Sunday, October 22, 2017

Concerned Monsignor is Concerned

California red-legged frog, via Amphibian Facts.

Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, is Very Concerned about the increasing radicalization of the Democratic Party, which has lurched violently to the left on issues such as abortion and immigration:

Consider recent developments in the state of Alabama, where the Republican Party has nominated a Senate candidate manifestly unfit for office, a bigot hostile to the rule of law and entranced with authoritarianism.
And who have the Democrats put up against him? An accomplished former prosecutor, the very model of a mainstream Democrat — and a man who told an interviewer after his nomination that he favors legal abortion, without restriction, right up until the baby emerges blue and flailing from the womb.
Question to Radio Yerevan: Is it true that Doug Jones, up against Ten Commandments idolator Roy Moore in the race to fill the Senate seat of Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, favors legal abortion without restriction right up until the baby emerges blue and flailing from the womb?

Answer: In principle, yes. But first of all, what he said to Chuck Todd was not about what he favors but what he opposes, which is the position of ex-Justice Moore in favor of banning all forms of abortion on the grounds that zygotes, embryos, and fetuses possess constitutional "personhood"—or any new legislation going beyond the limits laid down in Roe v. Wade:
TODD: But you wouldn’t legislate ― so you wouldn’t be in favor of legislation that said ban abortion after 20 weeks or something like that?
JONES: No, I’m not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on a woman’s right and her freedom to choose. That’s just the position that I’ve had for many years. It is a position that I continue to have.
There is little indication that he is especially interested in attacking the blue and flailing (the number of abortions carried out on women between the 21st week of pregnancy and its end around the 38th week is tiny anyway, as you know, around 1.3% of the total, and there's always a good medical reason for it—it's not something anyone wants to do). He added that he's more interested in defending the born child against anti-child Republican policy:
But when those people ― I want to make sure people understand that once a baby is born, I’m going to be there for that child. And that’s where I become a right-to-lifer.
In other words, it is not some startling and wild new policy but standard-issue Democrat (as Jones later clarified for the HuffPost: "I support the current law on a woman’s freedom to choose, which has been in place for decades, where late term abortions are permitted to protect the life or health of the mother"). I don't know if that position is going to make it possible for him to get elected to the Senate in Alabama, where 58% of the citizens thought most or all abortion should be illegal in 2014. Then again, things may be changing fast in the US over all, and the most recent Pew survey finds that a majority of Roman Catholics, 53%, now believe most or all abortions should be legal, which is not what I was expecting to hear (it was 48% just last year).
Via. Not Ross's sort of Catholics, of course, but that nasty immigrant stock. Ross's religion is really Brideshead Revisited.
But the other thing is that the last Democrat to win a Senate race in Alabama was in 1987—reactionary Richard Shelby, who switched to the GOP seven years later and is still holding that seat. It's kind of unbelievable that Jones should be in contention at all.

Moore and Jones are currently tied in the Fox News poll at 42-42, and this has to be primarily because Moore is really that terrible, not only in his character as the "Ayatollah of Alabama" who has twice been removed from the Alabama Supreme Court chief justice position, first time in 2003 for his inability to recognize the 1st Amendment as it applies to graven images of the anti–graven image Ten Commandments in a courtroom, second time in 2016, for his inability to recognize the 14th Amendment as applied to same-sex couples who want to get married, in defiance of the Supreme Court's holding in Obergefell v. Hodges, but also for personal corruption, in a scheme in which he secretly dealt himself a million dollars in "salary", and reported only half of it to the IRS, evading $100,000 worth of income tax.

The DNC didn't force Alabama Democrats to nominate this guy—his views on abortion may be less consequential than the fact that he was the US attorney who led the prosecution, almost 40 years after the crime, of the murder by a couple of Ku Klux Klan members of four young girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963. I'm kind of glad he's running, and very glad he's not trying to conceal or fudge his views on women's need to have control over their bodies. Given how improbable it is that he might win (he himself has said, "The national election was very disturbing, quite frankly, and I know a lot of people in this state voted overwhelmingly for President Trump, but there were about 37 percent of the people who did not, and they need a voice too"), it's like a free experimental test of how significant the abortion issue is at this point. Perhaps that's what's upsetting the Monsignor.

Via Planned Parenthood.

Douthat cites a Voxsplainer by Dara Lind as evidence of how wildly the Democrats have moved leftward on immigration:
The thing is, about 10 years ago, many Democrats — including, notably, Schumer — would have championed many of the Trump administration’s enforcement proposals, from increased local cooperation with immigration enforcement to a physical barrier on the US/Mexico border, even if they weren’t part of a deal to legalize unauthorized immigrants. And they’d certainly accept them, happily, alongside legalization.
Well, would he now, and has he thrown all his former anti-immigrant principles to the winds? Not exactly. Not Vox at its best, I'm afraid. In 1994, for example, he voted against a bill to deny FEMA benefits to illegal immigrants; in 1996, against limiting immigrant benefits and controlling borders more tightly; in 2006 he voted to establish a guest worker program, to provide the guest workers with a path to citizenship, to provide funding for social services for noncitizens, in a bill sponsored by Senator Hillary Clinton, and to allow illegal aliens to participate in Social Security, though he also voted for a barrier along the Mexican border (a 700-mile fence, not a 2000-mile, 30-foot tall impenetrable wall). In 2007 he voted against English as the sole official language of the US, and for the bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill introduced by Minority Leader Harry Reid; and in 2008 for continuing funding to so-called "sanctuary cities".

There's no reason to think Schumer, for one, would have accepted one of Trump's immigration proposals ten years ago. Ross and his informant are sadly misinformed on that one.

Double chain link and border fence near El Paso, built as a result of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, via Wikipedia. An amendment from Kay Bailey Hutchinson stressed that "nothing in this paragraph shall require the Secretary of Homeland Security to install fencing, physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors in a particular location along an international border of the United States, if the Secretary determines that the use or placement of such resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain operational control over the international border at such location." It is thought to pose a serious risk of extinction to a number of animal species including the Arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus), California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii), black-spotted newt (Notophthalmus meridionalis), Pacific pond turtle (Clemmys marmorata), and jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi), but nowhere near the danger posed by the Trumpian proposal (the administration has announced it will waive the relevant environmental laws for the construction).

Now I am a cultural conservative, so naturally issues like abortion and immigration are the places where I would like the Democratic Party to move closer to the center. One could argue instead that Democrats should stick with progressive orthodoxy on social issues and choose Bill-Clintonian economics over single-payer flirtations, to expand their recent gains among the culturally libertarian and fiscally conservative.
Why would Ross "like" Democrats to "move closer to the center" than it already is, or "stick with progressive orthodoxy" meaning jettisoning the ideas all Democrats refer to these days as "progressive"? What is it to him?

the Democrats are still relying on arc-of-history beliefs and long-term demographic trends. But those trends do them no political good if they move left faster than does a leftward-moving country. In 2004 they had an agenda well-suited to the American electorate of 2016; having moved leftward since, they now have an agenda well-suited to the American electorate of 2030.
Aha! Ross feels the public is moving leftward fast enough already, and it's Democrats' duty not to encourage this process? The Monsignor is taking the sacred injunction to stand athwart history yelling "Stop!" somewhat literally. And he'd like us to try recruiting him into the party.

If current trends continue the Republicans will nominate a ticket of Roy Moore and Tomi Lahren in 2024...
Heh. I assume he knows Lahren, lover of guns and hater of the undocumented immigrant and the welfare recipient, supports abortion rights. What he's really worried about is that abortion rights might become fashionable in his own crowd. She won't be 35 till 2027, though, so relax.

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