Showing posts with label Peggy Noonan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Peggy Noonan. Show all posts

Monday, February 06, 2012

Arrogance that surpasseth all understanding

In her latest Wall Street Journal column, Peggy Noonan clearly sees that which Barack Obama couldn't due to the arrogance that blinds.

The president will pay for his lack of vision, as well as his particularly tricky blend of pride and political incompetence. The White House is the wrong place to get a bad case of Big Head, take two stupid pills and expect to get re-elected in the morning.

What am I talking about? Let Ms. Noonan explain:

But the big political news of the week isn't Mr. Romney's gaffe, or even his victory in Florida. The big story took place in Washington. That's where a bomb went off that not many in the political class heard, or understood.

But President Obama just may have lost the election.

The president signed off on a Health and Human Services ruling that says that under ObamaCare, Catholic institutions—including charities, hospitals and schools—will be required by law, for the first time ever, to provide and pay for insurance coverage that includes contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures. If they do not, they will face ruinous fines in the millions of dollars. Or they can always go out of business.

In other words, the Catholic Church was told this week that its institutions can't be Catholic anymore.

I invite you to imagine the moment we are living in without the church's charities, hospitals and schools. And if you know anything about those organizations, you know it is a fantasy that they can afford millions in fines.

There was no reason to make this ruling—none. Except ideology.

The conscience clause, which keeps the church itself from having to bow to such decisions, has always been assumed to cover the church's institutions.

Now the church is fighting back. Priests in an estimated 70% of parishes last Sunday came forward to read strongly worded protests from the church's bishops. The ruling asks the church to abandon Catholic principles and beliefs; it is an abridgment of the First Amendment; it is not acceptable. They say they will not bow to it. They should never bow to it, not only because they are Catholic and cannot be told to take actions that deny their faith, but because they are citizens of the United States.

If they stay strong and fight, they will win. This is in fact a potentially unifying moment for American Catholics, long split left, right and center. Catholic conservatives will immediately and fully oppose the administration's decision. But Catholic liberals, who feel embarrassed and undercut, have also come out in opposition.

The church is split on many things. But do Catholics in the pews want the government telling their church to contravene its beliefs? A president affronting the leadership of the church, and blithely threatening its great institutions? No, they don't want that. They will unite against that.

The smallest part of this story is political. There are 77.7 million Catholics in the United States. In 2008 they made up 27% of the electorate, about 35 million people. Mr. Obama carried the Catholic vote, 54% to 45%. They helped him win.

They won't this year. And guess where a lot of Catholics live? In the battleground states.
RULE NO. 1 of politics: Don't push people too far on issues they're willing to go to jail over. Or die for. That's a fight you cannot win, because you can't jail or kill enough of your opponents, assuming even that the law allowed it and your country had the stomach for it.

If a Catholic is even halfway serious about what he or she professes to believe, this is that issue -- freedom of conscience and the sacred obligation to do what one believes God demands of him . . . or die trying.

A lot of us didn't agree with the president's social agenda, and we didn't vote for him, either. (Then again, neither did I vote for John McCain.) But we were supportive where conscience allowed, respected the office and respected the democratic process. And we didn't automatically assume ill will on his part while avoiding it on ours.

Obama and his administration mistook civility for passivity and a lack of non-negotiable principles and loyalties. That's the kind of arrogance born of pride that always goeth before a fall.

IT'S A PITY the Republican presidential candidates suck so. But, as Mick Jagger said, "You can't always get what you want."

Continued national decline, I guess we can live with. Freedom to worship God and live as He requires, that's the kind of freedom of conscience we can't live without.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Post 9/11 Apoco-porn

The latest film from "Independence Day" director Roland Emmerich doesn't feature space aliens trying to destroy humanity.

Whew. . . .

Instead, God does the job. And much more thoroughly than the space aliens, who could only blow whole cities up.

Oops. . . .

You see, God can blow Los Angeles up and then make it slide into the sea. While bringing down the Vatican on top of Catholics praying for salvation. While wiping out the Eastern Seaboard with a giant tsunami and dropping the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy on top of the White House.

My God is an ironic God.

This isn't a new meme for Emmerich -- in "The Day After Tomorrow," a new Ice Age followed California tornadoes, Tokyo thunderstorms with football-sized hail, a massive New York tsunami and a flash-freezing, 150-below vortex sweeping across the Northern Hemisphere. On the other hand, it may be the end of the line --
where can one possibly go with this genre once you've destroyed the whole freakin' planet?

WHAT I WONDER, though, is what all this means? Not the whole "End of the World: 2012 . . . Because the Mayans Said" phenomenon -- we've had such and Nostradamus, too, for ages -- but instead Hollywood's (and our) fascination with catastrophe on a global scale.

What does it mean that this persists in the aftermath of 9/11, when we got to see the real thing "up-close and personal"? And when we got to see how horrific that is when removed from the sanitary confines of films like Emmerich's.

Why the continued fascination? I ask this as a self-confessed aficionado of "blowed up good" movies who finds this latest one to be a collapsed bridge too far.

In 1998, columnist and author Peggy Noonan tackled a similar cultural meme in a piece for Forbes ASAP:

Here goes: It has been said that when an idea’s time has come a lot of people are likely to get it at the same time. In the same way, when something begins to flicker out there in the cosmos a number of people, a small group at first, begin to pick up the signals. They start to see what’s coming.

Our entertainment industry, interestingly enough, has plucked something from the unconscious of a small collective. For about 30 years now, but accelerating quickly this decade, the industry has been telling us about The Big Terrible Thing. Space aliens come and scare us, nuts with nukes try to blow us up.

This is not new: In the ‘50s Michael Rennie came from space to tell us in “The Day the Earth Stood Still” that if we don’t become more peaceful our planet will be obliterated. But now in movies the monsters aren’t coming close, they’re hitting us directly. Meteors the size of Texas come down and take out the eastern seaboard, volcanoes swallow Los Angeles, Martians blow up the White House. The biggest-grosser of all time was about the end of a world, the catastrophic sinking of an unsinkable entity.

Something’s up. And deep down, where the body meets the soul, we are fearful. We fear, down so deep it hasn’t even risen to the point of articulation, that with all our comforts and amusements, with all our toys and bells and whistles . . . we wonder if what we really have is . . . a first-class stateroom on the Titanic. Everything’s wonderful, but a world is ending and we sense it.

I don’t mean: “Uh-oh, there’s a depression coming,” I mean: We live in a world of three billion men and hundreds of thousands of nuclear bombs, missiles, warheads. It’s a world of extraordinary germs that can be harnessed and used to kill whole populations, a world of extraordinary chemicals that can be harnessed and used to do the same.

Three billion men, and it takes only half a dozen bright and evil ones to harness and deploy.

What are the odds it will happen? Put it another way: What are the odds it will not? Low. Nonexistent, I think.

A LITTLE LESS than three years later came the horror of 9/11. You'd think that would have changed us somehow -- at least culturally. You'd think we would have emerged from that Lower Manhattan dust-and-debris cloud a little more serious . . . a little more selfless . . . at a minimum, a little less seriously devoted to the utterly unserious.

If anything, we're even worse. Consumed by Kanye, M.J., Jonandkate and David Letterman's stupid-human tricks, now our depraved popular culture is cinematically hurtling toward the Apocalypse.

I wonder what that's saying about our cultural subconscious, circa 2009?

Well, if I had to hazard a guess -- and I'm operating in full-Noonan mode here -- I'd say that maybe Peggy was off just a little bit. Maybe we're not afraid it's all going to end, and perhaps us with it.

Instead, maybe we want it all to end -- and perhaps us with it.

OH, OF COURSE we have John Cusack, one of 2012's stars, quoted about how the film celebrates people transcending their "normal capabilities and normal morals" in difficult situations.

But isn't that the case with every single disaster flick? Besides, you don't have to spend nine figures to make a movie about the transcendent power of the human spirit.

No, if you want to call 2012 (and the deep cultural current that spawned it) anything, call it a death wish by a terminally ill culture looking for God -- or the cosmos -- to assist in its suicide. Could it be that's the deepest subconscious desire bubbling to the surface of the Superfund site we call a culture?

Otherwise, what percentage would movie execs see in what amounts to a $200 million snuff film?