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Pope John Paul II Comments on Rerum Novarum

Monday, June 29, AD 2009

I am going to provide everyone with a nice blast from the past- everyone I know respects Pope John Paul II- most orthodox Catholics refer to him as John Paul the Great. So I think what he thought officially as Pope on the question of Capital/Labor/State as part of the tradition deriving from Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum- is incredibly interesting and relevant. Here is Chapter One of Centesimus Annus with no personal commentary- let the “man” speak without any interference from me:

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7 Responses to Pope John Paul II Comments on Rerum Novarum

  • The very existence of Rerum Novarum puts to shame the thesis that industrial capitalism, all on its own, either did or would have addressed the problem of poverty.

    I have seen this argument, from Tom Woods Jr., Robert Novak, especially when they critique Distributism, that critiques of capitalism are entirely baseless. They take it as an unquestioned article of faith that any life under industrial capitalism is better than any life in a non industrial capitalist society, that prior to capitalism only one word could sum up the human condition: poverty, and perhaps another: oppression.

    In this particular case criticisms of modern conservatism as nothing but the guardian of Enlightenment liberalism ring true. To make this argument, one has to essentially say at the same time that Rerum Novarum was unnecessary, that workers movements in general were unnecessary. It is the same logic that the neo-Confederates make: slavery would have been abolished on its own, so there was no need for a civil war. Capitalism would have cleaned up its act, so there was no need for a labor movement, government intervention, or the moral condemnation of the excesses of the system by the Popes.

    The problem is that neither of these claims is substantiated by the historical record. They are made with a sort of “faith” in what could have been. Here and there you have a General Lee or a Teddy Roosevelt who argue against the worst aspects of the system, and this is dubiously stretched out as an argument that the system would have reformed itself without any outside interventions.

    Counter-factuals aside, the reality is that the Papacy believed that the problems of industrial capitalism were not “self corrective”, that the workers had every right to organize and make economic and political demands, and that the duties of businessmen were not just to meet the economic demands made by consumers but the moral demands made by society and those who worked for them. Time and time again the Popes implored Catholics and society at large to find ways to increase the share of ownership of the workers in businesses.

    So, we can all thank capitalism for technical progress. Even Marxists do that. But moral progress was the domain of thinkers and activists well outside the capitalist class, people who did not share its goals, and often opposed them in certain respects. It is easy to take for granted the rights of workers today but a read through of Rerum Novarum shows us that they were in some question 120 years ago. In many places, they are in question even today.

    In the 21st century I hope we can move beyond the words “capitalism” and “socialism”. They are outdated and useless. The kind of economy I want to see is one in which there are still markets, but in which wealth and decision making power are not excessively concentrated, which is unambiguously subordinated to a moral hierarchy of values oriented towards the common good, and generally accountable to the direct will of the people (the eventual pressure of market forces is not and never will be enough).

  • Does Modern Conservatism actually make all those arguments.

    I mean Does modern Conservatism and I am talking the mainstream actually want to abolish Unions? I mean they talk about the problems with Unions and their excesses and are against things like Card Check but I rarely here modern Conservatism wishing to abolish Unions.

    GOvernemnt Intervention? I don’t here modern Conservatism want to abolish in the Food and Drug administration and the testing of meat? Besides for some tweeking I don’t here many modern conservatives want to abolish all child labor laws. Most Conservatives think having common sense Govt regualtion is a good thing.

    I often think that Modern Conservatism or Movement Conservatism is being confused with some Libertarian economic viewpoint.

    It is true that the modern conservatives think Govt is better if its lesser but I would contend that those conservatives that want no Govt intervention is very very small

  • JH,

    The problem is that both sides are reactionary. Conservatives may be fine with some government intervention but set against liberals who want more, they end up sounding as if they want none.

    It is hard to avoid this. I can’t always avoid it myself on issues important to me. But we must always try.

  • Joe I think you have a point. I think the problem is the internet draws lets say the extremes. I am on several boards I meet people that call themselves Conservatives and ranting about how the GOP is not really conservative. Of course when you examine their post they are far beyond conservative and rant about getting the Govt out of public education and almost toeing the Club for Growth line

    They are are same folks that call McCain a “liberal”. Or as we saw incrdibily go on a huge campaign against Huckabee and call him a Christian Socialist. Yet despite the internet astroturfing, the massive emails sent to everyone it turns out the average GOP and conservative voter liked Huckabee and McCain despite the gnashing of teeth from groups that have their monetary self interest in organziations direct mail and caging companies

  • I read the excerpt from RN almost with dread; I feared perhaps I would be reading something which, startlingly, would shake my confidence in my conservative outlook on the role of government. Much to my surprise, that didn’t happen!

    I think you absolutely *destroyed* the straw man set up in the firat comment: those rascally Conservatives would have to Repudiate The Pope Himself in order to deny the obvious truths set forth in RN! And JPG only echoed and reinforced RN, spo there!

    The problem I see with that statement is this: there are few, if any, conservatives who advocate totally unregulated economic activity. You see…being *against* the federal government taking a controlling interest in GM, for example, does NOT equal being *in favor* of eliminating unions, child labor laws, and OSHA.

    There is a proper role of government (which, in my view, involves the use of force against malefactors inside and outside of the country, and facilitating commerce among its people, to include appropriate regulation of said commerce). The problem many conservatives have with Governmentalists (to coin a phrase) is that the Governmentalist looks to Government and the solution to ALL ills. And it just doesn’t work!

    JPG’s and Pius XI’s calls in their writings are for *appropriate* government intervention, in those areas suited to government intervention.this paragraph grabbed me in particular:

    “This should not however lead us to think that Pope Leo expected the State to solve every social problem. On the contrary, he frequently insists on necessary limits to the State’s intervention and on its instrumental character, inasmuch as the individual, the family and society are prior to the State, and inasmuch as the State exists in order to protect their rights and not stifle them.37”

    This is ther precise concern of the conservative: thatGovernment *never seems to know its legitimate limits*. Consequently, the potential *harm* from *too much* government intervention (all together now: “stimulus bill, GM takeover, Cap-and-Trade, Hah!). Government that *thinks* it knows better than the free market usually ends up trampling its people under the weight of bureaucratic poppycock.

    The government can lay the groundwork for a just functioning society; it cannot (and *should* not!) be in the business of trying to redistribute wealth! It will fail. Miserably! And all the while, we will create a set of conditions that stifle innovation (say, Soviet Union) and allow people to settle for far far less than that of which they would otherwise achieve for themselves and their companies.

  • Here’s the thing.

    I am not setting up strawmen. I understand full well that there ARE conservatives who DON’T oppose government regulations and interventions. You know how I know? I consider myself one. At the least I would call myself a social conservative.

    Pointing out that there ARE ALSO people who DO make these arguments, however, is not making a strawman. I am differentiating between different kinds of conservative. Tim and I and others have heard enough talk radio and engaged in enough discussions to know that there are plenty of conservatives and even Catholics out there who do hold extreme anti-government, anti-regulatory views.

    I cited Novak and Woods because they specifically seek to absolve early capitalism of practically any and all wrongdoing – not only that, they seek to give it the sole credit for whatever prosperity we enjoy today. You WOULD have to repudiate Rerum Novarum to hold onto THAT argument.

  • Right Joe- I base my own reaction to “liberals” and “conservatives” on the way the politicians/media figures/and some real average folks I know, and in fact ran into quite often when I ran for public office- they just don’t talk about issues like the popes- they don’t talk about common good, they talk about freedom from taxes (rarely pointing out that taxes are not all bad or even a good thing- the impression they give directly or indirectly is that tax = theft by government, or they talk about freedom to choose- choose what- well for liberals it’s ususally about abortion or gay marriage- not all but many-

    Again it isn’t everyone who claims the title liberal or conservative, but it seems that the politicians running for office and the media talking heads and the many very outspoken citizens at meetings- they are the ones who speak out very forcefully and polemically, and they don’t sound to me like the social doctrine and popes to my ear- I try to use the language of morality and balance- it’s hard- I’m not the Magisterium- but I definitely try to base my argumentation and beliefs on my studies of the official teachings and documents, along with my life experiences and intuitions- and I find it difficult to see how one would embrace any ideology too narrowly- be it liberal, conservative, whatever- I do believe it necessary to be part of a political party- but we should be very critical members of such, because no party really is based upon our Catholic social doctrine, and as such is clearly deficient- either in theory or practice. When asked if one is liberal or conservative, I think it is better just to say I’m Catholic- straight-up- that’s my goal anyway

Simply Filthy

Monday, June 29, AD 2009

With all the discussion of whether British behavior in the Colonies justified the Revolutionary War, I can’t help being reminded of an exchange in one of my favorite books, 84, Charing Cross Road:

August 15, 1959

sir:

i write to say i have got work.

i won it. i won a $5,000 Grant-in-Aid off CBS, it’s supposed to support me for a year while I write American History dramatizations. I am starting with a script about New York under seven years of British Occupation and i MARVEL at how i rise above it to address you in friendly and forgiving fashion, your behavior over here from 1776 to 1783 was simply FILTHY.

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2 Responses to Simply Filthy

  • The movie version of “84 Charing Cross Road” with Anne Bancroft as the writer and Anthony Hopkins as the bookseller is one of my all-time favorite movies.

    If the same story were written today, I suppose Hopkins’ character would have to be selling books on eBay or Amazon and he and Bancroft would be e-mailing, blogging, Skype-ing or Tweeting each other… which just wouldn’t be the same at all.

  • I discovered this book by accident years ago and love it! I always cry at the end. I’m going to have to go back and reread it again. Thanks for reminding me about it.
    –Lizaanne
    http://lizaanne42.wordpress.com/

Pope Benedict XVI & John Paul II on America's founding

Monday, June 29, AD 2009

My friend & colleague Donald McClarey has proposed that we celebrate the 4th of July with a reading of the Declaration of Independence — a custom I also share, and which I think every citizen of the United States should cultivate.

And to those scornful cranks so quick to dismiss such an appreciation of the principles of our founding as “worshipping at the temple of Enlightenment liberalism,” I would remind them of the example set by none other than Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor, John Paul II:

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7 Responses to Pope Benedict XVI & John Paul II on America's founding

  • As always, a balanced approach is appreciated. There can be no denying the anti-Catholic sentiments of some of the founding fathers, or some of the polemicists of the revolution (think Thomas Paine). Ever since Machiavelli blamed the Church for Italy’s problems and argued for the formation of a civil religion, a dose of anti-Catholicism was part of the standard litany of the “Atlantic Republican” tradition – never mind the influence of liberalism.

    But, I think the Holy Fathers are right to want to move on as well, and acknowledge what is universally good about the American revolution, as opposed to dwelling on what was wrong. Why would the leaders of the Church seek to create discord by resurrecting old wounds?

    We certainly shouldn’t worship liberalism – Lord knows, I reject most of the versions of economic liberalism I have come across – but the Bill of Rights was a major step forward in history, crystallizing a process that had been underway since the signing of the Magna Carta. I only wish we took the right to food as seriously as we did the right to counsel and due process.

  • Incidentally, as regards the charge of American exceptionalism, it strikes me that it is much in keeping that those in different countries take a patriotic pride in their countries — to the extent that those countries deserve it.

    In the US, that pride is often most centered around specific expressions of American political and philosophical ideals such as the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Gettysburg Address, etc.

    In other countries, pride might to taken in analogous or different attributes: The English in their history and common law, the French in their aesthetic and intellectual heritage, the Polish in their religious and historical roots, etc.

    I think on of the reasons Americans tend to take pride particularly in expressions of ideal such as the Declaration of Independence is that we do not in fact have much of a “national” identity in the way that most nation-states in the precise meaning of the term do. There is a history of “American” people and what they’ve done, and a shared language, but there is not a shared racial background or a culture in the fuller sense of the term, and many of our ancestors actually showed up here after much of the historical heritage of the country had actually taken place. Yet none of this serves to make people less American.

    This is, I think, why documents and speeches play a larger than usual role in American national identity — and in that sense it underlines how odd it is to charge the US of being “nationalistic”, in that in many ways the US is not a “nation state” in the way that many other modern countries are. It would be like accusing a member of the Hapsburg Empire of being “nationalist”.

  • Thank you Christopher.

    We also have this from Pope Leo XIII:

    “Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed.”
    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/02/22/pope-leo-xiii-on-america-and-george-washington/

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  • Popes, bah. Their words are irrelevant except where they can be cherrypicked to coincide with 20th-century European statism.

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Read The Declaration on the Fourth

Monday, June 29, AD 2009

In my family each year we have a group reading of the Declaration of Independence.  The kids enjoy it and so do Mom and Dad.  Each year I am struck by a timeless quality of the words. 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

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41 Responses to Read The Declaration on the Fourth

  • For younger kids, try playing a video or recording of Schoolhouse Rock’s “No More Kings,” “Fireworks”, and “The Shot Heard ‘Round The World.” My daughter and I love these and to this day I sometimes catch myself humming these tunes.

    In fact it wasn’t until I listened to “Fireworks” with my daughter that I realized that five people worked on writing the Declaration (“And though some people tried to fight it,/A committee was formed to write it,/Benjamin Franklin, Philip Livingston, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Thomas Jefferson,/they got it done…)

  • A pure statement of Enlightenment era liberalism. Worship at its temple if you will!

  • Tony, that a total statist such as yourself would have little but scorn for the Declaration is of absolutely no surprise.

  • A pure statement of Enlightenment era liberalism. Worship at its temple if you will!

    We’ll be sure to pass that along to anyone tempted to worship the Declaration, rather than think about it and debate it as the posts suggests.

    Thank you for adding your characteristically thoughtful perspective on matters U.S. to this discussion.

  • “We Americans have a wonderful heritage..”

    You have a system of government than is no better or no worse than that of compatable countries. Get off the American exceptionalist hobby horse. And it most assuredly is an Enlightenment-era liberal dcoument — if that’s your cup of tea, fine, but stop pretending it is something else.

  • The idea Tony that men derive their rights from God is as old as civilization, as is the idea that governments that push their people too far leave them no choice but to revolt. To label these as solely the product of the Englightenment is to overrate the Enlightenment and to underrate the rest of recorded history. The American Revolution was a great reminder of first principles regarding government and individual liberty.

    Your lack of appreciation for the role of the American Revolution in ushering in the modern era of individual liberty is as unsurprising as it is ahistoric. When it comes to America you hate the country and the horse it rode in on. What else is new.

  • So what do you think MM believes: That humans are created unequal? That God doesn’t endow us with rights? That governments are better when they rule by dictat rather than by the consent of the governed?

  • “a total statist such as yourself..”

    Sorry, nice try, but my objection comes from the Catholic faith. As I grow older, I’m less drawn to Murray, and more to Schindler, when it comes to making peace with American liberalism. One major distinction is between the indidualism of liberalism and the person of Catholicism.

  • You have a system of government than is no better or no worse than that of compatable countries.

    Assuming that you mean “comparable”, it would probably be most helpful if you would list for everyone what you consider to be 5-10 comparable countries.

  • Man, this is torture – on the one hand we’re treated to yet another cliche trodden display from Tony, on the other hand this is one of the times that the cliche trodden response is half-right. Jefferson is actually an embodiment of the type of Enlightenment secular-left thinking that is problematic. The Declaration itself is less of a true ideological marker than a very good lawyer’s brief making the argument for rebellion. I am perhaps one of those that puts less stock into the document, but that said, it is one of Jefferson’s greatest accomplishments (that’s as much praise as you’ll ever get out of me for the man.)

  • I’ve a funny feeling that somebody who comes in here and denies the real presence would get a more sympathetic hearing than one who criticizes the American founding myth.

    Where do I “hate” the country? And how does one display emotion toward a geographic entity with administrative borders? Doesn’t make much sense.

    Let me repeat what I said – the American system is no better and no worse than countless other systems in the modern world. How is that “hate”? Its political system is in no way superior to (say) that of any European country today. And no, the world does not owe a debt to the US, except to the extent that all owe a debt (in one form or other) to Enlightenment-era liberalism (and as I said before, there are many benefits of this system, but also many problems).

    But you need to put the American exceptionalist mullarky to bed. God does not favor the USA in any special manner. The USA has no prophetic role in the world. Winthrop was wrong, and Reagan was wrong to invoke Withrop. This is Calvinist clap-trap, and shame on Catholics for swallowing it hook, line, and sinker.

    The only aspect that is 100 percent allied with Catholicism is the right to life. Aside from this, there is a wide chasm between the Church’s approach to freedom, and this definition of liberty. And the “pursuit of happiness” is directlty utilitarian — true freedom is marked by choosing good and avoiding evil. Don’t you see this “pursuit of happiness” utilitarianism leads to materialism, hedonism, a sexual free for all, divorce, abortion, gay marriage? This is what happens when you replace “happiness” with the “good”, when “individual” replaces “person”.

  • 5-10 comparable countries? That’s easy. UK, France, Germany, Ireland, Australia, Italy, Poland, Belgium, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Iceland, New Zealand, Canada etc etc etc.

  • Which of these countries has a founding document based on the personalist philosophy of the Church?

  • And given that most of those are in the EU, how do you square their denial of a Christian heritage with America’s foundational sins?

  • Tony, but for the United States of America, you would now be penning hymns of praise to the latest successor of Hitler or Stalin, or be in a concentration camp or a gulag. As for the hatred you feel for America, anyone who has any knowledge of your body of work on the net would be left in no doubt as to the extreme contempt you feel for this nation in which you make your living.

  • I’ve a funny feeling that somebody who comes in here and denies the real presence would get a more sympathetic hearing than one who criticizes the American founding myth.

    Um….what? I think it’s fine to criticize the Declaration of Independence and American exceptionalism. I’ll do so myself in various contexts. It is your tendency to caricature and misrepresent others I find wearisome (e.g. worshiping the Declaration above). As to the real presence, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Was there a thread I missed?

  • Which of these countries has a founding document based on the personalist philosophy of the Church?

    None, which is really my point. Donald keeps trying to pin me as somebody who “hates” America. That makes no sense. It’s perfectly fine to work with this system of government, and direct it toward the common good. It has some virtues, and some problems. I could say the same with most systems of government. But must still note the flawed anthropology, and we must desist from assuming it is the greatest system in history.

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  • It’s perfectly fine to work with this system of government, and direct it toward the common good. It has some virtues, and some problems. I could say the same with most systems of government. But must still note the flawed anthropology, and we must desist from assuming it is the greatest system in history.

    Why can’t a Catholic believe it is the best system in history (or the worst except compared to all the others, if you prefer)? It’s a matter of opinion, not doctrine. I’m fairly ambivalent about the matter, but I don’t see why someone couldn’t take a position. Enlightenment anthropology may be flawed, but it doesn’t follow that the Declaration can’t be interpreted in a Catholic manner or that the U.S. government in practice is worse (or better) than Ireland’s for example.

  • “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

    What here is inconsistent with a Catholic anthropology?

  • I’ve a funny feeling that somebody who comes in here and denies the real presence would get a more sympathetic hearing than one who criticizes the American founding myth.

    This is an odd sort of thing to do: Assume that someone would do something that you don’t like, and then blame them for it. And silence in the face of heresy is an odd thing to accuse the authors of this blog of, when it’s been observed on several occasions that on your own blog there tends to be deafening silence when people show up and dissent from Catholic teaching, so long as they do so from a cultural leftist point of view.

    5-10 comparable countries? That’s easy. UK, France, Germany, Ireland, Australia, Italy, Poland, Belgium, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Iceland, New Zealand, Canada etc etc etc.

    So you’d say that it’s in no sense better or worse that the UK has a state church (which is, from a Catholic point of view, schismatic and heretical) of which it’s monarch is the head?

    And you would certainly not consider the lack of a guarantee of free exercise of religion in France, where public signs of religion are banned and many church’s remain state owned, is no more or less preferable to the US approach?

    Etc, etc?

    Look, the US is certainly not perfect or chosen by God any such silliness, but that doesn’t mean that its differences from other nations are a matter of complete indifference either.

    Given that these countries all have different constitutions and structures of government, if you really think there is absolutely nothing to choose between them then you must think that the differences have no value. Thus, for instance, despite all your talk, about health care it must be a matter of total indifference whether one has an approach such as that of the US or one like the UK or France.

    Sheesh… A little precision of expression please.

  • MM,

    Let’s take it point by point. Let’s start here:

    “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certian unalienable rights…”

    “The ultimate source of human rights is not found in the mere will of human beings[307], in the reality of the State, in public powers, but in man himself and in God his Creator. These rights are “universal, inviolable, inalienable”[308]. Universal because they are present in all human beings, without exception of time, place or subject. Inviolable insofar as “they are inherent in the human person and in human dignity”[309] and because “it would be vain to proclaim rights, if at the same time everything were not done to ensure the duty of respecting them by all people, everywhere, and for all people”[310]. Inalienable insofar as “no one can legitimately deprive another person, whoever they may be, of these rights, since this would do violence to their nature”[311].” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church 153)

  • And then this:

    “…Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers, from the consent of the governed…”

    “395. The subject of political authority is the people considered in its entirety as those who have sovereignty. In various forms, this people transfers the exercise of sovereignty to those whom it freely elects as its representatives, but it preserves the prerogative to assert this sovereignty in evaluating the work of those charged with governing and also in replacing them when they do not fulfil their functions satisfactorily. Although this right is operative in every State and in every kind of political regime, a democratic form of government, due to its procedures for verification, allows and guarantees its fullest application.[803]” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church)

  • And this:

    “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

    “401. …Recourse to arms is seen as an extreme remedy for putting an end to a “manifest, long-standing tyranny which would do great damage to fundamental personal rights and dangerous harm to the common good of the country”.[825]” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church)

  • Really it seems the Declaration is in accord with the Church’s Social teaching.

  • Bravo Phillip! This type of thought and debate about the Declaration was precisely what this post was intended to inspire!

  • Phillip, do you see the core difference between the “person” of Catholic social teaching and the “individual” of liberalism?

  • These words are now forgotten, the country is nothing more than a dish served only to rich corporates. I hope one day people do start to act on these words. but now the government is just destroying American people. See: http://eventsoftheworld.wordpress.com/2009/06/12/american-economy-a-highway-robbery/

  • Phillip, do you see the core difference between the “person” of Catholic social teaching and the “individual” of liberalism?

    Why don’t you try explaining it instead of making snippy comments that evade the core of the argument.

  • Actually I would copy from Maritain’s analysis that I read a year ago and don’t recall from memory but I don’t have the book in front of me. Essentially my thoughts are as follows.

    Jacques Maritain sought to reestablish the understanding of the human person as a unity of body (matter) and soul (spirit.) Through this unity, a realist view of epistemology is again possible. For it is through sense experience provided by the body and the action of the rational soul upon this sense data that one knows the world. One realizes a world that has being independent of one’s own thoughts or will. It is not my ideas that form the world but rather real, existing objects that have being that inform my thoughts. We in turn can reflect upon ourselves and be aware of our own being. From this we can also see that we along with others around us come into and in turn pass out of being. From this one comes to realize one’s own being as well as that of others is limited and contingent in nature.
    Given this contingency, there comes the realization that there is necessarily a Being that is not limited or contingent. This Being which transcends the world, calls all contingent beings into existence. This Being as a result is not of the world and in turns orders it to an end that is transcendent – unlimited Being itself. This knowledge is not the result of complicated philosophical development however, but rather the result of the intuition of true reason open to all men. Thus apart from Hobbes, Maritain maintains there is the reality of the spiritual. At the same time as opposed to Kant, this immaterial reality is discernable by human reason that calls us to an order that transcends our reason and ourselves. Thus for Maritain metaphysics is possible and necessary for a true understanding of what it is to be man.
    Man’s reason is not capable of discerning all truth due to the limits of human reason. Natural reason cannot attain to the fullness of supernatural truth. Thus reason must receive Revelation to complete its understanding of Truth. This openness to Revelation does not deny or destroy reason however, but raises it above what it can achieve alone and perfects it. It is through Revelation then, they we come to see that this Being is not merely a transcendent, self-thinking spirit, but rather a living, tri-personal God. As such, this God is a community of perfect persons in perfect communion with the other. As pure persons in perfect act there is no individuality or sense of part for the good of all is the good of each person. This good is the Divine Essence of Divinity co-equal in each person.
    Man as created by the Triune God necessarily reflects this triune nature. As created being, human nature is not the same as God’s and can only analogically be spoken of in reference to the Divine Essence. What then is man? Maritain distinguishes between the human being as an individual and as a person. Human beings are individuals in that they are individuated in matter. But this individuation does not define the person as an individual is incapable of fully developing his self in solitude. Rather, as a reflection of the Divine Persons, the human person is ordered to others in his very nature. For God as triune persons is not pure self-reflective thought but is necessarily giving in His Being and in calling others into being through the creative act. God, who is self-knowledge and self-gift, in turn becomes the image of our nature which is called to knowledge and gift. Also by our relatedness to God as first cause and final end of our being is the source of the dignity of the person. This is an end which is not temporal nor material but eternal and spiritual.
    Thus the person is a subject with the dignity of a transcendent destiny. But while this destiny is supernatural, it does not detach oneself from this world. In both the material and the spiritual order human beings are called to participate in the common good. In virtue of their individuality, humans are part of and have obligations to the social order. But in virtue of the supernatural end to which they are called, persons cannot be reduced to a simple part of that order. At the same time, man’s realization of his personality leads him to fulfill this in gift of self – a gift that works to true justice out of love in the social order. This proceeds from a respect for true reason and thus the legitimate autonomy of the secular sphere. True advances in science, social rights, etc are respected as is the legitimate use of reason to determine the proper means of ordering the social order in accord with the good. Through this truly autonomous secular reason informed by transcendent truth, it is possible to create a society that is “truly human and progressive.” This is fully realized through the ordering of society to promote the supernatural end of the persons comprising it. This is thus Maritain’s vision of a true and integral humanism in which man, cognizant of his dignity and true end, embraces what is truly good in human reason and self-giving for the good of all.

    Thoughts?

  • Also,

    Why don’t you acknowledge that the principles in the Declaration are consistent with Catholic thought. A tremendous accomplishment considering it was written almost a hundred years before the first social encyclical. An exceptional accomplishment one might say. Given the circumstances, with multiple different policital forces at play among the 13 colonies, it is also quite amazing that the group of men involved could have come up with it. One might say it was almost Providential.

  • OK, here’s the one-line version. The “individual” is sovereign — in other words, he has the right to do as he wishes as long as he does not trample on the toes of another. The “person” is only defined in the sense of a relationship to others — this is a Trinitarian anthropology. Here’s the longer version, from one of my co-bloggers: http://vox-nova.com/2008/03/11/person-vs-individual/

    To take a somewhat different context that makes the same point, the Catholic perspective is not so much “I think, therefore I am”, but “I am thought of, therefore I am”.

  • As my discussion of the person notes in its Trinitarian foundation. So how is Enlightenment individualism expressed in the principles as stated in the Declaration? And you haven’t answered the question if the principles of the Declaration are consistent with Catholic Social thought.

  • To take a somewhat different context that makes the same point, the Catholic perspective is not so much “I think, therefore I am”, but “I am thought of, therefore I am”.

    Actually, I don’t think that’s the case at all, at least not in the stark terms that you’ve put it. The fact that persons exist in relationship does not mean that they are defined by being perceived by others.

    “I am thought of, therefore I am,” would suggest that the person does not have objective existence and nature.

  • Phillip, do you see the core difference between the “person” of Catholic social teaching and the “individual” of liberalism?

    The question you should ask of yourself MM is, can a thing be objectively good or just or in supportive of the dignity of the person regardless of whether the people who instituted it had an erroneous worldview? Can someone attempt to come from the right place and end up with a wrong or bad idea?

    I’ll make a hypothetical here. If someone is against abortion and works to end it because he thinks the moon god is offended by the practice, is his desired outcome less preferable to a Catholic who thinks abortion is a matter of women’s liberation, reproductive freedom, or subsidiarity in action?

    Point is, if the Angelic Doctor penned those words from the DoI you’d probably have no problem with them.

  • The “individual” is sovereign — in other words, he has the right to do as he wishes as long as he does not trample on the toes of another. The “person” is only defined in the sense of a relationship to others — this is a Trinitarian anthropology.

    So Robinson Crusoe isn’t a “person”? Or what?

    It’s still perfectly mysterious what political implications you think you can draw from this purported distinction, and why.

  • I would say he is a person if only in his relationship with God. Just as a hermit is. The point is that there are no real, solitary individuals. Such a concept only exists in philosophy. Rather everyone is a individual person that as called to relationship with others. Such Enlightenment philosophies that argued there are radical individuals may have had some impact on the Founding Fathers but the extent is still unclear and far from making definitive pronouncements about the impurity of the Declaration and other founding documents.

    Rather the Declaration and other such documents are in part idealistic and in part practical. The practical reality that all persons are individual persons is encompassed in the thought of the Declaration and is again consistent with Catholic thought.

  • Again from the Compendium. Note that the Church teaches that the person finds purpose at the individual and social level. Any philosophy that does not take this into account is flawed from a Catholic perspective.

    “384. The human person is the foundation and purpose of political life.[775] Endowed with a rational nature, the human person is responsible for his own choices and able to pursue projects that give meaning to life at the individual and social level. Being open both to the Transcendent and to others is his characteristic and distinguishing trait. Only in relation to the Transcendent and to others does the human person reach the total and complete fulfilment of himself. This means that for the human person, a naturally social and political being, “social life is not something added on” [776] but is part of an essential and indelible dimension.”

  • By the way, MM, nice jaw-dropper over on Vox Nova. I mean, how did you not think of the fact that teenage birthrates are inversely related to abortion rates? That is, Obama-voting states have more abortion, which is why their teenage birthrates are lower. For evidence, see http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/06/pro-life-states-have-lower-abortion.html

    Congrats on that.

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  • MM, I’m surprised that you haven’t at least changed the graphic after the obvious has been pointed out . . . not that I expect you ever to correct an intellectual error, but you do occasionally try to keep up the pretense of being against abortion, a pretense that is utterly belied by ridiculing “red states” for having less abortion.

Catholic View of the Political Community (part 4)

Sunday, June 28, AD 2009

We continue the test of our Catholic worldview on the subject of the role of the Political Community- drawing upon Chapter 8 in the authoritative Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. We have looked at the Old Testament (#377-378) and Jesus’ interaction with political authorities #379) to see the development of doctrine relating to how we are to regard the political community. Now we turn to “The early Christian communities”.

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9 Responses to Catholic View of the Political Community (part 4)

  • Criticism of rulers is not necessarily being anti-government. Criticism of govt. that one prudently believes violates subsidiarity is also legitimate. While the govt. does look after the common good, as you read the Compendium you will find that all persons are responsible for the common good even if they are not directly involved in legislation. Thus subsidiarity. Nor do I believe most people here think govts. only role is a strong military. Poor strawman argument.

  • Rulers are singled out for special prayers in Christian circles for good reason- just like political leaders getting opportunities to have private meetings with the popes- it is because there is an implicit recognition that these people have a special role to play in securing the common good- even though we all have some role in the mix.

    And my own criticism is directed I suppose more generally at the harsher critiques of governing authority as a necessary agent for establishing societal rule based upon natural law- I don’t know who reads American Catholic, I don’t write as if I know everyone who is going to come across these posts- I know that there are many Grover Norquist fans out and about- with his talk about having government shrunk down to a size where it could be drowned in a bathtub ( thanks for that reminder Joe!). That definitely sounds like it is out-of-bounds for Catholics to believe such a thing.

    I find it interesting that even a post that is written as a general instruction like this one, somehow finds a way to be viewed as a personal attack on some here at American Catholic. I am too busy to keep up with who’s who even around here- I have an impression from many things I read and see, and from people I know and argue with in my daily life- I know that people exist who really and truly hate pretty much all government “interference” and believe that taxes are theft, and see government’s role as being military and police almost exclusively- these aren’t straw men, these are people I know, people I consider friends to some degree even, some are Cathlic- maybe these people aren’t you- but they exist- and they aren’t limiting themselves to simple criticism of rulers.

    I think there is a danger in that streak of anti-authoritarianism that many Americans attribute to our Revolutionary beginnings- but my central thesis is that authority is necessary and good as all authority ultimately derives from God- and we mustn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater- we shouldn’t undermine the true nature and role of the political community as taught by the official Church by denying the fact that those in authority have a special responsibility to ensure the common good by applying the natural law according to the virtue of prudence.

  • Fair enough. It seems we agree that govt. itself is a good. At the same time there is a small group that sees all govt. as evil, there are also those (probably larger group) that sees govt. as the solution to all problems. Thus the authoritative teaching that subsidiarity must be observed and the govt. to intervene only when more immediate bodies cannot address the problem.

    This is because the political community is not govt. Govt. is part of the political community but the political community is broader, encompassing social, cultural, professional communities etc. These communities, through the human persons involving them, have a profound role in shapine the community as a whole.

  • To correct. The political community does not exhaust the community as a whole. The community as a whole comprises other human societies which the political is obliged to respect. Thus the role of subsidiarity.

  • I have often wondered why Catholic conservatives don’t call more attention to the principle of subsidarity, which is urgently needed as a balance between nanny-state big-government liberalism and the rigid anti-government philosophies like Objectivism or libertarianism.

    Subsidarity, properly understood, does NOT leave the poor or disadvantaged out in the cold, or treat all government as evil or all taxation as theft. It simply assigns responsibility for meeting the needs of the vulnerable to the lowest level of societal organization that is capable of meeting those needs.

    As I see it the individual is the lowest rung on this ladder, followed by the family, the religious/cultural community to which the family belongs, larger voluntary organizations (i.e. private charities, fraternal or social organizations), then up the ladder of government from the smallest unit (town, city, school district) through state and finally federal govt.

    The next highest level of organization steps in when the one below it cannot meet the need, and ONLY then. Now there will be times when this balance shifts or changes due to economic or social conditions — i.e. families or private charities can’t handle taking care of the poor so government steps in. However, the goal should always be to get needs met at the lowest possible level and to shift that responsibility back down to the local level when and if conditions allow.

    Now I haven’t done an extensive study of the concept of subsidarity so if I’m getting off base here feel free to correct me. Subsidarity doesn’t regard any layer of society (private or government) as superfluous or evil or unneccessary, it just insists that they keep their proper place in the scheme of things. It also recognizes that all these spheres are interdependent upon one another to some extent, and don’t function in a vaccuum.

    I think some of the debate going about about how to deal with state budget crises and social services would be a lot more sensible if people had a proper grasp of this concept.

    Instead of pitting private sector workers against government employees, or the family struggling to pay rising income/property taxes against the family with a disabled child who relies upon tax-funded programs to pay for the child’s care, in some kind of imagined fight to the death which one must win and the other lose, maybe EVERYONE would realize that we are all ultimately in the same boat. And instead of being at each other’s throats or insisting that someone else must do without so that I can have more, we might be willing to work together for a truly responsible government, which benefits everyone. Well, at least I can dream about that.

  • The complexity in dealing with subsidiarity right now is that we have all of these global forces in operation- multinational banks and corporations- they aren’t shy about exerting pressure on local, state, and federal governments- if one level holds strong they seem to be able to go over their heads- and I’m troubled by the legal person status given to corporations in this country- that can’t be good when you start treating a corporation as a minority with human rights in a community of real persons who don’t want that corporation to be or to stop doing something that is harming the community in some way.

    So- subsidiarity must be seen in the context of the universal common good, and global solidarity- we are one human family because we have One Father in Heaven, and His Son our Christ the King has commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves, and that has to have political implications when you have political and economic systems setting the conditions of life for children and families everywhere. And if we are Americans, we know that our collective influence is quite profound globally. We have to make sure we are being guided by natural law and not imperial drive- that is the great challenge for all of us- of course we have differing levels of personal power, so we are to be judged only by what we do with what we have. Like in the talents parable.

    We will see in the next part what happens when government (good) is being run by bad person (s) doing very bad things- when you subvert something that God intends to be a Good for society, then beware- like C.S. Lewis wrote- “the higher, the more in danger”.

  • Subsidiarity is a fundamental principle as is the common good and solidarity. The lowest body capable of taking care of such issues must. If that is through an international body, so be it. But that is an argument to be made and not self-evident from the current economic crisis per se. And that is consistent with love and charity in Christ. As the Church authoritatively teaches.

  • I am anxiously awaiting Pope Benedict’s take on the situation as it stands today with the Encyclical to be released in the next week or so- I am sure it will reflect the same worldview as previous social encyclical, but it will have the most direct application of that worldview to our current socio-economic conditions. It should be an excellent starting point for dialogue among the orthodoxy and with all those of goodwill.

  • As I’ve noted before on this blog, I don’t like paying taxes any more than anyone else, and there does come a point when the burdens of taxation outweigh the benefits, leading to economic stagnation or collapse as businesses and families stop spending money or move elsewhere. Tax hikes should be a last resort only when all other means have failed.

    However, I also have little if any sympathy for rabid anti-tax folks like Norquist who display indifference at best and contempt at worst for the real human beings who rely upon government services or who work for the government. I agree with Tim that his “drowning government in the bathtub” analogy is pretty disturbing when you think about it.

    Arguing against tax hikes on reasonable grounds such as their potential effect on future business/employment growth, or the need to foster self-sufficiency and personal responsibility at a lower level of society, is good. However, to insist that society can be neatly divided between parasitical “tax eaters” and long-suffering “tax payers,” as if the two groups have no interests in common and never overlap, is in my opinion a gross distortion or oversimplification of the issues involved.

No Opinion

Sunday, June 28, AD 2009

Mr. Jackson and colleague

Farrah fawcett

When you are a blogger, opinions, usually strong ones, are your stock-in-hobby.  Regular readers of this blog know full well that I am never short of opinions.   However, in regard to the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and the volcanic media eruption upon the death of Michael Jackson, I confess to having no opinions.  I recall Farrah Fawcett vaguely from Charlie’s Angels, a show that sometimes came on when the tv was providing background noise during my college and lawschool years, but if I ever watched more than a few minutes I would be surprised.  Her poster was ubiquitous in the dorms at the time, but the attraction eluded me, something about the smile I found off-putting.  Other than that, nothing as far as I was concerned.

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11 Responses to No Opinion

  • I would second your response. I have never understood the appeal of Jackson’s music. As early as 1984, it was apparent he was a ruin of a man; the years since have been a distasteful freak show. Farrah Fawcett was a journeyman actress who was fetching but otherwise of no special distinction; her passing is of interest to her friends and family.

  • Like many young women in the ’70’s, I spent plenty of time in the bathroom with a curling iron trying to replicate Fawcett’s “feathered” hairstyle. I never once watched “Charlie’s Angels” though, and I forgot all about Fawcett until she was diagnosed with cancer.

    In modern celebrity-worshipping America, the famous seem to be exempt from the rules that govern the rest of us. Except that, ultimately,they’re not – they age, get ill and die just like us lesser mortals. And that seems to shock people who have come to regard the Hollywood crowd in the same light ancient Greek peasants regarded Zeus, Hera and Apollo.

    As far as Jackson goes, well, I liked some of the songs on “Thriller.” I also enjoyed watching him dance on those old MTV videos. But the bottom line is that a 50 year old man who chose to never grow up is an “icon” in today’s world. While undeniably talented (and I think his talent was shown to best advantage in his “Jackson 5” days, when he was a little ball of dynamite), the talent faded and was replaced by weirdness. I think Jonah Goldberg got it right: Jackson’s life was the tragedy, not his death.

  • Apparently, Farrah Fawcett was Catholic and did receive the last sacraments prior to her death. Also, whatever one may think of her out-of-wedlock relationship with Ryan O’Neal (he did recently ask her to marry him, but the proposal came a little too late), I have to give him credit for having come back to her side when she became ill and for standing by her and their son Redmond in their time of greatest need. I seem to remember that their breakup was rather bitter, so I also give them both credit for being able to forgive one another. That’s more than can be said for a lot of celebrity couples.

    As for Jackson, he was undeniably talented, but I too never quite grasped how he became the “King of Pop.” I would bet, also, that if any other 50-year-old man who had never been famous or enormously wealthy acted, dressed, and looked the way Jackson did, and also had been accused of child molestation as many times as Jackson was (even if they were never found guilty), such a person probably would have been treated as an outcast, hounded out of every community he tried to live in, and news of his sudden death would have been greeted with cheers and “good riddance” from the general public instead of mourning.

    The only appropriate response to both these incidents is to pray for the repose of their souls.

  • “such a person would have been treated as an outcast, hounded out of every community he tried to live in”

    Well, maybe not. Elaine, have you ever visited San Francisco? Take a walk through the Tenderloin and you’ll easily spot at least 10 characters who make the late MJ look like a Rotary Club president.

  • “look like a Rotary Club president.”

    As a three time Rotary Club President Donna, I’m afraid you are right!

  • I don’t have an emotional interest in either story…

    I do however have a narrative interest in MJs story. He’s too eccentric of a character to not be curious how he ran his life into the ground.

  • No interest; MJ’s music never connected (and his lifestyle excited only distant pity), and Jill was my least-favorite Angel.

    Celebrity status will doubtless gain extra prayers for the repose of their respective souls, whether heartfelt or simply dutiful. Concerning MJ, at least, that may be the only good thing celebrity ever got him.

  • No, Donna, I haven’t been to S.F. (wouldn’t mind visiting the more scenic and decent parts someday, if I won the lottery or a free vacation to anywhere. I did visit L.A. once). Perhaps I should have amended my comment to say he would have been an outcast in communities other than certain major cities on the Left Coast 🙂

    What I had in mind primarily was the child abuse accusations made against him and the double standard that seems to be showing itself in this case.

    Normally, any time Joe or Jane Average is accused of any kind of child abuse in Anytown, U.S.A., if the local paper even accepts online comments concerning the story, 99 percent of them will be rants about what a scumbag this person is and how they should be executed on the spot, etc. The same comments would likely be made even if the person were acquitted in court; most people would probably still believe he had to have done “something” wrong to have even gotten arrested. Needless to say, the sentiment would be even stronger if such accusations occurred more than once.

    Also, I’d be willing to bet that some of these people who idolize Michael Jackson so much and firmly believe he didn’t do anything wrong, or that if he did it was merely because he was victim of abuse himself (I have NO idea whether that’s true or not), probably look at any man in a Roman collar with extreme suspicion.

  • Normally, any time Joe or Jane Average is accused of any kind of child abuse in Anytown, U.S.A., if the local paper even accepts online comments concerning the story, 99 percent of them will be rants about what a scumbag this person is and how they should be executed on the spot, etc. The same comments would likely be made even if the person were acquitted in court; most people would probably still believe he had to have done “something” wrong to have even gotten arrested.

    I am not sure your proportions are correct, but that phenonomenon is real and disturbing. A large fraction of your neighbors just do not belong on juries anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

  • I guess I was much more upset over the Fawcett thing.She was part of my early days pop culture and all. I have to say though her special on fighting cancer that aired a couple of days ago was something else

  • I was more upset at Billy Mays dying!

    Here’s a guy who was selling products with enthusiasm at 50, while Jackson spent the later portion of his life spending money he didn’t have or spending other people’s money.

The Greatest in the Kingdom

Friday, June 26, AD 2009

“At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, ‘Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.'” (Matthew 18:1-6)

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Staying Rooted in Parish Life

Friday, June 26, AD 2009

I suspect that my family was hardly unique among serious Catholics in the 80s in that my parents often found working around our parish to be key to bringing their children up with a strong appreciation of the Catholic faith. When I was in 2nd and 3rd grade my mother helped teach CCD for a while, until the point where a fiat was handed down from the DRE on lent: There will be no discussion of Christ’s suffering and death and crucifixes should not be on display in any classrooms for the younger kids — that would be too scary. (I believe this was the same DRE who gave an inspirational talk about how one of her deepest spiritual experiences was cutting shapes out of construction paper. Nice lady, but not what you’d call a deep thinker in matters of religion.)

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5 Responses to Staying Rooted in Parish Life

  • Good post. One of the things I’ve done in the past few years is to reset my filters, so to speak, so I do not end up finding the heretical where it just might not be. Our parish is solid but not ideal. However, the liturgy is not jimmied with and religious education is unmistakably Catholic. I agree that getting involved can make a big difference–more than I think a lot of the “burnt” realize.

  • Yes, very good post. This is something we struggle with constantly. When we moved nine years ago, we chose a house first, and a parish second, i.e., we did what most people do and joined the parish near our new home. I didn’t think enough about the importance of a healthy parish for the ongoing formation of my family. The “problem” now is that we have so many connections with the parish — friends, school, etc. — that it would be disruptive to uproot my family for a faithful place. (There is no reasonable prospect that things will improve for the foreseeable future.) So we stay connected with friends at the parish, send our kids to the parish school, and catechize them at home, but almost always worship elsewhere. Were I to do it over again, I’d choose the parish first and then find a house nearby.

  • One more thing. Getting involved with official functions of the parish will not help. There is a deeply entrenched culture of dissent at work there (as there is throughout the Archdiocese of Cincinnati), and the powers-that-be have spent several decades honing skills to marginalize committed Catholics.

  • One thing that I remember a Jesuit (not my parish priest) saying was “We all believe in slightly different ways.” I have no problem “parish shopping” rather than taking a strictly geographic approach. I have found that a number of the leading lay people at my parish don’t live anywhere close to the church property. They’ve tried other parishes and ended up with us. On the other hand, a friend who is very conservative goes to a very traditional parish across town.
    I went to a different parish for 25 years, until a new pastor made some changes in mass times that messed up my schedule. I went looking elsewhere and found a parish that had a better physical layout (basic fact: if you are short, don’t sit in the back) and, I found, had warm, friendly people, at least in my opinion.
    Coming from the other direction, as someone who does something at Mass most Sundays, I have recently been reminded that we need to include everyone, not just the familiar faces. A friend and his wife started coming to our parish recently, dissatisfied with the pastor at their former church. He and his wife were astonished when I asked them to bring up the gifts one Sunday. “That never would have happened at [his previous parish.] They only asked the inner circle.”

  • I certainly have no objection to choosing a parish which one is not geographically in. In fact, I’m not 100% sure if we’re geographically in our parish or not — we’re on the border. It just strikes me that if at all possible, one must after choose a parish “live in it” in the sense of participating in it as a Catholic community to the greatest extent reasonable. (Obviously, if the RE program or some such in your parish really is likely to damage your kids, then not, but one needs to think seriously whether you’re looking at “damage” or “be less than perfect”.

Banned in Iran

Friday, June 26, AD 2009

A bit repetitious of Darwin Catholic’s earlier post on this subject, but I think this is a movie very much worth seeing.  Topical doesn’t begin to describe the film The Stoning of Soraya M. that is opening this weekend.  Starring Shohreh Aghdashloo and James Caviezel, and based on the novel of the same name, the film describes in harrowing detail the story of the stoning of a young bride in Iran.  I would like to be able to say that such things do not really occur under mullah-ruled Iran.  Alas, such stonings are very much a grim reality.  Worthy of a Monty Python skit, stonings have been defended by the head of the Iranian Judiciary’s Human Rights Committee.

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Blood in Iran

Thursday, June 25, AD 2009

On June 24, the Iranian regime learned a, to them ominous, lesson.  The protests continued in the face of savage brutality from the ruling mullahs.  Atlas Shrugs has first rate coverage here. Gateway Pundit here has been on top of this story from day one.  Ed Morrissey has coverage here of what happened when protesters march on the Parliament building in Tehran today:

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54 Responses to Blood in Iran

  • President Obama has failed in condemning the vote. He even offered invitations to Iranian officials to attend the 4th of July festivities in DC. Ironically none of the Iranians accepted and President Obama has withdrawn the invitations.

    It seems that Obama may have missed a golden opportunity to offer moral support to the protesters that are demanding change in Iran. The very same mantra that Obama campaigned on.

  • “The White House announced yesterday that it had withdrawn invitations to Iranian diplomats to attend Fourth of July festivities at U.S. embassies around the world. The move is the first tangible penalty the United States has imposed against the Iranian government in the wake of the brutal crackdown of demonstrations over the disputed presidential elections.”

    No Ballpark Franks! Tough penalty.

  • That’ll learn ’em from killing their own citizens. I bet they’re sorry now!

  • A proposal to de-friend Iranian diplomatic personnel on Facebook is presumably also under consideration.

  • If things get much more tense on the diplomatic front, expect Obama to pull out all stops and fart in Ahmadinejad’s general direction.

  • No Rick, that’s what the French do. Obama will blow smoke at them. Though it might be out of the same orifice.

  • The Iranian government is doing everything it can to suppress the image and symbol of Nedan Soltan – this from The Guardian:

    The Iranian authorities have ordered the family of Neda Agha Soltan out of their Tehran home after shocking images of her death were circulated around the world.

    Neighbours said that her family no longer lives in the four-floor apartment building on Meshkini Street, in eastern Tehran, having been forced to move since she was killed. The police did not hand the body back to her family, her funeral was cancelled, she was buried without letting her family know and the government banned mourning ceremonies at mosques, the neighbours said. …

  • What do you people think Obama should do that he hasn’t done already? Give a blustering speech about the “axis of evil”? Threaten the regime? Give the green light for Netanyahu to bomb them? Talk about the need for western-style democracy and freedom? Tell the people to rise up, just to be massacred, just as Bush the Elder did with the Iraqi Shia?

    Anything else? More generally, should he follow the advice of the same descredited neocons who promised a bed or roses in Iraq or the people who actually know something about Iranian history and politics? Just curious…

  • He should immediately announce Tony that there will never be negotiations on any questions with the regime in power in Iran, and lead a call for economic sanctions against the regime in Iran. He should also call for the freezing of Iranian assets in Western banks. He should make clear that business as usual with Ahmadinejad and his mullah puppet masters is over forever. In short, he should act like a President of the US rather than a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago.

  • A proposal to de-friend Iranian diplomatic personnel on Facebook is presumably also under consideration.

    I think it would be rather cowboyish to take such an extreme action without consulting the UN first.

  • More generally, should he follow the advice of the same descredited neocons who promised a bed or roses in Iraq or the people who actually know something about Iranian history and politics? Just curious…

    Here you go with these false dichotomies again…

    That said: I think it was a good example of the Obama administration’s blind spots that it took them so long to catch on to what was really going on in Iran. However, I don’t have any serious quibbles with what they’re doing now, and there’s not at this moment in time more that I think they should be doing.

    The fact of the matter is, the US has had sanctions against Iran for so long anyway that we don’t really have a hole lot of stick to threaten them with at this point even if it was the appropriate action. At this point, the appropriate action would be continuing to put a spotlight (which the regime is clearly very eager to avoid) on the violent oppression that’s going on there.

  • Another “expert” speaks out:

    Question: Obama aides told reporters there is little to nothing the U.S. can do. Is it demonstrating a weakness?

    SCOWCROFT: No I don’t think so. I don’t think so. How can we be more influential? We don’t control Iran. We don’t control the government obviously. There is little we can do to change the situation domestically in Iran right now and I think an attempt to change it is more likely to be turned against us and against the people who are demonstrating for more freedom and therefore I think we need to look at what we can do best, which is to try to influence Iranian behavior in the region, and with nuclear weapons.

  • Congratulations, Donald, you have just delivered a huge propaganda coup to the Iranian regime and undermined the very legitimacy of the protestors who seek to support. For now, Khamenei can rally the nation against the US aggressor, given the explicit threats against the regime.

    And anyway, haven’t we had 8 years of this approach? Did it even remotely work? No, it did not.

  • Actually the approach to Iran has been mostly a European/UN led model. Obama is just more of the same.

  • And yes it has not worked.

  • A huge propaganda coup…by reporting the information that their folks risk death to get out.

    Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

    It *doesn’t matter* to the liars if we do nothing– in case you didn’t notice, they already claimed we’re interfering. Obama could put on a cheerleader outfit, fly in and do a 30 minute “Yay, Iranian Dictator!” routine, and they’d *still* claim we were interfering to help the revolutionaries.

    God forbid we let it be known what the murderous thugs are doing, and say “this is wrong, you are wrong”.

    Me, I’m disgusted that the shooting on video of a lady wasn’t enough to get the Independence Day invites revoked, it took axe-attacks and a dead nine year old.

  • I wish more people got this outraged when US cops execute unarmed black men.

  • I think Obama’s handling of the situation has been decent, though not great. He could have been more forceful earlier in condemning regime abuses, but the last thing we want is to make the protests about us rather than the fraud and repression in Iran.

  • I wish more people got this outraged when US cops execute unarmed black men.

    Last I checked, incidents in which police accidentally shoot an unarmed man (of any skin color — though it gets talked about more if he’s a minority) get pretty wide attention.

    Though the distinction is, that’s almost invariably a case of the police mistaking (perhaps wrongly) someone for being a threat — while the Iranian militias and police are intentionally killing or beating large numbers of protesters.

  • Joe, I wished people got more outraged about this:

    http://www.nleomf.com/TheMemorial/stories.htm

  • I wish more people got this outraged when US cops execute unarmed black men.

    How often does it happen in this country that an unarmed man is dispatched by police after the fashion of Nguyen Ngoc Loan?

  • I don’t know that anyone here is particularly outraged anyway. I mean, I’m interested in the story and pulling for the common man in Iran just as I would any other place, and I think what the government in Iran is doing is awful (even if not surprising). Maybe I’m alone it that, but I just can’t see others around here having the whole Iranian thing effect them at a deeply emotional level.

    However, I would suspect there would be a number of people who would rightly outraged if the story was about a cop executing a person, black, white or otherwise. Thing is, not that it couldn’t happen or hasn’t happened at some time here, but US cops executing someone is a very rare occurrence, and odds are it wouldn’t be something he was doing on behest of the government but through his own initiative.

  • Hey Dandy Don:

    What you want BO to do the US is already doing.

    http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/programs/iran/iran.pdf

    It has worked wonders. Similar to the wonderful effects such sanctions have had against Sadam’s Iraq, Cuba, North Korea and the Sudan.

  • A great interview with Hooman Majd:http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/06/25/hooman_majd/index.html

    Highlights:

    On the role of America:

    “People in the West, especially in America, tend to think we have more influence than we do. Iranians are more concerned with their own issues than whether the U.S. is with them or against them.”

    On American interference:

    “For the U.S. to get involved in any way is a huge mistake in my opinion. It makes Iranians very suspicious. One reason they were able to get 3 million people out on the streets from a broad socioeconomic spectrum across all political lines — you don’t get 3 million people on the streets of Tehran if they’re all students like in 2003 — is because the lower class, the middle class, the upper class, students, old people, families, religious families, women in chadors, men in beards, they all came out. These people also voted against Ahmadinejad or felt the vote wasn’t fair.

    At first, none of them would have believed that the U.S. had a hand in this. But the government is now trying to say that’s what’s happening. The story could start to stick if Obama or Western governments start coming out strongly on one side. Nationalism starts to come into play. The government’s own propaganda machine, which is pretty strong, will be able to label a lot of people in the opposition as being stooges of the CIA.”

    “I don’t know what the U.S. could even do, short of invading the country, which would be a disaster because you turn everybody against the United States and for the government. Other than to say it’s unacceptable for a government to kill its own people who are peacefully protesting, and to make that point strongly, I don’t know what else the U.S. should do.”

    On media stereotypes:

    “That the people who want change in Iran all want liberal democracy and reject the Islamic Republic. Many do reject it, but when the New York Times puts a big photo on Page One of tens of thousands of protesters and in the center of the photo is a woman with her scarf pushed to the back of her head with Chanel sunglasses and blond streaked hair I think it gives the wrong impression of who these protesters are. Yes, there are people like that but they would not have gotten 3 million people in the streets if that’s all who came. Those people are still a minority.”

    On the idiotic neocons (the best bit):

    “The neocons know nothing about Iran, nothing about the culture of Iran. They have no interest in understanding Iran, in speaking to any Iranian other than Iranian exiles who support the idea of invasions — I’ll call them Iranian Chalabis. It’s offensive, even to an Iranian American like me. These are people who would have actually preferred to have Ahmadinejad as president so they could continue to demonize him and were worried, as some wrote in Op-Eds, that Mousavi would be a distraction and would make it easier for Iranians to build a nuclear weapon and now all of a sudden they want to be on his side? Go away.

    I’m not saying Obama is the most knowledgeable person on Iran, but he’s obviously getting good advice right now. He understands way more about the culture of the Middle East than any of the neocons. For them to be lecturing President Obama is a joke. I have criticized Obama; for instance, I criticized him for having a patronizing tone in his Persian New Year message. But right now I think he’s doing a good job. The John McCains of the world, they’re Ahmadinejad’s useful idiots. They’re doing a great job for him.”

    Bottom line” McCain and the neocons are “Ahmadinejad’s useful idiots”. Indeed.

  • Economic sanctions are just a fancy way of saying don’t trade with oppressive regimes. I have no strong view on this one way or another, but is doing business with repressive regimes obviously morally preferable? Is it cooperation with evil? Can we just evaluate by consequences? Which consequences should guide us? North Korea? South Africa?

  • Christopher,

    The invitations were extended on June 2nd, before, and not in response to, Iran’s crackdown on protesters.

    I never said it was in response.

    It shows how naivette the Obama administration is.

  • MM,

    I’m with you on this one. I don’t think the Iranian people have forgotten that the CIA trained SAVAK.

  • Economic sanctions are just a fancy way of saying don’t trade with oppressive regimes.

    Economic sanctions are a fancy way of saying don’t trade with the Iranian people, i.e. the people protesting the regime, among others. It’s not clear to me why this should be seen as a good thing.

  • If you can think of a way to trade with the Iranian people without supporting their gov’t, I’m sure folks would be delighted to hear it.

  • MM,

    You seem rather unclear on the basic fact: Most “neo-cons” are supportive of what Obama is doing and saying now, they just think he should have caught on to it a few days sooner.

    The fact that you found an Iranian journalist who shares your view that neo-cons are all stupid doesn’t really mean anything. Plural of anecdote and all that. If it was simply a matter of posting, “An Iranian said this” anecdotes, I could provide you with several interviews with people inside Iran suggesting that the US take actions such as sanctions (a suggestion I don’t happen to agree with), but I wouldn’t insult your intelligence by going that route, and I’d thank you not to insult ours.

  • Just to piggyback a bit off of Darwin’s last comment, just yesterday I heard a phone interview with an Iranian woman who was begging for us “to do something.” She was obviously distraught, and I’m sure she’s not the only one to feel that way.

    To be sure that doesn’t mean that I think the US, specifically the President, ought to do more than what he has already done. But it’s just silly to cherrypick soundbites in at attempt to convey the general sentiments of all Iranian people towards the US and what they think we should be doing.

  • That said, the interview with Mr. Majd is interesting. He makes a good point about how the Iranian desire for a free and fairly functioning democracy is not necessarily at all in contradiction with their desire for a specifically Islamic state.

    Of course, that sort of situation is hardly news to the neo-cons you scorn, since they were involved in helping to set up two Islamic democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan — neither one of which is a secular country, and yet both of which have more freedoms and democratic process than most countries in the region.

  • If you can think of a way to trade with the Iranian people without supporting their gov’t, I’m sure folks would be delighted to hear it.

    It’s not clear to me that allowing trade with the Iranian people would involve supporting the regime. Sanctions allow the government to escape accountability for their economic blunders by blaming it on a foreign power. Castro has become a master of this tactic, and while I don’t know how much the mullahs rely on it in Iran, 30 years of sanctions hasn’t had much of an appreciable effect in hurting the regime. Trade tends to promote increased understanding between nations, and I imagine that the more trade there was between Iran and the U.S., the less likely people there would be to buy into the “Death to America” propaganda (certainly the use of western services like Twitter seems to have had a positive effect on events there).

  • “Trade tends to promote increased understanding between nations”

    England and Germany were trading quite a bit Blackadder before WWI, as were France and Germany actually. I see little historical evidence that trade does much to deter war. In regard to trade and oppressive regimes, the regime, Cuba is a notable example, uses the trade to prop itself up. One would have thought that China in 1989 would have put paid to the pleasant myth that increasing trade would lead to increasing civil liberties and political liberalization.

  • I see little historical evidence that trade does much to deter war.

    Evidence available here.

  • Darwin,

    Majd’s point is that the necons are as clueless about Iran as they were about Iraq, and are thus playing right into Ahmadi’s hands. For the same reason, I’ve always thought that George Bush and Osama Bin Laden helped each other in so many ways.

    As regards Iraq and Afghanistan, are you somehow hinting that the neocons were right?? And go tell the Iraqi Christians that they have more “freedom” now than under Saddam Hussein and see what they say.

    Another interesting comparison made by Majd relates to the 2000 US election — how would Americans have reacted if the Iranian leadership had taken sides during the Florida recount, or threatened not to recognize Bush if he was chosen? I think most Americans, on all sides, would have told them to butt out.

  • http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2008/12/iraqi-christian-mp-we-will-go-to-church.html

    Shiite tribal leaders and Iraqi officials attend Christmas Day mass at Mary’s Daughters Monastery in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2008. This year, Christmas Day for the first time, declared an official holiday in Iraq.

  • how would Americans have reacted if the Iranian leadership had taken sides during the Florida recount, or threatened not to recognize Bush if he was chosen?

    With laughter, presumably. But it takes a rather tin ear to think that this is an apt comparison.

  • As regards Iraq and Afghanistan, are you somehow hinting that the neocons were right??

    Right in what regard?

    They removed a pair of pretty despicable governments in those two countries, and eventually (after some mismanagement and failure to plan for the post-war period that in both cases were irresponsible and inexcusable) established moderately stable democracies given the difficulties of the region.

    And go tell the Iraqi Christians that they have more “freedom” now than under Saddam Hussein and see what they say.

    Of course they have more freedom. The problem is, that political freedom when a certain percentage of your neighbors think you should convert of die is a mixed blessing.

    That said, you need to keep in mind that it was primarily the insurgents who were giving the Christians trouble. As that’s died down (due to the counter-insurgency tactics that your idol was so sure would not work, and McCain stuck his neck out to help get in place) the problem’s for Iraq’s Christians have reduced, though not vanished.

    In the end, you can place about as much blame on the neo-cons for the plight of the Christians in Iraq as you can on Mr. Majd, who says he supports the ideals of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, for the depressingly frequent human rights abuses (stonings, hangings, cutting off of hands, torture, etc.) in Iran.

  • Darwin, you seem to believe in the transformative power of bombs and guns, which is both dangerous and unChristian. You are hailing “moderately stable democracies”. What does that even mean? And was it worth the cost — the million or so deaths, the uprooting of a quarter of the population? of course, it’s easy to talk about “democracy” when the war is reduced to one great “support our troop” video game for the 24 hour news cycle. No, Iraqi Christians were better protected, and enjoy greater security, under Saddam Hussein. Bishop Warduni of Baghdad said as much. I have no idea whether its future will be more or less secure, and neither do you, but I can say with certainly that the cost was too great.

  • Really, the thing that strikes me more than anything else about your reaction to this, MM, is that it’s kind of sad that for so many progressives, opposition to the Iraq War has metastasized into an instinctive reaction against any kind of movements towards political reform or freedom in any Muslim country. Because neo-cons talked (at times with foolish idealism) about a “universal urge towards freedom” and talked about spreading “freedom and democracy” in the Islamic world, a great many progressives now seem to be instinctively against any move towards democracy and freedom in the Islamic world, since that would cut against the “freedom and democracy aren’t in their culture and they don’t want us” argument which so many accepted in their efforts to oppose the war.

    You’re very much right that the protests in Iran are not “about the US”. But the thing that you don’t quite seem able to get is that conservatives don’t see them as “about the US” either. However, a lot of Americans instinctively root for democracy and freedom for other people even when it has nothing to do with us. That’s really what you’re seeing here, and forgive me for saying so, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. It’s a virtuous instinct to wish the good for others — and since many Americans see democracy and freedom from oppression as good things, they wish that for other people.

  • how would Americans have reacted if the Iranian leadership had taken sides during the Florida recount, or threatened not to recognize Bush if he was chosen?

    Probably the same way we reacted to all American loones who claimed Bush stole the election or said they would leave the country, yet never did. That was a sad state of of affairs and quite an embarrassment for our country, but I doubt the Iranians joining in with the likes of Alec Baldwin would have added much more to our shame.

  • You are hailing “moderately stable democracies”. What does that even mean? And was it worth the cost — the million or so deaths, the uprooting of a quarter of the population? of course, it’s easy to talk about “democracy” when the war is reduced to one great “support our troop” video game for the 24 hour news cycle.

    I’ve never talked in a fashion that suggests I think war is a video game, and in your honest moments I’m sure you know that. War is a horrible tragedy — but it is at times necessary as our pope has observed in the past. You and I disagree on whether ridding Iraq of the Baathist dictatorship was worth a war, but that doesn’t mean that I take war itself lightly.

    We both know the stats you cite are almost certainly bogus, but that’s beside the point.

    No, Iraqi Christians were better protected, and enjoy greater security, under Saddam Hussein. Bishop Warduni of Baghdad said as much. I have no idea whether its future will be more or less secure, and neither do you, but I can say with certainly that the cost was too great.

    We both also know that just because a murderous regime happens to favor (or at least ignore) Catholics and inflict suffering on other groups instead does not necessarily mean that it’s a good thing. There were, sadly, Catholic clergy who thought the Ustashi was just swell. I assume you don’t agree…?

  • Another interesting comparison made by Majd relates to the 2000 US election — how would Americans have reacted if the Iranian leadership had taken sides during the Florida recount, or threatened not to recognize Bush if he was chosen? I think most Americans, on all sides, would have told them to butt out.

    I think most Americans would have neither noticed nor cared.

  • how would Americans have reacted if the Iranian leadership had taken sides during the Florida recount, or threatened not to recognize Bush if he was chosen? I think most Americans, on all sides, would have told them to butt out.

    How can anybody draw such a false and even risible comparison as this one?

    You hardly see (at least, these days) the cruel slaughtering of innocent Americans as the result of some sham election.

    It is that very detail that most in the world are wont to pay attention to (indeed, even quite understandably given the heinous circumstances) as regarding the whole bloody Iran murder spree currently taking place in that horrible country.

  • I don’t think anyone questions the brutality and horror of what is going on in Iran, and only the most obtuse person would think for a moment that Obama or the administration or the American people are wholly indifferent to it.

    However, the question of whether or not official, explicit statements denouncing the Iranian government and supporting the demonstrators are the right thing to do, or whether they would simply make us feel good about “speaking out” while worsening the situation for the actual people putting their lives on the line over there, is a legitimate question of prudence, about which reasonable and moral people can disagree.

    If I understand correctly, in some ways, the dilemma facing the Obama administration now somewhat resembles the dilemma Pope Pius XII faced during World War II — he believed (with good reason) that loudly denouncing the Nazis for persecuting Jews would do nothing to stop them from persecuting Jews, and would only make them start attacking Catholics as well. That is where the false and distorted notion of him being “Hitler’s Pope” got started.

  • “If I understand correctly, in some ways, the dilemma facing the Obama administration now somewhat resembles the dilemma Pope Pius XII faced during World War II — he believed (with good reason) that loudly denouncing the Nazis for persecuting Jews would do nothing to stop them from persecuting Jews, and would only make them start attacking Catholics as well. That is where the false and distorted notion of him being “Hitler’s Pope” got started.”

    With the crucial difference Elaine that there was no chance that a popular revolt would topple Hitler. There is a chance that the mullahs may be toppled. Additionally, considering the fact that the Iranian regime is killing the protesters anyway in order to hold on to power, I think their level of ferocity will not be increased by condemnation from the West.

  • Well, there is also another key distinction in that by engaging in such ostensibly diplomatic efforts, Pius XII sought (and did quite successfully on that occasion) to help persecuted Jews on the sidelines.

    Unfortunately, I see none of that (as far as I can tell) from the Obaman administration.

  • e., I am certain that Elaine’s comment had absolutely nothing to do with you.

    As to Tony’s pet expert on Iran, Hooman Madj, this is the same fellow who in January 2008 accused the Pentagon of manufacturing an incident between the US Navy and the Revolutionary Guards in the Gulf.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2008/01/a_new_disgrace_at_huffpo.asp

    His background also seems to be in the entertainment industry:

    “Hooman Majd has had a long career as an executive in the music and film businesses. He was Executive VP of Island Records, where he worked with a diverse group of artists including U2, The Cranberries, Tricky and Melissa Etheridge; and Head of Film and Music at Palm Pictures, where he executive-produced James Toback’s “Black and White” and Khyentse Norbu’s “The Cup” (Cannes 1999).”

    His family fled from Iran in 1979, unwilling to live under the rule of the mullahs. He has had a fairly benign view of Ahmadinejad, serving as his interpreter during Ahmadinejad’s rant at the UN last year. Take anything this guy says about the current situation in Iran with a boulder of salt.

  • If you are participating in the Iranian Riots or know someone who is and wish to remain safe? Let me help by showing you how to distinguish between those who are angry and those who are lethal. http://www.aggressionmanagement.com/Riots-in-Iran.htm

  • No, e., that comment had nothing to do with you. I should have emphasized, in case anyone misunderstood, that I was NOT in any way attempting to compare Obama to Pope Pius XII in character or wisdom, but simply pointing out a possible parallel between political situations they were up against.

    As for potential behind-the-scenes diplomatic or other efforts to aid the Iranian dissidents, it might simply be too soon to tell what, if anything, the administration or other countries might be doing or planning in that regard. We may not find out about such efforts until months or even years from now.

  • Actually, I was referring to this remark: “…only the most obtuse person would think for a moment that Obama or the administration or the American people are wholly indifferent to it.”

    No biggee though; there are greater concerns in the world (such as the blatant injustices occurring in Iran and the atrocious murderering of innocent people) than a mere overly sensitive ego.

    God bless all. The Weekend is finally upon us!

A Miracle For Father Kapaun, the POW Servant of God?

Wednesday, June 24, AD 2009

KAPAUN

In April of this year I wrote a post about the remarkable POW Servant of God, Father Emil Kapaun, a heroic Catholic Chaplain who died in a Chinese POW camp during the Korean War.  Now, and a grateful hattip to reader Rick Lugari, the Vatican is investigating a miracle attributed to the intercession of  Father Kapaun.

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32 Responses to A Miracle For Father Kapaun, the POW Servant of God?

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  • Hello, I am asking prayer for the Gas station attendent who was shot tonith in Detroit, I am also praying for all in Detroit

  • Prayers on the way Barbara.

  • Hi, I am requesting a prayer for my husband, Marc, father of 3 who at age 52 had a major stroke, was in the hospital for 3 months and they didnt think he would make it. He did make it, but he lost his left periperal vision . and is still kinda numb on his left side. It has stopped him from being able to do much of anything. Our life has changed a lot! We just ask for your prayers that he will continue to get better!

  • Hello, I am asking for a prayer and miracle for my little dog who means the world to me and I love him more than words can express. He has been diagnosed with a middle ear tumor that they suspect is cancer. He also has a cyst on the same side of his face that would make the surgery very complicated due to a lot of nevers being damaged among other complications. I have elected not to have the sugery. I pray that he will live many more years by side.

  • Prayers are on the way Rebecca and Ann.

  • Please pray for my 12 year old grand daughter. Last year she was a happy and healthy young girl. Straight A student. Always the first to help. Last Easter started to walk funny. After tests they determined she had a AVM type 2 on her spine. Now a year later and 5 surg later she is in a wheel chair unbale to walk or go to the bathroom with out cathing herself. She is handeling it much better than us adults. I pray every day for a miracle. Please help me pray for Delilah Patsy Palmer. Thank you

  • Please ask Father Kapaun to please ask Our Lord to make my 11 yr old daughter talk. She has mental delays and her brain does not allow her to sound out words. I ask everyday to Our Lord to keep her safe and to watch over her while at school. My mother who also lives with us is 91 years old and was in the hospital 2 yrs ago and the x-ray showed a tumor in her lung. I did not let them investigate further because of her age and that she would decline in health if was brought to her attendtion her. She has been coughing for the past 3 years of really unknown origin. I pray each day also for her that whatever the Dr.s saw on the x-ray that it was benign. My husband also had Prostate Cancer and is doing well. I pray that he remains well to continue being a great father to our daughter who needs him so and so do I.

  • My dearest Father Kapaun, I would like to ask our Lord for a prayer for me. I have an important final tomorrow I ask that your presence will guide me through this tough test. Thank you.

  • Please pray for me that I can take care of myself financially. I have had problems with this most of my life, love what I do, but need to have more confidence. Thank you for your prayers.

  • Father Kapaun, in life your love of Christ and your love of your fellow Man shone forth from you. In the POW camp in which you died you constantly risked your life to aid your fellow prisoners. We humbly beseech you to pray to God for those who have asked your intercession.

  • We ask your intercession,prayers and blessings on our 2 month old grandson who has not yet come home from the hospital. He is facing a possible heart transplant and we ask that you intercede and ask God to cure him so he may grow up to be a good man with the family who loves him and be an example of Gods power and love of His children.

  • Dear Father Kapaun, my life has always been ups and downs. But lately downs I have been taking care of my mother in the last 2years and my financialies has put me in a burden she is very ill with a disease and has alzheimers’. I dont receive any help. I want the best care for her and I pray each day for help. I know Gods power is mighty and miracles. Please pray that I can financially take care of mother Shirley and help me through my problems. Thank you for your prayers.

  • Dear Father Kapaun

    I have been trying to stay strong with my faith to help my son shaun 29yrs old through his stressful time.He is at his lowest time now.
    Accusations in the court i’ve appealed.He lost his son 2yrs ago after 4days with us Logan past away.He feels like he’s never been able to mourn his death.
    He tried to please his girlfriend and her daughters they have split up .He lost his job because they judged him over accusations in court.He had a terrible accident which showed him he blacked out then and 6yrs ago he blacked out rolling his vehicle.Now he’s going through medical test to see why he does this.
    He feels so guilty about my financial and emotional help.I told him ask me to take him anytime and pick him up anytime.He needs your help and prayers to lift him up.Please pray to God to help him through his troubled times.

  • Father Kapaun

    My Fiance Stephen 51yrs old is an alcoholic and laiden with debt because of bad decisions.If it be Gods will to give him strength to stop all his addictions and find a buyer for his property to start over please prayer to God for his strength and healing

  • Dear Father Kapaun,
    Please pray for my 12 year old daughter who suffers greatly from autism. She also has severe neurological issues other than autism. I pray for a miracle every day so that she can have a happy, healthy life and be out of physical pain.

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  • DEAR FATHER KAPAUN, PLEASE PRAY FOR MY GRANDDAUGHER, JACEY KOITCH, WHO HAS QAUDRAPLIGIC CEREBRAL PALSY. SHE IS 13 YEARS OLD AND CANNOT HEAR, SPEAK OR WALK.
    HER PARENTS TRY VERY HARD TO GIVE HER A GOOD LIFE, ALTHOUGH THEY ARE LIVING WITH A LIMITED INCOME. I WOULD LIKE FOR HER TO HEAR AND SPEAK. PLEASE REMEMBER HER WITH YOUR LOVING GRACE.

  • Father Abel Kapaun, please help my brother Mark who is going through a horrible divorce. Give him the strenght and courage to get through this without losing faith or hope. I pray to you that he is not ruined. Laura

  • Dear Father Kapaun, PLEASE PLEASE pray for a miracle for my little boy, John Dobb, who is only 8 years old. My darling boy has had many obstacles to overcome, starting with being born 2 months premature, a stroke in-utero, mild cerebral palsy, and appraxia of speech. He has worked hard since day one on this earth, taking so much extra effort to do things most kids can do without a thought. He is very bright, mainstreamed in school, and aside from his speech impairmaent you would never know he’s had any difficulties. We found a brain tumor last May, but it has recently started growing faster than he is. It’s a very difficult tumor as it is very vascular, and is also right at the brain stem which makes removal extremely difficult. My son has a heart of gold, always helping others, collecting items for the troops overseas last Christmas season, collecting donations for the Last Chance Animal Rescue, helping Daddy shovel the snow (and the neighbors, too). Just a great kid who doesn’t deserve more obstacles in his little life. PLEASE PLEASE pray for a miracle that if his biopsy turns out to be cancerous (or not) that his surgeon’s hands will be guided by God Himself and will make this thing go away forever. My little guy has so much to offer to the world. I feel very selfish to ask, but I am feeling very helpless right now. If you could please pray for strength for me … I sure could use it right now. Thank you for your consideration. Jennifer

  • I pray Father Kapaun that you may intercede with God for Jennifer’s son John and for all those who are asking your aid.

  • FATHER KAPAUN,PLEASE PRAY FOR THE LOSS OF MY HAIR.LET IT COME OUT AGAIN.I FEEL SO BAD THAT MY SCALP CAN BE SEN AND I DON’T FEEL LIKE GOING ANYWHERE AND IF I DO I TRY TO HISE FROM EVERY BODY SO THEY WON’T SEE MY SCALP. PLEASE ALSO PRAY FOR NELDA MY DAUGHTER THAT SHE LEAVES THAT DRUGGIE THAT SHE IS RUNNING AROUND WITH THAT SHE DOESN’T TAKE CARE OF HER THREE GIRL THAT NEED HER SO MUCH, I PRAY THAT SHE SOON COMES TO HER SENCES. AMEN
    ALSO HELP KATHY AND ASHELY WITH THIER TAKS TEST, THAT THEY PASS BOTH THE MATH AND THE READING,AMEN

  • Dear Father Kapaun
    I pray that you Father Kapaun may intercede with God,the Father and grant me a miracle.For 4 years I’ve been praying and hoping and it only gets worse.By his choice,my only son is estranged from me,his Mother,his sister,his entire family.I pray to have my son and his two children back in our lives.My heart is broken,I cry every day.I pray my son would contact his Mother and realize he loves and wants to see me and will let me see his children.I want my son back,right now its as if he is dead,Please I beg of you help me,I will say any prayers,novina’s,fast,anything.Thank you,

  • Dear Father Kapaun,
    Please pray for my sister in law Marianne. She is 43 yrs old and has been wheelchair bound from Mutiple Scerosis. She has suffered from her early 20’s. She is going for experimental treatment this week and this is her last hope. Her prognosis has been poor to date. She has zero quality of life. I hope she gets to have a least one day to do things that so many of us take for granted. She can not do a thing on her own. I believe a miracle can happen. I hope everyone will say a prayer for her. Thank you.

  • Dear Fr. Kapaun,
    I am writing to you for a special hope and prayer that my brother’s good friend Dylan survives a massive brain trauma. He is only in his early 30’s and full of life. The doctors have told the family that he is verging on brain death…with no hopes for recovery into a normal life. He has a beautiful wife and a child. Please Father Kapuan, we are asking for a miracle of life. Some sign that tells his family he is going to be okay. I am merely an observer, but am praying with all my heart for his recovery.

  • Please pray for my family. We have been through alot the last few months. Please give my home a miracle and let Joe, my husband, get over all his health issues and my daughter, be accepted to law school. Please provide peace and health in our home so we can smile again. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

  • DEAR FATHER KAPAUN
    I AM ASKING YOU TO PRAY FOR MY MOTHER WHO IS ILL. I AM ASKING FOR A MIRACLE. THE DOCTORS ARE SAYING SHE DOESN’T HAVE LONG TO LIVE. I BELIEVE MIRACLES HAPPEN. I HOPE EVEYONE WILL SAY A PRAYER FOR HER. I pray Father Kapaun that you may intercede with God for Mary’s recovery and for all those who are asking your aid. i ask this IN THE NAME OF JESUS. AMEN.

  • dear father kapaun, iam asking you to pray for my son who has an addiction problem. also for the health of a good friend who is pregnant and on bedrest that she might be healthy and delivery her baby without complications . also for the complete recovery for peter and kathy who have had cancer. and for all my family and friends who r grieving and need help and anyone else who is suffering. i thank you in advance .
    god bless ua everyone. amen.

  • Dear Father, A dear friend of mine has just been diagnosed with stage IV cancer. She is in her 50’s and has had much pain in her life. She needs some help. I would gladly accept her pain if you could pray for her. She is such a kind and caring person and I know would like to stay with her family for a while longer. She is so scared and her youngest is so sad. While I know we will all have to go someday, it would be so nice for her if she were allowed a little more happiness in this life. Bless You Father

  • Pls pray for my cleaning and trading company i need a might mirical in jobs and finances also pray for protection for the 2 ladies running the company

  • Dear Father: My daughter, Karen, was operated on Monday August 16th for a Thyroid Cancerous tumor. She was discharged today so am asking for everyone’s prayers for a positive outcome. In addition to her medical problem, she has been out of work and has had little success in obtaining employment despite the fact she has had a very impressive background. Despite all the obstacles, she has never lost faith and constantly places other’s needs before her own. I’m hoping for Father Kapaun’s intercession.
    Bless you Father.

  • Dear Father Kapaun,
    Please intercede for Patsy w/ colon ca. She is a widow in her 40’s with a 16 yr old daughter to raise. The doctors gave her no hope today. Please pray for Jesus to heal her. She is a faithful Catholic & loves God. AMEN

Will Health Care Reform Create (More) Health Care Shortages?

Wednesday, June 24, AD 2009

MSNBC recently did an interesting piece on the shortage of primary care practitioners, which has become particularly acute in rural and low-income areas. As a result, many older doctors feel that they cannot retire because there is no one to take their place:

There are not enough general care doctors to meet current needs, let alone the demands of some 46 million uninsured, who threaten to swamp the system.

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4 Responses to Will Health Care Reform Create (More) Health Care Shortages?

  • Will it reduce specialists. Yes. Will it reduce general practicioners. I suspect so also. It costs about 40 K a year for a medical school degree. Add to that cost of living and a med student comes out with a huge bill at the end of four years. Now add to that three to five years of residency at very low pay. If someone wants to specialize that may take another 2 – 4 years. That’s in a residency and fellowship that they may be working 80 – 100 hours per week. Many doctors are in the mid 30’s before they start to make that big paycheck. They now have to pay that back in the form of loans and interest on those loans. Cut their pay, it won’t make sense to do that work.

  • Does government run healthcare work?
    Do people in countries like Canada and Britian dislike their government run healthcare systems. Do they wish they were more like the US?

    In 2008 Harris conducted a poll of 10 industrialized countries to see what their people thought of their healthcare system

    Here are the results

    http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/index.asp?PID=927

  • Just one other thought for tonight. The average orthopedist works 34 days to cover his malpractice insurance costs. A OB/GYN may work up to 70 days. Part of the high cost of practice.

  • To norris hal:
    Note that the Harris survey (for the USA) was an online poll of 1,000 persons; meaning it’s a very unscientific poll. This recent CNN poll (http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03/19/health.care.poll/index.html) claims that 80% of Americans are satisfied with the quality of the healthcare they receive. So putting the two polls together we conclude that Americans are satisfied but want a more, bigger and better. That would seem a cultural trait more than a real argument for changing the system.

    Polls should always be taken with a lot of caution -remember the election eve poll fiascos- because their results can be easily manipulated to reflect the biases of the pollsters. There are more scientific ways to measure the quality of healthcare with indicators such as patient wait time for surgery or patient cancer survival rates by most scientific measures the US comes on top (see http://www.freemarketcure.com/whynotgovhc.php).

    The big problem with our system is cost not quality. The tried and true way to lower cost is by increasing competition (even President Obama has made this argument). In our current system the Big Insurance cartel negotiates with the Big Medicine/Pharma cartel and the Big Government cartel (Medicaid/Medicare). To lower cost all that is required is to return the power of choice to the consumer. Have you noticed how Cosmetic Surgery cost have gone down (a recent radio ad in this market announces free lipo with the purchase of breast enhancement). The reason is that Cosmetic surgery is outside the cartel since it’s “not covered”. Government makes everything more expensive (ever heard of NASA); competition reduces prices.

Book Review: Empires of Trust (Part II)

Wednesday, June 24, AD 2009

[Empires of Trust, review Part I]

Review of: Empires of Trust: How Rome Built–and America Is Building–a New World

My apologies for taking so long to get back with a second part to this review. In the first installment, I covered the history of Rome’s early expansion, and how its commitment to establishing a safe horizon of allies, and defending those allies against any aggression, led the city of Rome to effectively rule all of Italy. From southern Italy, Rome was drawn into Sicily, which in turn made it a threat to Carthage and drew those two superpowers of the third century BC into a series of wars that would end with the total destruction of Carthage as a world power.

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7 Responses to Book Review: Empires of Trust (Part II)

  • Like you (and Madden, I suppose) I found the parallels between the Roman Republic and the U.S. quite striking. The disanalogies, however, were also striking. What ultimately forced Rome to abandon it’s policy of political independence for Greece was the unwillingness of the various Greek city states to stop fighting with each other. By contrast, the countries of Europe seem to be perfectly content not to fight with one another.

  • True.

    I think an important distinction (and a very positive development) is that the US was able to use international institutions to station troops all over the place without actually assuming ruling powers over any of those nations. This allowed the US to remain in Europe after WW2 without getting into the business of trying to rule it (which would undoubtledly have been a disaster for all concerned.)

    I suppose part of the question here would be: If the US had returned to total isolationism after WW2 as it did after WW1, would we see the sort of postwar peace in Europe that we have in the real world? One might after that the development of a fairly conflict-free European political climate after WW2 was to a great extent caused by the fact that US power encouraged those nations to allow their military powers to atrophy.

    I’m sure Europhiles would not buy that argument. I’m not sure to what extent I do. But it does seem interesting that while Europe has a very long history of frequent wars, that history seems to have ended in those areas (and pretty much only in those areas) which have come into the US sphere.

  • Darwin, I don’t think there is any doubt about that. Had the US pulled out of Europe militarily and not assisted the population with the Marshall Plan (both done precisely with the idea of not repeating the mistakes of post WWI), Europe would have been engulfed in war within a year or two. Stalin would have attempted to gobble up Western Europe had it not been for the US presence.

  • “Stalin would have attempted to gobble us Western Europe had it not been for the US presence.”

    Bad Americans. Messing things up again.

  • If the US had returned to total isolationism after WW2 as it did after WW1, would we see the sort of postwar peace in Europe that we have in the real world?

    I’m inclined to doubt it. Even with the U.S. presence, you still had war in the Balkans, war between Greece and Turkey, the conflict in Northern Ireland, a French war in Algeria, a British war with Argentina, and so forth, not to mention the Cold War.

  • Fair point. Maybe I’m overplaying the postwar peace meme.

    Though it does strike me that in all of those cases, the war was either at or beyond the horizon of US presence at the time.

    I dunno. I’m trying to play out and see what I think of this theory. Prior reading this, I’d pretty much accepted the, “After starting two world wars, the Europeans decided that war wasn’t the answer and so the US had to come in and protect them from the Soviets” meme.

    After reading it, and having a couple long, late night discussions with an old history professor friend, I’m wondering if its much more the case that the US decision to stay in Europe is what allowed peace-emphasizing parties to win out — and that the gradual spread of US presence further into Eastern Europe and the Middle East could potentially have similar effects.

  • Don’t know. I think the Cold War was a real war that would have swallowed up a few (many, most)European countries if not for the US presence. Stalin was not opposed to absorbing whatever he could. Even if it would not have taken war for him to do it, he would have.

19 Responses to Channeling His Inner Reagan?

  • There is a chasm between these remarks and the speech you “wrote” for him this week. Look at Obama’s tone — the condemnation of official violence, the point about not interfering in Iran’s politics, it’s about Iran not the US, the emphasis on the justice, the reference to the amazing Cairo speech.

    You, on the other hand, wanted to take sides immediately, to threaten “serious consequences” beginning with sanctions, and couch it all in condescending language about the “free world”. The arrogant and un-nuanced Bush approach, in other words. And this was before the regime cracked down on the protestors — a distinction you fail to make.

    I find it truly amazing that we are seeing neocon history repeat itself. Just as the Iraqis were supposed to welcome the Ameicans with flowers, people like Fred Barnes think the young generation in Iran is pro-American and has forgotten all about 1953. Sbefore you start making comparions with Solidarnosc 1981, you should consider the ramifications of your advice.

    Let me jog your memory: US overthrows popular elected leader for despised shah to stop nationlization of oil companies. Fear that the US will yet again re-impose the shah in 1979 led to hostage crisis. US funds and arms Saddam Hussein in a brutal war in the 1980s, leading to a million deaths, and the use of chemical weapons by American’s then friend. US calls Iran part of “axis of evil” with two countries it despises. And this will now be all forgotten?

    We see now that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are desperately trying to pin this on foreign interference, whereas it is home-grown. Had Obama listened to you and your neocon frieds a week ago, he would have played right into their hands. The resistance movement might be beaten into submission right now, but it has not lost its legitimacy.

    Interestingly, I think the Cairo speech may have actually emboldened the Iranian opposition in the first place. After all, who could have predicted such excitement about a boring 68-year old former prime minister who is a firm believer in he revolution and the Islamic republic? Reaching out with the arm of friendship is always better than hypocritical hectoring. And the Church would say the same thing — the Vatican praised the Cairo speech.

  • I went on record as saying I thought a hands off approach by Obama was probably the most prudent action. However, let’s not just throw a bunch of excrement on the wall and call it an argument.

    And this was before the regime cracked down on the protestors — a distinction you fail to make…

    You say Donald’s speech came before the Iranian government cracked down and Obama’s came after. Not so, referencing my own comment in that thread I know there were at least 8 dead protesters at the time of Donald’s writing, and that Obama had characterized the whole thing as dialogue.

    …We see now that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are desperately trying to pin this on foreign interference, whereas it is home-grown. Had Obama listened to you and your neocon frieds a week ago, he would have played right into their hands. The resistance movement might be beaten into submission right now, but it has not lost its legitimacy….

    Actually, most of could see they were trying to pin it on foreign interference from the beginning, it was the sort of thing that could be expected, plus, well, the regime proclaimed it pretty loudly. And we understood, as I’m sure the regime does, that it is indeed home-grown. I’m not sure how this supports your argument though. And I’m not sure how you think the resistance movement has its legitimacy – are you saying it is because Obama finally spoke up or because it was legitimate before he spoke up?

    Also, you might find some a more support or persuade a number of people to your view if you refrained from being so patronizing and quick to assign the worst motives, beliefs, or ignorance to those you disagree with. We get that it’s important for your own thought process to categorize everyone into evil or good, American or good, Calvinist or good, neocon or good, etc., but it doesn’t make for convincing argument. Really, I’m sympathetic to some of your arguments until you start to act as if nobody but you are capable of understanding these things, because they’re just so evil or American.

  • Rick: “And I’m not sure how you think the resistance movement has its legitimacy – are you saying it is because Obama finally spoke up or because it was legitimate before he spoke up?”

    Legitimacy has absolutely nothing to do with Obama, or any other American for that matter. I’ve been saying since the outset that this is a domestic Iranian struggle, and has nothing to do with us. It’s precisely the neocon approach that sees this though US-tinted lenses — that these people desire western-style democracy and the American notion of “freedom”. Not so. I’m sure some are very western in their outlook (that doesn’t mean they would look too kindly on American “freedom”, including rampant pornography, liberal sexual ethics, mass availability of guns, just to same a few). Others, and I would say the majority outside the rather closeted society of North Tehran, are committed to the Islamic revolution but are sick and tired of Ahmadinejad, an embarrassment on the world stage.

    I think their reaction would be akin to America rigging the election in favor of McCain last October — could you imagine the public outrage? It would not be an indictment of the system itself, just legitimate anger over a great injustice. And imagine if such a scenario took place, would Americans like it if the Iranian leadership publicly sided with the protestors? I think not — imagine the Fox News headlines!

    I’m trying to figure out your last paragraph. The dualism you accuse me of is exactly the what I am opposed to, especially in the way neocons view the world. So, to go back to Donald’s Reagan reference, the Soviet Union was not an “evil empire”. There was and is no “axis of evil”. There are merely people who do evil things because of sin.

    John Allen had a nice analysis during the Iraq war when he talked to certain Vatican officials, who saw a whiff of Calvinism in what the US was doing. To quote “Calvinist concepts of the total depravity of the damned, the unconditional election of God’s favored, and the manifestation of election through earthly success, all seem to them to play a powerful role in shaping American cultural psychology” Well, Catholics do not divorce sin and evil from grace and redemption.

    So please — I have never called anybody “evil” (some possibly facetiously!), but I certainly think a lot of people around here are very influenced by this Calvinist outlook. As for me, I prefer the approach of Obama in Cairo to Reagan during the Cold War.

  • Tony, you shift your position as swiftly as your weather-vane president. As he continues to get tougher on Iran, and he will, you will find justifications for his change of policy, as I predicted you would last week. Of course, the simple truth is that Obama clearly misread initially not only the situation in Iran but the reaction of this nation to the brutality of the Iranian regime. Obama’s policy of sucking up to Ahmadinejad and the mullahs is in tatters, and so he runs to get in front of where most Americans currently are in regard to Iran. Obama has his gifts, but leadership is not one of them.

  • [1] Calvinist concepts of the total depravity of the damned, [2] the unconditional election of God’s favored, [3] and the manifestation of election through earthly success, all seem to them to play a powerful role in shaping American cultural psychology

    [1] and [2] don’t have much to do with the Iraq War. [3] is a fabrication; Calvinists don’t think that God’s election is shown by earthly success.

    * Needless to say, I’m talking about actual Calvinists here, which is a term that you seem to be unfamiliar with. John Calvin was a 16th century French theologian, and the term “Calvinist” refers to followers of John Calvin — currently found mostly in Presbyterian and Reformed churches.

  • Thanks for a thoughtful reply, MM.

    Legitimacy has absolutely nothing to do with Obama, or any other American for that matter. I’ve been saying since the outset that this is a domestic Iranian struggle, and has nothing to do with us.

    I agree as to the legitimacy of the movement, and frankly I haven’t heard anyone proclaim it otherwise, save the Iranian government – and I’m quite sure they know the reality. So when you brought up the legitimacy I reasoned that it was part of the argument you were making – an argument that still isn’t making sense to me.

    Anyway, my last paragraph was a rather lame attempt at mocking you while trying to point out that you might have a beam in your eye. I’m quite aware of you calling out dualism and such, however I think you do so often based on your presumption of what others are saying or thinking rather than the reality – and often enough, it’s easy enough to predict where you stand on any given issue simply based on where partisan lines are drawn. Your initial comment here is an example. Who said what’s happening in Iran is really about the US? Who thinks Iran should be USA Lite? Who believes for a moment that our system could or should be transplanted there? I doubt you could find one example. However, I bet you could cite a number that you attribute those thoughts to.

    If someone says they hope the Iranian people effect some change and gain for themselves more liberty and institute a just government – and even a government that’s not so hostile to the US – or that they think the US leadership should speak in support of the protesters or condemn the regime’s behavior, it doesn’t mean they think it’s all about the US, that Iran should be just like the US, etc. And if you were to find someone so wrong-headed, it certainly doesn’t mean that because others advocate the same or similar actions are necessarily wrong.

    One last thing. I think history has proven that Reagan’s “Evil Empire” thing was not the bad thing his critics on the left thought it was, but actually turned out to be a very powerful thing that led to a better world. I know you see dualism and hatred in it, but that’s what you’re looking for. If you’re concerned about the souls that have suffered under a system, a system that lacks much good and perpetuates the misery, you would have no problem calling it an evil empire. Most people can make the distinction between the system and governance of a state and its people.

  • Well, Donald, I would hope to change my opinion when facts and circumstances change. And it certainly makes sense to condemn a brutal repression today, when it made sense not to side with the mass protests 7-10 days ago. And even then, it makes sense to be cautious, to speak in terms of justice, and Obama has done that.

    Do you honestly think Obama’s policy is worse than the “tatters” of teh last 8 years? Do you really think the “codpiece diplomacy” worked. It might play well at home and help people feel good about themselves, but as policy, it’s been an unmitigated disaster.

    And do you think Obama’s Cairo speech helped rally people toward Moussavi (who let’s face it, is not exactly an inspiring figure)?

  • MM,

    I don’t think that the protests in Iran have much of anything to do with Obama’s Cairo speech. Sheesh, talk about it not all being about the US.

    And as for codpiece diplomacy — it was mostly in your head in the first place. Obama’s reaction now (as he gradually catches on to what’s going on in Iran — which admittedly wasn’t part of his “I will tame the regime through kind words” script, so he had to do a little expectatin resetting) is really not that different from the sort of thing we would have heard from Bush or McCain.

    The idea that they were running around hurling grenades and grunting, “Me good and free, you bad and oppressor” never really had much correllation to reality in the first place.

  • that doesn’t mean they would look too kindly on American “freedom”, including rampant pornography, liberal sexual ethics, mass availability of guns

    You are almost certainly correct on the first two, but given that Islam effectively proscribes pacifism, I’m not so sure they’d react with your reflexive horror to firearms ownership.

  • One of the reasons people find it hard to take your crusade against dualism seriously, MM, is that you are so dualistic in your approach to your opponents. You think they’re “know nothings”, that they don’t know the most basic things about local history, that they want to make war on everyone, that they want everyone to be completely Americanized, etc. Given that you’re so dualistic (and far from reality) in your approach to people you disagree with, it’s hard to take your claims that other people are dualists seriously.

  • Oh, the codpiece diplomacy was not a figment of my imagination — it was on full display during the GOP pirmary reason. Remember the juvenile machismo of Giulinia, Romney, Tancredo? OK, McCain was an adult in that group but he still was too attached to an emotive trigger-happy context free response.

    I will never ever forget the collective insanity that overtook this country in the aftermath of 9/11. I cannot comprehend how the authors and cheerleaders of the Iraq war are now being granted a soapbox to make the same idiotic statements about Iran, with the same ignorance of history, and the same demonization of the regime. So when I rail against know-nothings, I’m talking very recent history, with very concrete examples.

    You know well that I don’t like Obama’s continued occupation of Iraq and his ratcheting up the war mode in Afghanistan. But look how far we have come – the Cairo speech actually treats the Islamic world with respect, and calls for equal Palestinian and Israeli rights. And he’s actually backing up the talk on Israeli — much to Netanyahu’s disgust. Again, not perfect (my views here are aligned with the Vatican), and still too pro-Israel, but certainly infinintely better than what could have been.

    I do see a link between Cairo and Iran. Obama appealed to their better angels, and they responded. I would not overdo this, though — this is certainly a domestic Iranian issue. But nobody can fail to notice the sea-change in official US rhetoric, and nobody cannot be uplifted by it (except those who thrive on conflict and demonization, of course, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad included).

    But I’ve seen people go too far, pointing to the loss of Hezbollah’s coalition in Lebanon. No, sorry, Hezbollah won every seat it was expected to win, it’s just that its Christian ally, Michel Aoun, got trounced.

  • Obama helped spark the Iranian uprising? Tony, only an Obamabot could even suggest that with a straight face. Obama clearly thought he could work a deal with the mullahs, cue the horselaugh, and from the beginning he has completely misread what is going on in Iran.

    As to your comments about the aftermath of 9-11, it must truly pain you that you have to live in America currently to earn your bread and cheese. You seem to be constantly out of sorts with America, with the sole exception of the election of your candidate last year for President. This is going to be a long four years for you Tony as Obama dismally fails in his plans to transform the US into a large Sweden. After it is all over with, you can simply chalk it up to our innate stubborn American, “Calvinist” in your lexicon, natures!

  • Thug Ahmadinejad thinks Obama is channeling his inner Bush!

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090625/ts_nm/us_iran_election

  • I’m with Donald, MM. *Why* do you live here? You’re like the anti-de Tocqueville, an endless series of carping complaints and observations about the people, civics, culture and mindset of the nation you currently reside in.

    Any unique features of this place that you *do* like, or is every day here rather like continuing exposure to low-grade debilitating radiation?

  • MM,

    When I have a guest in my home who constantly complains about my food, hospitality and funishings, I politely ask him to leave.

    Perhaps having assisted this country in electing Obama, you can now find other, fruitful pursuits in another land.

  • MM:

    1. No apology for the complete fabrication about what Calvinists believe?

    2. So you’re back to the “codpiece” talk. Can you think of any insults that aren’t so crass and gutter-minded?

  • I live happily in the US because (i) I live in very international circles and (ii) the Americans I know do not believe in the American empire. No, the problem lies with the economically-backward regions, with their “culture” facing a demographic time bomb. Good riddance to it. I look forward to the day when this Protestant culture wanes as Hispanics become the dominant group. For that is what I love about the US — its openness to all peoples and cultures, its liberal immigration policies, its nature as a melting pot. Remember, Catholic culture has always been a vibrant urban culture…

    If you want to talk about Obama, it’s clear to me that the Ahmadi-Mousavi struggle is a little similar to Mccain-Obama — a jaded old regime, an embarrassment on the world stage, challenged by an upstart with huge popularity among the younger generation. Mousavi’s spokesman says as much, and there’s a ring of truth to it.

    And I notice that nobody criticizes the collective madness we lived through after 9/11….

  • Once upon a time the insult was to be called an ugly American. MM sets the new standard as the ugly European. Of course, for those of us who have lived there, there’s always been such.

  • No criticism was mentioned Tony of your statement in regard to 9-11 because it was too absurd to waste electrons on. Your belief that Hispanics will transform America into something more pleasing to you is ludicrous. Catholic ethnic groups in this country tend to hold views no more acceptable to you than their Protestant counter-parts. I might add that Hispanics are over-represented, by choice, in our military. I welcome them. Over time they will, as a group, be no more reliably Democrat votes in most states in this country than say Italian-Americans are now. Your beliefs are actually carbon-copies of those held by rich wasp liberal elites in this country, and so your sham pose of being in rebellion against some sort of Protestant ascendancy in this country is nothing but a pose. Your comparison of McCain to Ahmadinejad is of course nothing but the substition of vitriol for analysis.