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22 May 2012


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The Twisted Genius

Colonel Lang,

Perhaps Crazy Harry from the muppets would be an appropriate mascot for some of your more explosive posts.




You think I should go easier on the folks? pl

The Twisted Genius


Hell no! It's a healthy challenge to be required to state and defend one's comments on SST with reasoned thought and facts. If the comments ever degenerate to mindless and vitriolic argument or equally mindless fawning agreement, SST would no longer be as interesting as it is. Nor would it be any fun.


When I was a student I had a job in direct marketing, crunching and preparing data and so forth. I told my superior one day that my numbers told me, given the rate of data consumption we had, that his budgeted sales and results were unsustainable and that the number of sales he had to achieve were unrealistic and had been negotiated without taking into account the amount of data available.

He swore at me and accused me of being disloyal and defeatist and gave me a thorough dresssing down. I told him that I was pointing out to him facts that he must be interested in, and that I didn't like or endorse them. That didn't help.

In hindsight, that obviously was a finding beyond my paygrade. And if that was news to him he didn't like to hear it. He was under extreme pressure from management which every friday told him he was a piece of crap if he didn't meet quotas. The outfit was a sweatshop essentially.

He fired me soon after, on grounds of my disloyalty. The company fired him, burnt out, one and a half month later, for not achieving his budgeted sales. In a bizarre twist, they then paraded him before his team where he, ashen faced, had to tell everybody what good time he has had. The company went bankrupt half a year later after some furious last ditch 'sales offensives' that burnt data at an alarming rate with ever diminishing yield.

Sweet vindication ... just a pity for the couple good people there who lost their jobs. With sane management the outfit could have been something ...


I'm an atheist, but was raised Catholic, and most of my family and friends are Catholic. I think you are portraying Catholics as far more monolithic than they are in real life. Sure, some follow the Magisterium in all matters spiritual, but I haven't seen that as determining their vote. While the textbook definition of Catholic is that they follow the teachings of the church in all matters, I just don't see that with American Catholics. From what I've sen there's just as much variation in the Catholic vote as there is among Americans in general.



It is sad that I can't get people to listen to the essential part of this post. That concerns the philosophical matter involved in making the distinction that I have made here. This distinction appears to be something that is disappearing for what laughably might be called "the American mind."

With regard to the animus felt here for the Roman Church,many of you also don't understand that. This will be a close election. There are a number of key states in which the distribution of delegates in the electoral college will be a close thing. BHO carried NC by, what? 14,000 in 2008? People's votes are determined by a variety of factors often acting simultaneoudly on the same person. Get it?

With regard to the ardent souls who wish to believe that they (the people in the pews) are the real "people of God." I agree with you. You are, and if there be a God, I hope it sees you that way. Nevertheless, the Roman Church does not see itself that way. I spent a number of years laboring in the vineyards in a papal charity for the ME. I was a volunteer and appointed because of my access in the region, but the position gave me a lot of access to the hierarchy. For the great majority of them, they are the Church, not you. You are their sheep. I stopped going to Memorial Day services at the National Shrine in Washington because every year the emotion was always about the same thing, the chaplains. It was never about the poor bloody infantry. You have no real ability to move the hierarchy except through the power of your checkbook. Donations have been going up in recent years, not down. You will never move this class of celibate men, men who are a self aware "elite" of careerist managers. If you want a church in whuch the "people in the pews" are more than donors and "extras," find a bishop or two who wants that too. You will need him to make you more bishops and priests because without priests you will be denied the Eucharist. What will you be then? Think abou the skill with which the bishops have assembled this coalition of interests that is suing the Executive Branch. they will have many allies from other faiths. pl

Nancy K

Col Lang, thank you for your analysis, it is why I am such an ardent reader of SST. I sort of enjoy when you get grumpy and kick someone, ususally temporarily, off your site, it has happened to me. I understand what you are saying now, and why it will be a problem for Obama. My husband and I recently moved to NC so Democrats will get at least 2 more votes, but I'm not sure that will do much good this time.


Col: No, do not go easier on folks. You need to repeat a thousand times: "The Catholic Church is not a democracy."

People don't seem to get that.


Col: It's not just about donation. If the price of "universalism" is a church that merely mirrors society, then Pope Benedict has rightly chosen a smaller, but more defined church.

A Catholic is what the Vatican says he is. If he is not that, then he's a Protestant.


I'm a cultural Catholic...raised that way, but lapsed from an early age. But for various professional and personal reasons I've stayed fairly close to the Church.

I would--admittedly arbitrarily--separate Catholics in the US into two main groups, those that often go to church, and/or send their kids to Catholic schools. And those that do neither. I have no idea has the "neither" will vote. They are all over the map. But my guess is the more 'active' Catholics will vote--holding their noses--for the GOP. If Romney were not a Mormon, I would say it would be a landslide in the 'active' group. But he is a Mormon.

I personally do not think Obama is as well liked as those coastal elites the Col waves about every once and while say he is. And I don't care what the polls say. Mentioning one does not like this guy, or his wife, can lead listeners to jump to certain conclusions. And people don't want to go there...so they are silent. At that moment. But I think that only adds to the dislike of him. People don't like their motives automatically challenged all the time.


In passing I note that in my community, the most well attended Sunday Catholic services are by the hispanic community, a key BHO constituency - if they show up at the polls . . .


As a builder of churches, I have learned a thing or two about them. Like if the clergy makes all the decisions about their place of worship, there would be many fewer churches but many more cathedrals. I have also learned that decision making is frequently as flawed as it is glacial. Thus, I am a bit skeptical about stated actions, since I have too often seen them slide right off the stage, all too often.

I think this election will be about the future and do we get there by backing up, or going forward? Of course, given the vast sums of money that will be involved there will also be a lot of waste, fraud and abuse along the way.


US-2012 President: 47% Obama (D), 43% Romney (R) (NBC/WSJ 5/16-20)

This is hard to square with a loss of 18 million votes. Do you have a link to the 'recent' PEW study? I took a look at their site and saw no obvious candidate.

There were, however, polls showing that as of March "majorities of the religiously unaffiliated (66%), Catholics (60%) and white mainline Protestants (60%) say churches and other houses of worship should steer clear of politics."

I believe belong to the minority on this question but strongly believe that religions should not attempt to enforce their religious prescriptions on others.

Paul Deavereaux

If I read this right, the Church -- the bureaucratic one, only grudgingly tolerates the pew warmers, expects them to STFU and do what they're told to do. Perinde ac cadaver or busted out.

Similar to what I've heard the Regents of the University of Calif seem to believe. They have commented off the record they'd prefer no students at all in the University system. The money received from the student tuition is way secondary to the volume and importance of the corporate gifts/bribes to the Regents and the various departments.

Students at the University just get in the way. Just like True Believers.

Tangent: enjoying the hell out of The Borgias on tv by the way.


I would appreciate it if society would not try to inflict its secular presciptions on me.

Considering that all of our laws come from a moral basis, which was influenced by religion, what does that even mean other than "you have to accept homosexual marriage and abortion and can't tell me I shouldn't be doing that"?


Col. -

Sure, I get the difference. And this being a close election, even small effects at the margins can make a difference in the final result. I just disagree about the magnitude of the effect that you laid out. I understand that the church hierarchy is not a democracy in any meaning of the word, I just haven't seen their influence on political matters be all that great among the Catholics I know.

I have no animus towards Catholics, I was just commenting on my experiences over the years. I'm not accusing you of advocacy, I'm just pointing out that my experiences lead me to believe that there are many other issues that influence votes, and while the church hierarchy may be pulling very hard to oppose Obama I just don't see their efforts to be as meaningful as a drop in unemployment or other economic developments. If anything, the scandals in the church over the past years have reduced the power of the hierarchy to directly influence parishioners regarding non-spiritual matters - going by what I've heard from relatives and friends. Yes they contribute and yes they go to church every Sunday, but a lot of people have been made very angry and cynical over the whole matter and the way it was handled. There has been a lot of trust lost over these events.



The "borgias" still run the Church. pl


I have always looked at my RCC faith as a spiral staircase to heaven with the Pope and his Cardinals at the top and us commoners at the bottom with differentiation between real, ardent, cafeteria, holiday or lapsed Catholics. No question this is not a democratic religion and you best toe the line or your spot on the staircase will change. Jesus never meant it to be this way as it has become more of a business though the opportunity for spiritual awakening is ever present. We all pick our own manner to adore our supreme being whether bowing to the sun, a cow, the moon or a man but to me all are equal and mine is different to me.

As to Obama he is coming to his awakening as I see the Fixer meme as a winner for Romney.


Personally, I would welcome more cathedrals. They represented 'reaching for something' once upon a time. Maybe, if one went to a cathedral, he or she would refrain from wearing jeans or sweat pants. Just my two cents, but then again, I love, even as a long ago lapsed catholic, the Latin Mass. I loved the solemnity of the Mass...not this new, informal stuff.

Nancy K

Tyler, and I would appreciate it if society would not try to inflict it's religious values on me. Fine you don't think gay's should marry, don't marry one. If you don't think women should have an abortion, make sure the females in your family don't have one. I'm not homosexual and I am way beyod child bearing age (I happen to have 5 children already) but I do not push my beliefs on other's which is what you seem to be doing. No one is forcing you to marry anyone other than a woman or no one is forcing your wife, daughter GF, to have an abortion. You however would be denying others choices that they want to make.
Not everyone in the US is religious and if those that are, many are not Christian. Mormons in the past have not been considered Christian, Obama has said he is a Christian. I think it is all about politics not religion. I really don't care what religion a cantidate is, I would vote for a Buddhist, Hindu,Muslim, Mormon, Catholic or Baptist if I thought they would allow me to make my own choices about my own body. I have my own beliefs, I don't need anyone else telling me what is right or wrong as viewed by the bible, koran, torah etc etc.

The Twisted Genius

The bishops' stand on the insurance mandate will be a rallying point for groups far beyond the Church hierarchy. The stand is based on clear Roman Catholic doctrine. It is consistent with most, if not all, other Christian church doctrines. It's also consistent with the constitutionally enumerated right of religious freedom. I think a lot of Roman Catholics will be relieved to see the Church stand up for something that is consistent with both constitutional principle and Church doctrine, even if they are ambivalent about insurance covering birth control. Lets face it. This clarity is a welcome relief from the bishop's handling of clergy predation on children. Evangelical churches, most of the libertarian persuasion and everyone who can't stand the idea of an Obama presidency will be glad to support the bishops' legal battle against the Obama administration.

The insurance mandate may be reasonable or even beneficial policy, but it does run up against the principle of religious freedom. Old Joe Biden better grab Obama by the lapels and convince him that this is a battle he does not want. Constitutional principle should trump policy. Just say so and avoid a lawsuit. The "borgias" would win that one.


Surely not by direct descent! But I understand what you're saying.


Because someone trying to live their life by a moral set of values is equivalent to Folson Street Fair.

Again, this comes back to the entire origin of liberal & conservative thought, with Hobbes and St. Augustine believing that man was naturally bad (true) and needed an outside divine force to help keep him in check. Ergo our current moral codes.

Meanwhile you have liberals who believed that man was naturally 'good' and that led to the blank slate theory where things such as race, IQ, gender, family, etc are ignored in the name of egalitarianism with an almost religious fervor.

I've made the point before, and I'll make it here again: modern day liberalism is a religion in and of itself, with its own articles of faith (we're all equal! & invisible racism that you can't see or prove, but its there! among others), with MLK Jr at the top of the food chain and Obama as his son.

Regardless, your dedication to freedom without any sort of responsibility to anyone but yourself is the typical liberal selfishness I've come to expect. One only needs to look at the firing of John Derbyshire to see what leftist 'tolerance' is. I can tolerate some homosexuals, but I am being told that I have to accept them, which is tyranny of a very definite stripe, even if you refuse to accept that is what it is.

Tolerance is a lot like being pregnant, or censorship. Remember, I'm all for understanding that there are some things that shouldn't be tolerated. You're the one espousing universal tolerance, except apparently for my views.

Do you see the cognitive dissonance? I doubt you will, but perhaps the light will start to shine through.


you have captured the essence of the problem--it is called "clericalism" and is the long wave basis of the crisis the church is dealing with. But I think those who see an awakening of the faithful are wrong about the way this issue is playing out. The dioceses that are filing suit against the government are the "outliers" and will not prevail. Nor will they influence the voters in any significant way. Nor will they convert the faithful to a doctrine which they have failed to teach for several generations. See Fr. Dolan on this point...no Catholic in his right mind wants a democratic church, but no American Catholic in his right mind wants a political church, especially when the political milieu is so polluted and corrupted as it is today.


I would say the colorful history of the Vatican (we've yet to have a Pope and Anti-Pope in this modern age) has given it long experience in dealing with politicians of every stripe throughout the ages.

These are dark times, yes. "The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist" and all. The likelihood of a 'Gates of Vienna' situation increases as Europe attempts to appease the Islamic fundamentalism in its midst by submission while our own 'culture' demands submission to materialism and paints anyone holding religious ideals as 'hateful' and 'bigoted'.

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