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Pax Obama, Part Deux

Amazingly, the Republican fringe may have started to acknowledge reality: it backed down on the debt ceiling hostage scenario in which they basically held a gun to their own heads.Jon Chait explains here. But I think the main lesson is that by incremental steps Obama is forcing the GOP to recognize that they have to govern. Every small compromise they make is a surrender of their all-or-nothing fundamentalism. And a win for actually governing.Addendum: A Sully post at The Dish links to Adam Gopnik on the importance of passing some gun laws and thereby starting to change the culture of guns in the U.S., much as the cultural norms around driving drunk and using seat belts (and smoking -- who'd have thought Big Tobacco could be tamed?) have changed over the years. It's about promoting a "culture of life," as the bishops say in endorsing Obama's gun control proposals. Not one fell swoop. But changing the culture. By forcing the GOP to make any concessions the White House changes the dynamic of "cliff-diving" and hostage-taking and extremism to one that at least affords the chance to make government and society function.Now we can get back to the real news, which is that wild and crazy Notre Dame football team and its star player, Manti Te'o. The good news: he apparently got himself a real girlfriend right after the fake love of his life died so tragically. Bad news: they broke up. So it goes with rebounds.

About the Author

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.



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Here's the latest on the Manti Teo story:

Although Manti Te'o clearly invented some of the story of his nonexistent girlfriend, there are some indications that he really was the victim of an extraordinarily elaborate and vicious hoax taking in not just him, but his family. Check out this. Who knows what the full story will be, but I personally am not telling any imaginary-girlfriend jokes until there's more information.

Under Pax Obama can we also have more laws restricting abortion in order to change attitudes toward it? Then we would be moving toward the Seamless Garment. Andrew Cuomo seems to be going the right way on guns, but the wrong way on abortion. Let's embrace the Seamless Garment -- no capital punishment, no torture, no preemptive wars, no more permissiveness on guns and no more abortion.

Laws against/restricting abortion will NOT change attitudes toward it. Think back to the pre-RvW days with (1) offshore abortions for the well-to-do and (2) back alley abortions for the poor.All the laws in the world will not change attitudes toward something that women feel they are forced to do, either because of marital, economic or health status, or personal preference.

And then there is this re: Manti Teo --- you imagine being a 21 (22 this month) year old closeted jock (**IF** HE IS) from a conservative Mormon Samoan background at Notre Dame, a school that only this last December (!) has agreed to allow the creation of a LGBT support group? More than one of us has felt the need in our earlier lives to create that all-necessary girlfriend to keep parents, aunts and other people off of our back with those who are you dating? questions. And we learned how hard it is to keep ones lies straight (pun intended).

Jim,"[P]ersonal preference?"

The Pew Forum's recent survey on abortion views ... big tobacco been tamed?

I hope someone will be able to correct me on this, but I doubt it. The sad thing is that when you line up the votes for and against President Obama's gun violence initiatives, the majority of supporters of abortion will be on his side and the majority of opponents of abortion will oppose him. He did do one thing that was smart: He offered so many proposals that he may get majorities for some -- like background checks -- among those who are satisfied with getting their NRA points for opposing others, like assault rifles, but don't want to look like complete idiots.I'll be with the avid anti-abortionists tomorrow and will get a reading on their views on Obama's gun violence initiative. But overall, I suspect the conversation will end where it usually does, with my remarking that they can hardly expect Obama to support them on abortion when they can't name one blinking thing on which they ever have or ever will work with him.

Yes, Frank. There are some women who choose to have an abortion for no other reason than they do not want a child. To my thinking, that is personal preference.That is the one instance where I cannot develop any sense of understanding of the choice to have an abortion. Birth control is too easy to come by to be so cavalier about becoming pregnant.Also, I recommend reading this:

Jim,Thanks for the link. It reminds me of this by Rabdall Balmer at NPR on why and when the republicans began to champion an anti-abortion stance ...

The blood of unborn infants put to death cries out to God for justice. While an Illinois state senator, Obama championed legislation that would legally prevent any doctor from giving medical aid to an infant that survived an abortion attempt. That blood is on his hands, and nothing liberal Catholics can say will ever change that.

While an Illinois state senator, Obama championed legislation that would legally prevent any doctor from giving medical aid to an infant that survived an abortion attempt. Bob Schwarz,That is absolutely preposterous. It's malicious nonsense. There was no such legislation. If you believe there was, present some evidence.

Crystal,Well, if you don't like Republicans usurping the abortion issue, then by all means lets have liberal and progressive Catholics speak out against it. Now is the best time. Obama has won. Progressive Christians can use their laudable stance against violence to persuade the government and the culture that abortion is another form of violence that needs to be restricted. As Christians, we need to oppose capital punishment, torture, the fetish of gun ownership and abortion.

David Nickol,Bob Schwarz' contention has been discussed for years with evidence provided by both sides of the issue. Ultimately, it comes down to whose testimony you believe and whose fact-checking you trust.

Frank Gibbons,No, sorry. There simply was no bill "that would legally prevent any doctor from giving medical aid to an infant that survived an abortion attempt." I have debated the Illinois version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act and the various other abortion bills Obama opposed, but there simply was no bill to prevent doctors from giving medical care to born-alive infants. At minimum, Bob Schwartz has badly garbled something. He should attempt to explain what he is referring to, because whatever it is, he has badly misunderstood it.

From the Gopnik piece:"Thanks to the efforts of MADD and the other groups, drunk driving became socially verboten, and then highly regulated,"Note the progression, from the grass roots and mediating institutions, and then to legislation.For the futility of trying to change culture via legislation, cf the war on drugs.

Perhaps the situation in Ireland with the death of Savita Halappanavar gives us an idea of what outlawing abortion looks like.

Savita's death was a horrific tragedy, but we now know that it was the malpractice of the physicians and not the law which killed her. Ireland--despite giving its prenatal children equal protection of the laws--has lower maternal death rates than most of Europe. Go Irish go.

"For the futility of trying to change culture via legislation, cf the war on drugs." Well, progressive and liberal Catholics could at least raise their voices against abortion as they with capital punishment and water boarding. Why not?I sense a reluctance among Catholic liberals (except for MSW) to address the problem of abortion. When Catholics, laity or clergy, speak out against abortion, they are accused of being mouthpieces for the Republican party. They're further castigated as only focusing on abortion but not on other life issues. If progressive Catholics won't take a stand against unrestricted abortion, why throw rocks at other Catholics who do? You accuse them of not having a seamless garment approach to life, but seem impervious to the idea that you may not have one either.

To return for a moment to David Gibson's main point ("...that by incremental steps Obama is forcing the GOP to recognize that they have to govern. Every small compromise they make is a surrender of their all-or-nothing fundamentalism. And a win for actually governing..."), it seems to me this is, if anything, more important than is generally recognized.For some decades now (at least since Newt Gingrich became leader of the House Republican caucus), the Republican party has concerned itself less and less with the business of functioning (and governing) as a political party in a representative democracy, and increasingly with the business of being a radical, ideological movement bent on removing all internal dissent and discrediting the legitimacy of their political opponents.Spending the next decade or so relearning how to function effectively as a political party would be, I think, a great benefit not only to Republicans but to the nation as a whole.

I thought Gail Collins was good this morning on Manti/Notre Dame: concludes her column with this:"This all occurred a couple of years after the Notre Dame team was involved in a genuine tragedy when a freshman from a neighboring girls college reported she had been sexually assaulted by a football player. The school did not order up an outside investigation. In fact, there appeared to be no investigation at all. After a period of dead silence in which she received a threatening text from another player, the girl died from an overdose of medication. Nothing else happened. Writing this week in The Washington Post, Melinda Henneberger, a Notre Dame graduate, noted that 'my alma mater held the kind of emotional news conference for the fake dead girl they never held for the real one, Lizzy Seeberg.'"Games over. Notre Dame loses."

Agree, Luke.The Republicans grab every opportunity to display their contempt for the President of the United States. "Speaker Boehner has turned down an invitation to every formal state dinner President Obama has heldsix in total. And that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had turned down at least two. And that McConnell even declined an invitation last spring when the University of Kentucky mens basketball team was honored at the White House for winning the national championship.In 2011, the White House held a reception for newly elected members of Congress. Only 27 of the new Republican House members showed up out of the record freshman class of 87."--Smerconish

"Well, progressive and liberal Catholics could at least raise their voices against abortion as they with capital punishment and water boarding. Why not?"Indeed.

Jim Pauwels, I'm pretty liberal, and I just did raise my voice against abortion just this morning. But I'll tell you this: Hanging out with the regulars can really bring a guy down. And "if Obama wants to stop gun violence, why doesn't he stop abortion violence?" Which is about the level of analysis I expected.

What to you conservatives want from liberals on the matter of abortion? Yelling and screaming names at those who honestly think that abortion is OK? Many of us liberals are against it and say so, so will you please stop making your overstated claims about who is against it and who is not.I'll believe the sincerity of the conservatives when they start showing some respect for their sincere opponents and try to change them with facts and solid arguments. The conservatives don't seem to think that's necessary. Just show a picture of a fetus smiling and that's all the argument you need to know what the fetus really is. But it's not. Grow up.

Saw this today ... "The Newtown Shooting Really Has Changed the Conversation on Gun Control, as Google Trends Can Show" by Rebecca J. Rosen ....

David Nickol: was wrong about Obama championing legislation denying the medical care. What he did do is just as heinous: From 9/10/2012 Washington Post Fact CheckerIllinois lawmakers voted down identical versions of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act in 2001 and 2002 before a new iteration of the bill came before the Senates Health and Human Services Committee, headed by Obama. This new legislation removed the controversial line about recognizing live-born children as humans and giving them immediate protection under the law. It also addressed Obamas concern about previable fetuses, adding a neutrality clause that said the measure would not affect the legal status of fetuses prior to delivery.Nonetheless, Obama voted against the new bill, which happened to be an almost exact replica almost to the word of a federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act that passed in 2002 without opposition in either politial party. (Updated: The vote in the House was by voice vote and the vote in the Senate was by unanimous consent.)

Correction:David Nickol: I was wrong...

Ann Olivier,I've never yelled or screamed at anyone who supports abortion rights. None of the people I know who oppose abortion yell and scream and people who support the right to an abortion. I've never even told those who support abortion or who won't speak against it to "grow up."

Senator Obama objecting to an $8 trillion debt and voting against a debt limit extension was good, but Republicans objecting to a $16 trillion debt and making feeble -- extremely feeble and weak -- attempts to slow the growth of debt to less than $1 trillion per year is holding a gun to their heads??By all means, let us acknowledge reality -- spending $16,000,000,000,000 that you do not have and imposing that debt on future generations is grossly dishonest theft. It was grossly unjust when Senator Obama rightly objected to it, and it is grossly unjust now that the debt is twice what it was then.

Luke Hill: David Brooks column in the Times yesterday ( delved into this matter but from many would consider to be a more confontational perspective. Start here: "Its more likely that todays Democrats are going to tell themselves something like this: We live at a unique moment. Our opponents, the Republicans, are divided, confused and bleeding. This is not the time to allow them to rebuild their reputation with a series of modest accomplishments. This is the time to kick them when they are down, to win back the House and end the current version of the Republican Party. First, we change the narrative. The president ran in 2008 against Washington dysfunction, casting blame on both parties. Over the years, he has migrated to a different narrative: The Republicans are crazy. Washington could be working fine, but the Republicans are crazy. etc.In other words, out-Teapublican the Teapublicans, and give no quarter.

Progressive members of groups that are also on the receiving end of conservative "christian" invective on a regular basis tend to be less eager to jump on every cause that is not commonly held in society but is one of the poster causes for said conservative "christians."This is particularly true when these conservative "christians" want the government to outlaw what they cannot convince others is an immoral action. When they are as upset about rampant gun violence that is spawned by a culture of suvivalist isolation - particularly from "those people", me-first, and "kill 'em before they think they can kill me," then we might be persuaded to pay more attention.

Bender,The vote on the debt-ceiling limit has no material effect on the debt. Congress has already committed the United States to spend a given amount of money. Congress has also determined the amount of revenue the United States can collect. When the bills come due, they have to be paid, and the only way to pay them is to borrow. When Congress votes against raising the debt-celing limit, what it is saying is, "We have committed the government to spending X dollars, we have committed (limited) the government to collecting Y dollars in taxes, but Y is less than X, so the government needs to borrow Z dollars to pay the bills, and we refuse to let it." The president (and the executive branch) have to pay the bills. When Congress refuses to raise the debt-ceiling limit, what they are doing is saying to the president, "We determined that a certain amount of money had to be spentmore money than the United States hasand you have to pay that money. We know you will have to borrow the money, or the United States will default on its bills with potentially catastrophic results, but we are not going to let you borrow the money to pay the bills we decided the government should do unless you give in to our demands."The analogy to taking innocent hostages and demanding ransom is very apt. When Obama voted against the debt-ceiling limit in 2006, he and the Democrats were in the minority. As New York Magazine says:

When Obama, along with every other Senate Democrat, voted against raising the debt ceiling in 2006, they did so for the sake of self-serving political posturing, yes, but they also did so knowing that their GOP colleagues could and would dutifully raise it on their own.

Political posturing by a Democratic minority is one thing. Putting the country at risk of defaulting by the House majority is quite another.

Nonetheless, Obama voted against the new bill, which happened to be an almost exact replica almost to the word of a federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act that passed in 2002 without opposition in either politial party. (Updated: The vote in the House was by voice vote and the vote in the Senate was by unanimous consent.)Bob Schwartz,Thanks for your reply. The Born Alive Infant Protection Act Obama voted against when he was in a Democratic minority in the Illinois Senate and later killed in committee when the Democrats took the majority did absolutely nothing to protect the lives of viable born-alive infants or guarantee human care for non-viable ones. The federal version of the bill that passed did nothing either. Here is the statement by my congressman, Jerrold Nadler, one of the most liberal, pro-abortion-rights members of the House, at the hearings for the bill:

Today, we consider legislation reaffirming an absolutely established principle which is enshrined in the law of all 50 States that an infant who is born and is living independently of the birth mother is entitled to the same care as any other child similarly diagnosed regardless of whether labor was induced or occurred spontaneously.It was not and is not clear to me now why we need to legislate that which is obvious and clear in the law, that which most Members of Congress and the general public already assume to be the law, but if the majority is interested in a belts-and-suspenders approach, sobeit.

I do blame Obama to some extent for voting against the bill, but only because he was not clever enough to realize that the bill did nothing that Illinois law did not already require, butas the liberal House members realizeda vote against it could be seized on and its import seriously distorted by anti-abortion propagandists.

The above should read: "guarantee humane [not human] care for non-viable ones."I would be interested if Bob Schwartz or anyone else could cite an instance where either the Illinois or the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act was ever invoked, came into play, or was credited with doing anything at all to protect or improve care for born-alive infants.

I received an e-mail from Newsmax " Vatican Sides With Obama on Gun Control' I always find things from "the Vatican" confusing. I know that Lombardi is the communications person, but the article reads like it is what he, Lombardi, personally thinks, which wouldn't be "The Vatican" would it?

Frank G. --Glad to hear that you're not one of the many conservatives who yell and scream (things like 'MURDERER') at those with whom they disagree. But you did give us some reason to think that raised voices are the way to go when you said above at 9:49 a.m.""Well, progressive and liberal Catholics could at least raise their voices against abortion as they with capital punishment and water boarding. Why not?" The reason why not is because that is a rhetorical appeal. Noisy voices have nothing to do with evidence and reasoning. The law will not be changed until the culture changes, and persuasion is the only way to change the culture. Further, the culture will *not* be changed by misjudging the intentions of our honorable opponents, by name-calling nor by rhetoric generally. There are a few English speaking Catholic philosophers who have give arguments against abortion, but some of us do not find them convincing. Rather, some of us are persuaded that abortion wrong on the basis of some classical metaphysical arguments together with some contemporary biological and psychological ones. (I've recommended the Wolter/Sullivan article presenting the basics here at dotCommonweal a number of times. Go read them.) And just remember, there is nothing in Church teachings that tells us *which* anti-abortion arguments are sound.

And some are convinced that the best way to lower abortion rates is to concentrate on education and contraception rather than making all abortion illegal.

Back to Manti Te'o and Notre Dame ...How could a nationally known player on the Irish football team be so clueless and naive about this deception perpetrated, we are asked to believe, solely on the internet??? Strains credulity.I suppose it could happen, it's possible that a football jock could be so gullible as to fall for this "stunt." But, I'm inclined to believe that it is more likely that flying monkeys roost in the Golden Dome.I must admit that this whole story does remind me of a patient, who was a college athlete himself, I consulted with many years ago who in order to hide his homosexuality constructed elaborate imaginary architecture in his personal life all to conceal the hidden truth of his life. There were fantasy girl friends, real girl friends for dates at parties and events, even "vacation trips" to the Caribbean replete with souvenir photos on the beach. His parents, siblings, relatives and close friends had no inkling. This was a life deep, deep in the closet. The anxiety of keeping up appearances eventually crashed in on him. It took him years to recover and start a new life.I don't know about Te'o. Perhaps he was duped. But, there is a part of me that believes in a very painfully public way we are going to learn a lot more about Te'o's private life, a part of his life that he has perhaps struggled to keep from view, before this media storm is all over.BTW: Melissa Henneberger of the Washington Post, ND graduate, has already written about the parallels between Te'o treatment by university officials and that which was visited upon St. Mary's student Lizzy Seeberg who was sexually assaulted by a ND football player. Makes you wonder???

@Jim McCrea (1/19, 4:06 pm) Thanks for the link. In my view, Brooks' column is practically a case study in what is wrong with moderate Republicans, and why they have virtually disappeared over the past generation.First, the almost willful misinterpretation of history. In point of fact, President Obama has, in the past two years, signed into law roughly $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction---weighted more heavily towards spending cuts than tax increases. (According to the CPBB, another deficit reduction deal of $1.2 trillion would effectively stabilized federal debt as a % of GDP for the next decade.)Second, the apportionment of blame equally to "both sides", when Democrats (particularly President Obama) have repeatedly made clear their openness to 1) Republican policy ideas and 2) compromise, only to be met repeatedly by virtually unanimous Republican opposition to anything the president proposes. (As has been extensively reported, this is the result of a conscious, deliberate political strategy aimed at regaining political power that congressional Republicans adopted before President Obama took the oath of office four years ago.)Third, the blind unwillingness to recognize that until some (moderate?, pragmatic?) bloc of Republicans demonstrates their willingness to break with the party's radical majority---and to do so repeatedly---in order to negotiate compromises with Democrats on a broad range of issues (e.g., reducing unemployment, reducing the deficit, improving gun safety, reforming immigration, addressing climate change), the rest of the country will continue to view (and rightly so) Republicans as obstructionists unwilling or unable to engage in the normal give-and-take of democratic politics.If one were to re-read David Brooks' columns over the past year and make a list of the policy proposals he endorses, one would find that President Obama not only has expressed a willingness to compromise with those proposals, he also in many cases has expressed his outright support for those proposals. It is Brooks' unwillingness or inability to take "yes" for an answer that makes one question his intellectual honesty.

"First, the almost willful misinterpretation of history. In point of fact, President Obama has, in the past two years, signed into law roughly $2.5 trillion in deficit reductionweighted more heavily towards spending cuts than tax increases."Luke --Not only that. I read recently that since the beginning of Obama's first term the debt itself has been reduced by 10%! I hadn't seen that before. Makes you wonder about the general competency of American news organizations, not just Fox. They don't seem to know which questions to ask sometimes.

I read recently that since the beginning of Obamas first term the debt itself has been reduced by 10%! Ann,If that were true, congress would not have had to keep raising the debt ceiling limit, and wouldn't be about to raise it again. The national debt declined continuously from Truman's second administration through the Carter administration. It shot up during Reagan's two terms and Bush 41's term. It declined during the Clinton years to the point where at the beginning of Bush 43's first term, projections were that the debt would be paid off by 2011. However, Bush's policies (tax cuts, prescription drug benefits, two wars, etc.) instead caused the debt to climb again, and then the fiscal crisis hit at the end of Bush's second term, and the debt has skyrocketed ever since, including in Obama's first term. So Republicans and Democrats alike from Truman on were paying off the national debt until Ronald Reagan started running it up again. And yet the Republicans claim to be against big government.

Ann:"I read recently that since the beginning of Obamas first term the debt itself has been reduced by 10%!"Wow! Now I am curious: where did you read such thing? I thought it was common knowledge that Obama has been adding about a nifty trillion of debt each year, and that US public debt is about to go throught the "magic" 100% of GDP ratio. Moreover, if as Mr. Gibson says the Republican are going to let Obama "govern" US debt will reach Japanese level within a few years. Fortunately, according to Keynesian orthodoxy, all the spending will produce a wonderful economic recovery. then taxes will pick up the debt will go down. Or at least, this is what people like Prof. Krugman have been telling us for the last couple of years.

Sunday evening: five shot to death in a New Mexico house.

@Carlo Lancellotti (1/20, 8:37 pm) I suspect Ann Olivier (1/20, 12:43 pm) simply confused (or misspoke) debt for deficit. Federal debt is the total amount of money the federal government owes. The federal deficit (or surplus) is the difference between federal revenues and spending in a given fiscal year.The federal deficit for FY 2012 was $1.089 trillion, down from $1.3 trillion in FY 2011. For comparison purposes, the federal deficit for FY 2010 was $1.293 trillion, and for FY 2009 (the final budget of the W. Bush administration) was $1,413 trillion. addition to the reduction in the (annual) deficit since the beginning of his first term, President Obama has signed into law roughly $2.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction measures to take place over the coming decade. The well-respected Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has calculated that another $1.2 trillion in tax increases and spending cuts would stabilize total federal debt as a percentage of GDP at 73% over the latter part of this decade (well below the "magic" 100% debt/GDP ratio).

1-20-13 "Sunday evening: five shot to death in a New Mexico house.' In NM, a 15 year old killed his pastor father, mother, and 3 siblings. His pastor father had the guns for house protection, one being a AR15. NRA professes the need for house protection ignoring the in-house slaughters and suicides. What is the ratio of in house deaths to protection? , including suicides 10-1? Anyone who has a gun in his house that is not in a locked safe should be considered a fool and be libel for damages. That stance should be the goal of the culture change.

Luke --Thanks for the defense, but I was somewhat confused and confusing. The point is under Obama spending has gone down significantly. And, no, that won't solve the long-term debt problem. That will require higher tax rates or more revenue from more people (higher employment) or both.

Carlo --Yes, most Keynesians did predict that stimulus monies would result in more jobs and more taxes from the new workers. However, in this recession there is a lot of money on the sidelines that is not being invested. I don't doubt it's at least partly because the conservative economists keep saying that Keynes can't work, so they keep their capital idle. Big mistake. No, I don't remember where I read that about the money on the sidelines, but I've seen it said more than once.

Ann:ah, ok, it is the conservative economists' fault. That's reassuring.Luke Hill:thanks for the link. I was a bit concerned because the CBPP does not say what assumptions they are making about GDP growth. They seem to get their GDP estimates from a CBO document, and CBO document are often optimistic. Considering that the US economy may well go back into recession in 2013 (in spite of 4 trillions of federal deficit since Obama took office. But that was partly due to the fact that conservative economists convinced people to keep their money on the sidelines!), I am less optimistic.

Carlo --Isn't it a principle of supply=side economics that lowering taxes will produce more investments causing more production? And isn't a corollary of this that when there is money to be invested the money *will* be invested? (Otherwise, lowering taxes wouldn't cause more production.)What explanation do you have for why the money on the sidelines isn't being invested? Fear of risk? That is probably part of it too. (Today's capitalists aren't the most courageous risk-takers.)

Ann:I am not a fervent believer in supply side economics myself. People do not invest unless they hope to have some return on their investment. Right now they facea) a psychological barrier (people do not believe the economy will really take of under the present conditions)b) lack of demand in the economy due to excess debt. Prof. Krugman will tell you that the state can replace private demand through public spending. Austrian economists believe this will only lead misallocation of economic resources and to an artificial expansion that can will not produce any lasting growth. Choose whom you want to believe. Keep in mind that if Keynesian stimulus does not work, Prof. Krugman will always tell you that it was not big enough.

Carlo --I agree that Krugman sometimes sounds too optimistic. He sounds like he thinks some of his projections are all but bound to happen. If he were a thorough Keynesian, however, he'd admit that nothing is sure in economics. Oh he does admit that at times, but his expectations seem to belie that belief. On the other hand optimism in the face of uncertainty is part and parcel of the capitalist system -- capitalists are people who take risks knowing that they can lose and sometimes will, but have a bit of courage in spite of it. That's what I think is lacking in today's American capitalists -- the courage of their capitalist convictions. They're too chicken to invest in very unsure circumstances, so they blame the government for their woes. Not wise, not fair. It's their failue of nerve that's holding us back.It will be interesting to see what happens in Japan now that it has finally taken the plunge out of austerity. (Oh, lordy, what a horrible, horrible metaphor :-)

Ann:asking people to invest their money without a reasonable prospect of not losing it is asking a lot. As for Japan, I think it's going to blow. See

Carlo --There is "investment" and Investment. When one but safe, pre-owned stock in the stock market that technically is not Investment with a capital I. The latter is investing in new enterprses that have yet ot prove their value, and if you bite, you stand to lose your money. That sort of investment really pays off (when it does pay off), as it should because the risks for initial offerings are almost always greater.The latter sort of investment is what we need now -- especially in alternate energy since the whole future depends on it. But the current monied guys just ain't adventurous enough.

Ann:you are not listening. Even the boldest venture capitalists need to have some reasonable hope of recovering their investment. In the current economic conditions, an with the current government, many reasonable people feel that there is no such hope. That's just a fact.

Earlier, Frank Gibbon had written,Well, progressive and liberal Catholics could at least raise their voices against abortion as they with capital punishment and water boarding. Why not?And I had replied, "Indeed."... and now I stand corrected (and pleased), because Mollie has written an extremely thoughtful and sensitive post further up. Thank you for your witness.

Carlo --Let's consider alternative energy. Venture capitalists, if they were really the imaginative sort that a functioning capitalist system requires would see that supporting research in alternative energy would pay off long term. But few of them do.

"Venture capitalists, if they were really the imaginative sort that a functioning capitalist system requires would see that supporting research in alternative energy would pay off long term."The ones I've happened to run across in my travels through life haven't had very long time horizons.

Jim P. --I think you've hit on a sad characteristic of most of us these days -- the inability to look very far into the future. It's part of the hedonism of the times. :-( It's why we refuse to consider the dire warnings of the earth scientists and to consider the biologists who tell of the on-going development of new species of horrible diseases which are emerging because we have used too many anti-biotics too often. Yes, it's the unwillingness to take the Al Gores of this world as seriously as we need to. We have neither the interest nor the courage to face the next hundred years. But pity your grandchildren.A hundred years isn't all that long. I've already lived 82. Look ahead!!

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