Support the Troops- Here's One Way

Monday, July 13, AD 2009

The idea of supporting the troops is not one where you find a whole lot of argument. Of course in the Vietnam era there are the stories of how hippies used to spit on servicemen, calling them “baby killers”. I’ve heard that scenario repeated so many times, I’m starting to wonder if this reaction was really so widespread, or if it got an urban legend boost at some point. I’m sure this type of thing happened, I was too young to take in the riots, the protests against the Vietnam War to fully appreciate the dynamic of the times. But in any case, we are now pretty much united in the notion that while a given war may be unjust, we don’t blame the average man or woman in uniform. In fact, we seek ways to honor or show respect for them, even if we are seeking to end the conflict in which they are engaged. This is a good thing on the whole.

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109 Responses to Support the Troops- Here's One Way

  • I think anyone who suspects they might have moral qualms about fighting in a war is crazy to sign up for our all volunteer military. Best if they choose another career. As for spitting on troops, yes, it did happen.

    http://www.bizzyblog.com/2007/03/01/the-vietnam-no-spitting-on-soldiers-occurred-myth-jim-lindgren-piles-on-yours-truly-adds-a-little/

  • It’s the height of hypocracy to disagree with the war but to “support the troops” at the same time. The troops are the ones conducting the war! As we learned at the Nuremburg Trials, the excuse, “I was just following orders”, is not valid, especially from a Catholic perspective, as it negates an individual’s conscience in making decisions.

    There is also a HUGE difference in national defense and what is currently happening today, waging aggressive, interventionist wars that have nothing to do with legitimate self-defense.

  • Here’s the thing- someone may sign up for the armed services after something like 9-11 with the comprehension that the nation will probably go to war with an aggressive state or terrorist organization- and then the political class decides to divert or take advantage of the chaos to start up an unjust war that has nothing to do with the original pretext for which the young soldier signed up for action.

    This is pretty much how I see what happened with the Iraq invasion- it was a betrayal on many levels- but on one level it was a betrayal of those men and women who signed up for military service after 9-11, and then somehow found themselves in Iraq, not Afghanistan chasing Bin Laden. There must be some provision for the conscience in such circumstances, if we are a Nation under God, we must respect that if our soldiers have the right to their conscience, they will be another check on the powers that decide to war or not to war. It is then the responsibility of the elders, to take cues from Mother Church, and educate the young and help form their consciences correctly, so they may see through the sometimes wicked designs of those in power.

    So no- I disagree that someone who even suspects they may have moral qualms about fighting in war is crazy to sign up in a volunteer military- if that is the case then no one in their right mind and heart should ever sign up for the military- if their conscience is to be forfeited so completely. There is a higher contract between Man and God- to deny our soldiers a conscience-clause at any point in his/her career is to make that person into a mere weapon of the state- too often a weapon in the hands of one man- the president (and his chosen advisors). How dehumanizing.

  • I’ve heard that scenario repeated so many times, I’m starting to wonder if this reaction was really so widespread, or if it got an urban legend boost at some point.

    Three uncles had it happen to them, when they got off the plane home. One of them was on his way back because his swift boat had been blown up, and he was the only survivor– woke up holding his buddy’s hand. The rest of his buddy was on the other side of the river.

    It wasn’t hippies. It was normal looking people, mostly.

  • Ok- I accept that the stories coming out of the Vietnam era are accurate- that was a side point setting the stage for my central thesis- any takers pro or con on my proposal- and if anyone has information on the legalities currently in play for service members who refuse immoral orders or who chose to conscientiously object to a new conflict that comes up after they have volunteered and signed a contract with the Armed Services- I would appreciate that update.

    I would only add that instead of just terminating the contracts of those soldiers who disagree with the moral status of say the invasion of Iraq for example- that they may continue on in public service- for example to serve out their time helping the nation or internationally with disaster relief, fighting fires, and the like- I believe that those who join the military are usually motivated to no small degree by a solid sense of patriotism and public service- the fact that they want nothing to do with an unjust military conflict is actually a big indicator of their moral fortitude, not some failure of patriotic duty- quite the opposite- unjust military actions only undermine the health and well-being of any nation.

  • It’s the military, not social services.

    If folks can claim a “moral objection” to fighting and thus get out of fighting, you’ll just have leaches sign up to get the bennies without the danger. Same thing happened when they use to have the policy of female sailors with children never having to work on ships.

    Those who refuse unlawful orders have to be very, very sure they’re unlawful– if they’re right, they’re in the clear; if they’re not, they’re in jail.
    If you’re sure enough to risk the lives of fellow soldiers, sailors and Marines in refusing an immoral order, you’d better be sure enough to risk some jail time.

  • No one is addressing the source point of my proposal- the Catholic social doctrine- it seems there is no meeting ground in Catholic circles if there is no coherent attempt to base one’s views on a Catholic principle derived from natural law or divine revelation. I’m not talking about “unlawful orders”, I am talking about immoral orders- the law is what needs to be changed to address the right to conscience protection- for the sake of us all. And the military does more than just fight, they are often called to do things like disaster relief- see the National Guard, and how in international crises many times it is military personnel performing “social services” to those in desperate need.

    Yes, you have the possibility of individuals abusing the spirit of selective conscientious objection- but the alternative is one that removes a critical right and responsibility to follow one’s developed Catholic conscience- if one is Catholic- I thought this was supposed to be a Catholic forum?

  • The irony, of course, is that some of the same people who called US troops ‘baby killers’ were also most vocal for legal abortion.

    That said, our soldiers did engage in atrocities in Vietnam. To look the other way is not patriotism, but moral cowardice.

  • Some atrocities Joe, but consideration should be given that for the enemy we were fighting, the NVA and the Viet Cong, My Lai type massacres were an everyday occurence. Unlike our opponents, American troops were subject to prosecution for such activities. It should also be kept in mind that the vast majority of Americans served honorably in Vietnam and more than a few helped the civilian population of South Vietnam in building schools, churches, temples, bridges, hospitals etc.
    http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq67-5.htm

    Of course the Catholics of Vietnam suffer from bitter persecution still from the Communist government, something that would not be occuring today if the US and South Vietnam had won the Vietnam War.

  • Yes, you have the possibility of individuals abusing the spirit of selective conscientious objection- but the alternative is one that removes a critical right and responsibility to follow one’s developed Catholic conscience- if one is Catholic- I thought this was supposed to be a Catholic forum?

    I think that the tension we’d see here from a Catholic point of view (and which people are expressing above) is between the need for the rule of law balanced against the primacy of the conscience.

    On the one hand, “I was under orders” is not an excuse for committing a grave moral evil. On the other, if people only obey orders when they think it’s a good idea, then the whole concept of authority breaks down completely.

    Theologians have struggled with this over the centuries, include St. Thomas Aquinas, who argued that one was generally required to obey even wrongful laws and orders — the fault landing upon the giver of the law. In truly grievous matters, however, one must refuse to obey and suffer the consequences.

    Here is where, I think, the legitimate argumentation on how these issues should be replied in regards to the military come in. On the one hand, the military will at times involve situations where immediate obedience is very important to preserving the lives and safety of many other people. It is, thus, very important that authority itself not be broken down.

    And yet, clearly, from a Catholic point of view it’s is not desirable that people be forced to do things contrary to their conscience.

    While different people are going to his different balance points on this, I think it’s certainly not out of line for a Catholic to argue that it is acceptable for the potential consequences for disobeying orders to be very severe — and rely upon the judgment of a court of inquiry as to whether the soldier in question was indeed being ordered to do something wrong.

  • Theologians have struggled with this over the centuries, include St. Thomas Aquinas, who argued that one was generally required to obey even wrongful laws and orders — the fault landing upon the giver of the law. In truly grievous matters, however, one must refuse to obey and suffer the consequences.

    While different people are going to his different balance points on this, I think it’s certainly not out of line for a Catholic to argue that it is acceptable for the potential consequences for disobeying orders to be very severe — and rely upon the judgment of a court of inquiry as to whether the soldier in question was indeed being ordered to do something wrong.

    Bingo.

    I really wish folks would stop assuming that those who don’t agree with them were ignoring the Catholic Church’s teachings, though– unless it’s as black and white as the abortion issue, it’s a heck of a big assumption. It really doesn’t do anything but make folks less likely to listen to what I really hope are your good-faith arguments.

  • Good- The post by DarwinCatholic is getting to the higher ground. I can see the twin demands of justice for the need for authority lines to be intact and for the individual conscience to be a check on that authority. Now how do we string together these two demands in a functioning society?

    I do think that there should be an opt out when it comes to a new war scenario that pops up down the road from when a young person signs up to serve in the military. Like I said, if Catholics had stood up within the military to beg off participating in the Iraq invasion- wow- what a witness to the nation and the world that would have been- but few have access to good parents, teachers and pastors, who would deliver the Magisterium views to the young- and most “elders” are simply afraid to be seen as unpatriotic- so the political elite have little problem in pursuing wars good or bad- at least in the beginning.

    So- I do think that there should be a pretty open process for selective conscientious objection to going to particular war- and they should have the option to serving in some capacity that is of benefit to society like I mentioned above with disaster relief or prep, fire fighting, etc.. This could be a clearly written law.

    As for choosing to disobey specific commands in a war that the soldier agrees is just, this would have to be handeled much, much more delicately- given that someone might pull out the conscience clause out of cowardice or some other negative motivation. So- what to do? There needs to be a thorough list drawn up of possible scenarios that may apply for conscience protection- the rules of engagement should be clear for all soldiers- from the top-down. There is nothing new under the sun, so with all the wars fought in the past, we can foresee most if not all the kinds of things that must never be done- not even in war. Targeting civilians is terrorism- the grey zone is when you have cold calculations of civilian deaths as collateral damage- this is something that requires a lot more soul-searching than we have had as a nation up to now. As well the use of landmines and weapons of mass destruction need to be addressed. And of course- torture- and what constitutes torture from a practical application point of view. Geneva conventions, international law and such are relevant here.

    Now if someone disobeys and order that is the result of his/her laziness or fear or some such thing, there must be a tribunal that can sort that out- and be well known so that individual soldiers are clear about what the conscience protections are all about- and what they are not about. All of this is premised upon an educated populace and sophisticated military command and informed rank and file service men/women.

    I would compare this to the conscience protections we demand for health care professionals- they shouldn’t be told- hey abortion and contraception is perfectly legal- if you want to be a doc, a nurse, a pharmacist et al, you better be prepared to dispense/perform/refer these type of medical options to patients. Well- we don’t agree with this as Catholics do we? Well, I would put soldiering in a similar category- we shouldn’t be excluded from the ranks of the military just because we may have some real objections to some future order or war the rest of our brethren are being charged with carrying out. Catholics are the Salt- we must be a stinging example for the community sometimes- we are not to hide out in the woods, the Church has citizenship status now, and all that comes with it.

  • You assume we all agree with you that the Iraqi war is immoral. (we being Catholics in the military at the time of the Iraqi war)

    That’s a very big assumption, especially as it has now been over six years– the longest standard contract I know of– and there hasn’t been a huge number of Catholics leaving the military “because the Iraqi war is immoral.”

  • You are right – but I don’t get it- and I am not proud that Catholics are no different from the rest of the population when it comes to wars like Iraq, or abortions, contraception, or whatever- all it proves to me is that there is a huge disconnect between the Church’s teachings and official leadership, and the majority of lay and religious Catholics in this country. If I am wrong I hope to God that Jesus Christ will show me through the purgatorial process how I got off-track and should’ve seen that invading Iraq was the honorable thing to do, and that maybe abortion reduction policies were enough, and fighting for national legal status for the unborn was imprudent and unconstitutional- if I am wrong- I want some indication from above- I don’t want to be alienated from the packs on the Right and the Left- but at present my conscience does not feel clean if I don’t disagree publicly with many things going on in our society. I do like Joe Hargrave for the most part however!

    On some issues we can agree to disagree- but when innocent human lives are ended as a consequence to some policy decision or another- you can expect that the agreement will be one made through clenched teeth, and the fight for the truth will go on until Jesus himself will have to separate us and instruct us on who was right and who was wrong, and why, and how much culpability we each have for the decisions we made in this life. I don’t want to win arguments, I want to save lives, and address injustices past and present- to improve the world for the next generation.

  • I have yet to understand the gall of such Catholics who go to the extent of visciously characterizing the Iraq War as something so heinous and immoral when you consider the fact that it essentially overthrew an abominably ignoble regime which committed unspeakable acts of murder not only countless innocents of its citizenry but also family members too.

    Just because for certain Catholics, it didn’t satisfy the formal requirements of the Just War doctrine doesn’t necessarily mean that the toppling of such tyrannical forces inimical to Good and wont to take hundreds of innocent lives is itself an atrociously immoral act.

  • E,

    When two of those “certain Catholis” include the current and former pope, I think we have grounds for thinking such.

    “I have yet to understand the gall of such Catholics who go to the extent of visciously characterizing the Iraq War as something so heinous and immoral when you consider the fact that it essentially overthrew an abominably ignoble regime which committed unspeakable acts of murder not only countless innocents of its citizenry but also family members too.”

    By this criteria it is more immoral to not intervene in any number of places in Africa or Asia where the dictators are actually worse and the loss of life more severe.

    In any case, basic Catholic morality says that evil may not be done even if good will come of it. If the reasons for going to war are wrong, then the good side-effects can’t later be invoked as a justification.

    And if I’m wrong then the Catechism as I understand it makes no sense and I’m in the wrong religion.

  • I think you’d find, Joe, that the same Catholics who don’t have any problem with serving in the Iraq War would have little problem with following orders to liberate any of those other dictatorships as well.

    It strikes me that one of the basic disagreements among Catholics at this time is whether a war failing to meet the just war criteria necessarily means that participating in it as a soldier is immoral. Shakespeare answers the question thusly:

    KING HENRY V
    …methinks I could not die any where so
    contented as in the king’s company; his cause being
    just and his quarrel honourable.

    WILLIAMS
    That’s more than we know.

    BATES
    Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know
    enough, if we know we are the kings subjects: if
    his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes
    the crime of it out of us.

    WILLIAMS
    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath
    a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and
    arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join
    together at the latter day and cry all ‘We died at
    such a place…

    I think there’s a great deal to this, though I’d adopt something of a middle position:

    There are, it seems to me, to different ways one might argue a war fails to meet just war criteria:

    – the war’s aims are actively immoral (e.g. exterminate the Armenians)
    – the war’s aims are essentially admirable, but there is dispute as to whether there might still be some distant hope that the issue could be resolved through other means, or whether the evil being righted is in fact greater than the likely evils of fighting a war, or whether one’s country has the “standing” to be the prosecuting power in a war.

    If the former, I think it would pretty much be one’s duty to be a consciencious objector, and accept whatever suffering came as a result of this.

    If the latter, however, I don’t see that soldiers serving in the war would be morally at fault, though it might be that God’s judgement would rest heavily upon the ruler who made the decision to go to war.

    Now, it seems to me that the US wars in the 20th century over which there is controversy among Catholics as to their justice (WW1, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraq War) fall very much into this latter category — and so I’m not sure that it’s appropriate to be shocked that there aren’t more Catholic consciencious objectors.

    I tried to cover this in some detail here:

    http://darwincatholic.blogspot.com/2008/02/is-fighting-in-unjust-war-evil.html

  • Joe,

    When two of those “certain Catholis&”; include the current and former pope, I think we have grounds for thinking such.

    With all due respect, the consensus between Two Popes don’t make a right; if such provides a remarkably compelling case, would you want me to submit herein the same between not just two but even a number of morally decadent midiaeval Popes, whose agendas which seemed to serve more worldly matters dictated papal policy and thought then?

    In other words, such things which are not strictly a matter concerning Faith and Morals are those where there can be legitimate diversity of opinion amongst Catholics.

  • I do wish you’d refrain from accusing those of us who disagree with you on the Iraqi war of being in the same level as those promoting abortion.

    It is not, as then-Cardinal Ratzinger even pointed out:
    Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

  • Tim – I think we see very clearly from the reaction to your thoughtful post that folks like Donald simply do not take Catholic just war teaching seriously.

  • Selective conscientious objection is not allowed. I think it’s nothing short of scandalous that this haven’t been an issue in the Iraq war.

    It wouldn’t necessarily render the armed forces ineffective. There’s lots of ways to get around the problem. You can have financial or promotional incentives or adjust the length of service.

    The way I see it, if you can’t get someone to fight voluntarily, it probably isn’t worth fighting for.

    ————–

    I don’t like how “support the troops” is thrown around. What does it mean? If by “support” we mean that we pray that they aren’t killed or maimed and that we should care for the wounded and the families of those killed, then I agree that it’s not controversial. But if by “support” we mean success then I proudly did not support the troops in Iraq. I say that in the past tense because I do support the rebuilding of Iraq.

  • No Catholic Anarchist, “folks like Donald” simply come to a different conclusion when applying the just war teaching. For an application of just war teaching to a conflict by me, I would refer readers to this post:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/07/06/a-just-war/

  • From your comments, Catholic Militarist, it is clear that you want Catholic soldiers to leave their consciences at the door when they join up, or that if they foresee themselves as having any “qualms,” they should not join.

    Having moral qualms about killing is part of what makes us human, Catholic Militarist. You want to dehumanize soldiers. Great way to “support the troops,” eh?

  • Catholic Anarchist when you have an all-volunteer military people who have qualms about fighting in wars are not compelled to do so. I think that is great. People who join up on the other hand should clearly realize that there is a very good chance that they will have to go to war. They should not be able to weasel out of their commitment by suddenly proclaiming themselves as opposed to fighting in a war when it is their turn to go. If they feel conscience bound not to do so, they should be willing to be subjected to the legal penalties that apply to such disobedience. The military Catholic Anarchist is not grad school where someone can merely ditch a course if it proves tough. The military is for adults who understand what a commitment is and who are willing to stand behind the oath they took when they joined up.

  • E,

    “In other words, such things which are not strictly a matter concerning Faith and Morals are those where there can be legitimate diversity of opinion amongst Catholics.”

    I never argued otherwise. You were the one who said you didn’t “understand” why so many Catholics were opposed to these wars.

    I’m simply saying that the opposition of the last two Popes probably has something to do with it.

    As for this “faith and morals” line, it is quite tiresome, and I mean no offense. War is a moral issue. Economics is a moral issue. What the “morals” part of “faith and morals” apparently means for some people – and this may or may not include you – is personal morality.

    I say that is an erroneous and narrow understanding of what is encompassed by “morality”. And I think Lumen Gentium, paragraph 25, removes any excuse for not taking the positions of the Papacy seriously:

    “This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.

    Does this mean you may not ever disagree with a Pope? I don’t think so.

    What I do think it means, however, is that it is not the people who agree with the Papacy whose Catholicism ought to be questioned. The burden to reconcile one’s Catholicism with a position one has taken on a political issue ought to rest with the person who is dissenting from the opinion or the teaching of the Church. I think that is reasonable.

  • Michael I. : you once bashed military chaplains and scoffed at Servant of God Fr. Capodanno because the man gave his life in Vietnam ministering to Marines on the battlefield. You would deny soldiers dying on the field Holy Communion and Last Rites. Apparently, they’re unworthy of spiritual solace during the last moments of their lives – they should just die like animals in the mud. And you accuse others of dehumanizing soldiers?

    Like foxfier, I have no idea how a military in which each soldier could pick and choose his own fights could possibly function. It’s a completely untenable idea.

  • Darwin,

    “I think you’d find, Joe, that the same Catholics who don’t have any problem with serving in the Iraq War would have little problem with following orders to liberate any of those other dictatorships as well.”

    I’m sure most of them would not.

    But I reject the notion that the long-term goal of the US government is to “liberate” various peoples from oppression. The history of the 20th century does not support that thesis. The history of US involvement in Iraq does not support that thesis.

    Our own ambassador intimated to Saddam Hussein, before the first Gulf War, that the US would not take a position on a future invasion of Kuwait. Getting Saddam out of the way and securing control of the world’s second largest oil reserves has been a goal of the US government since the Carter Doctrine.

    Before I hear the usual replies, no, securing the oil supply has little if anything to do with oil profits and oil companies, and everything to do with maintaining “full spectrum dominance” as outlined in the Project for a New American Century.

    This is not conspiracy theorizing. These folks are openly and proudly American imperialists, and they were in positions of power for 8 years. Nor is this leftism. Many on the right understand and acknowledge this, such as Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan. This is an acknowledgment of the stated imperial ambitions of the US government and a rejection of them as entirely incompatible with any theory of a just war.

    Even, I must say, an unjust war that inadvertently ends up causing a good thing (the overthrow of a dictator).

    Consider, for instance, if one group of robbers decides to murder and plunder a rich drug dealer. The act is still intrinsically evil, even though it means that the drug dealer will be put out of business, which is in itself a good thing.

  • Yeah, because we went in and took their oil….

    Um…wait, no, we spent blood and gold, and they got to keep the oil.

    Dang, we’re incompetent at this taking over countries thing!

    I suppose the rebuilding in Japan and such is part of our crafty plan? (It did result in some pretty dang cool allies, and we got anime and access to Pocky from the deal, so maybe….)

  • “Our own ambassador intimated to Saddam Hussein, before the first Gulf War, that the US would not take a position on a future invasion of Kuwait.”

    Are you contending Joe that we lured Hussein into invading Kuwait so that we could conquer Iraq? If so, why didn’t we do so at the end of the Gulf War when his army was falling apart?

    As to your argument that the policy of the US was not to liberate people in the last century I beg to differ. Germany, Italy and Japan are functioning democracies. The people of South Korea are not subject to Dear Leader. Iraq is a functioning democracy, albeit with a rocky road ahead of it. The people of Eastern Europe are free of Soviet hegemony. France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Denmark were all freed from the Nazis. China, whatever its other problems, is not a colony of Japan. The list could go on for considerable length.

  • “Yeah, because we went in and took their oil….”

    If you don’t think we have ultimate control as to which companies from which particular countries will have access to that oil, I’d say you were wrong.

    As I clearly said, it is not about oil profits. It is about controlling a vital geostrategic resource, a plan that dates back to – again – the Carter Doctrine.

    “Are you contending Joe that we lured Hussein into invading Kuwait so that we could conquer Iraq?”

    It is a possibility. There is a lot of speculation about April Glaspie’s meeting with Saddam Hussien – different versions of transcripts all suggesting more or less the same thing.

    “If so, why didn’t we do so at the end of the Gulf War when his army was falling apart?”

    Who can say? It is obvious that by the war’s end, the US government decided it wanted Saddam to stay in power, standing by while Saddam suppressed Shiite and Kurdish uprisings (I suppose that all had something to do with “liberation” as well).

    My guess is that it was decided that the destabilization of the area would prove to be more trouble than it was worth. I think the goal has always been to control who has access to the Persian Gulf oil reserves, not necessarily direct appropriation. We know that some of the same people who encouraged the invasion in 2003 also had a better idea of what would happen back in 1991 (they weren’t talking about being greeted as liberators then, but assuming what actually did happen, a decade of sectarian strife).

    Tactics change, but the strategy, I believe, has remained consistent over time.

    “As to your argument that the policy of the US was not to liberate people in the last century I beg to differ. Germany, Italy and Japan are functioning democracies.”

    That is an effect of the war – it was not the purpose, nor the aim of the policy. There is a difference, as I have tried to make clear. Italy went fascist in the early 20s. Japan militarized in the 30s. Conquering them had nothing to do with bringing them democracy. It just so happens that the conqueror imposes his system on the conquered.

    That said, I wouldn’t begrudge WWII – Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan posed serious threats to the future of humanity. Some might disagree but I would call it a just war. I wouldn’t say, however, that it was a war waged with the specific aim of bringing democracy to the conquered countries.

    “The people of South Korea are not subject to Dear Leader.”

    The US supported its own dictator in South Korea, Syngman Rhee.

    “The people of Eastern Europe are free of Soviet hegemony.”

    And the US free of its number one military rival. Effects do not equal policy aims. It’s a lovely coincidence, but there are enough examples where the effects weren’t democracy, but things far worse.

    “The list could go on for considerable length.”

    So could the list of countries and peoples that have suffered terribly as a result of US imperial ambitions, beginning with the Native Americans and ending with the couple million Iraqis that died as a result of sanctions and the invasion.

    No one asked them if they wanted to be liberated. Just like no one asks an unborn baby if it wouldn’t mind a shot at life in spite of having say, an abusive drunk for a father.

  • If you’re utterly wed to the notion that we’re every conspiracy leadership rolled into one, there’s clearly no way I’ll sway your mind.

    If you think that bringing democracy to Iraq was the only reason we went there, I clearly cannot sway your mind.

    If you’re willing to ignore the affirmations that Saddam was a danger that have come out since the end of the war, as under-trumped as they have been, how could I hope to sway your mind?

  • Here is a good on the April Glaspie-Hussein interview prior to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

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

    Here are the declassified cables that Glaspie sent back to the State Department about the meeting.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/documents/glaspie1-13.pdf?sid=ST2008040203634

  • Our own ambassador intimated to Saddam Hussein, before the first Gulf War, that the US would not take a position on a future invasion of Kuwait. Getting Saddam out of the way and securing control of the world’s second largest oil reserves has been a goal of the US government since the Carter Doctrine.

    Well, that was Hussein’s version of the interaction. I don’t know that I’d consider him a very reliable source on the topic.

    I’d agree that political instability in the Middle East is treated more seriously in other parts of the world, since the ability of some antagonistic regime to choke off the world’s oil supply is seen as a major threat to peace. However, I don’t really by the theory that what we’ve just seen is the wind-up of a twenty year long campaign to set up a puppet regime in Iraq. That fits the facts very poorly indeed.

    This is not conspiracy theorizing. These folks are openly and proudly American imperialists, and they were in positions of power for 8 years. Nor is this leftism. Many on the right understand and acknowledge this, such as Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan.

    As I’ve written in the past, I think there’s some truth to the description of the US being imperial in a certain sense — much the same one as the Roman Republic was. (Nor do I necessarily see that as a bad thing.) However, forgive me if the fact that a theory is endorsed by Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul does not necessarily remove it from the realm of conspiracy theories for me. 😉

    However, even taking it that the US, like the Roman Republic, is imperialistic in the sense of constantly moving on to secure a further horizon, I don’t necessarily see how that makes all its wars unjust.

    Also, I’m not sure that it really works to judge the justice of a war by the motives which a leader may theoretically have at some unspoken level, rather than the stated and obvious aims of the war. For instance, there’s the theory out there (as I recall, at least dallied with by Pat Buchanan) that FDR basically provoked the Japanese into attacking us so that we could get into WW2 and thus become a dominant world power. However, whether this is true or not strikes me as of little relevance to whether WW2 was a just war to participate in — though it might, if true, have something to do with how FDR himself was eventually judged.

    For those of us who are not the ones actually making the decision, the most simple war aims would seem to me to be the relevant ones. In this regard, toppling the Baathist regime in Iraq strikes me as a fairly admirable goal — even if the dark reason for it was in fact that Dick Cheney was once rejected by an Arab girl he asked on a date during college.

  • Fox,

    I’m not some sort of rigid ideologue, ok?

    But I don’t think there is a conspiracy. I think anyone with enough interest can research the development of US foreign policy and its geostrategic thinking, and come to their own conclusions. You can read what PNAC has written – its public.

    It’s sad that we come to think of certain concepts as “conspiracies” only because the majority of the people have not taken the time to simply check what is public knowledge. There is no conspiracy, just an epidemic of ignorance, and I don’t know how to say that without it sounding insulting, though I really don’t mean it to be. Ignorance is simply an absence of knowledge that has nothing to do with intellectual capacity. Very intelligent, thoughtful people support the Iraq war. I don’t think they are bad because of it. But I do think that knowledge of the aims and goals of a series of US administrations cannot be brushed off as paranoid conspiracy wankery.

    Are you open to that idea? Or are you “utterly wed” to the notion that US policy is always benevolent in both intent and consequence? If you are, I just don’t know how I’ll be able to sway your mind!

    🙂

    “If you think that bringing democracy to Iraq was the only reason we went there”

    Did I ever say that? What would give you the idea that I believed such a thing? I’m simply responding to those who see the democratization of Iraq as a justification for the war – whether it was intended, or whether it is a coincidental benefit. In either case, and for somewhat different reasons, this motive and/or effect cannot make an unjust war a just one.

    “If you’re willing to ignore the affirmations that Saddam was a danger that have come out since the end of the war,”

    We throw out evidence that is obtained illegally all the time, because we have a system of justice, not arbitrary power. There is also an international system of justice, which the Papacy has given pretty strong support to. Many have argued, and I’m inclined to agree, that the US invaded Iraq unilaterally because it could not convince the world that its cause for war was just.

    But you can ALWAYS hope to sway my mind. Always. 🙂

  • “Who can say? It is obvious that by the war’s end, the US government decided it wanted Saddam to stay in power, standing by while Saddam suppressed Shiite and Kurdish uprisings (I suppose that all had something to do with “liberation” as well).”

    No Joe, what it actually means was that, contrary to paranoids like Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan and their soulmates on the Left, there was no grand scheme. Hussein took us by surprise in invading Iraq and we liberated it, and Joe that is how the Kuwaitis viewed it, and there was no invasion of Iraq because we had not gone to war for the purpose of taking the Iraqi oil. If you are going to toss out conspiracy theories Joe, have some facts to support them.

  • Like foxfier, I have no idea how a military in which each soldier could pick and choose his own fights could possibly function. It’s a completely untenable idea.

    Yet this is precisely what the Roman Catholic Church calls for: selective conscientious objection. Take it up with the Church.

  • Darwin,

    How about I forgive you for mixing up what I said. I invoked Buchanan and Paul to show that it is not leftism.

    I invoked the public nature of the statements made in favor of empire to show that it is not a conspiracy.

    “However, I don’t really by the theory that what we’ve just seen is the wind-up of a twenty year long campaign to set up a puppet regime in Iraq. That fits the facts very poorly indeed.”

    Perhaps I will forgive this strawman as well, and remind you that even the most powerful nation in the world cannot snap its fingers and make things happen, like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia. Iraq holds the worlds second largest oil reserves – that is worth more than a few decades of waiting and planning. Oil is still the life blood of industrial societies and those that wish to industrialze further. Saddam was doing business with all of the US rivals – “Old Europe”, Russia, China, etc.

    “In this regard, toppling the Baathist regime in Iraq strikes me as a fairly admirable goal — even if the dark reason for it was in fact that Dick Cheney was once rejected by an Arab girl he asked on a date during college.”

    And so we throw what I understand to be a basic understanding of Catholic morality, to say nothing of the more specific just war theory, right out the window?

    If something as frivolous as what you suggested happened to be an additional motive, it would be one thing. If the real motive is in fact imperial ambition, however – something I do not believe is justifiable – that a good thing will also result cannot make it morally right.

    I respect you Darwin, but your trivialization of my arguments is not appreciated in the slightest.

  • “If you are going to toss out conspiracy theories Joe, have some facts to support them.”

    Again, what conspiracy theory?

    I don’t think it is crazy at all to say that the specifics of the strategy changed over time. Rumsfeld and Cheney knew in 1991 what overthrowing Saddam would entail – prolonged sectarian violence.

    As I said, the real concern was to ensure that the world’s second largest oil reserves did not fall entirely into the hands of a major rival of the US. In 1991, it didn’t seem as if that would happen. But under the sanctions, and this simply is a fact, Saddam sought to deepen his business ties with all of America’s major international rivals, including Russia and China.

    I think it was Saddam’s developing ties with US rivals that served as the catalyst for the invasion. And if someone wants to make a case that that is a reason for a just war, fine. But when even Bush was making stand-up jokes about the “missing WMD” and getting laughs from all the Washington insiders, don’t tell me that that was the reason…

  • “Conquering them had nothing to do with bringing them democracy. It just so happens that the conqueror imposes his system on the conquered.”

    Japan attacks us Joe and we utterly defeat them, as we utterly defeated Germany and Italy with the assistance of our allies. We then establish democracies in Italy, Japan and in West Germany. In just a few years each of these nations have their sovereignty restored to them and receive massive assistance from the US. Calling this a simple imposition of a system by a conqueror gravely understates the generosity of what the US did after prevailing in the most savage war in history.

  • Also, as much as I love you guys, I’m not going to argue with three at a time. So I’ll leave at that.

    I’ll also say this: I don’t think anyone’s position on this war makes them a better or worse person. So my respect level for each of you doesn’t change a wit. This will be an issue where we disagree, but hopefully that doesn’t mean we all can’t still get along.

  • Joe, we would have to disagree about far more than foreign policy for us not to get along. Now if you were to contend that Jerry Lewis is a genius for the ages—then things might get serious!

  • I’m sorry if I came off as trivializing your points. I disagree with them, but my lightheartedness was simply that — an attempt to be lighthearted.

    Perhaps I will forgive this strawman as well, and remind you that even the most powerful nation in the world cannot snap its fingers and make things happen, like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia. Iraq holds the worlds second largest oil reserves – that is worth more than a few decades of waiting and planning.

    Well, I think we pretty clearly could have rolled all the way to Baghdad in ’91 — and indeed, the main reason I support the recent Iraq War is that I very much thought that we _should have_ rolled all the way to Baghdad. While I do, indeed, accept that one cannot simply roll in all of a sudden to right the world’s wrongs, once Hussein handed us a just cause to remove him on the metaphorical silver platter, I think we should have taken the chance to get rid of him, as one of the more oppressive current dictators.

    Like I said — I agree that the US is far more sensitive to unstable regimes in the Middle East than elsewhere because oil is a strategic resource (and thus in effect a major weapon in the hands of any regime there.) What I disagree with, unless I’m misinterpreting what you’re saying, is the idea that the US has been gradually working towards setting up a subsidiary regime of sorts in the Middle East. I’d put it rather lower level than that: The US is highly sensitive to possible threats there (more so than elsewhere) since a regime in the Middle East can hurt us by cutting off oil without having the ability to actually strike at North America. So whenever trouble has come up on the Arabian peninsula, the US has tended to react fairly quickly. However, like Republican Rome, once the US has done whatever minimum is necessary to assure a secure horizon there, it tends to back off and let things run their course until the next problem arises.

    And so we throw what I understand to be a basic understanding of Catholic morality, to say nothing of the more specific just war theory, right out the window?

    Again, the Cheney example was intended to be humorous (the FDR one was serious) but the basic point was serious: It doesn’t seem to me that from a just war point of view we’re required to search about for what the “real reason” for the war is likely to be, but rather look at the declared and obvious aims and judge those.

  • I have to admit I’m torn between two contradictory ideas here. On the one hand, I tend to agree with the notion than in an all-volunteer military you shouldn’t be able to pick and choose when and how you will fight — you made a commitment, you stick to it. But on the other hand, Tim raises an excellent point about how we don’t want that kind of “commitment” demanded of all medical personnel with regard to abortion or euthanasia.

    I note with some interest that back in the early Clinton administration (1993-94), when a ban on abortions being performed at overseas U.S. military hospitals was lifted, the military had a VERY hard time finding doctors willing to perform them! Although they were not ordered to perform abortions, I am sure these military doctors would have had no problem refusing such an order which they found to be gravely immoral, even if it meant losing their rank or being less than honorably discharged.

  • 503. Every member of the armed forces is morally obliged to resist orders that call for perpetrating crimes against the law of nations and the universal principles of this law.[1056] Military personnel remain fully responsible for the acts they commit in violation of the rights of individuals and peoples, or of the norms of international humanitarian law. Such acts cannot be justified by claiming obedience to the orders of superiors.

    Conscientious objectors who, out of principle, refuse military service in those cases where it is obligatory because their conscience rejects any kind of recourse to the use of force or because they are opposed to the participation in a particular conflict, must be open to accepting alternative forms of service. “It seems just that laws should make humane provision for the case of conscientious objectors who refuse to carry arms, provided they accept some other form of community service”.[1057]

    Let’s not forget where this post began- with commentary attempting to apply something from the authoritative Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. I don’t see how faithful Catholics can simply duck this type of resource- how does one get to thinking as Christ and His Church does on something as important as War, and not take in something that is comprehensive and authoritative such as the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church- which states up front that it is rendering the complete body of social doctrine in conscise form.

    If you have read the chapter on promotion of peace from the Compendium, and disagree with my application and conclusions- I can respect you and your views as a fellow Catholic- I will still press ahead with my own case- but at minimum we have to be formed similarly in conscience as Catholics- or else we might as well make this blog a generic the-american.com. I don’t see how the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas can simply trump the social doctrine of the Church as presented by the current Magisterium. And who better to apply the Just War principles than this same Magisterium- I don’t believe that the previous popes of the past century have been naive about the global conditions- particularly not the last two popes- and their views were reaffirmed by the U.S. Bishops as a body, and most every other Hierarchical national sources as I read on Zenit.org in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq.

    On a side note- I am no genius, but my own reading and travel had indicated that a Muslim population in the Middle East is not going to take kindly to American or European military conquest and occupation in their homeland- you may have some unique communities like the Kurds, but the history of the “Great Game” has pretty much ruined the idea that foreigners are going to come into the Middle East and transform things for the sake of the common man in those places. An excellent clinical study on this is David Fromkin’s A Peace to End all Peace. The Middle East is not the place where Americans can set up shop and be trusted by the native populations- no matter how bad the leadership is there- especially when we have had a hand in helping most of the bad guys in the region- I recall in basic training in 1981 how we would get periodic updates on how our “friend” (seriously- that is how he was described) Saddam Hussein was doing in his war with Iran. Of course, he wasn’t a nice guy then either. The problem here is that the “Great Game” is really just a huge social sin- there isn’t a Game, there are people who have been getting it from every end as Fromkins details. And if you want even more information I recommend Steve Coll’s huge book detailing how we nurtured the Jihadists in Pakistan and Afghanistan to fight the Soviets- at first just to bloody them- kill as many Russians as we could through proxies- there was little sense that these Jihadists could actually win. How does that fit into Just War and any idealism for the poor people of Afghanistan- Ghost Wars is the title of that book.

    One should look to the Compendium’s chapter on the International Community for more guidance on how we should be behaving in a global community. The social doctrine is solid, it is consistent, it doesn’t veer off on the whims of a particular pope or two- it is the clear signal of truth amidst all the ideological noise from the Left and Right.

  • A young service member- probably with kids at home- you all expect him to just pay for his conscience by going to jail or being punished in a way that would jeopardize his ability to support his family- you are so sure that this cruel state of affairs is the only way to proceed with our military? Really? How many of you wanna-be saints (and I am one myself) would be so willing to disobey immoral orders or refuse to go off on an unjust military action- if your wife and kids were going to be the ones to pay for your conscience? What do you think the Pope would advise you on this issue? Is your solution really that no one with a potentially Catholic conscience ever sign up for the military in the U.S.? How could anyone predict whether the next war pushed for by an American president and a gutless Congress will be close to being just? Who can predict just who the president is going to be in election cycles?

  • A young service member- probably with kids at home- you all expect him to just pay for his conscience by going to jail or being punished in a way that would jeopardize his ability to support his family- you are so sure that this cruel state of affairs is the only way to proceed with our military?

    I think that people’s reaction to this has a lot to do with how important they consider order to be, and also how likely they think it is that Catholic soldiers will be given immoral orders or be ordered off to a war which they consider it immoral to participate in.

    In regard to the latter concern, I would suspect that a further area of disagreement is the issue I mentioned above as regards to whether it is immoral for a soldier to participate in any war he thinks may not or does not fully meet the Church’s just war criteria, or whether the necessity of conscientious objection only applies in those cases where the aim of the war is actively evil.

  • In regard to the latter concern, I would suspect that a further area of disagreement is the issue I mentioned above as regards to whether it is immoral for a soldier to participate in any war he thinks may not or does not fully meet the Church’s just war criteria, or whether the necessity of conscientious objection only applies in those cases where the aim of the war is actively evil.

    If a war does not “fully meet the Church’s just war criteria” then it IS “actively evil.”

  • Donna V. : agreed.
    A United States soldier is required NOT to obey an unlawful order. A Catholic is required not to obey an immoral order (as clearly taught by Holy Mother Church). Hopefully the incidence is rare, and the crossover considerable, in our military.
    The system for dealing with conscientious objection has been in place for awhile.
    If a serviceman objects to a particular assignment (say, Iraq rather than Afghanistan), the military reserves the right to deny the objection if it is judged to be spurious, and deploy the soldier as planned, in which case I think a Catholic man or woman—rather than deserting, for example, or acting in a subversive manner—could with clear conscience serve in that theater honorably, in a spirit of obedience to lawful superiors. And, upon returning home, not be excoriated for said service, especially by fellow Catholics.
    If the objection is accepted, then it would be up to the military authorities to deem whether a service member is suited for other duties or training (likely with demotion and reduction in pay), or not fit to continue wearing the uniform of his particular branch. This latter case may be where wider options for “supporting the troops,” as originally suggested by the post, come into play: funds raised for a needy family, perhaps, or loans to assist with education in another line of work. I would not favor creating a giant safety net, which might encourage objections for less than honorable reasons, but there is no cause to deny those individuals who wish to extend charity to discharged objectors a means of doing so on a case-by-case basis.
    Now, in terms of a conflict in which US Military participation is universally condemned by the Catholic Church, which I pray never materializes, then the difficulties would be extreme indeed. For all American Catholics, and most particularly those in uniform. But I’m not losing sleep worrying over future wars. (And if I was a young and able wanna-be saint, that concern would not keep me from signing up, because the future belongs to God.)
    It seems rational to assume that the many thousands of Catholics serving in our country’s forces over the last several years (or decades) do not have malformed consciences, but are fighting for what they believe is a just and honorable cause: the protection of the United States of America (specifically) and the promotion of liberty worldwide (generally—but with an eye to the future security of the USA).
    On a closely related topic, now that Treats For Troops has had to shut down, does anyone here know of a reliable source for sending care packages to soldiers? Thanks.

  • “It doesn’t seem to me that from a just war point of view we’re required to search about for what the “real reason” for the war is likely to be, but rather look at the declared and obvious aims and judge those.”

    Darwin,

    Would you say that about any other country?

    It often astonishes me that some of the same people who are nothing but skeptical of the government’s intentions when it comes to welfare or some other domestic program often dismiss the notion that anything other than the official story of the government could possibly be true.

    Governments lie. They have lied throughout history. They lie even more today because it has become more and more unacceptable to resort to war to achieve policy aims.

    I mean seriously, the Nazis claimed they were invading Poland because it posed a threat to their security. So did the Soviets when they invaded various Eastern European countries. The US never accepted those claims at face value, but by this argument, their citizens ought to have accepted them and then marched off without complaint in “defense” of their countries.

    It really, really bothers me when the US is somehow set above and apart from the general flow of history. Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about the military industrial complex – was that conspiracy theorizing too?

    No, Darwin, with due respect I totally reject the notion that we do not have some obligation to investigate the historical circumstances of a given war, of the government that wages it, and whether or not the claims it makes are either true or moral.

  • It often astonishes me that some of the same people who are nothing but skeptical of the government’s intentions when it comes to welfare or some other domestic program often dismiss the notion that anything other than the official story of the government could possibly be true.

    YES.

  • Joe, spot on! I read somewhere you supported Huckabee in the GOP primary. So did I! You’re going for some sort of agreement award, or something. I’m not sure if it’s because I agree so much or not, but I think you are so reasonable. 🙂

  • Friends,

    I have another comment that is stuck in moderation. It contains a true statement. I’d appreciate it if you would release it.

    Your friend,
    m

  • Eric, well, I think you and I come from a very similar place, having read your conversion story. We walked down a similar road, you might say.

  • “A young service member- probably with kids at home- you all expect him to just pay for his conscience by going to jail or being punished in a way that would jeopardize his ability to support his family- you are so sure that this cruel state of affairs is the only way to proceed with our military? Really?”

    I certainly do. Let him make his case at his court martial. Let him complain to his representative in Congress. In short, let him convince people of the rightness of his stance, and be ready to pay for the consequences of his disobeying orders. To do otherwise creates buffoonish situations like this:

    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=104009

    You cannot have any sort of military if the members get to pick and choose what wars they will participate in. Each member cannot be their own Secretary of State. No one forces people today to choose to be in the military and they should only do so if they are clear on the purpose of the military which is to fight in conflicts ordered by the political leadership of this nation. If that bothers them there are multitudes of career paths in the civilian world.

  • The soldier, like everyone, is bound by their conscience, but that is of little comfort when one is struggling with an issue and there aren’t clear lines. Conscience does make room prudence, however. One can by bothered by a thing, but his conscience will/must examine and weigh the alternative. It’s not a perfect world and making the moral choice isn’t always cut and dry. God knows what you were confronted with and knows your will. It’s entirely possible to come to the conclusion that doing the thing that troubles you results in less evil than the consequence.

    Soldiering is a noble profession but it is wrought with danger, physical and spiritual. All the more reason to appreciate those who take on that burden. Now I can’t say with surety that this is the way to think of it, but it is the way do. I think when it comes to matters of jus ad bellum the soldier has a lot of leeway, that it’s not his call, nor is he culpable if the military action is objectively unjust. And I use the word objectively unjust, because people of good will and properly formed consciences can come to different conclusions often times.

    Where I think the soldier is held particularly morally liable is in his actions while serving – matters of jus in bello. This is where the stakes of conscience are raised in degree and the alternative choice, regardless of their consequences can become more necessary.

    Take Iraq for example. Let’s say a soldier was troubled by it, that he thinks it was or may have been an unjust action. He can reasonably decide that he will continue to honor his word and follow orders from his superiors, embark to Iraq, and do whatever good he can in a bad situation and serve as a good example for his comrades. He may get there and find that he is indeed doing great good for others. He may find that he is ordered to do (or asked to participate in) something immoral. This is where his conscience becomes critical. Where the moral choice is his and directly effects his soul and his relationship with God. And it is in a case like this that he has a duty not to obey AND to escalate the situation any way he can.

    I actually hate these threads because there always seems to be something important missing. It seems one side never considers it, and the other side takes it for granted and doesn’t acknowledge it. It’s all well and good that we have centuries of thought and teaching to draw upon, and that principles and considerations can be somewhat reduced to a formula. Thing is, entering values into that formula isn’t so cut and dry, there values needed are derived from, and limited by, the inputs and the human person. But it’s the human person that gets lost when we focus on the formula.

    The soldier in the field is a real live person with a soul. God loves him as much as he loves combox pontificators (perhaps more if we’re to weigh Jesus’ words and relationships with the Roman soldiers). Whatever choices and events led to that soldier standing where he is, God is there. A soldier in battle is often times scared, in a struggle, perhaps even feeling like a victim. His heart is aching and most are praying. Nothing moves you to get closer to God than desperation, and God is always there. The soldier praying to make it through combat is being heard on the terms of his and God’s relationship, that the evil W. started an unjust war is of no consequence to God and that soldier.

  • No, Darwin, with due respect I totally reject the notion that we do not have some obligation to investigate the historical circumstances of a given war, of the government that wages it, and whether or not the claims it makes are either true or moral.

    Joe,

    I’m not rejecting whether one has any obligation to evaluate the historical circumstances and the truth of the justifications made — I’m arguing that one doesn’t need to take into account secret and unstated motives of the rulers of the country.

    Thus, I’d hold that the US invasion of Iraq was justified because removing the Baathist regime was, given the historical realities of that regime, an object worth fighting a war to achieve.

    I would not hold that the German invasion of the Poland was justified, because Poland was clearly not a threat to Germany and anyone paying any attention at all to the rhetoric coming out of Berlin at the time could tell that Poland was being taken simply to provide more land and resources to the east.

    Now, if the US were to suddenly announce that it was going to invade some completely run-of-the-mill country in order to “liberate” it (Canada, Hungary, South Africa, etc.) or because it was a regional threat, I’d clearly not take the claim at it’s face value.

    However, there are a small number of incredibly brutal and oppressive regimes around the world which, if the US or UN or some other major country or coalition had cause and reasonable chances of success to liberate, I would be very strongly inclined to support the operation. And Iraq was one of these. Indeed, Iraq was fairly unique among these in that it was routinely violating the cease fire that ended the Gulf War, had previously invaded one of its neighbors and had a nearly successful nuclear program, we had incurred (and failed to fulfill) a moral obligation to the people who had risen up against Hussein in 91, we had troops in the region which the Iraqis were routinely taking pot shots at, and the attempt to use the “peaceful means” of sanctions had caused, by most accounts, more suffering on the part of the actual Iraqi people than either war did.

    Really, the only thing I can see wrong with the Iraq war is that it was eleven years late — and caused a huge amount of suffering among the Iraqi people (and much greater religious and ethnic conflict) as a result.

  • “Really, the only thing I can see wrong with the Iraq war is that it was eleven years late — and caused a huge amount of suffering among the Iraqi people (and much greater religious and ethnic conflict) as a result.”

    I concur.

  • Neither Jesus nor His predecessor, John the Baptist, ever insisted that the soldiers or other government types they met (tax collectors) give up their professions. While Levi/Matthew the tax collector did quit his job to follow Jesus, Zacchaeus didn’t — he simply promised to do his job honestly, give to the poor, and repay fourfold anyone he had cheated.

    Christ did not insist that the centurion quit the army, instead He praised him for having greater faith than any of the Jews He’d met.

    When soldiers and tax collectors came to John the Baptist asking what to do, John didn’t tell them to quit their jobs; he told them to do their jobs honestly, not cheat or harass anyone, and be content with their pay. Obviously John did not think their professions were inherently immoral or treasonous, even though many Jews would have regarded them as such (since Rome was an occupying power).

    Jesus and John knew there would be plenty of “occasions of sin” in those professions, and that there would be times that soldiers or tax collectors would be ordered or encouraged to follow or support unjust government policies or do something wrong. Yet, neither insisted that their followers quit those professions.

    So I would guess the same is true of the Catholic soldier — he or she can serve and obey all legitimate orders, and need not avoid enlisting because he or she “might” at some future date be asked to fight an unjust war. And even if the U.S. did fight a war that was unjust from a policy point of view, the soldier could still serve in it honestly and obey all legitimate orders. Perhaps such soldiers could be a force for good and discourage their comrades from engaging in clearly immoral actions like abuse of POWs, attacks on civilians, etc.

  • I would think the people whom God would hold responsible for waging an unjust war would NOT be the soldiers but the government officials who made the decision to wage that war.

  • You cannot have any sort of military if the members get to pick and choose what wars they will participate in. Each member cannot be their own Secretary of State.

    You have said this repeatedly. But again, the Catholic Church insists that selective conscientious objection is a right that soldiers have.

    I would think the people whom God would hold responsible for waging an unjust war would NOT be the soldiers but the government officials who made the decision to wage that war.

    That’s a reasonable thing to think according to the logic of nation-states, but the Catholic Church teaches that soldiers are responsible for their actions, period.

  • I take it toppling a murderous regime like Hussein’s is just the most God-awful, immoral thing in the world; especially considering his atrocious record:

    But on the ground in Iraq, tha fall of Hussein is yielding an overwhelming human story of great loss. Families have become gravediggers, sifting through dirt with their fingers to recover every bone and scrap of cloth of Saddam Hussein’s legacy.

    While these scenes may bring closure to families, they are painful nonetheless. And the families are only now starting to flock to this site.

    “Be quiet. Slowly, slowly, that’s it,” says Fadil Sadoun’s cousin Hassan Sadran Hussein, as he directs men with tattooed hands and heavy-stoned silver Shiite rings on their fingers, as they feel through the dirt three feet down in the grave.

    “Search well, don’t leave anything,” Hassan says, when more of the skeleton is revealed, and more dirt clawed away with a shovel. “Take your time.”

    Bones pile up on a graveside blanket, making the sound of dry wood clattering together when more bones are added.

    Fadil Sadoun was first taken by security police in 1991, and held at Abu Ghraib prison for two years. When the overtly religious man was arrested again in 1996, he didn’t come home. Instead, he was executed in 1997, given a number, and buried.

    The loss seems unbearable for son Mustapha, who weeps uncontrollably a few feet away, his tears staining his pale blue shirt. Other family members try to comfort him, and finally have to carry him away, to the van that brought a wood coffin to collect the patricarch’s remains.

    “Oh my father, my father!” Mustapha chants with a broken voice. “You should be happy-Saddam is gone.”

    As dawn turns into a hot, blindingly bright and windy morning, more families arrive with scraps of paper scrawled with numbers, and with rudimentary coffins in tow. They walk purposefully along the rows of graves, scanning the markers as if searching for a familiar face in a crowd.

    Beneath their feet are the morbid secrets that will define the toppled regime. Bureaucratic efficiency was masterful here. Numbers of graves are finally being matched to names of missing political prisoners by custodians of the cemeteries, who can finally speak out.

    The executioners may be gone, but the cruel pain they inflicted endures.

    “These are the victims of the crimes of Saddam Hussein,” says Mohamed Hussein, who dropped upon grave number 288-of his brother, Ali Hussein-when he found it. He clenched the dirt in his fists, broke down, and leaned for support on a coffin that had clearly been used before.

    “Tell the world,” he says. “My brother prayed, and they took him from the street.” Ali’s coffin was carried to a truck, and placed alongside another coffin. That one held the remains of a pair of brothers of a neighboring family, found in a single grave.

    While Iraq’s modern history is being written today with freshly revealed documents, the opening of Hussein’s torture chambers, and the testimonies of officially sanctioned killers, it is the buried treasure here that tells Iraq’s true story.

    “This was to keep Saddam on his throne. He would do anything,” says Jassim Mohamed, whose 70-year-old uncle, in grave number 886, was killed with his militant Islamic son at their home south of Baghdad in October 2000. “Anyone who opposed him, he would kill them.”

    Among the staunchest of those opponents was Tariq Abu al-Hewa, a 27-year-old militant who lay 20 feet away, in grave number 834. He was arrested in 1999, executed in 2000, and operated with an Islamist group–even using a nom de guerre–that tried to kill senior members of the ruling Baath Party.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0428/p25s01-woiq.html

    Some ‘moral’, ‘Pro-Life’ Catholics y’all turned out to be.

  • (…continued…)

    “Saddam was a criminal, a dictator, and fascist,” says Khalid. “I thank the Americans a lot-we praise them for ending Saddam, with God’s help.”

    “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have found the corpse,” adds cousin Riath Idramis.

    And Hussein’s henchmen may have been waiting for the 13 bodies to arrive at the bleak, windswept cemetery about a mile away, possibly to put them into the 14 unmarked, empty graves that already had been dug there, beyond the last marker for grave number 993.

    Abadi Jabbar found himself there at those empty holes Friday, as he searched for the remains of tribal cousins. Already he had found five. Still missing, according to the scrap of paper gripped in his right hand: numbers 867, 974, and 977.

    When asked what this scene told him about Saddam Hussein, he replied: “You are the great witness. You have seen it with your own eyes.”

  • E,

    If you can’t behave yourself, I’ll behave for you. Your deliberate lie about my view of the Catholics who support the Iraq war has been deleted.

    I will remind you that I said:

    “I don’t think anyone’s position on this war makes them a better or worse person. So my respect level for each of you doesn’t change a wit. This will be an issue where we disagree, but hopefully that doesn’t mean we all can’t still get along.”

    That’s all.

  • Sorry, Joe, but to see how the Gore Vidals and Norm Chomskys now rule this so hapless modern world; suffice it to say, one can easily succumb to outright resentment, if not, bitter rhetoric.

    That said, in consideration of statements in toto (not necessarily even targetted at solely your own), I truly do not see how one can take the opinion of Rome or even the Pope, for that matter, and extend it far beyond its actual intent and even to the extent of seemingly infallible decree.

  • E,

    I deleted your second post because I’m not interested in your take on my actions or motives. You don’t like it, go post at another blog.

    “Sorry, Joe, but to see how the Gore Vidals and Norm Chomskys now rule this so hapless modern world; suffice it to say, one can easily succumb to outright resentment, if not, bitter rhetoric.”

    Is that an apology?

    “I truly do not see how one can take the opinion of Rome or even the Pope, for that matter, and extend it far beyond its actual intent and even to the extent of seemingly infallible decree.”

    If you aren’t including me in that “one” then we’re ok, because that’s not what I did. It never said it was infallible decree. You wondered why so many Catholics had a problem with the war, and I offered the opposition of two Popes as a possible explanation.

    That’s all – I never said their opposition meant you had to oppose it too, but I will say that if you want to criticize those of us who share the opinion of the Papacy, the burden is on you and not us to reconcile the position with Catholicism. And I don’t say that it is impossible to do so.

  • Joe,

    Quit it with your calumnies; unless, of course, you consider Catholicism nothing more than an abstraction to be admired as ideal rather than to be practiced at all.

    Again, I find it ironic that you should lecture me on motives and actions when you yourself were the one who notoriously imputed such malicious motives.

    If there was a misinterpretation on my part, you could have simply said so; instead, you prefer to engage in mere calumny.

  • There is no calumny here.

    You said I argued something that I didn’t, something so contrary and foreign to what I actually said that it could only be a deliberate misreading.

    Is that not a calumny?

  • Joe:

    Then why did you seemed wont to demonize my comments with the rather calumnous mischarecterization “deliberate lie”?

    You could have simply (and more charitably) called to question whatever egregious misinterpretation you might yourself seem wont to address in my cited comments; I would have more gracefully applied, in kind, a more fitting responsio that would have requested, in turn, certain clarification as to the manner of quotes eminating from your earlier comments.

    Still, I find myself at awe these quotes from you:

    What I do think it means, however, is that it is not the people who agree with the Papacy whose Catholicism ought to be questioned. The burden to reconcile one’s Catholicism with a position one has taken on a political issue ought to rest with the person who is dissenting from the opinion or the teaching of the Church. I think that is reasonable.

    …and even the more recent:

    I will say that if you want to criticize those of us who share the opinion of the Papacy, the burden is on you and not us to reconcile the position with Catholicism.

    So, in other words, opposing a murderous regime such as Hussein’s, whose innocent victims number in the hundreds, if not, near a thousand; is not only immoral but, above all else, anti-Catholic?

    God help us.

  • Alright E,

    It is simply amazing to me that you can, in the same post, complain about something and then actually do it.

    “So, in other words, opposing a murderous regime such as Hussein’s, whose innocent victims number in the hundreds, if not, near a thousand; is not only immoral but, above all else, anti-Catholic?”

    The first problem here is “in other words”. Meaning, in YOUR words, not my words – in your reinterpretation of my words.

    Is this not bearing false witness? Is this not calumny? If you want to know why I said “deliberate lie”, look no further.

    Why you bother to highlight in bold, I don’t know. I never said that holding a different opinion is “anti-Catholic” – a phrase you made up and put in my mouth. I said it isn’t impossible that your position could be reconciled with Catholicism, but that it is you who needs to show how it can be – not us.

    Please tell me you understand the difference between these things.

    Furthermore,

    You think supporting the Iraq war is all about “opposing a murderous regime”. But no one who opposed the Iraq war was actually in favor of Saddam’s regime.

    Lets say for the sake of argument that this war was really about “liberation”. A ridiculous argument in my view, but lets go with it for a minute.

    No one asked the Iraqi people if the loss of several hundred thousand lives (millions if we include the Clinton era sanctions) and the near total destruction of their social infrastructure was a price they themselves were willing to pay for being rid of Saddam. No one asked them, I surmise, because it had nothing to do with the reason for America’s decades-long involvement with the Persian Gulf.

    Only a sociopath does something for someone who didn’t ask for it and then insists that they thank them for whatever positive benefits it may have wrought. Some people may end up thanking the US – some Iraqis may believe it was worth it. I’m willing to wager that there are millions of who have lost friends and family who do not see it that way.

    I don’t know how old you are, but did you oppose US policy when it was in favor of Ba’athism as a counterweight to communism and to Islamic militancy in Iran? When the US and Europe armed Saddam with biological and chemical weapons in the 1980s? Did you oppose those policies? Would you in retrospect?

  • Joe:

    Clearly, as even made evident above, you bear remarkable hostility toward my person, which is perhaps why you continue to engage my comments as well as myself with such continud prejudice.

    The fact that I had even asked in the manner of a question did not even invite charity on your part; only a continued stream of subsequent uncharitable mischarecterizations and false accusations of “bearing false witness”.

    Rather than engage the topic any further (as it seems whomsoever should run contrary to a certain seemingly ‘infallible’ opinion; apparently, their catholicism must be called into question), I shall cease any and all responses in this regard and bid you adieu, less we truly forget what exactly it means to be ‘Christian’.

  • Fine with me.

  • Donald, et al. ignore Catholic teaching on soldiering and they ignore my comments on the same. Typical.

  • Catholic Anarchist, contrary to your obvious sincere belief, you and the Magisterium are not one and the same.

  • Catholic Anarchist, contrary to your obvious sincere belief, you and the Magisterium are not one and the same.

    No, we’re not. But I at least listen to them and incorporate them into my view. You ignore them, period. This thread is clear evidence of that.

  • Well- this post is nearing the end- a bitter end. I asked a non-Catholic friend to read through the post and the comments, and his reaction was interesting. He asked if it was normal for Catholics to argue with little or no reference to the Catholic leadership or official teachings? He said that while I seemed to be putting the challenge out to draw upon some official teaching of the Church, the reaction for the most part were arguments made from secular perspectives with no backing from official Church ideas or teachings.

    I have to agree- I run into this sort of thing all the time in Catholic Democratic circles- they are fine with bringing in the papal speeches, the encyclicals, and Compendium et al, if the topic is one where they feel that these sources agree with their position- but if not, then comes the distancing, the belittling, the side-stepping of anything coming from Rome, from the USCCB, is to be expected. And in that cafeteria of Catholic political thought and activism there is a left and a right side- apparently there is a line that everyone but a few Catholic politicos’ can see, that separates the two sections of the cafeteria. When one walks in and among the two sides, you can hear the such similar language and anger- only it is directed at those at the other side of the cafeteria. When you sit down for a chat, as long as the topic stays in a safe zone- like abortion in the right side of the cafeteria, or war on the left side of the cafeteria- the tone stays friendly as long as you agree and your use of official Catholic resources will be welcomed, or even praised. But dare not to draw upon those sources if you are going to argue an opposite point-of-view in this cafeteria.

    I can see that Joe (and a few others) and I are able and willing to walk around the cafeteria because there is good, healthy food scattered around rather indiscriminately. But it is a problem if you linger and strike up discussions- because you have entered a mine field more than a Body of Christ zone. There is a worldview that supersedes the worldview that comes from the Church teachings and the proposed application of those teachings/principles by the official leadership of the Church- that world is either Left or Right- all sun or all darkness. A place where demons like “Norm” Chomsky leave behind trails of lies to try to fool people into seeing through a type of patriotism that is better off blind. And there is another place where women who have had abortions try to spread lies about how traumatic abortion really is once you understand what happened to you and your child. In the Catholic cafeteria, depending on which side of the cafeteria you want to sit, you will have to pick one of these places.

    The problem here is that I presented a pretty clear suggestion from a pretty clear Catholic principle regarding the rights and duties of soldiers and those who send soldiers off to war, drawing upon the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. I added later in the thread that it would be appropriate for any Catholic commentator to read the chapter in the Compendium on the promotion of peace, and make some conclusions drawing from the larger chapter perhaps. No takers, the whole Iraq War came into the discussion and naturally, the right side of the cafeteria immediately started distancing themselves from the popes and official Catholic leadership- and so the arguments go back into the usual self-destructive circles. I wish there was a place outside of the pope’s speeches, the encyclicals, the official social doctrine resources, where I could just go and stay and find fellowship. But our world and our country is not that place- we have a Catholic American world that is either in love with Barack Obama, or Sarah Palin- ugh-

    At least here at American Catholic we do have some range- there is not much of an amen corner- but I would like all those who seem to find themselves very, very comfortable in their political parties, with their ideological heroes, to just remember that it is only in the Church’s official teachings, and in her continuing Apostolic leadership that we are able to transcend our times- the Church is the expert on humanity- she is our prophetic voice- do not look past her when advised by me or anyone- from the left, right or center- if someone tells me to read something from the catechism, the compendium, an encyclical, or even from a papal speech or a usccb document, to put a check on one of my public or private positions on such and such a topic- then I will do it- that to me is what being a faithful Catholic is all about- the obedience of faith- not in some minimalist interpretation, but in the fullness of realization that the Way in politics is very hard to find and stay with- so many ideological and nationalistic trap doors- but if we at least stay close to the Hierachical teachings and advice then we have a fighter’s chance. If one wants to ignore all the Catholic Hierachical advice leading up to the Iraq invasion, or the Gulf War/Sanctions prior to the latest- then it really is on you to find all the worldly sources that say that you and President Bush I and II really knew better than our Church’s leaders. That is not an attack, that’s a Catholic fact- I only address myself to those who would make claim to being orthodox Catholics- most liberal Catholics would not claim that title, but many conservative Catholics seem to want to collapse the two terms- conservative/orthodox. Not that being conservative would necessarily indicate support for the Iraq Wars- note Pat Buchanan/Ron Paul.

  • Very true, Tim. Which is why so many people have found many of the bloggers here to be utterly scandalous.

  • Tim,

    For what it’s worth, I think the reason that people are mostly drawing on practical reason or natural reason in this conversation is that the question is a fairly practical one: Should the regulations in the military specifically make provision for allowing service members to opt out of a specific war they have moral objections to. And as a related item, should there be a specific expection in the punishments for disobeying orders whereby someone is excused from obeying orders his thinks are immoral.

    Now clearly, from a Catholic point of view, it’s morally incumbant upon all of us to act according to our consciences. On that point, I don’t think you’ll find any disagreement at all. The disagreement seems to be around to what extent it makes sense to create provisions for difference of judgement between superior and subordinate in a war situation as to what is a moral action.

    If called on it, I’d be basically supportive (with a few reservations) of allowing people to request movement to a non-combat role or a different theater of operations when asked to go to a war they believe to be unjust — but in regards to refusing to obey orders I’m inclined to be reliant upon courts of inquiry to determine whether the order was, in fact, immoral rather than creating a situation in which people are actively encouraged to question every order.

    I think there’s fairly good Catholic precident for this. (For example, in his Rule, St. Benedict directs that the monks must obey their superiors even when they believe their superiors to be acting unjustly.) And since it is basically a question of implementation rather than the moral directive to obey one’s conscience, I don’t think it’s necessarily surprising that people are generally referring to natural reason rather than Church documents.

    That said, and at the risk of allowing Michael to continue to be utterly scandalized by people other than him daring to talk, I hope that you’ll continue to bring these kind of conversations into the square here so that people can have the chance to discuss them and be aware of the breadth of Catholic opinion. I don’t think I’m too optimistic to say that everyone here takes the teachings of the Church seriously, though working from different assumptions and tendencies, and it’s refreshing to have a forum where Catholics who are both truly serious about their faith and truly diverse in their political viewpoints can come together and discuss things.

  • I appreciate the summing up Darwin- I like your comparison to the directives to Benedict’s monks- that is in keeping with the specifically CAtholic spirit we invoke around here- which is the only point of spending time here among Catholics- I would say on that point that the call of a Benedicten monk is on a different order than someone like me at 18 signing up for the military. As a religious monk you are walking a very narrow path where you are putting everything into that religious call- so unusual obedience is to be expected as a sign of your serving God most directly. In joining the military we are not told that we are giving our souls over to the state- we are responding to the sense of duty to country to protect her, but not to lose our sense of obedience to God first and foremost. And this is the sticking point- the messy part of living as a good Catholic and as a good citizen. There is going to be tension points- and this “Support the Troops” post is my way to introduce some tension since it is my understanding that someone who believed as a CAtholic that the call to go to Iraq was not just, then he/she did not have legal recourse to selective conscientious objection- and this is a place where I think we should be making some noise as Catholic citizens.

    I think about things as the teacher I am, what if I don’t alert my young charges to the views of the Hierarchy on something like Iraq, because you know, you don’t want to stir up problems, people/parents/administrators questioning your patriotism- now what happens if you just look the other way maybe with the added justification that this is a prudential judgment of the Hierarchy- and so some of your charges go off to war blissfully unaware that there are any serious moral qualms coming from the leaders of their Church- since their parents, teachers, and parish priests never brought the Holy Father et al’s views to their attention.

    Suppose one of these young men or women comes home permanently and badly disabled from the fighting, and during the course of rehabilitation starts reading the Church documents, and the “Pope Speaks” and such things- and he/she comes across the many and consistent opinions coming from Catholic Hierarchies around the world, all saying in essence that the Iraq Invasion was not a good candidate for a just war- what if the reaction of that soldier is- “Wait a minute, I went to Mass every sunday, I went to Catholic high school- no one ever brought this information from our Church leaders out to me!”

    I went through these thoughts during the lead up to War in Iraq- when most of the mass media and both political parties were pushing for the Invasion- I collected all the info I could from Zenit.org at the time- the Pope’s words, the various Holy See reps, the CAtholic Hierarchies in the U.S., some from across the world. I collected them and copied them and distributed them to all my classes. I opened up the discussion with my students. I have no idea how many students took in the info or even cared- but I had to do it for the sake of my good conscience. And for the sake of my own good conscience, I need to press the case for this selective conscientious objection for the average servicemember- given that it will bring some headaches to central command- I still believe it is a necessary check on the powers that be who decide our wars for us- just like the conscience-clauses are necessary for our health care professionals.

    One is of course, free to dispute or disagree with the Catholicity of my views stated here- but I appreciate that there be some basis for your disputation coming from our shared Catholic social doctrine or applications thereof- natural reason cannot totally erase our need as orthodox Catholics to base our public views on something directly in our social teaching treasury. We may be able to make an appeal outside Catholic circles on natural law and reason alone- but the Church is our way of perfecting that natural reasoning- as such I think we should try to reference these sources as often as is possible- this should help calm the discussions since we will be reacting to something officially Catholic, and not just our personal riffs or sentiments.

  • “Very true, Tim. Which is why so many people have found many of the bloggers here to be utterly scandalous.”

    Catholic Anarchist, considering the fact that you voted for the most pro-abort candidate in our nation’s history, and have frequently been at odds with the teaching of the Church on any number of topics, I will consider that comment to be a feeble attempt by you at humor.

  • Tim, if my kids had been in your class I would have demanded equal time to present an opposing view. Schools, Catholic or not, should not allow teachers to propound their political views to a captive audience.

  • Tim Shipe:

    So, like Joe, you are of the shared opinion that those who do not share the same opinion as you do concerning the Iraq War should not even dare be called Catholic?

    Perhaps one should go further and proposed excommunication even on a matter such as this, which do not even reside on the realm of infallible decree?

    Are we then to suppose that every ordinary opinion of the Church, all Catholics must bind themselves to upon pain of loss of soul?

    And they thought the Age of the Homintern was over; God help the innocent Catholics who merely differ in the application of Catholic principles in matters not even close to being strictly within the realm of infallible decree concerning the matter of Faith & Morals; unless, of course, your admiration for murderous tyrants like Hussein is so remarkably profound, you feel it such a waste to let so saintly a man as he to expire as he did!

    While I personally submit myself with all fidelity to the infallible decrees of Rome; in matters where even the Vicar of Christ himself as well as the Church Universal allows legitimate diversity of opinion, you and your rather draconian cohorts do not even allow so much as difference and opinion and, indeed, even call into question the Catholicism of those who do differ.

    Perhaps I should, for my part, list several of the instances in history where previous successors of Peter had rendered their own ordinary opinions of certain matters that were based likewise on principle; would you similarly believe that those who differed from these deserved such remarkably damning treatment too?

    If we are to speak of bloody wars and seemingly just conflicts; do you really want to open the forum to such severe scrutiny as this?

    Again, for my part, I remain a loyal son of the Church; apparently, you, Joe et al. serve an entirely different Standard; one which would make hail not the actual prescriptions of the Vicar of Christ but substitute instead that which is pursuant to your own viciously draconian will.

    God forgive you and your comrades; there were those who were identical to yourselves in the past — these were the same who not only unjustly put to death the innocent of the Church but also her saints as well, merely because of their rather pernicious puritanism.

  • E,

    You complain about slanders and calumny and then you say something like this:

    “So, like Joe, you are of the shared opinion that those who do not share the same opinion as you do concerning the Iraq War should not even dare be called Catholic?”

    Veiling your deliberate misinterpretations of another person’s position in the form of a question doesn’t fool anyone. Absolutely nothing Tim or I has ever said would ever lead a reasonable person to conclude such a thing, or to even ask it.

    “Dare even be called Catholic”? No one even implied such an extreme position. Why, for the love of heaven, would you say such a thing?

    You have slandered us, E. If you have any dignity or conscience, you will apologize to Tim and to me.

  • I take it then “e” that you haven’t spent the time reading the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church? Why not just say so, and spare me the dramatics- all I asked was that if you are Catholic you would want to try to base your views on something of a Catholic basis if there was something out there- I already stated that if one did so and disagreed with my conclusions then so be it, that is hardly the same thing as trying to execute you like a “saint”. If ignorance of the Social Doctrine somehow makes you a better Catholic, I am lost in the logic. If you have a better approach that includes other Catholic teachings I’d love to read it for my own edification- but your current line of thinking is way over-the-top.

  • “If ignorance of the Social Doctrine somehow makes you a better Catholic, I am lost in the logic.”

    The “Comp-comp-comp-endi-um of Soc-soc-social Doc-d-Doctrine”? Apologies, but apparently only the gifted elites of Catholic soceity and, most especially, the cognoscienti of this blog read and, indeed, is capable of understanding such material.

    And, for your information, just because I differ on a rather ordinary matter as this (i.e., Iraq War) does not mean that I am ignorant of such teaching.

    First, in much of what Joe had written, he implies within the sections of his earlier comments that those who happen to differ in opinion as regarding the Iraq War; their Catholicism should rightly be questioned.

    Second, you come in with a subsequent comment with such remarkably perjorative tone that you condescendingly virtually call those who differ as Cafeteria Catholics.

    Now, allow me to elucidate on something that seems to escape the both of you:

    Just because I happen to differ on such a matter as the Iraq War does not mean that I am unaware of the Church’s social teaching; even further, it does not even mean that anything contrary to such opinion is, without question, erroneous.

    You and he would make it seem that (just as an example to illustrate a point) those who did not adhere to then Senator McCarthy’s Witch Hunt does not mean that I, myself, was not anti-Communism; indeed, it means, more precisely — or, at the very least, with those more endowed with cognitive ability, that while I agree with the principle of anti-communism so espoused, I do not myself agree with its application in the immediate matter.

    However, rather than waste my time, only to subject myself to the pettiness (“Norm”) and utter unrelenting persecution (questionable catholic by Joe, cafeteria catholic by Tim) simply for a difference in opinion as concerning something the lay outside the jurisdiction of infallible decree as the Iraq War; I shall take leave of this thread, as I had originally intended (my return was only due to Tim’s screed concerning we in the Cafeteria), less we show to the entire world in cyberspace just how ‘Catholic’ we all actually are.

  • Catholic Anarchist, considering the fact that you voted for the most pro-abort candidate in our nation’s history, and have frequently been at odds with the teaching of the Church on any number of topics, I will consider that comment to be a feeble attempt by you at humor.

    Catholic Militarist, the Church did not forbid me from voting for Barack Obama. You have no ground to stand on regarding that prudential judgment.

    I am not “at odds” with Church teaching on “any number” of topics. Once again you seek to misrepresent me.

    You would think that a self-proclaimed “pro-life” Catholic would take the Church’s teaching on soldiering seriously, as it potentially involves matters of life and death, particularly the deliberate killing of human beings. I’d suggest that you try applying JPII’s The Gospel of Life to military service, but it’s clear that for you military life in the u.s. is something unable to be criticized. Shut up, soldier, and kill. Do not ask questions, do not use your God-given moral agency — that which makes us human — in matters of war. Do not question your government (unless it’s a democratic administration, eh?). On this LIFE ISSUE, you are the one profoundly at odds with your Church and the Gospel of Life.

    If you truly respect soldiers, you would respect them as human persons, as moral agents. You clearly do not. You idolize soldiers so long as they do not act humanly. That is a profound dehumanization and shows them utter disrespect. We can now quite clearly see through your “love” of soldiers.

  • Catholic Anarchist you disagree with the Church on ordaining women, homosexuality, the just war teaching of the Church, just to name a few. Your allegiance has always been to your far left political agenda, as anyone who has any familiarity with your comments and posts would quickly realize.

    As to soldiers Catholic Anarchist, since I was one of them, a distinction I am sure you will never share, I have a great deal of sympathy for them. Anyone who wants to go to war is in need of a psych exam. However, some of us realize that in this imperfect world we will not remain free long unless we have those willing to serve in the military. Once you join the military you take this oath: “I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” The oath does not say if I agree with the war being fought, or if I feel like it. Those who cannot take this oath in good conscience should not take it. Those who do and violate it, must stand ready to defend their action and to take the consequences. That is what adults do Catholic Anarchist. They do not take oaths that they will not carry out when the going gets tough. Of course in regard to you this will make as much sense as a lecture on chastity to a cat. You think the US is evil and anyone who serves in the US military is serving evil. Thank God so few people join you in your totally wrong-headed world view .

  • I’m not clear if Michael has decided to abandon blogging for very subtle absurdist performance art or if he just has very poor reading comprehension.

  • Catholic Anarchist you disagree with the Church on ordaining women, homosexuality, the just war teaching of the Church, just to name a few. Your allegiance has always been to your far left political agenda, as anyone who has any familiarity with your comments and posts would quickly realize.

    Rather than simply saying I “disagree” with the Church on women’s ordination and/or homosexuality, it might do you some good to consider that on each of those issues there are aspects in which I both agree and disagree with the Church. On the just war tradition, you are simply 100% inaccurate. And again, on just war teaching, you have some nerve accusing me of disagreeing with it considering your comments on this thread in which you clearly reject the Church’s teaching on war.

    For example:

    Once you join the military you take this oath… The oath does not say if I agree with the war being fought, or if I feel like it. Those who cannot take this oath in good conscience should not take it. Those who do and violate it, must stand ready to defend their action and to take the consequences. That is what adults do Catholic Anarchist. They do not take oaths that they will not carry out when the going gets tough.

    This comment simply does not reflect the mind of the Church. You have not dealt sufficiently with the fact that the Church demands that nations respect selective conscientious objection. This is part of the just war teaching that you claim to believe in. It’s yet another example of how you CLAIM to believe in Catholic just war teaching but do not take it seriously in the least.

    Your allegiance has always been to your far left political agenda, as anyone who has any familiarity with your comments and posts would quickly realize.

    Yes, being anti-abortion and attending the pro-life march is clearly a “far left” position. Again, all you can do is misrepresent people that you disagree with.

    You think the US is evil and anyone who serves in the US military is serving evil. Thank God so few people join you in your totally wrong-headed world view .

    I do not think “the US” is “evil.” Even if I did, one would not have to share that belief in order to take the CATHOLIC CHURCH’s view of selective conscientious objection seriously.

    Have you, Catholic Militarist, ever personally judged a war waged by the united states of america as unjust and unsupportable by Catholics?

  • The oath does not say if I agree with the war being fought, or if I feel like it. Those who cannot take this oath in good conscience should not take it. Those who do and violate it, must stand ready to defend their action and to take the consequences. That is what adults do…They do not take oaths that they will not carry out when the going gets tough.

    A couple points for consideration:

    1) It seems to me that the quote above overstates things a bit. For instance, a person may join the military, and then twenty years later find that they believe a given conflict is immoral. For a Catholic in that situation, I think it’s perfectly ‘adult’ and, in fact, virtuous to conscientiously object.

    2) I think the Catechism is helpful here, as it suggests both that the public authorities have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense,” and that “Public authorities should make equitable provision for those who for reasons of conscience refuse to bear arms

    This suggests to me that some level of deference is due to those entrusted to the common good, but that the deference due to civil authorities is far from absolute. It seems to me that a pacifist like Michael would tend to minimize the level of deference owed to public officials, whereas Don, who has served in the armed forces, is more sensitive to the importance of deference. As long as neither denies 1) the right of public authorities to impose duties of self-defense on their citizens, or 2) the right of citizens to conscientious objection in some form, then neither is outside the guidelines in the Catechism.

    That, of course, is just my reading of the Catechism; perhaps interjecting with yet another point of view will prove unhelpful. Here is the relevant section of the Catechism:

    2309 The evaluation of [just war] conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

    2310 Public authorities, in this case, have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense.

    Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.107

    2311 Public authorities should make equitable provision for those who for reasons of conscience refuse to bear arms; these are nonetheless obliged to serve the human community in some other way.

  • “On the just war tradition, you are simply 100% inaccurate.”

    Catholic Anarchist I recall reading in a thread on Vox Nova you stating that all wars were unjust and that the Church should abandon the Just War doctrine.

    “This comment simply does not reflect the mind of the Church.”

    Rubbish, my comment does not reflect your mind. The military makes allowance for conscientious objectors. It does not make allowance for people who suddenly decide that they oppose a war just as they are called up to fight in it. Those individuals have to stand up for their beliefs at a court martial and in the arena of public opinion. To do otherwise would be to allow people to spit on their military oath whenever they found it convenient to do so for their own well-being. Those who believe that a war is truly unjust should welcome the opportunity to make their case.

    “Yes, being anti-abortion and attending the pro-life march is clearly a “far left” position.”
    While voting for the most pro-abort President in our nation’s history and constantly hectoring the pro-life movement. With “pro-lifers” like you Catholic Anarchist, who needs pro-aborts?

    “I do not think “the US” is “evil.” Even if I did, one would not have to share that belief in order to take the CATHOLIC CHURCH’s view of selective conscientious objection seriously.”

    Bravo Catholic Anarchist! That is the first time I can recall seeing you capitalize any reference to your native country. Your hatriotism towards America is legendary in Saint Blogs.

    “Have you, Catholic Militarist, ever personally judged a war waged by the united states of america as unjust and unsupportable by Catholics?”

    Asked and answered as we say in the Law Catholic Anarchist. “10. Has he EVER come to the conclusion that a war waged by the United States of America is unjust? Or have all of them, in his opinion, been just?”

    The Mexican War. In that I agree with Ulysses Grant.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/05/29/miguel-diaz-claims-to-be-pro-life-is-he/

  • Catholic Anarchist I recall reading in a thread on Vox Nova you stating that all wars were unjust and that the Church should abandon the Just War doctrine.

    Your recollection seems to be flawed. The just war doctrine is a helpful tool, if taken seriously. And if taken seriously, the result is that virtually all wars (especially those initiated by the u.s.a.) are necessarily unjust. The Church’s teaching on war has moved to a place analogous to its teaching on the death penalty: that wars can theoretically be “justified” in the abstract, but very rarely, if ever, in real life. If just war tradition is not going to be taken seriously, and if it is only going to be misused by Catholic Militarists such as yourself, THEN it should be abandoned because it is not doing what it is meant to do. THAT is my position. You no longer have an excuse for misrepresenting me on this point.

    The military makes allowance for conscientous objectors. It does not make allowance for people who suddenly decide that they oppose a war just as they are called up to fight in it.

    It in fact DOES make the allowance for selective conscientious objection and insists upon it. It’s the only way to take the sacredness of the human conscience seriously, and the Church knows this. You are simply wrong. (Perhaps you not only misrepresent your opponents, you intentionally misrepresent the Church?) Your thinking here is driven by u.s. military “ethics,” not Catholic social thought.

    While voting for the most pro-abort President in our nation’s history and constantly hectoring the pro-life movement. With “pro-lifers” like you Catholic Anarchist, who needs pro-aborts?

    My hope is that the u.s. “pro-life” movement would become more pro-life by listening to what the Church teaches on the interconnectedness of life issues.

    Your hatriotism towards America is legendary in Saint Blogs.

    “Legendary” is a good choice of words, as legends involve both truth and exaggeration. My views on “america” are easily reviewable, and it would be difficult to make a strong case that I “hate” america. Much of the “legendary” position I hold on “america” is sheer fantasy, dreamed up by folks like you who need blog enemies.

    The Mexican War. In that I agree with Ulysses Grant.

    One war. Nice. You are a serious disciple of the Church’s teaching on war, I see. If only you ever agreed with the Popes on war.

  • From the Compendium of the Church’s Social Doctrine:

    Chapter Eight
    The Political Community

    III. Political Authority
    c. The right to conscientious objection

    399. Citizens are not obligated in conscience to follow the prescriptions of civil authorities if their precepts are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or to the teachings of the Gospel. [820] Unjust laws pose dramatic problems of conscience for morally upright people: when they are called to cooperate in morally evil acts they must refuse.[821] Besides being a moral duty, such a refusal is also a basic human right which, precisely as such, civil law itself is obliged to recognize and protect. “Those who have recourse to conscientious objection must be protected not only from legal penalties but also from any negative effects on the legal, disciplinary, financial and professional plane”.[822]

    It is a grave duty of conscience not to cooperate, not even formally, in practices which, although permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to the Law of God. Such cooperation in fact can never be justified, not by invoking respect for the freedom of others nor by appealing to the fact that it is foreseen and required by civil law. No one can escape the moral responsibility for actions taken, and all will be judged by God himself based on this responsibility (cf. Rom 2:6; 14:12).

    From the U.S. Catholic Bishops, The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace: 10th Anniversary of The Challenge of Peace, 1993:

    We repeat our support both for legal protection for those who conscientiously refuse to participate in any war (conscientious objectors) and for those who cannot, in good conscience, serve in specific conflicts they consider unjust or in branches of the service (e.g., the strategic nuclear forces) which would require them to perform actions contrary to deeply held moral convictions about indiscriminate killing (selective conscientious objection).

    As we hold individuals in high esteem who conscientiously serve in the armed forces, so also we should regard conscientious objection and selective conscientious objection as positive indicators within the Church of a sound moral awareness and respect for human life.

    There is a need to improve the legal and practical protection which this country rightly affords
    conscientious objectors and, in accord with the just-war tradition, to provide similar legal protection for selective conscientious objectors.

  • One war. Nice. You are a serious disciple of the Church’s teaching on war, I see. If only you ever agreed with the Popes on war.

    Michael,

    It’s a mark of your usual disingenuousness that you ask specifically ask Donald to name one war, and then turn around and mock him for naming one war. Seriously, do you think you stand any chance of convincing people to accept your beliefs in regards to the requirements which Christianity places on people when you can never find it in your heart to react to people in a remotely Christian fashion? Read of your comment and Donald’s again and ask yourself: if someone who doesn’t know all the history between you two reads both comments, which of you two will they think has a truly Christian and human understanding of war and the demands placed upon soldiers?

    Also, I’m not necessarily sure you want to “go there” with your last sentence that I quoted. Donald doubtless agrees with a number of papal pronouncements on war — such as the calling of the crusades, the defense of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the defense of the papal states against the nationalist forces of Victor Emmanuel. You, of course, probably disagree with the popes on all of those.

  • Of course Catholic Anarchist what the bishops proposed in 1993 flies in the face of Pius XII’s Christmas message of 1956 in which he condemned selective conscientious objection, at least in democratic states.

    In regard to the teaching of the Just War doctrine Catholic Anarchist, I thank you for the clarification. You support it as long as it condemns wars you oppose, and you abandon it when it does not.

    Catholic Anarchist my statement in regard to the military and conscientious objection is absolutely correct. Conscientious objection is recognized, selection conscientious objection is not. As the statement of Pius XII indicates, selective conscientious objection is a doctrinal innovation in the Church. Actually support for any conscientious objection, except for clerics, is a doctrinal innovation of the last century. In that regard American law actually recognized the rights of absolute conscientious objectors before the Church did.

    Your dedication to the pro-life cause is underwhelming.

    As for your hatred of this country it permeates most of your writing. A good sample is set forth in the many jabs you make at America in your explanation as to why you were going to vote for pro-abort Obama.

    http://vox-nova.com/2008/11/03/why-i-decided-to-vote/

  • Darwin – Please, let’s not be silly. The Church of today has repented the sin of the Crusades.

    Of course Catholic Anarchist what the bishops proposed in 1993 flies in the face of Pius XII’s Christmas message of 1956 in which he condemned selective conscientious objection, at least in democratic states.

    Yes, it does. News flash, Militarist: Church teaching changes!

    In regard to the teaching of the Just War doctrine Catholic Anarchist, I thank you for the clarification. You support it as long as it condemns wars you oppose, and you abandon it when it does not.

    The fact is, I am with the Popes when it comes to their judgments of modern wars and you are not. That’s the bottom line.

    Catholic Anarchist my statement in regard to the military and conscientious objection is absolutely correct. Conscientious objection is recognized, selection conscientious objection is not.

    Only a fool or a liar could continue to parrot the mistaken idea that the Church does not recognize selective conscientious objection. You are deliberately choosing to ignore it, but it’s Church teaching.

    As the statement of Pius XII indicates, selective conscientious objection is a doctrinal innovation in the Church. Actually support for any conscientious objection, except for clerics, is a doctrinal innovation of the last century. In that regard American law actually recognized the rights of absolute conscientious objectors before the Church did.

    Sure, it’s an “innovation.” But it’s Church teaching nonetheless. And you continue to ignore it.

    Your dedication to the pro-life cause is underwhelming.

    As is yours. Not to mention your dedication to authentic Catholic social doctrine.

    As for your hatred of this country it permeates most of your writing. A good sample is set forth in the many jabs you make at America in your explanation as to why you were going to vote for pro-abort Obama.

    Jabs = hate?

  • I just reviewed my post on why I voted for Obama. Interesting that you did not quote anything from the post that would indicate that I “hate” america. But thank you for doing your part to contribute to the myth that I “hate america” and to draw attention to my writing.

  • 1.The Church of today has repented the Crusades Catholic Anarchist. You wouldn’t care to link to this precise apology would you?

    2.Church teaching Catholic Anarchist has to be considered as a whole. I believe a papal statement would require another papal statement to invalidate it. Would you care to point to such a papal statement, not a statement of a council, but a papal statement?

    3.Catholic Anarchist the opinion of a Pope on a war has never been binding on Catholics. If you understand anything about the Just War doctrine you would understand that. As it happens I do agree with most papal positions regarding conflicts over the past 1700 years.

    In regard to modern conflicts would you include the Spanish Civil War in that category? How do you view the position of Pius XI in regard to that conflict?

    4. Catholic Anarchist your reading comprehension really cannot be so low as to fail to discern that I was writing about the US military’s position in regard to conscientious objection? Please try to at least read what I have written and not what you imagine I have written.

    5. Catholic Anarchist, in addition to my political work for the pro-life cause I have also been a Birthright volunteer and a member of the board of the crisis pregnancy center in my country for the past decade. For the past five years I have been president of the board of the crisis pregnancy center. I will let our readers judge if that is underwhelming. I am sure I could have done more.

    6. Catholic social doctrine Catholic Anarchist is not far left political stances, no matter how much you wish it was.

    7. You want another example of your hatriotism? Here is your Fourth of July salute:

    http://vox-nova.com/2008/07/03/happy-4th-of-july/

  • I’ll only comment on #5. The rest I consider worthless to debate further. You are at the front of the Cafeteria line on the issue of war. american policy is your moral guide.

    On #5 – You obviously have a record of anti-abortion activity. But what i said was that your dedication to the pro-life cause (and I understand the term “pro-life” in the Catholic, not american societal, sense) is underwhelming. Your readers are able to judge that, I’m sure.

    Again, you see what you want to see in my posts. There is nothing in my 4th of July post that would indicate “hatred” of america, only an insistence that we reject american civil religion in our Catholic churches. But again, thanks for helping to make me “legendary”!

  • This is the oddly maddening thing about trying to talk to you, Michael. On the one hand, you say such incredibly and obviously badly argued things that one itches to respond — yet on the other you display fairly little interest in understanding what other people have to say and giving it a fair hearing, so at the same rational level there’s seemingly little point in responding.

    You say that you agree with the Church’s just war teaching, yet you reject nearly the entire history of it and say that what you agree with is one modern interpretation of it which suggest that war is almost never justified. When the fact that this is a minority viewpoint in Church history is pointed out to you, you exclaim, “Church teaching changes!”

    Yet if Church teaching changes drastically, then clearly at some times the Church is teaching what is true, and at other times what is false. And if that’s so, why should we be convinced (especially by your brief and acerbic comments) that your interpretation of the current teaching (based not on something like the Catechism of the Catholic Church but on a speculation Cardinal Ratzinger made a number of years ago in an interview) is correct?

    You say that we should agree with the popes in regards to what wars are just, yet when specific several wars endorsed by popes over the course of 800 years you brushed that off with “the Church has apologized for the crusades”. (Technically, that’s not true. Pope John Paul II expressed sorrow for a number of clearly wrong acts that were committed by the crusaders, but he did not actually say that the Church was wrong to call the crusades, nor that the various promises of plenary indulgences attached to crusading — in a proper state of contrition and sacrifice, obviously, as with any indulgence — were invalid.) Instead you follow up by saying you agree with popes about modern wars.

    Except as Donald pointed out you probably don’t agree with Pius XI in regards to the Spanish Civil War. Or with Pius XII in regards to the allied cause in WW2. Or with John Paul II in regards to the NATO campaign in Bosnia. Even with the US war in Afghanistan there were decidedly mixed messages from Vatican spokesmen and no statement either way from the pope, as I recall.

    So basically, you agree with some modern popes about some modern wars so long as they agree with you — and by golly someone is a terrible Catholic if they don’t share your convictions in that regard.

    You consider this a convincing argument? I have a lot of respect for people who think that the Iraq War did not meet just war standards (which as I recall includes roughly half the active contributors this blog) but your kind of foolishness draws neither respect nor belief.

  • You and Donald will not be convinced even if the Pope himself phones you. I’m not concerned about convincing you.

  • “Pope John Paul II expressed sorrow for a number of clearly wrong acts that were committed by the crusaders, but he did not actually say that the Church was wrong to call the crusades”

    A good distinction to make, as well. It isn’t very popular today to acknowledge that the First Crusade was a defensive war launched at the behest of an ally calling to the West for help.

    It’s off topic, kinda, but my ancestors, the Maronite Lebanese, benefited greatly from the protection of the crusaders. The Turks really were engaged in persecution of Christians, they had conquered many territories that were a part of the Christian Middle East and North Africa.

    The crusaders also did not try to impose Christianity on the local Muslim population, at least not on a large scale. So it was never a war waged to convert by the sword. I believe it was a legitimate defense of Christendom from an enemy that had been aggressive for a good 400 years or so prior to that point.

    I’m sure Michael and others will not only vehemently disagree, but accuse me of apologizing for religious imperialism or some other terrible thing. Well, I put up with it from the right when I criticize America’s wars, so I suppose I can deal with it from the left when I defend those called by the Church.

  • “I’m not concerned about convincing you.”

    You’re not concerned about convincing anybody. Posturing, tossing “treats” at your opponent like an alpha baboon and making sure everyone knows you aren’t like that conservative/”militarist” tax collector over there are your modus operandi.

    Enjoy the ego trip, kid.

  • Joe said:

    “A good distinction to make, as well. It isn’t very popular today to acknowledge that the First Crusade was a defensive war launched at the behest of an ally calling to the West for help.

    It’s off topic, kinda, but my ancestors, the Maronite Lebanese, benefited greatly from the protection of the crusaders. The Turks really were engaged in persecution of Christians, they had conquered many territories that were a part of the Christian Middle East and North Africa.

    The crusaders also did not try to impose Christianity on the local Muslim population, at least not on a large scale. So it was never a war waged to convert by the sword. I believe it was a legitimate defense of Christendom from an enemy that had been aggressive for a good 400 years or so prior to that point.”

    Too bad this little bit submitted by Joe above and other such points in fact is lost on the bigoted nitwits on the History Channel; if anything, their Two-Part indictment.. err.. special, “The Crusades: The Crescent and the Cross“, maliciously produced an utterly insidiously dark, villainous portrayal of the Pope, the Church and all of Christendom then, attempting to make the Muslims nothing more but saintly innocent, peaceful people into whose hands the Holy Lands rightfully belonged and, even more, were perfectly governed thereby with only justice and remarkable virtue, unlike the vile Crusaders who didst anything except plunder, rape and heinously murder.

    The American Catholic should’ve sicced Joe on these wretched anti-Catholic bigots.

  • Ok- since this was my post -originally anyway- I feel some responsibility to wrap things up and attempt a little peacemaking- especially given the nature of the post in the first place.

    There are two main areas covered in this thread- with a third being the Crusades as a late entry- which I am going with Joe H.’s historical accounting of the basic facts.

    I quoted the Compendium’s teaching on the principle of conscience-protection for our troops- which I thought was a necessary reform for our U.S. military services- both for orders that would be immoral and for a selective conscientious objection option for situations where one has signed up in good faith to serve but gets thrown into a unjust war- I used the 9-11/Iraq Invasion as a controversial real-life example.

    The basic question over just how exactly we should or could enact some basic conscience protections for the troops got deep-sixed by the debate on the Iraq War’s justification- which brought out a mini-war among churchmen and their “pens”. I chose that time to bring out my Catholic Cafeteria parable of sorts- which was seen as being specifically targeting those who supported the justness of the Iraq invasion. It was meant to be a much broader statement on the American political situation of very clearly drawn lines in the sand between those who proudly proclaim their “liberal” or “conservative” bonafides. But the connection to the Iraq situation was unavoidable, and I should clear the air a bit.

    I do think that the Iraq invasion was immoral, but it isn’t something that is going to found in a permanent Catechism under “Iraq Wars”. It is an application of Just War theory, and the prudential judgment guidance offered by the Church Hierarchs, and by the facts on the ground. For me, Iraq was an easy call because what I understood of the situation from the facts on the ground to the guidance offered by the Hierarchy was a straight-line. And so, I took an early and strident opposition on moral and practical terms.

    This obviously isn’t how everyone Catholic took in this War- and while there is wiggle room on a prudential judgment of social doctrinal principle- when you are dealing with the life and death nature of warfare or not, you are going to have some life and death struggles in spirited debate. The tone is going to be war-like because we are talking about war- war which kills or saves depending on your perspective. Now I don’t think one is necessarily a bad or incomplete Catholic in rejecting a prudential judgment of the Magisterium or the various Hierarchical bodies of Bishops- but it is one where I believe we have to tread very lightly when taking a public position that runs contrary to the popes et al- even on prudential matters. One had better have an overwhelming amount of evidence from the ‘facts on the ground’ to overturn the assessment by our Church leadership. Am I wrong to make these kind of assertions of how good well-meaning Catholics should proceed as a matter of process in their decision-making and public statements? I open this point up to the forum.

    I am not a pacifist, I do believe that the Church has developed an appreciation for the idea that to err on the side of non-violence is a better option when in doubt. The Iraq situation was something clear to me, but the Afghanistan War is another thing- the facts on the ground seemed to support a war against the Taliban for harboring Bin Laden, and the Church leadership did not offer any clear guidance yea or neigh, so for me it has come down to a murky search through some of the recent history of Afghanistan and the whole building up of the Jihadist movement by Western and Saudi/Pakistani interests originally to bloody the Soviets and further internal Islamic competitions. Like I said, this war in Afghanistan is really murky for me in ways that Iraq was not.

    I do believe that when one supports a war, even though you are not fighting it, you are to some degree on the hook morally for it. So, I am a bit on the hook for what is happening in Afghanistan- the deaths of civilians keep me from maintaining a comfortable distance- and the growing risk to our troops as well. I look at these things as an elder, a middle-aged father who is past his days as a brash inexperienced youth without a strong stake in the global community. My kids are in the mix now- so all of this is very personal- how I (we) leave this world is of paramount importance- I don’t want to face Jesus Christ with a weak conscience either!

    So – yes- I will continue to challenge the judgment of Catholics who supported going into Iraq- I will not say they are bad Catholics, but it is in the nature of the debate of warfare to engage in polemics and heated rhetoric. We all need to check our consciences- all the time- me included of course. I tend to give extra-heavy weight to the Magisterium and other Hierarchical documents and commentaries/letters/speeches- this is in no small part due to the fact that these type of communications played a huge role in my personal conversion to Catholicism- so I am extra-sensitive when Catholics seem uninterested or not as impressed with Church sources of guidance and doctrinal formation.

    I apologize for using sarcasm at times in responding to others here- I hope this post will heal some rifts, and we can maybe find some common ground on my original posting to help our troops- particularly our Catholic troops to be able to serve our country militarily, but also to serve their Catholic-consciences, which may put them at odds with the political class at times of war, or with superior officiers during the heat of war. If there could be a listing of potential situations where conscience-clauses could be invoked by individual soldiers- so that we could minimize the abuse of conscience-clauses which could lead to a break-down of authority or encourage cowardice and sloth- this would be the way to proceed- if we agree in principle that soldiers, just like health care professionals, have a right to conscience protections so they can do the work they are suited for, but also be protected from punitive hardships should they need to invoke their well-developed consciences. Our Catholic soldiers, like our Catholic health care professionals, can help our nation by serving the front lines of our public conscience development. God Bless everyone, Christ’s Peace everywhere. Shall we close this thread on a positive?

  • Predictable as always, kid.

  • Shall we close this thread on a positive?

    Looks like Dale ain’t into that idea.

Pope Obama

Sunday, July 12, AD 2009

Pope Obama

Hattip to the ever eagle-eyed Paul Zummo, the Cranky Conservative.  Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, ex-Lieutenant governor of Maryland, and oldest of Bobby Kennedy’s offspring, has a screed in Newsweek where she explains how Obama represents American Catholics better than the Pope.  As one reads the article it becomes clear that the ex-Lieutenant governor actually means liberal Catholics like her when she says American Catholics, no surprise since she has always been a vociferous supporter of abortion.

Paul Zummo gets to the heart of the matter nicely:

“It really isn’t about whether or not Catholics in America view the Pope or the President more favorably, it’s about a faux Catholic’s outrage that the Church refuses to change its core teachings and mission on the say-so of irate children like Townsend.  We’ll leave aside the sheer duplicity in the statement that Obama actually listens to different points of view and focus instead on the shrill cri de couer of another bitter progresso-Catholic who believes she knows better than the Magisterium.  I guess when you’re the spoiled child of a family that hasn’t contributed anything to the American polity since her grand-dad built his fortune by exploiting the 18th Amendment, you’re pretty used to getting your way.  But here we have the Pope, head of an institution that has the temerity to say “NO!” emphatically to the progresso-Catholics who just stomp their feet in anger over the Pope’s refusal to give them condoms and let their gay friends get married.”

I have long suspected that for some, by no means all, Catholics on the Left in this country their true Pope’s last name begins with an O rather than a B.  I therefore have to give KKT credit for honesty if for nothing else.

Update: Good commentary on the Townsend article by Ed Morrissey here at Hot Air.

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27 Responses to Pope Obama

  • I don’t see why a much-needed critique of Townsends outrageous column had to include an attack on the Kennedy family (and I disagree wholeheartedly that JFK and RFK were ‘no contribution’ to the American polity). Isn’t this the same sort of thing conservatives go nuts about when it is done to Palin?

    The Pope does continue to say NO – and I am grateful that he does and would consider another religion, perhaps, if he ever stopped. But the Pope did not scream “NO” in Obama’s face, and Obama, for his part, has never insisted that the Church stop being the Church.

    People like Townsend on the left – and I am sorry to say, plenty of her counterparts on the right – attack each other with a viciousness neither the Holy Father nor Obama are either willing or able to engage in. I used to think leaders should and could set good examples to follow.

    It is apparent that most people have no interest in emulating anyone or anything but wild beasts fighting over the last scrap of bloody meat.

    Well, as an ardent Benedictine myself, I will follow the Pope’s example. And I will also stick to my usual belief that arguments, even arguments as insulting and ignorant as Townsends, should be addressed on their own merits, and not ‘linked’ to personal history or any other sort of irrelevancy.

  • Joe, other than Joe Kennedy, Jr. dying heroically in WW2, JFK’s heroism after the sinking of PT 109, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s magnificent work in creating the Special Olympics, I think Paul’s critique of the Kennedy clan is largely on the mark. I agree with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, in regard to JFK and RFK, that seeing them in action in Washington was “rather like watching the Borgia brothers take over a respectable North Italian city.”

  • Well, whether or not I agree with that assessment, the point is, what does it have to do with her arguments?

    It isn’t relevant and it brings us down to her level.

  • There I disagree with you Joe. Let us say that the argument were being made by someone who belonged to a family noted for faithfully observing the teachings of the Church, and that the person making the argument had carried on in that fine tradition. I think that would add more force to the argument, if not more logic. That this argument is being made by the scion of a family noted for adherence to left-liberalism and a somewhat flagrant public flouting of the teachings of the Church by a few of the more well-known members of the clan, lessens the force of the argument.

  • I think Pres. Kennedy can be commended for making the correct calls during the Cuban Missile Crisis. IIRC, Edward Kennedy participated in drafting and shepherding through Congress some of the legislation enabling deregulation in the transportation sector thirty years ago. Can we truly say that Mark Shriver contributes notably less to the commonweal than any other member of the Democratic caucus? Also, and conceding that five of Robert Kennedy’s eleven children have been implicated in wretched public scandals, it is too much to refer to his daughter Kathleen Townsend as ‘spoiled’ unless you have personal knowledge of behavior which indicates as much. (Unless it is your opinion that any child of the patriciate must be spoiled).

    I think it reasonable to suspect that Joseph P. Kennedy was one of the world’s genuinely evil people and that he and his issue have damaged the quality of American public life. To say that collectively they have offered nothing worthwhile is de trop.

  • Art, in regard to the Cuban Missile Crisis, although I am thankful we got through it without the world perishing, I think Kennedy’s performance left much to be desired but I will concede the point. I had forgotten about Ted backing deregulation and I will also concede that point. As to Mark Shriver I honestly do not know of any contribution he has made. Paul can speak for himself as to KKT, but I suspect that he may be referring to her run for Governor of Maryland in 2002 when she appeared to think her Kennedy status assured her of victory and lost in the general after a weak campaign that was much criticized by Democrat activists at the time. I believe her opponent was only the seventh Republican to be elected governor of Maryland, and he was booted out in 2006. As to Joe Kennedy, Sr, he was the type of slime that gives slime a bad name.

  • I suppose it’s an exaggeration to say that the Kennedies have contributed nothing to the polity — but it’s pretty arguable that they have contributed more bad than good. (Though the rosy glow of martyrdom and celebrity around JFK tends to obscure the incompetence and corruption that too often epitomized this day to day.) But exaggeration is a pretty standard technique in polemic, and I would say one pretty much draws polemics on oneself when one explicitly endorses Obama as a Catholic leader over the pope.

    And really, no one would care what Kathleen Townsend said on Catholic issues, were she not minor nobility in “America’s royal family”.

  • Error on my part. Mark Shriver is an official of the Save the Children Federation. He did serve two terms in the Maryland legislature but was defeated in the Democratic primary when he ran for Congress. Both he and his cousin Kathleen have had an indifferent record in electoral contests in a state dominated by the Democratic Party (between them they are zero for three or zero for four on Congressional contests). I would wager both are a good deal better behaved and functional than the median of their family. The Kennedy clan cannot sell these two in Maryland but they can sell Edward, Joseph II, and Patrick in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. I does not make any sense, unless there be a faction of the general public affectionately disposed toward sybaritic excess (incorporating vehicular manslaughter), loutishness and stupidity, and sheer, sorry-assed incompetence (incorporating a history with booze and drugs).

  • The point is, Joe, that the author in question has basically built her career based on nothing more than her family brand-name – a brand name which frankly is of dubious quality. It calls into question her credentials in attempting to establish her vision of the American Catholic Church.

  • I agree with Joe on this one. I think the point at large is being ignored.

    The argument at hand is an intellectual position of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend that is terribly flawed, which can be argued against without resorting to attacking the Kennedy family and pointing out there contribution, or lack thereof, to America. The latter point has nothing to do with the statement that President Obama supposedly is more representative to American Catholics than the Pope is. That’s a matter in and of itself that can be intellectually dismembered without the slightest mention of the Kennedy family or their political history.

    The problem I have is that such a critique can really turn into a rant that does nothing but render judgment after judgment — many of which, I might agree are valid — to the Kennedy family, but does nothing to contribute to the debate over the status of Catholicism in America and the growing gap between self-described Catholics and the teachings of the Church.

    I’m not convinced that many of such Catholics could not be simply redirected toward orthodoxy through calm and patient dialogue. I’ve seen it happen with too many people, who really “never thought about it” and with whom a patient witness turned them around. Instead, we “demonize” them — wrong and unorthodox though they are — into enemies, that is conscious and willful enemies of the Church, in absolute, full understanding of the Church’s teaching, but they just oppose it anyway and push their liberal agenda. Maybe I give them too much credit. But I am doubtful. I have, in fact, never known anyone who disagreed with the Church who could accurately describe to me the Church’s teachings on life, family, and sexuality — why they were are the way they are, how they, though distinct, they are related to one another.

    Again, I’ve never met someone who disagreed with the Church who could accurately describe her teachings. It is largely in ignorance that such nonsense, as displayed in Mrs. Townsend’s comment, is said. Perhaps they are not open to change and are not willing to learn what the Church says and why, at this point in their life, if they ever were. I’m totally not in position to make that call and I’ll pray for them. That is not the point here. Neither am I saying these people with these very influential roles should be “let off the hook.” I’m more concerned about the way we engage them. One of the biggest things I remember as a non-Catholic and as a convert is how off-putting the approach a lot of Catholics, consciously willing it or not, can be.

    God assist me, but I don’t know how turning debate to focus on the spiritual and moral failures of the Kennedy family and their political impact on Americans fully exhausts, or even addresses, the absurd notion that President Obama is more representative of American Catholics. A simply address of ecclesiology and the essential nature of the Church and her moral teachings would be sufficient. I see no reason at all to even go in the other direction. In fact, even if I did, I would think it prudent to strike the cord that would win me more allies not less if I could do so in a way that is faithful to my responsibilities as a Catholic. I’m going to have to disagree Donald.

  • The point is, Joe, that the author in question has basically built her career based on nothing more than her family brand-name – a brand name which frankly is of dubious quality. It calls into question her credentials in attempting to establish her vision of the American Catholic Church.

    I am sorry to be a pest, but what calls in to question her credentials are 1.) she is not a bishop or a shepherd of any kind; 2.) the private life of her immediate family of origin and that of her collateral relations on both sides has been manifestly disordered (“Sheila, its just Catholic gobbeldygook”, quoth Joseph Kennedy II); and 3.) Sargent Shriver aside, has there been any member of the clan known in the last 30 years to have sided with the Church against the Liberal Establishment on certain non-negotiables?

    She is a legacy pol as well, and none too successful at it. The degree to which ‘branding’ of this sort seems to influence the capacity of aspirant office holders to raise funds and prevail in elections is dismaying but a separate issue.

  • That’s all right Eric, I sometimes even disagree with myself! Paul however nails it in that she would never have been asked to write that dreadful article but for her being a Kennedy. A defeated candidate for governor in 2002 who has not held elective office since would not have received such an invitation to write otherwise.

    When I was growing up, my mother had a picture of JFK on the wall. She was deeply hurt when the revelations about his personal behavior began to surface. Too many people in this country directly associate Catholicism in this country with the Kennedy clan, and this article helps to reinforce that connection which I believe has been detrimental to the Church. I think under her circumstances the fact that she is a Kennedy is of importance in considering this article, and why Newsweek decided to run it.

  • Thanks for the insight of the views of Catholics who have lived since the rise of the Kennedys and how it effects them. I’m glad we can cordially disagree. 🙂

  • God assist me, but I don’t know how turning debate to focus on the spiritual and moral failures of the Kennedy family and their political impact on Americans fully exhausts, or even addresses, the absurd notion that President Obama is more representative of American Catholics.

    I haven’t. You have. My post was 700 words, and you and Joe are focusing on one sentence. That’s your problem.

  • Eric, my apologies- I didn’t mean to be so hasty and rude in my reply – I shouldn’t try to write when I am pressed for time. Anyway, while I understand your concerns, I think I addressed the substance of her complaints with as much due consideration as she put into writing them. Let’s be honest – there was no there there. It was a basic racpitulation of the traditional progresso-Catholic list of demands that the Church must make. The only reason that tripe was published in the first place was due to who she was, not the sentiment expressed in it.

  • And Paul,

    “It calls into question her credentials in attempting to establish her vision of the American Catholic Church.”

    I’m sorry to say that I completely disagree. If she were making arguments that were inherently true, we would reject any attempt to dismiss them on the basis of what family she hails from.

    That rule of logic does not change when the arguments are false. Her arguments are false because they are false – a tautology, I am well aware, but justified in this case. Anyone inclined to agree with them, moreover, is certainly not going to be convinced not to on the basis of her family history.

    It’s just mudslinging. Both sides engage in it – throw enough mud and hope that it sticks. Arguments must be evaluated on their merit alone, on the extent to which they conform to the known facts and the rules of logic. This particular argument fails miserably enough on both counts without having to resort to ad hominem.

  • A non-Catholic friend of mine sent be Townsend’s article and asked for my reaction. My response: complete and utter crap. Townsend on the left is making the exact same mistake as Weigel on the right — trying to divide Catholic social teaching into the bits I like and the bits I don’t like. Caritas in Veritate makes clear that the social doctrine is a single doctrine, all related, and should not be pulled apart.

    I, for one, found her argument tired and jaded. That generation is still fixed on Humanae Vitae — get over it. Incredibly frustrating.

    That said, the attack on the Kennedy family was uncalled for. I found the most poignant moment of Obama’s meeting with the pope was when he handed him a letter from Ted Kennedy, who clearly has not much longer to live. A deeply flawed man, Kennedy still faught the good fight in so many areas. And for me, RFK was the greatest president that should have been.

  • “My response: complete and utter crap. Townsend on the left is making the exact same mistake as Weigel on the right”

    Actually no. Weigel was claiming that parts of “Caritas” were inspired by the Office of Justice and Peace in the Vatican. He did not claim that George Bush, for example, was a better representative of American Catholics than the Pope. Townsend stands all by herself in that regard.

    As for the Kennedy clan, I can understand why an extreme liberal such as yourself can have a tender spot in your heart for Ted. RFK was a political chameleon who went with the flow and was constantly reinventing himself. Anti-Communism in fashion: RFK the Red-hunter. People tired of Vietnam: RFK the peacenik. It never ceases to amuse me how one of the more ruthless pols to ever strut on the American scene inspires such sentiments on the Left.

  • KENNEDY FAMILY AUSTRALIA ARE PRO LIFE

    Now we have many USA relatives that eg serve in the armed forces, and in other fieldsds as well
    we just want to let you know that NOT ALL Kennedys are Pro abortion rather we are Pro life pro life pro life!!!!!

    so
    What Pres Obama* should have presented to his Holiness Pope Benedict the real Pope, not a pretender to the throne as some surmise PO* is

    was CLEAR , TANTAMOUNT, IRREFUTABLE proof that Obama will not only move to reduce abortions but that he Obama will follow the current American pro life trend and so become a pro life president like some of his predecessors were!!!!!
    Facta non verba
    deeds NOT words PRESIDENT O !
    people want action, not glib PERFUNCTORY oraty
    game, set, match to his Holiness Pope Benedict for reminding Obama and the world of the Church’s TOTALLY correct pro life position
    LIFE IS NEVER EVER JUST FOR THE PRIVILEGED, THE PlANNED THE PERFECT!
    SIMPLE AS THAT!

  • Catherine, Kennedy, as you know, is a noble and common Irish name, and I know many fine pro-life Kennedys myself.

  • I am sure Mary Jo Kopechne admires Ted’s ability through the years to “fight the good fight.”

  • AUSSIE KENNEDYS* say gracie tanto ie Thanks Donald for that! Yes , Kennedy is a noble and common irish name!
    Now we AKs* are so sick and tired of the pro abortion mindest that is running RANCID in the world
    This mindset has to be thwarted! once and for all!
    President O(PO)^ has the chance now he is the incumbent president to set the pace, to lead the way to follow the example of the brave USA Pro life clergy/ laity that so often speak up and out pro life
    you ALL know who we mean the likes of
    Archbishops Chaput, Burke, Cardinal Rigali, Bishop D,Arcy etc, etc.
    Indeed about one third of the bishops that spoke up against the PO^ visit to Notre Dame all so deserve both our gratitude, respect and recognition for all the unborn lives that they must surely help to save through correctly enunciating the pro life teachings of the Church

  • A deeply flawed man, Kennedy still fought the good fight in so many areas.

    Recalling that in 1979 he was asked by Roger Mudd why he was running for president and had a less than concise and coherent answer, I am not sure he had much of a rationale for what he did do or did not do other than it was the role of a lifetime. I seem also to recall that one of his pet issues at the time was national health insurance. If I am not mistaken, he did not manage to get a bill out of subcommittee though he was chairman of the subcommittee.

  • It never ceases to amaze me how one of the more ruthless pols to ever strut the American scence inspires such sentiments on the Left.

    Not the whole of the left. He managed to snooker figures as disparate as Cesar Chavez, Gloria Steinem, and Charles Peters, but there was a large constituency that could not abide the man. I have a dear friend who was obiligated to work on his 1964 Senate campaign. He said the experience of meeting Kennedy (in Auburn, N.Y. as I recall) and seeing him interact with his aides and retainers left him appalled. He was hot and heavy for Eugene McCarthy four years later. Gloria Steinem has also said the planning and discussion groups she and Allard Loewenstein were involved in during 1967 and 1968 were shot-through with ‘Bobby-haters’.

  • Donald:

    “I have long suspected that for some, by no means all, Catholics on the Left in this country their true Pope’s last name begins with an O rather than a B.”

    Careful there — you just might find yourself guilty of the modern version of praemunire and, thus, be branded a traitor to these United States, according to some of our more distinguished ‘patriots’!

  • Catholic Online has a good, concise response posted:

    http://www.catholic.org/politics/story.php?id=34055&page=2

    It feels kinda weird but refreshing to read Morning’s Minion’s comment and nod in agreement. Still,on reading Townsend’s assertion that in her family politics was considered an honorable profession, I’ll admit to some uncharitable reflections myself on possible reasons for this view.

Archbishop Chaput on the News Media

Sunday, July 12, AD 2009

Here is Archbishop Chaput with a worthwhile reflection on how Catholics should think about the media. A few excerpts:

Most of what we know about the world comes from people we’ll never meet and don’t really understand.  We don’t even think of them as individuals.  Instead we usually talk about them in the collective – as “the media” or “the press.”  Yet behind every Los Angeles Times editorial or Fox News broadcast are human beings with personal opinions and prejudices.  These people select and frame the news.  And when we read their newspaper articles or tune in their TV shows, we engage them in a kind of intellectual intimacy in the same way you’re listening to me right now….

…The media’s power to shape public thought is why it’s so vital for the rest of us to understand their human element.  When we don’t recognize the personal chemistry of the men and women who bring us our news – their cultural and political views, their economic pressures, their social ambitions – then we fail the media by holding them to too low a standard.  We also – and much more importantly — fail ourselves by neglecting to think and act as intelligent citizens…

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3 Responses to Archbishop Chaput on the News Media

  • Excellent letter! Thanks for posting it.

  • I couldn’t have said it better myself, and I used to be a “media person” 🙂

  • Yet again Grace Archbishop Chaput hits the nail on the head here -he makes such good points here re the book/ print vs the internet age
    Now there are pluses and minuses in this high tech internet age as with the book / print/age too.
    BUT the human dimension should never ever be discounted
    it is such an intrinsic element!
    The discipline demanded in previos eras eg that of the book was a good thing it would be good if we could somehow revive some of these practices to get optimum results for the high tech age!

Live Polls and Puppet Pundits

Sunday, July 12, AD 2009

From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  One of the difficulties of being a parodist in rather absurd times is that reality tends not to be that far removed from parody.  Such is the case with this video which might be easily mistaken for a “news” show where pundits are doing their best, or worst, to adjust to new technology.

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7 Responses to Live Polls and Puppet Pundits

  • Heh. This video is a strong form of the argument against democracy.

  • “I have several post office boxes.” Ha!

  • One of the diffulties of being a parodist in rather absurd times is that reality tends not to be that far removed from parody.

    True. Parodists in very absurd times can quickly overkill their material. Yet the absurdity also allows the great parodists to shine, as we see here.

  • “.…reality tends to be not that far removed from parody.”

    Many a true word said in jest, Don.

    Here in NZ during our 2002 election campaign during public televised debates, studio audiences were given remotes which acted on a “Worm” on a screen that was visible to all – audience and candidates; the worm acted exactly as shown in this clip.

    A member of Parliament by name Peter Dunne (a Catholic BTW) leader of the United Future Party had the “worm” maxing out on several occasions.
    The election result, United Future got – I think – nine MPs into government in our MMP electoral system. Previous term 2, following term 2, current term 1.

    The worm had such an influence on the outcome of the election that it was banned from any further political debates.

    So did Dunne “worm” his way into parliament?

    The worm has definitely turned. 🙂

  • Our future Don, polls and worms, God save us!

  • This reminds me so much of the crap Fox would pull on Ron Paul during the primary debates. He’d tell the truth…. and man those polling numbers went south. It seemed all everyone wanted to hear was how great America was and how awesome the troops are.

Founder of Catholics for Kerry Pleads Guilty

Saturday, July 11, AD 2009

eric mcfadden

 

Hattip to Notes on the Culture War.  A follow up to this earlier post.  Eric McFadden, founder of Catholics for Kerry in 2004, a Democrat political operative, former director of  Democrat Ohio Governor Ted Strickland’s Faith-Based and Community initiative and head of the Catholic outreach of the Clinton campaign last year, pleaded guilty on Thursday in a plea bargain to two felony counts of pimping for prostitution a 17 year old girl on the internet.  Sentencing will occur on August 20.

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21 Responses to Founder of Catholics for Kerry Pleads Guilty

  • And he was formerly spokesperson for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.

  • Thank you for pointing that out Jack.

  • we do not need people like this to come to God. God is within all of us. Catholic, Muslim, Christians… Go to the moon and we are all ONE made in the likeness of our creator. No need to have priests who tell the wrong lessons about God. Religion is mixed up with human flesh makes greed. Step aside from religion and find God yourself. That way it is impossible to have kids like this be affected by those people who mean harm.

  • God established the True Faith Walt and it is the Catholic Church, although I thank you for your input.

  • Is this the beginning of a series perataining to every serious moral (particularly, sexual)failing of Catholics in the public sphere?

    Sometimes, Mr. McClarey, I do not understand the rationale for your posts.

  • Mark D.,

    you consider pimping an underage girl to be a “sexual failing”???

  • What is the overall aim of this post?

  • To publicize the fact that the man who was the spearhead of a movement to convince Catholics to vote for pro-aborts was at the same time acting as a pimp. As stated in an earlier post, I find the former more troubling than the latter from a moral point of view.

  • Mr. McClarey,

    Do you feel holy whenever you write as you do here now?

    Do you feel like you are responding in the best way possible to the mission that the crucified Christ commissioned for you? Are you mirroring his self-emptying love, in pieces such as these and in your subsequent remarks?

    I think you are a better man, capable of more uplifting activity.

  • Well Mr. DeFrancisis, I blog for fun, and I have never made any claims to any larger purpose for my blogging However, if I can put a few grains of sand in the political machine attempting to persuade Catholics to vote for candidates who view the slaying of the unborn as a constitutional right, that pleases me to no end, and I do not think it is displeasing to Christ.

  • Stuff like this has to be pointed out. I don’t even know where you are coming from Mark. This post educates the public about an evil man and his actions. Get real Mark.

  • To publicize the fact that the man who was the spearhead of a movement to convince Catholics to vote for pro-aborts was at the same time acting as a pimp. As stated in an earlier post, I find the former more troubling than the latter from a moral point of view.

    Are you saying that anyone who makes the case for a pro-choice candidate, on whatever grounds, is worse than a pimp? Or were you saying that about anyone supporting a pro-choice candidate because they are pro-choice?

    The reason I ask is that I think the first position is a dramatic departure from the U.S. Bishop’s guidelines on voting, while the second is arguably reconcilable. I think it’s important not to blur the line between the two (very different) positions.

  • I think Mr. DeFrancisis’ concerns regarding Donald’s posting ring a little hollow and are a bit…shall we say, selective, given his willingness to call other politicians “thin-skinned narcissists.”

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/07/08/a-plan-for-palin-a-new-contract-with-america/#comment-16067

    Beams, motes and all that.

  • John Henry I would point you to our discussion in the comboxes of my earlier post.

    “3) The professional ‘Catholic’ frauds (e.g. Frances Kissling, Gary Wills, etc.) who hold themselves out as Catholics to gain notoriety, and then promptly disavow the basics of what it means to be ‘Catholic’. At various points, I think Kmiec has ventured into this territory, particularly when he was mis-representing Obama’s record and going on and on about how abortion is an issue in which we need space for people (not including fetuses) to make their own decisions. Hopefully with some time for reflection and the end of the political season, he will not progress any further down that road.

    I have a great deal of sympathy for group 1, but not much sympathy at all for group 3. I start out with the assumption that people are in group 1. If this guy is actually in group 3, then I don’t mind the implication as much.”

    I indicated my belief that Mr. McFadden was in the third category.

  • Heh. Apologies, Don. I had forgotten our previous conversation about this, and (as is probably apparent) hadn’t clicked back to re-read it.

  • No apology needed John Henry. So many posts are made at our blog and so many comments that it is hard to recall most of them.

  • I have come to the position that it is gravely wrong to use personal failings to make a political point. It digusts me that the media creates a salacious circus over the activities of politicians like Sanford, Ensign, Condit, Vitter, Spitzer, Clinton — I would rather know more about how their proposed policies would affect the common weal.

    This kind of attack in particular has no place in Catholic discourse. If you disagree with Deal Hudson or this man, address their arguments, do not engage in what amounts to a form of detraction. Remember – there but for the grace of God go I…

  • I agree again. Want to go for three?

  • “Remember – there but for the grace of God go I…”

    I am sure most of us have our moral failings Tony. Somehow I doubt they include, for most of us, pimping prostitutes on the internet. This individual was the point man in the effort of the Democrats to convince Catholics to vote for pro-aborts, as the positions he held entailed. These crimes indicate that his attachment to Church teaching himself was not very great. A true blind guide.

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Pope John Paul II Doesn't Sound Like A Reaganite

Saturday, July 11, AD 2009

Here is a good portion of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis written in 1987 and is followed up by Pope Benedict’s most recent. It is a relevant passage because it deals directly with the subjects dealt with in the ongoing discussion on “Guatemala” et al, on the debated need for apology/examination of our American conscience for abuses- or some would argue not- by our American leadership and elite interests, in regard to other nations- particularly poorer, weaker ones. There seems to be the idea floating around in conservative political circles that Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan were cut from the same cloth. I do not believe the approach to foreign relations by those who praise the Reagan/Bush years, holds up to Catholic scrutiny. But here are the words of our previous Holy Father- and no I do not accept the argument that we can distinguish where the Peace and Justice crowd at the Vatican is speaking and where the Pope is- that sort of treatment of these official Encyclicals is beneath my contempt. I will offer commentary on the latest encyclical after I have time to digest it, I refuse to rush my judgment on such important Church offerings. :

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4 Responses to Pope John Paul II Doesn't Sound Like A Reaganite

  • A letter from a “sandalista” (a non-Nicaraguan supporter of the Sandinistas) on her reaction to Pope John Paul II’s visit to Nicaragua in March 1983:

    “Katherine Hoyt
    National Co-Coordinator
    Nicaragua Network Education Fund

    Matagalpa
    March 16, 1983

    Dear Folks–

    Well, I promised to write about the Pope’s visit and so I guess I must even though I would rather not even think about it much less write about it! I feel that the visit to Central America as a whole has meant a return to a pre-1967 Church: before Paul VI’s encyclical “Popularum Progressio”–which specified the cases in which insurrection and rebellion would be justified–and the 1968 Latin American Bishops Conference at Medellin, Colombia, which gave the big push to liberation theology.

    On this recent visit John Paul II spoke in words easily understood by the Right as support for its cause: You peasants live in unjust and inhuman conditions but don’t be tempted to rise up in arms against your oppressors; and Archbishop Romero was a martyr but we must not allow his memory to be manipulated politically, etc., etc. But this I’m sure you know. What you’d like to know is our experience of his visit here.

    Well, the government and the Church working together made a tremendous effort to mobilize all means of transportation available in the country so that 800,000 people, approximately 36% of the total population, saw the Pope, either in Leon or in Managua. (Older people, children under 12 and pregnant women were asked not to brave the heat.) Everyone who wanted to go had the chance.

    Victoria [my 13 year old daughter] and I went on the bus to Managua two days ahead. We saw on television his arrival at the airport with Daniel Ortega’s very appropriate (but, I hear, badly received by the U.S. press) quotation from a 1921 letter from Bishop Pereira of Leon to U.S. Cardinal Simpson protesting U.S. intervention in his country. The Pope was even then quite cool and we could see that he lectured Father Ernesto Cardenal, but his airport speech was pretty good. The service in Leon went off quite well. The only objectionable thing that he said in his homily was about the “strict right of believing parents” to not see their children submitted in the schools to “programs inspired in atheism,” something that has never been contemplated here.

    Well, after watching all this on TV, we ate lunch, I put on my sunscreen and we (Victoria and I) took off walking on the prescribed route to the Plaza [19 of July]. It took us almost an hour, from 1:40 to 2:30, to get there. (Access to the Plaza was completely open, by the way.) First we got behind some people who had brought ice chests and stools so because they stood on the stools and blocked our view, we moved over to the right among simpler folk. (It turned out that that first group was composed of Archbishop Obando supporters–there were maybe 40 or 50 thousand of them all together right up in front.) Most of the crowd where we were was composed of simple Christian revolutionaries, women of AMNLAE [the women’s association], peasants of the ATC [farmworkers association] who had had their hopes falsely raised by all sides, church and state, that the Pope was going to say some words of consolation to the families which daily lose loved ones to the counterrevolution, especially since just the day before 17 outstanding members of the Sandinista Youth Organization, killed in an ambush, had been buried after a memorial program in this very same plaza. Certainly if the head of a foreign state visits a country the day after a busload of teen-agers killed in an accident have been buried, he is expected to make SOME sympathetic remarks. However, the Pope studiously avoided making ANY sympathetic words either publicly or privately to the Mothers of Heroes and Martyrs who gave him their petition for peace. He could have said a few words of sympathy and won over that crowd easily and satisfied the Sandinista leaders who weren’t expecting more than a crumb. Then it wouldn’t have mattered how strongly he spoke about Church unity under the bishops. Both sides would have been both satisfied and disappointed. But he was extremely careful not to give even a crumb to the revolution and I think no one expected this unrelieved bleakness.

    The Mass began at 5:00 and as the revolutionaries in the crowd began to get the idea of the way things were going, they began to demand “A prayer for our dead,” “We want peace,” and “We want a church on the side of the poor.”

    When that terrible sermon (which demanded that we abandon our “unacceptable ideological commitments” for the faith) was half over I began to feel sick as a result of two and one half hours standing in the sun in the crowd and extreme distress at the direction the Pope was taking. Victoria insisted that we move back to a place where the crowd was less dense and we could sit down and buy some water in plastic bags. By this time the sun had gone down, the horizon was red from so much dust raised on the outer edges of the Plaza, people were chanting “people power, people power” now, too, along with “We want peace,” and the Pope was having a hard time moving along with the Mass. At the silence between the consecration of the bread and that of the wine, a women broke in with a megaphone to say (in respectful tones, actually), “Holy Father, we beg you for a prayer for our loved ones who have been murdered,” or something very similar. The Lord’s Prayer somehow never got said and only a few people were given communion (one was the mother of Daniel and Humberto Ortega who was with the Mothers of Heroes and Martyrs, having lost another son, Camilo, in 1978). Finally at 8:00 p.m., the Pope gave the last blessing and was off while the vast majority of the crowd stayed at attention to hear the Sandinista Anthem.

    Daniel Ortega’s impromptu speech at the airport as the Pope left was enough to make one cry. He almost begged the Pope to make one solid proposal for peace in Nicaragua, to say one word, to give that one crumb that he was not willing to give. We heard only part of it as we were walking back to Toyita’s house, dirty exhausted and I, of course very distressed by the whole visit and certain we were headed for schism. One of the last slogans somebody had cried out as the Mass was ending was one of anguished defiance: “Because of Christ and His Gospels, we are revolutionaries.” That seemed to just about sum things up.

    While I showered, I turned the radio on to the BBC 9:00p.m. news. The British announcer, in typical understatement, said that the Pope had just finished saying the “most unusual Mass of his career in Managua, Nicaragua.”

    Of course it was a boost for the counter-revolutionaries and we are seeing an increase in the number of battles right now, some close to Matagalpa–near San Ramon and San Dionisio–and all anybody talks about is war. This has had serious repercussions in our Paulita who has developed a terrible fear of war and what might happen to us all. She starts crying when anyone talks about battles or civil defense measures in school.

    Write soon.

    Love, Kathy”

    http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/47/030.html

    John Paul II was a complicated man and he was often critical of the West, but in the confrontation between Democracy and Communism John Paul II was much closer to the position of Reagan than the Catholic Left of the time.

  • Here is a good portion of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis written in 1987 and is followed up by Pope Benedict’s most recent. It is a relevant passage because it deals directly with the subjects dealt with in the ongoing discussion on “Guatemala” et al, on the debated need for apology/examination of our American conscience for abuses- or some would argue not- by our American leadership and elite interests, in regard to other nations- particularly poorer, weaker ones.

    How does this stratospheric complaint about global political economy ca. 1987 have much to say about the parsing of responsibility between the U.S. Government and Guatemala’s political class?

    There seems to be the idea floating around in conservative political circles that Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan were cut from the same cloth. I do not believe the approach to foreign relations by those who praise the Reagan/Bush years, holds up to Catholic scrutiny.

    Just out of curiosity, what aspects of that ‘approach’ do not? While you answer that, consider what discontinuities existed between the Reagan Administration and its predecessor. Increased military expenditure, promotion of democracy abroad, modernization of nuclear arsenals, confrontation with foreign reds (in El Salvador, &c.), and subsidy and training of insurgencies challenging communist governments were all policies that had been adopted by his predecessor, albeit more tentatively, by 1980.

    But here are the words of our previous Holy Father- and no I do not accept the argument that we can distinguish where the Peace and Justice crowd at the Vatican is speaking and where the Pope is- that sort of treatment of these official Encyclicals is beneath my contempt. I will offer commentary on the latest encyclical after I have time to digest it, I refuse to rush my judgment on such important Church offerings. :

    You quote an introductory paragraph, three paragraphs which are drily descriptive, one which locates the antagonism of the West and the East bloc in their dissimilar political economy (though blocs and mutual antagonisms are the rule with or without such dissimilarity). The equivalence drawn between Western media and that of the Communist bloc is foolish. The succeeding paragraph (“International relations, in turn,…” is again uncontroversially descriptive. The next (“Although at the present time”) is not much more so.

    Then…

    two concepts of the development of individuals and peoples both concepts being imperfect and in need of radical correction. This opposition is transferred to the developing countries themselves, and thus helps to widen the gap already existing on the economic level between North and South and which results from the distance between the two worlds: the more developed one and the less developed one.

    This is one of the reasons why the Church’s social doctrine adopts a critical attitude towards both liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism. For from the point of view of development the question naturally arises: in what way and to what extent are these two systems capable of changes and updatings such as to favor or promote a true and integral development of individuals and peoples in modern society? In fact, these changes and updatings are urgent and essential for the cause of a development common to all.

    Whether it be the Holy Father speaking or krill suspended in some Vatican dicastery, passages such as this do not provide even minimal guidance for the faithful policy-maker. What does ‘true and integral development’ mean? N.B. by 1987, ‘liberal capitalism’ was a fair description of the political economy of … Hong Kong. The occidental countries had with scant exception adopted some variation of what Paul Samuelson called the ‘mixed economy’, featuring considerable income redistribution, collective consumption, and ratios of public expenditure to domestic product north of a third.

    Countries which have recently achieved independence, and which are trying to establish a cultural and political identity of their own, and need effective and impartial aid from all the richer and more developed countries, find themselves involved in, and sometimes overwhelmed by, ideological conflicts, which inevitably create internal divisions, to the extent in some cases of provoking full civil war. This is also because investments and aid for development are often diverted from their proper purpose and used to sustain conflicts, apart from and in opposition to the interests of the countries which ought to benefit from them. Many of these countries are becoming more and more aware of the danger of falling victim to a form of neocolonialism and are trying to escape from it. It is this awareness which in spite of difficulties, uncertainties and at times contradictions gave rise to the International Movement of Non-Aligned Nations, which, in its positive aspect, would like to affirm in an effective way the right of every people to its own identity, independence and security, as well as the right to share, on a basis of equality and solidarity, in the goods intended for all.

    The first portion of this paragraph is again descriptive. The terminal portion, an endorsement of the Conference of Non-Aligned Nations, actually was likely at a variance with the views of the Reagan Administration. It was incumbent upon the Holy Father to explain why he thought the Conference of Non-aligned Nations, that international gathering where Togo could weigh in on Timor, was significant to those not on the payroll of its secretariat. Now, if my memory serves me, one of the Conferences in this era (in 1983 or 1984) passed 11 separate resolutions attacking the United States and not a one attacking Soviet Russia, so it would not be surprising for anyone in American politics this side of Ron Dellums to find the Conference repellant. How does this jibe with the Holy Father’s carefully balanced complaints?

    22. In the light of these considerations, we easily arrive at a clearer picture of the last twenty years and a better understanding of the conflicts in the northern hemisphere, namely between East and West, as an important cause of the retardation or stagnation of the South.

    This is not a statement of discrete empirical fact, but it does presume a settled understanding of the dynamics of economic development that was not in fact the case in 1987 – or now.

    The developing countries, instead of becoming autonomous nations concerned with their own progress towards a just sharing in the goods and services meant for all, become parts of a machine, cogs on a gigantic wheel.

    The best sense that can be made out of this passage is that it is an endorsement of conceptions of the international economic order associated with characters like Immanual Wallerstein. That also would be at a variation with the Reagan Administration. It is also controversial quite apart from that; Efforts to empirically verify through statistical method the conceptions of this school of thought were not notably successful.

    This is often true also in the field of social communications, which, being run by centers mostly in the northern hemisphere, do not always give due consideration to the priorities and problems of such countries or respect their cultural make-up. They frequently impose a distorted vision of life and of man and thus fail to respond to the demands of true development.

    The referent here was contemporary efforts by UNESCO to erect a ‘New World Information Order’ incorporating controls on the Western press. The Reagan Administration withdrew from UNESCO at the close of 1984, in part for this reason and in part because the agency was internally mismanaged (“a third world kleptocracy” in the words of one critic). So, yes, this is at variation with the Reagan Administration, but with a great many others. Michael Kinsley had this to say about his colleagues in the press: “[UNESCO’s behavior] caused them to lose some of their cultural relativism, and their patience.”

    Each of the two blocs harbors in its own way a tendency towards imperialism, as it is usually called, or towards forms of new- colonialism: an easy temptation to which they frequently succumb, as history, including recent history, teaches.

    That is more Cyrus Vance than the Reagan Administration, ’tis true. It could use some elaboration.

    It is this abnormal situation, the result of a war and of an unacceptably exaggerated concern for security, which deadens the impulse towards united cooperation by all for the common good of the human race, to the detriment especially of peaceful peoples who are impeded from their rightful access to the goods meant for all.

    Bipolarity and the presence of weapons of mass destruction were certainly unusual, as was the ideological dimension of internationial conflict. We do need to ask the question as to whether ‘united cooperation by all for the common good of the human race’ really characterized previous historical era, as this comment seems to suggest.

    Seen in this way, the present division of the world is a direct obstacle to the real transformation of the conditions of underdevelopment in the developing and less advanced countries. However, peoples do not always resign themselves to their fate. Furthermore, the very needs of an economy stifled by military expenditure and by bureaucracy and intrinsic inefficiency now seem to favor processes which might mitigate the existing opposition and make it easier to begin a fruitful dialogue and genuine collaboration for peace.

    23. The statement in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio that the resources and investments devoted to arms production ought to be used to alleviate the misery of impoverished peoples41 makes more urgent the appeal to overcome the opposition between the two blocs.

    This is also at a variance with the Reagan Administration. The thing is, I doubt you will find many third world countries in 1987 who had a ratio of military expenditure to domestic product exceeding .03, bar those in the midst of internal insurrections or wars of national mobilization. IIRC statistics I was scanning at that time, such was particularly true in Latin America.

    Today, the reality is that these resources are used to enable each of the two blocs to overtake the other and thus guarantee its own security. Nations which historically, economically and politically have the possibility of playing a leadership role are prevented by this fundamentally flawed distortion from adequately fulfilling their duty of solidarity for the benefit of peoples which aspire to full development.

    It is timely to mention – and it is no exaggeration – the a leadership role among nations can only be justified by the possibility and willingness to contribute widely and generously to the common good.

    There are several problems with this statement. One, is there a well established means by which international transfers of public capital induce sustainable local development?; two, to what extent are such transfers inhibited by specifically military expenditures?; three, how is it that ‘global leadership’ can be said to be conferred by virtue rather than merely being the artifact of power politics – something that exists rather than something that is ‘justified’?

    If a nation were to succumb more or less deliberately to the temptation to close in upon itself and failed to meet the responsibilities following from its superior position in the community of nations, it would fall seriously short of its clear ethical duty. This is readily apparent in the circumstances of history, where believers discern the dispositions of Divine Providence, ready to make use of the nations for the realization of its plans, so as to render “vain the designs of the peoples” (cf. Ps 33[32]: 10).

    What exactly is its ‘clear ethical duty’ in the realm of international relation?

    24. If arms production is a serious disorder in the present world with regard to true human needs and the employment of the means capable of satisfying those needs, the arms trade is equally to blame. Indeed, with reference to the latter it must be added that the moral judgment is even more severe. As we all know, this is a trade without frontiers capable of crossing even the barriers of the blocs. It knows how to overcome the division between East and West, and above all the one between North and South, to the point – and this is more serious – of pushing its way into the different sections which make up the southern hemisphere. We are thus confronted with a strange phenomenon: while economic aid and development plans meet with the obstacle of insuperable ideological barriers, and with tariff and trade barriers, arms of whatever origin circulate with almost total freedom all over the world And as the recent document of the Pontifical Commission Iustitia et Pax on the international debt points out,42 everyone knows that in certain cases the capital lent by the developed world has been used in the underdeveloped world to buy weapons.

    See above on the ratio of military expenditure to domestic product. Here are some figures from 2004, courtesy Global Security. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/spending.htm. I believe that global product is now about $60 tn, so the $1.1 tn devoted to military expenditure is less than 2% of the total.

    If to all this we add the tremendous and universally acknowledged danger represented by atomic weapons stockpiled on an incredible scale, the logical conclusion seems to be this: in today’s world, including the world of economics, the prevailing picture is one destined to lead us more quickly towards death rather than one of concern for true development which would lead all towards a “more human” life, as envisaged by the Encyclical Populorum Progressio.43

    Here we pose the question: in 1987, had median life expectancies been increasing, or decreasing? Was global food production per capita improving, or not?

    Tim, we have to regard the statements of our bishops on matters outside of faith and morals with the antecedent assumption that they understand of what they speak, and we should be taught by them. The thing of it is, they can and do adhere to conceptions of their social world the empirical reality of which is controversial and so for a reason so we are in conversation with them on these matters. That applies to the late Holy Father as well.

  • I don’t know if you are familiar with our site, the Catholic World Report, but we have a “Round-Table” wherein J. Brian Benestad, Francis J. Beckwith, Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., Richard Garnett, Thomas S. Hibbs, Paul Kengor, George Neumayr, Joseph Pearce, Tracey Rowland, Father James V. Schall, and Rev. Robert A. Sirico share their thoughts on Caritas in Veritate.

    It’s located at:
    (http://www.catholicworldreport.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=121:cwr-round-table-caritas-in-veritate&catid=36:cwr2009&Itemid=53).

3 Responses to Heart of Oak

  • When I was a teenager and a Sea Cadet in Canada we sang this song often. A few differences in what you have presented:

    not press you like slaves -> you as free men not slaves

    Heart of oak are our men -> Jolly tars our men

    Still Britons they’ll find to receive them on shore -> Stout Britons they’ll find to defeat them on shore

    You should do a post on the “Maple Leaf Forever”.

  • I did one a few weeks ago Matt.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/?s=maple+leaf+forever

    Heart of Oak is famous for variants. I had heard of
    “Jolly tars our men” before but not “Stout Britons they’ll find to defeat them on shore”.

  • Wow, don’t know how I missed that, thanks!

    ps. we have other variations, but I can’t share them in mixed company…

Pope and President

Friday, July 10, AD 2009

VATICAN OBAMA

During the 30 minute meet and greet audience today at the Vatican, the Pope pressed Obama on abortion and embryonic stem cells.  The Pope gave Obama a copy of Dignitatis Personae, which I hope he will read.  He indicated that he would.

“Oh, what we discussed earlier,” said Obama, referring to their closed-door discussions. “I will have some reading to do on the plane.”

Here is the statement of the Vatican on the meeting, hattip to Catholic Key Blog.

“This afternoon, Friday 10 July 2009, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI received in Audience the President of the United States of America, His Excellency Mr. Barack H. Obama. Prior to the Audience, the President met His Eminence Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, and also His Excellency Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

In the course of their cordial exchanges the conversation turned first of all to questions which are in the interests of all and which constitute a great challenge for the future of every nation and for the true progress of peoples, such as the defence and promotion of life and the right to abide by one’s conscience.

Reference was also made to immigration with particular attention to the matter of reuniting families.

The meeting focused as well upon matters of international politics, especially in light of the outcome of the G8 Summit. The conversation also dealt with the peace process in the Middle East, on which there was general agreement, and with other regional situations. Certain current issues were then considered, such as dialogue between cultures and religions, the global economic crisis and its ethical implications, food security, development aid especially for Africa and Latin America, and the problem of drug trafficking. Finally, the importance of educating young people everywhere in the value of tolerance was highlighted.”

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5 Responses to Pope and President

  • I pray that the President reads the document on bioethics and it plants a seed, not just to break his commitment to the pro-choice movement and false-scientific research. But — in his search for a church — that he may hear his call to the Church.

    I know cynicism, perhaps, even human experience tells us that it is improbable. But my own conversion itself was just that, a seemingly infinite impossibility. I pray the same for the President. I wish him the best.

  • I join you in that prayer Eric. Grace has fallen on more unlikely fields than President Obama.

  • I had dinner with a woman last night. Three years ago she was a radical feminist marxist. She told me she was living a lifestyle steeped in forms of depravity that we would not believe. She had previously worked in an abortion clinic and said she had a deep hatred for pro-lifers and the Church.

    On the verge of suicide, she turned to the Bible. Deciding that Evangelical Christianity was not for her, she asked a friend to tell her where she could go to Mass. Her conversion was swift and immediate. She entered the Church and has been a committed Catholic since. She was almost reluctant to discuss her conversion because she felt so unworthy of the grace and mercy she received after a life of sin.

    I tell this story because I often become cynical of the ability of prayer to lead to radical Paul-like conversion. Yet this woman told a story I had heard before–but only in the biographies of saints. Let us keep the president in prayer.

  • Perhaps prayers should also be said on behalf of those purportedly Catholic, as well, who in spite of being knowledgeable about such things still continue to choose to promote the prevalently pernicious Pro-choice platform or remain remarkably lukewarm to issues of life due to the typical “personally against it but do not want to impose personal beliefs on others” spiel.

  • e.

    pro-choice platform or remain remarkably lukewarm to issues of life due to the typical “personally against it but do not want to impose personal beliefs on others” spiel.

    I think that’s the definition of pro-choice. Really there is just pro-life and pro-abortion, the “pro-choice” moniker is intellectually dishonest as is any claim to being “personally opposed”.

A Few Thoughts on NFP

Friday, July 10, AD 2009

Sometimes you run across an argument which strikes you as wrong in such a way as to crystallize and clarify your thinking on a topic. Such a case, for me, was running into this debate from last week at InsideCatholic on the topic, “Is NFP Misogynous?”

The “yes it is” argument contained the following key elements:

Assuming any methodized sexual intercourse devised to avoid pregnancy by an otherwise open-to-life-marital-couple can actually “work,” who bears responsibility for the method? I seriously question whether NFP, for many, isn’t a misogynous practice — imposing upon women an undue share of the physical and emotional burden of the theologically questionable quest of planning pregnancy.

First, we must be real. Modern NFP practices demand daily bodily measurements of women, not men…. A woman most desires sexual intimacy when she is at her most fertile…. This is also the moment when we are most likely to conceive a child. It’s the moment NFP-practicing women measure and chart and predict as “fertility awareness,” a “maybe-child” zone. For NFP-practicing women avoiding pregnancy, it is the moment they must say “no” to both themselves and their spouses….

I don’t buy it. It sounds like a scheme to impose on women who wish to time pregnancies an almost penal practice of self-measurement, self-control, and self-denial, while requiring, at a minimum, a sort of suffering acquiescence from a spouse whose interest in the chart becomes rather strategic….

NFP needs to go the same way as the rhythm method — which did not “work” and was, more importantly, female unfriendly. In its place, perhaps we all need to suck it up and admit what the theology asks of us: Have sex whenever you both want to… and expect a baby every time. Otherwise, don’t copulate. That’s a fair burden on both spouses.

The woman presenting the “no it isn’t” view did a perfectly decent job of presenting the standard arguments for NFP, but I’d like to dig into one aspect in particular, especially given that by the sixth comment on the article we already see a theology student trying to argue that the “planning” involved in Natural Family Planning is really no different than the use of barrier methods of contraception since it involves “the intention of having sex without baby” and is thus “using one’s intellect to create a tool which limits the possibility of procreation”.

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19 Responses to A Few Thoughts on NFP

  • I suppose pregnancy is rather misogynistic as well. Women bear this responsibility as well, and bear is a literal word. Men just sit around the house smoking cigars and pounding the table and grunting whenever they want some food. Then when the baby finally comes they’re out buying more cigars and drinking with their friends, bragging about how fat their wife is.

    Well, your mileage may vary. I hope it does.

  • That’s a pretty cynical view. It is not without truths, but I’m not sure there isn’t a bit exaggerated — or rather, the whole ordeal is reduced merely to this activity.

  • If we look to the Orthodox, it amounted to roughly half the year they were required to abstain from relations. Many moons ago, sex wasn’t to be had on Sundays. I’m not sure if abstaining was ever required during Lent. I think we moderns tend to underestimate our ability to regulate our sexual desires.

  • MZ,

    Lent plus Sundays still add up to rather less than half the year — and I must admit to a certain curiosity as to what percentage of people actually lived up to that. However, I would say that there’s also a big difference between giving something up for religious reasons as a known sacrifice and doing it for pragmatic reasons.

    Example: I find it quite easy to give up alcohol for Lent, but rather hard to “not have much” beer in order lose the proverbial last ten pounds. I would say that by the same token, it would be rather easier to say “we won’t have sex on Sundays” or “we won’t have sex during lent” than “Well, we shouldn’t have sex very often.”

    More to the point, that is simply not our discipline in the Catholic Church at this time, and given that we do have a full understanding of human fertility I’m not clear how it would do people a great deal of good to urge them to maintain ignorance in order to bind up a heavier burden for them to carry.

    Honestly, the approach described by the woman in the InsideCatholic article sounds to me like it’s practically designed for (or perhaps from) spousal conflict.

  • Having learned and practiced NFP myself, I see nothing misogynistic about it. If nothing else, charting one’s cycles helps you to know when to expect your next, ahem, monthly visitor, thereby enabling you to avoid lots of potential embarrassment 😉

    Don’t forget, it’s also a very cost-effective method for both avoiding and achieving pregnancy; once you learn the method, you don’t need to spend a single penny more on it (you can create your own charts). Also, some methods (Creighton, Billngs) do NOT require the daily temperature taking that can be a hassle for those following the Couple to Couple League’s Sympto-Thermal Method.

    IMHO the fact that the “burden” of fertility awareness/NFP is on women is no more inherently unfair than is the fact that women often have to work harder than men at losing weight and keeping it off. As for the self-discipline required, I see it as comparable to the discipline required to maintain a healthy diet.

    Perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t think NFP would be that big a burden to women unless their husbands decide to make it so.

  • Also, in the “if you think we’ve got it bad” department: Orthodox Jewish practice requires abstinence throughout the menstrual period and for 7 days afterward — usually about 12-14 days out of EVERY month.

  • Everything after the first sentence was Latin rite.

    Not to get overly personal here, but we withheld relations for a year.

    I tend to find a major premise of the NFPers false though. That premise is that sex unitive in the absence of desiring children. I’ve met plenty of people in sexual relationships that were otherwise sterile. Plenty of men and women have managed to have sexual relationships without a growth in personal affection. Outside the context of desiring to create a family, that seems to be the dominant case.

  • I tend to find a major premise of the NFPers false though. That premise is that sex unitive in the absence of desiring children.

    That is not the major premise of NFPers—at least not of those who understand and accept the Church’s teaching that temporarily restricting intercourse to the infertile period must be for “serious reasons,” which do not include paying off the student loans or trading up to a better car. The major premise of NFPers is that NFP can respect the unitive dimension of sex, unlike contraception, which cannot.

    That is why you are right to qualify your statement with the phrase ‘the dominant case’. Sex that is both physically and spiritually sterile is indeed the dominant case in a materialistic and over-eroticized culture; but it is far from being the only case. I know plenty of cases of the right sort.

    I’m really getting tired of people overstating Catholic teaching and proceeding to knock down the resulting strawman. I usually have to deal with that in the context of discussing the papacy and/or the Marian doctrines. But since Catholic doctrine on birth control is almost as distinctive and even more unpopular, I suppose I should not be surprised it gets the same treatment.

  • I tend to find a major premise of the NFPers false though. That premise is that sex unitive in the absence of desiring children.

    I guess I’m not entirely clear what you’re getting at here. Are you saying that NFP is a false paradigm in that in HV and elsewhere it is suggested that couples may continue to have sex during infertile times for unitive purposes while avoiding it during fertile times when there are serious reasons for them to space children wider than might be natural — but you don’t think that sex can be unitive unless one desires more children at that time?

  • There are two common stress points I see in marriages. The first one is having the first child. The second one is the cessation of child bearing. Without commenting on the liciety of NFP, the unitive dimension of sex is lessened significantly when the marriage is no longer purposed toward the making and raising of children.

  • The second one is the cessation of child bearing. Without commenting on the liciety of NFP, the unitive dimension of sex is lessened significantly when the marriage is no longer purposed toward the making and raising of children.

    I’m not clear that has anything to do with the unitive dimension of sex, so much as that when it becomes clear that the number of distractions living in the house is only going to go down from here, and the couple likely has another thirty years of life together ahead of them, couples either realize that they actually have very little in common and have problems, or else they look forward to getting the chance to spend more time actually interacting with each other than during the diaper changing, kid chasing, and fight breaking up period of life.

    Also, how would your explanation fit with your point that a certain number of couples run into problems not long after first having children?

  • Darwin, I believe marriage counselors recognize certain statistical crisis points in the average marriage–if I recall correctly around 2 years is one (neatly coinciding with the start of a family for many.) Agreed that childrearing, empty nesting, and major life changes tend to make or break a marriage–the problem isn’t that you are no longer making babies together (as articulated by MZ), it’s that there wasn’t much besides the babies holding you together to begin with.

    My response to his view of the “major premise of NFP” would be that the level of communication necessitated by the use of NFP encourages couples to consider each other’s needs as well as their joint plans for a family. Does this mean there aren’t going to be unitively “sterile” marriages among NFP users as well as among nonusers? Of course not. But I think (and I believe stats bear me out) that NFP confers some advantages in terms of couple communication, and that those carry over into the post baby-raising stage of life. Are you sure you’re not overgeneralizing based on anecdotal evidence, MZ?

  • In some ways, I think the effect that NFP has on marriages is sort of a “chicken and egg” (pardon the pun) effect — does NFP CAUSE couples to communicate better, or do couples who use NFP tend to have better communication and negotiation skills to begin with?

    I kind of lean toward the latter explanation since successful NFP practice requires give and take on the part of both spouses. If a couple is having serious problems communicating or learning to adjust their expectations regarding sexual intimacy, either they won’t try NFP at all, or one spouse will want to try it while the other flatly refuses to consider it or agrees to it only grudgingly and under protest.

  • Actually, Michael, depending on how big the student loans in question are, how much other debt the couple has, and how long it’s going to take for them to pay those debts down or off, that COULD be a sufficiently serious reason to postpone pregnancy.

    I remember reading a book on Catholic marriage that had belonged to my parents — written in the early 1950s — that had a chapter devoted to “periodic continence” (which, back then, meant calendar rhythm) and a discussion of various medical, economic, and social reasons that justified the use of the rhythm method.

    Having large amounts of debt (payment of which is an obligation in justice to one’s creditors) WAS listed as a justifiable reason to postpone pregnancy. However, trying to save money toward a child’s college education (which parents are not obligated to provide for their children, and was not an absolute necessity for their future well-being, at least not in the 1950s) was not considered a serious enough reason. Obviously, trading up to a better car or better house (assuming the house the family currently occupies is reasonably safe and sanitary) would not qualify either.

  • Actually, Michael, depending on how big the student loans in question are, how much other debt the couple has, and how long it’s going to take for them to pay those debts down or off, that COULD be a sufficiently serious reason to postpone pregnancy.

    Which raises the question why the couple should marry into such a state in the first place. If you aren’t ready to raise a family, don’t get married.

  • It seems that a lot of people get caught up in the worry about whether NFP can be contrary to God’s plan,m if motives affect the use of NFP, and the tensions involved in some marriages relating to same. Then there was the Inside Catholic article which really went all over the place. Here are my thoughts.

    1. Knowing NFP, whether one uses it or not is a good thing. Why? It teaches the guy something about women that he may not know. that is always a good thing = especially in a marriage.

    2. When God made us, he did not make the woman fertile every single day of the month. Yet he gave the desire to the guy all the time. And we guys know when our wives are most desirous. so this means a couple of things. Either the couple talks, or someone is not going to be happy. Early in my marriage, I encountered a powerful truth, and I know that it was a grace, to wit, the marriage embrace is not satisfying in the fullest sense if the beloved is not satisfied. That insight opened the door to a deeper understanding of God’s involvement in marriage and the freedom He gives to couple to work out in His presence the timing, placement and number of children for that family. Again we approach in wonder and awe, hoping to cooperate and open to God’s “blessing” which may or may not be “planned” or desired. given the limited time frame for such blessings, an openness to the self giving of the spouse to the other allows for the marital embrace to be a communion of souls in the mystery of the sacrament of matrimony. Simply enjoying the pleasure of one’s spouse in the beauty of the sacrament is in itself one of the blessings of marriage.

    3. for some this may mean great sacrifice given their personal situation: health factors, financial difficulties, stress, job loss, temperament, etc. God invites us to include him in dealing with any difficult situation. He gives us the freedom in the marital relationship to make the concrete decisions. He only asks us to respect the sacrament and mot violate the natural order. to consider this takes a certain maturity and understanding. This is what is hopefully taught to us both through family life and by the church.

    Finally after all is said and done, one may simply decide to chuck the whole thing and let God be the family planner. It takes a lot of faith or perhaps it is laziness. But in the end if we seek to do His will, we should be okay.

  • Actually, I WAS going to add the argument that observant Catholics or Catholic couples who aren’t financially ready to have children shouldn’t get married in the first place, but omitted it as my post was getting rather lengthy.

    Also, not every couple who has student loan debt necessarily incurred it BEFORE they got married or had children. My own husband had to go back to college in his early 40s due to the fact that he could no longer get work in his chosen field without such a degree. Fortunately, he had veteran’s benefits that enabled him to do so without incurring a huge amount of debt.

  • My few thoughts on NFP.

    It’s not misogynistic to use it and anyone who says that is is probably more motivated by Misandry than any high ideal of justice.

    If you have good reason to space children or want to increase your chances of conceiving a child, consider using it – but follow the rules.

    The Rules:

    1. The science is pretty good but not perfect, and often times leaves you wondering whether you’re still fertile or not. Don’t be anxious over it, wait a day or not, the worse thing that can happen is you get a little earlier than you were planning.

    2. Ignore Internet pontificators like myself. You know that whole opinions are like a-holes thing. It’s your life, your marriage, and your soul. God knows what “serious reasons” are and aren’t even if you’re unsure or mistaken. He will determine whether you’re culpable and to what degree. Besides, even if you are mistaken in thinking your reasons for spacing are valid, your desire to do it through NFP means you’re open to God’s grace, He will inform your conscience long before some guy on the Internet with his snarky comments or feeble attempts at Thomistic extrapolation.

    3. There are a lot of important things on a personal/marital level to consider as well, but those are as varied as each couple and I won’t mention them because you’d be a fool to think some dude on the Internet should have a role in your marital relationship – and you should be leery of anyone who insert themselves there.

    — Wives love your husbands and husbands love your wives.

  • John J, Elaine, and Rick,
    Thoughtful remarks, all!

One Response to I'm Down, But We Can Still Dance!

"Guatemala: Never Again!"at

Friday, July 10, AD 2009

There has been an interesting discussion going on that began with a little mockery of Obama’s propensity for offering collective apologies around the world for various things out of the American past or present. I am a big proponent of apologies- but they must be prudent and truly repentant- not some mixed-motive posturing like former President Clinton seemed inclined. A great Catholic example of what I am seeking is found in a great book  entitled “Guatemala Never Again!”. This is no Leftist diatribe, this is (REMHI) the Recovery of Historical Memory Project. This is the Official Report of the Human Rights Office, Archdiocese of Guatemala. Let me quote from the back cover:

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22 Responses to "Guatemala: Never Again!"at

  • But it is a “leftist diatribe”…. or else so naive as to pass as one. We’re being overrun by Obama’s soft-Bolshevism and now asked to act like European-style intellectuals indulging in poseur hand-wringing and moral equivalency. Cut to the chase. The only meaningful point is that about Planned Parenthood. One doesn’t have to be a GOP hawk (I’m not) to think: what a waste of this blog’s space.

  • Tim,

    I agree with you, and I have no respect for anyone – whether they call themselves a Catholic or not – who cannot acknowledge historical truth and apologize for it when it reveals evil acts.

    Moreover, any “Catholic” who puts the word of right-wing propagandists above the testimony of bishops and priests and nuns and lay Catholics in the country in question is really doing a disservice to his own Church. I’ll stand with Oscar Romero before I’ll stand with the butchers who filled mass graves in Guatemala or the nun-raping contras in Nicaragua.

  • The Contras raped nuns Joe? Could you cite the incident you are referring to? My guess is that you are thinking of this incident in El Salvador:

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

    As for the Contras and the Sandanistas, the Pope seemed rather pleased after the Sandanistas were voted out.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=56mgGxguT4EC&pg=PA104&lpg=PA104&dq=john+paul+violeta+chamorro&source=bl&ots=JQWYvaiSfJ&sig=hQQXVaja6EcDAsZf2hsl1FBitfE&hl=en&ei=on9XSrmkFo_gMY7kpZ0I&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5

  • The problem with your post is that is presumes the US is not now and has not been engaged in precisely the kind of inward looking self analysis for many years.

    We have beaten the subjects of Cold War drug experimentation to death. We have beaten up on the CIA, the NSA, and our military. Following Vietnam, we entered a generational orgy of self-loathing and doubt. There have been thousands of books, tens of thousands of articles, and hundreds of thousands of internet posts about every manner of evil the US did or is supposed to have done. We have granted Doctorates to thousands and thousands of professors who only too happily trot out America’s evils without ever mentioning her greatness. We produce text book after text book suggesting that early colonists were nothing less than thieves and murderers who drove noble, peace-loving, agrarian peoples from thier homes so that they could set up theocracies.

    Enough!!!

    Were America a person and were that “person” in therapy, she would be heavily sedated so that she didn’t do violence to herself.

    Anyone who wants to use America as an escape-goat for the sins of the world, rather than acknowledging that international affairs is a brutal, ugly game that requires walking a thin line between right and wrong to survive, is either naive or ignorant.

  • I don’t see America thriving as a nation or as a people for the long-run, because I don’t see how we are so very different from the Great Empires of the past

    I realize this is perhaps a characteristic hobby horse, but it’s worth noting that the great empires of the past did pretty well in many ways, and indeed the Church found itself much involved with them. Rome around 1000 in its Western form, and another 1000 in Constantinople. And the Church was very much connected with both the Christian empire and with later European empires that aspired to be successors: Hapsburgs, French, Spanish, etc. There’s an American mythology that all great empires immediately became corrupt and fell apart, but it’s not fully accurate.

    On your general point: I think there is at the same time a danger in spending too much time on other people’s sins. Sure, I would wax wroth all day about racism, eugenics, treatment of the Indians, or what have you, but it worries me that when we spend a lot of time on sins committed by other people that we feel no personal affinity to, we make ourselves feel good at others expense while doing very little to actually make ourselves better. Yes, it’s important to recognize evil for what it is, but if we spend too much time talking about evils that other people did in the past (especially when we do so in an un-nuanced and accusatory way) we end up unnecessarily pumping ourselves up.

    So for instance, I could write some scorchers about eugenics and the forced sterilization programs that many states (my home state of California most of all) had in the 20s and 30s, but since that’s basically going on about “bad things other people did” and to an extent also the connections I see between the eugenics of the 20s and the birth control and abortion movements of today — I think a lot of the people most tempted by those evils would simply be put off by my writing and feel that I’m unnecessarily characterizing them as participating in past horrors. And given the distance (and the fact I already recognize it as wrong) I’m not sure I’d be undergoing any moral development myself either.

    So while we shouldn’t sugar-coat the past, I think we also need to be wary about getting too involved in apologizing for wrongs that other people committed. It can become more a weapon and a tool for pride than an actual process of humility.

  • I have travelled and lived in several places abroad for extended periods of time- and there is a very real sense of being an ambassador for your country, at a deeper level we are ambassadors for Christ in every land. I lived and taught in the Czech Republic just months after the Velvet Revolution there and encountered many who had never met an American, and my views as an American carried a lot of weight as a consequence. I felt a certain burden to present opinions that were thoughtful and even diplomatic at times- on religious and political topics- as a Catholic I ran into many Czech protestants and agnostics, so I wanted to represent an American Catholic perspective as best I could.

    As for apologizing for the sins of other people- it depends- if people presently associate you with the actions of your government or elite interests past or present, then it may not be enough to say- “not my sins”. You may need to clarify that these abuses are part of your memory and you are committed to do better. That may be the way to move forward in the complicated relations of differing peoples of different national backgrounds. To confess and repent is freeing for good reason- if I limit my confessions to my nation’s past and present wrong doings, and bypass a careful examination of my own actions and lack of action- then you are right to criticize my preoccupation with past and present social sins. I can only give you my word that I am really trying to be humble in assessing my own spiritual state, and it is actually part of that process that inspires me to take on a more public role in speaking out for life and social justice as a very overt Catholic- shouting out from the rooftops as it were.

    I don’t broadcast my own past and present sins to the general public- I don’t think that is prudent- but for social sins I believe there is a social call to be public in discussing such things- Scripture seems to indicate that nations are judged in some capacity, and individuals are definitely judged- so I am trying to be both/and in my approach- and I find inspiration in the example of the church in Guatemala that I feel has application here in the U.S.

  • As for the Contras and the Sandanistas, the Pope seemed rather pleased after the Sandanistas were voted out.

    Presumably it’s possible to be pleased that the Sandanistas were voted out without necessarily being pro-Contras.

  • I have travelled and lived in several places abroad for extended periods of time- and there is a very real sense of being an ambassador for your country, at a deeper level we are ambassadors for Christ in every land. I lived and taught in the Czech Republic just months after the Velvet Revolution there and encountered many who had never met an American, and my views as an American carried a lot of weight as a consequence. I felt a certain burden to present opinions that were thoughtful and even diplomatic at times- on religious and political topics- as a Catholic I ran into many Czech protestants and agnostics, so I wanted to represent an American Catholic perspective as best I could.

    Good point, and I think certainly when someone is asked, “So why is it that you Americans did XYZ,” one’s duty is to answer in honesty and humility.

    And I don’t want to come off as saying that we should never talk about the evils of the past. It’s just that I think there is a frequently indulged in temptation to make a big show of denouncing the evils of the past (which one was never tempted to in the first place) and thus acquire a glow which allows one to ignore the evils of the present because “we’re not those kind of people.”

    A classic example of this would be the many young (and not so young) people who loudly denounce the racism and sexism of the past, but can’t see how abortion could actually be all that bad because, “Lot’s of women who get abortions are just ordinary, good people in bad situations.” Well, come to that lots of racists were ordinary good people in bad situations.

    Anyway.

    I’m not wanting to accuse you of these kind of sentiments, but I am wanting to outline why I’m leary of big apology projects for things in the more distant past, or things taken out of their fuller historical context. I’m not familiar with this book put out by the Guatemalan bishops, but they’re dealing with a situation which is very recently in the past — just 20 years before the book’s writing.

    I am very much in favor of looking unblinking at the truth, good and bad, of the past. But I’m hesitant about big apology projects — especially when they go far into the past and also when they’re taken outside of their original context to become a parade of horribles.

  • “Presumably it’s possible to be pleased that the Sandanistas were voted out without necessarily being pro-Contras.”

    It’s possible BA, although one would then have to ignore the fact that without the pressure of the Contras and the US the Sandanistas would probably have held a free election about the same time their hero Fidel did.

  • I would like to point out that the mass slaughter which occurred in the course of suppressing the communist insurrection in Guatemala occurred during a 32 month period in 1982, 1983, and 1984. There had also been a lot of killing in Army massacres in the four years previous to that. The thing is, the U.S. Government cut off aid to the Government of Guatemala at the end of 1977 and it remained in abeyance for eight years.

    There was a successful counterinsurgency conducted in 1966-70 which had a much smaller death toll. The insurgency, which had commenced in 1960, was dormant for the next eight years. IIRC, the Guatemalan government had offered in 1966 a window of amnesty for the insurrectionists before beginning the campaign.

    Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown in 1954. It is rather de trop to argue that the course of the country’s political history over the next thirty years followed deterministically. The Guatemalan military, without the assistance of the United States, killed about 150,000 people in 1982-84. That is nothing for which the U.S. government should apologize.

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  • Well- after reading the Church’s Memory Project and the details of the U.S. involvement in the book – Bitter Fruit- and in other accounts like Tim Weiner’s history of the CIA- I would say there is a lot to be ashamed from a Catholic American point-of-view- I can’t be anyone else’s conscience, but I think the more complete story is one where we can’t just wash our hands a la Pontius Pilate. To be so neck-deep in coups and backstage manipulations of other sovereign nations is a terrible abuse of global solidarity, subsidiarity, and a host of other ills. Even if the ends sought were mostly good ones- and I’m not convinced our leaders were primarily concerned for the well-being of the world’s poor so much as they were looking out for #1- power politics and economic interests- it is still illict to do evil that good would come from it- that is bedrock Catholic principle and one we had better promote here in the U.S. if we are to represent our true faith. We have to be very wary of the philosophy of power that includes RealPolitick, Pragmatism, “The Great Game” and other moral compromising strategies and ways of thinking and acting on the world stage- we must be truthful, clear, and dedicated in word and deed to the Christian commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. That is the only worthy American foreign policy objective which I will accept. The war I am fighting is the one for my soul primarily, and secondarily I want to help build a civilization of love for my children and grandchildren- I don’t want God to have to shut down the human project before my great grandchildren are born- my greatest weapon is my integrity and my righteousness, I won’t allow my patriotism to be false or misleading and ultimately a detriment to my larger goals of sainthood.

    Certain Guatemalan individuals over time are the ones most culpable for the crimes against the many average Guatemalan people- that is for sure- just as certain American individuals are the most culpable for the crimes of abortion carried out against the unborn- but there is a measure of culpability that goes far and wide for many such things- perhaps if I try to deny what I have learned about the role of the U.S. in Guatemala, and refuse to allow myself pangs of disgust, and refuse to offer up my testimony, then I am also a little bit guilty of something here. And perhaps I am a bit guilty for the state of affairs here in America with rampant abortion- not just for my past where I can plead some or a lot of ignorance, but even today, with all that I know- maybe I am not doing enough, maybe I am not expressing myself as well as I could if I took more time, more effort, and above all, more prayer. The thing is that I am trying very, very hard to not become a minimalist when it comes to the moral questions- I take the state of the nation and the world personally to the degree that I can or should. There is always that open question for Confession- am I doing all I can? Help me Lord to know, to grow, to do what you will me to do.

  • Tim,

    What you are saying now sounds different from the characterization of your post in the thread above. Might I suggest that we have entwined two different threads: that individuals and institutions must study and learn from the past and that individuals and institutions should apologize to those who perceive themselves to have suffered?

    In your latest addition to the thread, you speak eloquently of the need to learn from the past. I do not dispute the necessity of doing so and I doubt many who opposed the original post for various reasons would. Indeed, learning from other than one’s own past has a noble heritage in human experience. It is the backbone and, arguably, the purpose of much education and training. I don’t think there is a dispute as to its utility and the proposition that it is also part of one’s duty as a person and a Christian would receive a negative response.

    However, apologies are different.

    Apologies have meaning ONLY when proffered by the one responsible for the injury and only when received by one who was actually injured. The more remote either party is, the more likely it is that a new abuse is being perpetrated – by which I mean that either the one apologizing or the one apologized to is manipulating others by the interaction.

    In the instant case, it undoubtably true that the US used Central and South America as one of several battle-grounds for our proxy war with the Soviet Union. Since the alternative was a direct war with the Soviet Union and, potentially, the destruction of all life on our planet, I hope you will forgive my conclusion that, whatever the injury on the Korean Peninsula, in the Congo, or in Guatemala, the world is better off with the way that history played out.

    Where the US causes injury and that injury can be made right, we should do so. However, as time passes and intervening causes confuse the culpability, an apology and remedy becomes less and less desireable.

    I am not reaching for the complicated here. When it comes to learning from the past and applying those principles to future action, I am solidly with you. However, when it comes to offering apologies and providing remedies, we simply MUST apply a case-by-case analysis.

  • Tim,

    Twenty-eight years separated the overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz and the series of offensives in 1982-84 which cost so many lives. What is the point of conjoining a discussion of John Foster Dulles and the United Fruit Company with discussion of a counter-insurgency program which occurred a generation later?

  • The Memory Project goes into the history of connections- the abuse of human rights didn’t simply begin in 1982- the Memory project deals with what happened prior to 1982 as well as the period you are talking about- the historical links are there- you will have to read the report to see for yourself- the mass arrests, the lists of anyone who had even a remote connection to anything “communist”, the loss of habeus corpus- this all started up immediately after the coup- and no doubt was supported by our own leadership- even if the distancing took place much later- the unraveling of democratic rule of law really took off after United Fruit et al took matters into their own hands- there was a similar process in Iran which led to a chain of negative events- we can’t say that these coups and support for greater breakdowns in the rule of law and solidarity/subsidiarity had no lasting effect or damages which we need to take some ownershop of. Please read the books I recommended to fill in the necessary record- Wiener and Kinzer are solid investigative reporters, and the Church’s Memory Project is really above reproach.

  • I would add that according to the Memory documents the coup of 1963 either began after a meeting with president Kennedy and his political advisors, CIA director and ambassador to Guatemala- or it was something that had at minimum no objections from Washington and for the first time the military as an institution took over the government. The Paramilitary groups came soon after and developed into death squads operating usually with hidden hand control from official military leadership- it is estimated that upwards to 20,000 were killed in just a few years by these paramilitary- and the law was quite arbitrary and abusive leading to even worse conditions to come. So, the connections to the first overthrow and with American support overt/covert is to be considered as significant in my opinion.

  • There is significant problem with the left’s view of these issues, and it is quite apparent when they put scare quotes around the word “communist”, marginalizing the truly evil and powerful force that the US was trying to defeat. Just give “Uncle Joe” a big wink, and all will be fine, right? Well, it wouldn’t have been. If Communism had not been opposed at every turn, then the fate of the the millions upon millions who died at the hand Stalin and Mao would have been shared by countless hundreds of millions more…. many times worse than the often exaggerated numbers that the left puts out for every situation where the US might have been culpable.

    Now, that’s just the dead, what about those souls which would be lost being raised in a godless society which is the goal of the left? Don’t forget that a key goal of communism was to destroy the Church in every country that it conquers. Look at your cuddly Chavez and Castro! They do all that they can to suppress the source of salvation.

    “Communism”? Hell,yes.

  • I know I’m drifting away from the subject but I’m here addressing myself directly to Tim Shipe…I am MarkL of Inside Catholic. Have just read that 19 Dems Reps are trying to block abortion coverage in the Health Care reform bill. Now I don’t know if these guys are associated with Dems for Life; but anyway kudos for the good work in this case…I am not reluctant to praise people when praise is due, BUT however I will insist upon calling a spade a spade when necessary and “a bunch of teetotallers in an assembly of drunkards has never turned the lot into temperance activists”.

  • Tim,

    I do not care to be repetitious, but again….

    I am perfectly aware that the abuse of the population did not begin in 1982 and made explicit reference to what occurred in 1978-82 and 1966-70. Since the U.S. Government had cut off aid to the Government of Guatemala at the end of 1977, it is rather inventive to attribute the former to credit the goings on during that period running from 1978 through 1985 to the U.S. Government. You would have a better argument with regard to the former period, but it is complicated by the following: Communist groups elected to start an insurgency in 1960, Communist groups ignored a proffered amnesty in 1966, and any government has the responsibility to suppress insurrections. If you think it could have been done with less loss of life, you are probably right. If you think the U.S. Government was in a position to micromanage the Guatemalan military’s conduct in 1966-70, you may or may not be.

    You can argue that the U.S. Government should have intervened to prevent the overthrow of Pres. Miguel Ydigoras in 1963. One should recall that such interventions were not uniformly successful and a rash of elected governmnts were deposed in 1962 and 1963 to the Kennedy Administration’s dismay. One should also not advance such an argument while offering complaints about American intervention per se.

    It is not very credible that parliamentary government would have, absent the machinations of the CIA, continued merrily along in Iran after 1953. Mohammed Mossadegh had already instituted authoritarian measures and an ethnically heterogenous country with a literacy rate under 20% is a poor prospect for democratic institutions, most particularly in a region of the globe where parliamentary government failed in one country after another between 1949 and 1963. You have a better argument with regard to Guatemala, which had something resembling competitive electoral politics about a third of the time between 1838 and 1954. You should recall, however, that the only Latin American countries not experiencing a breach of constitutional order between 1954 and 1986 were Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela. Colombia has suffered interminable political violence since 1948 and Mexico was a pluralistic party-machine state, not a democratic state in the European sense. Had the Marxism and praetorian populism of the Arevalo-Arbenz period morphed into a stable and well-rooted democratic order, that would have been unusual, but strange things do happen from time to time.

  • I live in Guatemala and I’m tired of all the navel-gazing guilt that American and European people seem so desirous of engaging in. I don’t feel guilty for things that I didn’t engage in and don’t support.

    More importantly, it seems to me Catholics have a great deal more to be concerned with than the social activism (and consequences thereof) of her episcopacy. The Church is in worse shape than it has been since the reformation-possibly the days of Arius-and everywhere in this region all I hear about is social justice. I have yet to enter a diocesan Church and hear about sin or the sacraments.

    We don’t need so much to open up our eyes to offenses of previous generations of American misbehavior as we need to remember our primary obligation-to God-and reorient our lives in that direction. The suffering all around us is a direct reflection of sin and a refusal to deal with that.

  • Liberation Theology was flawed by the failure to ensure that it was to be understood that the primary liberation offered by Jesus Christ was one of freedom from sin and death. It is always easy enough to fall into a Zealotry of the Left or Right- making politics the whole deal of one’s religiousity. Of course the reasons for this abuse are varied according to the individual- if one’s village was part of a government or rebel massacre, and my female loved ones were raped or killed- well I might be sorely tempted to spend my remaining time on a political or militant quest- there but for the grace of God go I. I do not want to judge the individuals who fall into zealotry too harshly- many well-meaning pro-lifers seem to be making similar decisions to those social justice leftists. But having said this, I think that when Christ commanded that we love God fully, and love our neighbor as our self, and offered the kingdom of God parables about what we do to the least among us, we are doing to Him. These are compelling items for me, and the fact of the Church’s social doctrine and all the ink the popes and VAtican produces over social and political sins and conditions- I feel it is an important part of being Catholic. We must be both/and- we must be prayerful, devoted to the Sacraments, and also taking those graces out into the street, marketplaces, and political gatherings, not just holding them inside of us. The social doctrine is an essential part of the Christian evangelization- so it is not a bad thing to have a social conscience, to have a memory of the past abuses, and to learn from those abuses of history to never again repeat them- to repent as a man and as a nation- we are meant to be social, we have social responsibilities coinciding with our personal life responsibilities- this is where the left and right tend to get divisive, but the Church stays with Christ, and I shall try to stay with Her.

  • @Dr. J:
    No we are nothing like European Intellectuals-we have learned nothing from 2 World Wars and still like to push our interests forward by means of war.
    You really sound like a big McCarthy fan. Obama and Bolshevism? Don’t make me laugh. I think the author of this blog did a good job in giving us access to important knowledge (which of course you would rather have hidden away because it is not patriotic).

Education Reform

Friday, July 10, AD 2009

Here is another proposal I set forth in my previous campaign for Florida State House- this was published as a guest column by Florida Today Newspaper. This was also the straw that broke the camel’s back in my bid to run again- as the Unions refused to endorse me- and liberal Democratic activists could not stomach a candidate who was pro-life and pro-private school options. I was especially disappointed with the teacher union reps since my proposal is one that is so totally win-win from a teacher perspective, and it is obviously something in the interests of parents and their children. Pope Benedict has recently commented that Catholic schools should receive some state funding given the benefit these schools offer society. Here is the text of my proposal:

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5 Responses to Education Reform

  • Interesting.

    I’m curious why I settled on a model of paying the salaries of a specific number of teachers rather than the more standard model of offering a voucher equal to around 80% of the money the state would allocate per child (while leaving the remaining 20% with the public schools to cover infrastructure overhead.) Was that aimed at finding a middle ground with the teachers’ unions, or is a separation of church and state provision? Or just a different economic model?

    I’d be concerned the effectively subsidizing the school rather than the child would provide less incentive for the school to cut tuition enough to be affordable, but I’m curious as to the thought process.

  • The Vouchers had been shot down by Florida’s Courts because of the Church-State issue- it is really bad here in the South due to the last effects of anti-Catholicism.

    I was trying to avoid the legal issue by paying teachers not schools directly- it would work a bit like a market in that only schools that attracted more students would get more teachers- see the 1:20 ratio- so if a private school tried to take advantage by hiking fees they would still have to be appealing to parents- the state would only kick in and kick in a set amount for teachers- of course- opening the door for ‘scholarship’ like monies for excellent teachers is something that private citizens and/or orgs could add into the mix- this is why I call my proposal pro-teacher in the extreme- and it exposed the true agenda of the teacher unions- it is about ideology and control, and thinking outside the box is not welcome- and this is how teachers represent themselves? Public and private school teachers should not be pitted against one another- we are all supposed to be motivated to instill something good and great in the young people- I’m sure many public school teachers would be more comfortable teaching in some private schools so this is actually a ‘pro-choice’ proposal ironically!

  • The demand for state funded Muslim school is in accordance with the law of the land. Muslim community is not asking for any favour. There are only ten state funded Muslim schools and the British Establishment are ready to fund all Muslim schools. Only less than five percent of Muslim children attend Muslim schools and at the same time, there are hundreds of state and church schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools.

    Bilingual Muslim children need bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. At higher levels, there is no need for a Muslim teacher.

    The medium of instruction in a Muslim school is English and all of them follow the National curriculum. Muslim children need to learn and be well versed in standard English to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. At the same time Muslim children need to learn and be well versed in Arabic language for their spiritual and religious development. Muslim children need to learn and be well versed in Urdu and other community languages to keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry.

    Bilingual Muslim children in British schooling has led to a predictable response from the tabloids, which present these children as a problem for “others” children and teachers.This is both racist and wrong. British society must recognise that over 50% of the world now routinely use more than one language in their daily lives and some 85% are able to function at least two. In a global economy these “problem” children are infact, the norm, and in a global sense they are potentially an asset, not a drain. British society should be thankful that the highest achieving students are bilinguals.
    Iftikhar Ahmad
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org

  • Making private schools use unionized teachers would destroy the private school system. A significant advantage of private schools is that they are not beholden to the teachers unions which would force them to keep bad teachers and pay them the same as good teachers. In fact, the unions would probably use seniority to force the private schools to offer preferential hiring to “veteran” public school teachers no matter how bad they are.

    I would suggest the encouragement of private foundations forming for the purpose of rewarding teachers,

    a great idea, but the unions would not likely support such a program.

  • The teacher union leadership was hostile to the whole deal- but like I said the sister union idea would not be comprehensive beyond salary guarantees- since the state was paying the salaries for a certain set of teachers- if the private school wanted more teachers they would not be beholden to make those teachers part of the union deal for example- and hiring/firing would be an administrative perogative- separate from the public school set-up. Only salary and benefit packages would be the realm of union contact- and only for those teachers being payed for by the state to aid the private schools, not take over management. If the schools have no market interest in the community, they get no money because they need to have their act together to attract students- and only if they attract students will they get teacher assistance from the state- if they don’t want the teacher assistance they can still say no and go it alone. I am trying to find a comprehensive approach that harm’s no one’s interests here but allows for more options to spread the students out according to a true accounting of their parents’ wishes.

It Could Happen to Anyone

Friday, July 10, AD 2009

Here’s something light for your Friday. We all knew what sort of guy French president Nicholas Sarkozy is, but few realized that our own president has similar aesthetic sensibilities.

Some are loudly mocking Obama for this. I’d say give the guy a break.

The king is but a man, as I am: the violet smells to him as it doth to me: the element shows to him as it doth to me; all his senses have but human conditions:

Presidents are a lower species than kings, but the principle applies. And we must recall that the wisdom of the American people has given us a president who hasn’t yet had years of practice in checking out passing babes without allowing it to be obvious to the camera. Give it some time and when his senses kick in with human conditions as the element shows to him, he’ll gaze upon it with the same cool aplomb as Sarkozy.

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41 Responses to It Could Happen to Anyone

  • Mark this down on your calendars! I rise in defense of Obama! It is entirely possible that he was not gazing with a lustful eye at this 16 year old girl but that something else attracted his attention. It is hard to judge from the angle. If I am mistaken however, he is not clear on the concept yet that, whatever he does while he is in office, will be spread across the net and dissected in excruciating detail. If he is afflicted with roving eyes, he’d better learn custody of them, especially unless Michelle has a good deal more patience than I suspect she has!

  • Come on, funny as this is it doesn’t really bear debate.

  • After watching the video it was certainly innocent enough, but still, that photo is hilarious.

  • lolz… good to be the prezz, yo.

  • It is entirely possible that he was not gazing with a lustful eye at this 16 year old girl but that something else attracted his attention.

    While not normally a defender of the president — I’d like to stake out the claim that there is a category of “just looking” which does not involve “gazing with a lustful eye”.

    But yes, Donald’s link suggests the picture is just an amusing coincidence. Almost too bad. I thought it gave him an amusingly human touch.

  • Yep–looks like one of those situations where a picture is worth a thousand fictional words. Sarkozy, on the other hand, is in full Frenchman mode.

  • I almost wish it were for real and that it wasn’t a 16 year old girl. Could you imagine the bragging rights of the chick who could say, “yeah, my [please keep the comments Christian] caused an international incident!”

  • “The French don’t care what they do actually As long as they pronounce it properly.”

  • I think, Rick, this may be an area in which a variant of the “those who have money don’t talk about it” principle applies. 😉

  • I guess it’s just me, but Sarkozy’s gaze of adoration (affection?) seems to be directed more towards Obama. You never know with those French, after all. 🙂

  • what is Miley Cyrus doing at the G8?

  • I thought the video makes our President look worse.

  • Damn! Too bad this post wasn’t one where you can insert your own captions for the featured picture; there are just too many tempting ones to put up (albeit, many of which would admittedly be tendentiously liberal as they would lascivious).

  • Hey, guys…

    I KNOW for a fact that it could happen to anyone because it happened to ME. Damned group photo on prom night, damned photographer had all of the girls kneeling in front of all the guys, damned camera went off, seriously, as my eyes were randomly and instantaneously cast downward so that it looks like… well, you get the idea.

    What a bloody mess. I really sympathize with the President on this one.

  • Joe,

    We know the truth about you. All that talk about economic democracy, yadda yadda – it’s just to impress the ladies. 😉

  • Have you guys seen the video showing that Sarkozy is actually doing what people thought Obama was doing?

    http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_myblog&show=VIDEO-No-Obama-wasn-t-checking-it-out..html&Itemid=127

  • I think the French would be aghast if Sarkozy had not been engaged in La Ogle!

  • I think this post, and the comments, tells more about the people viewing the picture, than it does with what Obama actually did (save for Joe who has pointed out what he did wasn’t what people were interpreting the picture as being).

  • I think the above post regarding the whole host of previous posts concerning the featured post surely speaks volumes about the commenter than anybody else here; reminds me of certain Republican careerist policians who attempt to demonstrate such virtuous exterior while when their own private lives are exposed, they either are in knee deep in vile pornography or themselves engaged with exceedingly exhorbitant high-class call girls given to remarkably lewd acts.

  • Oh Bah Humbug Henry

    I think it shows that (what it appears to be a mostly male comment section currently) that is often lets say critical of Obama wants to have a little bonding with him. It is human which is nice to see

    It is sort of like the amusing Bush Vollyball picture.

  • e.

    I think that I if I carefully diagrammed the above sentence carefully, I’d find you to be impugning Henry a bit harshly, so I won’t. I agree that Henry’s response is rather humorless and up-tight, but be wary of getting to personal as I’d hate to have to douse a flamewar on such a light post.

    Henry,

    I’m not clear what it is that you think the thread proves about its participants other than that:

    1) They have a sense of humor.
    2) Many are willing to confess to having innocently “checked out” a woman in the past.

    Is there one of these that you object to?

  • What’s interesting to note is Henry himself had claimed to be an adept on the subject of Sir Thomas More; too bad he is not so much an expert that he seems wholly ignorant of the saint’s own candid admission about being, every once in awhile, given to such tempting speculations concerning the seductive wiles of the female flesh (which is principally why he did not pursue a ecclesial but instead a secular vocation).

  • The humor impaired, they are always with us.

  • Darwin Catholic,

    One need only read More’s intriguing work, Dialogue of Comfort; in fact, you might even decipher just which allegorical character that seems quite in sync with the kind of rather seemingly scrupulous (yet, at heart, devious) persona H. Karlson himself seems wont to assume in his above comments.

    Yet, with all due respect to you and my betters; I’ll bow out from remarking any further.

  • e.,

    Sorry, I don’t mean to drive you away. I agree with you that an excessive puritanism often masks hidden problems. I’m just concerned that specifically applying that to a particular person (whom none of us get along with well) will start trouble.

    Perhaps I go overboard, but I think sometimes it’s necessary to be extra careful when dealing with comments about people I don’t like — since they’re likely to be taken even more sharply than they’re meant.

  • This post is yet again indicative of the Calvinist mindset of you Americans. What would be dismissed as quite natural and merely typical gazing by more enlightened Europeans is scrutinized by the Americanist puritans on this blog for purely partisan purposes.

    When former French President François Mitterrand died, his wife and mistress appeared side-by-side at his funeral. That’s how it’s done in predominantly Catholic France. If only you protestant-inspired Americanist Catholics could be as open-minded as European Catholics. But I suppose you’d argue that having mistresses and claiming to be an atheist would make Mitterrand a “bad” Catholic, despite the fact that he was born into a devoutly Catholic family (unlike many of the late-arriving evangelical converts who comment here) and despite the fact that his mother was a remote niece of Pope John XXIII.

    But what I find most offensive about this post is the not-so-subtle racist portrayal of the President as the stereotypical over-sexualized black male. Notwithstanding the President’s clearly Adonis-like persona, the racism inherent in this obvious attempt at sexualizing your country’s first black President is nothing new to the neo-con Republican dirty tricksters who brought down Harold Ford, Jr. with similar sleazy tactics.*

    * And, since I am the master of tu quoque, and in an attempt to preempt others who might use that technique to refute my argument, please don’t even bring up the subject of Clarence Thomas’ disgusting performance and feigned indignation over his alleged “high-tech lynching”. Since he’s more white than black because of the conservative way he votes (and not to mention a dissident Catholic because of his positivist jurisprudence), any effort to denounce the alleged portrayal of him as an oversexualized black male will only fall on deaf ears.

    /parody

  • Jay gets the koopie doll. I can’t top that. 😀

  • This is why I wear dark glasses and carry a blind man’s cane whenever I’m in a public place where I might be photographed. You got to learn from the masters.

  • prurient juvenile americanist sexist hypocrites, all of you. you probably tell lewd jokes at your fascist knights of columbus beer bashes, don’t you?

  • Oh Jay that is classic 🙂

  • Chomsky Zombie,

    No, we burn Protestants at the stake.

    Why do you ask?

    /parody

  • “you probably tell lewd jokes at your fascist knights of columbus beer bashes, don’t you?”

    Inbetween goosesteps, yes.

  • Dang, I’ve really got to get to my lady’s auxiliary meetings more often, those VFW meets where we plot to take over the world just eat too much time, and the exploding casseroles are SO hard to make…..

    Me, I found the photo giggle-worthy– several places have put in a caption of “wow, nice shoes!”

  • I think this post, and the comments, tells more about the people viewing the picture, than it does with what Obama actually

    It says that the commenters here are human beings with a sense of humor.

  • Perfect parody of MM, although it’s hard to come up with anything more ideological than the reality.

  • You guys are disclosing sworn 4th degree secrets. Hush, hush!

  • As a catholic, i expect you to update your post with the video that changes your first assumption. If not, you are guilty of smear. What would have christ done ?

  • As a catholic, i expect you to update your post with the video that changes your first assumption. If not, you are guilty of smear. What would have Jesus done ?

Optimism and the Star Spangled Banner

Friday, July 10, AD 2009

 

Hattip to Paul Zummo, the Cranky Conservative.  The event in the video above occurred two years ago on Disability Awareness Day at Fenway Park.  The way in which the crowd joined in to help the young man gives me optimism as to the basic decency of much of the human race.  I have heard many renditions of the Star-Spangled Banner, but as the father of an autistic son I have never heard one which moved me more.

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One Response to Optimism and the Star Spangled Banner

39 Responses to Obama's World Apology Tour

  • Yeah, the apology shtick is getting old. That’s not nearly so bad as his string of gratuitous insults against the British, though. It suggests he’s carrying his dad’s grudges.

    And treating Zelaya as some kind of Christ of the Americas has been gobsmackingly awful. Here’s hoping Oscar Arias can rescue us from our efforts in Airbus Diplomacy.

    OTOH, his diplomatic chops in Russia were very good and I thought he handled the Armenian Genocide issue about as well as he could have during his visit to Turkey.

  • Agreed Dale, on all counts. I thought freeing the Iranian “diplomats” captured in Iraq in 2007 was a mistake unless he has a quid pro quo from the mullahs. I think they have been behind the uptick in bombings in Iraq as a way of attempting to warn Obama from taking advantage of the meltdown underway in Iran.

  • Could you please enumerate all the ills that Obama has blamed the United States for, in which the United States had no responsible hand, that justifies your wording, “all the ills of the world”?

  • You do have to give credit where it is due and President Obama handled himself well in Russia.

    But I’m not sure anyone noticed as the mainstream media heckled Governor Palin relentlessly.

  • Global warming and American values such as freedom and liberty.

  • I know Obama never misses an opportunity to complain about his predecessor, but I confess I’m not sure what specific events the cartoon is referencing.

  • JH,

    Our arrogance of freedom.

  • If the truth about American foreign relations and policies is oftentimes a story of imperialism, power politics, superpower abuses, elitist self-interest, geopolitical gain at the expense of human rights, and service to something other than the universal common good- then I would expect that any American from the top-down should be willing to acknowledge those instances in history, or those ongoing abuses- if they are someone of solid character and good will. Zealotry and “my country right or wrong” nationalism is not the stuff of Catholicism to be sure. It is interesting that whenever someone goes public with criticism of American foreign policies, wars, coups etc.. they are labeled as blame America First anti-patriots, just like Jewish voices who are critical of Israeli policies and wars are labeled as self-loathing Jews- they usually are not called liars, interestingly. Of course the Christian ideal of taking the plank out of one’s own eye first is conveniently placed to the side.

    The truth is not always a happy one, and to mock those who acknowledge or apologize for past private or social sins that have harmed and killed people is simply not something I will stand on the side of the road for. One can claim ignorance of these sins I suppose, but for the well-read and the well-travelled, it just isn’t an option. It is hardly an excuse to point out the greater sins of other people, other nations- that is something I encounter all the time with teenagers- but it is totally unacceptable in adult religious community.

    I would love to see Obama apologize for every abortion ever sanctioned or encouraged in this country and every country where it was promoted by American governmental or organizational operatives. President Bush should have gone to some of those Third World countries and apologized for the past and present American promoters of abortion as a right to kill the innocent and “save” the planet. And I want to see all the crimes against humanity and international law, and the universal common good committed by American “interests” to be brought to the light. Every life harmed or killed as a consequence of my nation’s willful intent to do something self-serving and/or just plain awful or evil- I will take some measure of blame for. I expect any leader of this country to be of a similar character- but I have yet to find such a leader who I could put my full support behind.

    As reference books for the various charges to be made against the history of American relations with the rest of the world or those continued in the spirit of the colonizing Europeans through neo-colonial machinations I recommend the following writers: DAvid Fromkin, Tim Weiner, William Blum, Chalmers Johnson, Chris Hedges, Stephen Kinzer, Stephen Schlesinger, Robert Dreyfuss, Said Aburish, Edward Said, Greg Grandin, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, John Perkins, Ron Paul, and Pat Buchanan are some of the authors I can see as I look at my book cases. Other books on the Rwanda genocide and Clinton/Congress passivity, and the cases of Mobutu and Lumumba are books that I don’t have in front of me but linger in my thoughts.

    I expect some or many may be tempted to throw out some personal attack or some obscure quote or misquote from one or more of the authors here listed- it is so easy to hide behind name-calling like “leftist” “liberal” “populist” and all the rest- but I would include Pope John Paul II’s landmark encyclical “On Social Concern” written in 1987 as an excellent back-drop to this history these international relationships. I am Catholic, I am not beholden to the gods of liberalism or conservatism, I am subject to one God, and He does not seem to fit in the narrow boxes of American political ideologies. I served my country for six years in the National Guard, I believe in a strong, well-defended America, but I am not proud of my own personal sins and I am not proud of America’s collective sins- and I infer from Scripture that we are to some measure judged as nations. I believe that if you have the opportunity to apologize for something you have done personally or by association, you should go for it. To humble oneself is not a sign of weakness but of strength- at least in the Kingdom of God where I am aiming to spend the lionshare of my time someday.

  • I’m not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say this is the way it’s got to be. We can help. And maybe it’s just our difference in government, the way we view government. I mean I want to empower people. I want to help people help themselves, not have government tell people what to do. I just don’t think it’s the role of the United States to walk into a country and say, we do it this way, so should you.

  • Tim,

    I don’t apologize for being a Catholic first and an American second. I love my country and when someone apologizes for the rising of the tides or for Muslims killing Muslims, then I am offended.

    President Obama is a charlatan and a foreign policy weakling. If he thinks that apologizing for every “perceived” offense done by the United States will make everything better, then I still believe in the tooth fairy.

  • Furthermore, if we’re an arrogant nation, they’ll resent us; if we’re a humble nation, but strong, they’ll welcome us. And our nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power, and that’s why we’ve got to be humble, and yet project strength in a way that promotes freedom.

    I think that is all President Obama is trying to do.

  • Awakaman,

    You and I and every other conservative can understand to certain degrees what President Obama is trying to accomplish, but to publicly make it a policy of the United States thinking that the dictators of the world will turn around and become benevolent is short of ignorance and closer to ineptitude.

  • Its one thing to apologize where there are clear wrongs. It would be good if it was not constant. Otherwise it seems false and self-loathing. Excessive love of oneself is not good. Neither is excessive self-criticism. Especially if it is not done in a constructive spirit.

  • Tito:

    The two statements I put in the com boxes above were made by George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential debates with VP Gore. I don’t believe that GWB circa 2000, or any other conservative denouncing US arrogance around the world, e.g., Ron Paul, believed that being a more humble nation would cause dictators themselves to become more democratic, rather our humility as a country is meant to impress the masses within those countries.

    Nothing would inflame Americans more than a foreign government trying to tell our country what to do . . . which is many feel such animosity toward international organizations which try impose jurisdiction on the US and its citizens, such as the UN and International War Crimes Tribunal.

    Likewise, nothing is going to cause North Koreans to support Kim Jong-il or Iranians to support Ahmadinejad more than direct foreign intervention into their countries’ affairs. If you want to move Ahmadinejad from a corrupt 70% victory to a 99.9% honest victory then let Israel drop the first bomb and the “green revolutionaries” will all be joining the Iranian Revolutional Guard.

  • Awakaman,

    Reread what I wrote.

    I’m not disagreeing, I just don’t like the way President Obama is doing it and his reasons.

  • Yes- I do agree that only things that are truly moral wrongs should be apologized for- I was speaking more to the principle that being humble and apologizing from the heart for real wrongs that have actually hurt or killed people- that is something we should encourage our representatives to do. I won’t say that Obama has all his priorities in line- obviously- I would write the same piece if it was Bush or Obama in the presidency.

    I think there is also a false-sentiment that can be part of a leader apologizing- Clinton came across a bit like that- you can apologize too much or too easily, like it was nothing- all for show- so it is important to do the right thing for the right reasons- I won’t make a claim either way for obama- I always hope for the best, and my wife and I pray for obama and his wife to have deep pro-life conversions for example.

  • Tim,

    This is where you and I are in complete harmony of agreement.

  • By the way Tito what did Obama do in Russia that was so great? Continue to give Russia the finger by insisting that it was right and proper that they be surrounded by NATO/US client states? Tell them to back off from intervening in Georgia and the Ukraine when the US’s intervention has been just as eggregious? Is it his insistence that the US has the right to surround Russia with its weapons systems (because of Iran . . . right)?

    Again, if Russia or any other country tried to do this in the Americas we’d be screaming to high heaven and threatening to bomb the hell out of them.

    Don’t worry with his poll numbers dropping Obama will soon create some external enemy that we must fight and will cause American’s to rally around the flag and their illustrious leader.

  • I still believe in the tooth fairy.

    Hard to determine which is the more ridiculous: Obama’s World Apology Tour or Tito Edward’s Magic Mystery Tour? *wink*

  • This is sick.

    I wish Obama had actually apologized for the ills of his country. I wished he would go to Hiroshima, get down on his knees and beg forgiveness for what the US did there in 1945. I wish he would apologize to the Iranians for deposing Mossadeq and imposing the shah in 1953 (more than anything else, this would embolden the resistance). I wish he would apologize for the support for the thuggish regimes in Latin America, most notablty under Reagan, that saw so many Catholics being harassed and killed. I wish he would apologize to the Vietnamese, to the Cambodians, to the Iraqis.

    But he will not to any of this, because the swell of nationalism is too strong – it overwhelms our common humanity. Genuine repentence takes courage. John Paul had this kind of courage. Over and over again, he apologized for every ill the Church had committed over the years. He was in no way personally responsible for any of this, but he stood up as the representative of the Church and — in doing so — he bolstered its moral authority. Perhaps you think that John Paul’s “apology shtick” also got old?

    If you cared about the moral authority of this country, you would do the same. And to trot out such rubbish as this is “blaming America for every ill” in the world makes as much sense as saying that John Paul blamed the Catholic Church for every ill in the world. As I said, the pope showed courage. But nationalism is the ideology whereby small men hide behind big guns, isn’t it?

  • I agree with MM on this, though very re-worded.

    “…American values such as freedom and liberty.”

    Our values don’t always square well with the natural law. Our consumption rates and vanity does not square well with the Gospel.

    I think America has done great things for the world. But, there are many things, we as a society should repent for that I believe many refuse to because “they” did this or “they” did that — the one thing about politics is I think it blinds us so much to social sin and this tit-for-tat nonsense really has to stop.

    So, I’m going to cordially disagree.

  • Tony, for you it is always blame America first, last and always. Your hatred for this country and its inhabitants knows no bounds. Pointing out flaws in America is one thing; yours is a tiresome, endless venting of your spleen against this country. If I were you I would find another country to live in more suited to your sensibilities. I am sure that Erehwon is accepting immigrants if Utopia has met its quota.

  • Tony is the blogger now known as Morning’s Minion. He and I have been dueling for years, back to the time when he blogged under the name TonyA.

  • Tony,

    I wish he would apologize to the Iranians for deposing Mossadeq and imposing the shah in 1953 (more than anything else, this would embolden the resistance).

    Interesting you neglect to ask Carter to get down on his knees and apologize for the far worse dictatorship he brought to Iran, Islamic Fascism….shows us were your true sympathies lie.

  • Ahh — Thanks, Don!

  • Typical “hate America” leftist hyperbole.

  • “Typical “hate America” leftist hyperbole.”

    Yes, if you can agree that there is such a thing as “typical ‘yay America’ right-wing hyperbole?” 🙂

  • Eric,

    I can agree to that as well.

    🙂

  • For Tony, just in case his blood pressure is a little low today!

  • Tito,

    This is why we’re friends 🙂

  • Very fun, Donald, but I prefer the version by the south park guys, even if it does use rather crude language!

  • You are a good sport Tony! Bravo!

  • If the state of Virginia can apologize to its own citizens for its compulsory sterilization laws, surely the US can apologize for some of the things it has done to other countries over the years.

  • “awakaman”: how dare you talk about the dangers of “letting” Israel drop the “first bomb”? Israel is a sovereign nation that is responsible for its own national security and safeguarding the lives of its people. While true that Israel and the U.S. are strong allies, Israel cannot and will not allow Iran to threatent genocide and then gain the capability to carry it out. Do you care so little about the lives of Israelis that you would express the immoral view that they do not have the right to defend themselves against Iran, or whoever threatens them with annihilation for that matter? You sound like an Islamist shill. Moreover, Obama is a fool if he thinks he can bargain with an Islamist regime. Is it his ignorance of the nature of evil, or is he just a cold, heartless shade who would lie to Israel in order to cater to Islam?

  • I fail to understand how an apology from someone that hasn’t hurt me helps.

    The Congress resolved to apologize for slavery. OKAAAY… And this helps because?

    Isn’t the blood of Americans that died to free their fellow man a tribute for that wrong? If not, why are mere words, spoken by those who did not do the wrong to people long dead, any better?

    I don’t think apologizing for the wrongs committed by one’s country is the place of a President… Maybe a Congress, but certainly NOT a President.

    Besides, much of what has been posted here is about posturing. This is to say that those who want the US to apologize more speculate that it will advance our foreign policy as much as those of us who believe that such apologizing damages it. Posturing is posturing and it has no more moral authority because it wears the mask of humility.

  • I believe apologies have been made for both the Potato
    Famine and the Trail of Tears. I doubt if they matter much to my deceased Irish and Cherokee ancestors. On the other hand if anyone is suffering from an excess of guilt about either of these events, perhaps a large sum of money paid to me would help assuage these pangs of conscience? I know it would help me feel better!

  • What about the clearances of the Scottish Highlands??? Can I get something for that? Oh, and the Fenian Raids??? The attempt to annex Canada during the War of 1812 (mind you, there was payback with the burning of the White House, heheh)?

  • Matt,

    Canada doesn’t know it, but they are our 51st state.

Conservatism is Alive and Well

Thursday, July 9, AD 2009

BurkeIt has become popular to sound the death-knell of Conservatism.  I believe the evidence indicates otherwise.

The latest polls indicate that Conservatism is in great shape.  A plurality of Americans consider themselves conservative.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/120857/Conservatives-Single-Largest-Ideological-Group.aspx

At 40% self-identified conservatives are almost twice as numerous as self-identified liberals at 21%.

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29 Responses to Conservatism is Alive and Well

  • I think part of the reason that self-identified conservatism and pro-life are on the rise is not so much that people’s beliefs are changing, but because they are starting to realize what it is to be pro-choice and liberal by watching Obama.

    I believe Bush’s +/- did not hit that low until late in his first term, am I mistaken? How long did it take Carter to get that low? Just curious.

  • Don,

    Do you believe the GOP is legitimately conservative? Do you think that if they came “roaring” back in 2010 that they would have learned from their mistakes from 1994-2006?

    As I’ve said before, my major sticking point with the GOP is on spending and foreign policy. The Republicans can talk all they want about reigning in social programs and spending, but in the arena of the military industrial complex, they have no qualms with a perpetual distortion of the economy to keep the U.S. on a war-footing. To me that says the party is neither interested in a true peace nor is it interested in a defensive strategy for the country that does not exacerbate brewing conflicts. It makes them closer to their liberal counterparts.

    I think there are glints of hope, but for me it comes from the more libertarian wing of the party. I’m more interested in seeing if Peter Schiff runs and takes on Chris Dodd in Connecticut or if Rand Paul can mount a proper run in Kentucky. For any one paying attention to the House, it seems as if Ron Paul is finally being taken seriously by his own party on monetary and economic matters. His H.R. 1207 bill to audit the Fed is a major victory for him regardless of whether it passes. Ideologically speaking, what Paul represents is the genuine enemy to Obama’s socialism/statism.

    If the Republicans regain a modicum of congressional power and then immediately go back to business as usual… well it will only prove their irrelevance to those of us who lean conservative but have left the GOP.

  • Anthony

    I guess it all comes down to what Conservative is. I have stated for some time that the various conservatisms being at eachg other throat and wanting to expell the other branches has been counterproductive. I very much would like to return to the world of I agree with you on 70 to 80 percent of things and will agree to disagree on the other 30 to 20 percent.

    However each branch (The Paleos, The Decicit hawks, the Cruncy Cons, the Libertarians, the neo cons, the social conservatives) like the French Revolution just keep yelling purity purity purity. As we see in the French Revolutuon that did not work out so well.

    At some point people did to fight things out in the primary and learn to work together

  • Donald,

    The latest polls indicate that Conservatism is in great shape.  A plurality of Americans consider themselves conservative.

    I think it should be pointed out that “Conservative” has been defined, re-defined and re-defined yet again; the most current definition (that which the general populace might regard as “conservative”) might actually be what was formerly considered in preceding years “liberal”, at the very least.

  • Now, this is a funny post, given that I just had an article posted on Inside Catholic today arguing that conservatism’s prospects don’t look so good.

    http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6416&Itemid=48

    Depending on how you word a political question, you can get people to agree to just about anything. I can also point to polls where the majority of Americans support national health insurance.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/01/washington/01cnd-poll.html

    This was a pretty big factor in the 08 election too. No one wants to hear that “healthcare is a privilege” and not a right. A candidate who doesn’t look serious about ensuring that all Americans receive health coverage is doomed. The GOP is incapable of saying much more beyond “government shouldn’t do it”. That’s just not enough anymore.

    There are polls like this, which show a generational gap that could be deadly for the GOP in the future:

    http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/05/progressive_generation.htm

    As a “millennial” (boardering on Gen-X), I concur with the assessment made here. And I think this part of Obama’s appeal. Then there are the demographic shifts which will make whites a minority by the middle of the century, maybe the end of the century. I guarantee these latest polls don’t take into account the millions of potential Hispanic voters.

    That said, here’s what I think: conservatism as an ideology may do alright, but the GOP as a party is dying a slow, painful death.

    In the end, many Americans want things that are contradictory given the political options they have available. What matters most are political priorities. If the majority of Americans are pro-life, that’s great – but how important is it next to the economy, next to other issues? If its at the bottom of the list, then it doesn’t matter.

  • “However each branch (The Paleos, The Decicit hawks, the Cruncy Cons, the Libertarians, the neo cons, the social conservatives) like the French Revolution just keep yelling purity purity purity.”

    I don’t know if I’m looking for purity so much as I am honesty. The only place where I’m more inclined towards “purity” is in the Constitution. The only honest way to govern, IMHO, is by holding to it in the extreme. If there are provisions that we disagree with or think are no longer sustainable, then we ought to have the intellectual honesty and willingness to amend it, rather than just go off any which way we choose and chalk it up to “interpretation”.

  • “At some point people did to fight things out in the primary and learn to work together.”

    Agreed, and I think by 2010 what has happened this year under the Obama administration will be a great unifier. I always have contended that Jimmy Carter made more conservative converts than Ronald Reagan ever did. Mr. Obama is now providing the same service.

  • Given that eulogies were delivered for the GOP in 1992 and for the Dems in 1994, 2002 and 2004, I’m suspect of any claim that a party is about to die.

    That said, to hell with the GOP. I’ve tired of their pro-life lip-service. Few Republicans have stood up against the culture of death except for token gestures to NRTL. We’ve even seen Republicans here vote AGAINST measures that would ban state funding to institutions that perform late-term abortions in caucus because it would bolster the credentials of certain pro-life Democrats. Even the Republicans against abortion turn a blind eye toward or are complicit in massive contraception funding.

    Enough talk about reform. It’s time for revolution.

  • Given that eulogies were delivered for the GOP in 1992…

    The GOP has already gone the way of the Whigs; you just haven’t realized it.

    I mean, come on: a liberal like George W. Bush regarded as “conservative”?

    The new breed is not ‘GOP’; the GOP died long ago.

  • “I mean, come on: a liberal like George W. Bush regarded as “conservative”?

    The new breed is not ‘GOP’; the GOP died long ago.”

    Bush was not a liberal. Again there are many branches of conservative thought and we have to dela with that. If the Bush’s of the world are liberals then we can have the GOP convention in a phone booth.

  • If the Bush’s of the world are liberals then we can have the GOP convention in a phone booth.

    Good luck finding one…

  • Gripes about the GOP have been a staple on the Right long before Barry Goldwater, and I have sometimes engaged in such griping myself. The simple truth is that there is no other party for winning elections by conservatives other than the GOP. Libertarians, considering how long they been around, have shown a complete inability to attract votes. Third parties, such as the Constitution Party, are a complete waste of time if the goal is to actually win elections rather than to vent. The GOP is the conservative party in this country and the goal of conservatives should be to increase their dominance within that party.

  • If the GOP wins elections by selling out pro-lifers and fiscal conservatives, I have no vested interest in seeing them win elections.

  • Agreed Steve and that is why it is important for conservatives to increase their dominance in the party. The Stop Rudi movement last year helped prevent Giuliani from coming within shouting distance of the nomination last year. Similiar movements can be utilized to prevent those who are not fiscally conservative from winning nominations. By 2010 I think the political environment will be favorable to conservatives, especially in Republican primary elections.

  • In the end, many Americans want things that are contradictory given the political options they have available.

    I think that’s a good point, Joe. Though part of that contradicts the mandate for universal health care: Polls generally show that while Americans are in favor of universal health care, they are not in favor of higher taxes, of the government rationing health care, or the government telling them where they can get covered health care. Classic case of the people being in favor of having cake so long as that won’t prevent them from eating it first. Where this will all end up is hard to say, but I have serious doubts that the idea that general opinion has actually shifted much at all to the left — just as claims that it had shifted much to the right in 94-04 were exaggerated.

    e. & Steve,

    For sure, the GOP is not as conservative as many would like, and I think everyone has standing beefs with it’s recent direction. (My own have to do with immigration and fiscal responsibility.) One of the things that the American two party system tends to do, though, is draw both parties towards the center of gravity. If we had half a dozen or more viable political parties like a lot of parliamentary democracies, we might be able to find niche parties more precisely to our liking, but given the American system we’re pretty much left to try to make sure our own ideas gain the upper hand within the wider GOP.

    I’ve always thought it would be interesting if the two major parties split into 4-6 medium-sized ones, but I don’t see it as very likely since so many political forces reinforce unity. Given that, taking our toys and going home doesn’t really do conservatives much good.

  • Bush was not a liberal…

    George W. Bush not a liberal?

    The man who single handedly destroyed the remnants of social conservatism — something even his opponents would never have done — not a liberal?

    Truly, conservatism (as it was once known) is dead.

  • Donald and Darwin,

    Sorry for getting a little hot under the collar, here. Just thinking about the way the GOP and some of the high-profile right to life orgs have double-crossed the pro-life movement gets me a little fiery. It drives me nuts that W. has pro-life cred when he became the first prez to fund research on the destruction of human life.

    That said, I fear we are witnessing the opposite of Darwin’s ideal of having 4-6 smaller niche parties. Rather than having two parties, we have just one. I certainly don’t think McCain would be as awful as Obama. But I do feel pretty confident that policy (particularly fiscal) would be quite similar in nature.

    I don’t think the two party system is anchored to the center to appeal to the masses. I think it’s anchored to the center because the same interests fund both parties.

    The powers that be offer us two alternatives that both advance their ends, and I suspect they care little who wins. For 20 years we’ve gotten identical policy from both parties: Center-right on foreign policy, unapologetic defense of Israeli aggression, fiscal irresponsibility, and center-left on pro-life issues.

  • The Republicans can talk all they want about reigning in social programs and spending, but in the arena of the military industrial complex, they have no qualms with a perpetual distortion of the economy to keep the U.S. on a war-footing.

    If I am not mistaken, the share of domestic product accounted for by military expenditure has increased from 3.6% to 4.4% in the last decade.

  • Libertarians need to take over the Republican party. Its that simple. I agree with Don, the libertarian party has been unable to attract votes. I think that is due in part to their own awkward, compromised platform.

    Ironically, Peter Schiff today announced his exploratory committee to run as a Republican from Connecticut. As a guy who predicted the economic collapse for years while being laughed at, I wish him luck. Like Rep. Paul, I doubt he’ll be able to count on his own party to support him.

    But if Schiff can make it through the primary, I think he has a better than 50/50 shot at sending Chris Dodd home. Good riddance, I say.

    The GOP must return to its principles and then deliver on them. That’s why they’ve been loosing. It won’t be long before the Obama-luster starts to wear off big time…

  • It’s not clear to me that conservatism qua conservatism is winning so much as the economy isn’t improving, and people (irrationally in many cases) blame whoever happens to be President for what’s going on in the economy. If the economy recovers in time for the mid-terms, Obama and the Congressional Democrats will be fine. If it doesn’t they won’t and he may be in trouble in 2012 (if the GOP can find a candidate). But I don’t think it means conservatism is alive and well – although reports of its death (like liberalism in 2004) may have been greatly exaggerated.

  • I don’t think the two party system is anchored to the center to appeal to the masses. I think it’s anchored to the center because the same interests fund both parties.

    So it’s just a coincidence that the policies of both parties tend towards the center?

  • B.A.,

    I dispute the notion that policy of both parties gravitates toward center. As it has been previously mentioned in this thread, the center jumps all over. When we only have two mainstream parties, the center will be halfway between each party, almost by definition.

    It’s all relativism. I think many of us here would agree that neither party is anywhere near the middle on fiscal policy. A true fiscal centrist, these days, would be derided as an extreme, right-wing capitalist.

  • The center shifts depending on events. The election of Reagan signaled a shift to the right in many areas. Reagan, with many false steps to be sure, helped lay the groundwork for a formidable resurgence of the GOP which did not end until 2006. Now Obama, in his own way, is helping lay the groundwork for such a resurgence again.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/daily_presidential_tracking_poll

    I agree with John Henry that much, as always in American politics, depends upon the economy. That is why while I am optimistic politically I think this coming winter will be rather grim, unfortunately, economically. I am besieged currently with more bankruptcies and foreclosures than I have ever experienced before. If the economy has hit bottom, one would not know it from Central Illinois. Here I think the worst is yet to come, and I have been giving this warning to all of my clients, both institutional and individual.

  • I dispute the notion that policy of both parties gravitates toward center. As it has been previously mentioned in this thread, the center jumps all over. When we only have two mainstream parties, the center will be halfway between each party, almost by definition.

    The center will be halfway between the two parties only insofar as those parties gravitate towards the center. To take an extreme example, if one of the parties were to come out in favor of cannibalism, this wouldn’t move the center towards a more pro-cannibal position, but would only serve to marginalize that party.

  • B.A.,

    I think that point is pretty absurd.

    But if we will enter the realm of the absurd, than I’d counter by saying I suspect if there were a pro-cannibalism organization with a great deal of money and clout or a strong cannibalism union, that we’d be hearing a lot about how cannibalism is only one issue among many or that “I voted for him in spite of his pro-cannibalistic viewpoints.”

    At various points in time this last half century, you could have made that same point substituting abortion, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, same-sex marriage, and a whole host of other issues for cannibalism.

  • At various points in time this last half century, you could have made that same point substituting abortion, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, same-sex marriage, and a whole host of other issues for cannibalism.

    True. If public opinion were to become more pro-cannibal, so would the politicians (as Mencken wrote of Harry Truman “[i]f there had been any formidable body of cannibals in the country, he would have promised to provide them with free missionaries fattened at the taxpayers’ expense.”) But in that case the political parties would be following public opinion, not the other way around.

  • If, as Don predicts, “the worst is yet to come” economically, that could cut both ways when it comes to conservatism/liberalism.

    While right now it seems to be producing a groundswell of tax revolts and demands to rein in government spending, cut social programs, etc., it could also have the opposite effect as more people find themselves in need of government-funded or supported services.

  • Not if they blame the Obama policies Elaine for producing an Obama recession or, God Forbid!, an Obama depression. What the government is doing now is completely opposite from what it should be doing to encourage economic growth. Unfortunately a great many people are going to get a very nasty lesson in what happens when we have, at best, a double dip recession.

  • This is what I mean by signs that the worst is yet to come.

    http://www.ntcnews.com/2009/07/wall-street-pm-070909-dow-stays-under.html