Wednesday, August 8, 2007

My Own Development (and Some Comments on Rush Limbaugh)

Bulletin on Rachel Booth (the 13-year-old-girl charged with killing her father, who apparently abused her in a sickening way). Today, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said the following: "A juvenile court judge will decide whether Rachel Booth, 13, was justified in the fatal shooting July 30 of her father in their Elizabeth Township [outside Pittsburgh] home, a Common Pleas judge ruled yesterday. In a rare occurrence, a defense attorney and prosecutor stood together arguing that Rachel and society would be better served by placing her in a judicial system designed to rehabilitate children like her who are charged with adult crimes." Thank goodness!

My Own Development (And Some Comments on Rush Limbaugh)

Larry from Houston wrote about his views, pro- and con, regarding Rush Limbaugh and has talked about some of his spiritual/intellectual development. I responded as follows:

When I was in Vermont from 91-93, during the time my wife had her stroke and was recovering, I listened to Rush Limbaugh on the car radio nearly every day. After that, when we returned to the Pittsburgh area, I heard him fairly often, but then it got harder to find on local radio. I hear him from time-to-time now and am glad he's on.

On the negative side, he suggests he's an expert on the environment and climate change, which he's not and on immigration, where he's extremely short-sighted. He does NOT look at life from a spiritual perspective, and that is a big problem on an issue like immigration.

The entertainer side of him relies too much on slogans and stereotypes, with terms like "environmental whackos" and "Femi-Nazis." In intelligent discussion, we shouldn't pretend those who strongly disagree with us are necessarily extremists. We should point out exactly why we disagree with others on their on ideas and plans of action. Caricatures don't make for good discussions.

In Rush's case, I don't hold the numerous marriages or the pain-killer problems against him. Some people just aren't good at marriage and many people have pain-killer issues (including my hero, William Rehnquist). I'm a "play with pain" type, but I've never been in severe, continuing pain (as happens with back problems).

What Rush offers is some of the REAL diversity the country needs, diversity of opinion. He's very creative when it comes to tackling issues, even if he has a tendency to go overboard.

Occasionally, I get attacked (by Townhall.com types) as "not a conservative" because I don't disparage illegal immigrants and because I tend toward alternate solutions (on abortion and other matters) when problems aren't getting solved. My general question is: "What can we do to make things better?" For example, some Catholic (parochial) schools are filled with non-Catholics (usually Blacks) because they offer a more-disciplined, learning-intensive education to inner-city kids, and that's fine with me.

I believe strongly in faith-based initiatives, as long as the people carrying them out realize what their responsibilities are (and aren't).

I'm more of a spiritual and political traditionalist in the sense that I believe it truly is "easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." I don't believe at all in "get-thee-rich" form of evangelism, which conflicts with basic Christian teachings. I'm not against people making money, as long as they don't lose their immortal souls in the process.

The biggest influence on me was conservative scholar (and my friend) Russell Kirk, who wrote The Conservative Mind. A traditionalist, he was often in conflict with the more libertarian conservatives such as Frank Meyer --- who, like Kirk, was a fixture at the National Review in the old days.

The greatest enduring influences on me were the Sisters of Mercy (Catholic nuns) who taught me and others so well and lovingly at St. Salome's School in suburban Rochester. I'm also influenced by my friends in elementary and high school, MANY of whom served in the military and a number of whom died in Viet Nam.

I was affected later by my education at the University of Rochester, which emphasized the significance of ideas (liberal ones and conservative ones) in the development of Western society.

The professors who influenced me didn't fit into categories. One famous professor from the old days, Eugene Genovese, authored Roll Jordan, Roll and other important books. He was condemned by Nixon as a Marxist, but later he became, along with his wife Kitty, an ardent Catholic. That was not regarded as odd at the University of Rochester (unlike some other schools) because "ideas at the margin" were regarded as more likely to be true.

After my time at the University, what later became known as "political correctness" (one of several terms I almost never use) became more influential there, unfortunately.

In my college days and after, I was touched (long ago, but the influence continues) by the writings of Sigmund Freud, C. G. Jung, and Franz Kafka. I was never a systematic follower of any of them, but I thought they had some great insights into life, and I was comfortable with their "literary" approach to reality, as in Freud's use of Sophocles' concepts about Oedipus and Jung's identification of "archetypes" that have existed throughout history.


Politically, growing up in western New York, especially my time in Rochester, had an effect on me. It was one of the more "conservative" areas in the country in terms of its emphasis on families, religious faith (mostly Catholic), low taxes, and limited government. Mary Grabar, who writes for Townhall, is also from Rochester and reflects themes in her writing that resemble some of mine. That's also true of Fred Eckert, who writes occasionally in the Washington Times and was an influential political figure in western New York.

A modern figure whom I look to for guidance is Niall Ferguson, a Scot and economic historian at Harvard, Oxford, and Stanford's Hoover Institution. He's authored Colossus (about the American Empire), Empire (about Britain), The Cash Nexus (about the money in history), and recently The World of War. His view of Iraq -- a very uncommon one at Harvard -- is that we should be there but we should have learned more from the British experience in Egypt and elsewhere. For about 70 years, the British occupiers of Egypt kept promising that they would be leaving soon, but they had their fingers crossed and never did.

Intellectually, Ferguson is an overpowering figure. He reminds me of Eugene Genovese (plus), although I don't think Niall is considering Catholicism (however, you never know). Amazingly, I e-mailed him some material about Sarah Palin -- it might have been by accicent -- and he was very interested. Apparently, he's intrigued by almost everything that happens! He's "conservative" in the sense that he's fascinated with the way the world really works, as opposed to the way people wish it did.

I'm almost militantly pro-military. Two of my St. Salome's classmates in the 101st Airborne (Sandy Petromalo and Beaver Becker) were killed in Viet Nam and my best friend, Ronnie Gartz, was in the 82d Airborne -- he returned home safely. Two friends from high school, Peter Domiano and Tom Cartwright, were Marine officers killed in Viet Nam. I assure you a week doesn't go by when I don't think of these people (and others, sadly, who died or were badly injured). The attitudes these individuals had toward the military and their country would be incomprehensible to a Barack Obama, a John Kerry. or a John Murtha, who are much more self-centered and opportunistic).

I believe self-serving liberals in the U.S. (and elsewhere) have betrayed American soldiers, first in Viet Nam and now in Iraq/Afghanistan. It exasperates me. However, some of the criticism of the CONDUCT of the war is on target.

I have two young friends from this area currently serving with the Marines in Iraq. Both have spent a lot of time in Al Anbar province. I pray they'll both be okay, but in the most profound sense they'll both always be "okay."


Stephen R. Maloney

Ambridge, PA

7 comments:

matt said...

This is Statesman from Sense In Politics. I appreciate your blog posting last week on my article "Crunchy Con."

I have been aware of Gov. Palin even before she was elected. I recognized that she is a rising star, but I thought she would eventually shine in the Senate or become a Cabinet member. But your pitch to make her the Veep is attractive.

I read your blog posts, and wholeheartedly agree with you. I am a Huckabee supporter in Washington State, but I don't think it'll be the end of the world if he doesn't get in. I mostly support him because of his support of the FairTax. I could probably vote for Giuliani or Romney, because my definition of what a conservative is is different from what a lot of others believe.

Your posting on Roe v. Wade is spot on. I have been thinking that for some time now. Overturning it won't make abortion illegal, but would throw the issue to the states where it belongs. Mayor Giuliani's view on adoption is viable and something I personally held to for a long time.

I, too, believe that the Democrats are practical. We in the conservative movement need to be,too. We have been willing to lose an election standing on our principles. That's all well and good, but President Reagan was right that it is only academic if you don't win elections. You need to communicate the message effectively and people will respond to it. I think they like true mavericks like Palin and Huckabee because they don't fit the mold we have of angry, stereotyped conservatives. They are willing to stand against the party "wise men" when needed.

Frankly, we need fresh faces and fresh ideas in the GOP to be attractive to voters. It keeps us honest and forces us to get out of the comfortable status quo.

You have really struck a chord here with me, and I look forward to seeing more posts like the one above.

Matt (aka "Statesman")

Larry Perrault said...

matt:

I just posted a response to discussion about Huckabee and The Fair Tax at http://larryperrault.blogspot.com

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Matt, very nice to hear from you. Sanity102 who disagree with me some on Roe is a friend and I hate to go against her because she's persistent and just such a good human being. I appreciate your comments. I have been impressed with Rudy for a long time. Having principles is important, but not winning elections truly does mean those principles are academic. Can I list you as a Palin fan? Yes, Sarah is young, but maybe she's young enough actually to get some things done rather than just participate in the D.C. "food fight." Please come back. Larry, who commented after you, is a very thoughtful person with a distinctive point of view. The "fair tax" is a good idea and has a great name (sounds like a Frank Luntz idea) but it hasn't been framed yet in a way that it can be sold in Congress. It has to be linked with something like a big child care deduction. "Sweet and sour" sells in Chinese restaurants and politics.

Larry Perrault said...

"Having principles is important, but not winning elections truly does mean those principles are academic."

Steve, I simply don't believe that. If you believe in truth, its worthy of holding up, no matter how people accept it. Doing so is a RESPONSIBILITY, lest the idea be lost.

In the NT, they said to speak the truth and if it isn't accepted, "...shake the dust off your feet" and go on.

Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan's stands for principles in 1964, wasn't academic, even though they lost by a landslide. That was the foundation stone of Reagan's '80 victory.

The Fair Tax will be "sold" to bribed and tax-manipulating Congress only with a political muzzle-loader, right down the gullet.

James H said...

What a great series of post you have done the last severral days. I am going to link them and try to interact with them maybe tommorow or Friday.

As to your last several post some thoughts

On immigration you are right. THe hardliners are wrong and so is the delete the border crowd. I am a big conservative and republican. However there is no way I can reconcile a Tancredo approach to my Catholic faith for various reasons. People talk about how God judges nations. I do think with all my heart that he will judge us on how we handle that issue. There is a sensible middle ground here

Related is your observation about a Hillary/Richardson ticket. I agree and that ticket frightens me. If the main gopers stay hardline on the issue we will LOSE Florida, NEvada and perhaps Colorado. IT will also put other States into play.I wish people would take a look at the uptick in voter registrations in Florida and Nevada. IT is mostly hispanic. So far I am seeing no one raise any alarm bells. ALL I am hearing is that the 40 percent Bush got is not a 50.1 so who cares. Boy we could find out soon enough.

On abortion you are right. I do think the best we can hop for is it to go back to the states. Then we carry on the battle. However there is no doubt in my mind I will vote for Gulliani in a New York Minute over Hillary. Also it hink some people need to realize that the GOP can't just say to the moderate wing of the party if you win we are taking our toys and staying home. That will be a disaster in the long run and do a lot of damage to the pro-life movement.What will kill Gulliani is not Abortion especially in the SOuth. It will not be his view on other social issues. It will the gun issue. SOmething the media is not aware of. A PRO GUN CONTROL GOP NOMINEE? The NRA will spend every last dime to make sure that will not happen and their voters will get to the polls.

As to Rush I agree. I have to admit Sean Hannity has quickly become one of my non favorites. He sort of soured me on how he handled the Dubai POrt controversy and some other matters.

matt said...

Stephen, I'd be honored to be on a the roll of fans for Palin.

I'd like to say to Larry, we're all in the same boat here. We just disagree with the methods of how to go about doing it.

About your "shaking the dust from your feet" comment. Jesus also said to speak the truth in love. We can give people the choice to accept the truth or not. It is not our place to ram it down their throats and force the truth on them. Remember the Crusades? It's because of our deeds done in the name of Christ that there is continuing animosity to this day against the Christian religion in the Middle East. We can come down as the arm of the Lord in the name of the Lord, but I don't think the Lord is too pleased with his servants when they do this.

I'm speaking as one Christian to another. We can stand on truth and speak the truth and not be angry at people when they transgress. There is a time and a place for fire and brimstone, and there is a time for exhortation and God's grace. We just need discernment from above to know when it's the right time to do either.

Matt

Stephen R. Maloney said...

I'm really touched by the comments on here by Larry, a Southern Baptist; James H., a Roman Catholic; and Matt, whose particular church I don't know (but it must be a very good one!). I hope everyone will visit the various blogs represented: http://larryperrault.blogspot.com/, James's http://opinionatedcatholic.blogspot.com/ and matt's http://senseinpolitics.blogspot.com/ All these people are strongly supportive of Mike Huckabee and all of them like Sarah Palin. One of the most impressive things about the Huckabee campaign is the quality of people supporting him -- a group that also includes Kerry (onemom. wordpress.com/) and D. Roman (themaritimesentry). These are fine people of diverse backgrounds and with different views on some of the issues facing the nation. I mentioned to several people that one individual (Christopher), who is NOT backing Huckabee wrote a column recently noting that Mike in fact won the recent debate (big-time)! I probably will say something specific about the comments later, but they are excellent. One point I noted early about James is that he is religiously idealistic but also very aware of the practical elements in politics. Thanks everybody.