Debate Open Thread

 

 

Fifty-six years to the day from the first Presidential Debate:  Trump v. Nixon Clinton.  Put your thoughts on the debate in the comboxes.

 

Update:

I thought it was a wretched debate with neither Hillary nor Trump doing especially well, although I gave it to Clinton on points.  However, the online polls are showing a decisive Trump win.  That is probably bad news for Hillary as those often in the wake of a Presidential debate are a good sign of political strength as hard core partisans tend to see their candidate winning no matter what.  It looks like Trump did himself no harm tonight and Clinton did herself no good.  She needed to change the momentum of the race away from Trump, and this is an early sign that she has failed to accomplish that.

 

PopeWatch: Just War?

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In a statement sure to warm the cockles of the hearts of despots and would be despots everywhere, Peter Cardinal Turkson is signaling that Pope Francis may junk the concept of just war:

He said that while just war teachings were first developed to make wars difficult or impossible to justify, they are now used more as conditions that allow violence to be used.

“My understanding is that it was initially meant to make it difficult to wage war because you needed to justify it,” said the cardinal. “This now has been interpreted these days as a war is just when it is exercised in self-defense … or to put off an aggressor or to protect innocent people.”

Turkson continued: “In that case, Pope Francis would say: ‘You don’t stop an aggression by being an aggressor. You don’t stop a conflict by inciting another conflict. You don’t stop a war by starting another war.'”

“It doesn’t stop,” said the cardinal. “We’ve seen it all around us. Trying to stop the aggressor in Iraq has not stopped war. Trying to stop the aggressor in Libya has not stopped war. It’s not stopped the war in any place. We do not stop war by starting another war.”

Turkson said the participants at the conference promoted “another thinking:” Gospel nonviolence, or “nonviolence as Jesus was nonviolent.”

“People think that this is Utopian, but Jesus was that,” said the cardinal, calling Jesus’ instruction to his disciples to turn the other cheek if someone were to strike them as an example of “non-aggression” in response to violence. Continue reading

J. Edgar Hoover in The FBI Story

The 1959 movie, The FBI Story, was a project near and dear to the heart of J. Edgar Hoover, founding director of the FBI, who ran it with an iron fist from 1935 until his death in 1972.  Based upon the best selling authorized history of the FBI, The FBI Story, Hoover wanted the FBI to be portrayed in heroic mode, with no controversial spots.  A squad of special agents supervised the film and everyone associated with the film, no matter how humble, had to be vetted by the FBI.  Continue reading

Ross Douthat on the Debates

 

Ross Douthat, who has the unenviable task of scattering pearls of conservative wisdom before the New York Times readership, has this prediction on the debate:

 

A series of debates between a man proudly unprepared for the office of the presidency and a woman of Clinton’s knowledge and experience should produce a predictable outcome: She should win, and he should lose.

This is not a hot take. It is a cold take, a boring take, a take that assumes that the political world, even now, is still relatively rule-bound and predictable.

And if I’m wrong, if Hillary manages to throw the debates and the election to Donald Trump, it will be the last such take I offer for many years to come.

Go here to read the rest.  I will miss the predictions of Douthat over the next few years.  I think he is incorrect for the following reasons: Continue reading

Eve of the Debate

 

Presidential debates don’t matter much except when they do.  Back in 1976 on October 6, Ford, in his second debate with Carter, denied that Poland was dominated by the Soviet Union.  He was too proud and stupid to simply admit intially he had misspoke.  This stalled his rise in the polls with Carter, and he went on to lose a close one.

 

 

In 1980 the one and only debate between Carter and Reagan occurred on October 28, 1980, six days before the election.  Reagan clobbered Carter and Carter had no time to recover before election day.

 

 

 

 

So where is the current race just prior to the debate?  The Washington Post ABC poll released last night shows a dead heat.  Go here to read about it.  Likewise the Morning Consult poll released yesterday.  Go here to read about it.  The Los Angeles Times Tracking poll shows Trump with a four point advantage.  Go here to look at it.  Battleground polls have been trending over the past few weeks in Trump’s direction.  A Pennsylvania Poll by Morning Call Muhlenberg College yesterday for example shows Trump slashing into Clinton’s lead in Pennsylvania with Clinton having only a two point lead in a four way race.  Go here to read about it.  If Trump takes Pennsylvania, Clinton’s path to victory becomes very, very difficult.  Right now Trump is ahead in all the states taken by Romney, and leads in Ohio, Florida, Iowa and Nevada.  Trump is tied with Clinton in Maine and close to tied in Colorado.  A shocking poll last week showed him only six points down in Illinois.  If that poll is accurate, and I have my doubts about it, Clinton is in deep trouble around the nation. Continue reading

Pope Saint Pius X on Pope Saint Gregory the Great

IUCUNDA SANE

ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS X
ON POPE GREGORY THE GREAT
TO OUR VENERABLE BRETHREN, THE PATRIARCHS,
PRIMATES, ARCHBISHOPS, BISHOPS,
AND OTHER ORDINARIES
IN PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE APOSTOLIC SEE

Venerable Brethren,
Health and the Apostolic Benediction.

1. Joyful indeed comes the remembrance, Venerable Brethren, of that great and incomparable man, the Pontiff Gregory, first of the name, whose centenary solemnity, at the close of the thirteenth century since his death, we are about to celebrate. By that God who killeth and maketh alive, who humbleth and exalteth, it was ordained, not, We think, without a special providence, that amid the almost innumerable cares of Our Apostolic ministry, amid all the anxieties which the government of the Universal Church imposes upon Us, amid our pressing solicitude to satisfy as best We may your claims, Venerable Brethren, who have been called to a share in Our Apostolate, and those of all the faithful entrusted to Our care, Our gaze at the beginning of Our Pontificate should be turned at once towards that most holy and illustrious Predecessor of Ours, the honor of the Church and its glory. For Our heart is filled with great confidence in his most powerful intercession with God, and strengthened by the memory of the sublime maxims he inculcated in his lofty office and of the virtues devoutly practiced by him. And since by the force of the former and the fruitfulness of the latter he has left on God’s Church a mark so vast, so deep, so lasting, that his contemporaries and posterity have justly given him the name of Great, and today, after all these centuries, the eulogy of his epitaph is still verified: “He lives eternal in every place by his innumerable good works” (Apud Joann. Diac., Vita Greg. iv. 68) it will surely be given, with the help of Divine grace, to all followers of his wonderful example, to fulfill the duties of their own offices, as far as human weakness permits. Continue reading

Cruz Endorses Trump

 

Well, he says he will vote for him.  Here is the text of what Cruz said:

 

This election is unlike any other in our nation’s history. Like many other voters, I have struggled to determine the right course of action in this general election.

 

In Cleveland, I urged voters, “please, don’t stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket whom you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”

 

After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

 

I’ve made this decision for two reasons. First, last year, I promised to support the Republican nominee. And I intend to keep my word.

 

Second, even though I have had areas of significant disagreement with our nominee, by any measure Hillary Clinton is wholly unacceptable — that’s why I have always been #NeverHillary.

 

Six key policy differences inform my decision.

 

First, and most important, the Supreme Court. For anyone concerned about the Bill of Rights — free speech, religious liberty, the Second Amendment — the Court hangs in the balance. I have spent my professional career fighting before the Court to defend the Constitution. We are only one justice away from losing our most basic rights, and the next president will appoint as many as four new justices. We know, without a doubt, that every Clinton appointee would be a left-wing ideologue. Trump, in contrast, has promised to appoint justices “in the mold of Scalia.”

 

For some time, I have been seeking greater specificity on this issue, and today the Trump campaign provided that, releasing a very strong list of potential Supreme Court nominees — including Sen. Mike Lee, who would make an extraordinary justice — and making an explicit commitment to nominate only from that list. This commitment matters, and it provides a serious reason for voters to choose to support Trump.

 

Second, Obamacare. The failed healthcare law is hurting millions of Americans. If Republicans hold Congress, leadership has committed to passing legislation repealing Obamacare. Clinton, we know beyond a shadow of doubt, would veto that legislation. Trump has said he would sign it.

 

Third, energy. Clinton would continue the Obama administration’s war on coal and relentless efforts to crush the oil and gas industry. Trump has said he will reduce regulations and allow the blossoming American energy renaissance to create millions of new high-paying jobs.

 

Fourth, immigration. Clinton would continue and even expand President Obama’s lawless executive amnesty. Trump has promised that he would revoke those illegal executive orders.

 

Fifth, national security. Clinton would continue the Obama administration’s willful blindness to radical Islamic terrorism. She would continue importing Middle Eastern refugees whom the FBI cannot vet to make sure they are not terrorists. Trump has promised to stop the deluge of unvetted refugees.

 

Sixth, Internet freedom. Clinton supports Obama’s plan to hand over control of the Internet to an international community of stakeholders, including Russia, China, and Iran. Just this week, Trump came out strongly against that plan, and in support of free speech online.

 

These are six vital issues where the candidates’ positions present a clear choice for the American people.

 

If Clinton wins, we know — with 100% certainty — that she would deliver on her left-wing promises, with devastating results for our country.

 

My conscience tells me I must do whatever I can to stop that.

 

We also have seen, over the past few weeks and months, a Trump campaign focusing more and more on freedom — including emphasizing school choice and the power of economic growth to lift African-Americans and Hispanics to prosperity.

 

Finally, after eight years of a lawless Obama administration, targeting and persecuting those disfavored by the administration, fidelity to the rule of law has never been more important.

 

The Supreme Court will be critical in preserving the rule of law. And, if the next administration fails to honor the Constitution and Bill of Rights, then I hope that Republicans and Democrats will stand united in protecting our fundamental liberties.

 

Our country is in crisis. Hillary Clinton is manifestly unfit to be president, and her policies would harm millions of Americans. And Donald Trump is the only thing standing in her way.

 

A year ago, I pledged to endorse the Republican nominee, and I am honoring that commitment. And if you don’t want to see a Hillary Clinton presidency, I encourage you to vote for him.

Continue reading

PopeWatch: Catfished

 

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From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

 

Social media users are very much used to dealing with phony accounts, and Catholics in the world of Facebook and Twitter are no exception to the rule.

Pope Benedict “broke the internet” this week after admitting to using the Twitter handle “ThisCatholicPope” in order to carry on the persona of a 79-year-old pope named “Francis.”

“The fact that a pope started a Twitter account just so he could retire and still have power to hold the Catholic faithful in the palm of his hand is deplorable,” local catfished Catholic Brenda Summers told EOTT. “By doing this, he made fools of both the right and the left in the Church. He made conservatives long for his authority and wisdom, and he kept liberals at bay by writing a bunch of crap about the environment.”

After being confronted by EOTT, Benedict explained his actions and apologized outright.

“It was never anything personal. At the time, I was being really selfish…I wanted to pray and study without having to deal with the gay mafia in the Vatican. That’s the best excuse I have,” Benedict said, before adding, “Francis is someone who knows how to deal with the politics in the Church and the world. He’s my inner-popular Peter. Everyone loves him. No one ever loved me before Francis. No one ever awarded me TIME’s Person of the Year. I was just the old german who was once a member of the Hitler Youth.”

At press time, Pope Benedict is asking the Catholic faithful to forgive him and to just love him for who he is…on the inside. Continue reading

Entry of the Gladiators

 

 

Something for the weekend.  Entry of the Gladiators by Julius Fucik.  Written in 1897, Czech composer Julius Fucik wanted the march to evoke Roman gladiators entering the arena.  Ironically it has become the entrance song for clowns in circuses around the globe.

PopeWatch: Journalist Terrorism

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The Pope in a curious address to a group of Italian journalists compared journalism based upon “gossip or rumors” to terrorism.

Speaking to a gathering of Italian journalists Thursday, Pope Francis argued that journalism that peddles gossip or rumors is “terrorism.”

Francis, in his address to National Council Order of Journalists, reminded the audience that he has often likened gossip to terrorism — “how it is possible to kill someone with tongue” — and said, “This applies to individual people — in the family or at work — but even more so to journalists because their voice can reach everyone, and this is a very powerful weapon.”

“Journalism must always respect the dignity of the person,” he continued. “Journalism cannot be a weapon for the destruction of people or even populations. Nor must it fuel fears in relation to changes or phenomena such as forced migration due to hunger or war.”

The Pope described the type of journalism he would like to see:

“I hope that increasingly and everywhere journalism may be a tool for construction, a factor of the common good and for the acceleration of processes of reconciliation; that it may be able to resist the temptation to foment confrontation, with a language that stokes the flames of division, instead of favoring a culture of encounter,” Francis said.

Continue reading

Fall the Wonderful

 

I heartily concur with Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts celebration of our current season:

 

Anyone who has followed my blog for more than a year or so knows one thing for sure: I love the Fall.  I enjoy Spring and there’s still enough kid in me to enjoy Winter, especially leading up to Christmas.  Summer is my hibernation time.  But Fall?  It’s to me what Spring is supposed to be to most people.

Today is a day off.  The boys are off of school, owing to a local holiday that can only happen in small town America.  And with it, I have the day off as well.  Don’t know what we’ll do today.  Maybe nothing, though I always hate to let a day go by without something to do.   I often start reading The Lord of the Rings in September, but thought this year I’d try something different.  This year I’m going to read through the Appendices.  Truth be told, I’ve glanced at them over the years, but never read through them.  As for the other fun parts of Fall, those are just beginning.

Here are some links to previous posts over the years in which I muse over, in my own amateurish way, just why I love this season.   Enjoy.  TTFN Continue reading

September 23, 1779: John Paul Jones Begins to Fight

The future naval officers, who live within these walls, will find in the career of the man whose life we this day celebrate, not merely a subject for admiration and respect, but an object lesson to be taken into their innermost hearts. . . . Every officer . . . should feel in each fiber of his being an eager desire to emulate the energy, the professional capacity, the indomitable determination and dauntless scorn of death which marked John Paul Jones above all his fellows.

Theodore Roosevelt on John Paul Jones, Speech at Annapolis- April 24, 1906

The traditions of daring, courage and professional skill that have ever been the hallmark of our Navy were first established in the lopsided fight our seamen waged during the Revolution. No single engagement more typifies this than the battle in which Captain John Paul Jones, sailing in a manifestly inferior ship, USS BonHomme Richard, defeated HMS Serapis on September 23, 1779.  Here is the report of Jones on this memorable sea fight: Continue reading

Godzilla v. Bambi

 

 

Philosopher Doctor Ed Feser takes on Mark Shea on the death penalty in the biggest mismatch since Godzilla tangled with Bambi:

 

As Pope St. John XXIII once wrote:

 

The Catholic Church, of course, leaves many questions open to the discussion of theologians.  She does this to the extent that matters are not absolutely certain…

 

[T]he common saying, expressed in various ways and attributed to various authors, must be recalled with approval: in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.  (Ad Petri Cathedram 71-72)

 

What Catholic could disagree with that?

 

Well, Mark Shea, apparently.  For no sooner does he acknowledge the truth of what Joe and I wrote than he proceeds bitterly to denounce Catholics who have the effrontery actually to exercise the right the Church herself has recognized to hold differing opinions on the topic of capital punishment.  After acknowledging the truth of our basic claim, he writes: “So what?” – as if Joe and I were addressing some question no one is asking.  This is followed by a string of remarks like these:

 

When it comes to taking human life, the right wing culture of death asks “When do we get to kill?”

 

The Church, in contrast, asks, “When do we have to kill?”

 

The death penalty supporter looks for loopholes and ways to enlarge them so that he gets to kill somebody.  The Magisterium urges us to look for ways to avoid killing unless driven to do so by absolute necessity…

 

The term for that is “prolife”. You know, from conception to natural death. It’s what we are supposed to actually mean when we say “All Lives Matter”. Even criminal ones.

 

So it comes back to this: If you stop wasting your time and energy fighting the guidance of the Church, searching for loopholes allowing you to kill some of those All Lives that supposedly Matter to you, you find that you have lots more time and energy for defending the unborn that you say are your core non-negotiable. Why not do that instead of battling three popes and all the bishops in the world in a struggle to keep the US on a list with every Islamic despotism from Saudi Arabia to Iran, as well as Communist China and North Korea? Why the “prolife” zeal to kill?

 

Be more prolife, not less…

 

“I want to kill the maximum number of people I can get away with killing” is, on the face of it, a hard sell as comporting with the clear and obvious teaching of the Church and perhaps there are other issues in our culture of death that might use our time and energy more fruitfully, particularly when the immediate result of such an argument is to spawn a fresh batch of comments from priests scandalously declaring the pope a heretic, wacked out conspiracy theorists calling the pope “evil beyond comprehension“, and false prophets forecasting that “Antipope Francis” will approve abortion.  This is the atmosphere of the warriors of the right wing culture of death.  It does not need more oxygen.

 

End quote. 

 

Well.  What on earth is all that about?  And what does it have to do with what Joe and I wrote? 

 

Let’s consider the various charges Shea makes.  As to the “So what?”,  Joe and I are by no means merely reiterating something everyone already agrees with.  On the contrary, there is an entire school of thought with tremendous influence in orthodox Catholic circles – the “new natural law theory” of Germain Grisez, John Finnis, Robert P. George, and many others – that takes the position that capital punishment is always and intrinsically immoral and that the Church can and ought to reverse her ancient teaching to the contrary.  Many other Catholics, including some bishops, routinely denounce capital punishment in terms that are so extreme that they give the false impression that the death penalty is by its very nature no less a violation of the fifth commandment than abortion or other forms of murder are.

 

In our article we cited cases in which even Pope Francis himself has made such extreme statements.  We also suggested that the pope’s remarks should be interpreted as rhetorical flourishes, but the fact remains that they certainly appear on a natural reading to be claiming that capital punishment is intrinsically wrong – a claim which would reverse the teaching of scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and every previous pope who has addressed the topic.

 

Since Shea agrees that the Church cannot make such a change, to be consistent he would also have to admit that the more extreme rhetoric from the pope and some bishops and other Catholics is misleading and regrettable.  He should also agree that “new natural lawyers” and others who hold that the Church should completely reverse past teaching on capital punishment are taking a position that cannot be reconciled with orthodoxy. 

 

The late Cardinal Dulles, among the most eminent of contemporary Catholic theologians, has (in remarks quoted in our article) gone so far as to say that a reversal of traditional teaching on capital punishment would threaten to undermine the very credibility of the Magisterium in general.  Our primary motivation in writing our book was to show that the Church has not in fact reversed past teaching on this subject, and thereby to defend the credibility of the Magisterium.  Accordingly, Shea’s charge that Joe and I are in the business of “fighting the guidance of the Church” is unjust and offensive.  So too is Shea’s casually lumping us in with those who characterize Pope Francis as a “heretic” and “antipope.”  In fact we explicitly said that we do not believe that the pope wishes to reverse past teaching, and we proposed reading his statements in a way consistent with the tradition.

 

As to Shea’s other remarks, it is simply outrageous – to be frank, it seems as clear an instance as there could be of what moral theologians would classify as an instance of calumny – to suggest that Joe and I are really just “look[ing] for loopholes and ways to enlarge them so that [we get] to kill somebody,” that we “want to kill the maximum number of people [we] can get away with killing,” that we have a “zeal to kill,” etc.  There is absolutely nothing in what we wrote that justifies such bizarre and inflammatory accusations. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Causes of War

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Well, the ecumenical farce at Assisi II has ended:

 

Pope Francis and leaders of other world religions said “No to War!” on Tuesday, vowing to oppose terrorism in God’s name and appealing to politicians to listen to “the anguished cry of so many innocents”.

Francis flew by helicopter to the central Italian hilltop city that was home to St. Francis, the 13th century saint revered by many religions as a patron of peace and nature and a defender of the poor.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church closed a three-day meeting where about 500 representatives of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and other faiths discussed how their members could better promote peace and reconciliation.

Francis, who delivered two addresses and shared meals with the leaders, said indifference to suffering had become “a new and deeply sad paganism” that caused some to turn away from war victims and refugees with the same ease as changing a television channel.

Near the end of the gathering, members of each religion prayed in a separate locations and then joined each other in a square outside the famous pink stone basilica where St. Francis is buried.

Prayers were said for the victims of war, including in Syria and Afghanistan, and for the refugees fleeing the conflicts. A woman refugee from Aleppo now living in Italy told the pope at final gathering “my heart is in tatters”.

“Only peace is holy, and not war,” the Argentine-born pontiff said.

ABUSE OF RELIGION

Francis, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, prayed in the basilica with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans, and Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of up to 300 million Orthodox Christians around the globe.

In a final appeal that key representatives signed and gave to children from around the world, they vowed “to oppose every form of violence and abuse of religion which seeks to justify war and terrorism.”

“No to war! May the anguished cry of the many innocents not go unheeded. Let us urge leaders of nations to defuse the causes of war: the lust for power and money, the greed of arms’ dealers, personal interests and vendettas for past wrongs,” the appeal said. Continue reading

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