Questions about President Obama's executive orders on the incarceration and interrogation of detainees

Sunday, January 25, AD 2009

The big news of this week: Obama’s first executive orders were not the reversal of the Mexico City Policy (as every major media source and not a few bloggers had predicted, and for which Obama waited until Friday) but the reversal of notable Bush administration’s policies on the incarceration and interrogation of detainees:

President Obama signed executive orders Thursday directing the Central Intelligence Agency to shut what remains of its network of secret prisons and ordering the closing of the Guantánamo detention camp within a year, government officials said.The orders, which are the first steps in undoing detention policies of former President George W. Bush, rewrite American rules for the detention of terrorism suspects. They require an immediate review of the 245 detainees still held at the naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to determine if they should be transferred, released or prosecuted.

And the orders bring to an end a Central Intelligence Agency program that kept terrorism suspects in secret custody for months or years, a practice that has brought fierce criticism from foreign governments and human rights activists. They will also prohibit the C.I.A. from using coercive interrogation methods, requiring the agency to follow the same rules used by the military in interrogating terrorism suspects, government officials said.

However, while some cheerleaders for Obama are already hailing an end to the gestapo-inspired “enhanced interrogration techniques”, a review of critical responses — from the political “right” AND “left” — suggests that the President’s gesture is more symbolic and an exercise in moral posturing. It appears that serious questions remain about what is actually accomplished by President Obama’s recent executive orders.

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5 Responses to Questions about President Obama's executive orders on the incarceration and interrogation of detainees

  • Thanks for the post and for gathering the relevant links. Obama is a very shrewd politician; his strategy of making marginal changes with maximum fanfare is perfect press management in the post-election afterglow. Time will tell how effective this is long-term. For all of his talk about our nation’s collective emergence into adulthood under his administration, he has yet to make any difficult decisions.

    But symbolism is important, and even the relatively minor symbolism of an announcement that Guantanamo will be closed…at some point….in the future…is a step forward.

  • I agree with John Henry that the symbolism here is important, and I’m thankful for it. Symbols can actually accomplish a great deal. Of course, I’ll be miffed if President Obama stops at the level of the symbolic.

  • Kyle/John Henry,

    but he has expressly stopped at the level of symbolic. He still allows “enhanced interrogation” of unlawful combatants, and reserves also the right to go beyond even the US Army field manual in extraordinary circumstances, he has not suspended the extraordinary renditions, or the predator missile launches into Pakistani villages. There are no changes to the warrantless wiretapping of international calls to suspected terrorists either.

    The only thing that changes is that the rhetoric is suggesting a change, this is dishonest whether you agree with these policies, or not.

    Matt
    ps. Obama may move the site of the these detainees in a year or so, but so what? He can not, and will not make them generally entitled to the rights of US citizens/residents.

  • I suspect the opinions coming from The Obama Administration’s Office of Legal Counsel will differ from those crafted under the Bush Administration. We’ll see.

  • If I recall, the 2006 Field Manual allows one technique, Fear Up/Fear down, that some may consider torture.

Let's Change the Subject? Catholics on the Left

Saturday, January 24, AD 2009

One of the most frequently voiced criticisms of right-leaning Catholics is that they were insufficiently critical of the Bush Administration over the past eight years. According to this criticism, conservative Catholics were too eager to paper over the faults of the Bush Administration, and they failed to object at critical points to the Administration’s policies. While such generalizations can be problematic, I agree with this critique in broad outline. One of the lessons I’ve taken from the past eight years is that this is a temptation that must be consciously resisted.

It’s hard to express my disappointment, then, at the recent post entitled Mexico City? Try Gaza Instead…over at Vox Nova. Here’s the post:

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30 Responses to Let's Change the Subject? Catholics on the Left

  • Obama authorized international funding for abortion.

    No, he didn’t. That isn’t what the Mexico City Policy effected.

  • Your inability to read continues to amaze me.

    1) MM’s post has nothing to do with those Bush-supporting Catholics overlooking his sinful, criminal policies.

    2) MM did not criticize the statement from the Vatican on the matter.

    3) Nor did he say that those who are criticizing the Mexico City policy are wrong to criticize it and “should be talking instead about U.S. funding to Israel.”

    4) He is saying that so-called “pro-life” Catholics should not de-emphasize equally grave matters of u.s. policy according to their partisan leanings. He is saying that human lives who are not white, american babies are also made in the image and likeness of God.

  • some on the left, only seems to care about dead terrorists, and the people that put them in power and subsequently used as human shields. Dead babies make them sleepy (unless the babies are Palestinian and died being used as a human shield, no problem if they died from having their skull crushed).

    Interestingly…
    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/world/stories/DN-pakistan_24int.ART.State.Edition1.4ebeeb7.html

    It seems a healthy dose of reality is setting in for Obama, he knows now the consequences of losing the war against Islamo-facism.

    So, what good has Obama done from a lefty Catholic perspective? He supports Israel’s right to self defense, he wants us to pay for foreign and American babies to be killed on request, he isn’t closing Gitmo for at least a year, AND he is shooting missiles into villages, possibly killing civilians.

    Matt

  • “Nor did he say that those who are criticizing the Mexico City policy are wrong to criticize it and “should be talking instead about U.S. funding to Israel.”

    What? Look at the title of the post 🙂

    I think its clear that The effect of the reversal of the Mexico POlicy is anything but scant. If it was scant I dont think in the 90’s our Envoy to the Vatican would have flown home and waited two days in CLintons outer officers to please take a phone call from John Paul the II on this issue

    The Catholic blogsphere has been talking about Gaza non stop. Now not all hold the view that waht the Israelis did was some war crime but there was sure a ton of discussion.

    Catholics on both side can find common ground with Obama. To be honest speaking as someone from the right I thought the biggest indictment as to the Catholic right was not they did not question Bush on certain issues but did not support him in a nearly enough vocal manner on issues that causes us heartburn with other conservatives and when it gets rough. Such as immigration reform

  • John Henry

    I would add one thing. Yes prayer is important but also we must do more than that. We need to be on the phone with our Congress folks saying we very much disagree with this and raise some heck about this.

  • Michael,

    4) He is saying that so-called “pro-life” Catholics should not de-emphasize equally grave matters of u.s. policy according to their partisan leanings. He is saying that human lives who are not white, american babies are also made in the image and likeness of God.

    1. why is it that the left always considered the positions of their opponents “partisan”, whereas their own are always considered principled?

    2. US Policy vis a vis Israel is for Israel to be able to defend itself against attack, not to kill innocents. This is clear and irrefutable.

    3. Israeli policy and actions are clearly not intended to kill innocents as evidenced by their restraint (it is reasonable to argue it is insufficient restraint, but it is clear there is no immoral intent). I have gone over this with you in the past, you never respond: Israel could level Gaza in a weekend, killing everyone there… they have no desire to. Instead they limited their targeting to Hamas operatives and their arms caches, sadly the evil Hamas uses civilian sites for these purposes. Israel even sends out warnings about which sites would be attacked in many cases.

    4. The babies we’re trying to save by not PAYING for their abortions under the Mexico Policy are BROWN, not white.

    jh,

    Good comments, but I while many conservative Catholics did support Bush on immigration, many others after reflection believed that his proposals did not serve the common good, as they were intended to. Right or wrong, I don’t think it’s fair to indict them for it, as long as they gave due weight to the Catholic principles involved, and not just paying lip service to it. Catholics in good conscience can disagree on this matter.

    It would be interesting to see what a group of orthodox Catholics would come up with as an immigration policy which balanced the needs of those in the country, and the need to welcome the stranger, as well as a just approach for those who have violated these policies in light of the effect it has on those waiting patiently to be admitted legally. Sadly the political process is deeply affected by political considerations, perhaps on both sides.

  • I asked this on another thread, but no answers yet. I’d like to understand what it means to be a progressive yet orthodox Catholic? The underlying philosophy escapes me.

    Obviouslt, by orthodox, I mean adheres to all of the teachings of the Church, even the patriarchal or “bigoted” ones.

  • Obama’s Minion would sooner chew ground glass than deal with the simple fact that he is an ardent supporter of the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history.

  • I wrote: Obama authorized international funding for abortion. M.Z. replied: “No, he didn’t. That isn’t what the Mexico City Policy effected.”

    It certainly did. The Mexico City Policy required NGO’s that receive federal funding to refrain from promoting or performing abortion services in other countries. Overturning it allows funding to those organizations to be used for abortion; which, basically, authorizes funding for abortion internationally.

  • John Henry is absolutely correct. Additionally, since money is fungible, every dollar they get from the US allows them to allocate other dollars from other sources for abortion. Not to mention the fact that this shift deprives the Vatican of US support for the fight against abortion abroad, and places the US on the pro-abort side.

  • Your inability to read continues to amaze me.

    Well, let’s see what you mean.

    1) MM’s post has nothing to do with those Bush-supporting Catholics overlooking his sinful, criminal policies.

    Well, if you read the post, I never claimed it did. I used that as a jumping-off point to discuss what I see as a broader concern. Namely, the odd tendency to attack people who criticize Obama’s abortion policy rather than the policy itself.

    2) MM did not criticize the statement from the Vatican on the matter.

    Well, no. He didn’t mention it at all, and then he criticized U.S. Catholics for talking about it instead of Gaza.

    3) Nor did he say that those who are criticizing the Mexico City policy are wrong to criticize it and “should be talking instead about U.S. funding to Israel.”

    I agree that he didn’t say they were wrong to criticize it (and, if you read, I didn’t say he did). Instead he criticized the people who were criticizing it on other grounds. In any case, the text of the post is included above. Anyone reading this can evaluate that for themselves.

    4) He is saying that so-called “pro-life” Catholics should not de-emphasize equally grave matters of u.s. policy according to their partisan leanings. He is saying that human lives who are not white, american babies are also made in the image and likeness of God.

    Michael, that is a deeply ironic response. We are talking about the Mexico City Policy which funds the abortion of non-‘white, american babies’. We do not need to be reminded that their lives are valuable; that’s why we object to funding to abort them.

  • Writing for Vox Nova means never having to say “I’m wrong, sorry.”

  • He is saying that so-called “pro-life” Catholics should not de-emphasize equally grave matters of u.s. policy according to their partisan leanings.

    Is calling the Mexico City Policy a trifle de-emphasizing a grave matter of U.S. policy?

  • Overturning it allows funding to those organizations to be used for abortion; which, basically, authorizes funding for abortion internationally.

    No it doesn’t.

  • He is saying that human lives who are not white, american babies are also made in the image and likeness of God.

    Once again, a completely spurious insinuation of racism. It’s hard even to put into words how stupid Michael I. is, given that the Mexico City Policy has nothing to do with “white, american babies” — quite the contrary.

    [Ed. Please refrain from referring to people as ‘stupid’]

  • MZ,

    This line of yours is getting deeply obtuse. As you know, money is a fungible resource. If the US government provides lots of “family planning” money to organizations which also provide abortion internationally, it frees up the other funds they were previously using to pay for “family planning” services to fund abortion. It scales their operations overall, and that can’t help but end up funding abortions.

    Come to that, how about if you go shout at MM that although the US provides Israel with lots of financial, humanitarian and military aid, it doesn’t specifically earmark that money for Gaza, and so obviously there’s nothing to protest.

  • Michael, that is a deeply ironic response. We are talking about the Mexico City Policy which funds the abortion of non-’white, american babies’. We do not need to be reminded that their lives are valuable; that’s why we object to funding to abort them.

    Well, I find it interesting that no one on this blog has expressed concerns about Mexicans having abortions — only that we will now supposedly be funding them. Do you care that they are having abortions in Mexico, or that you are now connected to them in a more clear way?

  • Well, I find it interesting that no one on this blog has expressed concerns about Mexicans having abortions — only that we will now supposedly be funding them. Do you care that they are having abortions in Mexico, or that you are now connected to them in a more clear way?

    Wha?

    As you ought to be aware, Michael, abortion is generally illegal in Mexico. The policy is called the Mexico City Policy because it was announced at the UN International Conference on Population in Mexico City in 1984. (As an interesting footnote, Alan Keyes was one of those closely involved in writing the policy.)

    Indeed, one of the reasons some of us consider this something other than a “trifle” is that organizations which are defunded by the policy (such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation) are among those US-based organizations which actively agitate against the anti-abortion laws of a number of countries with better moral cultures on this issue than our own.

    Do you really imagine the issues to be separate? When IPPF was defunded under the Mexico City Policy it lost 20% of its global funding. Do you think that _didn’t_ help reduce the spread of abortion?

    Of course we don’t want to see the unborn of other countries slaughtered — that is why we are objecting to funding the butchers. That’s why we don’t respond to this kind of thing by saying “Yawn.” or saying, “Oh, look over there!” If anyone is going to be accused of not caring about the abortion of “brown babies” perhaps it is the Catholics running interference for Obama on this one?

  • If one gets to change the subject, why not change it to this: Obama ordered Predator strikes on Pakistan on Friday:

    “Two missile attacks launched from remotely piloted American aircraft killed at least 15 people in western Pakistan on Friday. The strikes suggested that the use of drones to kill militants within Pakistan’s borders would continue under President Obama.

    Remotely piloted Predator drones operated by the Central Intelligence Agency have carried out more than 30 missile attacks since last summer against members of Al Qaeda and other terrorism suspects deep in their redoubts on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan.

    But some of the attacks have also killed civilians, enraging Pakistanis and making it harder for the country’s shaky government to win support for its own military operations against Taliban guerrillas in the country’s lawless border region.

    …In the second attack, missiles struck a house near the village of Wana in South Waziristan, killing seven people, according to local accounts and Pakistani news reports. The reports said three of the dead were children.”

    Gaza? Gee, what about the warmongering occupant of the White House? Oh, that’s right, his name’s not Bush – never mind. No anti-war organization has yet condemned, or even commented, on these strikes, although I am sure they would have if the attacks had occurred a week ago.

  • One thing that is missing from these discussions is a more serious look at what Israel is facing. Very large numbers of Palestinians – and quite a few of their “leadership” – want Jews and Christians and homosexuals and the secular and “unclean” women and “apostates” ect dead dead dead dead – especially Israelis.

    Those concerned with “brown babies” more than Internet posturing would do well to start with a failed and truly vile Palestinian civil society: this is the very root of the conflict, an absolute refusal to live in peace. “Cease fires” are a time to rearm. Fatah is replaced with Hamas. Go look at the Hamas charter – a sentiment which has widespread support in Gaza and elsewhere. Islamic Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizbollah and who knows what other groups are hanging around, ready to fund and participate in terror.

    In leftist Catholic considerations of Israel and Gaza, how often is there criticism of this madness? The “leaders” and the “men on the street” are extremely open about their views, views that ain’t that hard to discover.

  • jonathanjoones02: Exactly right. A Vox Nova poster absurdly referred to the Palestinians as “Holy Innocents” – this is a society where “Mein Kampf” is a best seller, “martyrs” who blow themselves up at Jewish seders are celebrated, and children are fed Jew hatred with their mother’s milk. The greatest abusers of Palestinian children are their own elders.

    But in the moral calulus of the Left, nothing Israel does to defend itself is ever justified and no action of the Palestinians, however depraved, ever discredits them.

    That’s because it really isn’t about “little brown children.” The Left has never shown much concern when brown people kill each other. It’s about their hatred for Israel and the US.

  • “white babies”, Michael J.?

    When is the left going to get concerned about “black” and “red” babies? (I really detest using crayon colors to describe people, in this case African Americans and Hispanics, but it seems to be the going phrase per Obama’s benediction reverend.) Somewhere around HALF of all black conceptions are ended in abortions in the United States; the systematic effect of Planned Parenthood’s silent extermination of black America. And abroad, the white socialists who run PP are working over time to “keep the population down” in other non-white populations.

  • One thing that is missing from these discussions is a more serious look at what Israel is facing.

    Jonathan, I don’t disagree with you, but at the same time, such a discussion validates the rhetorical ploy of changing the subject.

  • Sorry, I got carried away. Michael I is not stupid; it’s just his reflexive impulse to cry racism where it’s not even arguably applicable.

  • Michael,

    I find it difficult to take that seriously. When I mention the worldwide abortion rate and the horrors of a spreading evil that makes other issues, by the way, look like a picnic — roughly 42 million abortions occur worldwide in 365 days — I think I’m concerned about the abortions in Mexico as well.

    As an African American, George is completely right. It is a fact that roughly 1 in 2 African American pregnancies ends in abortion. It is a fact that the abortion industry is a for-profit industry that throws up “clinics” in minority neighborhoods targetting potential groups that will make them money.

    I can’t help but find the dismissal of Obama’s abortion policies as disturbing. The attack goes to the “right” and seemingly not even a word of criticism goes to the President’s “pro-choice” policies. It’s a scapegoat. This is no small matter. You want to talk about racism, abortion is wiping out MY people. Abortion is systematically the number one killer of black people and is currently the leading cause of black deaths. In America, blacks are the only minority group on the decline in population.

    Not to diminish other issues’ importance, but really, in 2006, I think it was, there were an estimated 42 million abortions worldwide that year and what I’m certain of, was that this number was a decline from 1995’s 48 million abortions worldwide — and I cannot be convinced that the removal of international funding of abortions did not play some part in this. So really, if we’re have well over 40 million abortions every single year in the decades that abortion has been common and widespread…the near 40 million people who’ve died from AIDS in totality, from WWI, WWII, the holocaust, Darfur, other diseases, domestic violence is pale in comparision to the scope and gravity of abortion…for really even now since the founding of America, from the beginning capital punishment only amounts to 4 days of abortion; the war in Iraq, 15 days of abortion.

    I’m no conservative and I am in no way making an argument that those other issues should be thrown on back burners, but the seeming way abortion is just another issue in your eyes is profoundly mistaken. If the issue were slavery or human trafficking that were being funded, I imagine, for some reason, that your response would be different. If we were explicitly sending money and weapons to Israel encouraging a war, you’d be blowing a trumphet and perhaps accusing the “right” of being apathetic — this would be my guess from all I have seen you say. However, when Obama does something profoundly out of accord with the natural law, the scapegoat is “well, you don’t care about these issues…you don’t look at these issues….or, that’s partisan” and you don’t simply seem torn by the fact that Obama’s own rhetoric is being consistent though many people who voted for him seemed to believe that he would be bipartisan.

    Abortion, by far, is the gravest evil that humanity has found itself capable of because the target is most vulnerable and defenseless target one can possibly imagine. It is the legalized, public funded, organized systematic elimination of human life on a global scale that is hardly given second thought by billions of people.

    In light of this, comments like “‘pro-life’ Catholics should not de-emphasize equally grave matters of u.s. policy according to their partisan leanings. He is saying that human lives who are not white, american babies are also made in the image and likeness of God’ is absurd.

    The first line instinctively creates division by framing the argument that any disagreement with you leads to a status of not being “pro-life.” The second matter presupposes that any disagreement on a means to an end is based solely on partisanship and not on reasonable disagreement. It presupposes that people are racist and only care about white American babies, when oh, just in fact, yesterday at the Texas March for Life a pro-life white mother speaking had adopted 3 black children to save their lives from abortion. The rhetoric of the argument hinges itself on contemporary “liberal” mentality, that is, I am the agent of tolerance and everyone who disagrees with me is intolerant, which leads to an imposition of one’s views on everyone else as the only real tolerant views, which is not “tolerance” but rather fascism.

    If you don’t think the conflict with Gaza and Israel, terrible as it is, is *equal* to the mass, quiet extermination of unborn children at the rate of over 40 million a year, then you aren’t “pro-life” and don’t care about babies in other countries, which are made in the image and likeness of God too, you know — as if everyone didn’t already believe that.

    The framing of your argument is divisive…and the other side is being partisan?

  • I meant to say Obama’s rhetoric is INCONSISTENT.

    oops.

  • Eric, that is a telling and very tragic perspective you give. I don’t think it would be hyperbole to label abortion, among its many other horrors, as something like a black genocide. That’s a phrase that gets sensationalist attention at pro-life marches, but the numbers do back it up.

    Fredericka Mathews-Green hopes that our generation wakes up and realizes the crimes of the previous generation. I hope we do too.
    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YThhMThhOWE5MzQwNGFkMWJlZDYzYWUyYjdjOGFlZjc=

  • I saw the posting about Holy Innocent’s of Gaza on Vox Nova the other day and it really turns my stomach, the real Holy Innocents are the 40 Million aborted children. One could include the children of Gaza in that class too, as long as one acknowledges fairly who plays Herod in that scenario… it is their parents who support Hamas and the Hamas terrorists who use their homes, and neighborhoods to launch terror attacks at Israel. While it’s possible, some Israeli responses are excessive, and a degree of culpability may apply, it is a moral certainty that Hamas is responsible for those murders.

    Eric,

    we don’t always agree, but you have hit the nail on the head here. Well said.

    Matt

  • M.Z.,

    It would be helpful if you would explain the delicate distinction you are making here. To me there is no distinction to be made between providing funding to organizations that perform abortions and funding abortion, but I would be relieved to be proven wrong. Why do you say that overturning the MCP won’t lead to funding abortion internationally?

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Saturday, January 24, AD 2009

Something for the weekend.  Another in my ongoing series of posts related to Lincoln leading up to his 200th birthday on February 12, 2009.  The Battle Hymn of the Republic by Julia Ward Howe.  Lincoln loved the Battle Hymn of the Republic.  After he first heard it performed, he asked, with tears in his eyes, that it be sung again.  Fittingly, it was sung at his funeral.

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Miracle of the Sun

Saturday, January 24, AD 2009

On the cold and rainy day of October 13, 1917 A.D. in the Cova da Iria fields near Fatima, Portugal, three shepherd children along with an estimated crowd of 100,000 witnessed the Miracle of the Sun.  The sun danced and zig-zagged its way towards the crowd for approximately 10 minutes where it then suddenly ceased and returned to it’s natural position.  The moment the sun ceased what was previously a wet and soaked crowd became dry along with the grass, dirt, shrubs, and trees in the within the surrounding area.  Many miracles were reported as well as sitings as far away as Poland and Italy.

The following is a compilation of photographs taken that very day.

For more information go here.

(YouTube Biretta Tip: Patrick Madrid via Kevin Knight)

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One Response to Miracle of the Sun

MoralAccountability.com

Saturday, January 24, AD 2009

A new website: MoralAccountability.com. This is their mission statement:

In the course of the 2008 presidential campaign, a small group of Catholic and Evangelical Protestant intellectuals and activists, while saying that they personally support legal protection for the unborn and oppose the redefinition of marriage, promoted the candidacy of Barack Obama, who made no secret of his intention to wipe out the entire range of laws restricting or discouraging abortion and embryo-destructive research, or of his opposition to all state and federal initiatives (such as California Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act) to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman. These men and women assured their fellow Christians and other social conservatives that Obama’s economic policies would reduce the incidence of abortion, and they promised that Obama was being honest when he said that he was opposed to “same-sex marriage.”

Despite these assurances, we fear that the Obama administration will swiftly begin an assault on pro-life laws and pro-marriage policies.

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2 Responses to MoralAccountability.com

Generations & American Catholicism

Friday, January 23, AD 2009

There have been some refreshingly candid (if not entirely harmonious) conversations over at Mirror of Justice recently about the blog’s mission as it approaches its fifth anniversary. Mirror of Justice is a great resource for Catholic legal scholarship, and it has a diverse set of contributors with different perspectives on Catholic legal theory.

I have thoughts about many of the issues that have come up, but one topic that I found especially interesting was the discussion of generational differences.

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30 Responses to Generations & American Catholicism

  • As a college student, I think that it’s true. Most of the people who really care about the Catholic faith are faithful to the Magisterium. However, there are plenty of people who self-describe as Catholic who openly dissent from the Church both in teachings and lifestyle.

    but again I think you’re right. The people who aren’t faithful to the Magisterium aren’t that concerned with their religion at all: they might go to Mass on Easter/Christmas and their grandmother might push the to marry in a Church, but as far as pushing theology or going into the seminary it seems that they’re faithful. Of course there are many exceptions, but that seems to be the trend, which is good news for the Church

  • I don’t know. Having just finished a BA and a MS at a major Jesuit University, I saw upfront how Jesuits/arch-leftists train the Magisterium-haters of the future. Meanwhile, serious Catholics (especially the children of serious Catholics) are relegated to organizing a Christian life on the fringes of campus (physically and metaphorically). In the middle are a lot of eager but leaderless and uninspired Catholics who aimlessly spiritually traverse campus, often following whoever speaks loudest. Then of course, there are the many Protestants or agnostics in the prime position for evangelization on a college campus who interact with the lowest elements of the Church and hear nothing but contempt and distrust about University bureaucrats and clergy from their more-serious Catholic friends.

  • I don’t think the “smaller and purer church” is what you think it is.

  • Well, in turn, I don’t think I think what you think I think the “smaller and purer church” is. If you find that response entirely useless, we will be in the same position.

    All of which is to say, specificity would be appreciated. 😉

  • I feel that those young dissenters eventually leave. Not all, but most. Like George Crosley said that there are those that are being trained in Magesterium hating. Hopefully they will hold less influence as better Catholics begin ignoring them altogether.

    My opinion on a smaller and purer church are those 10%ers, 10% of Catholics who actually practice their faith, are whom Pope Benedict is referring to. They will be the mustard seed, the creative minority that will invigorate their fellow Catholics as well as their surrounding culture. The liberals-protesting-School-of-America types will either convert to being faithful Catholics or go off into the dark unknown and be soon forgotten like the Hans Kungs of the world.

  • Michael,

    I am curious about your thoughts on the subject of the generational divide, as we obviously have had very different experiences of the Church. I’d also be interested in your thoughts on George’s comment. As a product of Jesuit institutions, I am sure you have some opinions, and I would be interested in hearing them (if you wish to share them).

    My (limited) experience with schools ‘in the Jesuit tradition’ suggests there is a fair amount of truth in what George says, but you would be in a better position to comment.

  • The debates and tensions that George talks about have nothing to do with whether a campus is “Jesuit” or not. Yes, I spent a lot of time at a Jesuit school (bachelors and masters, plus a few years as a campus minister). While I was a campus minister I did a lot of networking with other Jesuit schools and non-Jesuit Catholic schools, both in the campus ministry and campus activism circles. I assure you, each of the 28 Jesuit universities is quite different and has its own issues. My own alma mater, though the smallest of the Jesuit schools, was quite diverse and it certainly wasn’t a “training ground” for dissenters. I think all Catholic schools wrestle with questions of Catholic identity and what it means to be a faithful Catholic. It’s not limited to Jesuit schools.

    The liberals-protesting-School-of-America types will either convert to being faithful Catholics or go off into the dark unknown and be soon forgotten like the Hans Kungs of the world.

    This show how seriously we can take Tito. A Catholic’s position on the School of the Americas has nothing to do with his or her orthodoxy. They only orthodoxy that SOA protesting Catholics question is americanist orthodoxy. I have long suspected that Tito gets those two mixed up all the time. Now it’s quite obvious. If Tito only knew the number of faithful priests, sisters, brothers, and bishops who are part of the SOA Watch movement. But he isn’t interested in facts, only that SOA Watch Catholics are a “helpful” target in his rants.

  • I’ve certainly seen a generational difference in how people address the Church if they disagree with it. Those 50 and over seem a lot more likely to still identify as Catholic and even be very involved in parish activities while strongly disagreeing with major Church moral and doctrinal teachings. And even those who seldom if ever go to Church still generally call themselves “Catholic” — unless they’ve become Protestant.

    Those our age, however, definitely seem to see being Catholic as something you choose, or don’t. A couple of my coworkers have used phrases like “my parents are Catholic”, “I used to be Catholic” or “I went to Catholic schools”, which I don’t think you’d hear out of older non-practicing or ex-Catholics.

  • Those our age, however, definitely seem to see being Catholic as something you choose, or don’t.

    I think there is some truth to this, but I think it’s far from clear whether or not this is a good thing. I think it’s ambiguous.

  • An interesting example is that of Michael Harrington, Jesuit trained in St. Louis in the 1940s and 1950s. He was interested in social issues, worked for a time with Dorothy Day. and then organized various versions of the Socialist party. He could not abide Dorothy Day’s firm commitment to the Church.

    Interestingly enough, it was the legalisation of the contraceptive pill which was the determining factor in his relations with the Church. One might say that he was too bright for his own good, a characteristic not uncommon among students at Jesuit schools. .

  • Michael I.,

    Yes, people such as Fr. Roy Bourgeois are excellent examples of following the Churches teachings.

  • I think there is some truth to this, but I think it’s far from clear whether or not this is a good thing. I think it’s ambiguous.

    I think it may arguably be the best that we can hope for in the modern world we live in.

    There’s an advantage to people continuing to think of themselves as Catholic (or at least continuing to think of Catholicism as simply being _the_ form of religion available) in that this leaves them with an obvious course of return should they become sufficiently “mugged by reality” to start drifting back towards God. I certainly think that it’s better than not if people who “aren’t religious” continue to see calling for a priest as the obvious thing to do at the end of life or at the death of a loved one or at some other inflection point in life.

    However, in the modern world — perhaps in part because Catholicism is too often seen as one denomination among many, and Protestant denominations have been in a pretty active process over the last 200 years of adapting Christianity to the needs of the spirit of the age — the choices seem to be between either a “the Church doesn’t change, love it or leave it” or “Catholic is a cultural identity and the sooner those old celibate guys catch on to what we with-it people believe, the better”. Of these, the former is clearly preferable.

    Ideally, of course, would be an understanding that the Church does not change combined with people lapsing but never actually repudiating the Church. However that does not seem to be forthcoming at this time.

  • I think that it’s not possible to break Catholics, young or old, into two categories. It’s more like an xy diagram, with 4 quadrants. There are faithful Catholics in every sense, those for whom religion is important but don’t consider it necessary to be faithful to the magisterium, those who are simply lax in every sense, and probably a portion who while orthodox in their beliefs don’t take their faith seriously.

    Only one of these quadrants entails the smaller, purer Church referred to by Pope Benedict. I think that something non-orthodox Catholics don’t understand, to culpably hold heresy is to incur excommunication:

    Can. 1364 §1. Without prejudice to the prescript of ? can. 194, §1, n. 2, an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication; in addition, a cleric can be punished with the penalties mentioned in ? can. 1336, §1, nn. 1, 2, and 3.

    All that remains is to give them an opportunity to repent and issue the proclamations.

    Michael I,

    I think all Catholic schools wrestle with questions of Catholic identity and what it means to be a faithful Catholic.

    I don’t see how this is possible, it is all clearly spelled out in the CCC. Now, if you mean wrestling with questions of WANTING a Catholic identity or WANTING to be a faithful Catholic, that would be accurate.

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM

    There’s nothing particularly difficult about what it means to be a faithful Catholic, the only difficulty is actually practicing it.

    Matt

  • Yes, people such as Fr. Roy Bourgeois are excellent examples of following the Churches teachings.

    You do know that the SOA Watch movement has existed for over 10 years and that Fr Roy’s “issues” have only occurred within the last 6 months? You do know that Fr Roy cannot be equated with the entire movement? You do know that I have been involved in the SOA Watch movement for about 8-9 years, and that I DISAGREE with what Fr Roy did?

    Are you able to make these distinctions, or are you really that stupid?

    Matt – You’re off the page, man. What’s up with you?

  • Michael I,

    so you didn’t know Fr. Roy’s support of women’s ordination before 6 months ago? It was well known by those outside the SOA movement. Do you know any other of the SOA Watch members that are in favor of women’s ordination? Any that publicly oppose the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, contraception, abortion, or liberation theology?

    It really would assist the dialogue if you would refrain from vague statements like “you’re off the page”, I’m sure it’s an insult, I just don’t get it…as well as to avoid calling people names, it’s really un-christian.

    Matt

  • Fr Roy’s “position” on women’s ordination was not as issue until he participated in a fake ordination.

    Do you know any other of the SOA Watch members that are in favor of women’s ordination? Any that publicly oppose the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, contraception, abortion, or liberation theology?

    Of course. But I know plenty of pro-life people who are in favor of women’s ordination, and who question the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, contraception, and liberation theology but I doubt you’d want to discredit the entire pro-life movement on their account.

    I didn’t call you names. I said you were off the page.

    Can you tell me in one sentence the Church’s view on liberation theology?

  • Michael,

    Fr Roy’s “position” on women’s ordination was not as issue until he participated in a fake ordination.

    Really? You think it’s morally acceptable to support women’s ordination as long as you don’t participate in a fake ordination?


    Do you know any other of the SOA Watch members that are in favor of women’s ordination? Any that publicly oppose the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, contraception, abortion, or liberation theology?

    Of course. But I know plenty of pro-life people who are in favor of women’s ordination, and who question the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, contraception, and liberation theology but I doubt you’d want to discredit the entire pro-life movement on their account.

    Perhaps in the circles you run with Michael, but not in any group that I would affiliate myself with. Perhaps you should be more careful.

    I didn’t call you names. I said you were off the page.

    You called Tito stupid.

    Can you tell me in one sentence the Church’s view on liberation theology?

    I’m surprised, running in the circles you do, I’d think you were deeply versed in it. Benedict XVI has made the connection between Liberation Theology and “millenarianism”, but it is a far more complex topic to distill in a single sentence. The Church’s position is nuanced, an area fraught with pitfalls which must be carefully avoided in order to remain orthodox. Frankly, in an organization where many other heterodox positions abounds, one is likely to find forbidden forms of liberation theology at it’s root. Here’s a link for you that you might begin to study these issues:
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19840806_theology-liberation_en.html

    Matt

  • Really? You think it’s morally acceptable to support women’s ordination as long as you don’t participate in a fake ordination?

    Haha. Morally acceptable? Without a doubt, yes. Theologically acceptable from the official Roman Catholic perspective? Ah, that’s where the debate is. Since we can’t even agree on what kind of discussion we’re having (moral, theological, doctrinal, etc.) I doubt we will get very far.

    Frankly, in an organization where many other heterodox positions abounds, one is likely to find forbidden forms of liberation theology at it’s root.

    1) What “organization” are you talking about?

    2) The Church has not forbidden any particular “forms” of liberation theology. It has warned about certain tendencies, of course.

    Here’s a link for you that you might begin to study these issues…

    I “began” to study these issues over ten years ago. I’m now working on a doctorate focusing on them.

  • Michael,

    Really? You think it’s morally acceptable to support women’s ordination as long as you don’t participate in a fake ordination?

    Haha. Morally acceptable? Without a doubt, yes. Theologically acceptable from the official Roman Catholic perspective? Ah, that’s where the debate is. Since we can’t even agree on what kind of discussion we’re having (moral, theological, doctrinal, etc.) I doubt we will get very far.

    moral == theological == doctrinal… It’s all the same baby.

    Frankly, in an organization where many other heterodox positions abounds, one is likely to find forbidden forms of liberation theology at it’s root.

    1) What “organization” are you talking about?

    I don’t understand, you haven’t read the posts? SOA Watch.

    2) The Church has not forbidden any particular “forms” of liberation theology. It has warned about certain tendencies, of course.

    She has done more than “warn”, she has excommunicated adherents to unorthodox forms of liberation theology.

    Here’s a link for you that you might begin to study these issues…

    I “began” to study these issues over ten years ago. I’m now working on a doctorate focusing on them.

    So, you of all people should know that the issue can not be distilled in one sentence… what a strange question to ask.

  • moral == theological == doctrinal… It’s all the same baby.

    Incorrect.

    I don’t understand, you haven’t read the posts? SOA Watch.

    I see. Well then you should be able to produce some evidence that SOA Watch has “forbidden forms of liberation theology at it’s (sic) root.” Please produce some.

    She has done more than “warn”, she has excommunicated adherents to unorthodox forms of liberation theology.

    Who has the Church excommunicated for their liberation theology?

    So, you of all people should know that the issue can not be distilled in one sentence… what a strange question to ask.

    It’s not a strange question to ask if you have distilled the complexity of this and other related concerns in single sentences, as you have above and elsewhere. You seem to have it all figured out (“t is all clearly spelled out in the CCC,” for example), so I figured you could deal with my request.

  • Michael J. Iafrate
    Comment:
    Matt: moral == theological == doctrinal… It’s all the same baby.

    Michael: Incorrect.

    Perhaps you could explain in a little more detail how the doctrine of the Church is in disharmony with theology and morality.

    I see. Well then you should be able to produce some evidence that SOA Watch has “forbidden forms of liberation theology at it’s (sic) root.” Please produce some.

    I didn’t say that it did, I just suggested that if there is a lot of rejection of Church teaching, you can probably find “forbidden forms of liberation theology at its root”. My basis for this conclusion is that the revolution called for by millenarianism includes revolution against the Church’s teachings in many areas which the adherents consider to be patriarchal or bigoted.

    She has done more than “warn”, she has excommunicated adherents to unorthodox forms of liberation theology.

    Who has the Church excommunicated for their liberation theology?

    Fr. Balasuriya (lifted after he renounced his position)

    It’s not a strange question to ask if you have distilled the complexity of this and other related concerns in single sentences, as you have above and elsewhere. You seem to have it all figured out (“t is all clearly spelled out in the CCC,” for example), so I figured you could deal with my request.

    I don’t have it all figured out, the Church does.
    CCC 11:
    This catechism aims at presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals, in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church’s Tradition. Its principal sources are the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy, and the Church’s Magisterium. It is intended to serve “as a point of reference for the catechisms or compendia that are composed in the various countries

    Matt

  • Fr. Balasuriya (lifted after he renounced his position)

    His excommunication had nothing to do with liberation theology. It had to do with his (former) position on Mary.

    Perhaps you could explain in a little more detail how the doctrine of the Church is in disharmony with theology and morality.

    I didn’t say that they were in “disharmony.” I said that the terms are not equivalent. Thus, you asked if it was “morally wrong” to believe in women’s ordination. The Church obviously teaches it’s doctrinally wrong, but not that it’s morally wrong. The Church teaches a lot of things, but disagreeing with a particular teaching might not, in fact, be “morally” wrong.

    You didn’t answer my question about why you wouldn’t discredit the pro-lilfe movement, even though there are pro-life people who are for women’s ordination and other “morally wrong” things, but you (and Tito) will discredit the SOA mv’t for the same thing.

  • I don’t have it all figured out, the Church does.
    CCC 11:
    This catechism aims at presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals…

    That a book exists which teaches the “essential and fundamental”s of Catholic doctrine regarding “faith and morals” means the Catholic Church has it “all” figured out? Why won’t the Church share their cures for cancer and AIDS with the rest of the world then? And in what chapter of the Catechism can we find that?

  • Michael I,
    Fr. Balasuriya (lifted after he renounced his position)

    His excommunication had nothing to do with liberation theology. It had to do with his (former) position on Mary.

    Really? The title of his condemned work is Mary and Human Liberation, so yes, it relates to Mary…However, the declaration listed errors related to difficulties with his form of liberation theology relating to original sin, the nature of Christ, the nature and necessity of the Church for salvation, Marian dogmas, and papal infallibility.

    If this is your area of study, and you are unaware of these things, that is a problem, I hope your professors don’t figure it out. If you are aware of them and yet try to obfuscate to support your position, that is something else.

    Perhaps you could explain in a little more detail how the doctrine of the Church is in disharmony with theology and morality.

    I didn’t say that they were in “disharmony.” I said that the terms are not equivalent. Thus, you asked if it was “morally wrong” to believe in women’s ordination. The Church obviously teaches it’s doctrinally wrong, but not that it’s morally wrong. The Church teaches a lot of things, but disagreeing with a particular teaching might not, in fact, be “morally” wrong.

    You are in serious and dangerous error here. The Church has declared infallibly that she has no authority to ordain women, that it is not a matter of discipline, but a matter of faith and morals universally taught by the ordinary magisterium. Doctrinal assertions with regard to faith and morals demand our intellectual assent, but not assent of faith, this is not one of those cases, it demands assent of faith, even if you do not understand why it is so.


    You didn’t answer my question about why you wouldn’t discredit the pro-lilfe movement, even though there are pro-life people who are for women’s ordination and other “morally wrong” things, but you (and Tito) will discredit the SOA mv’t for the same thing.

    Yes I did, SOA is an organization, pro-life is a movement. None of the pro-life groups I affiliate with have members publicly opposing the Church’s teachings.

    I don’t have it all figured out, the Church does.
    CCC 11:
    This catechism aims at presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals…

    That a book exists which teaches the “essential and fundamental”s of Catholic doctrine regarding “faith and morals” means the Catholic Church has it “all” figured out? Why won’t the Church share their cures for cancer and AIDS with the rest of the world then? And in what chapter of the Catechism can we find that?

    The cures for AIDS? Well an ounce of prevention, which is covered in the Catechism is worth a pound of cure. As to cancer? She has done better… She has through the sacrifice of Our Lord cured death itself. This may sound like a smug turn of phrase, but I am precisely demonstrating that Michael I’s view of the Church’s mission is flawed and that drives many of his erroneous positions. The Last four things are Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell, worry more about preparing for these things and we can worry less about cancer and AIDS.

    Part 1, Section 2, Chapter 3

    Matt
    ps. I’m noticing a common thread here on the relationship between rejecting Church teaching on women’s ordination and liberation theology, does anybody else see this?

  • Matt you are a nut case. Notice how I am the only one talking to you or acknowledging you exist? I think this blog’s contributors are distancing themselves from you.

  • Michael I,

    whenever you are unable to respond substantially you resort to such ad hominem nonsense. Really, grow up, be a man, and post like one. I know it can be frustrating that you can’t silence your critics here like you and your lefty buddies do on Vox Nova, but surely you can overcome this childishness.

  • Alright, well that’s enough of the Iafrate v. McDonald showdown for now. I probably should have stepped in sooner; at any rate, any subsequent back-and-forth between you two on this thread will be deleted.

  • May I have Matt’s email address?

  • Matt, you are welcome to continue your ridiculous comments in my email inbox.

Obama's New Politics and Abortion

Friday, January 23, AD 2009

Yesterday was the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling by the Supreme Court, and also the day of the annual March For Life. It was also the anniversary of the day on which President Clinton had reversed Reagan’s Mexico City Policy, which denies US funds slated for international family planning services to any organization which provides or refers people to abortions. And the anniversary of the day on which President Bush reinstated the policy.

Given that President Obama had promised to move quickly to rescind the policy again as Clinton had, news organizations ranging from Lifesite News to NPR reported that he would probably follow his predescessor’s lead by issuing an executive order on abortion on January 22nd as well. It was thus mildly surprising when the Christian Broadcasting Network broke the story that Obama would not rescind the policy on the day of the March for Life. A few Catholic progressives got carried away and scolded their anti-Obama bretheren for jumping the gun, and it was more widely suggested this was a sign of the sort of approach Obama would take to moral issues more widely: treading slowly and granting respect to his opponents views.

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11 Responses to Obama's New Politics and Abortion

  • Another interesting note is that Obama was invited to speak or send a message to the march but declined to do so (in his defense, Republican presidents have always sent messages, but never appeared). It seems like he isn’t interested in talking to let alone listening to the voices he claims to respect, 200,000 of them…

    Matt

  • Informative essay by Dick Morris in The Hill- quoted extensively by Prof. Dr. Limbaugh on Thursday broadcast. Speculating on likely modus operendi of Obama Administration in association with Dem allies on Capitol Hill. Burying messy controversial stuff- Fairness Doctrine, etc.- on page 474 of Bank Bailout Aid To Kumquat Growers And Other Stuff Bill. Maybe how FOCA will be sent forth, buried under language even the most dedicated legislator will not read in advance. Or as Roberta Flack sang in 70s- killing me softly with his song. Beware soft singers with big authority.

  • but I suspect this is pretty much the compromise that we will get from President Obama on the abortion issue throughout his presidency: He will consent to avoid humiliating us in the most obvious ways, but will not actually change his agenda in the process.

    Exactly. We’ll get token nods that he “respects” our views, will not go out of his way to poke his finger in our eyes, and then he will go ahead with policies that our anathema to us.

    In this way, Obama may prove to be the polar opposite of GWB. Whereas Bush’s rhetoric left pro-lifers looking for more, the actual policies related to abortion were what we wanted.

    I really hope no one is naive enough to be taken in by Obama waiting an extra day to implement pernicious policies.

  • I’m pleased that President Obama recognizes that we can defend ourselves and respect the dignity of those who mean us harm, but I wish and hope that one day he recognizes that we can defend women’s rights and respect the dignity of those not yet born.

  • Kyle,

    You should write a letter to the President making that very point. Excellent observation.

  • For a while, I was skeptical, but somewhat optimistic that I had judged Obama too harshly and maybe he was capable of being bipartisan and pragmatic. Then again, I realized why I have a tendency to be skeptical. This is horrid; expected, but still very very terrible. This is not “common ground.”

    And yes, Kyle — I’m a paying member of FFL (Feminists for Life of America) and that’s one of the mottos: to be pro-woman is to be pro-life.

  • I’m not sure why it seems to be expected that pro-lifers should be grateful to have their noses rubbed in the President’s hard-core pro-abortion policies on the day after the Roe v. Wade anniversary instead of on it. The implication is that abortion is really no big deal and not “humiliating” pro-lifers (as if not being humiliated were what the movement was about) is a more-than-acceptable “compromise”–so now won’t you irritating Bible thumpers please acknowledge our new President’s magnanimity, then go away quietly?

    Not too long ago I came across an article by Jill Stanek in which she described some of her exchanges with the President regarding the Illinois BAIPA. As she told it, after her testimony about infants being left to die after late abortions, Christ Hospital sought to avoid embarrassment by outfitting a “comfort room” where that parents of those infants could, if desired, sit comfortably and hold their aborted babies until death. When she mentioned the room disparagingly during subsequent testimony, she was scolded by Obama for not really caring about the comfort of these dying children.

    I don’t know what the facts of that story are, but judging from the evident attitude that “We will do what we will, and you must thank us for any scrap we may toss your way, however cosmetic” I have to conclude that it at least has the ring of plausibility.

    Killing third-world babies and imposing forced abortion on powerless women is no big deal, and we accomplished it while being nice to the pro-lifers, too. What a prince of a guy.

    –Yet another FFLer

  • Further proof that there is a God and that clear minds prevail. How scary it must be to the religious radicals on the right that Obama actually puts serious thought into how a policy actually impacts women’s health and their right to make their own reproductive decisions.
    Strengthening pro-choice positions—check
    Next up; stem cell research and true separation of you [censured] from government!

    [Ed. Keep the comments civil, keep the name-calling to zero. This isn’t the Daily Kos]

  • Obama-Can,

    As a male why is it that I have no rights whatsoever as a father to my unborn child that I co-created with my wife? What if men took a similar attitude to challenge child support? What right does anyone decide how my money is spent that i work for. Is my paycheck protected by the right of privacy? OK, I see now. First I loose any chance to protect my unborn child and now I can expect a true seperation from me and government. I should just keep paying my taxes and shut up. Now this is change and the dawn of a new kind of politics.

  • Hello, I want to apologize for not recognizing the Moloch post was satire. There are some pro-aborts that admit abortion is a religion to them, but now I see that you and I are on the side of life. Please accept my apology.

9 Responses to Life Imitates a Simpsons' Episode – A Continuing Series

Flubbing the Oath

Friday, January 23, AD 2009
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14 Responses to Flubbing the Oath

  • “But Biden got some laughs…..” Thus consolidating his role as the Court Jester of the Obama Monarchy. The trips to the attic will be Fact Finding Tours. Get him to Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan. Meet with Medvedev, whoever is running Hamas these days, communing with his soul brother Hugo Chavez. I do not go with conspiracy theories. People do what they do, sometimes in concert with others, always to benefit themselves. But Dick Chaney was given authority far beyond that of a Vice President, perhaps any in that august position. Back in August, while Michael Phelps was breaking Olympic swimming records and Russian tanks were rumbling in Georgia, someone decided that Mr. Obama should have an anti-Chaney as running mate. In part, to enhance the Annointed One’s celestial status. In part, because it might be fun. Thus our Joe. Awaiting more tortured defenses of abortion in light of twisted interpretation of Augustine. Or more dumb statements about the long-suffering Jill. He may provide the limited amount of fun to expect for the next few years. Thus do we see the manifestation of Hope and Change. Perhaps in Jabberin Joe his own self.

  • heh. I posted the video earlier, but it cut out before Biden flubbed the oath.

  • Interestingly, Obama did not find it necessary to use the Lincoln (or any bible) for this corrected swearing in… I guess it was just for show.

    Matt

  • The re-did the oath just to make sure the Constitutional formality was complied with. The Constitution does not mention a Bible, so there was really no need to include one, and I am sure Lincoln’s bible had probably already been returned to wherever they keep it.

  • John Henry,

    I did not say it was not a legal oath… I merely pointed out that the use of the Lincoln or any bible, apparently, was only for show.

    Interestingly, Johnson was sworn in on a Catholic missal they found in Kennedy’s desk on Air Force one.
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2009/01/22/oaths_bibles_and_presidents.html

    I’m pretty sure there was a bible SOMEWHERE nearby.

    Matt

  • Without using google can anyone tell me the President who was sworn into office by his father, a justice of the peace?

  • I should probably ask for clues, but I am going to guess Chester Arthur, needing to be sworn in after Garfield’s inauguration.

  • err, Garfield’s assassination.

  • Woodrow Wilson?

  • I meant calvin coolidge… big difference, eh?

  • Mr. DeFrancisis is correct! Coolidge’s dad was also a Civil War vet, and “Silent Cal” took the oath again later from a Supreme Court justice due to some concern over whether his father, who was a notary public as wll as a justice of the peace, had the authority to swear him in. The first swearing in was done in the middle of the night at his father’s farm after Coolidge received news of Harding’s death. I have always thought that must have been a very proud moment for Coolidge’s father, but I am sure with granite New England reserve he gave no outward indication

  • Hey, at least I was on the right track with my guess. 🙂

  • Coolidge, hun? Boy, I was waaaaaay off. My first guess was John Quincy Adams.

    Gerard E wrote:

    “He(Biden) may provide the limited amount of fun to expect for the next few years.”

    Well, Obama has no siblings to embarrass him, so Biden is stepping up to the plate and taking on the Billy Carter role. Knowing Joe’s love of choo-choos, maybe when Obama sends him on a “fact-finding mission” it will be on an Amtrak that travels in a non-stop loop for the next 4 years.

  • If I were some sort of conspiracy theorist, I might say that the first oath was invalid for lack of proper form, and the second non-binding because of the lack of a bible. This would combine nicely with suggestions that he is disqualified from the presidency due to unanswered questions about his citizenship.

    Fun.

22 Weeks

Thursday, January 22, AD 2009

I haven’t seen 22 weeks yet, but I’m going to, and I think all pro-lifers should.  It brings home the ugly reality of abortion and the bitter grief and despair that inexorably, in this world or the next, each abortion brings.  Here is a review.  May God forgive us all for this great evil that flourishes in our land and in our world.  Abortion is the ultimate taking of the gracious gift of life, and spitting in the face of He who granted it.   Humanity has the capacity for so much good, and this great evil drags us down lower, much lower, than the innocent beasts.  I pray that I will live to see the day when abortion will be viewed with the same horror that we now view slavery.

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4 Responses to 22 Weeks

  • Which I strongly believe will emerge some time in the next 18 to 24 months. One of those totally unseen developments that happen in life. In fact, most traumas in life that way. But will be our non-violent equivalent of 9/11. Besides, the abort industry is yet another set of executives from failing enterprises with hat in hand on Capitol Hill. At one with Citi, GM, big cities, state governments lugging humongous bureaucracies. With more and more Baby Boomer women reaching menopause. We are not Europe. We do not, will not bury our horrid memories of these operations. Watch the women’s magazines on supermarket racks devoted to home, family, health, etc. for the What Have I Done articles. The speed to which La Popessa Oprah The Great, Pontiff of Popular Culture, gives to victims of botched abortions or their kith and kin. Or more distorted interpretations of their horrors by say Maury Povich- fine fella, worked with him here in Philly. But mark my words dear brethren it will come with all deliberate speed. Pretty much how good Pope Paul saw it two generations ago in writing Humanae Vitae. In concert with smart young prelate who 10 years later changed name to Johannes Paulus Two. The Church may or may not get credit for calling out these abominations. Matters little. Only to be ready when Rachel bewails her children.

  • I was privileges to see the premiere of “22 Weeks at the Union Station theater on January 21st, while accompanying a group of 12 homeschooled teenagers to the March for Life. One of our number, Miss Devanie Cooper, is an 19-year-old leader in teh pro-life movement; she received notice from one of her many contacts in the pro-life community that Norma McCorvey (“Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade fame) was attending a viewing of the film, but wanted to meet briefly with us. As we concluded our meeting, Alejandro Monteverde, the *director* of the film, came by, and convinced us to spend the 28 minutes it would take to screen the film even though we were on the way to the vigil Mass for Life at the National Basilica.

    Staying was the best decision we could have made. It’s a disturbing film; but it’s disturbing in a way that people *ought* to be disturbed. when the theater went dark at the end of the film, I could hear a woman behind me somewhere in the theater quietly sobbing; after the film, Alejandro brought up the actress who played the main character…AND the woman on whose story the film was based! Their witness was incredible!

    Yep, please support this film. Buy a copy to screen at your church. Set up viewings in your community. Alejandro even offered to work with large enough groups to personally attend, if the funds could be raised to get them there. It is WAY past time to get the truth into the light about how our abortion industry mistreats women.

  • Deacon Chip and Gerard,

    Thank you for those excellent comments. You both have persuaded me to go and view this film.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • the vatican has to be careful about what Mr. Obama is doing. too much government is not good. he already the o.k. to use tax money to be used for family planning and to pass out codoms through out the world.the church could promote more morality and spirituality. everything will fall in place. have faith in God. catherine

I Win

Thursday, January 22, AD 2009

Let’s sit down and play a game. I’m sure some of you are familiar with it, but for those who are not, the game may need a little description. First, the game is entitled “I win.” No, no, come back, it is a fun game, I promise! Here’s the rules: I win. No matter what you do, I win. If you follow the rules, I win. If you don’t follow the rules, then you have forfeited, and I win. Pretty simple, right?

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4 Responses to I Win

5 Responses to The Presidential Pledge

  • “No Comment”

  • “I pledge to be a servant to (President Barack) Obama…”

    I could write a whole post on the eeriness of a growing cult of worship of our new president. It seems it took the election of President Obama to make these people be “nice to others” and “change” their lives.

    All I needed was our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Sad.

  • The excellent Iowahawk has also updated “The Idiossey” to include the vanquishing of Obamacle’s enemies “Crustius” and “Palina, huntress of Wasilla” and the Inauguration:

    http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/dburge/2009/01/22/the-idiossey/

    The guy is brilliant.

  • Thank you Donna! I hope Iowahawk is cashing in on his writing skill in real life. He truly is one of the wittiest writers I can think of currently, on or off the net.

  • A cross-section:

    …by supporting..our local food bank –Check
    …to be a great mother –Been trying for 20+ years, still at it.
    …to consider myself an American –Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I’m first-gen on one side, BTW.
    …to find a service project –Check. Check. Check. Check…
    …to never give anyone the finger while driving –Who do you think I am?
    …to always find the humor in everything –Sat through this, didn’t I?
    …to meet my neighbors…be of service to them –Check. What, they don’t do that in Hollyweird?
    …to reduce my use of plastic –Done it for years, not to mention recycling.
    …to no longer use plastic bags –Had the reusables in service since the late ’80’s.
    …to flush only after… –TMI, Jason.
    …to turn the lights off –Been doing that since about the age of ten.
    …to not use as much gas –Can’t afford the hybrid, but my car gets 30+/gal
    …to be a servant to our president –Are you out of your mind? Who do you think is paying his salary?

    Are we supposed to assume that it is only because their golden boy is in office that these wonders may now be attempted? What have they been doing for the past eight years, polluting the earth and pushing old ladies out of the way?

2 Responses to When He's Right, He's Right

Bush: Nixon or Truman?

Wednesday, January 21, AD 2009

One hears rather often that George W. Bush has ended his presidency with record low approval ratings. Some articles I’ve read have said (apparently incorrectly) that they are the lowest ever.

pres_approval_history

The above was sent to me yesterday, and it provides an interesting comparison. Two presidents left office with approvals as low as Bush’s: Truman, who faced a struggling post-war economy and a increasingly difficult situation in the Korean War; and Nixon, who was in the middle of being impeached when he resigned.

History has been far kinder to Truman, overall, than Nixon. Indeed, I suspect that few people know that Truman ended his presidency as unpopular as Nixon and Bush. Certainly, I hadn’t realized it. It remains to be seen whether, in 50 years time, Bush will be seen as more like the former or the latter.

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24 Responses to Bush: Nixon or Truman?

  • It might be instructive to line these numbers up with congressional approval ratings, which have been generally about 1/2 George Bush’s since shortly before the Democrats took over.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Approval ratings at the time one leaves office are a poor indicator of what one’s historical legacy will be. It’s too early to make any definitive judgments about our most recent presidents, but I’ll venture a guess as to one of them.

    Bill Clinton left office with the highest approval ratings ever recorded. Yet, this time last year, he was being treated as the enemy by the very people who were most supportive of him when he was in office – African-Americans and left-leaning pundits. How many times in 2008 did we hear people lamenting that they wished Bill Clinton would just go away.

    In 50 years, what will Bill Clinton be remembered for? What were the “big” things that he accomplished for which history marks presidential greatness? The economy? I doubt it. That may help keep one’s approval numbers high, but it’s not the kind of stuff history is made of. I can’t name one other president not named Herbert Hoover or FDR who is remembered for the economy.

  • Good point, Jay.

    I think the reason Truman is remembered as a mixed-to-good president is because it’s recognized that he strove with big problems and got a certain number of them right. Nixon isn’t remembered very positively because he didn’t have any big historic successes, and he went out in disgrace.

    In that sense, I’d say that how Bush is remembered will have a lot to do with what the historical legacy of the events he was involved with were. Primarily — if Iraq and Afghanistan somehow settle out to islands of liberal democracy in the Middle East, and that has good effects in the long run, I would imagine that Bush will be remembered well. If not, then probably he won’t be remembered much, well or badly.

  • can’t name one other president not named Herbert Hoover or FDR who is remembered for the economy.

    In a sense I think Reagan is as well. Surely the Cold War stuff and battling the Soviets is a big part of his legacy, but a lot of people also remember the roaring 80s and tie that in with Reagan. The economy is not the first thing I think about regarding Reagan, but I would guess that’s a big component of his legacy.

  • The economic stuff during the 80s isn’t enough to mark Reagan as a “great” president. Coupled with things such as the Cold War victory, it merely “pads” his legacy.

    But even then, the economy in the 80s was a mixed bag both at the beginning of the decade and by the end of the decade, and I bet people remember the 80s as much for the movie Wall Street as they do for the role Pres. Reagan played in bringing about sustained economic growth.

    My point is that unless your name is Herbert Hoover or FDR, the economy, alone, is not enough to build a historical legacy for good or ill.

  • “Nixon isn’t remembered very positively because he didn’t have any big historic successes …”

    Well, he does get credit from historians for going to China. It’s even become a figure of speech.

  • “My point is that unless your name is Herbert Hoover or FDR, the economy, alone, is not enough to build a historical legacy for good or ill…”

    And, potentially, Obama….

  • While FDR is remembered for ending the Great Depression, in fact, he did more to prolong it than any other factor.

    Thomas Woods a Catholic historian has studied this in detail.

    the lesson is that how presidents are remembered does not necessarily reflect reality.

    Matt

  • “And, potentially, Obama….”

    I believe we’d have to have a crash of epic proportions … another Great Depression, if you will … for that to happen. It might, but short of that, presidents just aren’t remembered for economic successes or failures.

    President Obama’s place in history is already secured by virtue of being the first black president. The economy isn’t going to make or break that legacy. Regardless of what he does – barring an epic failure (and maybe even despite such), he’ll likely forever be rated by historians as among the top 10 presidents in U.S. history.

  • I think Bush will likely be most remembered by his “Bush-isms” – simply put, all the silly things he’s said over the past 8 years. Cobble that together with the war in Iraq and possibly 9/11. The economy? I seriously doubt anyone will remember Bush for that…

  • Additionally, you have to be a bit careful about who you are talking about when referring to how someone is going to be regarded in history – are you referring to how history buffs and historians will regard him, or how the general population will remember him?

  • Ho hum. So much has happened in the War On Terror that neither GWB nor his top aides may yap about in their lifetimes. Heavy deep cover stuff involving branches of armed forces not made public. Wait about 50 years. Hear that sound of silence? No car bombs going off in U.S. downtown areas on regular basis. No hostage dramas consuming cable teevee nets- now that Official Obama Worship is declining, back to missing Caucasian women and children as their obsessives. Thank You, Mr. Bush and Company.

  • A large part of how Bush will be remembered is how Obama does. One large attack on a continental US target by terrorists during the Obama administration and public attitudes toward Bush will change overnight. Additionally if future historians credit Bush with initiating policies that lead to the ultimate defeat of the Islamic jihadists, then his stock will rise just as Harry Truman received credit long after he left office for initiating policies which helped ultimately to win the cold war. It will also depend on whether academia continues to be largely dominated by the Left or if future historians are a more ideologically diverse bunch than the current servants of Cleo.

  • The Truman comparison is apt. Truman was also a war criminal. See Anscomsbe, Elizabeth.

  • Morning’s Minion,

    and yet his unpopularity was in no way related to what you consider a war crime, which the vast majority still support to this day as justified. I don’t think that’s the point of this post anyway.

    Matt

  • “Truman was also a war criminal.”

    I think he was hero who saved millions of lives including one of my uncles who was scheduled to participate as a marine in the invasion of Japan. Of course I can understand how people can have different opinions on the matter. What I can’t understand is how someone who can have so much concern about civilian casualties at Hiroshima and Nagasaki could vote for a pro-abort like Obama. I doubt that the late Elizabeth Anscombe, who got arrested late in life in an Operation Rescue style sit-in against abortion in England, could understand that either. If Harry Truman is a war criminal for civilian deaths at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, what sort of criminal does that make our newly elected President who conducts a never-ending fight to keep the ongoing slaughter of the innocents a constitutional right?

  • Under Truman, the Marshall Plan was implemented and Europe, a smoking ruin of a continent in ’45, was rebuilt. Of course, that left the post-war generation of Europeans, raised in peace and prosperity, with the means and lesiure time to denounce American imperialism and capitalism. Gratitude is the most transient of human emotions.

  • Donald,

    Given that Anscombe was probably the greatest Catholic philsopher of the 20th century, I’m sure she “understood” the issues perfectly. Anscombe had the virtue of consistency, sadly lacking among many American Catholics today– she was indeed arrested for protesting abortion, and she also had a champagne party to celebrate Humanae Vitae in 1968– but she also denounced Truman as a war criminal in the most strudent terms. By the way, she invented the term “consequentialism”, and this was picked up and condemned explicitly by John Paul many years later in Veritatis Splendour. I would hope that a Catholic blog understands that evil cannot be condoned, no matter what good might come of it.

  • Thank you for your information Tony, all of which I was already aware of. Now, once again, if President Truman is to be considered a war criminal for Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the killing of noncombatants , what sort of criminal is President Obama, who you supported in the last election, for his unwavering devotion to abortion, including the disguised infanticide which occurs in partial birth abortion?

  • evil cannot be condoned, no matter what good might come of it.

    Neither can you condone pro-choice policies just because you might get universal health care out of the deal. Wait a minute, you do just that.

  • I think it would be more useful to discuss the morality of Hiroshima without bringing every conversation back to tu quoque comments about the election.

  • Although, I probably should add that the morality of Truman’s actions wasn’t really the original subject of the thread either.

  • John Henry, I respectfully disagree. Whenever anyone starts tossing around the term “war criminal” then I want to understand if they are consistent in the application of the term “criminal”, or if the term is simply used as a pejorative. If Hiroshima and Nagasaki are to be condemned for the taking of innocent human life, then one can only imagine the magnitude of evil in the taking of 44,000,000 innocent lives in this country since Roe, and what term should be applied to politicians who support abortion as a constitutional right.

  • Well, does bringing up abortion help define the term ‘war criminal’? I agree that there are many suggestive analogies between war and abortion, but they are separate things. I would not classify an abortionist as a ‘war criminal’.

Wyoming News: Mission Abort and Sin Tax Errors

Wednesday, January 21, AD 2009

At the advent of a presidency that has been accused of being the most pro-choice in history, there’s some good news.

Wyoming is now considering jumping on the bandwagon of trying to make abortions more difficult. There are currently three bills before the legislature dealing with the topic of abortion. The first, and one that draws all manner of painful cries from NARAL and other pro-choice organizations, is the requirement that any pregnant woman seeking an abortion must have an ultrasound performed. The complaints here focus on the lack of equipment in some regions of the state, supposedly barring some women from being able to undergo the procedure. To this, I have to roll my eyes. There are people in Wyoming who have to drive two or three hours to reach a grocery store. You have to spend at least an hour on the road to go from one significant town to the next. I think travelling to Casper or Cheyenne or one of our other “large” towns for such an “important” procedure shouldn’t be beyond most Wyomingites’ ability. Of course, the real point is that if a woman sees her baby in the ultrasound, she’ll be smitten with a bout of guilt and won’t be able to go through with it. There’s a reason why we have the phrase “Out of sight, out of mind.”

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5 Responses to Wyoming News: Mission Abort and Sin Tax Errors

  • Regarding the ultrasound procedure: Who is afraid of science now?

    Maybe the next pro-life demonstration can include big paper-mache ultrasound machines to mock the science-fearing pro-aborts.

  • Ryan,

    pregnant woman seeking an abortion must have an ultrasound performed

    It is my experience involved with the pro-life crisis pregnancy movement, that all pregnant women have ultrasounds before having an abortion committed. This is so that the abortuary can determine how much to charge for murdering the child, the older the child the more it will cost. In fact we routinely find that they often exaggerate the age when the client can afford the higher cost. The problem is, it’s an absolute policy that they do not show the ultrasound to the mother, as it is very likely to change her mind. That is the incredible success with our ultrasound programs (80%+).

    So, not only, as daledog points out, are they anti-science, they are in fact anti-woman, and anti-“informed choice”… they are just… pro-abortion.

    On the sin taxes, in principle it is not the government’s place to baby us. However, given that the taxpayer’s bear a significant health-care cost burden due to such ills, and, given that taxes must be collected, I am not that uncomfortable with a disproportionate, but not prohibitive tax on things that are universally bad for us. I don’t know if this case is excessive or not, if it is then the actual amount of tax collected will drop do to people choosing other vices, or via the blackmarket… either case defeats the purpose of the disproportionate tax. I think it’s naive to think that the response would be actual reduced consumption any meaningful sense.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • I think it’s naive to think that the response would be actual reduced consumption any meaningful sense.

    I guess that depends on what “meaningful” is. I did a little hunting around to see if sin taxes are effective at all, and they do make a notable difference. But then, statistically significant (i.e. outside the margin of error) does not necessarily mean a big difference, either, and it was hard to pin anyone down on actual numbers (which is a reason for my ambivalence on the issue).

  • Ryan,

    i guess it’s possible they make a difference, but I think that’s a diminishing return, as the tax becomes oppressive, then the black market takes over and they become widely available without paying it at all. There is of course, many bad effects from this black market.

    Again, if we are to be taxed at all, let it be on vices (tobacco, gambling, speeding, etc.) more than on good behavior, such as, oh, being financially responsible and productive.

    Matt

  • When society as a whole becomes so decadent and corrupt, the government can either sit back and let its people self-destruct (all the while subsidizing that destruction through tax-payer-backed medical procedures), or it can act, like a stern mother with her willful children, to curb the excesses of the populace.

    Third option: don’t do tax-payer-backed medical procedures.

    I’m really uncomfortable with the gov’t setting sin taxes, possibly because of the ease they can be turned on any easy target.
    (side note: so, where’s the sin tax on condoms? ^.^)

Empire, What's it Good For?

Wednesday, January 21, AD 2009

A follow up to Darwin’s post.   I do not think that the United States is an empire, at least in the manner of past empires, and I do not wish to reopen that debate here.  I am more intrigued by the question of whether an empire has to be evil by definition.  I think it is an undeniable fact of history that, as is the case with all forms of human government, there have been evil empires, the Third Reich and Stalin’s Soviet Union top that list, mostly good empires, the British Empire I think is the prime example, and mixed empires, the Roman and the Spanish empires come to mind.  Even a mostly good empire can be hard to live under, as the Founding Fathers and my Irish ancestors would attest, and even an evil empire will have its adherents.  Like any human institution an empire has to be judged on its record.  The best empires I think are those which bring peace and allow for trade and the exchange of ideas among different peoples.  The wisest empires understand that no human institution can last forever and help to prepare by their actions their peoples for the day when the empire will be one with Nineveh and Tyre.

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18 Responses to Empire, What's it Good For?

  • “. . .mostly good empires, the British Empire I think is the prime example,”

    Then Washington, Jefferson, Adams, et al, must have been the equivalent of ungrateful Iraqi of their day, seeking to throw off the light handed and beneficent yoke of such a great and magnificent country. They were such ingrates.

    Didn’t they realize as Big Government Conservatives and Liberals do now that all the benefits of being a member of such a great empire do not come with out a cost. What are the loss of a few liberties and taxes in order to further the aims of such a great empire?

    Many of today’s present international conflicts and problems are the remnant of past colonial rule – good or bad. Different tribes of people being forced to live together with boundaries of artificially contrived countries mapped by former colonial rulers/imperial powers. Tyrannical nationalist rulers being able to prop themselves up by tapping into their peoples’ resentment of past colonial rule and continued internal intervention by world powers.

    Your video and comments imply that the material improvements provided by an empire can justify their existance and any downside to their heavyhandedness. . . . my, such a “Catholic” viewpoint.

  • “my, such a “Catholic” viewpoint.”

    Take it up in the next world with the various Catholic Emperors and Empresses you will meet there. All forms of government can be good or bad depending upon how they perform. I am a firm believer in representative republics myself, but I understand that they can be bad just as they can be good. The same thing goes for empires.

  • Was there an actual argument put forward in any of jpf’s rant?

    I would suggest that jpf read a biography of Adams, Hamilton, or really any of the Founding Fathers who continued to express admiration for the British Empire, even after we declared and won our independence. I’m sure one his buddies at the Jon Birch society should have a copy.

  • Does an empire necessarily equate with evil? I think the question there goes beyond just looking at what good the empire could possibly do, or whether or not the rulers of the empire reigned benevolently. I think there’s also a historical situation that judges the goodness of empire. In that, I’m referring to rise in modern times of the notion of the nation-state, and also the modern technology that has allowed us to harvest far more resources than ever before, to make more efficient use of those resources, and to enable huge populations in such a small space.

    If we talk about an historic need for empires, we have to examine empires in terms the internal pressure to expand and the external pressures to halt or stagnate. In olden times, the way to acquire more resources was to expand the borders of the realm. But while that brought in more food and iron and whatnot, it also meant more land to govern and more people to feed, which had a tendency to entail further need to expand. However, if the empire ever reached a point where it stopped expanding and started stagnating, the empire entered into a decline. But then, if the empire grew too large, it became hard to manage, with rebellions cropping up in the fringe territories, and conquerors able to strike on so many fronts that the standing armies could barely fight them all off.

    I think historically, empires were what provided people with the opportunity to thrive and grow culturally. So historically, empires I think were generally good things (or maybe the least worst of all options).

    Nowadays, of course, the quest for more resources comes through economic and not military might (in general). Boundaries are essentially set; nations are more or less fixed in place, the idea of national sovereignty reigns so supreme that it is hard to think of things being any other way. The idea of conquering neighboring territories for access to their resources has become anathema (think the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait). I guess that’s a long winded way of saying we live in different times.

    In these times, the classic idea of empire has fallen away and has been replaced with spheres of influences, alliances, trade agreements. The true empires, it can be argued, are the multinational corporations, which run into many ethical considerations such as using lax labor laws in one country to produce merchandise at a low cost in order to sell in a country with much stricter labor laws.

    So in my mind, the classic notion of empire is essentially an evil today, but due to the changed circumstances. In the past, I believe they were more or less a decent option, given the choices (and perhaps modern prejudices that man back then was so much more barbaric than today, which I know is false).

  • I think the difficulty with empires is not necessarily with their maintenance, but with their creation. Taking over a foreign nation with the intent of possessing it without justification beyond expanding your own territory is the key problem. Now it may have been moral, perhaps in the case of the Holy Roman Empire where the expansion was, and presuming this to be true, based on the desire to spread stability and allow Christianity to flourish. Having inherited an existing empire, dismantlement is likely to cause more harm than good, and thus the moral action is to seek to maintain stability and expand justice within the realm.

    Matt

  • I am not sure that Indians (from India) would consider the British Empire as “good”. What did Gandhi fight for?
    As a French-Canadian Catholic, I have reservations about the “goodness” of the British Empire. The first thing they tried to do, after the conquest, was to turn us into Protestants. And the “Deportation of the Acadians” would not qualify as an act of goodness. I remember the remark made to me by an Englishman as he showed on a map what had been the British Empire: “What a bunch of thieves we were!”
    Elise B.

  • “I am not sure that Indians (from India) would consider the British Empire as “good”. What did Gandhi fight for?”

    For an India ruled by Indians, which he got courtesy of the British Raj destroying the Moghul Empire and the petty principalities into which India had been divided. Without the British India would still be a geographic expression rather than a country. I would also add that Gandhi was lucky he was dealing with the British. One can imagine how Hitler or Stalin would have dealt with him.

    “As a French-Canadian Catholic, I have reservations about the “goodness” of the British Empire. The first thing they tried to do, after the conquest, was to turn us into Protestants.”

    Actually didn’t the Quebec Act of 1774 guarantee freedom of religion to the inhabitants of Quebec?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec_Act

    As for the expulsion of the Acadians, didn’t it occur because the Acadians refused to take an oath of allegiance to the British crown?

    “I remember the remark made to me by an Englishman as he showed on a map what had been the British Empire: “What a bunch of thieves we were!””

    No doubt a sentiment shared about the French canadians by the Iroquois.

  • Donald,

    Actually didn’t the Quebec Act of 1774 guarantee freedom of religion to the inhabitants of Quebec?

    the Canadian Constitution to this day guarantees freedom of discrimination against English speakers in Quebec… I, as a Western Canadian would not really consider the Quebecois to put upon, at least these days. Sadly the Catholic Church in that province is in ruins as well, and that has more to do with the Spirit of Vatican II than protestant oppression.

    Matt

  • I deleted your last rant jpf. Find another venue to vent your bile.

  • guarantees freedom of discrimination against English speakers in Quebec

    Just to avoid confusion I am in fact describing the right of Quebec to discriminate AGAINST English speakers.

    Matt

  • The wisest empires understand that no human institution can last forever and help to prepare by their actions their peoples for the day when the empire will be one with Nineveh and Tyre.

    Which empire ever did that?

  • Britain with the parliamentary institutions it brought to every colony in the Empire. Canada, for example, where you currently reside, achieved dominion status in 1867, followed by a host of other nations over the next century. India, another example, pursuant to the Government of India Act of 1909, began the first steps towards self-rule which culminated in 1948. The British Empire is dead and buried, but the form of government it installed still thrives in many nations.

  • When, though, did they acknowledge publicly that they would not last forever?

  • I’d have to look it up, but I seem to recall several statements by British politicians during and after the Great War to the effect that by fighting the war Britain had effectively chosen to give up its empire. (I imagine Donald knows what I’m thinking of — he’s handy with a quote.)

    And the political choices made by the Brits, as cited by Donald, certainly seem to have constituting a putting things in order so that their fading into history as an empire (pretty much complete by 1950) would cause the minimum in pain and chaos.

    Compared to, say, the death throws of the Spanish empire, I’d say the Brits pretty clearly laid the ground work for a peaceful transition to the post-British Empire world.

  • Recessional
    by Rudyard Kipling

    1897

    God of our fathers, known of old,
    Lord of our far-flung battle-line,
    Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
    Dominion over palm and pine—
    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

    The tumult and the shouting dies;
    The Captains and the Kings depart:
    Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
    An humble and a contrite heart.
    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

    Far-called, our navies melt away;
    On dune and headland sinks the fire:
    Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
    Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
    Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

    If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
    Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
    Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
    Or lesser breeds without the Law—
    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

    For heathen heart that puts her trust
    In reeking tube and iron shard,
    All valiant dust that builds on dust,
    And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,
    For frantic boast and foolish word—
    Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!

    It is always a good day when I get to quote Kipling!

    The British were always divided about their empire with the “little englanders” opposed to the imperialists. Kipling was of course an arch imperialist, but at the time his poem Recessional written for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee set tongues wagging with its theme of Imperial decline. Far sighted English statesmen realized the empire was in a downward spiral economically as early as the last Gladstone administration in the 1890s. WWI bankrupted England and predictions of the doom of the Empire became commonplace even as it attained its greatest geographic extent. A good book on the subject is Piers Brendon’s The Decline and Fall of the British Empire.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/oct/21/historybooks.features

  • When do all of you empire-watchers think the united states will acknowledge its imperial decline and cooperate with it in an act of imperial kenosis?

  • Contra Paul Kennedy I do not think the United States is in decline, imperial or otherwise. The US learned long ago that the cost of holding territories under direct control far outweights the benefits.

  • I love reading articles on the British Empire. As an Englishman, I’m intrigued by how members of former dominions/colonies view Britain.
    I think that, generally the British Empire was a good thing. With hindsight, of course bad things did happen. The Slave Trade always stands out. But it should not be forgotten that Britain was not the only country exploiting this shameful resource. Many other nations are also not without guilt. Britain was simply the leading player at the time. Britain at least led the way in aboloshing the trade in 1807 ,when in the 1960s many Black people in the Southern States of the US (the greatest democracy on the planet) were still being cruelly persecuted.
    Spreading enlightenment and freedom of speech and thought can hardly be criticised. That is what the British Empire, I believe generally brought.
    To be honest, I think that Empire in principle isn’t a bad thing at all – if done democratically.
    An integrated world, politically and economically would be a much safer/fairer place, with a more objective distribution of resources. This would help defeat poverty, and fuse together common principles of what is just and is what isn’t.
    The European Union, the United States, and the Commonwealth of Nations all share in a belief in fairness and peace.
    I think that in 100 years time, Empire generally will be looked upon more favourably.
    With a bit of luck, as the world gets smaller politically and economically, a democratic UN will be granted more power to forge unity amongst all nations. The subsequent collective of states, united as one power under the UN flag, would serve the world of the 22nd Century much more efficiently and effectively than the current patchwork of nation states that have been in existence for centuries.
    That’s just my opinion.
    I found an interesting article by someone from West Africa on this subject that you may wish to read:

    http://knol.google.com/k/the-british-empire-good-or-bad-for-9-year-olds#

Pope Benedict XVI congratulates President Barack Obama; Cardinal George proposes "an agenda for dialogue and action"

Tuesday, January 20, AD 2009

Text of Pope Benedict XVI’s telegram to the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama:

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
Washington, D.C.

On the occasion of your inauguration as the Forty-fourth president of the United States of America I offer cordial good wishes, together with the assurance of my prayers that the Almighty God will grant you unfailing wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high responsibilities.

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2 Responses to Pope Benedict XVI congratulates President Barack Obama; Cardinal George proposes "an agenda for dialogue and action"