4 Responses to One Million Expected To See Shroud of Turin

  • Dear friends,
    I thought you might be interested in a documentary on the Shroud of Turin 
    to premiere on the History Channel on March 30th.
    It is titled “The Real Face of Jesus?”.
    This documentary looks at the Shroud from a unusual angle. 
    Instead of getting bogged down in the authenticity debate, it analyzes some of the unique characteristics found in the Shroud. 
    It is a content-rich, intellectually stimulating blend of science, art, and religion. It focuses on the process of recreating the face of the man in the Shroud from the 3D information encoded in it, and explores the totally unique characteristics of this artifact.
    We co-produced this film and we hope to do our small part in raising the bar for TV productions, which are so sadly shallow these days. The success and future of this kind of production rests entirely in the hands of the audience who tunes in to watch it, so any help in spreading the word will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,


  • The program was done with exceptional detail, logic and comprehensiveness. It covered all the bases — science, religion, computer graphic technology and appropriate skepticism. I’m a firm believer in the Shroud’s authenticity; but I can understand those who do not accept it. As they say, if you have the gift of faith, no artifact such as the Shroud is necessary; if you don’t have the gift of faith, no such artifact is convincing.

  • I am a dedicated catholic, I feel impelled to give my testimony because one needs to witness to the truth where and when necessary. In 1981 I was very privileged to have had a vision of our lord Jesus Christ in a historic church that was dedicated to St.Peter and St.Paul, I saw our Lords face, so sad.And the crown of thorns on his head so clear was this vision i could see the string of thorns encircled many times and the thorns so clear as if one would be pricked by them, I was totally awestruck and as you can imagine this vision took me from being a christian with many question marks to a fervent believer, after the vision i went to my mothers home when i went in to her living room i told my mother of my wonderful vision and was overwhelmed to discover that my mother had a copy of the shroud of Turin on her wall.I immediately said to my mother, this is Jesus Christ, this is who i saw actually as he is. It is him. The holy shroud image is that Of Jesus Christ, I can’t prove it but i would lay my life on this because it is true. I have since 1981 had many other experiences which have also confirmed to me the authenticity of the holy shroud and that it is of our Lord Jesus Christ. One day it will be recognised as true and venerated as the wonderful relic that it is, and i look forward to that day. Yours in Christ … Fred

  • Fred,

    I’m with you.

    I too believe that the Shroud is the real deal!

Cardinal Newman on Fasting

Wednesday, February 17, AD 2010

“And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungered.” Matt. iv. 2.

{1} THE season of humiliation, which precedes Easter, lasts for forty days, in memory of our Lord’s long fast in the wilderness. Accordingly on this day, the first Sunday in Lent, we read the Gospel which gives an account of it; and in the Collect we pray Him, who for our sakes fasted forty days and forty nights, to bless our abstinence to the good of our souls and bodies.

We fast by way of penitence, and in order to subdue the flesh. Our Saviour had no need of fasting for either purpose. His fasting was unlike ours, as in its intensity, so in its object. And yet when we begin to fast, His pattern is set before us; and we continue the time of fasting till, in number of days, we have equalled His.

There is a reason for this;—in truth, we must do nothing except with Him in our eye. As He it is, through whom alone we have the power to do any good {2} thing, so unless we do it for Him it is not good. From Him our obedience comes, towards Him it must look. He says, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” [John xv. 5.] No work is good without grace and without love.

Continue reading...

Palin Responds to Family Guy Attack on Trig

Tuesday, February 16, AD 2010

Sarah Palin and Bristol Palin respond to the vile Family Guy attack on Trig, her son with Down’s Syndrome:

People are asking me to comment on yesterday’s Fox show that felt like another kick in the gut. Bristol was one who asked what I thought of the show that mocked her baby brother, Trig (and/or others with special needs), in an episode yesterday. Instead of answering, I asked her what she thought. Here is her conscientious reply, which is a much more restrained and gracious statement than I want to make about an issue that begs the question, “when is enough, enough?”:

“When you’re the son or daughter of a public figure, you have to develop thick skin. My siblings and I all have that, but insults directed at our youngest brother hurt too much for us to remain silent. People with special needs face challenges that many of us will never confront, and yet they are some of the kindest and most loving people you’ll ever meet. Their lives are difficult enough as it is, so why would anyone want to make their lives more difficult by mocking them? As a culture, shouldn’t we be more compassionate to innocent people – especially those who are less fortunate? Shouldn’t we be willing to say that some things just are not funny? Are there any limits to what some people will do or say in regards to my little brother or others in the special needs community? If the writers of a particularly pathetic cartoon show thought they were being clever in mocking my brother and my family yesterday, they failed. All they proved is that they’re heartless jerks. – Bristol Palin”

– Sarah Palin

Perhaps it is partially because I have an autistic son, but words literally fail me to adequately describe people evil enough to mock a handicapped child because they differ with the mother of the child politically.

Continue reading...

79 Responses to Palin Responds to Family Guy Attack on Trig

  • Family Guy is commonly about as tasteless as the imagination permits, exceeded in this only by South Park. It is an indication of how corrupted the media have grown in a modest time frame.

    Amy Carter was overexposed but given only the mildest ribbing by the likes of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players and Chelsea Clinton was left in peace (bar for being called a ‘dog’ by Rush Limbaugh). I think one of Geraldine Ferraro’s children is named ‘John’; do you recall the other two?

  • It is quite amazing that people who allegedly have their full faculties and imaginative creativity will act like the effin’ retards they ascribe people with actual special needs as being.

    The fact is people with mental retardation, autism and other impairments are more enjoyable, joyful and pleasant to be around than any of these monkeys who like to throw mean words around without considering the feelings of those who have impairments and the loved ones who care for them

    If you ask me, that is pretty effin’ retarded, especially when the goal is to attack a defenseless child simply because his mother makes you feel uncomfortable and intimidated.

    Do you think that the fact that we consider children a burden and a punishment for recreational sex or a simple ‘choice’ to kill has anything to do with considering anyone with special needs as a burden on society and fair game for ridicule?


  • One of the things Palin has unquestionably achieved (to her sorrow) is giving the hard left a chance to show the entire country how utterly despicable and hateful the “caring” party can be.

  • Southpark usually has a nuanced and valid point to make, even if it is one we disagree with. It has had pro-life episodes, and many shows about the humanity and dignity of disabled people.

    I simply can’t put that show in the same class as Family Guy, which is nothing but one-sided propaganda.

    In addition to being intrinsically evil, making fun of a down-syndrome child is mind-bogglingly irrational and stupid if your goal is to somehow oppose Sarah Palin.

    In the end this is the same show that depicted Jesus as a pedophile, God as a selfish womanizer, and all Christians as mindless, book-burning, hate-filled bigots. It’s the kind of stuff I might have thought up as an angst-ridden teenage atheist in rebellion against the Church. I’m glad I grew up, and I’m sad others are still stuck there.

    And you know what MacFarlane’s defense always is? And its the same one used by all of these guys: either we can make fun of everything, or we can make fun of nothing. Everything is sacred or nothing is sacred. And somehow our first amendment embodies this idea. Of course this is irrational, illogical, and childish.

  • When a culture makes everything profane, nothing is sacred.

  • I seem to recall that Joan Rivers was interviewed in 1983 or thereabouts and said her aim was to be “the meanest bitch in America”. Asked if any topic was off limits, she said, “deformed children…and religion I’m very careful with…”. Well, that was then.

  • I deleted your comment restrainedradical. No one in this thread will be allowed to speak in defense of this vile assault on human decency. All such comments will be deleted.

  • In my misspent past as a teen, youth, young adult and sadly full grown man I would have found this funny. In fact, I used to like the show as well as other prurient interests. Then I was assaulted by God and only by His Grace I came to my senses and returned to the Church of my Baptism.

    Making that decision meant that I was all in. Of course, I only think I am all in because everyday I am reminded of how not-at-all-in I really am. Yet, I know that morality is not in me it comes from God alone. Adhering to His standards renders this and other things I would have found entertaining and funny in my past as sick and twisted.

    I certainly am not ‘politically correct’ and I don’t think we need to allow coercion, government or social, to limit artistic expression. Yet, I think that social standards, based on ‘mere Christian’ morals must be infused into our culture.

    This ‘joke’ was not funny because it maligns children with inherent limitations and not because it attacks Sarah Palin. She’s a big girl and can take care of herself and she chose public life. I think that children with mental retardation, physical disabilities, Down Syndrome, etc. have a greater opportunity for sanctification than fools that find this kind of crap funny.

    I think if I met myself from several years back, I might kick my own ass.

  • The sad thing is that Family Guy is capable of being hysterically funny without being radically offensive.

  • Sadly, I read restrained radical’s comment before it was deleted. It’s an appalling enigma to me how the left is so adamantly against torture, but at the same time can applaud a wicked and evil cartoon which could be considered one of the most deadly of weapons, the most harmful poison. Society must be nourished with good, not evil, and evil is being preached to an immense audience. Evil such as this corrupts and kills souls. But then, the principles of God’s kingdom and the principles of the world are vastly different. That cartoon caused unnecessary pain to the Palins and countless others. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, a perfect time to contemplate Jesus’ crowning with thorns. Mother Teresa said that mental illness is Jesus’ crown of thorns. Although children with downs’ syndrome are certainly not mentally ill, I think we could extend the meditation to include the parents of these children who suffer greatly with mockery, taunts and insults directed toward their beloved children.

  • restrainedradical is a valued commenter here at American Catholic. This thread however is not one where our usual free-wheeling debate format applies. I feel quite strongly about this and no comments defending the Family Guy spit in the face of decency will be allowed. If handicapped kids can be mocked as entertainment or political attack, then we truly are a culture that is sick unto death.

  • Surprisingly (at least to me), The Anchoress is defending “Family Guy” and criticizing Palin for speaking out:


    I responded somewhat negatively in her comboxes.

  • I’m not seeing how the clip was an attack on Trig (not saying it wasn’t mind you, just that I don’t see how it was). Maybe someone could explain?

  • “I think if I met myself from several years back, I might kick my own ass.”

    American Knight,

    The desire to go back in time and kick your own backside is the universal sign of maturity. To me, the realization of how we were wrong in the past explains why reconciliation is the greatest of the sacraments.*

    * Unless my wife is reading and then my answer is marriage is the greatest sacrament.

  • I’m missing something. I get “former governor of Alaska” is referencing Sarah Palin, but how does Trig fit into this? I don’t get it. I second the call for an explanation.

  • The date has Downs syndrome, the one who says she is the daughter of a former governor of Alaska. That is indictated by the way that she speaks.

    The Huffington post author here is clear as to what Seth MacFarlane intended.


  • Jay, the Anchoress is simply clueless on this. The insult was directly aimed at Trig as you pointed out. That the Anchoress can’t see this astounds me.

  • I’m not seeing how the clip was an attack on Trig (not saying it wasn’t mind you, just that I don’t see how it was). Maybe someone could explain?

    I think MacFarlane was trying to cover his ass by recasting Todd Palin as ‘an accountant’ and Trig as female.

  • I had deleted this comment but on second thought I am going to post it. It came from someone, now banned from this blog, calling himself FascistHater. His name is apt, but not in the way he intended. It is a monument to the type of hatred that motivates people to attack those they disagree with by attacking their kids. Such hatred ultimately consumes those who revel in it.

    “What a bunch of “knee jerk assholes” you all are. Did any of you watch this entire show? The girl with downs syndrome is treated as a self assured young women who is the superior of the “normal” Chris Griffin. I’m certain if he had made inappropriate suggestions involving a Lufta she would have shoved it up his ass. If only Palin’s “Normal” slut daughter was as self assured and bright as this cartoon character.

    By the way Don sorry about your son but maybe someone with genes as defective as yours shouldn’t be reproducing. Hey . . . if my comments going to be deleted might as well make it good.”

  • The date has Downs syndrome, the one who says she is the daughter of a former governor of Alaska. That is indictated by the way that she speaks.

    Okay, but how is that an attack on Trig?

  • Governor of Alaska plus Downs Syndrome Child. The Downs Syndrome child is also portrayed as nasty and manipulative. This is not rocket science BA.

  • Don, I caught that comment last night but refrained from commenting because I knew it would be deleted. Obviously the person is quite filled with hate and apparently a proud fascist too (they often go hand in hand dontcha know), but I was wondering if you were able to tell if the person was someone we’re familiar with or just a drive by. I was inclined to think it was the typical leftist type of drive by because I only know of a handful truly hatefilled semi-regulars but their names are well known and they seem to have no shame about associating their name with their venom. However, I got to thinking that this person probably knows more about you than can be ascertained from the post. Nevermind, I’m fairly sure who it is. Sad.

  • Governor of Alaska plus Downs Syndrome Child. The Downs Syndrome child is also portrayed as nasty and manipulative. This is not rocket science BA.

    I grant that it was a reference to Palin/Trig. That much is obvious. What I don’t get is what is insulting about it. The girl didn’t come across as nasty or manipulative in the clip to me, and even if she did, Trig isn’t a teenage girl, so it’s not like these attributes would be ascribed to him.

    I agree this isn’t rocket science, why is what makes the unwillingness/inability of people to say what was insulting about the clip somewhat mysterious.

  • I think I may have watched family guy once, maybe twice. Never thought it funny or entertaining – mostly just stupid. No reason to ever watch it.

  • Nothing mysterious about it BA. You simply do not think it is insulting. I, Trig’s mother and Trig’s sister think it is, along with quite a few other people. I guess we’ll see how this plays out and how many other people fail to see what I think is an obvious attack on a child with Downs Syndrome simply to vent political hatred.

  • FWIW, I could see the, “Well, this isn’t all that offensive,” point were this more or less in isolation. However, given that Palin has been consistently vilified by the left for bringing a child with Downs Syndrome to term ever since she appeared on the national stage, I think it’s reached the point where making a point of it at all (especially in a venue like Family Guy, which has become an all purpose political/cultural attack program over the last couple years) plays as offensive.

  • “but I was wondering if you were able to tell if the person was someone we’re familiar with or just a drive by.”

    Deliberately didn’t attempt to Rick. The person involved wasn’t worth that much effort on my part. Whoever it was I feel pity more than anything else. Living with that level of hate must be like wearing an emotional hair shirt.

  • The girl didn’t come across as nasty or manipulative in the clip to me

    She rebukes him for not helping her to her seat and then rebukes him for not asking about her person. You wouldn’t mind?

  • Nothing mysterious about it BA. You simply do not think it is insulting. I, Trig’s mother and Trig’s sister think it is, along with quite a few other people.

    I’m asking why you thought it was insulting. Saying, “well I and a lot of other people thought it was insulting” doesn’t answer that question.

  • It’s pretty incoherent, which is describes the MacFarlane’s humor in general. Throw everything against the wall and hope to elicit a response.

    South Park actually had a dead-on hilarious parody of the Family Guy writing style during the notorious censored Muhammad episode, depicting FG as being written by manatees who nudge random balls labelled with pop culture references into a mixing machine, thus leading to the attempted gags.

    After having watched the clip, it sure looks like a manatee job. I agree that it’s offensive, and a secondary shot at Trig, but I think it’s more of an attack on Sarah Palin than her son, projecting the latter’s handicaps on to the former. I say “secondary” because the depiction of the impaired character as an obnoxious, attention-mongering glasses-wearing diva is a direct attack on the former Governor herself.

  • [G]iven that Palin has been consistently vilified by the left for bringing a child with Downs Syndrome to term ever since she appeared on the national stage, I think it’s reached the point where making a point of it at all (especially in a venue like Family Guy, which has become an all purpose political/cultural attack program over the last couple years) plays as offensive.

    I can understand this as a psychological explanation, but if past attacks make people conclude that any reference to Palin is per se insulting then I think they are overreacting.

  • BA, I’ll try this one last time with you and I’ll put it in personal terms. My son is autistic. He is a constant joy to me and to his mother. He is unable to carry on a normal conversation, although he can answer yes and no questions. His autism may have caused retardation although with autism this is difficult to say. He can read although how much he retains is often a mystery for us and his teachers. His autism gives him all sorts of behavioral quirks so that he will never be able to live independently or work outside of a sheltered workshop. Things that other people can do without thinking, he, sadly, will not be able to do. Compared to most people his life will be hard, something thus far he has coped with magnificently.

    If I were to be a public figure, and a “comedy” show decided to feature a character who is mentally handicapped and who is the child of a person who is clearly intended to be me, I would be livid. My son was not brought into this world to be used as a prop by which an attack could be launched against me. That you fail to understand why I would be livid, and why the Palins are livid, I find baffling.

  • If I were to be a public figure, and a “comedy” show decided to feature a character who is mentally handicapped and who is the child of a person who is clearly intended to be me, I would be livid. My son was not brought into this world to be used as a prop by which an attack could be launched against me.

    This begs the question of how it was an attack, which is what I was asking. If I comedy show attacked my family I would be livid too. But I don’t see how the above clip constitutes an attack.

  • Because Trig can’t defend himself BA, just as my son cannot defend himself. Kids of politicians used to be off-limits. Now it is open season on disabled kids of politicians. I guess common deceny is a thing of the past.

  • BA,

    I think Dale summed it up well. The odd thing for me is that the scene was simply not funny. I don’t mean not funny because it was offensive, it was simply not funny period. I’ve watched the Family Guy before and found certain bits extremely funny…even some of the very offensive ones, but this one wasn’t funny and is quite transparent and unnecessary. It’s clear that it was framed with Sarah Palin in mind, which in itself isn’t a problem, but that the cudgel is Down Syndrome because of her son is rather distasteful.

  • Exactly, Don. It wasn’t that Family Guy necessarily depicted the disabled person in a negative light. It was the fact that the show’s creator felt the need to draw the connection between the disabled person depicted and a 2-year-old disabled person actually in existence.

    It would have been objectionable to use ANY of a politician’s kids to make a dig at that politician; to use a politician’s 2-year-old disabled child to do so makes it all the worse.

  • DarwinCatholic:

    Absolutely. And not only has the Left revealed how vicious the “compassionate” can be, they have managed to show that their socialist policies aren’t really motivated by compassion for the poor and downtrodden after all, as they like to pretend. If that was really their motivation, they wouldn’t behave this way.

    Which brings us to the question. If the Left’s socialist policies aren’t driven by compassion, then what’s their real motivation? The answer, I think, is a combination of a desire for control over others, and the worship of the state which they have divinized in their minds.

  • Let’s make it clear, if Rush does it, it is wrong. If Family Guy does it, it is wrong. There. Left and right — are both of them lacking compassion because of Rush or Family Guy? I think many on both sides are; but many are not. Don’t do guilt by association; Family Guy isn’t like Rush, though — one of the big differences is Family Guy is a rude, crude, nasty show and a “comedy” with its axe to grind but yet — it isn’t gearing itself as a piece of political opinion to help energize politics. Rush and Beck and people like them — are. But that doesn’t make Family Guy good. It’s a show which makes Beavis and Butthead look intelligent.

  • Because Trig can’t defend himself BA, just as my son cannot defend himself.

    Defend himself from what? All of your comments make sense only on the assumption that the Family Guy clip above constitutes an attack on Trig. What I’m asking is, how is it an attack?

  • I think Dale summed it up well. The odd thing for me is that the scene was simply not funny. I don’t mean not funny because it was offensive, it was simply not funny period.

    Dale’s theory, as I understanding it, is that the girl is supposed to be Sarah Palin. Watching the above clip, that idea would not have occurred to me in a million years.

  • I watch family guy – it’s very left, it’s very offensive, and occasionally it’s very funny, but that’s hit or miss. I’m generally irritated by the hyper-sensitive jump to offense behavior of people a la the recent hoopla over Rahm Emanuel’s comment which was clearly not directed at or referring to mentally handicapped people (incidentally, the much smarter and funnier South Park recently had a good show about about just this thing except instead of “retarded” it looked a homosexual slur that has now been adopted to mean something else in the culture, but I digress). However, I can understand how this could be hurtful b/c it’s definitely targeted at Palin and her son (the former to a bigger extent than the latter I think). I sort of see what blackadder is saying in that it doesn’t seem like an attack against the DS girl, but rahter that DS was used to tie her to Palin. I think the point is that whether he intended to mock DS itself (or Trig himself), the writer clearly used the real life handicap of one of Palin’s children to mock her. And I do think that crosses a line.

  • BA

    I agree it might be difficult to see, but the girl is not Sarah Palin. The girl represents Sarah’s children morphed into one. It is a girl and apparently has Down’s Syndrome. And it is being used to goad Sarah Palin — mock both her daughter’s dating choices as well as Trig. I can see where it is coming from, and I can see why this is not respectable at all (just like attacks on Chelsea were not respectable). If the girl were Sarah and she was shown careless with her children, that would be one thing; but taking it out on her children for their mother, no, not good.

  • The line goes that once you explain a joke, it’s not funny. This joke wasn’t funny in the first place, so far as I can tell, but we seem to be struggling with a situation where an insult isn’t insulting once you explain it. I’ll give it a shot, though.

    The gag here (to the extent that there is one) appears to be that Chris goes out on a date with a somewhat bitchy and demanding girl who speaks in a “retard” voice. When he asks about her family, she explains that her mother is the governor of Alaska. I guess one could see this either as a “boy, they all seem to be retards in Palin’s family, don’t they” joke or as “oh, Down Syndome, heh heh, Palin, heh heh” joke. Either way, it seems to get what little steam it has from associating mental disabilities and disagreeableness with Palin.

    Now, I suppose one could say, “Why is it offensive to associate Down Syndome or retardation generally with Palin’s family? She has a child with Down Syndrome, but there’s nothing shameful in that.” This would be true in a limitted sense, but it ignores the fact that in the instance in question it’s clearly being treated as something which is humorous or derisive, not just a “Oh, by the way, did you hear a child of the former Alaskan governor has Down Syndrome?” This is where the fact that Palin has been routinely mocked by the left for having a child with Down Syndrome would come into play.

    I suppose a comparison might be, say that the Family Guy episode had featured Chris going on a date with a bitchy and spoiled teenage black girl, who proceeded to wolf down a couple watermelons and speak in a heavily stereotyped “Black English” accent. If when Chris asked her about her family she explained that her father was the president of the United States, people might rightly take this as a racist attack on the Obamas. Now clearly, there’s nothing wrong with being black, so one could question how this was an insult, but the obvious answer would be that the show was attempting to make “Obama’s kids are black” an insult, and thus serving as both racist and anti-Obama.

  • The date has Downs syndrome, the one who says she is the daughter of a former governor of Alaska. That is indicated by the way that she speaks.

    Thanks for the explanations. But as I watched the clip, my impressions were that reference to the former Alaskan governor was nothing more than a non sequitur. I saw the date as merely having a speech impediment, nothing more. Downs Syndrome never came to mind, because the character’s demeanor was very different to that of people with DS that I have encountered.

  • I suppose a comparison might be, say that the Family Guy episode had featured Chris going on a date with a bitchy and spoiled teenage black girl, who proceeded to wolf down a couple watermelons and speak in a heavily stereotyped “Black English” accent. If when Chris asked her about her family she explained that her father was the president of the United States, people might rightly take this as a racist attack on the Obamas.

    That would be offensive. But unless I’m misinformed, there isn’t a stereotype that people with Downs Syndrome are bitchy and demanding.

  • I had taken the “retard speak” voice as being the negative stereotype generic to mental disabilities, and assumed that eating watermelons and “Black English” would be the equivalent stereotype in regards to race.

  • Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder that carries with it various physical characteristics that are easily identifiable even to the average observer. It’s pretty clear (to me anyway) that the intention was to illustrate the character as having Down Syndrome.

    Still, regardless of how ill conceived or executed the scene was, it’s clearly intended to be a dig on Palin which in itself isn’t a problem. Using Down Syndrome to do it would be tasteless in itself, but it’s certainly no coincidence that that means was employed because she has a DS child.

  • employed ugh

    [Fixed it for you Rick. 😉 – Tito]

  • Maybe I’m slow to catch on…

    The physical attributes I get. However, animation is a poor medium to convey that. Upon re-listening, I see your point about the speech, Rick. However, my initial impression was that of a woman with a lisp combined with an Elmer Fudd-ian style of pronunciation. DS never came to mind.

    Oh well, I guess I shall retreat back into my bubble where most pop culture influences do not dare enter.

  • I had taken the “retard speak” voice as being the negative stereotype generic to mental disabilities

    I’m not sure having speech problems is a stereotype about people with Downs as it is a reality. I mean, the actress who plays the girl has Downs Syndrome. That’s her real voice.

  • Let me also make a side point. Both from watching the clip and from reading about it in general, a theme of the episode seems to be that people with Downs Syndrome aren’t all that different from the rest of us. We live in a world where 90% of couples who are told there child has Downs abort, perhaps in part because they have an exaggerated image of the problems associated with Downs. The message of the show, in other words, is one that people desperately need to hear, and particularly for the FG viewer demographic I’m not sure if there would have been a more effective way of getting that message across.

  • Thanks Tito. I’d type this in huge letters if WP would let me. 😉

    BA, so yes, the speech issue is a reality. And based on what you just wrote, the voice actress has DS. Her character claimed to be the child of a former Alaska governor. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to assume that whole gag is about Sarah Palin due to her having a DS child. Yeah, it’s not like they were attacking Trig directly, but it is reflective of a rather nasty attitude. I mean, with all the things someone could use to rib Palin like her botched interviews, writing on her hand, leftist stereotypes of conservatives as dumb hicks, it takes a pretty vicious mind to use their child’s birth defect in an attempt to score a point and/or laugh.

  • Rick,

    Again, I’m not denying that the reference was to Palin. That’s obvious. I just don’t see what’s insulting about it, either to Trig or to Palin.

  • Somehow BA’s unique interpretation of how the mockery of Trig is good for handicapped people eluded Seth MacFarlane who manfully responded to the controversy by sending out his publicist with this statement:

    “The Times asked “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane for an interview regarding the matter. But he opted to send a statement via his publicist: “From its inception, ‘Family Guy’ has used biting satire as the foundation of its humor. The show is an “equal-opportunity offender.””

  • I think Henry Karlson is correct. The girl is a conflation of Bristol and Trig.

  • Dale’s theory, as I understanding it, is that the girl is supposed to be Sarah Palin. Watching the above clip, that idea would not have occurred to me in a million years.

    Just a cobbled together guess, based only on the clip and the one previous bit of venom directed at Palin (Stewie in an SS uniform wearing a “McCain/Palin” button). I bow to anyone who watched the whole thing for context. For my part, it would not have occurred to me in a million years that I would be carefully parsing FG episodes for narrative context. 🙂

    After all, the show peaked with the Benjamin Disraeli sight gag…

  • Somehow BA’s unique interpretation of how the mockery of Trig is good for handicapped people…

    It’s not that I think mocking Trig is good for handicapped people; it’s that I don’t see how the show was mocking Trig.

    My comment about the effects of the show generally was, as I said, a side point. As I understand it, many of the people here who think the show was offensive only have a problem with the reference to Palin, not to the show’s treatment of Downs Syndrome generally (certainly your comments have focused in this direction). So whether you agree that the show could serve a useful purpose in demystifying Downs is separate from whether you think the reference to Palin was out of line (and visa versa).

  • I think Henry Karlson is correct. The girl is a conflation of Bristol and Trig.

    I’m not really seeing this. The girl in the clip doesn’t look like Bristol Palin, Chris neither looks nor acts like Levi Johnson, etc. The only reason I can see for saying that she must be Bristol is that as a teenage girl she obviously can’t be Trig.

  • A link to Seth MacFarlane’s campaign contributions:


    Then we have his comments about the election when he was stumping for Obama:

    Then we have the McCain-Palin are Nazis scene from the Family Guy.

    MacFarlane is a bitter partisan of the Left. That is his right. When he decides to give vent to his hatred by mocking a disabled child of someone he hates, that should go way over the line for any civilized person.

  • Anchoress did not say Palin should not have spoken out. She said she should have done so differently, in a way that would have turned the tables on Family Guy.

  • I speak as a big-time critic of Sarah Palin as a potential political leader- I don’t see any valid point in targeting her as a parent of a child with a disability- she’s a human being- not one of us would find it acceptable for someone to take us on as public bloggers and start picking on our kids- especially our youngest most vulnerable children.

    Joe has pointed out that it is perhaps possible to include the disabled in a joke line that isn’t just picking on someone, but makes some larger relevant point about some issue related to being disabled. But clearly, making sly reference to a politician’s disabled child is cruel and unusual- and unless that part of the Left wing is ok with their alter-ego part of the Right wing, perhaps targeting Obama through sly put-downs of persons meant to bring to mind his daughters- then I would say the more reasonable folks should be able to bring public shame to this type of “humor”. With public shame in the offing, most commercial artists will learn that there is no pay-off for continuing such a trend. Public shaming has a role to play- it can be a check on out-of-bounds expression without having to resort to some kind of direct censorship.

  • I agree with Tim.

    If the tables were turned and a Family Guy clip had Mr. Seth McFarlane mocking President Obama’s precious little daughters using derogatory black stereotypes all hell would break loose in the form of constant media attacks in characterizing conservative Americans as hateful bigots.

    My two-cents worth.

  • A couple months back there was an episode of 30 Rock where one of the characters tried to infiltrate Obama’s “inner circle” by befriending one of his daughters. There were scenes of him talking on the phone with the daughter, etc. in which he adopted a valley girl voice and basically talked like a stereotypical schoolgirl. I don’t recall much of a fuss about this at the time, presumably because while the show quite clearly was referencing the Obama family there was nothing insulting about what was being said about them (one could argue that it was insulting to imply that Obama’s daughters act like little girls, but then they are little girls).

  • BA,

    So acting like a little girl is equivalent to a derogatory black stereotype?


  • Interesting counter example, BA.

    As per previous discussion, though, I assume that if the 30 Rock character had used a heavily “Black English” voice rather than a schoolgirl voice, people would have seen that as more offensive — because although some black people do indeed talk that way (though not the Obamas) it’s seen as connected to a negative stereotype about black people.

    I think the reason people are taking offense in this case is that although it’s true that people with Down Syndrome do have speech impediments, the social perception of those speech impediments is pretty uniformly negative.

    By which I guess I mean, it seems to me that simply making “hey, did you hear Palin’s kid has Down Syndrome” references (at least in a comedy show, especially one that emphasizes sharp political satire) will end up coming off as derogatory all on its own.

  • I don’t know Blackadder. I guess there are different thresholds or considerations people take into account on things. For example, I have a son who is developmentally delayed. He’s not classified as autistic though he has some similar symptoms. In fact, it sounds like he is not much unlike Don’s boy in functionality and prospects for his future. I didn’t take offense Obama’s Special Olympics joke a few months ago, yet many others did. I didn’t view it as a dig on special needs kids nor indicative of an underlying disrespect or contempt for them. I viewed it as a bit of self-deprecating humor on behalf of Obama and have used the same type on myself (still do in fact).

    In this case, it’s more a matter that I can see how many could be offended because there is nothing really humorous in it though it was an attempt to use a DS as a pretext of slamming a political opponent or at best forcing in a political jab where it has no business. I guess I’m looking at it more from where something like this must have come from. Unfortunately I think there are a number of hate filled people like that Hateful Fascist guy who insulted Don. It’s one thing to have such a hard heart and express it, it’s another to use or tear down innocent or powerless people to vent that hatred. It’s certainly not something in our Christian understanding of the dignity of the person that there is any room for, but it strikes me as the type of thing that just about anybody of good will would avoid. Nay, that it’s not even something they would conceive of. I guess I’m just offended that people think that way and act upon it.

  • Rick,

    I have to admit that President Obama’s joke was self-deprecating.

    The GOP and conservatives were politically opportunistic in bashing him and were not justified in their anger.

    In contrast, I believe Mr. Seth Mcfarlane was deliberately being nasty in this clip. Unfortunately I do watch FG from time to time (rabbit ears television) and I can say that Mr. Mcfarlane is a bitter left-winger who takes every opportunity he can to disparage the GOP and conservatives. Although he “claims” to be an equal opportunity offender, the balance is skewed grossly in disparaging conservatives than liberals by a 10-to-1 margin.

  • I’ve FG a fair number of times myself. I don’t particularly care one way or another about the politics. If something is funny, it’s funny. My uneasiness with the shows I have seen are some of the religious things. Unfortunately I have a higher tolerance for religious jokes than I ought, but FG can still manage to offend me in that regard. However, I find great humor in many of the gags whether they be G rated or R rated. The funniest gag I’ve seen on the show was quite R rated, but was right up my alley from a setup/punchline point of view (the scene with the blow-up dolls).

  • I don’t mind the unbalanced attacks as well. I like to laugh and whatever does it for me makes me happy.

    But you have to admit, FG is definitely not on the family viewing list. In fact if I were blessed with children I would stop viewing FG for the sake of the children not catching me watching such filth.

  • Largebill: “American Knight,

    The desire to go back in time and kick your own backside is the universal sign of maturity.”

    I don’t know if I am mature, but I am certainly more mature than I was when I was caught up in the Spirit of the World. It is easy, tempting, alluring and seductive to go with the flow of the present darkness because when you are in it, it doesn’t seem dark. In fact, it seems fun, light and quite right.

    It isn’t. FG could be funny at times; however, when it disparages the defenseless it crosses the line. That doesn’t mean that people with physical and mental limitations cannot be funny or even made fun of in a lighthearted way, but this was clearly mean-spirited.

  • AK

    I think a good example where there is a lighthearted way this was done, and yet misunderstood, was Tropic Thunder. The whole point was to ridicule the way some people with disabilities are used by Hollywood for the sake of self-glorification instead of any real concern for them. But many people felt disturbed by its representation, not understanding the point.

  • HK,

    Tropic Thunder!

    That is a funny movie, enjoyed it thoroughly.

  • HK,

    I did not enjoy the movie as much as Tito, but it had some good parts. I think those actors have so much talent (acting talent, they seem vapid in everything else) that more could have been done.

    Nevertheless, the scene you reference is funny and I agree, it is not offensive because the object of ridicule is not people with mental retardation or other handicaps.

    Stiller does not seem like the kind of guy who would cater to low humor as pertains to people with special needs. Mary’s brother in Something About Mary, which was funny and extremely inappropriate was not disparaged even though he was made fun of. Stiller’s character comes to his defense. Additionally, Dillon’s character refers to people with special needs when he is lying to Mary about how much he likes working with them as ‘retards’, but he is clearly portrayed as a man with very low moral character.

    We cannot be offended at the slightest mention or inappropriate view about sensitive things without referring to the context. I have noticed that many of us, me included, oft times have a knee-jerk defensive reaction when the Church is portrayed in most media. Sometimes it can be done well, I think Doubt was well done and not offensive, Bill Mahr is another matter all together.

    Humor, even off-color humor, can still be funny without being mean.

  • It will come out shortly that Palin used a couple of babies for publicity, and that Trig is NOT her son. I got this info from several non biased observers of the Internet.

    While I have no comment about Palin not getting an abortion (she certainly considered one), I also do not think she has told the truth about the delivery of her baby. I truly do not think the baby she calls Trig is HER baby. Maybe it is her daughter’s, maybe not. The fact is, we do not know for sure what is real and what is not.

  • Michael,

    It is HER baby. The problem is that she was inseminated by a space alien from Zorcon. The delivery was kept secret because it was performed on a Rian spaceship in the Torary Sector. This is what is real. I got it from non-biased sources. It really is.

  • Phillip,

    I’m afraid your ‘sources’ were a bit confused; insemination implies pregnancy and Palin was not pregnant. Trig was transported from the Zorconites via a Rian spaceship (you’re right about their involvement – too many sources have confirmed it at this point), and given to Palin during her flight back to Alaska from Texas. I am still combing through ‘Going Rogue’ for hints about why she was chosen, though.

  • John Henry,

    They’re Zorconians not “Zorconites.” How can I trust you if you can’t even get that right.

  • Pingback: Family Guy Actor Sides With Palin « The American Catholic

Fighting the Evil Empire

Tuesday, February 16, AD 2010

Whether as a sign of intellectual curiosity or general aimlessness, I often find myself reading about random subjects late at night. The other night, I found myself reading about Finland in World War II.

It’s an interesting subject. Finland was invaded by the USSR in 1939, at pretty much the same time they occupied the Baltic states and split Poland with Germany.

In the Winter War of 1939-1940, the Finns successfully slowed the Soviet advance, and eventually the USSR agreed to a peace treaty. Finland was forced to cede the parts of her territory she had not yet won back from the Soviets, but 90% of the country’s territory remained intact. This itself was an amazing military feat for such a small country. It’s also interesting in that they essentially out-Russianed the Russians. Just as Napoleon’s and Hitler’s armies bogged down and froze while trying to invade Russia, the Soviets bogged down and froze while trying to attack Finland, which was even better versed in winter warfare than Russia.

Continue reading...

51 Responses to Fighting the Evil Empire

  • Finland was fighting a just war from beginning to end.

  • For Finland, it was either ally with Germany, or revert to being another Russian province.

    I applaud what the Finns did in beating back an atheist regime.

    I’m curious as to how Finland resolved their “war” with Britain?

  • There are also parallels here with Franco’s Spain.

  • I see absolutely no parallels whatsoever.

  • There are if you consider that Franco received assistance in his war efforts from Germany and Italy. Much to the chagrin of the Axis powers Franco didn’t return the favor. The parallel being that Franco fought a just a war while having bad allies who waged an unjust war.

  • That would be the *only* parallel.

    Franco was fighting for the freedoms of the Spanish people against atheist enemies that were determined to “transform” Spain.

    /begin sarcasm of Henry K. connecting Finland’s war with Soviet Russia to Franco’s war against the atheistic “Republican” regime.

    Just like Obama and Rahm Emmanuel want to “transform” America into another European socialist state.

    /end sarcasm;

  • Franco was fighting for the freedoms of the Spanish people against atheist enemies that were determined to “transform” Spain.

    Describing Franco as fighting for the freedoms of the Spanish people is a bit much, I think.

  • Franco was fighting for the freedoms of the Spanish people against atheist enemies that were determined to “transform” Spain.

    Not much unlike Finland was, right? Granted it was civil war rather than war against an invading army, but invading army in Finland was also knee deep in supporting one or more of the SCW factions.

  • Wars do make strange friends but I am not sure the lines are ever clear. the USSR was allied with Nazi Germany until it was decided that Leninist Communism was less masculine that National Socialist Communism. Then the evil special interests within our borders who financed both the Nazis and the Soviets decided that German Communism should be painted as right-wing fascism and the Soviet Communism should be painted as Democratic Socialism so that the USA would become the ally of the Soviets against the Nazis who were destined to lose and then the USA and the USSR could divide Europe and eventually the USA/USSR European alliance would become the USSA. Of course all this happened before Obama was born otherwise they just might have tried him from the beginning. 🙂

    Nothing new under the sun.
    Wasn’t Finland ruled by Catholic Sweden before and after the Protestant Heresy? I also think Sweden ruled Finland until she was conquered by the Russians, Orthodox Czars not atheist Leninists.

    Sadly, it is unlikely that nation would be able to mount a successful, just war against such fierce foes today. For that matter I don’t know if we have what it takes to liberate the world from the Axis powers either.

    Rome died due to diminishing warrior capacity which was preceded by the moral debasement of her young men by effete Greeks – sounds like a typical college campus today, especially where ROTC is not welcome. I wonder if that is why the president wants his own ‘civilian corpsmen’ (pronounced CORPSE-MEN).

  • RL,

    I don’t know what SCW is.


    That or be executed for practicing Catholicism. Religious freedom.

  • “Franco was fighting for the freedoms of the Spanish people against atheist enemies that were determined to ‘transform’ Spain.”

    Franco’s rebellion was an effort to preserve “traditional” Spain, which was rather loosely defined inasmuch as his coalition included both the agri-traditionalist Carlists and the more revolutionary Falange, with a broad swath of rightist elements in between. As far as the Falange goes, he pretty well neutered it before the end of the war, and it was a mere adjunct to his government. It was to his great fortune that the Republic was even more fractious than the Nationalist coalition.

    If you had told Franco that he was fighting for “freedom,” he probably would have blinked in utter incomprehension. I guess to the extent good Spaniards were free of the Reds and anarchists, yes, he was fighting for that kind of freedom–freedom *from*. He was fighting for a Spain rooted in its traditional past, including the Church, the monarchy and what was left of her overseas possessions. Which is why Hitler’s adventures interested him not at all, even when Nazi Germany looked to be victorious.

  • Say all you want about Franco and some of it may even be true but he supported the Church and killed Communists. At the time, in that context he was the choice to make. It is sad when we have to choose between the lesser of two or more evils but fallen man is likely to put us in that position often.

    Sort of like picking progressive Republicans who want to kill babies despite what the platform says against progressive Democrats who want to kill babies because that is what their platform says.

  • AK,

    Yes, Finland was under Swedish rule and then under Russian rule.

    Through Russian efforts to engender friendly relations with their new Finnish lands, the Russians allowed greater autonomy and widespread use of Finnish (to undermine Swedish).

    This eventually backfired since the Finns actualized a greater sense of nationhood that resulted in independence around 1907, with permanent independence after WWII.

    Rome also died due to abortion. Since many Roman couples saw it as an inconvenience, infanticide rose. Also, male Romans didn’t want to have sons since Patricide began to rise as well. So throw that in with no desire for baby girls and their moral debasement of those children that did “survive” and there you have it, Blue state New York and California, I mean, Rome.

  • Dale,

    We are in agreement then. Franco was fighting for freedom from his atheistic adversaries.

    Franco was also clever enough to sideline the Carlists to the point of making them part of the furniture instead of the process.

  • Here’s to eliminating Communism in all of its manifestations! (raising a bottle of Shiner brew)

  • Within the last week or two, I assured someone (who claimed that conservatives were using rhetoric that suggested they were likely to start a coup) that I’d never heard a conservative compare Obama to the Spanish communists and anarchists in the ’30s. I guess I need to be more careful what I say…

    Two thinks I think it’s important to keep in mind:

    – While I have no doubt in my mind that Franco was preferable to the socialist/communist/anarchist forces on the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War, that’s hardly a ringing endorsement, nor should we make it so. Sure, he defended the Church rather than persecuting it, but to list the Christ Rock line, “You’re supposed to do that.”

    – While Obama’s inside clique would doubtless like to see the US looking much more like modern European social democracies (and I think that would be a bad thing), those social democracies are nothing like as despicable and oppressive the Spanish Republicans. Sure, I think they’re too government heavy, but I think they fall within the range of things which one might in good conscience advocate, while the Republican cause clearly didn’t.

  • Say all you want about Franco and some of it may even be true but he supported the Church and killed Communists.

    He also killed a lot of Catholics.

    I’m having visions, however, of another 100+ comment thread that has nothing to do with the original post, so I’ll leave it there.

  • Tito,

    You bring up a great point re: Roman abortions. It is amazing that the Republic that razed Carthage for her child-sacrifice and salted the land to ensure that the abominable practice did not spread.

    Imagine that the great liberator, honest-broker and moral backbone of the world would raze an entire civilization to prevent the sacrifice of children only to turn around and begin the same practice albeit for convenience and not direct sacrifice to devils. It is a good thing no one else would be so stupid to do that. Wait. Where am I?

  • Darwin,

    To make you feel better I was mocking Henry K. for connecting Finland’s war with Soviet Russia to Franco’s war against the atheistic “Republican” regime.

    I was being sarcastic.

    In no way does Obama’s administration resemble that of the God-hating Spanish Republicans.

  • BA,

    And leave all the fun of dissecting Finnish Nationalism contra Soviet Expansionism!

    Or how about the only time in history that a democracy declared war on another democracy, ie, Britain declaring war on Finland!

    Gerald Naus may even make a guest comment appearance.


  • SCW – Spanish Civil War.

    Why was Franco’s betrayal of the Carlists seen as a good thing? In my mind, it was one his greater faults.

  • BA,

    Franco killing Catholics is like shooting fish in the barrel to get to the crabs.

    By default 99% of Spaniards were *Catholic* by baptism alone in Civil War Spain.

  • RL,

    I didn’t say it was a good thing.

    I was just “showing off” my Spanish Civil War knowledge.

    I myself think it of a very bad thing indeed.

    Imagine how Spain would have turned out if the Carlists had any influence at all by the end of the war, *sigh*.

  • Tito,

    To make you feel better I was mocking Henry K. for connecting Finland’s war with Soviet Russia to Franco’s war against the atheistic “Republican” regime.

    Henry’s comment wasn’t out of line. I thought I demonstrated that. Parallel doesn’t indicate same. Finland was fighting an atheistic republic too. ironically enough, that athiestic republic had the most influence on Spain’s atheistic republic. There’s another parallel.

  • DC,

    I suspect that modern social democracies in Europe are considerably less oppressive than those envisioned by the perpetrators at the end of WWII. I suspect that Commies intended more Soviet-style governments than the namby-pamby nanny-state welfare of Europe today. It is a ruse, the nice social democracies like the UK, Sweden and the USA are designed to get us used to servitude so we will be happy in a global feudal order. You know those nice scientific dictatorships that medicate and indoctrinate you into being a happy slave.

    Makes you wonder why the Finnish and the Spanish bothered fighting for liberation at all.

  • RL,

    You have to admire the Finns though.

    A small republic of barely 3-4 million fought to a standstill the then 70 million strong (or more) Soviet Empire.

    Put it in the context that the USSR was also able to absorb Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia, in addition to half of Poland and a sliver of Romania.

    Contrast that to what Finland did and it is utterly amazing.

  • At the risk of starting another bizarre tangent:

    You bring up a great point re: Roman abortions. It is amazing that the Republic that razed Carthage for her child-sacrifice and salted the land to ensure that the abominable practice did not spread. Imagine that the great liberator, honest-broker and moral backbone of the world would raze an entire civilization to prevent the sacrifice of children only to turn around and begin the same practice albeit for convenience and not direct sacrifice to devils.

    I seem to be bad at guaging when people are being arch in this thread, but if this is meant seriously, I’m aware of no evidence that the Roman Republic razed Carthage because of its tendency towards infant sacrifice. The impetus behind Carthago delenda est was more driven by the first two Punic wars, and in particular the lingering memory of Hannibal’s invasion of Italy. Further, exposure of infants was an accepted practice in the Roman Republic back to the earliest days.

    I’m certainly an admirer of the Roman Republic as seen in sources like Polybius, but at a moral level, they were distinctly pagan in their outlook and practices.

  • The little I know about the razing of Carthage is that both Darwin and AK are correct. That or I’ve watched one too many skewed PBS specials on the subject.

    Yes, the Romans practiced infanticide for quite a while, though it may have increased towards the end of its epoch.

    If not, it definitely contributed to Romes decline combined with other factors.

  • I’ll take responsibility for the bizarre tangents, thank you very much.

    I have no source to site for what I wrote above. I think I heard it on radio from the mouth of a priest who was also an historian. But I have no facts to back it up.

    It does make some sense though. Romans were certainly pagans but they seemed to have a deeper insight into the natural law than the barbarian pagans and event he middle-eastern fertility cults. After all, God had Joshua raze the people of Palestine before Israel entered the promised land and yet he allowed the Macabbes to call on Rome to come to the aid of Israel.

    Additionally exposure of infants may have been tolerated and even accepted but that is a more practical discarding of a life rather than a willful sacrifice to demons. I am not excusing child exposure, yet for a non-Christianized pagan society it is understandable and I can see how they would be horrified by sacrificing children to ‘gods’.

    Then again, I may not know what I am talking about.

    To try to bring this back I am fairly confident that modern Finland has gone the way of Carthage and Rome. Abortions are provided ‘free’ in their nationalized ‘health care’ system. Maybe they will be razed soon.

  • I thought the Spanish always had the same liberties as we did? 😉

  • I’m aware of no evidence that the Roman Republic razed Carthage because of its tendency towards infant sacrifice.

    Your the student of the classics. I think he is referring to a thesis advanced by G.K. Chesterton. I cannot remember in which work.

  • BA,

    As of this post we’re about 67 comments short of a 100.

    See you guys later, I have a class to attend to.

  • Both sides in the Spanish Civil War engaged in sickening atrocities during the war. Both sides were none too choosy in regard to who they accepted aid from. Both sides aimed to establish authoritarian regimes, outside of the Basque Republicans on the side of the Republic, and some of the Catholic groups on the side of the Nationalists. The big difference between the two sides was the massive persecution that Catholics suffered in the Republic, outside of the Basque controlled areas.

  • So you’re saying that war is hell and total war is totally hellish.

  • Spanish civil wars certainly tend to be hellish AK. They make our Civil War look like a very well behaved military exercise by comparison. Having said that, I have always found the Spanish Civil War of the last century endlessly fascinating. All that was best and worst in Spain was on full display. Jose Maria Gironella’s magnificent trilogy of novels on the War are an excellent starting point for anyone wishing to understand the war and why Spaniards fought each other so savagely: Cypresses Believe in God, One Million Dead and Peace After War. They are the best novels I have ever read and left me with a much deeper understanding of the War and of Spain.


  • Chesterton made that argument about child sacrifice in Carthage in The Everlasting Man. As usual, Chesterton was a good writer and a poor historian. Horror over Carthaginian child sacrifice played absolutely no role in Rome’s desire to obliterage Carthage.

  • Thanks for clearing that up. OK, so Rome simply razed Carthage because Rome did not want to have to go back and fight them again and again and again. It seems as if North Africa has a war resiliency. I suppose if Jefferson had finished the Barbary Pirates once and for all we would not be dealing with piracy in the same seas today.

    The war in North America of the 1860s (I have yet to be convinced that it was a civil war) was fairly brutal. Many consider it the first war of the pre-nuclear modern age. I am not as familiar with the Spanish Civil War (I am convinced that it was a civil war), but I understand it was extremely brutal. It makes sense that atrocities would occur during a mutli-faction civil conflict then a conflict between the organized armies of two countries (if’n y’all don’t recognize the CSA as a separate country, then at least concede that there were only two sides to the conflict).

  • AK, the organized armies on both sides committed the bulk of the atrocities in the Spanish Civil War. Mass executions, with only the quickest of drum head military trials, if that, was the rule for both sides. Most Spaniards on all sides were convinced that the only way to bring peace was to physically eliminate their adversaries. The Spanish Civil War is an object lesson of what unchecked political hatreds can lead to.

  • I wouldn’t go so far as saying that both sides committed equal amounts of atrocities. The Republicans by far committed more heinous acts in depth and volume with an exceeding amount of enthusiasm.

    According to argueably the best Christian historian alive, Warren H. Carroll, comparing the atrocities of the Nationalists on par with those of the Republicans is a gross error when conveyed against the reputed facts.

    Remember that the overwhelming amount of history written on the Spanish Civil War were written by the Republicans. Which is ironic since it generally known that the victors are the ones who write history.

    So when Donald says that “both” sides committed atrocities, I hope that he was saying it rhetorically and not of equal number and depth.

  • Tito

    While I support the Franco side of the civil war, and indeed, own coins of Franco and books written by people who were involved with the war on his side, obviously both sides did commit grave evils. Moreover, Warren Carroll is not arguably the best Christian historian alive; he is far from the best, in fact. He often gets history wrong — look to his discussion on SAINT Photius (yes, he is a Saint in the Catholic Church) and look to any relevant modern historical treatise on the Photian Schism — he shows his rather shallow approach quite well when you compare the two.

    Give me Christopher Dawson any day (alas he is not alive). And if you want a living historian, check out Eamon Duffy!

  • Christopher Dawson is the Ratzinger of Christian history. I need to put the book down and digest what I just read. He is very good and is prominent in my miniature library.

    Eamon Duffy is on my Amazon list of books to buy and I look forward reading his works!

  • In regard to the Spanish Civil War Tito, if you take into account the post war executions, which were massive, by the Nationalists, the body count of the Nationalists was higher. I am sympathetic to the Nationalist cause due to the demonic anti-Catholicism of most of their opponents and the fact that most of the leaders who wielded power within the Republic were intent on setting up a totalitarian state of one sort or another. However, the Nationalist leadership were not saints. They set up a fairly squalid dictatorship, engaged in massive atrocities and showed almost no mercy to their defeated adversaries.

  • The best, and I think most objective, historian of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime is Stanley Payne.


    Warren Carroll’s The Last Crusade is not a bad book on the first year of the Spanish Civil War. He is obviously completely in sympathy with the Nationalists, but his work is a useful corrective to many other historians of the War who are completely in sympathy with the forces of the Left.


  • What Donald said about the post-war executions. Franco was not merciful. That his enemies would have been no more merciful had they triumphed is no absolution.

    Alas, it is highly likely that the executions were popular with the Nationalist population at large. A grandson of Spanish Nationalists was an exchange student at my high school, and was delighted to give me the Nationalist perspective on the Civil War. He mentioned that the Republicans had brutally murdered his great uncle and, IIRC, some other members of his family. The exchange student still hated the Republicans, flipping a picture of “La Pasionaria” the bird.

  • “The exchange student still hated the Republicans, flipping a picture of “La Pasionaria” the bird.”

    I would have joined him in that Dale! “La Pasionaria” was a real piece of work. By the end of the Civil War almost all families in Spain, including Franco’s, had a member of the family who had been murdered by the other side. Most of the victims executed by the Nationalists probably had committed hideous crimes. The true injustice of course is that no such justice was ever visited on the Nationalist victors in this world.

  • Excellent links.

    I like reading objective history. Especially when it is on a favorite subject of mine like the Spanish Civil War.

  • My wife is going to be upset with y’all because I won’t take responsibility for all the books that I just put in my Amazon cart that y’all referenced.

  • Pingback: Finlandia Hymn « The American Catholic

3 Responses to The 2AM Worm Made Me Do It!

  • I know for a fact that the 2AM worm has mastered placing bids for completely unnecessary (but nevertheless pretty cool) stuff on eBay.

  • Is that 2AM GMT? I wonder if that’s the same worm that attacks my computer while I’m away at work.

  • This is no laughing matter!!! My computer has been afflicted with this virus. Just last spring, following a night out with friends, I came home and watched a dvr’d episode of The Biggest Loser. The obese people on the show actually ran a marathon. I remember this inspiring me, however my memory of that night isn’t terribly clear. Thats when the virus struck, about one month later, I recieved a confirmation letter to a local marathon. Apparently that very night, The worm hit, and entered me into this marathon. Please beware this is a very dangerous, and tricky virus.

Evan Bayh, Senator From Indiana, to Retire

Monday, February 15, AD 2010

If any more proof were needed as to how bad a year this is going to be for Democrats in November, in a stunning development Evan Bayh, Democrat Senator for Indiana, is going to announce today that he will not seek re-election.  Bayh is only 55, in the latest poll was running 20 points ahead of Dan Coats his Republican opponent and enjoys fairly strong popularity in the Hoosier state.  His getting out makes Coats almost a certain victor in Indiana, and is yet another indication of the political tsunami bearing down on Democrats.

Update:  Interesting.  Apparently Obama unsuccessfully attempted to talk Bayh out of retiring.  Watch the panic increase among Democrats in Congress and more retirements and some switches to the GOP forthcoming.  I hear that Barbara Milkulski of Maryland will be the next Senate Democrat to announce her retirement.

Continue reading...

17 Responses to Evan Bayh, Senator From Indiana, to Retire

  • Wow indeed. This is a surprise. And if you read Game Change, he was on the VP shortlist as a serious consideration.

  • Something odd is going on here. From what I am reading the filing deadline is like FRIDDAY to run for this seat. Somewthing sneaky is happening here 🙂

  • According to Ed Morrissey, the filing deadline is tomorrow. Something strange does indeed appear to be taking place.

  • Indeed it is good news but don’t assume that Coats is a shoe in.

    1. Coats has lived outside the state since he left the Senate. He has made his money lobbying for companies such as Bank of America and Lockheed Martin. His firm even represented a big oil company in setting up a deal with Hugo Chavez. He would be just another Neocon Republican who once elected would vote for Welfare (corporate in his case) and Warfare. As a matter of fact one of Coats’ chief aids is Kevin Kellems a former aid to Dick Chaney and Paul Wolfowitz. (I guess Scooter Libby was unavailable.)

    Coats was recruited by and is being foisted upon Indiana by the Republican establishment. Opportunistic lobbyist carpet baggers do not go down well with us Hoosiers. It is argued that he has name recognition but those of us who do remember his less then memorable tenure in office remember him as the guy with a bad comb-over who tuck his tail between his legs and ran from office when up against a strong challenger (Evan Bayh).

    2. His primary opponent is likely to be John Hostettler a strong and principled social conservative who was one of only six Republicans to vote against the Iraq War recognizing the WMD rational behind it to be a farce. http://www.johnhostettler.com/index.htm

    Sure Hostettler faces an uphill challenge against Coats, but Hostettler held on to one of the toughest districts in the State for a Republican for 6 terms. The man has proven his intestinal fortitude.

  • “Something odd is going on here. From what I am reading the filing deadline is like FRIDDAY to run for this seat. Somewthing sneaky is happening here.”

    In Indiana you have to provide County officials with nominating petitions to be certified by noon tomorrow (Tuesday) for filing on Friday. Basically, what Bayh has done is to eliminate any bloody struggle in the Democratic primary since he was going to be unopposed and handed the decision as to who will be the Democratic candidate over to the State Democratic Chairman. I’m guessing it will be Bart Peterson former mayor of Indianapolis.

  • This is actually scary. It seems the traditional-conservative-libertarian coalition within the Republican party is being managed by the Rockefeller-Northeast-establishment overlords. As much damage as the Progressives within the Democrat party cause damage it seems like their deceit has been uncovered. Me thinks we need to fear the shenanigans within the Republican party more because most people don’t recognize them as easily.

    This is nothing new:

    “The real menace of our republic is this invisible government which like a giant octopus sprawls its slimy length over city, state and nation. . . a small group of powerful banking houses generally referred to as international bankers. The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes. They practically control both political parties.” New York City Mayor John F. Hylan, 1922

  • Rockefeller-Northeast-establishment overlords? Next AK you’ll be talking about the Bilderbergers and the Trilateralists. Conspiracy theories almost always strike me as congealed foolishness.

  • Donald, we agree! It seems to be occasion for a drink…if only I actually did drink. Oh well.

  • We agree then on something else Eric. I am one of the few tee-totaling Irish descended lawyers.

  • I blame the unreformed fremasons of the Cornish Rite.

  • You can drink to your heart’s content to Bayh going bye-bye and the candidacy of Dan Coats; but, if he is the Republican Candidate for Senate and the Dems have a nice bland “centrist” like Peterson, you can bet the seat is safe for the Democrats. The Republicans might have just as well as shipped in Alan Keyes to run for the seat.

    Ain’t nothin’ conspiratorial about a carpet baggin’ candidate who’s captive to special interests.

  • Huge opportunity for Republicans as the tide continues to turn.

  • Conspiracies have existed since the exile form the Garden. Theories are more plausible than conjecture. So a conspiracy theory is a plausible statement that at least two individuals are joined in secret to perform an unlawful or immoral act.

    Can you think of any such occurrences in history. What did the Sanhedrin and Judas do? As far as recent events what happened at Jekyll Island 100 years ago? Why were there attempts on the lives of the three principle players in the demise of Soviet Communism? and, who was behind New Coke?

    There is no doubt that a collectivist element is seeking to maintain control of the Republican party and traditional, conservative and libertarian Americans aren’t putting up with it. Who will win? That depends on how faithful people are and if they are willing to look beyond the illusion of a two-party system. I suspect that most Republicans want a traditionally moral, conservative principled, fiscally-libertarian, anti-Communist, strong national security including borders and so-called “free-trade” party.

    Establishment interests don’t want that, they want Democrat lite. The battle is joined.

  • I thought the Cornish rite had been reformed 😉

  • According to Ed Morrissey, the filing deadline is tomorrow. Something strange does indeed appear to be taking place.

    If no one qualifies for the primary the Democrats can pick whoever they want. On the other hand, there is apparently one candidate who is close to getting the required signatures. She’s a local business owner with no political experience. If she can get her signatures in by noon tomorrow, she will be the nominee. Which would be interesting, to say the least.

  • Rep. Brad Ellsworth is being mentioned as one of the leading possibilities to be selected. Ellsworth is a pro-life Democrat and I’d be very happy with that pick.

Millard Who?

Monday, February 15, AD 2010

Time for my annual rant on Presidents’ Day.  I see no reason for a day to honor all presidents.  The great presidents, my personal list includes Washington, Jefferson, Polk, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Truman and Reagan, are deserving of  honor, and should not be lumped in with bad, mediocre and justly obscure presidents.  One of our worst presidents is also perhaps our most obscure president, Millard Fillmore.  Therefore, on a holiday I dislike, I will write about a President who deserves to have something toxic named after him.

Fillmore was born on January 7, 1800, in Moravia, New York,  the first of the American presidents to be born after the death of George Washington.  At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a cloth maker.  Not wanting to spend his life making cloth, Fillmore attended the New Hope Academy in New Hope, New York for six months in 1819, and began to study law, that never failing route of social advancement for people who are glib but have no other discernible talent.  Admitted to the bar in 1823, he hung out his shingle in East Aurora, New York.   In 1826 he married Abigail Powers who he had met at the New Hope Academy.  They had two children, Millard Powers Fillmore and Mary Abigail Fillmore.  Fillmore prospered as a lawyer and in 1834 he formed a law partnership, Fillmore and Hall, which eventually became one of the most prestigious law firms in western New York.

In 1828 Fillmore took his first step into politics by being elected to the New York state legislature as a member of the anti-Masonic party.  The anti-Masonic party came into being to oppose Freemasonry after the disappearance of a William Morgan in 1826 in Batavia, New York.  Morgan had left the Freemasons and had made it known that he intended to write a book exposing them.  After he disappeared, a public furor erupted, with many people suspecting that Freemasons had murdered Morgan.  The anti-Masonic party was the result, with members vowed to oppose the influence of freemasons in society.  The party grew in strength as it became a vehicle for protests against social and political ills, and waned in strength as anti-Masonry lost its saliency as a driving issue, with most of the members of the party becoming Whigs, opponents of the Democrat Party established by Andrew Jackson.

Continue reading...

23 Responses to Millard Who?

  • Today isn’t Presidents Day but Washington’s Birthday (Observed).

  • I know BA, and the Civil War is officially designated The War of the Rebellion.

  • For a slighlty more favorable view of Millard Fillmore see these extensive posts


  • Fascinating jh. I guess all historical figures, no matter how inept and ill-intentioned, will find defenders.

  • “Fascinating jh. I guess all historical figures, no matter how inept and ill-intentioned, will find defenders.”

    LOL, well I think he has a point. I mean it is all how you look at it. Was the take over of the Know Nothings a cyncial move for personal power or a attempt to have a Pro Union non sectional to preserve the country?

    I mean even the authorization of the Expedition to Japan was no minor thing in its goals and its final result.

    I look far more kindly on Fillmore than om James Buchanan to say the least

  • My point jh is that Fillmore’s hastened the Civil War through his policies of appeasing the South and set the tone for the Fifties. Appeasement rarely works long term, as Bleeding Kansas demonstrated in our run up to the Civil War.

    James Buchanan gets my nod for the second worst president of the US, with his saving grace being some of the actions he took after the secession crisis began.

  • Yankees make me laugh, y’all are a hoot. Most Presidents prior to Lincoln restrained themselves within the limits of the Constitution. Thanks to Lincoln the flood-gates were opened for the worst tyrants imaginable: Roosevelt, Wilson (House), Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Carter, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama. These presidents have trampled the Constitution, flagrantly enacted tyrannical executive orders that are treasonous and have handed the uSA over to foreign powers.

    As much of a misguided man as Filmore appears to be he was much less harmful than the above list.

    What happened to great leaders like Washington (whose birthday we celebrate today, as well we should), Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Jackson, Taft, Reagan? The problem we have here is that we elect ideological pragmatists instead of men of virtue.

    Who wants to celebrate treasonous ideologues? Celebrating men of virtue that have led the country to higher levels of integrity, prosperity and decency is a rightful federal holiday. Celebrating the virtuous with the rest of that gallery of rogues is a disaster. On that point we agree.

    Happy birthday President Washington, General, Farmer, Virginian (certainly not a Yankee). 🙂

  • Actually AK two Southern presidents of the US, Andrew Jackson and Zachary Taylor, took precisely the same view of preserving the Union through military force that Lincoln did.

    As for your view that Lincoln opened the era of big government, that is a popular view among neo-Confederates, but betrays a complete lack of knowledge about how quickly the government of the Union shrank back to its pre-war size after the Civil War. The excesses of the growth in government during the last century have nothing to do with Mr. Lincoln. Additionally, your calling any American president a tyrant is simply silly.

  • “Thanks to Lincoln the flood-gates were opened for the worst tyrants imaginable”

    Well I am not sure how Lincoln was responsible for all the alleged sins you mention 🙂

  • Thanks to Lincoln the flood-gates were opened for the worst tyrants imaginable: Roosevelt, Wilson (House), Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Carter, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama.

    Yeah, because normally when you open the floodgates you have to wait a half century before anything happens.

  • It’s interesting to note that the Whigs won two presidential elections, and in both instances the elected President died and was replaced by a VP who essentially opposed the Whig platform, or at least were not exactly in lock step with their running mate. John Tyler regularly locked horns with the Whig Congress after Harrison died, and as Donald details Fillmore was much softer in his approach to the slave power than the southern, slave-holding Taylor. There were many causes of the death of the Whigs, but these unfortunate historical circumstances may have played the biggest part.

  • The fact that someone takes the same view as someone else doesn’t excuse anyone from setting the precedent. Perhaps Lincoln was a victim of circumstance; it really doesn’t matter. He struck the blow to destroy federalism.

    Precedents set do not necessarily bear fruit immediately. The enemies of America, I am referring to the barbarians that are already within the gates, employ a slow, gradual approach to tyranny. Most of the precepts of Communism have already been made into law in our lands. Calling the figure-head perpetrators of this evil conspiracy tyrants is doing them a kindness.

    In case you haven’t noticed we have been socially engineered into an immoral society of servitude to government at all levels. Graft, abuse of privilege, envy, greed, deceit, murder (not to mention child sacrifice) are all pervasive because they have become institutionalized in order to subjugate us. There are men responsible for this and there are powers and principalities behind those men. Ultimately, the fault is ours, each and every one of us when we sin. That does not let the institutional perpetrators off the hook.

    This is not how America is supposed to be unless you prefer the Masonic religion to the our Catholic faith.

    Presidents who are virtuous despite their sins, who have a servants heart irrespective of their personal wealth, who love the people of the united States and are wary of government are the people we should be celebrating today. Men like Washington who could have become king and chose to go back to his Virginia farm. Men like Jackson who destroyed the money power’s hold through the evil central bank. Men like Reagan who spoke in bold primary colors and restored hope in a dying nation. In some way Bush 43 was like that, but he was bulldozed by the trans-national banksters including Geithner, Bernanke, Paulson and his father’s legacy of a new world order.

    We need men like Washington, Jackson and Reagan to be President and we need men of virtue in our legislatures. The President has a few Constitutional functions and he needs to do them well. What we have now is an out of control office and men of low moral character hiding their true masters and ruining the states and commonwealths.

    Again with the neo-Confederate. I am not for disunion! I am for federalism. I am not a secessionist. I think we need a strong USA, we just don’t need a national government – I want one that is federal. Despite the myriad of issues that led up to the War for Southern Independence the sovereign right of the sates and the commonwealths is the overriding issue and losing that has cost all of us a great deal, in many ways Catholics especially.

    Additionally the rules are black and white, men are gray, even the best of the Saints. As much as I think Lincoln was a tyrant I can still consider him a man of decent moral character who failed in his duty to keep the union without war. He could have ended African-slavery without bloodshed and without deporting the Negros, which seem to be the only two options he considered. I do like that he strongly disliked the trans-national money power that rejoiced at the Americas going to war, in fact, may have been one of the largest contributors.

  • “This is not how America is supposed to be unless you prefer the Masonic religion to the our Catholic faith.”

    Actually AK, two of your presidents you admire, Washington and Jackson, were masons.

  • “He struck the blow to destroy federalism.”

    No Lincoln did not destroy Federalism. It should be recalled that the true breaking point was the Dem Convention in Chareleston. Where Douglas refuse to budge on SOuthern Dem demands for basically a Federal Slave Code which would have been one of the biggest expansion of Federal power ever

    “Independence the sovereign right of the sates and the commonwealths is the overriding issue and losing that has cost all of us a great deal, in many ways Catholics especially.”

    I actually think Slavery was. However I know how that battle will go. While we talk about Federal Power it should be recalled that State Govts themselves and local govts could be a oppressive lot even to Catholics.

    “He could have ended African-slavery without bloodshed and without deporting the Negros, which seem to be the only two options he considered”

    How would he had done that? I mean every compromise was on the table short of allowing slavery to expand into Federal Terrorties

  • jh, African-slave ownership in the South was detrimental and African-slave trading in the North was detrimental to all the Sates as well as to the African slaves. It is an offense against the dignity of man and the sovereign right of ownership that God has over every man. Nevertheless, losing state sovereignty is the most detrimental because it eliminates the power of the smallest minority, the individual human being. Catholics who are persecuted in New York can move to Maryland and find more freedom unless Washington institutionalizes New York’s persecution.

    Lincoln invaded a sovereign country because he determined that those States had no right to voluntarily remove themselves from the voluntary federal compact. After conquering those States the North enacted a military occupation of those State’s governments and people and impaired ‘rebellious’ legislators from Congress. Washington reigns supreme and that has led to the problems we are facing today. Every time we have a ‘crisis’ what is the solution? More National government. That is the antithesis of federalism. Washington is a National government deceitfully operating under a Federal charter. Sure the groundwork was laid in the Constitutional compromise, exacerbated in 1850 and it exploded in the 1860s. However, the loss we (Southerners) suffered in the 1860s led to the so-called Progressive era and all the damage since then. Was Lincoln solely responsible? No, but he was Commander in Chief of the Union when it invaded the Confederacy. What seemed like a victory for Union was actually a victory for Hamilton’s view of American – a Masonic view – hence, a terrible turn of events for Catholics.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking Lincoln cared about the African-slaves. He did not, he considered them inferior to the white man and would have preferred to ship them all off shore, short of the feasibility of that, killing them was just fine, unless they were useful in his war. He emancipated African-slaves in a country in which he had no jurisdiction and kept them enslaved in the USA. How is that helpful to the plight of the slaves?

    Would I prefer that we celebrate two presidential offices today, one in Richmond and one in Washington? No. I would prefer that we celebrate the office of the President and the honorable men who held that office with full knowledge that, other than in times of war, it is the office of the Executor of the laws of Congress restrained by the Constitution; rather than a despotic Administrator ruling for a hidden cabal of would-be global feudal lords. If you want a glimpse of the designs of these men, read E.M. House’s Philip Dru: Administrator, Cecil Rhodes, the Fabian Socialists, especially the Sodomite J.M Keynes.

    Washington, Jackson and Reagan are the kind of men we should honor today. Do we agree with all they did? No. But they served for the sake of the people of North America and not the pleasure of foreign powers.

  • Donald,

    Your encyclopedic knowledge never ceases to astound me. You must have a large cranium, you are carrying a massive library up there combined with an acute analytical mind. It truly is a pleasure to disagree with you – I always come out the better for it. Thank you. I mean that sincerely, I am not trying to earn debating points.

    I am aware that Washington and Jackson were Masons. I also believe that not all Freemasons are initiated into the higher degrees that probably date back to Lucifer, Joseph Weishaupt, the Illuminati, Jacobins, Fabians, and so on down the line. Secret societies tend to keep secrets from everyone including each other.

    Judging by the fruits of their actions, Washington and Jackson were not conspiratorial Masons and probably had a Protestant Christian world view and believed the Freemasons to be a benign fraternal organization. We know differently.

    Washington stepped down although he could have been Executive for life with the title, Your Majesty. Jackson stood form against the central bank. Neither of those actions bodes well for a society that desires to rule the world. Permanent, powerful dictators loyal to the conspiracy and central banks are integral parts of the plan for global domination. Incidentally someone informed Marx of this as those are two components of a Communist takeover of a nation.

  • The idea that Lincoln is somehow responsible for the New Deal or whatever is just silly. FDR didn’t rely on Lincoln as a justification for his actions; he cited the emergency of the Great Depression. TR and Wilson were confederate sympathizers. The Southern states weren’t particularly interested in states rights except when it was to their advantage (nothing special there) and the economic interventions by the government during the Civil War exceeded anything in the North. Talk about how Lincoln started the war is ahistorical and frankly tedious.

  • I am not suggesting that if we were being ruled by the Confederacy we would be better off. I am confident that as a non-Anglo Catholic I would not fair well in that country. I am stating that the loss of the Confederacy was practically a death blow to federalism. It is the federalism (subsidiarity) that I am defending. From a historical perspective it is the CSA that fought for federalism no matter how hypocritical that is on the parts of some. The North fought for a national structure.

    FDR did not rely on Lincoln, he relied on his old boss Wilson (House) and although Wilson was a Southerner he preferred the absolutism promoted by Lincoln. It is all of piece and the piece stinks of despotism.

    I am picking on Lincoln because it is President’s Day. I am not laying all the blame on him. In fact he, like most presidents since, was mostly a pawn.

  • “You must have a large cranium”

    Could be, I have had people call me a fat head on occasion.

  • I am stating that the loss of the Confederacy was practically a death blow to federalism. It is the federalism (subsidiarity) that I am defending.

    I disagree on two counts. First, I don’t think federalism was destroyed or even seriously damaged by the defeat of the Confederacy. The Civil War established that you couldn’t secede from the Union, not that the federal government had plenary power to legislate. That change came much later and was, I think, primarily a result of the 17th Amendment, which took away state representation in Congress.

    Second, I would dispute that the South or Confederacy somehow represented federalism. The South was quite eager to use federal power to its own advantage wherever the opportunity arose. I quote Henry Adams:

    Between the slave power and states’ rights there was no necessary connection. The slave power, when in control, was a centralizing influence, and all the most considerable encroachments on states’ rights were its acts. The acquisition and admission of Louisiana; the Embargo; the War of 1812; the annexation of Texas “by joint resolution” [rather than treaty]; the war with Mexico, declared by the mere announcement of President Polk; the Fugitive Slave Law; the Dred Scott decision — all triumphs of the slave power — did far more than either tariffs or internal improvements, which in their origin were also southern measures, to destroy the very memory of states’ rights as they existed in 1789. Whenever a question arose of extending or protecting slavery, the slaveholders became friends of centralized power, and used that dangerous weapon with a kind of frenzy. Slavery in fact required centralization in order to maintain and protect itself, but it required to control the centralized machine; it needed despotic principles of government, but it needed them exclusively for its own use. Thus, in truth, states’ rights were the protection of the free states, and as a matter of fact, during the domination of the slave power, Massachusetts appealed to this protecting principle as often and almost as loudly as South Carolina.

  • You can no more blame Lincoln for the abandonment of federalism than James Madison or Alexander Hamilton. What the Civil War did was to finally eradicate the last vestiges of anti-Federalist notions of dual sovereignty and the idea that the states were independent entities. The Civil War confirmed the fact that we are one Nation, but again this is simply what the Federalists assumed to be true already.

    The only tangential blame that can even be remotely laid at Lincoln’s feet is that because anti-Federalist beliefs about state independence were completely eradicated, this somehow weakened resistance to further incursions into federalism. But I cannot blame Lincoln for the perversions of Wilson, FDR, Johnson and others.

  • First, I am genuinely impressed with how popular Professor Tom Woods is.

    Second, I agree with Donald and Blackladder.

    And finally, what Paul said.

  • Paul,

    Madison shares some of the blame although I doubt that he intended it. Hamilton certainly shares in the blame, in fact, he shares in it more than Lincoln.

    The loss of federalism while retaining the veneer of it was probably inevitable due to the Constitutional compromise, but it actually did occur during the War for Southern Independence and Lincoln was the Commander in Chief of the invading force. If not for the military acumen of Gens. Lee and Jackson and the incompetnece of the Army of the Potomac – Manassas may have been the end of the war and the end of federalism. That was not the case and the CSA and her sons fought valiantly against the valiant sons of the North. As horrible as the loss of life was it is far worse to shackle countless generations since.

    And shackled we are. When State sovereignty is usurped by the National government and the foreign money power rules the Nation from the shadows and men vie to see who can best who with no sense of virtue in the acquisition of public largess we are all slaves.

    Lincoln recognized the interference of the money power and yet he invaded the Confederacy probably to keep the Union together. He was not the only one in favor of union. Gen. Robert E. Lee was a unionist but when push came to shove he turned down the command of the Army of the Potomac in order to serve his home country as general of the Army of Northern Virginia. Pres. Jefferson Davis ended up as Commander in Chief of a confederation invaded by a Department of War that he himself modernized. These men are not traitors, they are heroes, despite Davis’ views on slavery. Else why would they pledge their lives, their fortunes and their Sacred Honor for the independence of the South knowing that they served the Union so well?

    They knew that a National government unchecked by the vertical separation of powers would eventually lose the horizontal separation and the Republic would devolve into a democracy and then into tyranny. We are on our way to that. Eventually we will lose our National sovereignty for a regional union like Europe and then a hemispheric union and finally a one world government. If I am not mistaken that is exactly opposite of subsidiarity. That global government will most certainly be tyrannical, anti-Catholic and will eventually be the instrument of Satan. We cannot desire that end. We are to hasten the return of the Lord, but we are not to actively work to subjugate the world through the powers of men. See Eph 6:12.

    All this blame is not Lincoln’s. But some of it certainly is his. As for Wilson, FDR, Johnson and the rest of their ilk. I am confident as an honorable man Lincoln would not have liked any of them, yet he is partially responsible for the power that they gained. He acknowledged as much after assuming despotic powers. He may have been repentant after the war and God willing he died in God’s Grace.

    Nevertheless, as far as I am concerned yesterday was President Washington’s birthday.

Blessed Bernard Lichtenberg and Courage

Sunday, February 14, AD 2010

“Our wholehearted paternal sympathy goes out to those who must pay so dearly for their loyalty to Christ and the Church; but directly the highest interests are at stake, with the alternative of spiritual loss, there is but one alternative left, that of heroism.” Pius XI from Mit Brennender Sorge

We Americans tend to be an outspoken lot.  We give voice to our opinions freely and many of us enjoy raucous debate, as can be seen on most American blog sites, including this one.  We are fortunate to live in a free society where there is no penalty for expressing ourselves.  But what if we didn’t live in a free society?  What if we lived in a vicious dictatorship where dissent is a one way trip to a concentration camp and then to an unmarked grave?  How many of us would then have the courage to speak out, especially if almost everyone else were keeping their heads down and not saying anything?  For many people throughout history this has not been a game of what if.

Born in Ohlau in the province of Silesia in Germany on December 3, 1875, Bernard Lichtenberg studied theology at the seminary in Innsbruck, Austria and was ordained a priest in 1899.  He served as a  priest in Berlin, becoming the parish priest of the Sacred Heart parish in the Berlin suburb of Charlottenburg in 1913.  Ever an energetic priest, he laid the foundations for five parishes and a monastery in Berlin.  Somehow he also found the time to be active in the Catholic Centre Party, and was for a time a member of the Berlin regional parliament after World War I.  He also carried out missionary and charitable works among the poor of Berlin.

He was made a canon of the Cathedral Chapter by the first Bishop of the newly created diocese of Berlin, Christian Schreiber, in 1931.  In 1932 he became pastor of Saint Hedwig’s Cathedral in Berlin.  He also attracted the ire of the Nazis by his support of the pacifist Peace League of German Catholics, and was denounced by Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels in the Nazi paper Der Angriff.

After the Nazis came to power in 1933, Father Lichtenberg attempted unsuccessfully to convince Cardinal Bertram, the president of the German Bishop’s conference, to protest against the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses.  In 1935 he protested to Herman Goering against the treatment of the Jews.  Goering denied everything and demanded that Lichtenberg be taken into “protective custody” for spreading lies about the German state.

In 1937 Father Lichtenberg helped to distribute clandestinely throughout Germany copies of the blistering condemnation of the Nazis by Pius XI, Mit Brennender Sorge.  After Kristallnacht, a Nazi led pogrom throughout Germany against the Jews, he said from the pulpit of Saint Hedwig’s:  ‘we know what happened yesterday. We do not know what tomorrow holds. However, we have experienced what happened today. Outside, the synagogue burns. That is also a house of God.’ From that time forward, Father Lichtenberg prayed publicly during evening prayers, in the heart of Nazi Germany, for the Jews and Christians of Jewish descent.

Continue reading...

5 Responses to Blessed Bernard Lichtenberg and Courage

Saint Valentines Day

Sunday, February 14, AD 2010

Here is a good explanation on the origins of Saint Valentine’s Day, which today has been truncated to Valentine’s Day.  It is written by Ronald J. Rychlak of InsideCatholic titled simply St. Valentine’s Day.

The Catholic Church actually recognizes several different saints named Valentine or Valentinus (including St. Valentin Faustino Berri Ochoa, St. Valentine of Genoa, and St. Valentine of Strasbourg). Most people, however, trace the story of St. Valentine back to a Roman priest in the year 270. He was arrested and imprisoned for performing marriage ceremonies for Christian couples at a time when such ceremonies were prohibited (as married men were exempt from the Roman army). Valentine also may have aided other Christians who were being persecuted during the reign of Emperor Claudius Gothicus (Claudius II).

Valentine was brought before the emperor and told to renounce his faith, but even under extreme torture he refused to do so. According to legend, couples whom he had married brought him flowers and gifts while he was in prison, which gave rise to the tradition of giving flowers and gifts in his honor.

Valentine tried to convert Emperor Claudius to Christianity, but his efforts were not well received: Claudius had Valentine executed outside Rome’s Flaminian Gate on February 14, 270. According to another legend, while still in captivity, Valentine restored the sight of his jailer’s blind daughter. On the day before his execution, he sent her a farewell message and signed it, “from your Valentine.” That, of course, is said to have established another tradition.

More than two centuries later, in 496, Pope Gelasius marked February 14 as a celebration in honor of Valentine’s martyrdom. According to some accounts, this date was chosen to preempt a pagan fertility festival known as Lupercalia, which took place at about that same time. Lupercalia involved a lottery by which young people would draw the name of a mate for a year. With the new holiday, Gelasius instead had participants draw the name of a saint to emulate for a year.

Unfortunately, the heroic story of Valentine’s piety has been almost completely eclipsed by the “flowers, candy, and cards” holiday that we know today. Gelasius’s efforts to Christianize mid-February seem to have come to naught, and we are left in the ironic position of celebrating romance on a day named after a celibate priest.

To read the complete article click here.

Happy Saint Valentine’s Day!

Continue reading...

3 Responses to Saint Valentines Day

College Football, Pac 10 Wants Texas and Colorado

Saturday, February 13, AD 2010

The Pac-10 is seeking to expand for the first time in 33 years when they last added my two alma maters, the University of Arizona and Arizona State University (sometimes referred to as Temple Normal Women’s Teacher College).

Speculation has been rampant with initial reports announcing the the University of Utah had accepted and will become the 11th member, but those were quickly shot down (sort of).

Not since the Texas legislature blackmailed both the University of Texas and Texas A&M University into retracting their acceptance into the Pac-10 in 1994 have rumors been so rampant as to possible candidates.

The Pac-10 is the premiere all-sports conference in the country, more importantly, they have the most athletic and superior football programs as well.  No conference comes close with NFL-level talent to that of the Pac-10’s.

Why the expansion?

Continue reading...

19 Responses to College Football, Pac 10 Wants Texas and Colorado

  • I’m surprised it’s taken as long as it has for the PAC-10 and Big Ten to get their big-revenue championship game. Tradition is one thing, but tv money you take to the bank… I mean investments… I m ean bigger athletic facilities and fat coaching contracts.

  • “[M]ost athletic and superior football programs”? Heh. I think the SEC would have something to say about that. Top to bottom just no contest. And no, I’m not an SEC fan at all. I’m a Dukie and it is ACC all the way for me.

    That said, these conference re-alignments are indeed driven by dough, but they do fatigue fans who are care more about tradition and rivalries.

    The 12-Pac is a great name, though. Won’t happen of course for obvious reasons, but too bad.

  • Todd,

    You have a point.

    But when you have the Rose Bowl locked in, at the time, you are at the top, so why change?

    I hope the new commissioner is able to change the minds of Pac-10 presidents. They accepted a men’s basketball tournament, so things can change.

  • Mike,

    If you’ve ever watched Pac-10 football, you’ll see what I mean.

    Especially if you grew up in Pac-10 country, nothing compares.

  • Tito,
    You need to head to GA, ALA, FLA, LSU, etc. You’ll change your tune. And if you think that head to head the Pac 10 could beat the SEC from top to bottom we’ll just have to disagree. But just know you are in a small and not very well-informed group if you think that.

  • Mike,

    I foresaw all of these arguments hence why I provided the link embedded into my article.

    I have lived in many southern cities.

    The passion passes those of Pac-10 fans, but the product on the field can not be measured up against those on the Pac-10.

  • Well, then Tito, the NFL apparently disagrees, don’t they?

  • Mike,

    I appreciate your passion and resolve.

    In the end, it’s just a game.


  • Indeed, Tito. And for the record, the SEC lead over the the PAC-10 in NFL players is not as dramatic as my link might suggest at first glance, because the SEC has 2 more teams. The SEC has about 22 players per team playing in the NFL (more than any other conference) compared to the PAC-10’s 18. While significant, that is hardly dramatic. Somewhat surprisingly, the Big Ten is second with 21, with the ACC close behind at 20. One might argue that this suggests that PAC-10 coaching is superior to Big Ten coaching (i.e., they get more out of their talent), though that is probably taking unfair inferential liberties. The truth, I think, is that overall quality among conferences is probably pretty doggone close.

  • Sorry, Tito, but as a proud Gator, I have to side w/ Mike Petrik on this one! 😉

    At least wrt football, there’s genuinely no comparison about pure talent among athletes or pure enthusiasm among supporters when comparing the SEC and the PAC-10. But then again living in Texas as I do, I’m unlikely to travel to the Left Coast and support any of those PAC-10 teams by buying a gameday ticket, either, so take my viewpoint only for the $.02 that it’s worth!

  • Let me toss a bomb in here, possibly slightly off-topic.

    I think these conferences have to accept a national tournament. Eventually. Automatic bids for every conference champion, plus at-large slots to fill the field to 16.

    I would love to see all the bowls moved to August through Labor Day weekend. I know it kicks against the Rose Bowl tradition, but why not hold a second Rose Bowl each year as a semi-final? The first might always be last year’s Big-11/Pac-10 champs. Same for any other big bowl willing to take random playoff teams.

    Holding bowl games in August maximizes the possibility for a nice weather game anywhere–and you can always play a Fiesta Bowl at night, eh? And you could get good college cities like Boston hosting a nice game.

    I would suggest limiting any 12-school conference team to 10 games, plus one August bowl, plus a poetntial league championship, plus a potential four playoff games. Schools in leagues without that December playoff get eleven games. Schools that don’t qualify for an August bowl can opt for an 11th game.

  • The Big 12 south has a three way rivalry – Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M (the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, respectively). It would be difficult to split the rivalry, although the UT-OU rivalry survived many years as non-conference. They would have to figure some way to keep that in place.

    August bowl games, are you kidding?!?! In 100+ weather – no thanks.

  • You are all on crack. 😉 The money is in the Big Ten. The Big Ten Network has changed the game. Also, the Big Ten is an academic conference mostly made up of large land grant research intitutions. Texas is a perfect fit. Can you imagine a football conference with historical heavyweights like Texas, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State? The mind boggles.

  • Nick,

    The Pac-10 and Big Ten, or more correctly, the Big-14, are both fine academic and athletic institutions.


  • “August bowl games, are you kidding?!?! In 100+ weather – no thanks.”

    Good to see one less in the ranks of climate change truthers.

    That said, what makes you think evenings are going to be 100 degrees-plus? August bowl games would spread out over the whole month, and most of those games, as they are now in December and January, will be played at night.

    College football in August would get the jump on baseball pennant races, the NFL, and the start of school. It would be almost like an exhibition game, only it would count when BCS emerges from a rock in October.

  • Well, I miss the Big 8, I liked playingthe same teams every year, and you could actually drive to a lot of the away games.

    I don’t want to be a part of the Pac 10.

    -CU alumnus

  • Pingback: Bye Bye Big XII, Hello Pac-16! « The American Catholic
  • Assuming the Big 12 South bolts (which is going to happen with Nebraska’s anouncement) I would like to see the remaining North teams make a bid to join the Mountain West. It could be pretty sweet. Mt West Conf – West division – Boise St, BYU, Utah, Air Force, Wyoming, UNLV, San Diego St, New Mexico. East Division – Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Mizzou (If they don’t bail to Big 10 given the chance), Baylor, TCU, Colorado St, Houston, UTEP, or somebody like that.

The Dominican Sisters On The Oprah Winfrey Show

Friday, February 12, AD 2010

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  They are a new order that arose from Pope John Paul II’s call for a new evangelization.  They are devout and orthodox in our Catholic faith which explains why the average age of a nun is 26 and they are already turning back inquiries since they are packed to capacity in their new convent.

They recently made an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show this past Tuesday, February 9.  I’ve only seen some of the show online and my assumptions were validated.  That being they were knowledgeable about our faith, energetically orthodox, and calm in their disposition.

I strongly advice you to watch all four videos that I have been able to track down of the entire show.  Some of the videos have a few seconds where the digital relay distorts the picture, but the sound is not disturbed.

Part I:  I love hearing the sisters talk about their faith unapologetically, ie, you hear “God called me”, “I am married to Jesus Christ”, etc, etc.  Simply beautiful!

Continue reading...

27 Responses to The Dominican Sisters On The Oprah Winfrey Show

  • I never watch Oprah but was visiting my brother’s family this past week and my sister-in-law had this particular show on. I was struck by Lisa Ling’s comments and was wondering if anyone knows if she is Catholic. It seems as these sisters, had a profouund impact on her.

  • Wait a minute! This is a scandal! They showed up on Oprah! We all know Oprah supported Obama! And according to this article, she supports abortion and homosexuality!


    So how can they go on her show and make her evil acceptable?

    (Note to reader: this is sarcasm).

  • God can even use the vacuous Oprah show for His own purposes.

  • Doesn’t stop the fact, Donald, that their presence on Oprah helped her make more money, and we know she is pro-abortion… so how come no one is condemning them but praising them for the very things they condemn the USCCB for?!

  • Maybe because Oprah has absolutely nothing to say about the laws written in this country, how the laws are enforced and which judges are picked to enforce the laws. Additionally the nuns weren’t going on the show to honor Oprah, or to express support for her, but to spread their message. Oprah does quite nicely financially without the nuns. The nuns got a nice bit of publicity by going on the show. Making use of a pro-abort entertainer’s show in order to spread the message of Christ strikes me as being in the “cunning as serpents” category.

  • “Maybe because Oprah has absolutely nothing to say about the laws written in this country, how the laws are enforced and which judges are picked to enforce the laws.”

    While others say she is the one who got President Obama elected. And she has major influence over Obama. And she has major influence over her media.

    “Additionally the nuns weren’t going on the show to honor Oprah, or to express support for her, but to spread their message.”

    Same with the USCCB working with non-Catholic groups.

    “Oprah does quite nicely financially without the nuns.”

    So that excuses helping her make more money so she can push more pro-homosexual, pro-abortion themes in her media?

    “Making use of a pro-abort entertainer’s show in order to spread the message of Christ strikes me as being in the ‘cunning as serpents’ category.”

    It’s funny how it is “making use of…” and not “guilt by association” when people like a group.

  • “While others say she is the one who got President Obama elected.”

    Some people also say that Obama is a great President Karlson. Fantasy statements are never to be taken seriously. A lousy economy, Bush fatigue and McCain being a lousy candidate are what got Obama elected in this frame of reality.

    “Same with the USCCB working with non-Catholic groups.”

    It is called shoveling money at pro-abort groups Karlson. Feel free to try again.

    “So that excuses helping her make more money so she can push more pro-homosexual, pro-abortion themes in her media?”

    They didn’t help her make money Karlson by appearing on her show. She would have made precisely the same amount of money whether they appeared or not.

    “It’s funny how it is “making use of…” and not “guilt by association” when people like a group.”

    No it’s called the nuns being smart enough to use Oprah for their purposes. The Bishops are dumb enough to allow their Left-wing staffers at the USCCB to allow Left-wing groups to use the Bishops and the money contributed by unsuspecting Catholics.

  • “It is called shoveling money at pro-abort groups Karlson. Feel free to try again.”

    But God can use pro-aborts, as you just said. And so that’s why it is ok for the nuns to help Oprah get shoveled more money! Sheesh. Consistency. Not with you. Sophistry, that’s all you have.

  • Henry,

    When you try this “I will show how foolish your way of thinking is” tactics, you always end up with the egg on your own face because you don’t bother to actually understand the position of the people you’re trying to ridicule. Either do the work of understanding your opponents or just drop the tactic — you really don’t do yourself any credit with these dogged little “I’ll show you the implications of your thinking” sessions.

  • “But God can use pro-aborts, as you just said. And so that’s why it is ok for the nuns to help Oprah get shoveled more money!”

    Once again Karlson Oprah would have received precisely the same amount of money whether the nuns were on her show or not. The nuns did not place any more coins in her pocket. This is a strawman of yours that is completely unconvincing.

  • So Donald

    Since Oprah would receive the same amount of money either way,it makes it all fine for them to be the ones to help her make it?

  • She would have made exactly the same money Karlson if she had you on or Fifi the dancing beagle. The nuns used Oprah not the other way around.

  • Actually, would she? The fact that this got many who do not normally watch Oprah to watch her means it makes her more money. But the fact is, even if you are correct, you didn’t answer my question. Why should it be fine for them to help her make money, and thereby, cooperate with the evil which will be done with that money they helped her generate?

  • This really is not hard Karlson. Oprah makes precisely the same amount of money no matter who she has on. She is not a struggling host of a show trying to establish an audience. She has a huge audience and advertisers who pay her richly for commercial space on her show. She makes the same money no matter who she has. You will have to come up with some other red herring argument to argue that nuns appearing on Oprah is the same as the USCCB through the CHD funneling funds to pro-abort groups.

  • I agree with the fact that Oprah made no more money than she would have with a dog and pony show.
    I am an RN and I worked for a year in a convent and got to know a large group of the Sisters. I am also Catholic, as a convert in my sixties, before I worked at the Convent! They are usually incredibly quietly happy and work diligently to help others in many ways, the primary way in prayer, By renouncing the world in favor of Jesus when they become Sisters they do not think about money in their own existence. My guess would be that they went on that show to preach the name of Jesus as Savior, and no other reason as the Sisters of the Convent that I love would do! Nearly all of the Sisters I know worked most of their lives in poor areas of the southwest and California teaching school for indigent families children. If you do not know what it means to be a Sister you might do well to not comment about their motives!

  • Marilyn

    I don’t think you get the point of my comments. I am not criticizing the sisters, but applying the kind of logic which is used by some around here to judge the USCCB and show how it would also apply to those who do similar things and yet they applaud.

  • Henry points out the problems in logic when folks are selective in their criticism of association with evil. Oprah ok, but Jenkins not. Nixon ok, but Obama not. The dictatorship of relativism is wearing its tan uniforms on this site.

    If it didn’t sting on some level, you wouldn’t have strung out this thread into the teens. The fact that you have to continually justify it is telling. See if Michael Voris or Ray Arroyo can take your back on this.

    The bloggers here are playing to the home crowd, but they’re not doing their pro-life viewpoints, their conservative bona fides, or Catholicism any favors.

    Personally, I don’t see any problem with the nuns appearing on Oprah. Good for all of them.

  • Karlson makes a nonsense argument and Todd supports it. Business as usual for the usual suspects.

  • Marilyn,

    Disregard the comments by Henry K. and Todd.

    They want to destroy what is good for political points.

  • It’s a tough gig to have to prop up poor arguments, but you guys seem to have a good time doing so. Too bad we can’t take this discussion to Oprah or EWTN. They’re missing all the fun.

  • Todd let us know when you have an actual argument to contribute rather than just a snide attitute.

  • I think we need to say that the Sisters were invited to be on this Show, and it is not their intention to support Oprah.

    I think the best thing to conclude is that the little bit they did in harm is by far outweighed in the good which I no doubt occurred and will occur because of this encounter. I’m not trying to say this as a consequentialist.

    I say this because Oprah is not evil incarnate, she may be missinformed upon a great many subjects, but maybe she and her viewers can be converted. That is always the hope, appearing on a show of hers does not always show support for the views that Oprah has.

    I don’t know if you can link Oprah’s views to the Show in general. Any television program will have views that they support that will be in conflict with the faith. As long as you do not support or even make it known that you don’t support those views when you appear upon the said show I think it violates.

    We must engage culture in any case, show our disapproval and start to change it from the inside out. We are counter cultural and Christ will do the work, but we must engage in the debate and what better place then at the pinnacle of where it is seen. Silence is not an issue!

  • Pingback: Dominican Nuns Taught Oprah to Pray the Rosary « The American Catholic
  • Pingback: Dominican Nuns Taught Oprah to Pray the Rosary « The American Catholic
  • Pingback: From Harvard To Her Religious Calling « The American Catholic
  • I enjoyed watching these videos then unfortunately went to read the comments. The devil has his shills everywhere.

    God bless these wonderful sisters. I hope they touched many in Oprah’s audience who have been spoon fed untold amounts of new age nonsense and whatever else appears on that show.

  • Pingback: From Harvard To Her Religious Calling - Christian Forums

11 Responses to Hitler Hates The Pope!

Patrick Kennedy Will Not Run For Re-election

Friday, February 12, AD 2010

Patrick Kennedy, a Democrat Congressman from Rhode Island and a son of Teddy Kennedy, has announced that he will not run for re-election.  Kennedy in recent months has been engaged in a very public conflict with his Bishop Thomas J. Tobin over the issue of abortion as detailed in posts here, here and here.  I suspect that Kennedy is not running for a number of reasons, perhaps the most salient of them being that the electoral outlook for Democrats, even in Rhode Island, is the most challenging since 1994.  A recent poll indicated that Patrick Kennedy was probably going to face a difficult re-election race.

Continue reading...

6 Responses to Patrick Kennedy Will Not Run For Re-election

The Short and Simple Annals of the Poor

Friday, February 12, AD 2010

Today is the 201rst birthday of Abraham Lincoln.  It is a state holiday here in the Land of Lincoln, of course, and in California, Connecticut, Missouri, New Jersey and New York. 

One fact that all Americans know about Lincoln is that he was born in a log cabin.  He was indeed, a one room log cabin on Nolin Creek in Kentucky.  With the passage of time this fact has become picturesque, almost quaint.  This is a grave mistake for anyone wishing to understand Abraham Lincoln.  The log cabin symbolized for Lincoln his entry into the very hard life of a pioneer family.  Unending physical toil aged men and women before their time.  The arduous life of the frontier also made sudden death an often unwelcome guest.  Lincoln’s brother Thomas died in infancy.  His mother Nancy Hanks died when Lincoln was 9.  His sister Sarah died in childbirth at age 20, along with the son she had just brought into this world.  His namesake,  his paternal grandfather Abraham, was killed in 1786 by Indians.  Lincoln was born into a very tough and unforgiving world.

Continue reading...

4 Responses to The Short and Simple Annals of the Poor

  • “We live in a time when many people feel compelled to tell every intimate aspect of their lives to complete strangers, and privacy is often a purely theoretical right. Lincoln lived in an age when private family matters were just that.”

    Very true, however, that doesn’t stop historians from trying to fill in the gaps with their own speculation or selective reading of the evidence. In Lincoln’s case the favorite topics for speculation are his relationships with Ann Rutledge, Mary Todd Lincoln and his male friends. Of course, reading 19th-century letters and actions through politically correct 21st-century eyes doesn’t help matters.

  • True Elaine. The ludicrous assertion that Lincoln was a homosexual is the product of people who do not understand the style of writing of nineteenth century America and that travelers often shared beds with members of the same sex due to miserable lodging conditions, with no thought of anything other than attempting to get some sleep.

  • That’s just the most blatant example. Also it’s interesting to read different historians’ take on Mary Todd Lincoln. All agree she was very difficult to live with at times, however, some (like mega-Lincoln biography author Michael Burlingname, now of UIS and just named winner of the Lincoln Prize) paint her as little more than a “rhymes with witch” whom her husband despised, while others cite equally compelling evidence that despite their difficulties, Lincoln respected her opinions, her education (very advanced for a woman of that era) and her unwavering confidence in him.

    Again, whether this is an attempt to give a fair shake to a woman who may have been unfairly maligned for generations, or a nod to politically correct feminist sensibilities, depends on your point of view. I suppose, however, that people of their era would simply have regarded the question of how well Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln got along as none of their business.

  • Mary could be a bit of a shrew and a spendthrift. However, I have always been sympthetic to her. Lincoln refused to discipline the kids, so Mary was left alone in her efforts to make sure that her boys didn’t act like savages. Lincoln spent a good deal of time away from home riding the circuit or engaged in politics, so Mary often had to act as both mother and father. Under such cicumstances, I am surprised that her temper didn’t fray more often. Billy Herndon, Lincoln’s often drunk law partner, hated Mary and Mary cordially returned the sentiment. Many of the Mary as termagant stories originated from his pen and most of the better Lincoln biographers have pointed out his bias. My personal opinion is that the Lincolns had a happy marriage, filled with the usual ups and downs familiar to anyone who has been in a marriage that has endured the test of time.

Catholic Advocacy of Torture: A Teaching Moment for the Catholic Bishops?

Thursday, February 11, AD 2010

Writing at Vox Nova, the author known as “Morning’s Minion” has published a post calling for consistency in the application of canon 915 — the denial of Holy Communion to those who “obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin” — in this particular case, the public advocacy of abortion and torture. The post was occasioned by the recent appearance of Mark Thiessien on Raymond Arroyo’s “The World Over”, in which the duo lobbied vigorously in defense of waterboarding:

I think the analogy is clear. Arroyo and Thiessen are both Catholic public figures, and Arroyo in particular is a TV personality on a Catholic TV channel, making the scandal all the more grave. They are clearly “obstinately persevering” in support for an intrinsically evil act. Worse, they actually try to justify it on Catholic grounds. Thiessen has made it his life’s work to claim that some forms of torture are virtuous. Arroyo, again and again, invites defenders of torture onto his show, and instead of confronting them with clear Church teaching, voices his agreement. As [Archbishop Raymond] Burke says, this is “public conduct” that is gravely sinful. I would go further and argue that it is even more scandalous than support for legalized abortion. Most public supporters of abortion do not go on television extolling the great virtues of abortion for women and society. Their argument is more with how it should be treated under the law. But the Arroyo-Thiessen-Sirico cabal are (i) claiming to the faithful Catholics while (ii) making public pronouncements on the positive value of torture.

Catholic debate over torture (and/or what the Bush administration has termed “extreme interrogation”) has been going strong for several years now. It’s online manifestation initiated — to my recollection — with the publication of Mark Shea’s article in Crisis, “Toying with Evil: May a Catholic Advocate Torture?” and subsequent discussion at Amy Welborn’s, in March 2005. From time to time I’ve personally blogged on the various vollies and controversies between various camps as the debate has asserted itself, time and again, over half a decade (has it really been that long?)

That EWTN (“Eternal Word Television Network”) has hosted two explicit defenses of waterboarding — most recently by Thiessien, as well as Fr. Joseph Sirico of the Acton Institute, not to mention Q&A from Judy Brown of the American Life League questioning whether torture should be considered “intrinsically evil” — does not surprise me in the least. As I noted recently, there has been open dispute as to whether waterboarding constitutes torture from many prominent Catholics, including editor Deal Hudson, Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin, and Fr. Brian Harrison (in the pages of This Rock — the flagship publication of Catholic Answers, the largest largest lay-run apostolates of Catholic apologetics and evangelization in the United States). [Note: Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, a newcomer to the debate, has likewise made it known in the comments of this post where he stands on the matter].

Little wonder that a Pew Forum survey examining “the religious dimensions of the torture debate” found many white Roman Catholics, along with most frequent churchgoers, affirming that the use of torture against terrorists is “sometimes” or “often” justifiable.

With respect to abortion, readers may recall a number of opportune moments during the 2008 presidential elections when Catholic bishops were obliged to speak out, publicly, forcefully and collectively, in correction of blatantly false presentations of Catholic teaching on abortion by Nancy Pelosi and (then) Senator Joseph Biden.

There have been numerous missed “teaching moments” for our bishops and the Catholic Church on the matter of torture.

Continue reading...

294 Responses to Catholic Advocacy of Torture: A Teaching Moment for the Catholic Bishops?

  • I’ve been participating in the comments over on that thread, even though I strongly disagree w/ most of the commentary that appears on Vox Nova. In this case, Morning’s Minion is right, and I’ve told him as much. However, I’m not sure if he means what he says in terms of supporting the denial of communion to all who publicly dissent from key Catholic teachings on intrinsic evils, so perhaps I’m seen there as simply calling his bluff.

    I’m a tremendous supporter of EWTN, Mother Angelica, and the apostolates of the Franciscan friars, the Sisters, etc. there in Birmingham, and as such, it saddens me deeply to see Raymond Arroyo and some of his guests making excuses for torture. I’ve heard Thiessen on several different conservative radio and TV programs, and I know he’s hawking his new book, so I put zero confidence in his interpretation of Catholic teaching on the matter of torture. However, Fr. Sirico and Arroyo need to be far less cavalier about the torture issue in their presentation of it, even if they genuinely have doubts about whether waterboarding constitutes torture, which I believe they do. They need to recognize and state publicly that this is not an area where Catholic moral theology has stated in black-and-white terms that waterboarding is NOT torture, because it simply hasn’t been considered with such specificity yet.

    Christopher, I agree wholeheartedly with you that the Holy Father and others within the Magisterium must weigh in on this issue with clarity and efficiency (much like others have said on that Vox Nova thread), and it will put the matter to rest for a large majority of Catholics. As for MM’s suggestion that priests invoke current Canon law to withhold communion from dissenters on this issue, I support it, as long as it is also used in ALL areas where influential public Catholics dissent from clear Catholic teaching.

  • I have to wonder how the Battle of Tours in 732 or the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, both of which were fought against Islamic fascists, were ever won with this kind of attitude in the Church.

  • Denying communion to those who support the use of torture in certain circumstances would mean denying it to most of the popes who lived between circa 750 AD to 1871 AD. It is not politic perhaps to bring this up, but the attitude of the Church to the use of torture by lawful authority, either Church or State, did a 180 in the last century from previous praxis and teaching of the Church for a millennium.

  • Doesn’t anybody realize that there is a difference between the dismemberment and torturous murder of an innocent unborn baby, and the interrogation of a fanatical Jihaddist determined to maime and murder?

    There is no equivalency between the infanticide of the innocent unborn and the interrogation of the guilty Islamic fascist. None. Zero.

    But liberals just don’t get that.

  • I know MM is perfectly capable of speaking for himself, but I suspect his post is more about calling the bluff of denial-of-Communion Catholics. It will be interesting if he gets the moral consistency he’s seeking. If not, it’s a loss for the hard line bishops.

  • Paul

    It has nothing to do with “liberal” or “conservative.” It has to do with the fact that the Church has been guided to see torture as an intrinsic evil and a “non-negotiable.” And the killing and torture of innocents, which happens in war, is as evil as the killing and torture of innocents in the womb. Which is something many people like you forget — innocents destroyed are innocents destroyed.

  • Thank you, Henry. I’m as conservative as anyone and I’m disgusted that “conservativism” is being co-opted by the armchair Jack Bauers of the world. Since when is torture something the “good guys” do?

    Since when did “love thy neighbor” change to “except if they MIGHT have some useful information.. in that case, waterboard the shit out of them!”

    This is just more ammunition for the pro-choice Catholic excuse makers on the left.

  • I am not sure at all that we are at a point in the debate that it would lawful or right to deny communion to people that support waterboarding.

    Though people like to say it’s settled in fact there are some huge questions left and more questions on what torture is and what it is not. I am afraid a vote of the internet population is not going to do it. By design and as a general manner those Canon that punish are to be read narrowly.

    A denial of communion is a severe sanction and in a important debate that is in it infancy seems to be for the purpose of shutting up debate.

    TO the above parties that are mentioned I am pretty confident that they will heed the decree of their local Bishop on this matter unlike sadly many pro-abortion poltiticians

  • “There have been numerous missed “teaching moments” for our bishops and the Catholic Church on the matter of torture.”

    This could be perhaps that there are issues as to torture and enchanced interrogation that has not been dealt with and perhaps the Church recognizes has to be debated

  • Paul,

    Perhaps you were confused by the fact that both Christians and Muslims were involved, but Tours and Lepanto were battles, not interrogations. No one has attempted to argue that battles, when necessary, cannot be fought. And I think one would have to be rather deceived to claim that Tours and Lepanto were unnecessary.

  • On the topic in question: it seems fairly clear to me that MM is not actually calling for people to defend waterboarding to be denied communion, he’s calling for pro-abortion Catholics _not_ to be denied communion. For some time now he’s been accusing pro-lifers of seeking to politicize the Eucharist by supporting the denial of communion to pro-abortion politicians. It’s an argument from absurdity combined with some tu toque.

    In this regard, it seems to me that the argument lacks some crucial context. When bishops have, in rare circumstances, denied abortion to notorious abortion supporters, it has been after long years of the Church clearly denying that one may, as a Catholic, support legal abortion. It has also been after the individual politician is warned by the bishop that he/she must change his views lest he be denied communion. The denial of communion is, at that point, a response to repeated and stubborn refusal to accept correction.

    So in this case, an obvious first step (assuming that the Church does in fact consider the positions being taken by these people to be totally unacceptable) would be for some bishops to step forward, make it clear that these positions are morally unacceptable, and advise people that they must cease making these arguments lest they find themselves divided from the Church.

    As Chris says, this is clearly a potential teaching moment. I don’t myself agree with the arguments that folks like Thiessien are making — though I’m not ready to say with confidence that it’s impossible for Catholics to make such arguments in good conscience. (After all, there are arguments which I disagree with, such as that a majority Catholic state should not allow the open practice of dissenting religions, which Catholics are indeed allowed to make. Not all conclusions on important matters are handed to us on a silver platter in Catholicism, despite some of the accusations of our separated brethren.)

    What MM does not seem fully cognizant of, unless I’m much misreading his intention with his post, is that there is a difference in Church discipline on these two issues in that the Church has already made it clear that it considers dissent on the question of legal abortion to be something which, in notorious cases, can and should be disciplined through denial of communion. He may not like that, but there it is. It is not yet, however, clear whether the topic of waterboarding is something over which the Church considers it appropriate to ban people from communion for dissent. Certainly, the bishops could decide to make not advocating this a matter of obedience, as a few Southern bishops made complying with their orders to desegregate Catholic schools a matter of obedience, but this has not actually happened up until this point, and so I’m not clear how one gets to demand that they do so as a matter of consistency unless one imagines that one is in a better position to set Church teaching and discipline than the bishops themselves.

  • “he’s calling for pro-abortion Catholics _not_ to be denied communion.”

    No he is not.

  • Really? He’s certainly accused pro-lifers of using communion as a cudgel and those bishops who have denied communion to pro-abortion politicians as being political hacks.

    Wouldn’t that seem to imply that he doesn’t think people should be denied communion for supporting legal abortion?

    (My apologies, though, I appear to have mistakenly thought a comment was made by Henry that was my by someone else. I’ll make the correction.)

  • As far as I can see, we already have perfectly consistent application of Canon 915. It is virtually never applied.

    The bishops have consistently condemned both torture and abortion, and have done precious little against Catholic public figures who advocate either.

    There is, of course, the little matter that torture is illegal and abortion is a right, and the attendant fact that 1.5 million abortions are performed in the U.S. each year, while comparatively very few (if any) prisoners are tortured (depending on your definition of what exactly constitutes torture, a question which MM settled long ago, but which much of the rest of the country is still debating).

    The simple fact remains that, over at VN, not only torture but SUVs, poverty, and _every other issue_ trumps abortion when it comes time to take action, with the result that no positive action can ever be taken. And that’s why life is too short to read Vox Nova.

  • DC

    You are confusing so many issues, which is the problem. For example, the desire to say “anyone who voted for Obama is pro-abortion and therefore should be denied communion” is wrong, and yet that is the kind of cudgel many who call themselves pro-life have tried to use. There is a big difference between denying communion to people who really are pro-abortion than denying people who cooperate with the American political system and vote for someone despite their abortion stand. But he is also pointing out that the canon law being used can be applied to all kinds of moral outrages, and yet the same people are not interested in applying it universally. That is not the same as your claim.

  • How about this question. Is any use of force licit in interrogation?

  • Henry,

    I think you may be equivocating. One may directly kill an innocent in war. But this may also be an example of double effect where one can anticipate that innocents may be killed while justly stopping an aggressor. Thus the first would be immoral but the second would be licit given proportionate reasons. Abortion never is licit.

  • “How about this question. Is any use of force licit in interrogation?”

    Those are questions that must be asked as well as other components of enhanced interrogation.

    That is one reason why I think there is not a lot of basis in denying communion to people where the issues are in such flux. There is going to have be a serious moral debate on many issues.

    When does discomfort become torture? I have seen torture defined as to the extreme of burning hot coals to the other extreme that 24 hours of sleep deprivation could be torture

  • Right or wrong, I don’t expect the defense of torture to be widely held as cause for the denial of communion because, as Darwin and Christopher note, there hasn’t been a clear history of bishops loudly proclaiming that Catholics cannot in good conscience support torture. The current torture debate is fairly new. Perhaps a few decades down the road, when and if we have a long train of teaching moments to reference, we’ll see the canon law in question applied to advocates of torture. Nevertheless, Morning’s Minion has a valid point about its inconsistent application, even if his point has as of now heavier theoretical weight than practical weight.

  • When does discomfort become torture?

    I wouldn’t distinguish discomfort from torture by reference to the degree of pain, which doesn’t get us very far, but by the intended effect of the pain/discomfort. Torture is the use of physical or mental pain to coerce the will to the point where the will itself is undermined and rendered powerless. This use of pain is different than the use of pain to motivate the will or persuade a prisoner to will what the interrogators want him to will.

  • “For example, the desire to say “anyone who voted for Obama is pro-abortion and therefore should be denied communion” is wrong, and yet that is the kind of cudgel many who call themselves pro-life have tried to use.”

    I think that is a rather extreme postione and I ma not sure at all that many people who wish the Bishops to tough up on abortion for example would advocate that. I should be noted that when Kmiec was denied communion by one Priest there was quite a reaction from many Catholic pro-lifers on many fronts that said that was wrong.

    “But he is also pointing out that the canon law being used can be applied to all kinds of moral outrages, and yet the same people are not interested in applying it universally. That is not the same as your claim.”

    While this is a fine debating tactic but I am not sure it gets it very far. Painting a nightmare picture of the Canon Law Provison in dispute as running possibily amuck is quite different in wanting the Law to applied correctly.

  • “How about this question. Is any use of force licit in interrogation?”

    My own view is absolutely not. Any physical coercion of a prisoner beyond what is necessary to restrain, confine, or move said prisoner should be off limits. Interrogation should involve asking questions, not exerting physical pressure.

    I mean, that seems like the sort of basic and obvious definition of torture (at least obvious to me): you can’t coerce answers from a prisoner by physically violating that person’s bodily integrity.

    Now, I am less certain about what psychological means may be brought to bear in getting answers from a prisoner. To the extent there is going to be any debate over appropriate interrogation techniques, in my view it should fall into the realm of which psychological techniques are appropriate. As a baseline, though, I think that any physical coercion is morally problematic.

  • Karlson,

    You have advocated ignoring the abortion funding in the healthcare bill and have gone into full pro-life assualt since the bill now appears to be dead. Your protestations about pro-torture Catholics, regardless of their merits, are self serving.

    The real problem with the Vox Nova folks (MM, HK, MI) is that they have continued to ignore the pro-abortion zealotry that killed the healthcare bill. They are now lashing out in all directions. This pro-torture bashing is little more than fuming (regardless of the merits).

  • In my answer above, I don’t mean to imply that torture is only physical and not psychological. Clearly, as Kyle points out, there is also psychological torture that can cause mental pain and anquish.

  • Kyle,

    One question I have with that is there does not seem to be an absolute freedom of will to do whatever it wants. There are limits the state can place upon the will.

    That then leads back to my first question.

  • “One question I have with that is there does not seem to be an absolute freedom of will to do whatever it wants. There are limits the state can place upon the will.

    That then leads back to my first question.”

    There is also a question of the difference between BREAKING THE WILL and Reforming the Will which I suppose are two differnt things

  • Pingback: Catholic Advocacy of Torture: A Teaching Moment for the Catholic Bishops? » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog
  • One other thing should be noted here. A lot of people are not just engaging this with a poltical viewpoint which seems to a subtone of many of these debates as we are looking into motives

    For many of us there is a obligation to have a coherent view on this issue that takes in all scripture all Church tradition and all Church teaching. Not just what has been said in the last 100 years.

    It all has to fit together and it is a important task as we engage other Christians from other other faith communities and non Christians.

    The Church and scripture have never endorsed abortion. Scripture, tradition, and Church teaching is not so clear cut on all the aspects of the torture. enhanced interrogation debate where one could say it is so OBVIOUS.

    That has been one of the frustrating things about this debate is much of it is seen through a purely political lens.

    Why that might be great as we compare the various faults of the Bush and Obama administrations it is not very helpful when a Non Catholic confronts me with verses from Sirach or other teachings.

    It must fit all together some how.

  • Jay read my mind!

  • If it were up to MM, cap-and-trade opponents would incur latae sententiae excommunication.

    I agree that this is a teaching moment but I don’t think the bishops know what to teach.

    Bishop: Torture is evil.
    Congregant: What’s torture?
    Bishop: Sticking a baton up the ass would be torture.
    Congregant: Obviously but what about waterboarding?
    Bishop: [crickets chirp]

    Personally, I’d rule out all physical and psychological harm, beyond what is necessary to restrain, for a purpose extrinsic to the individual.

  • I suspect the bishops will say that waterboarding is torture. They will of course need to have a strong, reasoned response to do so.

  • I agree that anything causing psychological harm should be ruled out. But, in my view, there is more room for debating what causes psychological “harm” than there is when we’re talking about physical coercion.

    Here’s what I mean by psychological means of extracting information are less clear cut:

    * Is good-cop/bad-cop torture?
    * Is lying – for example, telling Prisoner B that Prisoner A has spilled the beans and fingered Prisoner B as the mastermind when Prisoner A has done nothing of the sort – torture? (Such a tactic may be morally problematic apart from the question of torture.)
    * What about other mind games that play on the emotions of the person being interrogated but that arguably don’t cause psychological harm?

    It could be that, in context, any or all of those may constitute torture. But that’s the point. In contrast to physical coercion, which, in my opinion, is ALWAYS torture, the examples above may or may not be torture depending on the circumstances.

  • Phillip,

    The state can legitimately limit what one is able to will, but it may not licitly rob him of his core capacity to will. It may imprison a man, thereby preventing him from acting as free people do, but it may not render a man a mere puppet incapable of making moral decisions. The man tortured into action is a man made less than a man, a man rendered incapable of free choices, and therefore incapable of virtue. The sin of torture has much to do with pain, of course, but it has, in my opinion, more to do with what it does to the core personal selfhood of the one tortured. Torture uses pain to make a person act precisely not as a person, but as an instrument of the torturer.

  • I suspect imprisoning does rob him of his will but not of his conscience. He may continue to believe what he wants but cannot act (will) it. For example an imprisoned murderer may continue to wish to kill another but cannot act on his conscience which tells him its okay.


  • I think the way I’m using the word “will” is somewhat close to how you’re using the word “conscience.” I’m using “will” in reference to the power of the person to make free, moral decisions. An imprisoned man still has that power, even if he cannot exercise it toward the ends he wishes. He may not be able to will what he wants, but he can still will. The coerced person, however, can neither will what he wants to really will at all. He acts involuntarily.

  • It seems the state does have the right to stop some consciences from acting as they will. From Dignitatis Humanae:

    “7. The right to religious freedom is exercised in human society: hence its exercise is subject to certain regulatory norms. In the use of all freedoms the moral principle of personal and social responsibility is to be observed. In the exercise of their rights, individual men and social groups are bound by the moral law to have respect both for the rights of others and for their own duties toward others and for the common welfare of all. Men are to deal with their fellows in justice and civility.

    Furthermore, society has the right to defend itself against possible abuses committed on the pretext of freedom of religion. It is the special duty of government to provide this protection. However, government is not to act in an arbitrary fashion or in an unfair spirit of partisanship. Its action is to be controlled by juridical norms which are in conformity with the objective moral order. These norms arise out of the need for the effective safeguard of the rights of all citizens and for the peaceful settlement of conflicts of rights, also out of the need for an adequate care of genuine public peace, which comes about when men live together in good order and in true justice, and finally out of the need for a proper guardianship of public morality.

    These matters constitute the basic component of the common welfare: they are what is meant by public order. For the rest, the usages of society are to be the usages of freedom in their full range: that is, the freedom of man is to be respected as far as possible and is not to be curtailed except when and insofar as necessary.”

    It seems there can be restraint on conscience at some level.

  • Equivalency bewteen abortion and torture?

    I don’t think there is necessarily an equivalence, nor that anyone is making such an equivalence. Both are evil, and intrinsically so. I do agree abortion is more evil in many respects, but that really doesn’t seem to be the point. Rape and adultery are both evil, and a strong argument can be made that rape is worse. That doesn’t lessen the evil of adultery one iota.

  • Phillip,

    I read the passage you cite as saying the state can curtail freedom in the sense that it can prevent or prohibit a person from willing certain actions, but I don’t see that it anywhere says the state may render a person fundamentally incapable of willing or attack the power to will. The limits allowed to be placed by the state are limits on what can be willed, not on the power to will itself. I don’t see how the Church could ever advocate limits on the latter, for it would be advocating putting people into conditions that violate their core personhood by making them incapable not only of evil, but of real goodness as well.

  • True, but what can the state do if some, in good conscience continue to act against the common good.

  • Again, limits on not so much as willed, but one in conscience can be held. We already acknowledge we can stop the will from acting.

  • Philip

    Double-effect does not take place the way you think it does. There are many more rules to war than “it’s war” to justify double effect. And even then the evil is the same, the issue is not the evil, but the guilt.

    And this goes into Colin’s claim.

    Colin: many people have shown you that the claims are outright wrong about abortion in the health care bill. But let’s say more abortions will happen because people are given better health care. That IS double effect going on right there. Increase of health care is itself a good, and to intend that without intending more abortion, but having more abortion happen as a result, is exactly double effect.

  • I’m not sure I understand the last question.

  • Henry,

    Perhaps. This is the way I understand it. Let’s say there is a tank that is a threat. There is also a civilian nearby. One can drop a bomb on the tank, anticipating that the civilian will be killed by the blast. What is directly intended is the destruction of a threat. What is not directly intended is the killing of a civilian. Nor does the destruction of the tank come as a result of the killing of the civilian Not direct killing so not morally illicit. That’s my understanding of double effect in war.

    This to contrast with dropping a bomb on civilians because they’re the damn enemy. Direct killing of innocents and thus immoral. In the same category as abortion.

  • Kyle,

    Perhaps because I have worded poorly. It seems to me (and I could be incorrect) that what one reasons is a good is distinct from what one wills to do. It seems to be that the state may do a great many things to stop the will from acting. It seems the state may even drop a bomb on a tank that is unjustly invading one’s land. This with the implicit reality that one will kill the occupants of the tank who are willing it to invade. This in contrast to the assertion that the state may never force the conscience of a person.

    It seems the state can do a great many things to limit the will. The question is can the state do anything to limit the conscience and if so to what degree.

  • A number of responses to the post and comments:

    (1) I actuallly agree that the Pelosi comparison was apt – in each case, a person self-identifying as a faithful Catholic, attempted to defend a position which simply cannot be defended.

    (2) Despite Christopher’s assertion to the contrary, there is no real debate about whether waterboarding constitutes torture. I would note that the arguments of the defenders – Hudson, Akin, Harrison – have little to do with specific techniques and more to do with consequentialist arguments about circumstances under which it might be licit. As for the technique itself, until Bush-Cheney, there was no doubt that this was torture, especially when done by the Khmer Rouge and the imperial Japanese. That tells me that the real defense is an exercise in pure consequentialism – it’s OK when America does it to “keep itself safe from terrorists”.

    (3) For Paul Primavera – “fascism” is a 20th century term that cannot be applied to the 8th or the 16th century. Even worse, “islamic fascism” is an offensive term much loved by American neocons who use it as pretext for war and torture.

    (4) Yes, the Church sinned in the past by supporting torture, largely because they embraced Roman law, and torture was part of the Roman law. But the catechism itself says very explicitly that this was wrong, and that torture (just like slavery) can never be defended.

    (5) I disagree with Darwin’s canonical distinction between abortion and torture. The issue pertains to those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin.” There is a lot of consensus that publicly saying something opposed to Church teaching in scandalous manner could be grounds for denying communion. This would encompass defending something that is both extremely grave and intrinsically evil. Both torture and abortion would qualify – after all, they are both listed as among the grave sins in Gaudium Et Spes, and they both evil regardless of circumstance.

    (6) Following up on the last point, let me state for the record that I do not agree with Burke’s take on canon 915. And I am not saying this as an arrogant amateur – I’ve consulted some canonists I know who assure me that Burke’s interpretation is a distinct minority opinion. That makes sense to me. I think somebody who publicly states he is a faithful Catholic and says that abortion is a great social good, or that more women should be encouraged to abort might fall foul of this canon. Likewise, somebody who claims that torturing a prisoner is a great thing to do (Thiessen) might be implicated.

    (7) Prohibitions on receiving the Eucharist are as old as the Church. But I would have you call that some of the oldest debate centers on whether soldiers who participate in war should be permitted to partake – see St. Basil. Not that I am defending this today, but we need to be aware of the history. I’m not particularly interested in targeting individuals at the communion rails – I’m just dismayed by the silence of the episcopacy on this issue.

  • Thank you for the dialogue, particularly Kyle. I am off to the mountains for the weekend. Hope to come back to continued genteel conversation.

  • Henry,

    Is Pelosi wrong then when she reassures her abortion constituents that abortion funding IS part of the bill? Or is she lying to them?

    Your application of double effect is incorrect. Abortion funding does NOT have to be part of the bill. You are advocating the bill despite the funding of such. That isn’t double effect. That is material cooperation.

  • Colin

    I believe she is lying — and I am no fan of Pelosi. She is a liar, and misrepresents things constantly for her own political gain. Or do you think she is telling the truth when she talks about Catholic understandings of abortion?

    And as has been shown on Vox Nova — there is no such funding in the bill itself.

    BTW, do you know double effect IS about cooperation? That is a part of the whole point. That one can promote something which is good despite unintended consequences from one’s support, even if the consequences are foreknown.

  • Colin

    And this goes along with Cardinal Dulles who has even said similarly — you can support a good (X) despite abortion (of course within specific guidelines — but that’s been discussed on VN).

  • Henry,

    Which is more likely:

    1. Pelosi is trying to smuggle in unpopular abortion funding (76% against last I checked) using an obtuse accounting scheme (Casey admendment). Upholding her commitment to abortion.

    2. Pelosi is lying to her constituents and betraying the “right to choose” push healthcare through.

    My money is one the first, esp since she didn’t support Stupak and the Dem leadership has been trying to get hiim to roll on the issue (rather than the other way around).

    Also, you application of double effect only applies if there is NO ALTERNATIVE. Abortion funding is not a necessary result of health care reform. Stupak proved that. If other Democrats would uphold life we might have a bill signed already.

  • Apologies to the author. I didn’t mean to sidetrack this thread.

  • Colin, I’d love to see the evidence. Though many have compared the Nelson Amendment to the Capps accounting trick, as far as I can tell, there’s a very important difference. The Nelson Amendment requires enrollees to write two checks. That virtually ensures that nobody will choose to pay for abortion coverage. This is why pro-choice groups opposed it. But, I’d love to see evidence to the contrary (from a source other than Pelosi’s mouth).

  • The one thing that remains missing in this discussion of theoreticals is a usable definition of “torture”. The good old, “I know it when I see it” that applied to pornography is not workable here.

    Why, would you ask?

    Well, thanks for asking!

    The problem from which most of this discussion suffers is actually two-fold: a lack of practical experience in even *imagining* the situational ethics (bad term, I know, but give me a minute) of a particular instance, combined with that very “I-know-it-when-I-see-it” mentality I dismissed above.

    Some things are easy to define as torture: cutting off fingers/toes; pushing bamboo shards under fingernails; cutting; testicular electrification; castration; murder of a comrade with a threat of one’s own murder; confinement to a space smaller than one’s own frame; burning; acid in the eyes; other disfiguring injuries inflicted for the purpose of coercion. All definitely torture; all specifically outside the provisions of the Geneva Conventions and the Laws of Land Warfare.

    But…is loud music? ( I would argue that it would depend on the genre.) Is sleep deprivation within reasonable limits? Is environmental manipulation? Withholding food (this one is a probable yes)? threatening? Intimating that someone has ratted the prisoner out? Not correcting a misimpression on the part of a prisoner that something bad has happened to a comrade, or is about to happen to them?

    Then…what about dripping water across the face of a person in a controlled manner, with medical assistance present, in order to evoke a visceral panic reaction on the part of the subject that is so unpleasant as to encourage the subject to avoid its repetition?

    I don’t know the answer.

    But I will say this: Unless you have had to manage the use of deadly force in some way, your ability to make a valid judgment may be impaired. Not that you’re a bad person, or you lack intelligence, or anything negative; you just may not have a frame of reference that allows you to validly evaluate the morality of a particular situation. Killing is objectively evil; murder is intrinsically evil..BUT: Some people just need killin’, as people in the South might say. And as unpleasant as it is to hear, it is unequivocally true. And it is up to the moral actor, IN THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT, to make the best judgment he or she can based on his or her training and experience, and then to pull the trigger (or not). And that moral actor must bear the consequences of that decision before God.

    So I guess I’m saying: If you haven’t had to think about killing another human being, you may not have enough information to really validly evaluate the morality of things that go on in war (past a certain point, and with obvious exceptions, like My Lai).

  • Why is this such a tedious and ultimately meaningless argument? Because only 3 people were waterboarded. This is an issue that is being ginned up mostly by folks who hate Republicans and want desperately to change the debate from abortion.

  • Austin Ruse,

    The argument is neither tedious nor meaningless and it pertains to more than just three individuals who were water-boarded. We have witnessed the systematization and legalization of coercive interrogation techniques, including torture, into official government policy. That fact alone should concern us. Perhaps even more disheartening, this policy has found justification among Catholics and others that bases its use on a materialistic and morally relativistic gospel of salvific violence. I’ve seen even otherwise pro-life Catholics argue that we must keep ourselves safe by any means necessary and that the end of keeping us safe justifies any means. To be sure, we’re not simply witnessing a debate among Catholics about what techniques qualify as torture. We’re seeing Catholics who typically decry moral relativism embrace morally relativistic arguments in the name of national security. That’s a problem.

  • Except of course Kyle that the use of what is currently described as torture was routinely used by virtually all Western governments until the day before yesterday in historical terms. In the US the third degree was quite common in police work until the Sixties. The papal states had official torturers until the papal states were abolished in 1870. In a society which tolerates the destruction of human life to the tune of tens of millions a year in regard to abortion, I am curious about this new found sensitivity to torture in both the Church and Western countries at large. One may be against physical torture on prudential grounds as I am, and yet wonder if it is truly immoral for a cop for example to pummel a kidnapper in order to get a child back safe to her parents. A whole host of prudential reasons can be mustered as to why the cop should not do this, but I truly find it hard to understand why such an action would be immoral. Substitute a parent for the cop, and I think it would be immoral for the parent not to attempt to coerce the will of the kidnapper in order to rescue a son or daughter.

  • Why is this such a tedious and ultimately meaningless argument? Because only 3 people were waterboarded.

    I quote from the above post:

    “Little wonder that a Pew Forum survey examining ‘the religious dimensions of the torture debate’ found many white Roman Catholics, along with most frequent churchgoers, affirming that the use of torture against terrorists is ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’ justifiable.”

    This is an issue that is being ginned up mostly by folks who hate Republicans and want desperately to change the debate from abortion.

    What a contemptible claim!

  • Three men waterboarded vs 50 million murders of unborn children. This is a waste of time and i reiterate, an attempt by a small group who want to divert attention from a truly horrific situation. These guys also want us to believe that its ok to vote for someone like Obama, who opposes waterboarding 3 guys but supports the killing of unborn children, rather than one of those despicable conservatives who may favor waterboarding but opposes the deliberate killing of millions of unborn children. This is not a serious debate.

  • There you go again, Austin. While you may have some success tarring me as one of those “folks who hate Republicans”, you most certainly cannot say the same for most of the commentors above who oppose torture. What I see is disgust with the conduct of evil by our political masters, no matter which secular ideology most appeals.

    You’ll get no argument that abortion is graver than torture. But you must also admit that the moral proximity, the formal cooperation in evil, of political leaders to each act of torture is much closer than the moral proximity of these same leaders to each incidence of abortion. Doesn’t that concern you?

    And what kind of argument are you making anyway? Rape is probably not as bad as murder. Does this mean we should turn a blind eye to rape? Is rape tedious?

    You would be more convincing if you argued that you supported your precious Republicans in spite of, not because of, or indifference to, their embrace of torturing people for consequentialist reasons.

    And this goes far beyond waterboarding, by the way. You take the Bush-Cheney techniques minus waterboarding and you have a very close approximiation to the approved techniques of the gestapo. But the gestapo didn’t really torture, did they? Or did they? Maybe they did, if you bring intent and circumstance into it. Oh wait, you can’t do that with intrinsically evil acts…

  • Colin,

    You have been at this game for too long. It’s time to end it. Look at the Vox Nova threads on healthcare reform. Even better, read the bill.

    Here’s the deal. This reform does not support or push forward the abortion agenda. The reform relates to the expansion of private insurance. Many private insurance companies pay for abortion. Should they? Not if I had my way, but I don’t remember a pro-life organization making a priority of this one.

    The issue then, is now to minimize taxpayer funds from going to these private insurance companies that cover abortion. Stupak was ironclad – did the pro-life movement support the House bill with Stupak? No, they instead supported a pro-abortion pro-torture Senate candidate who opposed both the House and Senate bills.

    And yes, Stupak is better than Nelson, but not that much better. After all, Nelson would allow states to forbid abortion coverage, give people the option of an abortion-free plan, and shine attention on abortion coverage by separating payments (if you can’t see the value in forcing such attention, just ask the RNC). The pro-choicers hate it for a reason. Is it ideal? No. But it is the first ever federal attempt to address abortion coverage by private insurance companies. And I think people would most definitely start choosing plans without abortion, which will force insurance companies to drop coverage.

    I’ll leave you with an insightful point made by a commentor on Vox Nova. When Republicans implemented the Medicare Advantage program, involving direct subsidies from taxpayers to insurance companies, was abortion an issue? No, it was not. And yet, what is the difference? And don’t respond by saying Medicare does not cover abortion – the money is going to insurance companies that do fund abortion, and this money is fungible. And since the reform bill proposes to save money by eliminating Medicare Advantage, shouldn’t you be lauding them for distancing taxpayer funds from abortion?

    Oh, and by the way, the more recent Republican ideas on healthcare are not exactly unborn-friendly either. Granting tax credits makes it cheaper for people to purchase private plans with abortion. And allowing insurance plans to be sold across state lines without appropriate minimum standards would gut the Nelson provision allowing states to ban abortion coverage.

    What do I conclude? I conclude that many of those who scream about healthcare and abortion do not support this healthcare reform in the first place. They use the unborn on their behalf, but it is really their liberal principles that are offended. They object to forcing people to purchase health insurance, and especially to forcing the healthy to subsidize the sick, either directly through community rating, or indirectly through budgetary subsidies. This was really why they opposed reform, not abortion. Let’s end this charade here and now.

  • Three men waterboarded vs 50 million murders of unborn children.

    No. Evil is not opposed to evil. All evil comes from the same source, and all evil will be sent back to that source, carrying along whoever clings to any part of it.

    Formal cooperation with evil is one way of clinging to evil, and there’s reason to believe that tens of millions of Catholics in the United States formally cooperate with the grave evil of torture.

  • As Tom has aptly pointed out (I think, anyway) this is a both/and scenario. We must oppose both torture and abortion per Church teaching on each. This is hardly a mutually exclusive predicament.

    That being said, in a discussion on abortion and torture in the US, abortion is demonstrably the greater historical scandal. The blood on our hands from millions of children lost since Roe v Wade is in no small part the result of an enabling, ideologically-driven, morally pernicious, left-wing brand of Catholicism.

    No amount of moral calculus can be used to justify torture as if abortion is so heinous that everything the political-right does pales in comparison. Yet given the track record of the left it is understandable that such claims of the moral high ground are more about advancing the political football than about embracing Church teaching on this particular matter.

  • Nice to see, once again, Austin reveals his true colors. Push for Republicans and use abortion as a diversion.

  • If torture was actually an issue, then yes, we should oppose it. But to use it as a wedge to keep people from voting for the pro-life party, it is no more than Democratic trickery. The proposition is that there is some kind of equivalence between the murder of 50 million children and three men being waterboarded and therefore one may in good conscience vote for party that supports baby-killing (and by the way, the Party of Death also knew about waterboarding and did nothing).

  • “The pro-life party” — what party is this?

  • That would be the party that had this in its platform in 2008:

    “Maintaining The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life

    Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity and dignity of innocent human life.

    We have made progress. The Supreme Court has upheld prohibitions against the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion. States are now permitted to extend health-care coverage to children before birth. And the Born Alive Infants Protection Act has become law; this law ensures that infants who are born alive during an abortion receive all treatment and care that is provided to all newborn infants and are not neglected and left to die. We must protect girls from exploitation and statutory rape through a parental notification requirement. We all have a moral obligation to assist, not to penalize, women struggling with the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy. At its core, abortion is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life. Women deserve better than abortion. Every effort should be made to work with women considering abortion to enable and empower them to choose life. We salute those who provide them alternatives, including pregnancy care centers, and we take pride in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives.

    Respect for life requires efforts to include persons with disabilities in education, employment, the justice system, and civic participation. In keeping with that commitment, we oppose the non-consensual withholding of care or treatment from people with disabilities, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which endanger especially those on the margins of society. Because government should set a positive standard in hiring and contracting for the services of persons with disabilities, we need to update the statutory authority for the AbilityOne program, the main avenue by which those productive members of our society can offer high quality services at the best possible value.”

    The pro-death party had this in its platform in 2008:

    “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.”

  • So, the Constitution of the Soviet Union made Stalin good? The platform didn’t deal with the whole issue of life, and ignores the Gospel of Life. To be pro-life, as the Church speaks, is more than to be against abortion. And Austin shows what happens when people think that is all it is about — even being against abortion doesn’t have to be (Brown) as long as one is GOP! The shell game doesn’t work. The fact of the matter is that the actual policies of the Republicans have been anti-life, and have promoted the culture of death. The fact of the matter is that when people think “torture doesn’t matter” they have accepted the culture of death (if it doesn’t matter, than abortion, as torture, doesn’t matter). But it does matter. And any attempt to ignore it when it is an issue is an attempt to hide real anti-life policies.

    And here is a note for the sophists:

    Just because book X might be the most expensive book ever does not mean books A-W, when combined with Y and Z are less valuable than X.

  • Karlson your never ending efforts to run interference for Obama and the party of abortion lend support to the argument that Mr. Ruse is making. This is on par with your ludicrous attempt last weekend to argue that Nixon was more pro-abortion than the patron saint of Vox Nova Obama. Stop beclowning yourself in your attempt to be a useful tool for people who are completely pro-abortion.

  • Karlson your never ending efforts to run interference for Obama and the party of abortion lend support to the argument that Mr. Ruse is making.

    Yes, and it’s deucedly annoying, because the argument that Mr. Ruse is making is a “30% less evil than the other leading brand” whitewash of the Republican Party.

    As long as Catholics treat moral issues as though they were fundamentally political issues — as Austin does by claiming, in the teeth of the empirical evidence, that torture is not an issue — politicians will treat moral issues as Catholic vote-bait, and souls will be lost.

  • One very big difference between the issue of banning Communion to pro-abortion politicians vs. banning Communion to “pro-torture” politicians is simply the fact that what constitutes torture may not be as clearly defined as what constitutes abortion.

    It’s pretty obvious what constitutes abortion (although, granted, some people have tried to redefine “conception” in a way that excludes certain forms of abortafacient contraception). And some practices are obviously torture (branding, whipping, racking, mutilation, sexual abuse, threatening to kill, rape or torture a loved one in one’s prescence. And I would, personally, include waterboarding in this definition). However, the danger is that certain persons of more liberal persuasion may attempt to expand the definition of torture to include just about anything that causes distress or places pressure on the person being interrogated. Next thing you know, they will be claiming that parents who spank their young children are guilty of child abuse… oh wait… but I digress.

    I do think the issue of whether the government should ever officially endorse certain “enhanced interrogation” practices as a matter of policy is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed. It does have the potential for greater abuses. Remember, hard cases make bad law.

    However, in this particular case, it seems obvious to me that liberal Catholics who support pro-abortion politicians are just looking for a “gotcha” to use against those who advocate denial of Communion to such politicians.

  • The Democrat party favors the deliberate killing of unborn children up to 50 million at this point. The Democrat Party has funded abortions overseas and is now attempting to coerce foreign countries to kill their own children. Besides working to protect the unborn child from abortion in this coutnry and around the world, the Republican party has supported billions of dollars in federal and local spending to alleviate poverty, hunger, disease in this country and around the world. The Republicans embrace the whole social justice agenda.

  • Austin,

    If you want others to take the issue of abortion seriously, it helps not to belittle the significance of the issues they believe are important. You make opponents when you should be making allies.

    Moreover, your depiction of the reasons behind the opposition to torture doesn’t correspond to reality. Sure, you can find people opposed to torture who don’t think abortion is a big deal, but you can also find conservative Republicans who oppose both torture and abortion and are loudly outraged about both.

  • Donald

    When will you stop lying about what the other person is doing? I am not pro-Obama. I didn’t vote for him. I said I could not support him in post after post. I’ve criticized him and continue to do so. But the problem is the criticism has to be valid ones. The fact that the issue over health care reform was not abortion but “socialism” shows the concern is not about life but sophistry and political rhetoric. The fact that I agree with the Church that health care reform is necessary allows me to see beyond the “socialism” card. But that it was “socialism” and not abortion which was the issue is obvious to anyone who can see the Republicans rejecting legislation which would have had greater limits on abortion funding than ever before — because of “socialism.” So defense of capitalism is more important to the “party of Life” than life. Sick. And this ruse is up. People see through it.

  • Karlson I didn’t say you voted for Obama, unlike Matt Talbot, the Catholic Anarchist, MZ, and various other denizens of Vox Nova. What I do say is that you ceaselessly attempt to minimize the importance of the struggle against abortion in order to provide cover for the pro-abortion Democrat Party and to attack the Republican party, and you do so in a completely transparent manner.

  • Donald,

    I would credit the influence of philosophical personalism on the development of Catholic moral thought for why the Church today opposes torture and coercion that destroys the will. For example, Catholic moral thought now includes the principle that the human person is an end in himself and shouldn’t be used as a mere means, a formula that originated with Kant and was developed by Catholic moral philosophers such as Pope John Paul II. This principle alone would prohibit torture and will-undermining coercion, for these actions reduce the person to a mere instrument.

  • Kyle,

    I never did that. In fact, I claim the GOP is more social justice in orientation than the Dems because the GOP takes on the whole social justice agenda including protecting the unborn child from abortion. I also understand the Church teaches that abortion is the primary issue today. Not that the issues of poverty, hunger and disease and not important but that abortion is the preeminent human rights issue of our time. If you get that (abortion) wrong, as Bernardine himself said, then you undermine the whole social justice agenda.

  • Kyle, the Catholic Church is both a divine and a human institution as we both know. As it proceeds through history it is both the guardian of the eternal truths of Christ and is buffeted by the intellectual currents popular at different points in history. Looking at the Church over 2000 years there have been many accretions on the Faith that at one time were confused with the gospels and have fallen away as time passes. One subject I have always found fascinating is how one discerns what is a mere accretion from a development of doctrine a la Cardinal Newman. In regard to the subject of torture was the prior praxis and teaching of the Church that torture was licit when used by lawful authority a mere accretion due to Roman law, etc, or is the accretion in modern times due to the personalism you mention and other secular developments? This is the aspect of the never ending debate in Saint Blog’s on torture that I find personally interesting, and one that is rarely addressed.

  • Austin,

    In the comments above, you call concern about torture a waste of time, an unserious debate, and not really an issue. I’d call that belittling.

  • Yes, it is a waste of time because it has only happened three times if you define waterboarding as torture. It is not an issue. It is a distraction by partisans who want to score points on the GOP.

    Kyle, you work on a vicious website that attacks anyone who disagrees with the VN party line. You cannot lecture me about working toward common ground. VN is not in the least concerned with common ground or reaching out or anything like it.

  • Having said that, Kyle, i want to say this. You are one of the more fair contributors to that vicious awful site. You have always given me a fair shake.

  • Donald,

    At least in regards to personalism, we can ask the simple question: Is it true? Can we show with arguments of reason that a person should not be used as a mere means? If we can, then we have a firm basis on which to reject torture, regardless of whether or not the Church has made any official declarations.

  • Like most philosophical doctrines Kyle I think the answer to that question would include such phrases as “it depends”, “true here, not true there”, “now how would we interpret it in this situation”, etc. In regard to torture, I think perhaps even a more important cause of the shift in the teaching and praxis of the Church was that the popes ceased to be secular rulers of anything other than a postage stamp realm.

  • Donald,

    I’ll grant that examining the veracity of personalism as a whole isn’t such a simple endeavor. However, the personalist principle about the human person being an end in himself is a pretty absolute principle. It’s either true in all cases or not true at all. If we can licitly use a person as a mere means even in one circumstance, then the whole principle falls apart. Therefore, I think we can assess the truth of that principle and, following that assessment, either have or not have grounds on which to reject torture in all cases.

  • 8:17: The Democrat party…. The Democrat Party … the Republican party …. The Republicans….

    8:33: … the GOP … the Dems … the GOP….

    8:48: It is a distraction by partisans who want to score points on the GOP.

    Who’s the partisan wanting to score points?

  • Tom,

    The purpose of this distraction is to give aid and comfort to the party of death.

  • And by the way, the party of death supported waterboarding until it became politically expedient not to.

  • …it is better to bring it out in the open, to flush them out as it were….

  • The “party of death” is bipartisan.

    Whoever can’t see that has blinded himself.

  • Kyle, let us say that you are a platoon commander in the Army. You are guarding a group of refugees. A bridge must be held against an advancing enemy force in order for the refugees and the remainder of the platoon to escape. You assign a squad to hold the bridge and to delay the enemy long enough so that the refugees and the rest of the platoon can get to safety. You look into the eyes of the squad members. They realize you have just sentenced them to death in order to save others. Under the doctrine of personalism as you understand it, is it morally licit for you to give this order?

  • VN is not in the least concerned with common ground or reaching out or anything like it.

    It depends on the contributor. I think most people tend to define ‘common ground’, at least implicitly, as ‘moving away from your misconceived ideas about public life and adopting or accommodating mine.’ Witness Obama’s transparently silly calls for bipartisan solutions (so long as ‘bipartisan’ means 90% of what he wants and 10% of what the other party wants). This doesn’t mean that anyone is necessarily arguing in bad faith; just that people come to political discussions from very different places, so it actually is hard to find agreement on how to put into practice shared larger commitments to the common good.

    I don’t think we have a good reason to trust either party to oppose torture when they’re in power. Pelosi was fine with waterboarding until she had the opportunity to use it as a cudgel. I wouldn’t say that torture is a ‘distraction,’ though. It’s important to oppose it clearly and consistently, particularly from the point of view of a commitment to pro-life activity.

  • Donald,

    Yes, as long as the squad isn’t being reduced to a mere means. Clearly they are being used as a means – a means to halt the enemy force and save the refugees – but the question is whether they are being used as a mere means. I would say they are not, as they are freely cooperating in that order. They understand their service may mean following such orders. And, of course, were they to follow the order, we would rightly recognize their actions as self-sacrifice. The fact that we would see their sacrifice as more than involuntarily following orders, but as a heroic act on their parts, shows us that, while they are following orders, they do so as whole persons. They are not mere instruments of the commander’s will.

  • From your response Kyle I perhaps make the rash assumption that you have never been in the Army. The men in the squad could have any number of motivations and reactions but at that moment none of that matters. They have been ordered to hold that bridge whether they think it is a great order or a grave imposition on their personal freedom. At that moment they do not have a choice under military discipline not to obey. This is the type of gut wrenching decision that military leaders often have to make and with soldiers not at all eager, understandably, to give up their lives.

  • “At that moment they do not have a choice under military discipline not to obey.” Unless they are Hitler’s soldiers, then they are told they have a conscience and should have known not to obey.

  • Karlson, I will make the non-rash assumption that you know as much about the military as a pig knows about penance. Soldiers in the US military have an obligation under the Uniform Code of Military Justice not to to obey unlawful orders such as one to massacre prisoners for example. That does not allow them to refuse obedience to a lawful order because the lawful order might very well get them killed.

  • Donald is correct as to his assessment of the realities surrounding his hypothetical.

    Also, I’ll just go ahead and weigh in on a few things.

    First, while waterboarding may have been confined to just a small handful of individuals, it happened a lot more than 3 times. The individuals in question were by all accounts repeatedly waterboarded.

    Second, the weight of Church teaching pretty plainly falls in favor of the position that torture is intrinsically evil. I have not found the arguments to the contrary made by various Catholic thinkers to be especially persuasive.

    Third, just because two things (i.e., torture and abortion) can both be intrinsically immoral does not mean they carry the same moral gravity.

    Fourth, while I accept Church teaching on torture, I admit I don’t fully understand it. While admittedly the hypothetical ticking bomb scenario may be implausible (I’m not sure), it does crystalize one’s thinking on the matter. For the record, if I thought the most efficacious way to save innocent lives was by torturing a person who I knew to a moral certainty was culpable in arranging their deaths and had information that could avoid those deaths I’d torture him — you bet. If God’s Church teaches otherwise I’ll take the consequences. I don’t believe God will damn me for such actions, and if a few centuries in Purgatory are the cost, so be it.

  • Donald,

    My response wasn’t meant to explore the specific motivations and reactions of soldiers in that situation, as these would undoubtedly vary from soldier to soldier. Instead, I aimed in my response to illustrate a general situation of cooperation with that gut-wrenching order that doesn’t reduce the soldiers to mere instruments of their commander. Now, I could also imagine situations in which a commander uses those under his command as mere means to an end. In any case, my answer to your question remains the same. The personalist principle does not necessarily prohibit such orders.

  • Donald

    When Hitler ordered his military to do things, it was “lawful.” Therefore, they had to obey? I thought the rule was that one is not to obey a positive law when it broke natural law, right? I guess that changes in the military. Of course, only for the victors.

    It used to be as you said, that all one did was “obey.” But then they were not considered guilty for obeying bad orders, only those who made the orders could be tried for war crimes.

    Things changed. Our understanding of morality became more sophisticated. We grew to understand the role of the conscience and its place in a person’s free will. We grew to understand the role of the person in decision making, and the place of subjective and objective guilt in the equation. Thus, the earlier “just obey” kind of response is no longer acceptable. It is rejected by the Church. It is rejected by the international community (hence war crimes trials like after WWII which said that obeying orders was not a good enough defense).

    Of course, while we have grown to appreciate this more in recent times, it really is not new. The first few centuries of the Church saw this as well. Soldiers who were Christian were given the lawful order to offer various sacrifices. They disobeyed. They were killed. Would you say they were in the wrong? Oh, I know. They didn’t have US laws. But they did have Roman ones, and they broke it.

    Of course I know the US situation. I also know that the rules as you proclaim, as if by saying that’s the rules that ends all discussion, are the rules the Church has spoken out against several times. It continues to speak out against them. It wants the soldiers not to be abused for disobeying orders which they view are immoral, whether or not the order is legal.

    Yes, I know the US wants to have its cake and eat it too. It will constantly say “obeying orders is not good enough an excuse” when dealing with the enemy. But I also know as you said they tell their soldiers that they don’t have such an option. “It’s only illegal orders you don’t have to obey.” Of course, what does that mean when the law is immoral? Again, when the positive law is immoral, it is no law.

    Thus, as with the Church I will say the soldier’s conscience is important and is not limited to “is it legal or not.” You can say otherwise and side with the nation-state as you want.

  • Henry,
    You are missing the point. In Donald’s hypothetical the order to defend the bridge would not be a violation of natural law. I’m confident that if the order was instead to target innocents Donald would agree that the order could and should be disobeyed as unlawful even if lawful under positive law.

  • Mike

    It is possible a soldier could think the order is to block aid to innocents, and so oppose it. There are many reasons why the orders could be made. Donald said it doesn’t matter, they have to obey. The point is — the orders to matter, the reason why they are asked to do it, still does not matter. The soldier still has a conscience. His own words said that “lawful orders” must be obeyed without question. The issue is that “lawful orders” can be immoral orders. And if a soldier has a good reason to believe it is, they must follow their conscience. Even things which appear innocent could end up not.

  • “The point is — the orders to matter, the reason why they are asked to do it, still does not matter.”

    Should read — “The point is, the orders do matter, and the reason why they are asked to do it still matters.”

  • Henry, I agree that one’s conscience is always paramount, and that a soldier does have a moral obligation to disobey an immoral order that is lawful under positive law. And I bet Don agrees with that as well, and he would likely add that the UCMJ makes a positive law versus natural law incongruity pretty unlikely, but to the extent it occurs I’m pretty certain he’d agree that natural law trumps. But Don’s hypo pretty clearly postulates an order that is lawful under both natural law and positive law, especially from the point of view of the soldiers receiving the order. His hypo was intended to test Kyle’s earlier proposition that related to the point of view of the one giving the order, which is not germane to the point you are trying to make.

  • Karlson, this obtuse act of yours is tiresome. The soldiers had absolutely no right under military regulations to disobey the order given to them in my scenario even though they would probably all suspect that the order would cost them their lives. That is the military. Orders are obeyed even though the death of the ones carrying out the orders may be the result.

  • Tom,

    I do not make a claim for common ground or bipartisanship. I also tend to disdain calls for dialogue since the left usually does not mean it. To them it usually means the left speaking to the further left, or the left hassling the bishop. Dialogue is one of the hypocrisies of the left.

    What I am is a little weary of the rather vicious holier-than-thou crowd trying to make folks guilty for voting for Bush and the GOP which is the subtext of any “debate” about torture, something the US does not do. It is a ruse, if you will, not a very clever ruse but a ruse nonetheless.

    By the way, the downstairs sitting room at the Papal Nunciature in Washington DC has ten pictures of George Bush — even now — and not a single one of that moral paragon Obama. Go figure that, Bush haters.

  • Oh, and i did not say waterboarding happened only 3 times. It happened to only three people.

  • You are correct, Austin. I apologize if it looked like I was misquoting you.

  • Thanks for that, Mike.

  • Three men waterboarded vs 50 million murders of unborn children. This is a waste of time and I reiterate, an attempt by a small group who want to divert attention from a truly horrific situation.

    If you really believe that, I have a simple solution.

    (You might want to browse my archives a bit before accusing me of being an Obama supporter, by the way, or of being soft on abortion. And since my infamous nickname for the blog Vox Nova is “Debate Club at Auschwitz” — my reasons are also in the archive, and I continue to stand by them — you might want to do the stoppy-ready-thinky thing a bit before jumping to any conclusions).

  • “The purpose of this distraction is to give aid and comfort to the party of death.”

    Ok, Austin — you’ve repeated this point ad nauseum, to the point where I’d suspect you were attempting to engage in distraction yourself.

    1) liberals may have any number of motivations for pressing the torture issue — I concur, that for many, it’s a convenient distraction from abortion and/or other policies of the Obama administration. That said, many conservative (and pro-life) voices are raised in response to the techniques employed by the Bush (and present) administrations.

    So, let’s bracket and forget about the ongoing AC+VN feud as best we can, and address the subject of this post.

    2) I would say that, while waterboarding is probably the most prominent example of what has been termed ‘extreme interrogation’, the subject of ‘torture’ is not confined to such, nor are incidents of detainee abuse confined to those which occurred at Abu Ghraib. Incidents continue to occur in both Iraq and Afghanistan See for example Command’s Responsibility: Detainee Deaths in U.S. Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan – “comprehensive accounting of the U.S. government’s handling of the nearly 100 cases of detainees who have died in U.S. custody since 2002.”

    Practices which we might think of as fairly innocuous when presented on paper — sleep deprivation, raising/lowering the temperature, “stress positions”, and other techniques of “softening up” detainees for interrogation — have contributed to such deaths. Not all of these incidents can be dismissed as violations of the system in place, either — rather, the impression I get is that the system currently in place cultivates, and encourages, the abuse.

  • I would take any report prepared by Human Rights First with a boulder of salt based upon its funding by George Soros and its hard Left orientation. Its founder Michael Posner now serves as head of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and Human Rights First is tightly wired in with the Obama administration.



    Anyone involved in the murder of a detainee should be prosecuted. However, an axe-grinding report from an axe-grinding group leaves me unimpressed.

  • Anyone involved in the murder of a detainee should be prosecuted.

    I think one consistent point that keeps arising is that prosecutions are few and far between.

    However, an axe-grinding report from an axe-grinding group leaves me unimpressed.

    Much like you and I would likely take offense if a liberal pre-emptively dismissed an investigative report because it came from a conservative think tank, the best course of action would be to read it, then embark on a factual analysis and rebuttal.

  • If they had any real evidence Chris they could petition for prosecutions themselves by bringing the evidence they have compiled to the attention of the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice.

    I have been involved in hundreds of felony cases as a defense attorney, and two cases as a special prosecutor, over the years. People shooting their mouths off about alleged crimes is one thing; actually proving the guilt of a defendant in court is another. I have seen plenty of cases that looked good for the prosecution fall apart when actual evidence had to be presented and witnesses were subject to cross-examination. I would think the Obama administration would be eager to prosecute these cases if they think they can prove them in court. Perhaps Mr. Posner can discuss this with his boss.

  • I would also suggest that when a detainee dies in custody a convening authority should conduct an immediate investigation to see if courtmartial proceedings should be initiated. If civilians are involved, then a DOJ criminal investigation should be immediately implemented.

  • I would also suggest that when a detainee dies in custody a convening authority should conduct an immediate investigation to see if courtmartial proceedings should be initiated. If civilians are involved, then a DOJ criminal investigation should be immediately implemented.

    Well, yes. I think it goes without saying that would be the wish of the authors of the report as well. Unfortunately, if their analysis is correct, that’s not happening — in fact, what the report alleges:

    Commanders have failed to report deaths of detainees in the custody of their command, reported the deaths only after a period of days and sometimes weeks, or actively interfered in efforts to pursue investigations;

    • Investigators have failed to interview key witnesses, collect useable evidence, or maintain evidence that could be used for any subsequent prosecution;

    • Record keeping has been inadequate, further undermining chances for effective investigation or appropriate prosecution;

    • Overlapping criminal and administrative investigations have compromised chances for accountability;

    • Overbroad classification of information and other investigation restrictions have left CIA and Special Forces essentially immune from accountability;

    • Agencies have failed to disclose critical information, including the cause or circumstance of death, in close to half the cases examined;

    • Effective punishment has been too little and too late.

  • Criminal investigations are often incompently done Chris? Well that is certainly no news to me after my involvement with the end product of criminal investigations over the past 28 years. That actually is fairly par for the course in my experience. Conducting investigations in foreign nations, usually involving some witnesses who cannot speak English, is challenging and compounds the difficulty. That is why investigative teams that specialize in this area should be developed.

  • … That is why investigative teams that specialize in this area should be developed.

    I’m heartened by the news that you and the authors of said report share the same concerns. =)

  • Not quite the same concerns Chris. I want the guilty punished but I also want an adequate record so that politically motivated advocacy groups can’t make hay out of such deaths years after the fact. Perhaps also if we have good investigators maybe we would have them develop the sense not to prosecute troops for minor infractions. Case in point, the three Navy Seals who are being courtmartialed because one of them allegedly immediately after the capture of a terrorist gave him a fat lip. Maybe I’ll burn in Hell for saying this, but I think the Navy is over-reacting a wee bit. 🙂


  • Zippy?

    I don’t even know who you are so you have me confused with someone else who accused you of something.

    About torture, i don’t know any Catholic who supports torture.

  • About torture, i don’t know any Catholic who supports torture.

    I do. You, for example. Oh, your support hides behind euphemism and denial (the whole “waterboarding isn’t torture” canard); but as a substantive matter you defend actual acts of torture perpetrated by and admitted to by the Bush administration. Your euphemisms aren’t any more valid than “blob of tissue” euphemisms used by pro-aborts.

    Did you read the post I linked to? Given that you mean what you say — that you see this as a low priority issue which is a distraction from the far more important issue of legal abortion — I proposed a solution that would allow the issue to be defused, so we can get back to the higher priority.

  • Like I said, I don’t know anybody who supports torture. I don’t know of anyone in the Bush administration who has said they tortured. And even if waterboarding were torture, it happened to three guys. This is a meaningless argument when compared to the other things we are facing.

  • Like I said, I don’t know anybody who supports torture.

    And like I said, I do: you (among many others).

    This is a meaningless argument when compared to the other things we are facing.

    And again, if you really believe that I have a suggested solution.

  • Like I said, I don’t know anybody who supports torture.

    According to the Pew Research Center’s survey, which Christopher linked to in the post and which I referred to twice in response to your own comments, 71% of Americans, 73% of weekly churchgoers, and 78% of white non-Hispanic American Catholics think that torture can be justified.

    If you don’t know this, then you probably shouldn’t be making categorical statements about whether torture is an issue.

  • Tom

    Of course, there is another issue, confusing quantity with quality. We can see the error of this argument by bringing up another intrinsic evil, one which is done far more than abortion in a year. Lying. Lying is rooted to the fall of humanity (the deception of Satan), lying leads to the death of multitudes, and lying of course, is done far more often than abortion in a year. So does that now make abortion no longer significant? Not at all. But if one follows the logic Austin is trying to give us, one would have to say abortion needs to move over until we stop lying.

  • Well, of course, there are Catholics who support abortion, contraception, torture, etc. Lots of fake Catholics around. In fact, I personally know Catholics who support abortion and contraception. I have met Frances Kissling! But, except in the abstract (polls etc), I do not know any Catholic who supports torture. And if torture was a widespread problem I suspect there would be a reason to get all het up about it. As it is, it is a distraction of Dems to get drive a wedge through the pro-life movements.

  • But, except in the abstract (polls etc), I do not know any Catholic who supports torture. And if torture was a widespread problem I suspect there would be a reason to get all het up about it. As it is, it is a distraction of Dems to get drive a wedge through the pro-life movements.

    I am embarrassed for you.

  • Doing anything to a person against his/her will (with the exceptions of saving his/her life, and their having broken a law punishable by jail) is not in line with the Gospels and therefore is a sin. Torture. Seriously? Torture? It is wrong. Time to move on…

  • Tom K,

    I suspect you are not embarrassed for me. Likely you are annoyed, angry, crossing your little arms and stomping your little foot on the floor. Who cares? Now, lets get back to the conversation.

  • I suspect you are not embarrassed for me.

    And I suspect that you live in a bubble, and Tom really is genuinely embarrassed for you.

  • Gosh, no. I don’t live in a bubble. I live in a house in Arlington, VA and drive to work every day in Washington DC and work in public policy.

    The frustration of you fellas is noted by me, by all. Now, let’s get back to the conversation.

  • … and drive to work every day in Washington DC and work in public policy.

    I guess that explains the bubble. Have a nice day!

  • Austin:

    Your “no Catholic I know supports torture,” in the face of evidence that 78% of white Catholics support torture, is so glaringly irrelevant, and glaringly improbable (in fact, I am morally certain it is false), that it really admits of no response other than silence.

    Your repeated insistence that it’s all a Democratic plot is uncomfortable in the way Captain Queeg’s muttering about strawberries.

    And it’s made all the worse because your inability to actually engage the issue you’ve been commenting on all weekend reflects on you professionally, in a way it wouldn’t for those of us who don’t work in public policy.

    So yes, I am genuinely embarrassed for you.

  • Why would not knowing any Catholics who support torture be embarrassing? I wish I could say the same.

    P.S. Welcome back to blogging, Zippy.

  • Looks like Tom has answered my question before I even asked it. Impressive.

  • If the charge against torture is “a distraction of the Dems,” why are there so many non-Dems leading the charge?

  • I guess, Tomkay and Zippy (!), that these are supposed to be conversation ending bon mot of the kind that passes for wit or something on blogs but I must confess, fellers, I am just not moved.

    The only Catholics who i know support torture are those in the abstract from this poll. I have not read the poll. I hvae not read the poll question. And, honestly, polling is notoriously unreliable in determining questions like this.

    I come back to my previous point, even if waterboarding was torture, lets say that it is, it does not amount to a hill of beans given that it happened to three terrorists, especially when compared to 50 million abortions. While this “conversation” has been going on there have been thousands more abortiohs and not a single waterboarding. This is a waste of time and a distraction being used by those who hate Republicans and are carrying water for the party of death.

  • Austin,

    Do you watch EWTN?

  • I don’t, no.

  • The reason I ask is they recently had Marc Thiessen on to promote his pro-waterboarding book. That suggests, to me at least, that the problem is bigger than you are making out.

  • I guess, Tomkay and Zippy (!), that these are supposed to be conversation ending bon mot of the kind that passes for wit or something on blogs but I must confess, fellers, I am just not moved.

    Zippy can answer for himself, if he chooses. If I were attempting to be witty at your expense, it would come out as sarcasm.

    Even so, I suspect my attempts at sarcasm would do less damage to a conversation than your remaining in voluntary ignorance while dogmatically and repeatedly asserting claims that are empirically false.

  • Did Thiessen say he supported torture on Raymond’s show? I know Marc. He is a faithful Catholic. He brought a Catholic priest into the White House every week for prayer and bible study. He said he supported torture?

  • Tomkay,

    What am I claiming that is empirically false?

  • Did Thiessen say he supported torture on Raymond’s show?

    No. He said he supported waterboarding, which is torture.

  • Ahhh….but he disagrees that it is torture, right?

  • Let me ask anyone this.

    Torture is intrinsically evil. Right?
    Waterboarding is torture. Also right?
    Then waterboarding is intrinsically evil. Right?

  • Ahhh….but he disagrees that it is torture, right?

    That’s what he says, anyway. So what?

  • Let me also add that I’m a Republican. I voted for Bush (three times, actually), and I plan on voting for whoever the Republican nominee is in the next election. This isn’t about hating Republicans or wanting people to vote for Obama. It’s about organizations and people that I admire and respect hitching their wagon to something noxious and evil.

  • “So what” is that there is no debate over torture but a debate over what is torture. Personally, i do not believe that loud music, extemes of heat and cold, etc are torture. Waterboarding? I am not sure. I knwo i will be mocked for this. Even so, i do not care. I am not so sure and my conscience is clear.

    To my question. Torture=intrinsic evil, waterboarding=torture, waterboarding=intrinsic evil. True or false?

  • Austin,

    Okay, so you think waterboarding might be torture, and might not be. So, from your perspective, Thiessen might be supporting torture. So you can’t really say that you don’t know anyone who supports torture, just that you aren’t sure whether you do or not.

  • OK. i know someone who may or may not support torture. Answer my question. Is waterboarding intrinsically evil.

  • Waterboarding is one of many U.S. used torture techniques to which we non-Democrat Catholics are opposed, so our concern with the practice and policy of torture extends beyond a concern with the technique of waterboarding. Furthermore, we are troubled by the poor moral reasoning and misrepresentation of moral principles such as double effect by Catholics like Marc Thiessen and Raymond Arroyo. The problem we see isn’t just that Catholics disagree on what techniques qualify as torture; the problem is deeper than that. What troubles us more than disagreement over techniques is that Catholics claiming the mantle of orthodoxy have embraced moral relativism in the name of national security. These Catholics may continue to oppose abortion, but their moral thinking, the very moral thinking they use to argue against abortion, has been perverted. If these Catholics are not think right morally, then their moral positions on paramount issues (such as abortion) are at grave risk of collapse.

  • To my question. Torture=intrinsic evil, waterboarding=torture, waterboarding=intrinsic evil. True or false?

    Depends on what you want to include as waterboarding. If you want to count the simulated waterboarding that goes on at the SERE, then not all waterboarding is torture. If you want to restrict the term to actual waterboarding, then I would say waterboarding does equal torture.

  • Is waterboarding intrinsically evil?,/em>

    As a technique used to coerce the will, yes.

  • I don’t see how they are being moral relativists. They do not believe that waterboarding or loud music or sleep deprivation are intrinsically evil. How is this moral relativism?

    Is waterboarding intrinsically evil?

  • So, waterboarding is not intrinsically evil?

  • So, waterboarding is not intrinsically evil?

    If the term is restricted to actual waterboarding, then it is intrinsically evil. If the term is used in a broader sense so it includes simulated waterboarding (e.g. what goes on at the SERE), then it is not.

  • Whatever else Marc Thiessen may be, he is now the self-appointed Francis Kissling of torture.

  • Btw, I would hope, Austin, that you would concede that ” loud music, extemes of heat and cold, etc.” could be torture, you just don’t thing they would constitute torture in all cases. If so, then we are agreed, and the question becomes whether the actual use of loud music, hot and cold, etc. were torture.

  • In SERE training they only simulate waterboarding? Are you sure?

  • Loud music etc as used by the US military or intelligence officials would not be torture, that is correct. If someone is put in a deepfreeze and allowed to die, yes that woudl be torture. Waht we are talking about here is what the US military does.

  • In SERE training they only simulate waterboarding? Are you sure?

    Sure. The whole program is designed to teach solders how to respond if they are tortured by the enemy.

  • In what way is this waterboarding different than waterboarding of enemy combatants? Be specific.

  • In SERE training they only simulate waterboarding?

    Yes, a prisoner is different from a trainee. Treating “waterboarding” as a physical act alone is like treating sex as a physical act alone, making no distinction between a wife and a hooker. This is moral theology 101.

    Mind you, I’m not fully convinced that waterboarding in SERE training is definitely morally licit. But that it is fundamentally different from waterboarding a prisoner is obvious to everyone who doesn’t desperately want it not to be obvious. The trainee knows that it is a finite training exercise done by people with his own best interests in mind. He has an out, he knows it won’t go on forever if he doesn’t betray his principles, etc.

    So yes, they are manifestly, obviously, radically different things, even though those fundamental and clear differences don’t mean that SERE training is morally licit.

  • So, waterboarding is not intrinsically evil. This is what I suspected since i know at least one person, a woman, who was waterboarded and she does not believe she was tortured by her own government.

    Abortion is a little different than this. Procured abortion is always and for any reason and in any way done, an intrinsic evil.

  • Gents,

    I am stepping out to take my little family to see the Mr. Fox movie. i will check in in a few hours…

    Best to all,

  • Perhaps an analogy would make my point clear. Suppose the SERE training includes a unit on how to respond to interrogation, and as a part of this training solders are locked in a room and a guy comes in and starts asking them questions. The question then arises: are these solders being interrogated? I can see people taking both sides of this question. Someone might say that this isn’t really interrogation but only a simulation, while someone else might claim that it doesn’t matter whether the interrogator was really trying to get information out of the solder or not, it still counts as interrogation. What you can’t do, however, is say that what happens to the solder wasn’t interrogation, therefore what goes on in police departments isn’t interrogation. To make that argument you have to equivocated on the meaning of the word “interrogation.”

    Similarly, you seem to want to argue that because waterboarding in the broad sense (which includes simulated waterboarding like at the SERE) isn’t torture, therefore waterboarding in the narrow sense (which does not include simulated waterboarding) isn’t torture either. But that’s a faulty inference, as it requires one to equivocate on the term “waterboarding.”

  • Procured abortion is always and for any reason and in any way done, an intrinsic evil.

    But just what is produred abortion, anyway? Salpingectomy, anyone? With a little salpingosomy on the side?

    Really, Austin, you have years of Internet discussions to catch up on before you can even begin to discuss this intelligently.

  • SERE trainees are really waterboarded. They are strapped down, cloth over their faces, adn water poured over their mouths and noses. This is wateboarding that is done to enemy combatants. It is not simulated. It is real. But, its not torture.

    Now let me go to the movies!

  • Procured abortion is always and for any reason and in any way done, an intrinsic evi.

    Yes, and adultery is always and for any reason and in any way done, an intrinsic evil. And torture is always and for any reason and in any way done, an intrinsic evil. And [insert all manner of different things] …


    Look, we all get it that the Thiessen argument hinges on the notion that strapping a prisoner to a board and repeatedly making him feel all the sensations of drowning until he coughs up information is “not torture”. What many of us don’t get is why anyone would think that that is a sane, let alone plausible, argument.

  • Abortion is a little different than this. Procured abortion is always and for any reason and in any way done, an intrinsic evil.

    If one wanted, one could play the same sort of game with abortion that you wish to play with torture. For example, spontaneous abortions aren’t intrinsically evil. Are spontaneous abortions abortions? Says so right on the label. Therefore, abortion isn’t intrinsically evil.

    I don’t say this is a good argument. In fact it is a very bad one. But it is the same sort of argument as the one people make with regard to torture and the SERE.

  • We can do it another way, and see how his view leads to the acceptance of abortion, BA.

    Since killing is allowed in various situations, killing itself can be said not to be an intrinsic evil. Abortion is killing. Therefore abortion is not intrinsically evil. That is the kind of argument he is making. He is jumping around in categories like that when pressed to deal with the issue.

    And we could change it into an issue of just war, and two people just having different points of view as to what a war is and when it is just. Thus, some women who abort their babies think the babies are an invader into their body. They believe they have a right to protect themselves from the foreign invader, one who poses a health risk to them and might kill them if not taken out. This leads them to think it is a just war to remove the invader they didn’t welcome into their body, and to do so in a preemptive strike before it can harm her and her body.

    In saying this, I am not saying I think such women are right. In fact, I think they are wrong. Just as I think many people who are flippant on the issue of just war and think because people can have differing opinions it means any opinion is fine.

    Austin has, in many places, already pointed out how war is not an intrinsic evil, and so one can’t use that to morally judge someone if they engage a war you don’t think is just. He says the mere fact we can have a disagreement means one can just treat is as an insignificant issue. This is exactly the same view the woman who aborts her child in a “defensive posture” thinks with her abortion. She is the one who has the authority to determine her own body and what takes place in it, no one else. She has the moral right to defend herself the same way a president has in determining when to proclaim war in defense of the state. So following this kind of reasoning, the woman can even say “yes, abortion is an intrinsic evil, but killing an invader isn’t. I’m not having an abortion, I am destroying an invader. The two acts are similar, but because I proclaim my body as a body at war, it changes everything” Of course, again, she would be wrong. But this is the kind of argument being seen here in regards to torture. Sophistry.

    Torture is an intrinsic evil. The Catholic Church has defined torture. The use of waterboarding for interrogation falls under the mantle of torture. That is intrinsically evil. But other ways of such torture being done is also intrinsically evil. Even if, in other circumstances, the actions done outside of the torture might be similar and not torture.

    This sophistry has been mentioned to him before, and I’ve told him he needed to respond to it. He never did. He avoided it. I expect he knew his equivocation and sophistry was revealed, and it is why he ignored it and tried to deal with other things, hoping ignoring it would lead to people forgetting he had been called. But he had been called, and he folded.

  • Austin

    You forget many details. The soldiers have a way out to have it stopped. The prisoners do not know if the person do it will stop. The soldiers know they are being trained to do something and there will be limits. The prisoner does not. The soldier knows it is with his will. The prisoner knows it is against his will.

    Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity. Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.

  • The relativism, Austin, is found in the justifications for torture and coercion built on the premise that the government should keep us safe by any means necessary or that whatever the government does to keep us safe is rendered good. Such justifications treat the realm of national security as a place in which the moral law doesn’t apply or in which the ends of safety and security establish moral legitimacy. If there are realms in which the moral law does not apply, then there is no absolute moral law that applies in all times, places, and circumstances, and morality, then, is relative.

  • The intent of waterboarding as a training exercise isn’t to coerce and undermine the will of the one waterboarded, but to train him to withstand such coercion. It doesn’t reduce the trainee to a mere puppet of the one who waterboards. As Zippy points out, this difference from waterboarding as a coercive and torturous interrogation technique doesn’t necessarily mean that it is morally licit, but it is clearly a different act, morally speaking. We can therefore say that the interrogation technique of waterboarding is intrinsically evil without necessarily signifying that waterboarding as a training exercise is also intrinsically evil.

  • First, Henry, don’t waste your breath. After getting so abused by you at Vox Nausea, i wont even read your posts let alone respond to them.

    Kyle, Thiessen et al dont make the argument that it is alright to torture to make us safe. He/they say waterboarding and other enhanced techniques are not torture.
    Blackadder, spontaneous abortions are not acts of man. Procured abortions are. Waterboarding is.

  • Austin

    Yes, I didn’t bow before you; you deemed it an abuse I didn’t just fawn over the fact a “professional pro-lifer” was on Vox Nova telling me I was a coward and not a man.

  • Now let me ask you this, gents. If the US military in its training pulled out the fingernails of its soldiers or hooked their testicles up to car batteries, would this be torture, even if its training?

  • When I was a child we used to do Chinese Water Torture on each other. One of would lay down and the other would drop a single drop of water on the other’s forehead repeatedly. It was voluntary, harmless, and not terribly uncomfortable. But it didn’t really take very long before you got up because somehow that little drop of water did begin to make you rather uncomfortable. It didn’t take much imagination even then to realize that if someone who was hostile to you, manhandled you and tied you down to the floor and started a water drip over you for hours or even days that it would no doubt be torturous. Waterboarding is far more uncomfortable and dangerous than the above example, but the similarity still exists about the nature of voluntarily submitting to it for whatever motive vs. having it forced on you.

  • “When Bush, an evangelical Methodist, left the stage, one of the event’s organizers, Austin Ruse, referred to him as ‘the second Catholic president.'”


    We now know what Ruse thinks of Catholicism. It’s just a tool for GOP politics.

  • Thiessen et al dont make the argument that it is alright to torture to make us safe. He/they say waterboarding and other enhanced techniques are not torture.

    Thiessen says waterboarding and other enhanced techniques are not torture because they make us safe. He’s a consequentialist.

    I don’t think anyone is looking to condemn him as a wicked man who knowingly advocates wicked means. He simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about, beginning with what it means for something to be “wrong” morally (and the less said about the hash he makes out of the principle of double effect, the better).

  • Tomkay,
    Marc does not say what you say he says. He says waterboarding is acceptable becuase it is NOT torture.

  • Anybody want to take up my car batteries to the testicles question?

  • The United States knows quite a bit about waterboarding. The U.S. government — whether acting alone before domestic courts, commissions and courts-martial or as part of the world community — has not only condemned the use of water torture but has severely punished those who applied it.

    After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: “I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure.” He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. “Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning,” he replied, “just gasping between life and death.”

    Nielsen’s experience was not unique. Nor was the prosecution of his captors. After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan’s military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding.


    Even John McCain, whom Austin fawned over looking for good relations with a guy he thought would be president, after fawning over Bush, said the same:

    “There should be little doubt from American history that we consider that as torture otherwise we wouldn’t have tried and convicted Japanese for doing that same thing to Americans,” McCain said during a news conference.


  • RL,

    I would be very concerned if children were actually playing waterboard.

  • Austin

    You ignore the definition of torture. If you look to the definition, you will get an answer. People have already answered it by dealing with what is necessary for torture. They have also said, even if something is not torture, it doesn’t make the non-torture actions right.

  • Tomkay

    You punk.

    Marc does not say what you say he says. He says waterboarding is acceptable becuase it is NOT torture.

    And he says it’s not torture because it keeps us safe.

  • No, Tomkay, he says it is not torture. He also says it keeps us safe but he says its morally licit in and of itself.

  • Thiessen may not be among those Catholics who say we should defend ourselves by “any means necessary,” but such Catholics are not few in number. Among Thiessen’s specific moral errors is his fundamental misunderstanding of the principle of double effect and his use of his erroneous idea of it to justify coercion. Even if he were correct about the morality of coercive techniques – he isn’t – he is still, with the help of EWTN, propagating poor moral reasoning and a false presentation of Christian moral principles.

  • Kyle,

    Having a “misunderstanding” about double effect is hardly a “moral error.” Is it?

  • In what way is this waterboarding different than waterboarding of enemy combatants? Be specific.

    From the Department of Justice ’Certain Techniques’ memo of May 10, 2005 at page 41, footnote 51:

    The difference was in the manner in which the detainee’s breathing was obstructed. At the SERE school and in the DoJ opinion, the subject’s airflow is disrupted by the firm application of a damp cloth over the air passages; the interrogator applies a small amount of water to the cloth in a controlled manner. By contrast, the Agency interrogator…applies large volumes of water to a cloth that covered the detainee’s mouth and nose. One of the psychologists/interrogators acknowledged that the Agency’s use of the technique is different from the used in SERE training because it is ‘for real’ and is more poignant and convincing.

    [The CIA’s Office of Medical Services] contends that the expertise of the SERE psychologists/interrogators on the waterboard was probably misrepresented at the time, as the SERE waterboard experience is so different from the subsequent Agency usage as to make it almost irrelevant.

  • It is an error of moral thinking that leads to an error in moral judgment. Furthermore, Thiessen’s faulty use of double effect can be used to justify a number of grave evils, a consequence I wrote about at Vox Nova. Its danger spreads beyond the torture debate.

  • Where did that memo come from?

    About it. The memo says that waterboarding is not torture. It does say that someone at CIA said SERE waterboarding was different than interrogation waterboarding. The memo quotes someone saying the differences were so vast as to be completely different but then goes on to say the differences were chiefly in the amount of water used and that the later was more “poignant”.

    It is an interesting memo and i wonder where it came from. But it does not really change the underlying assertion that we waterboarded our own troops, leaving open the question of whether we torture our own troops.

  • The other thing that strikes me about this memo is how very careful was the Bush administration on this and other questions related to the War on Terror. They wanted to get things exactly right. A friend of mine who was high up in CIA and DOD, and a faithful Catholic and a Democrat to boot, said there will be books written about the intense and precise moral calculations the Bush administration undertook on all aspects of the Iraq war and the War on Terror.

  • Precise moral calculations — just wrong calculations. From the get go, the war was unjust. And the war was waged unjustly. And continues to this day to bring America into shame with all kinds of evil being employed for that war. What you call moral calculations others call “excuses.”

  • …there will be books written about the intense and precise moral calculations the Bush administration undertook on all aspects of the Iraq war and the War on Terror.

    And there will be no shortage of faithful Catholics to write forewords to all of them, explaining why the Pope, though a dear old fellow, just doesn’t quite understand how morality works during wartime.

  • Tomkay,

    I am certain there will be faithful Catholics who will write these books. The truth of how the administration came to its conclusions and prosecuted the war are far more interesting than mere cartoons. One of the bottom lines is that these were profoundly morally serious people.

  • Two days (and nearing 200 comments) later and we’re still going strong!

    Morning Minion replies:

    Despite Christopher’s assertion to the contrary, there is no real debate about whether waterboarding constitutes torture.

    Like it or not, I do think there is a ‘debate’. Various Catholic apologists and pundits believe waterboarding may very well not be torture, and not intrinsically evil. Austin Ruse in the comments marshals the same tactics and arguments employed by others over the course of nearly half a decade of Catholics exchanges on this topic.

    – waterboarding as visited by SERE upon our own troops, or upon the Al Qaeda prisoners during interrogation, was, well, qualitatively different from the ‘waterboarding’ used by the Japanese and the Gestapo during World War II; by French during the Algerian war; by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970’s, or, for that matter, by U.S. troops during the Vietnam war and a Texas sheriff upon a prisoner in 1983 (the latter two cases resulting in a court martial and dishonerable discharge from the Army, and a 10 year prison sentence, respectively).

    – waterboarding was used with a different motive in mind than that which is condemned, say, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (“Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.”) The United States, to quote the protest of one Catholic apologist, was done “to extract vital information from, say, a captured and self-confessed Al Qaeda operative whose secret plans may be the required key for saving hundreds or even thousands of innocent lives from his next projected terrorist attack.” Consequently, the Catechism‘s “failure to condemn torture for obtaining “information” look like a deliberate decision on the part of church authorities, rather than a mere oversight or coincidence.”

    – waterboarding is defensible under “Just War” criteria — This position is taken by several Catholic pundits (Deal Hudson, Fr. Robert Sirico and most recently Mark Thiessen on EWTN). Last year, a prominent advisor in the Reagan administration and popular evangelical Christian Gary Bauer employed the ‘just war’ criteria in defense of waterboarding as well.

    I’m not necessarily stating the above arguments are persuasive and hold water — but they are used just the same.

    Perhaps in much the same manner as a good number of ‘pro-choice Catholics’ have received a public response and authoritative correction by the Catholic bishops (locally and/or collectively), these kind of instances constitute opportune “teaching moments” where our Bishops might render the same service and clarity to the issue of torture.

  • For those who just can’t get enough of torture threads, and I confess to a certain “car crash” sort of joy in reading them, here is a good one I stumbled upon from last year by Ed Fesser at What’s Wrong With the World.


    My congratulations to my friend and colleague Christopher in posting on this topic. As always, he is one of the most fair minded bloggers on Saint Blog’s on this and all other issues.

  • Perhaps in much the same manner as a good number of ‘pro-choice Catholics’ have received a public response and authoritative correction by the Catholic bishops (locally and/or collectively), these kind of instances constitute opportune “teaching moments” where our Bishops might render the same service and clarity to the issue of torture.

    You may be asking too much. For example, I’m not aware of the bishops ever speaking out at the level of granularity to say “suction aspiration of alive fetus is abortion, and abortion is intrinsically immoral, therefore suction aspiration of a live fetus is intrinsically immoral”. Expecting a similiar syllogism: “waterboarding a prisoner is torture, torture is intrinsically immoral, therefore waterboarding a prisoner is intrinsically immoral” — is I think unrealistic, and would be, as far as I know, unprecedented.

    The only people who would claim not to know that suction aspiration of a live fetus is abortion – and there have been people who have made the “blob of tissue” gambit many times, indeed there is at least one regular commenter at Vox Nova who still makes that gambit — are people who don’t want it to be the case that abortion is intrinsically immoral.

    Same with waterboarding prisoners. If the Bishops spoke on that level of granularity, these people would find ways to poke holes in the more-granular description — despite, as Mark Shea has tirelessly pointed out, the additional positive command to treat prisoners humanely, and six years worth of other reasons which have been given again, and again, and again.

    I mean, people who think the Bishops haven’t spoken are just flat wrong.

  • You may be asking too much.

    Zippy — I was hoping for something along the same lines of when over two dozen bishops analyzed and corrected the very specific, ‘granular’ arguments of Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden on abortion in 2008, when they claimed on ‘Meet The Press’ to embrace ‘the Catholic position’ on the matter.

    The case of Mark Thiessen on EWTN, in my mind, constitutes just such an opportune case.

  • Much as I would like to see Marc Thiessen censured directly in public by his bishop, he just isn’t as important as the Speaker of the House and the Vice President, so I doubt we’ll see it. Though I hope I’m wrong.

    Who is Thiessen’s bishop? Loverde in Arlington?

  • And finally, it happened to only three guys and yet it has taken up so much time and commentboxes (oh the humanity).

    I would say there are too many people with too little to do with their Ph.D.s or who should be spending blogging time on their dissertations.

  • “It happened to only three guys,” and therefore it’s not important. Seriously, the issue of quantity in an issue of morality indicates Austin’s lack of moral integrity. Which is why my point on lying is straight on the point — and why he will not deal with it or many other challenges offered to his position.

    Secondly, has it only happened to three guys? Doubtful. Don’t confuse “we admit to it happening to three guys” (which of course was denied originally and so Austin could have said, for a time, happened to no one) to “that’s all there is.” And do not believe it is merely the CIA who engages such practice.

  • Austin:

    Just so you know, I’m a forty-something self-made multimillionaire and a staunch pro-lifer. I donate not insignificant amounts of money every year to Catholic causes. And you’ve accommplished something that that joke Vox Nova could never have accomplished: you’ve put C-FAM on the list of charities which will never get a red cent from me unless there are some serious public sackcloth and ashes from you on this issue.

    I mean, what are you thinking? Whatever private opinions you might have, dying in a ditch defending torture – torture! – is, as the kids say, nucking futs.

    But thanks for the advice on how to spend my time.

  • I’m seriously tempted to the belief that the “Austin Ruse” in these threads is a sock puppet who set out with the purpose of “proving” Vox Nova right. Hopefully someone who knows the real Austin Ruse can alert him to the sock puppet and have his organizations publicly repudiate this amazing little thread.

  • Zippy needs a hug….

  • Zippy,

    We have 15,000 individual small check donors and don’t have to rely upon the whims of self important “self-made millionaires.” In fact, i do my best to stay away from self important “self made millionaires.” I have found their money is very expensive.

  • Christopher:

    For what it’s worth, a while ago (a year? two years?), I sent an email to my Archbishop Wuerl’s press secretary asking whether he might have something to say about torture (his own email is not public, and I didn’t take the trouble to send him a letter (though I might yet)). She replied to the effect that, unless and until he had something in particular to add, he would let the Bishop’s Committee on International Justice and Peace take the lead, and she included a link to the “Torture is a Moral Issue” study guide. This, along with the various statements made by the chairman of the IJ&P committee, clearly consider waterboarding to be torture.

    When this was pointed out on Coalition for Clarity, an anonymous commenter said the (former) chairman was a known leftist, and he, the commenter, wouldn’t believe it until Archbishop Chaput weighed in.

    Abp. Chaput, as you may know, does have a public email. When I emailed him, explained the circumstances, and asked if he had any comment to make, he replied that people outside his diocese shouldn’t look to him, but should ask their own bishops for guidance on this (which is consistent with my own understanding of the office of bishop).

    From my perspective, then, I would say I have been given sufficient guidance from my own bishop. Moreover, while I by no means have my finger on the pulse of the American bench of bishops, I don’t expect them to say anything further about torture any time soon, barring something a lot more significant than anything Marc Thiessen could say to Raymond Arroyo.

  • Glad to see this was genteel. I think waterboarding has been dropped from all but Navy training. This because the argument was that troops were being taught to resist a given technique. However, most military branches discovered that no one was able to resist waterboarding even in the allegedly mild SERE form.

    The Navy still likes it. Who said Marines were tough?

  • “Who said Marines were tough?”

    As an ex-Army guy, I can attest that all Marines I encountered in service were quite eloquent as to how tough they were.

  • My research director, a woman (White House Fellow, Commander in the Navy-retired, former professor of strategic planning at the Naval War College, volunteer in India with Mother Theresa), was waterboarded for SERE training and has concluded waterboarding is not torture. FWIW.

    Donald, thanks for the humor…

  • Only three guys were subjected to coercion/torture? Last I checked, we knew of at least 100 people who had died as a result of our government’s use of coercion/torture.

  • What is your source of that claim, Kyle?

  • Only 3 guys were waterboarded.

  • FWIW

    “I went through X in training, therefore anything like X used repeatedly in a open-ended fashion on prisoners to break their will and get them to cough up information is not torture” has to go down as one of the dumbest arguments ever. And given the dumb arguments one sees every day, that is saying something.

  • As mentioned, waterboarding isn’t the only interrogation technique used by our government to which we are opposed on moral grounds.

  • Art Deco,

    Glenn Greenwald has reported, with documentation, on the numbers I reference.

  • My brother had pepper spray sprayed in his eyes as a police trainee. Does that mean that repeatedly spraying pepper spray into the eyes of prisoners until their wills break and they sing like canaries is “not torture”?

  • Kyle,

    This is an easy one. If interrogators went beyond the law into torture, that should be condemned and even prosecuted.

  • I know many folks have suggested that the definition of torture is an unimportant inquiry, and I disagree. But I do agree with Zippy that the waterboarding conducted by US authorities under the Bush Administration constituted torture under any reasonable definition. While these acts were apparently quite limited and perhaps even understandable, they were nonetheless immoral. As I’ve suggested before, there may be some hypothetical situation where torture is morally defensible (if so, Catholic teaching would seem to need further development), but in my view such a hypothetical would need at minimum to involve (i) specific imminant harm (urgent action is necessary), (ii) harm that is directed toward innocents (i.e., civilians rather than combatants), (iii) harm that is more serious than that caused by the torture, (iv) belief to a moral certainty that the subject is both complicit in the harm to be avoided and has the requisite knowledge to stop it, and (v) a good faith belief that no other options are as likely to be effective. By all accounts some of these criteria were not satisfied. While I do not view deliberately harming the guilty to save innocent lives to be morally equivalent to killing the innocent in order to preserve quality of life, the fact remains that what the Bush Administration did was objectively evil, and Catholics should admit it.
    I realize that Zippy will almost certainly assert that my hypothetical is malignant in that it ignores Catholic teaching, and he may be right. I’m not a student of moral theology, and will accept Church teaching even if I don’t fully understand it. That said, I’m pretty sure that if confronted with a real world circumstance with an innocent life at stake, I would beat the living hell out of pyschopath if necessary to secure the information necessary to save the innocent. I fully admit that this does not make it right.

  • Kyle,

    I would even say it is possible to torture using waterboarding and if someone did so, they should be called to account. It sounds as if, from the Washingotn Post story you site to, that the use of “large amounts of water” was beyond guidelines and the law. It sounds like from that story that the proscribed form of waterboarding was similar to what was described in SERE training.

  • What if the law (including legal memos by the OLC) governing interrogation policy gave legal legitimacy to immoral and historically illegal interrogation techniques?

  • “Gave legitimacy” is too vague. They either supported illegal methods or they did not.

  • Austin is once again falling for the error that what is legal is what is moral. But this once again undermines his position on abortion (if he really holds to it as he claims). For all the abortionist has to say is “my method is legal.”

  • And finally, it happened to only three guys and yet it has taken up so much time and commentboxes (oh the humanity).

    I would say there are too many people with too little to do with their Ph.D.s or who should be spending blogging time on their dissertations.

    You seem to be spending quite a lot of time on it yourself. I guess you have nothing better to do?

  • Austin,

    In the more than half a decade of discussion we’ve had on this subject, one of many, many proposals was that a distinction between torture and punishment is that torture is, as far as the victim knows, open ended: it may go on forever, as far as he knows, until he breaks down and betrays his friends. Even the death penalty does not have that characteristic: the suffering implied in the death penalty is necessarily limited.

    And as it happens, that characteristic is a clear distinction – one of many – between SERE simulated waterboarding and actual waterboarding.

    Just FYI. But as I mentioned upthread, you have more than half a decade of discussion to catch up on, and you do yourself and your organization as disservice by wading in as a torture-apologist newbie like this.

  • Acutally I think “simulated waterboarding” is a euphamism. As pointed out above, all services save the Navy stopped it in training as no one could be trained to resist it even as applied in training. Waterboarding is just plain painful even in training.

  • Blackadder

    It is sad to me that he thinks even one is acceptable, let alone three, let alone how many really have been abused which we do not know. The problem is that this matters because by rejecting the stand on torture, as he does, and treating it as unimportant, he provides the means by which all other intrinsic evils, including abortion, can be “justified” (put in quotes because they cannot be). And that is what I’ve shown through a few examples, how his reasoning can be used by the abortionist in one way or another -from the “just war” theory of the woman being invaded by the child, to the “legally justified” theory he just provided now.

  • Blackadder,

    We have been snowed in. Plus, i can multi-task.


    That these things have been discussed before, for six years?!, doesn’t mean that they have been settled. Quite clearly they have not been settled.

    I join in this debate because i am disgusted by how this debate is being used by GOP haters and pro-life haters to drive a wedge in the pro-life movements. I entered in here with that point and i remain on that point.

    The waterboarding of three men does not amount to a hill of beans when compared to the death of 50 million unborn children. yet this is the proposition of the GOP/pro-life haters. They want folks to think it is OK to vote for the party of death because Bush waterboarded three guys.

    Would that all of this good energy been spent for six years (six years!) on the question of baby killing and in recent months how Obama is the most pro-death president we hvae ever had. I wish this energy was spent on something real.

  • We have been snowed in. Plus, i can multi-task.

    And you think these qualities are somehow unique to yourself?

  • It is why i am on here right now and not two weeks ago and likley not next week…but who knows…

    Meow? Woof!

  • I join in this debate because i am disgusted by how this debate is being used by GOP haters and pro-life haters to drive a wedge in the pro-life movements. I entered in here with that point and i remain on that point.

    Well, first, the folks you’ve been arguing with in this thread aren’t GOP haters or pro-life haters. As I mentioned before I am a Republican and am very pro-life.

    Second, aside from a few stray comments you haven’t spent your time arguing that the discussion over waterboarding is a distraction. Instead you’ve spent hours defending waterboarding.

  • I doesn’t mean that they have been settled.

    Of course not, any more than one could claim that the abortion debate is “settled”. That is, there will always be dissenting Catholics who prostitute their faith to their political ideology, so no moral issue with political implications ever becomes “settled”.

    But you just have no idea how clueless your posts sound: how completely, naively unaware of the most basic arguments operating in the domain. Marc Thiessen is just as bad in his book, worse if anything, as I posted on recently, just on a particular passage from his book.

    And seriously, people like you really can make this go away — by getting on the right side of the moral issue.

    I agree that torture is a wedge driving apart the pro-life movement: a wedge created and driven in by the Bush adminstration, and exploited by the likes of MM (he is medium-bright but hackishly unprincipled, wielding principle as if it were a partisan weapon; Karlson, on the other hand, seems as sincere as the day is long, but the combination of faux-intellectual airs with his modest intelligence is cringeworthy. Kyle I have nothing but good things to say about, despite our occasional disagreements. Not that anyone asked).

  • Zippy,

    Now that’s the way to convince me! I am a naive prostitute dissenter and i am never going to get any of your money! After six years, this is your argument?
    More than 50% of American Catholics actually support torture and these are your arguments to convince them? Typical self made millionaire. Agree with me or I will not give you my money and i will call you names. Nicely done.

    We do agree about the Vox Nausea crowd though, Zippy, and I like that.

  • Waht i think is driving the GOP/Pro-life haters at Dotcommonweal, America and Vox Nausea is precisely that, a hatred of all things conservative. What drives this debate among this crowd is something else. i do not doubt that you all are sincere in your concern but i dont get is how three guys getting waterboarded is worth all this time and effort and ink adn giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the unborn. I suspect there is an aspect of boredom. We have been fighting the prolife fight for many many years. I have been doing it full time for 13 years. Boredom and frustration leads folks to new fights or new aspects of old fights. I think the personhood fight is an aspect of boredom and frustration. I do not know, but i suspect similar boredom adn frustration is driving this torture debate among good people.

  • i do not doubt that you all are sincere in your concern but i dont get is how three guys getting waterboarded is worth all this time and effort and ink adn giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the unborn.


    You seem to have missed or ignored my previous comment:

    I would say that, while waterboarding is probably the most prominent example of what has been termed ‘extreme interrogation’, the subject of ‘torture’ is not confined to such, nor are incidents of detainee abuse confined to those which occurred at Abu Ghraib. Incidents continue to occur in both Iraq and Afghanistan See for example Command’s Responsibility: Detainee Deaths in U.S. Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan – “comprehensive accounting of the U.S. government’s handling of the nearly 100 cases of detainees who have died in U.S. custody since 2002.” [See also Glenn Greenwald’s post, as Kyle pointed out].

    Practices which we might think of as fairly innocuous when presented on paper — sleep deprivation, raising/lowering the temperature, “stress positions”, and other techniques of “softening up” detainees for interrogation — have contributed to such deaths. Not all of these incidents can be dismissed as violations of the system in place, either — rather, the impression I get is that the system currently in place cultivates, and encourages, the abuse.

    Your “I don’t know if it’s intrinsically evil but even if it was, we only did it to three people — so it doesn’t matter” schtick is getting old.

  • I think the report above refers not to the CIA program that was approved by the Bush administration where waterboarding occured. I think it refers to command problems that encouraged rogue actions by military personel that resulted in abusive actions.

  • If these charges are true, who defends the deliberate killing of detainees? Or torturing them to death? Who has done that? As far as i can tell, no one. So, that is not really part of the debate. The only thing that is open for debate is whether the approved methods of enhanced interrogation are torture. As far as i can tell, only three men have been waterboarded. This debate is about that, three men who were waterboarded. My schtick is my schtick and i am schticking to it.

  • Reading the report also, it seems a number of individuals reached back to what they learned in SERE training even though it was not approved for these detainees.

  • Waht i think is driving the GOP/Pro-life haters at Dotcommonweal, America and Vox Nausea is precisely that, a hatred of all things conservative. What drives this debate among this crowd is something else. i do not doubt that you all are sincere in your concern but i dont get is how three guys getting waterboarded is worth all this time and effort and ink adn giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the unborn.

    If you think that the issue is a distraction then why spend so much time defending waterboarding? Why does the head of the American Life League feel the need to weigh in on the torture issue? Why does EWTN feel the need to have guests on to offer pro-waterboarding arguments? If you think the whole issue is a big distraction, then it seems to me those are the people you should be upset with.

  • We feel the need because the torture debate is giving aid and comfort to the party of death.