortcoming involves no shortcoming at all or a debatable procedural point at worst).

And, for the record, assuming he was the object of Pat's ire, I doubt the biggest dog on the St. Blog's block - who is surely no wilting flower when it comes to mixing it up with those with whom he disagrees - needs his "reputation as a Catholic blogger" defended. Certainly he doesn't need it defended in a way that inaccurately defames Pat as a "Republican shill" bent on destroying others for insufficient fealty to the GOP.

Seriously, Erin. You've guest blogged at CMR. Presumably you've read what the Archbolds have written there. Can you REALLY justify your characterization of Pat?

Chris-2-4 said...

I certainly don't see how it can be justified. To a large extent, Pat is clearly addressing a GROUP larger than Mark and this group absolutely clearly does NOT include "sidewalk counselors, crisis pregnancy volunteers, 40 Days for Life participants, Rosary for Life devotees, and anyone else who prays and works daily to end abortion in America" so that portion of your hit piece against Pat is clearly disingenuous.

But there is also a certain extent to which Pat does clearly have a smaller group, Mark included, in mind. However, he is exactly spot-on in his description of how he disagrees with Mark. And to the extent you disagree with his assessment, you don't tackle the merits.

Furthermore, Jay is right. Mark is no innocent lamb himself when it comes to taking the position of one person and generalizing it and acting like it is the position of some entire nefarious group. The idea that you leap to defend Mark when he is targeted in this way, yet never once spoke up to defend any of Mark's targets is rather indicative of your allegiance.

Red Cardigan said...

Chris and Jay, I've decided to do what I probably should have done in the first place: fisk Pat's piece.

Oh, and I doubt my having once (long ago) guest blogged at CMR would make Pat mind vigorous disagreement with what he says. We all should be above that sort of thing, not being wilting flowers.

I've never met Mark personally, so don't go thinking my defense here is personally motivated. Honestly, I think that too much of an engagement in partisan politics is a bad thing for Catholics. Look at how long it took Catholics to stop voting Democrat blindly (some still do!) because they were the "Catholic" party for so long. We simply can't afford to be that uncritical in our political dealings.

Red Cardigan said...

Oh, and Pat Archbold has now said in the 80-somethingth comment under his article that he didn't mean Mark Shea or any of the various Catholics who were criticizing Lila Rose.

So, apparently, there is some huge group of Catholics quite well known to Pat Archbold who only care about abortion when you mention statistics involving African-Americans, but then just barely; who are personally opposed to all pro-life activities; and who are disdainful of Republicans and will not vote for them even if such a vote would directly and materially aid pro-lifers--but who are also deeply concerned about the morality of lying as it pertains to Lila Rose's activities.

I have never encountered such a Catholic, and can only pity Mr. Archbold that he is so surrounded by them that he aimed a whole Register piece at them. Still, he assures Mark Shea that Mark Shea was not even remotely a target of his, and that those who thought so, both his supporters and his opponents, were mistaken.

As one of his opponents on this particular piece, I thus apologize for believing that Pat Archbold was aiming the piece at Mark Shea. I do not, however, apologize for my vehement disagreement with Mr. Archbold's article, its points, its tone, and its implications, which I retain.