President Obama’s debate flop has thrown the outcome of the 2012 election back into the who-can-say category, adding some near hysterical energy to the final weeks of the campaign. Just take a gander at Andrew Sullivan’s frustrated teardown of the president’s performance. Other Dem pundits are desperately seeking solace in increasingly arcane theories aimed at explaining the president’s apparent boredom with the whole thing in Denver. Was he afraid to appear the angry black man and scare off elderly white voters? Was he shocked into jaw-gaped silence by the silver-templed one’s audacious personality and policy makeover? Maybe it was altitude sickness?

Thursday’s debate was already notable since for the first time both candidates for the V.P. spot are Catholic, but as a result of the debate debacle, the winner-takes-all showdown tomorrow between the two candidates for vice president has gained a great deal more urgency. Romney has reclaimed the lead in the polls (which have suddenly become accurate again now that they are no longer giving Obama a 10 point advantage), and the Obama camp would love to stall his momentum with a good showing from Biden. Another apparent reversal by the Republican candidate on abortion today should help. His decision to try to capitalize on an alleged encounter in 2009? 2010? with Glen Doherty, one of the security team killed in Benghazi, could backfire also. Romney’s attempted homey-ness was deplored by Doherty’s mom.

Much credit for spiking the 2012 election rhetoric with a heady dose of Catholicism goes to G.O.P. candidate Paul Ryan. Ryan’s efforts to keep his Catholic cred after previous avowals of affection for scowly founder of the me generation Ayn Rand drew a lot of attention from Catholic academics and social justice wonks. Repeated use of scary Catholic terms like subsidiarty, the common good and solidarity in reviews of Ryan’s budget proposals had befuddled secular journalists thumbing through the Compendium of Catholic Social Teaching and offered the nation a somewhat haphazard intro to CST (here’s a better one!). Ryan ultimately claimed that Aquinas not Ayn Rand was his political guiding light, but his vigorous denials in the face of much evidence to the contrary, and his running mate’s recent fast and loose relationship with his own policy positions, have me wondering if the G.O.P. ticket reserves some philosophical love for a previous Republican administration’s intellectual heartthrob, Leo Strauss, and his fondness for elitist prevarications.

Meanwhile current V.P. Joe Biden has come to be perceived as something of the blunderbuss of American politics because of his frequent mispoketations on the campaign trail and a weakness for biker chicks who should know better. Mainstream media pundits will be lining up the mics and the cameras Thursday night in eager anticipation of the next blunder from said buss-er. The Obama campaign hopes he will disappoint and offer a sturdy, steady defense of the administration’s last four years without resorting to Gore-y sighs and grimaces.

In the build-up to the debates, a small parade of U.S. bishops have been active NOT!-endorsers of the Romney campaign and the Ryan budget, but in Newark Archbishop Myers raised the bar on episcopal authoritarianism by prohibiting Catholics who did not in their hearts endorse the church’s position on same-sex marriage from Communion. If opinion surveys are accurate this will soon mean very short wait-times at the Communion rail in Newark.

A few bishops likewise argue that a vote for a prochoice dem like Obama would be a moral impossibility for a Catholic. This is, of course, a controversy that revives regularly during presidential election seasons despite efforts by a fella named Ratzinger in 2004 and the bishops themselves in Faithful Citizenship to put it to rest. The church has said that Catholics should not be single-issue voters. In weighing all the reasons to vote for one person or the other they must make a prudential judgment about which candidate best reflects their values and policy beliefs. This can mean voting for a prochoice candidate as long as the vote is not cast as an explicit endorsement of that prochoice position.

All the same most Catholic Dems will no doubt struggle over a vote for this prochoice candidate, one many rationalize by pointing out that Republicans, with an eye on public sentiment, are unlikely to actually do something about abortion. (Romney’s recent turnabout of his turnabout on abortion suggests that they do not believe so without cause.) Some Catholics, like Catholic University's Steve Schneck, co-chair of Catholics for Obama, go further, though. Schneck argues that a vote for Obama is likely to mean fewer abortions in the United States because his policies will mean greater social supports for people who may be driven to “choose” abortion because of personal economics. Speaking during the Democratic Convention on a Democrats for Life panel, he called poverty “the most powerful abortifacient in America.” Schneck has been getting roasted by conservative and conservative Catholic bloggers because of that sentiment.

Not to be outdone by the bishops in NOT endorsing candidates, a group of Catholic theologians and academics have issued their own non-endorsement of the Democratic ticket. A lengthy dissection of Congressman Ryan’s beliefs and budget proposals, the “On All of Our Shoulders” letter (get it Atlas Shrugged fans?) is signed by more than 100 moral theologians, Catholic economists and scholars. Charles C. Camosy, assistant professor of theology at Fordham University, and one of the letters signees, says the campaign should not be seen as a plug for the Democrats. “The church’s broad social teaching transcends the narrow ideological agendas of either political party,” he says, “and we want to be absolutely clear that this statement was not circulated and released to support Democrats—a group which also finds itself seriously at odds with Catholic social teaching.”

Fair enough, but it’s hard to find much in the statement that isn’t a strong refutation of the Ryan budget and the political and social philosophies which presumably guide it. The “on all of our shoulders” academics write: "We do not question Paul Ryan's faith. We are concerned however, that defenders of Ryan have gone beyond highlighting the aspects of Catholic moral teaching with which his political positions are laudably consistent, to argue that his Ayn Rand ‘inspired’ individualist and anti-government vision and the policies they inform are themselves legitimately Catholic. They are not.”

According to the statement: “America is at a tipping point where the traditional commitment of our government to protecting and advancing the common good is in very real danger of being dismantled for generations. Members of the ‘Tea Party,’ libertarians, Ayn Rand followers and other proponents of small government have brought libertarian views of government into the mainstream; legitimating forms of social indifference. After decades of anti-government rhetoric and ‘starve the beast’ tax cuts, some even appear to exploit predictable fiscal problems to establish a privatized, libertarian order that reduces society to a collection of individuals and shrinks the common good to fit the outcomes achievable by private, for profit firms.”

The statement lists five principles of Catholic social doctrine that are “in danger of being forgotten or distorted”: that the Catholic view of the human person is social not individual; that government has an essential role to play in protecting and promoting the common good; that subsidiarity both limits government and demands that it act when local communities cannot solve problems on their own; that the "preferential option for the poor" demands both individual and collective action, including the acts of the state; and finally that economic forces must be included among any serious account of the threats to society and human dignity.

There’s a lot to digest in the statement, particularly if you want to do so before tomorrow night’s festivities begin, so read the rest here.

As the recently retired director of the U.S.C.C.B. peace, justice and human development office John Carr always said Catholics do not have a home in either party. That’s true enough, but not exactly helpful in the voting booth when faced with just the two choices. There are of course other options short of not voting at all, a write-in for Pennsylvania’s Sen. Bob Casey, for instance. Could this be the year that the mythological protest vote among Democratic Catholics fed up with their party’s prochoice celebrations and Republican Catholics who can’t abide policies that enrich the few and wound the many finally materializes?

Probably not. Don’t believe me? Just check out the comments below.

Comments

Tim O'Leary | 10/12/2012 - 9:38pm
Marie #25
thanks for taking the time to read what Ryan wrote.  While I don't agree with your interpretation, it is good to see you at least engage his positions. I think there is space for compromise in the details of how any economic path can get us out of this unprecedented hole Obama has put us in with the $16trillion debt. I just do not think, after 4 years observing this administration, that Obama is the right person to lead the reform. The very fact that we have not seen a budget put forward in 3 years is to me a sure sign of woeful incompetence or worse, indifference. I think it is time to give a new team, that has the energy, a chance to get the debt and deficit under control and get growth and jobs back.
Marie Rehbein | 10/12/2012 - 11:41am
"The federal government has the power to raise revenue so that it can effectively carry out those missions entrusted to it by its citizens.,  But when taxation is carried to injurious excess to fund activities outside the proper sphere of government, it not only harms the general welfare, but also suppresses revenue itself."
The above is the major premise behind the Ryan budget.  Ryan presumes there to be a "proper sphere of government", by which he means federal government, that is widely agreed upon.  However, there is a difference between Ryan and me (at least) as to the limits of that sphere.
The Republican position on the proper sphere of federal government is limited to those things that cannot be done by the states, I believe.  That something can be done better, to a higher standard, more uniformly or fairly, by the federal government is not a consideration.  This leaves national defense to the government, obviously, and the establishment of a common currency, but little more than that.
I think there is simply too much pettiness in state government and the closer one gets to the local level the more that increases. I think the guiding hand of the federal government has been a significant factor in making the United States united and enviable.  I dread having states that function as if they were independent nations held together in a federation similar to the European Union, and I believe that there is no reason whatsoever to conform to the nation's founders' practices of governing so long as what we do to meet the needs of our time does not violate the Constitution. 

PS I will respond in more detail to specific aspects of the budget as I go through it.
Marie Rehbein | 10/11/2012 - 11:46pm
Tim #20:

Thank you for the link to Ryan's budget.  

I do not have time at this moment to look at it so as to respond to the details.  However, I would like to let you know that my preference is to have national uniformity in the administration of benefits provided to US citizens and thus to have programs administered from the Federal level.  It simplifies living in the United States and moving from one state to another, which I have done many times.

I find it difficult to believe that administering things at a State level makes any appreciable difference to the expense, but I suspect that it will make benefits quite variable from state to state.  This, especially, causes me to favor "Obamacare" over the plans that Republicans proposed.

I think of myself as a citizen of this country, first.  I do not think of myself as a citizen of the state in which I happen to live, merely a resident.  I adjust myself to state laws, such as driver's licensing and auto registration, and that is complicated enough.

I do not share your fears about the deficit's future effects.  The economy is likely to recover, and this will generate additional revenues for the government, which will offset the current deficit.  By contrast, codifying that Medicaid gets capped at $800B in today's dollars at some time in the future is not a solution.  It presumes a static economy which has no basis in history.

You ask, "Isn’t the biggest problem with “third world countries” that they have unsound economic systems, rampant corruption of both business and government, and a permanent reliance on foreign aid or loans from the World Bank or other sources?"  Why do they have unsound economic systems?  I would say it's because they concentrate all the power and money in a few hands and have insufficient regulation and oversight of business and government functions.

In my opinion, our country's great success comes from the good intentions of its founders that declared everyone equal and free to pursue their visions and which put the government in the service of that ideal.  It's time to reassert that instead of letting those motivated by greed for power and money change our way of life.


 
J Cosgrove | 10/11/2012 - 4:19pm
''But there is a 40% chance the guy who replaces your heart valve will have been born out of wedlock. ''


Unlikely unless some things change dramatically.  There definitely will be some but the out of wedlock is very heavily skewed to the lower classes and while theoretically they have the opportunity to rise up, the reality is quite different.  Raising children is an arduous task and not often successful in a one parent household.  No one is preventing them from rising and the opportunities are available for all but the environment of single parent homes is devastating.  The dysfunctionality of single parent homes has caused widespread negative results in more ways than just monetary deprivation.  They are culturally and spiritually deprived as well and the traditional American ethic is not engrained in a large percentage of such families.  This is the real problem facing America.  Budgets in the future will be just side shows.


Read Charles Murray's Coming Apart as he discusses the difference amongst social classes in the US.  At the top in terms of education and income, the out of wedlock births are about 6% while at the bottom it is over 50%.  Education achievement also reflects this disparity and my guess is that more doctors will come from the well educated and thus likely grow up in a two parent household.


Most here are unaware of this phenomenon because most tend to be educated and religious though certainly not all and travel in similar circumstances.  Sociological processes have been at work in the US since the early 60's that has led to this.  it is not a recent phenomenon but one that has been playing out for almost 50 years.  


I find it ironic that the Jesuits seem completely oblivious to it.  They certainly work with the people of this class but I have not seen one thing by a Jesuit that reflects an understanding of the real processes at work.  They seem to be too entrenched in criticizing the wrong world view.  They have definitely chosen sides and it is like they have chosen the wrong side of history to support.


Tonight's debate will completely skirt the real problems of this country as we will probably watch an attempt at character assassination and just hope our side wins or survives which ever it may be.
Tim O'Leary | 10/11/2012 - 3:30pm
Marie #17
Is it your point that everything Ayn Rand said/wrote, in her critique of totalitarian and socialist governments is wrong? That is a test we would not use for Karl Marx in his critique of the consequences of industrialization.

You say “It's completely irresponsible to propose the kind of budget he has proposed expecting that self-interest will somehow lead people to take care of one another when the allocation of resources is uneven.”

How is this criticism in any way reflective of Paul Ryan’s actual budget, which is a much more gradual adjustment of the current system of federal-state entitlement programs, and certainly not a radical shift from what we are already doing? There seems to be a complete unwillingness by the critics of Paul Ryan to try to engage the details of his budget, and his ideas, in favor of broad brush mischaracterizations. Here is Ryan’s actual 99-page document.

The Safety Net is discussed on page 37, with the solutions on page 42. For Health and Retirement Security, go to 47, with the solutions on page 52. In no case, is there a cut to current benefits. Medicaid, Medicare and Food Stamps (SNAP) all grow. Here are two examples:

1. Medicaid began in 1966 with a budget of $400M. It grow 1000-fold to $400B today. It is projected by CBO to grow to $800B in 10 years. Ryan converts the federal component to block grants to the states, indexed for inflation and population, and caps the grants to the $800B (for 2023). This is a cut???

2. For Medicare, there is no change for those near retirement. Those under 55 will get options to increase choice, similar to the current program available to members of Congress. These will have competitive bidding options, and lower-income folks will get extra benefits. The proposal includes curbs on frivolous lawsuits, and other mechanisms to keep the costs down. Again, no cuts at all.

Similar reforms are made for Food Stamps (block grants) and Education grants (Pell, etc). So, all the cuts are projections inserted into the discussion by people who should know better. A Preferential Option for the Poor is not a Preferential Option for the State.

Isn’t the biggest problem with “third world countries” that they have unsound economic systems, rampant corruption of both business and government, and a permanent reliance on foreign aid or loans from the World Bank or other sources? A sure sign of a “banana republic” is unsustainable spending with no one responsible in charge to balance the books and ensure the longevity of societal support structures – or in other words, what America will become if the finances are not fixed.
 
Amy Ho-Ohn | 10/11/2012 - 2:57pm
"This is classic.  So the way to reduce abortion is to pay poor women to have more children.  Gotcha.  I'm going to mention in every one of my posts from here forward that there is a 40% illegitmacy rate in this country."

Pregnancy, childbirth and childcare are arduous, dangerous, exhausting work. (If your mother told you bearing and raising you were an unmitigated delight, she was lying.) Every human child is an immeasurable benefit to society. Providing support to mothers while they raise children is at least as good an investment as paying workers to build roads and bridges.

Nobody says a single-parent home is usually ideal. But there is a 40% chance the guy who replaces your heart valve will have been born out of wedlock. Are you sure you don't care whether he grows up healthy and literate?
Mike Brooks | 10/11/2012 - 11:32am
"...[A] vote for Obama is likely to mean fewer abortions in the United States because his policies will mean greater social supports for people who may be driven to “choose” abortion because of personal economics."

This is classic.  So the way to reduce abortion is to pay poor women to have more children.  Gotcha.  I'm going to mention in every one of my posts from here forward that there is a 40% illegitmacy rate in this country and a 70% illegitimacy rate in the African American community.  That translates into more children raised without a father in the household, more poverty of single women, and more child poverty.  That is morally reprehensible.

Unwanted pregnancy is a very preventable condition, along with its companion conditions of syphilis, gonnorhea, herpes, hpv, HIV/AIDS, and hundreds of other sexually transmitted diseases.  And the prevention is free.  I'd like to hear one of these Catholic VP candidates mention this fact.
Joshua DeCuir | 10/11/2012 - 11:10am
"On the other hand, Ryan has endorsed Rand, spoken at at least one Rand-themed conference, and had his staff read her work. He's trying to put some light between himself & Rand now because of the election."

I love the arguments about Ryan: on the one hand, we are told, he is a devoted apostle of Rand, ready & willing to throw the poor out on their backs, eviscerate any social safety nets, and re-direct even more wealth to the 1%, BUT at the same time he's also the reason we have out of control spending & waste!

The fact remains that, whatever Ryan's beliefs, I see one ticket running as quickly to the center as it can get, while the other one is running as quickly to its left base as it can. 
J Cosgrove | 10/11/2012 - 11:05am
This is getting a little bit away from the topic because it is about Biden and Ryan but there is some very close associations of Obama with communists.  This does not make him a Marxist or communist but during his formation he chose to associate with some hard core communists.  Two are Alice Palmer and Frank Marshall Davis.  There are others but these two were very close ones to Obama.
Vince Killoran | 10/11/2012 - 10:28am
You couldn't resist the "guilt by association" angle could you? To be clear: BO never made public statements or made his staff read the work of Marx.  He never endorsed Marx's theories or approaches.  I wished he had because I don't like Obama's neoliberalism.

On the other hand, Ryan has endorsed Rand, spoken at at least one Rand-themed conference, and had his staff read her work. He's trying to put some light between himself & Rand now because of the election.

The Ryan-Rand affinity is mentioned alot because it is true.  And it shows in Ryan's policy proposals and legislative initiatives.
Vince Killoran | 10/12/2012 - 1:23pm
"The Founders had a different county in mind to the one you desire."

Oh, you mean a largely agrarian society that worked along the lines of the old master-servant legal system?

The "original intent" of the Founders was that there would be no "original intent."

As for Ryan & his "details": one of the reasons it's difficult to engage with his figures is that he doesn't have many.  His plan is a jerry-rigged, trickle-down hope & a prayer. That was confirmed in last night's debate. 
Tim O'Leary | 10/11/2012 - 10:11am
Vince #9
Obama is not a Marxist and Ryan is not a Randian. I do not subscribe to either claim. I just find the obligatory inclusion of Ayn Rand into every critique of Ryan on this site as humorous as the Marxist connection from Obama's critiques (like here http://obamaism.blogspot.com/). Ryan finds much of the Randian critique of socialist governments convincing, even as he strongly rejects the atheism and amorality of Ayn Rand. Obama, in his ''Dreams of My Father,'' relates the Marxist socialism milieu of his parents and his student years (the Marxist professors he sought company with –p.100-101) and he sought out Rev. Wright (was married by him, called him his spiritual mentor, etc.) and stayed in his Trinity United Church for 17 years. I am sure if Paul Ryan went to a church with a Randian minister for many years, you might find that revealing.
Marie Rehbein | 10/12/2012 - 12:55pm
Here is the rest of my reaction to the Ryan budget document, Tim.


"There is an emerging consensus...that...supports bold reforms that bring Americans together to build upon the solid foundations of security and liberty that have make this nation exceptional:  military...free enterprise system... safety net...health and retirement programs...tax code...budget process...."
1. He says military gets to spend whatever it says it needs to spend.  In my opinion, the limited number of companies that produce the big ticket items that the military purchases mandates spending limits as an inducement to control their costs and operate efficiently.
2. He says there is too much bureaucracy, too little rule of law, too much cronyism and corporate welfare affecting the free enterprise system at this time.  Looking back at military spending I think of Halliburton in terms of cronyism, the oil company subsidies in terms of corporate welfare, the lack of regulation in financial sector in terms of too little rule of law.  He does not explain how bureaucracy can be reduced when the effort is made to identify and root out cronyism and corporate welfare to establish greater rule of law.
3. He says that the current safety net does not direct assistance to those who need it most.  He says it does not provide sufficient incentives to work and save.  He says that programs aimed at job training and helping Americans get back on their feet are weak. I believe he is incorrect in equating the pressure on our safety net in these economic times with ineffectiveness of the safety net.  In my opinion the fact that our economy did not collapse is evidence that the safety is quite effective.
4. He asserts that health and retirement programs will experience sharp disruptions as a result of the President's policies.  He claims that he will protect key commitments to seniors, providing them with greater choices, better health, and real security for generations to come.  The initial assertion is extremely speculative, and the assumption that seniors want choices is unfounded.  Better health can only be achieved by providing health care throughout a person's lifetime, which the President's policies aim to provide.  Asserting that greater security will result is salesmanship.
4. He says the tax code limits growth and job creation because rates are higher than he would have them be.  He believes that loopholes benefit the politically well-connected, distort economic growth, and encode unfairness in tax law. 
I think the economy does respond to the tax code - unnecessarily.  I am sure we all know people who believe that the tax deduction for mortgage interest, for example, justifies the cost of holding a mortgage when, in fact, the family finances would be much better served by paying off the mortgage asap and paying the extra tax each year.  But, we might not all know that some people built their wealth exploiting this deduction; in effect using the tax deduction to make the acquisition of multiple properties affordable for themselves and building their wealth this way.

Some people, every time their properties increased in value on paper went to the bank and cashed in that equity and used it to buy another property, building their debt while building their wealth and avoiding income tax by way of deducting the interest they paid on this debt.  This was a major contributing factor to the real estate crisis and resulting economic crisis worldwide. 

Furthermore, the federal income tax pays no regard to the variances in cost of living from region to region within the US even though it is graduated, but the Ryan budget does not concern itself with this issue, and yet this issue is probably the biggest cause of the average citizen clinging to his or her biggest deduction - mortgage interest - and clinging to the practice of claiming deductions, which is the gateway to loopholes.  In my opinion, he correctly identifies loopholes as disproportionately favoring the top 1% of incomes.
5. He says the budget process must restrain government spending and restore certainty by forcing policymakers to provide solutions for the nation's fiscal future.  It seems this is code talk for establishing a system that takes the matter out of the hands of politicians, leaving us with a product much like the automated spending cuts looming if a new budget is not passed in time.  In my opinion, this prevents government from being responsive to the needs of the day.  It is unfortunate that even this toxic pill does not result in bipartisan cooperation in Congress.
6. Overall, I would say the Ryan budget document is extremely partisan and political, overlooking the impact of expenditures favored by Republicans and blaming all expenditures favored by Democrats for our economic woes.  This is not an intellectual analysis of the US economy, and the proposals for change contained therein are simply another way of doing things and not likely to be better than the current system.
With better regulation of banking and trading and more accountability for war spending we might not have found ourselves in our current economic situation, and to use this economic situation as a reason to radically change our way of life appears exploitive even if Mr. Ryan is sincere.

Thanks to anyone who took the time to read what I have written here.
Tim O'Leary | 10/12/2012 - 9:47am
Marie #22
I have 3 quick responses.
1. The Founders had a different county in mind to the one you desire. You would have to change the constitution (10th Amendment) to get national uniformity of benefits, for even today's entitlements have heavy State involvement. Secondly, if you force uniformity of benefits, those in states with higher costs of living and higher taxes will be disadvantaged.
2. As regards Medicaid, it is not a final cap, but a cap in time. It is indexed to inflation and population growth. It is projected to hit $800B at 2023.
3. We cannot grow fast enough to pay down the debt with the current policies and trajectory. This will hurt the most disadvantaged and to me is the most immoral thing the country is doing at the government level (apart from its aboriton policy).

But it is heartening to me that you are actually dealing with the details, as so few of Ryan's critics have done that so far.
John Barbieri | 10/11/2012 - 9:18am
To Amy Ho-Ohn @ #8:
 
Thank you for injecting both sanity and good humor into this too serious discussion about two ''singers'' in a little more ... no, less... than comic opera!  
Tim O'Leary | 10/11/2012 - 6:24pm
Amy says (#19): ''Every human child is an immeasurable benefit to society. Providing support to mothers while they raise children is at least as good an investment as paying workers to build roads and bridges.''

I agree completely with this statement. We need to support the education, health and development of all God's children, both because it is our moral obligation and because it is essential for the common good. The Catholic principle of Solidarity rules here, as does our Preferential Option for the Poor. I do not agree with weakening the supports for these kids, who are beginning life more vulnerable than those with a father and a mother. By the way, I see no evidence that this support is weakened in Paul Ryan’s budget.

But, we have to be smarter with how we deliver aid to the poor and their kids. Catholics also are guided by the Principle of Subsidiarity, which could be rephrased as a Preferential Option against the State. This is because we accept the necessity of teaching self-reliance, independence and personal responsibility, all within a strong moral framework. The government is a very blunt instrument, and typically the worst way to provide aid at the local level. Its biggest limitation is its inability to provide aid within a moral framework, such as encouraging (incentivising) sexual continence, marriage, fidelity and monogamy. We need to find ways for aid to pass through intermediary structures, especially those that have a strong moral principle driving their work (mostly religious organizations but some secular NGOs as well).

However, the increasingly secular bent of government (esp. this administration) and the courts means that a form of religious test is being applied to these intermediary organizations. So, a Catholic adoption agency is squeezed out of the network of adoption agencies because it has a religious objection to equating cohabiting heterosexual couples or even homosexual couples with the ideal of married heterosexual couples. Also, our public schools, over the years have had all moral authority sucked out of them because of legal challenges, and cost more and more while providing less and less. And now Obamacare is trying to do the same to hospitals.

The Catholic solution to these problems is a more humble and limited government, who gets out of the way, and encourages (using tax breaks, subsidies, state grants, NGO grants, school choice vouchers, etc) aid to go directly from citizens to the morally-driven intermediaries. I think the Romney/Ryan team is more likely to understand this, because they seem to know the limits of government and because of their personal (Mormon and Catholic) experiences within their faith communities.
Vince Killoran | 10/11/2012 - 8:43am
Tim at #1: "I suggest that when Ayn Rand is mentioned, that Karl Marx is also mentioned for the other side, And Atlas Shrugged matched with Das Kapital. Just for balance?"

That's silly. Unless, of course, you can find Obama speaking at a conference of Marxists and endorsing Marx's work, chapter & verse (and evidence that he makes his staff read Das Kapital). That's what Ryan did for Rand. 

Since this is Tim's claim I should be clear-please provide actual evidence of BO speaking at an real conference of Marxists and endorsing by name & title Marx's work.  Vague, inaccurate assertions (e.g., Obama wants to tax the rich therefore he is a fan of "the German Ideology") and attempts to link him to a "friend who knows a friend who knows a marxist" is not the same thing.

BO is a neoliberal, not a marxist.
Marie Rehbein | 10/11/2012 - 12:04pm
The problem with Ryan is not that he is associated with Ayn Rand.  The problem is that Ayn Rand's ideas are wrong.  They are hypothetical and pseudo-spiritual.  How can anyone really believe that everything will work itself out if self-interest predominates economic interactions and then want to make public policy out of it?  This is a very creepy social experiment. 

Looking at this at the level of species survival maybe it looks OK, but at the level of the individual there are many tragedies as we have seen.  Do not forget that Alan Greenspan was a devotee of Ayn Rand and that this led to lots of deregulation the fruits of which we have been harvesting in recent years.

Ryan may not embrace the full sum of Rand's vision, but even if he is only inspired by it, he is likely to be dangerous to the ordinary citizen.  It's completely irresponsible to propose the kind of budget he has proposed expecting that self-interest will somehow lead people to take care of one another when the allocation of resources is uneven.

Isn't the problem with third world countries that they do not allocate resources among the populace but concentrate them in the hands of those in power?  Is that really the kind of nation we want the United States to become?
Amy Ho-Ohn | 10/11/2012 - 7:12am
Thanks for the link, JR.

There are a lot of signatures on this document, including some heavy hitters. But several bishops have already said Ryan's policy recommendations do not contradict the principles of CST. I must admit I'm a bit suspicious that craftiness may be overcoming prudence when Democrats conclude the Republican nominee's policies are not moral and Republicans conclude they are. (I think it is non-controversial to say that most professors are Democrats and most bishops are Republicans.)

I'm not too impressed that the document confines itself to criticizing Ryan's proposals. Like they say in show business, anybody can be a critic; performing is hard. Obviously, theologians are not expected to understand economics. But just saying "We demand that government programs ensure that everybody's needs are provided for" is kind of like saying "We demand that airplane designers make airplanes that never crash and can fly without burning fuel."

And fundamentally I don't care about Biden's and Ryan's Catholicism. If a candidate has worthwhile policy goals, good ideas and the ability to implement them, he can be a Raëlian for all I care, I'll vote for him anyway. Andd if he's a posturing idiot, I wouldn't vote for him even if he were a canonized saint.

David Smith | 10/11/2012 - 2:29am
These blogs harp on ideology, but I'll bet most voters don't care a fig about ideology. They're hurting economically, and they want to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
J Cosgrove | 10/11/2012 - 6:43am
'' and the Obama camp would love to stall his momentum with a good showing from Biden.''


People do not know the history of Joe Biden.  He has been the Democratic Party character assassin since the early 1980's.  First on the foreign relations committee and then as head of judiciary committee.  As an example of his methods of character assassin look to how he approached the nomination of Bill Clark as Secretary of State in 1981.


http://spectator.org/archives/2012/10/10/old-smirkin-joe


Biden became head of the Senate Judiciary committee in in 1987.  Prior to Biden the most recent nomination for the Supreme Court was Scalia.  He passed the senate with an unanimous vote.  But under Biden the supreme court nomination process took a different turn with Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas.  We now have a term, ''borking'', to describe a process of personal assassination as a result of Biden.


So the Democratic Party hopes tonight do not lie on debunking Ryan's policies but in the hope that Joe can bork him. 


http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/politics/2012/10/6538061/romney-bundler-beware-bork-ing-paul-ryan 


 The Biden farce will continue and the most interesting thing tonight will not be the future of the nation based on whose policies are better but will Ryan survive a ''borking.''
Joshua DeCuir | 10/10/2012 - 9:20pm
"All the same most Catholic Dems will no doubt struggle over a vote for this prochoice candidate, one many rationalize by pointing out that Republicans, with an eye on public sentiment, are unlikely to actually do something about abortion. (Romney’s recent turnabout of his turnabout on abortion suggests that they do not believe so without cause.) Some Catholics, like Catholic University's Steve Schneck, co-chair of Catholics for Obama, go further, though. Schneck argues that a vote for Obama is likely to mean fewer abortions in the United States because his policies will mean greater social supports for people who may be driven to “choose” abortion because of personal economics."

Interesting comment given the recent Democratic Convention, which even Coke Roberts criticized as the most "pro-abortion" in history.  Also just saw Pres. Obama's interview with Diane Sawyer where he, of course, criticizes Romney's "radical" views on what he calls "women's right to control their health care decisions".  Yet another election where the Democratic Party tosses pro-life Democrats over the side of the boat to win.

 
David Smith | 10/11/2012 - 2:35am
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Josh (#2):

Interesting comment given the recent Democratic Convention, which even Coke Roberts criticized as the most ''pro-abortion'' in history.  Also just saw Pres. Obama's interview with Diane Sawyer where he, of course, criticizes Romney's ''radical'' views on what he calls ''women's right to control their health care decisions''.  Yet another election where the Democratic Party tosses pro-life Democrats over the side of the boat to win.
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Saw a billboard the other night in Columbus, Ohio:  ''Obama believes in abortion and gay marriage.  Do you?''

Ouch.

J Cosgrove | 10/11/2012 - 12:01am
The link to the ''On All of Our Shoulders'' is here

http://www.onourshoulders.org/


Nowhere in this document does it actually analyze what the Ryan Budget does in the context of historical spending on the poor.   It makes various assertions but presents no numbers, especially comparing Ryan's numbers to traditional expenditures.  It would be nice if someone who challenged the Ryan budget did this.  Until that is done the argument against Ryan's budget is just rhetoric and nothing else.  Maybe there is a valid case to be made but I have not seen anyone here or anywhere else make it.  So until the case is made, the argument against Paul Ryan based on his budget is a ''strawman'' argument.  That is a false argument.  Maybe it isn't but at the moment it is until the analysis is done.  It is curious why no one presents actual numbers.


As far as Ayn Rand's philosophy, there are many aspects to it and much I personally find extremely unacceptable.  But there are some that ring very true to me and I suspect it is the same thing that rings true to Paul Ryan.  Namely, from Wikipedia


''Rand's political philosophy emphasized individual rights (including property rights), and she considered laissez-faire capitalism the only moral social system because in her view it was the only system based on the protection of those rights. She opposed statism, which she understood to include theocracyabsolute monarchyNazismfascismcommunismdemocratic socialism, and dictatorship.  Rand believed that rights should be enforced by a constitutionally limited government.- and held that the initiation of force was evil and irrational''


She also apparently based a lot of her ideas on those of Aristotle and Aquinas.  So is it possible to believe that some of Ayn Rand's ideas are desirable as a Catholic.  In the paragraph above I found some of her ideas completely compatible with any teaching I have had in my 16 years of Catholic education.  And before anyone starts with an attack on laissez-faire capitalism, I have not seen anyone on this site that really understands it.  When someone attacks capitalism it is usually most definitely not laissez-faire capitalism which is based on transactions between two or more parties, all of which are mutually desired and considered free from coercion.  It is the only economic system free from coercion in transactions and is the most morally acceptable way to distribute economic wealth in society and has a definite place for government in such a scheme.  If one knows of a better one than I would love to know what it is.  People are frequent critics but no one seems to be able to find a better system.  For example, Marx wrote thousands of pages criticizing capitalism but only 6 pages on what should be done to replace it.


So as I said, the arguments against Paul Ryan are strawman arguments.  It would be nice to see some accuracy by those who criticize him.  And those Catholic theologians who criticize him and propose a so called option for the poor, should look at what government programs have done for the poor in the last 50 years.  They have devastated the poor and created a much larger underclass than before these programs were established.  That is what these moral theologians should be looking at.


Tom Maher | 10/11/2012 - 12:23pm
The Obama campaign is extreemly disadvantaged by direct opposition challenge of a debate.  Charels Krauthammer pointed out the other day that 100 million dollars of Obama campaigns advertising against Romney was wiped out in the 90 minute minute debate where for the first time Romney speke directly for himself and directly and vigorously refuted President Obama gneral class warfare and pro-goverenment theme.  

One of the classic monment in the debate was the refutation of Obama asdsertion that businesses ( and those other people with money) receive tax deductions and credits for shipping jobs overseas.   Romeny pounced on the President saying he was in business for 25 years and never heard of any such tax advantage.  Romney said sarcastically that he would have to get a new accountant. And then said "I do not know what your are talking about".  Obama in debate before 60 million viewers was called out by Romney for not knowing what he was talking about on important tax,  fiscal, economic and employment  matters.

Ryan will go even further.   Ryan will not only refute the wild assertions of Obama campaign as Romeny did but will go on the attack on economics and fiscal policy. 

Also Paul Ryan has observed in the last two weeks the Obama Middle East policy is collapsing before our eyes.  The 9/11 attack in Libya  killing the U.S. Ambassador and others and destroying the American consulate shows the adminsitration has failed to recognize and deal with the continued lethal threat of international terrorism.

Yesterday's House hearings showed the 9/11 attack in Libya was indeed a well planned and executed terrorist attack which the  U.S. was totally unprepared for.  It also showed the Obama administattion misinform and covered up the fact that the attack was deliberate terrorist when the knew from tha outset otherwise.  Ryan like Romney will make the Obama admisostration accountable for its failed foreign policy.
Tim O'Leary | 10/10/2012 - 5:17pm
I suggest that when Ayn Rand is mentioned, that Karl Marx is also mentioned for the other side, And Atlas Shrugged matched with Das Kapital. Just for balance?

On Biden's gaffes, here is Time Magazine's top ten: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,1895156,00.html

Here's my favorite.  
“How they can justify — how they can justify raising taxes on the middle class that’s been buried the last four years.”
 
 
Amy Ho-Ohn | 10/10/2012 - 10:21pm
Is that link to the "On Our Shoulders" statement right?