An Example to Us All

Friday, April 16, AD 2010

 

Hattip to Rich Leonardi at Ten Reasons.  I have long thought that the way we will win the battle against abortion is by simple persistence.  Pro-lifers will never give up until we prevail and abortion is banned.  Tommy Behan is an example to us all:

T. ANDREW DEANERY — The White House staffers who open President Barrack Obama’s mail are likely well aware of Tommy Behan’s pro-life stance.

Behan, a member of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish and a sophomore at Lakota East High School, has written the president every day since Obama’s inauguration asking him to change his position on abortion. The 16-year-old has handwritten and mailed more than 430 letters.

“His stance is the most radical pro-choice one for a president who has ever held office,” said Behan. “In the first letter I made a vow to never stop writing until he changed it or he’s out of office.”

The teen usually writes in the evenings. He avoids email, preferring to show his passion with the extra effort a handwritten letter requires. His parents supply the pens, paper and stamps. If Behan gets pressed for time and misses a day, he’ll write additional letters until he is caught up. The letters are sometimes mailed in batches.

Behan begins each letter by telling Obama how many times he has written before. Then the teen argues the constitutionality of abortion, talks about justice for the unborn and tells of the lives that have been lost. His stance is straightforward: Life begins at conception and comes before liberty, he said.

“I keep building on my argument,” Behan said. “It really upsets me how some people choose to have an abortion when others really want to have children.”

One of six children, Behan has seen his sister and her husband suffer miscarriages. That experience has made him more passionate and given him more resolve to try to get Obama to publicly change his position.

After about three months of writing Behan received a form letter from the White House. There have been about 17 more since. The generic replies thank him for writing and sometimes acknowledge the topic.

The teen also debated the issue in an editorial in Spark, a well-known student magazine at Lakota East.

“He’s always had a deep respect for life,” said Behan’s mother, Jude Behan. “We’re very proud of him. This was not initiated by us.”

She said her son is dedicated to the letter-writing campaign and is self-motivated.

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32 Responses to An Example to Us All

  • What an inspiring young man!

    I know he’s rather young and might be lacking a few professional credentials – but can’t we get him on the Supreme Court? 😉 He’s got more common sense, at least on this issue, than many judges do!

  • Good for young Mr Behan. Truly inspiring. He’s missed on Mr Obama being the most radical pro-choicer–two presidents surpass him.

    I’ve got the young man on the hook for $1285.68, but it’s money well spent.

  • “He missed on Mr Obama being the most radical pro-choicer – two presidents surpass him”

    Which ones? If you think Nixon was one, you’re sadly mistaken — no matter what Nixon may have privately thought about abortion, he did not take ANY executive action to promote or facilitate it. He was “personally in favor, but.” Same for Ford and Carter. And don’t trot out Reagan’s approval of legalized abortion while he was governor of California; by the time he became president he’d changed his tune. Clinton was the only president who even came close.

  • First let me send out an admiring “Well Done!” to the young man.
    The retired soldier in me shouts “Hooah!” and the former submarine sailor sends out a resounding “Bravo Zulu!”

    That said, can we stop playing the nice game with people who detest the unborn, particularly of minority and low income birth, with a passion and ugliness to which the name “pro-choice” cannot do justice?
    If the only acceptable choice to these people is the death of the unwanted unborn, can we just call them baby killers? The left has pre-approved this moniker (dating back to its use against US military returning from the Vietnam War) so there should be no official moratorium declared on its use while the PC committee determines acceptability.

    So then we could re-state young Behan’s comment as “His (Obama’s) stance (on abortion) is the most radical baby killer one for a president who has ever held office”
    Yep, that seems to me much more accurate.

  • “Yep, that seems to me much more accurate.”

    Perhaps not. Killing involves a deliberate act of will and responsibility. There is a difference between having a false belief that one should not prevent the killing of another human being, even a baby, even if allowed by law.

    Among recent presidents, both Bushes, Mr Nixon, and Mr Johnson would fall into the category of more radical “baby-killer” because of their execution of war. Though legal, and in some cases justified by followers, still resulted in the killing of babies and others.

    By the expanded definition, I’d say that Mr Obama comes in at least in fifth place, going back to the Vietnam Era.

    But by the stricter definition of abortion, yes, I’d say that Mr Obama comes in third behind Mr Clinton (for his slightly quicker enactment of executive policy) and Mr Nixon (for his SCOTUS). Number three may try harder in the view of some, but it doesn’t raise the money quite as ably.

  • There is a sort of charming devotion to how Todd shows up to make these specious arguments every single time Obama’s pro-abortion fanaticism is mentioned.

    I look on it as having the same earnest charm of the people who routinely show up to make the case for moderation, “Well, Hitler was really on the third worst dictator of the 20th century. Stalin and Mao both killed more people and ruled longer. Let’s be fair and not exaggerate!”

  • I’m willing to concede neither earnest nor charm. At least in the case of Hitler the mentioned assertion has the virtue of defensibility.

  • Hmmm. True. I suppose the accurate analogy would be to someone routinely showing up to trying to insist that Hitler was only the sixth worst…

    As for earnesty and charm — I don’t think I can get my tongue any further into cheek without choking.

  • I don’t know that it’s charming as much as it pokes at Republicans and political pro-lifers, as it was intended to do. Make a real case, guys, without alluding to foreign dictators. I know you can do it.

    Really, what’s the point? All the usual monikers–the worst, the best, the great–these are all the hackneyed expressions of cheerleaders trying to drum up support. In the case of the GOP and the political pro-life movement, monetary support. Especially during a recession. And especially after their political butts have been whooped.

    I’m amused y’all brought up Hitler. Usually you accuse libruls of that. You also mentioned the numbers game, but didn’t mention the presidential administration during which the most US abortions took place. Are we talking millions or are we just talking pieces of paper?

    Getting back to the point, most activists, liberal or conservative, want us to believe we live in some exceptional age. I dissent from that view. It is a mark of hubris (or more likely opportunism) to suggest we live in a key moment for something or other. The odds are that key moment passed or is in the future.

    As for abortion, the floodgate were opened by a largely GOP-appointed SCOTUS. After which, it was going to be difficult to generate the means to curb or ban abortions, except by persuasion.

    Fast forward to 2009-2010, and we have FOCA very DOA, a presidential policy delayed to avoid a certain Clintonian clumsiness, and lots of other behavior that strikes many Americans as moderate on abortions.

    What I would be willing to grant is that Mr Obama might elicit the most bitter feelings among pro-lifers, and they interpret their inner churning as bad. It’s more logical to swallow a Tums. Maybe avoid hard drinking and spicy food, too.

    I admire Mr Behan for his persistence and expression of good citizenship. Likely that Mr Hitler and Mr Nixon would view it less favorably. That the lad considers a certain relativism among US presidents, well, he is only 13. How many have we had since he was conceived?

  • I suppose the interesting question is, why exactly do you think that it’s so important to “poke” at Republicans and at pro-lifers, Todd?

    I think the reason why you generally get a reaction is that the “Obama isn’t really the most pro-abortion politician in history — just very, very pro-abortion” is generally rolled out, not by people who see the need for sober fairness, but rather by people attempting to make the case that political party should be a matter of near indifference for those who oppose abortion — or perhaps even that leaning Democrat is better.

    In reality, there’s a reason why those who care seriously about the abortion issue tend almost universally to vote for Republicans or third party candidates in presidential elections. The undeniable fact is that, while the GOP is certainly not ideal, the Democratic party has, in the years since Roe, given itself overly nearly entirely to cheerleading for abortion.

    Back at the time of Roe, this certainly did not need to be the case. Then, both parties had elite that were in favor of abortion and a broadly eugenic agenda, while both parties’ rank-and-file were broadly pro-life. In some ways, the Democratic party might have been a more natural choice to become the pro-life party, given it’s history political machines run by ethnic Catholics. However, it was not to be. Moral, cultural and sexual revolution all found their homes within the Democratic party, while traditionalism built a home for itself in the GOP.

    That a certain brand of Catholic progressive spends so much time denying that this dynamic exists far more revelatory than elaborate quibbles as to whether Clinton might somehow have been marginally more bad than Obama in regards to abortion or the other way round.

  • I have a feeling that Nixon gets in trouble b/c he said what the modern Democrats are thinking: eugenics and an utter distaste for the poor motivated the Democrats to jeopardize healthcare reform in favor of abortion funding. Between Obama’s actions in the healthcare debate and his unrepentant votes in the Illinois legislature to protect infanticide I really don’t think this is a serious debate.

    And even if it is, it’s an academic one at best. Obama is certainly one of the most pro-abortion politicians of his time, even among his party, and his extent of support is something that to be considered when deciding whether to vote/support him. It’s quite irrelevant if he’s better than Nixon if he’s also substantially worse than everyone else on the ballot.

  • “(W)hy exactly do you think that it’s so important to “poke” at Republicans and at pro-lifers, Todd?”

    To make sure errors don’t get repeated without an alternate view.

    And I would pretty much reject your position that I stand with those who would want to soften the nature of abortion in the modern world.

    The fact is that Mr Obama has not participated in performing an abortion, or (as far as we know) asisting a woman in getting one.

    People who actually perform abortions, or who take advantage of women in crisis to maximize their profiteering or their ideology are far worse than the president.

    Mr Obama doesn’t get off as blameless in being a political bystander. But pro-lifers insistent on using him as a rallying point strike me as more concerned about making points and raking in donations than making distinctions that might lead to a further reduction in abortions.

  • To make sure errors don’t get repeated without an alternate view.

    It takes such contortions of reason and history to claim that Obama is not the most pro-abortion president in history (though it’s true that Clinton is a fairly close second), it’s rather hard to imagine that one would do it for any other reason than to actively carry water for him.

    The fact is that Mr Obama has not participated in performing an abortion, or (as far as we know) asisting a woman in getting one.

    So true. Just like Bush never personally shot or bombed an Iraqi and never personally outsourced a job or sold a mortgage backed security. I’m sure you would consider these devastating arguments to your opposition to him if I had used them against you two years ago.

    People who actually perform abortions, or who take advantage of women in crisis to maximize their profiteering or their ideology are far worse than the president.

    Mr Obama doesn’t get off as blameless in being a political bystander. But pro-lifers insistent on using him as a rallying point strike me as more concerned about making points and raking in donations than making distinctions that might lead to a further reduction in abortions.

    This is basically an argument for political indifference. After all, come to that Obama has done virtually nothing positive himself that millions of other Americans haven’t done. Why should one support him as president at all, if it’s only his personal actions that matter and not his positions on important political and moral issues.

  • “It takes such contortions of reason and history to claim that Obama is not the most pro-abortion president in history”

    Not at all. Y’all have conceded it’s close with Mr Clinton, but there were fewer abortions during his presidency than Mr Reagan’s. I say the floodgates opened under Mr Nixon. Abortion rates have slowly dropped since Mr Reagan, but certainly not significantly, and definitely not because of the White House occupant.

    “It’s rather hard to imagine that one would do it for any other reason than to actively carry water for him.”

    That’s because you hang out with too many political partisans. I’m doing it to needle you and Donald, and I’m effective at it.

    “Just like Bush never personally shot or bombed an Iraqi …”

    Mr Bush was the commander-in-chief, the top of a chain of command that killed people in an unjust war. Mr Obama is a guilty bystander, but most of the people getting abortions in the US are doing so by personal initiative, not because parents, husbands, doctors, clinic personnel, or politicians are telling them to.

    “This is basically an argument for political indifference.”

    No. An indifferent person would not praise young Mr Behan. What I would argue is to be indifferent to the Republican Party. That’s a sin in your book, but not mine.

  • I’m doing it to needle you and Donald, and I’m effective at it.

    So you basically admit you’re just a troll who is just hanging out in a comment box of a blog whose viewpoint you disagree with to stir up controversy and pester people. Wow, some life you must have there.

  • That’s because you hang out with too many political partisans. I’m doing it to needle you and Donald, and I’m effective at it.

    There was a point, 3-5 years ago, when although we didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of liturgical and political issues, you could be an interesting and gracious person to discuss topics with.

    I’m sorry to see how completely this has changed.

  • Just ban him. He’s carrying water for the abortionists. “Get thee behind me, Satan!” A person who nuances the slaughter of innocent babies is someone that I’m pretty sure Jesus would want out of his way.

  • “So you basically admit you’re just a troll …”

    It looks to me like we’re having a discussion.

    “There was a point, 3-5 years ago …”

    Things were a bit simpler in those days, though no less contentious. We have this blog, which is fairly political. And there’s a certain vehemence coming from the Right these days. I think we had it to some degree, but its certainly become more intense in the past two years.

    Like then, I still note that some folks tend to focus on the person rather than the discussion when the latter isn’t going their way.

    I may have had my disagreements with presidential policy 3-5 years ago, but I certainly didn’t bring Hitler and Mao into the chat. You can believe what you like about other people, Darwin, but from my perspective you’ve changed, especially since you’ve begun contributing to this blog.

    Getting back to the point, I’d still like to know the significance of a “most pro-abortion president” when abortion numbers and rates continue to decline. Fewer people are choosing to abort and y’all act as if the US is turning into China.

    I’ve always thought political pro-lifers took themselves a little too seriously, but seriously: some people need a vacation.

  • So, the efforts of pro-lifers to “raise the consiousness” (that phrase is for you, Todd) of Americans on the evil of abortion finally pays off in terms of fewer abortions, and this is proof that Obama isn’t all that pro-abortion. Now that is funny.

    The proof that Obama is our nation’s most pro-abort president is his infamous behavior as an Illinois state senator. http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/obama_and_infanticide.html

    Aside from the fact that our president lied through his teeth when and as he accused pro-lifers of lying, the notion that one would be so pro-abort as to be willing to deny infants born alive during an abortion procedure ordinary care is just plain evil and such evil is not mitigated just because the infant will die anyway.

  • Todd,

    Abortion rates and numbers are declining? Wonderful. Tell me, what, exactly, has Obama done to specifically combat abortion rates and numbers?? What has he done to cause fewer people to abort?

    He’s done nothing and you know it. The numbers, if true, are outside of his influence. Why is the rate and number of people going to NASCAR races declining? Obama? Who the heck knows? Why is the rate and number of people eating at McDonalds declining? Obama? Why’s the rate and number of people flying instead of driving decreasing? Obama?

    The fact that the man is the President has nothing to do with larger, socio-economic decisions that even the authors of Freakanomics can’t understand. Joe Schmoe and Jane Schmoe deciding one day to not eat at McDonalds, or not get that abortion, have nothing to do with Obama.

    I can’t believe this is your argument. It is pathetic. You’re not doing the best to carry water for the abortionists – and yes, that’s what you’re doing. Because Obama is ideologically committed to abortion, and he’s done nothing definitive to stop it or slow it and is only being swept up in broader social trends. Maybe the Catholic Church and other organization’s message against abortion is slowing the rate and number, notwithstanding Obama’s extreme support of it. Maybe if Obama were actually to DO something instead of just sit there on abortion, the message of those organizations would be hampered and abortion rates and numbers would rise. Maybe every time he takes money from Planned Parenthood, another person says, “Gee, I support Obama and he’s taking money from them – guess I’ll get an abortion.” You don’t know what his effect is anymore than I do. If he were speaking in favor of it or against it, there’s no way of knowing. And this is notwithstanding his major support of it.

    Stop carrying water for an ideological supporter of abortion. Instead of claiming that mere rates are going down and pretending that those numbers means you don’t have to win the hearts and minds of decisionmakers like Obama, why don’t you do your best to convince those decisionmakers to change their mind on abortion? Oh, because that would upset your broader support of their lefty visions and agenda. Can’t have that. So what if those decisionmakers don’t change their minds, and abortion continues in this country? There’s a lefty agenda to enact! Can’t let abortion get in the way, then.

    Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.

  • “So you basically admit you’re just a troll who is just hanging out in a comment box of a blog whose viewpoint you disagree with to stir up controversy and pester people. Wow, some life you must have there.”

    That’s what I’ve been saying. I don’t think his blog gets enough readers. So he comes over here for fun.

  • President Obama doesn’t work as an ob/gyn; he works as an executive. He doesn’t get extra points for not performing abortions. As with the poor woman in the Temple, we can only understand the value of his action by considering his station in life. He has never done anything as president to prevent abortions, and has done everything possible as president to promote abortions. If some human being has done more, even if a previous president has done more, it doesn’t change the consistency with which he has promoted abortion through the judiciary, health care system, and foreign aid.

  • “He’s done nothing and you know it. The numbers, if true, are outside of his influence.”

    Thanks for making my point. The president is pretty much irrelevant to abortion. Even if he is the “most,” and I think you have yet to make your case for it, it matters as much as him being the best basketball-playing president.

    “… this is proof that Obama isn’t all that pro-abortion …?”

    Your words, Mike. Not mine. I said Mr Obama is a guilty bystander on the issue. I said he’s not the worst. I make him to be about 3rd worst.

    I like your definition of “troll,” by the way. The only difference between me dogging you, and Tito & Donald dogging me is that this is their blog. A question of relativism. Are you bothered that someone contradicts your occasionally weakling arguments?

    The money must really have slowed to a trickle for the GOP. We have FOCA and socialism and all sorts of boogeyman stories. If the pro-life base is a bunch of seven-year-olds, I can imagine it must be scary. As it is, this stance is laughable. Why would a sensible person listen to any of it?

  • I like your definition of “troll,” by the way. The only difference between me dogging you, and Tito & Donald dogging me is that this is their blog.

    Really? You’re really going to make the argument that a person commenting on their own blog is a troll?

    Do you even have a life?

  • Paul, among other people, you have managed to turn a thread about a tenacious and faith-filled young man into a discussion about me, my life, and my spare time. My contribution here was simple enough: praise Mr Behan and nudge his one error.

  • Todd, you have wasted a huge amount of energy in this thread attempting to obfuscate the very simple fact that the fight against abortion ranks not at all on your list of priorities, as demonstrated by your support for Obama, the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history. I assume that your forays onto blogs run by pro-lifers are a futile attempt to salve your conscience. Abortion is the great moral struggle of our time, and in that fight you have enlisted under the banner of those who believe it is perfectly acceptable to destroy human life in the womb for any reason that the mother of the child pleases. Chatter away endlessly in the comboxes of this blog, drag as many red herrings as you please, be as condescending and ill-mannered as you like, your failure as a Catholic and as a decent human being to fight against this manifest evil will not change one iota by your useless attempts to justify your stance in the eyes of others.

  • Donald, stop trolling your blog.

  • Todd,

    Do you see where your “nudges” get you?

    No one ever agrees with you. No one ever thinks differently or changes their view because of your “nudging.”

    Why do you do it? Is it an irrepressible urge, or is there some rationality to it?

  • Todd, how convenient to not respond to my link proving that Obama is by far the most pro-aboartion president we have ever had. Too tough for you?

  • “Too tough for you?”

    Hardly. One instance of a revised bill slipping past the state senator’s scrutiny in 2003 is hardly evidence Mr Obama is the “most.” The link provides objections the man offered in 2001 and 2002, but there is no public record of his objection in 2003.

    I give it as much credibility as Mr Nixon’s tendency toward eugenics. Which is to say, very little.

    I think a case might be made Mr Obama was concerned about a back door restriction on abortion. We know he’s pro-choice. There’s no debate about that. The case might be made that he’s as pro-choice of a state senator as others who took a similar stance on the bills in question. The bill may also have had legislative flaws. I think you pin too much on three votes, a year without a comment, and a presidential candidate’s aggressive but unfounded counterattack.

    But it might also be argued the distinction is one of his actions as a state legislator and his actions as president. It has already been conceded here that the president is of minimal importance. That works both ways for Mr Obama, admittedly. He can delay Mexico City like Mr Clinton did not, and it doesn’t make a difference at all.

    No, I think Mr Obama is not most, but third-worst. He’s behind Mr Clinton on timing and that he was able to put executive weight behind insurance reform that will both save lives and reduce abortions in the long term. I have to put Mr Nixon at the top. Like many Catholic school students, I wrote letters in 1973, and my recollection (confirmed by present-day reading) is that the GOP was largely behind the early push for legal abortion in the US. Mr Nixon had four picks on the SCOTUS and they went 3-1 for the Roe v Wade decision. Blackmun, a GOP pick, has even been criticized by pro-choicers for the press to overreach past legislation and is cited as the strongest (and most erring) voice for giving us today’s situation: abortion decided by judiciary rather than legislation.

    As for the rest of you, your tenacious uniformity is admirable. I never come here with a realistic hope of convincing the Republican base. There are people here who just read these threads and come to their own opinion of all of us.

    You AC bloggers have hijacked your own thread, getting personal about me in response to my criticisms of your arguments. If anyone is still out there, they can review this whole thread and see what is here to be seen: a caution not to vary from the particulars of the abortion sideshow. It’s very much like the pro-choice sites I lurk: lots of emotion–as I would expect from the fringes. Not much hope of changing minds.

  • Fascinating that Todd first claims that a president’s stance on abortion is no more important than his basketball abilities — then turns around and announces that Nixon was the most pro-choice president in history because of Supreme Court nominations that Nixon made prior to abortion becoming an supreme court issue. (And, of course, leaving aside that Nixon expressed frustration with the Roe ruling — not I would imagine out of any deep principle, but because it was politically inconvenient for him.)

    One can’t both assert that the president’s office is irrelevent to the abortion issue, and at the same time sieze on Nixon’s alleged prescience and some minor timing differences between Clinton and Obama (wow, Obama waiting one day longer before issuing executive orders supportive of abortion) to claim that Obama is not the committed pro-abortion partisan to Obama himself claims to be.

    Nor is concern with Obama and FOCA merely a GOP fundraising tactic, unless one imagines the USCCB (which has done a fair share of worrying about both, and opposed the health care bill because of its abortion-supporting language) to be an organ of the GOP.

    That said — Todd’s behavior here has clearly sunk to troll levels, and so I would advise people to follow the standard internet advice: don’t feed the troll.

  • Who cares whether Obama is the most or third or even seventh?! What are YOU doing to try and change our president’s mind?! What are YOU doing to try and help save babies from death by abortion?

    Sheesh!

Looking Back on Justice Stevens: Kelo

Friday, April 16, AD 2010

From a Catholic point of view, retiring Supreme Court Justice Stevens’ extreme commitment to supporting unlimited abortion in our country is clearly one of his worst legacies as a justice, and one most likely to be mirrored by whoever is chosen to replace him by President Obama.

There are other reasons to look back with a critical eye on Stevens’ tenure on the court, however, and blogger Lexington at The Economist highlights what he regards as the worst opinion that Stevens’ authored: the majority opinion in Kelo v New London, in which Stevens and the liberal majority of the court held that the constitutional powers of “eminent domain” can be used by local government not only to secure land for true “public use” such as building roads or public buildings, but to secure land for private development. In simply terms: Kelo means your city can force you to sell your home to make room for a new shopping center.

Kelo is certainly one of the worst decisions of recent years (giving far more real room for abuse of power by large corporations than the Citizens United decision, which Obama demagogued in his state of the union address) and underscores in an important way how the “progressives protect the little guy while conservative protect big business” narrative fundamentally misses the real and more complicated dynamics at play in our polity.

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6 Responses to Looking Back on Justice Stevens: Kelo

  • underscores in an important way how the “progressives protect the little guy while conservative protect big business” narrative fundamentally misses the real and more complicated dynamics at play in our polity.

    One of the things that struck me about the tea party rally I briefly attended yesterday, and which I forgot to mention in my blog post, was the very anti-corporation tone struck by a couple of the speakers that I heard. They were just as upset with CEOs and corporations as they were with President Obama and the federal government.

  • Kelo might be the worst decision by the Supreme Court that didn’t involve physical coercion/mistreatment or basic dehumanization of members of the human family.

    A more full-throated authorization of crony politics (albeit hidden behind anodyne prose) is hard to imagine.

  • My eco-socialist friend pointed me to a Democracy Now! episode on his retirement. Knowing of the Kelo decision, I couldn’t help laugh at the progressives praising Stevens for opposing big business.

  • Friends interviewing to clerk for judges after law school relayed that Kelo was the safest response to the “What Supreme Court decision do you disagree with the most and why?” question in an interview. Both right-leaning and left-leaning judges can appreciate criticism of Kelo, it seems.

  • The ending of Justice Thomas’ brilliant dissent in Kelo:

    “The consequences of today’s decision are not difficult to predict, and promise to be harmful. So-called “urban renewal” programs provide some compensation for the properties they take, but no compensation is possible for the subjective value of these lands to the individuals displaced and the indignity inflicted by uprooting them from their homes. Allowing the government to take property solely for public purposes is bad enough, but extending the concept of public purpose to encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities. Those communities are not only systematically less likely to put their lands to the highest and best social use, but are also the least politically powerful. If ever there were justification for intrusive judicial review of constitutional provisions that protect “discrete and insular minorities,” United States v. Carolene Products Co., 304 U. S. 144, 152, n. 4 (1938), surely that principle would apply with great force to the powerless groups and individuals the Public Use Clause protects. The deferential standard this Court has adopted for the Public Use Clause is therefore deeply perverse. It encourages “those citizens with dis-
    proportionate influence and power in the political pro-
    cess, including large corporations and development
    firms” to victimize the weak. Ante, at 11 (O’Connor, J., dissenting).

    Those incentives have made the legacy of this Court’s “public purpose” test an unhappy one. In the 1950’s, no doubt emboldened in part by the expansive understanding of “public use” this Court adopted in Berman, cities “rushed to draw plans” for downtown development. B. Frieden & L. Sagalayn, Downtown, Inc. How America Rebuilds Cities 17 (1989). “Of all the families displaced by urban renewal from 1949 through 1963, 63 percent of those whose race was known were nonwhite, and of these families, 56 percent of nonwhites and 38 percent of whites had incomes low enough to qualify for public housing, which, however, was seldom available to them.” Id., at 28. Public works projects in the 1950’s and 1960’s destroyed predominantly minority communities in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Baltimore, Maryland. Id., at 28-29. In 1981, urban planners in Detroit, Michigan, uprooted the largely “lower-income and elderly” Poletown neighborhood for the benefit of the General Motors Corporation. J. Wylie, Poletown: Community Betrayed 58 (1989). Urban renewal projects have long been associated with the displacement of blacks; “[i]n cities across the country, urban renewal came to be known as ‘Negro removal.’ ” Pritchett, The “Public Menace” of Blight: Urban Renewal and the Private Uses of Eminent Domain, 21 Yale L. & Pol’y Rev. 1, 47 (2003). Over 97 percent of the individuals forcibly removed from their homes by the “slum-clearance” project upheld by this Court in Berman were black. 348 U. S., at 30. Regrettably, the predictable consequence of the Court’s decision will be to exacerbate these effects.”

  • Here’s the Catholic News Service headline on Justice Stevens’ retirement:

    “Stevens’ retirement leaves court without strongest death penalty critic”

    http://www.catholicnews.com/data/briefs/cns/20100413.htm

    But the ensuing news item devotes only one sentence to Stevens record on capital punishment (the lede), and includes one sentence about Stevens’ pro-abortion jurisprudence (tucked away at the very end of the piece). Interesting to note which one CNS decided to highlight in the headline and the opening sentence.

Using Religion To Defend Slavery

Friday, April 16, AD 2010

My second post using clips from the Birth of Freedom video produced by the Acton Institute.  As historian Susan Wise Bauer, justly popular in home schooling circles for her superb The History of the Ancient World  and The History of the Medieval World, indicates in the video above, defenses of slavery based upon the Bible often confused descriptive passages of the Bible, written in ages where slavery was as common as complex machines are in ours, with prescriptive commands that slavery was right and just.   Additionally, defenders of slavery using the Bible did not work out fully the logical implications of their position.  For example, if Saint Paul’s comments regarding slavery meant that slavery was just, would absolute monarchies also be just based upon Paul’s statements to obey the authority of the Roman Empire?   If slavery was good based upon Saint Paul’s statements, did that mean that enslavement of whites was good since the vast majority of slaves Saint Paul would have had contact with would have been white?  Using the Bible to defend slavery leads to endless questions of this type as the abolitionists at the time pointed out.

Perhaps one of the more elaborate defenses of slavery using religion was that of Richard Furman in a letter to the Governor of South Carolina, John Lyde Wilson, in 1822.  A Baptist pastor, Furman was born in Esopus, New York in 1755.  A preacher of unusual power, he was appointed as the Baptist pastor of the High Hills of Santee Baptist Church in South Carolina at the age of 19.  An ardent patriot during the Revolution, he became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Charleston in 1787.

A strong believer in education, he founded literary societies, academies, literacy campaigns and local Bible and tract societies.  With his leadership, Baptists in South Carolina founded Columbian College in 1821, now known as George Washington University.

Furman began his career viewing slavery as an undoubted evil.  By the end of his career he owned slaves and had enlisted the Bible in defense of the “peculiar institution”. 

It would be easy to simply view Furman as a hypocrite and a monster.  However, such is not the case.  He was a highly educated man and a convinced Christian, and his life contained many charitable works, some of which were for blacks, slave and free alike.  The truly depressing fact while reading the very well written defense of slavery below, is the recognition that Furman in many ways was a very good man working very hard to defend the indefensible.  The attempted slave insurrection of Denmark Versey prompted Furman to write the letter.  Furman’s letter to the Governor of South Carolina: 

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17 Responses to Using Religion To Defend Slavery

  • Obviously I missed the recent headline describing any living person who can spell both words “moral” and “compass,” let alone put them together, actually defending slavery.

    Perhaps you intend to dissect the reverend’s presumably learned discourse? I’ll need the cliffnotes, or some other reason to waste my time on the concept of slavery as a moral undertaking. Does this apply to moral instruction needed by anyone?

  • Catholicism’s place in slavery was not the one of Catholic quick internet written versions and not the list (which they are based on) of anti slavery bulls that Pope Leo XIII and another Pope gave in the 19th century… with simply Catholic laity disobeying and Popes objecting.
    John T. Noonan dispels that myth in “A Church That Can and Cannot Change”/ Nortre Dame/ 2005. What Pope Leo XIII left out of his list of anti slavery bulls was the late 15th century Popes who gave perpetual slavery as a right to Spain and Portugal when new natives resisted them in the new world. One can clearly see the beginning of this turbo charge of imperialism online in “Romanus Pontifex” 1453 by Pope Nicholas V (a follow up to his “Dum Diversas” which it is referring to) in the middle of the 4th large paragraph…see words in caps for essence:

    “We [therefore] weighing all and singular the premises with due meditation, and noting that since we had formerly by other letters of ours granted among other things free and ample faculty to the aforesaid King Alfonso — to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to REDUCE THEIR PERSONS TO PERPETUAL SLAVERY, and to apply and appropriate to himself and his successors the kingdoms, dukedoms, counties, principalities, dominions, possessions, and goods, and to convert them to his and their use and profit…(then at the end of the bull a fateful voiding of future bulls for the Portuguese crown)…And if anyone, by whatever authority, shall, wittingly or unwittingly, attempt anything inconsistent with these orders we decree that his act shall be null and void…Therefore let no one infringe or with rash boldness contravene this our declaration, constitution, gift, grant, appropriation, decree, supplication, exhortation, injunction, inhibition, mandate, and will. But if anyone should presume to do so, be it known to him that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul.”

    Noonan points out that three subsequent Popes in the latter part of the 15th century confirmed the above for Portugal after Pope Nicholas V passed on and Pope Alexander VI in 1593 repeated the same rights for Spain as that bull divided the world between Spain and Portugal. You will remember that Alexander VI was in some ways the worst Pope we ever had in terms of scandal.
    In the Catholic Universities, theologians had a number of just causes for slavery and unforetunately one was already in the decretals (born to a slave mother) and was mentioned by Aquinas in the Supplement to the ST on Marriage (of a slave):

    “children follow the mother in freedom and bondage; whereas in matters pertaining to dignity as proceeding from a thing’s form, they follow the father, for instance in honors, franchise, inheritance and so forth. The canons are in agreement with this (cap. Liberi, 32, qu. iv, in gloss.: cap. Inducens, De natis ex libero ventre) as also the law of Moses (Exodus 21).”
    Supplement to the Summa Theologica
    Question 52 article 4 (“I answer that” section).

    Religious orders had slaves as England was in the process of stopping slavery.

    Noonan: “In 1792, six French Sulpicians arrived in Maryland, and one of them,
    Ambrose Marechal, leased a former Jesuit parish in Bohemia, where among other business in 1793 he sold ?Philis and her infant 3 weeks old for 35 pounds, and a month later sold Clara, Philis other child, 4 years old for five pounds. Marechal thought the proceeds belonged to the Sulpicians as profits of the estate, like the crops, the increase of stock, and firewood not fit for building. The Jesuits (organized as regular clergy since their suppression by the Pope in 1773) objected: like timber the Negroes belonged to the landlord. No objection was registered as to the sales, not even that separating Philis and Clara.” …A Church That Can and Cannot Change?/ pages 91-92/ John T. Noonan Jr.

    Noonan goes on to note that Marechal later became archbishop of Baltimore and argued with the Jesuits over property and Marechal reported to the Vatican pertaining to the dispute that concerning the wealth of the Jesuits: “They have about 500 African men bound in slavery to them, of whom the mean price is about 200 scudi.” And he goes on to note in the next sentence the large number of animals they also own. He is saying all this to get Rome to side with his contention that the Jesuits have property that rightly belongs to the Diocese since the Jesuits at that time were not an order (suspended) but were in the interim regular clergy.

  • I’ll grant you, this day after Tax Day, that Obama is doing his best to make slaves of us all. Other than than, I fail to comprehend the value in the discussion.
    And given the decidedly autocratic, politically tone-deaf bent to our national legislature of late, I am not sure I want anyone reminded that at one time reasonable men could reach different conclusions about the matter of chattel slavery and still be considered reasonable!

  • Cardinal Dulles had a review of Noonan’s book in 2005 in First Things. Here is the portion of the review which dealt with slavery:

    “More than half of the book deals with slavery, a subject that Noonan has researched in considerable detail. Slavery was practiced by almost every known society until modern times. Throughout the biblical era, Noonan shows, slavery was taken as a given, although the Israelites practiced rather mild forms of slavery and did not permanently enslave their compatriots. Jesus, though he repeatedly denounced sin as a kind of moral slavery, said not a word against slavery as a social institution. Nor did the writers of the New Testament. Peter and Paul exhort slaves to be obedient to their masters. Paul urges Philemon to treat his converted slave Onesimus as a brother in Christ. While discreetly suggesting that he manumit Onesimus, he does not say that Philemon is morally obliged to free Onesimus and any other slaves he may have had.

    For many centuries the Church was part of a slave-holding society. The popes themselves held slaves, including at times hundreds of Muslim captives to man their galleys. Throughout Christian antiquity and the Middle Ages, theologians generally followed St. Augustine in holding that although slavery was not written into the natural moral law it was not absolutely forbidden by that law. St. Thomas Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin were all Augustinian on this point. Although the subjection of one person to another (servitus) was not part of the primary intention of the natural law, St. Thomas taught, it was appropriate and socially useful in a world impaired by original sin.

    The leaven of the gospel gradually alleviated the evils of slavery, at least in medieval Europe. Serfdom did not involve the humiliation and brutality people today ordinarily associate with slavery. Moral theologians recognized that slaves, unlike mere chattels, had certain rights even against their masters, who no longer had over them the power of life and death, as had been the case in pagan antiquity.

    For St. Thomas, slaves (servi) had the right to food, sleep, marriage, and the rearing of their children. Provision had also to be made for them to fulfill their religious duties, and they were to be treated with benevolence. With the conquest of the New World and the enslavement of whole populations of Indians and Africans, theologians such as Bartolomé de Las Casas and Cajetan began to object to the injustices of subjecting conquered peoples and of engaging in the lucrative slave trade. Some prominent Catholics of the early nineteenth century, including J.M. Sailer, Daniel O’Connell, and the Comte de Montalembert, together with many Protestants, pressed for the total abolition of slavery.

    Throughout this period the popes were far from silent. As soon as the enslavement of native populations by European colonists started, they began to protest, although Noonan gives only a few isolated examples. Eugene IV in 1435 condemned the enslavement of the peoples of the newly colonized Canary Islands and, under pain of excommunication, ordered all such slaves to be immediately set free. Pius II and Sixtus IV emphatically repeated these prohibitions. In a bull addressed to all the faithful of the Christian world Paul III in 1537 condemned the enslavement of Indians in North and South America. Gregory XIV in 1591 ordered the freeing of all the Filipino slaves held by Spaniards. Urban VIII in 1639 issued a bull applying the principles of Paul III to Portuguese colonies in South America and requiring the liberation of all Indian slaves.

    In 1781 Benedict XIV renewed the call of previous popes to free the Indian slaves of South America. Thus it was no break with previous teaching when Gregory XVI in 1839 issued a general condemnation of the enslavement of Indians and Blacks. In particular, he condemned the importation of Negro slaves from Africa. Leo XIII followed along the path set by Gregory XVI.

    Although the popes condemned the enslavement of innocent populations and the iniquitous slave trade, they did not teach that all slaves everywhere should immediately be emancipated. At the time of the Civil War, very few Catholics in the United States felt that papal teaching required them to become abolitionists.

    Bishop John England stood with the tradition in holding that there could be just titles to slavery. Bishop Francis P. Kenrick held that slavery did not necessarily violate the natural law. Archbishop John Hughes contended that slavery was an evil but not an absolute evil. Orestes Brownson, while denying that slavery was malum in se, came around to favor emancipation as a matter of policy.

    In 1863 John Henry Newman penned some fascinating reflections on slavery. A fellow Catholic, William T. Allies, asked him to comment on a lecture he was planning to give, asserting that slavery was intrinsically evil. Newman replied that, although he would like to see slavery eliminated, he could not go so far as to condemn it as intrinsically evil. For if it were, St. Paul would have had to order Philemon, “liberate all your slaves at once.” Newman, as I see it, stood with the whole Catholic tradition. In 1866 the Holy Office, in response to an inquiry from Africa, ruled that although slavery (servitus) was undesirable, it was not per se opposed to natural or divine law. This ruling pertained to the kind of servitude that was customary in certain parts of Africa at the time.

    No Father or Doctor of the Church, so far as I can judge, was an unqualified abolitionist. No pope or council ever made a sweeping condemnation of slavery as such. But they constantly sought to alleviate the evils of slavery and repeatedly denounced the mass enslavement of conquered populations and the infamous slave trade, thereby undermining slavery at its sources.”

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/01/development-or-reversal-37

  • Donald
    Dulles does a neat trick which is to again leave out the late 15th century Popes and secondly Dulles studiously does not notice if the anti slavery Popes followed up with interdict when Catholic countries ignored them.
    I read that Dulles piece long ago in First Things and it is not good reviewing when you seem not to have read what Noonan wrote. Dulles simply copied from Leo XIII or a drivative thereof which was the problem all along. It is as though Dulles skimmed the Noonan book…missed the central point of the late 15th century and thus skipped from Aquinas to Las Casas who was early 16th century… and then went to Leo’s encyclical and took on the reviewing assignment thinking no one would really read the Noonan book with close attention.

    Dulles fails to mention and Noonan does mention that the Canary Island case was a Pope objecting to slavery on Canary islands because the people in question were baptized. You can see that from the document itself online. That same Pope,EugeneIV,later gave Portugal the right to conquer those Canary islands which were infidel in 1436 in a separate “Romanus Pontifex” from Nicholas’ fateful one of 1453.

    Dulles goes on to tell of Pope Paul III issuing a bull against slaving in 1537 in the new world but he fails to mention why it was necessary (the late 15th century Popes had given carte blanche to enslave if the gospel was resisted) and further Dulles misses (which Noonan had documented) that ten years later, that same Paul III praised domestic slavery within Italy.

    Read the Noonan book and you will have done more than Dulles did. You can see from my piece above that Noonan documented the sale of a woman away from her child by the Sulpicians with the Jesuits taking that conduct for granted while Dulles goes on in cover up style about how the gospel alleviated the details of slavery. Please read Noonan, a Federal judge…one used to evidence and not used to making things look better than they were. What we did on sexual abuse was not new. We have done it with history on topics like slavery.

  • Bill, in the ongoing struggle against Islam it was commonplace for both sides to enslave captives taken in war until they were redeemed through the payment of a ransom. I think that is different from perpetual chattel slavery based upon race. One feature of the enslavement of muslim captives is that they normally had to be freed if they converted to Christianity. Romanus Pontifex was part of Nicholas V’s attempts to launch a crusade as the Ottoman Turks were finishing off Constantinople.

    There are many passages in Romanus Pontifex that indicate that the war against the Saracens, muslims, was the prime concern of the Pope:

    “Moreover, since, some time ago, it had come to the knowledge of the said infante that never, or at least not within the memory of men, had it been customary to sail on this ocean sea toward the southern and eastern shores, and that it was so unknown to us westerners that we had no certain knowledge of the peoples of those parts, believing that he would best perform his duty to God in this matter, if by his effort and industry that sea might become navigable as far as to the Indians who are said to worship the name of Christ, and that thus he might be able to enter into relation with them, and to incite them to aid the Christians against the Saracens and other such enemies of the faith, and might also be able forthwith to subdue certain gentile or pagan peoples, living between, who are entirely free from infection by the sect of the most impious Mahomet, and to preach and cause to be preached to them the unknown but most sacred name of Christ, strengthened, however, always by the royal authority, he has not ceased for twenty-five years past to send almost yearly an army of the peoples of the said kingdoms with the greatest labor, danger, and expense, in very swift ships called caravels, to explore the sea and coast lands toward the south and the Antarctic pole.”

    http://www.kwabs.com/romanus_pontifex_bull.html

    Removing the bull from its historical context distorts what the Pope was trying to accomplish: destroy Islamic power in Africa and Asia and convert the populations to Christianity.

  • Donald,
    You paint a prettier picture but you didn’t get it from Romanus Pontifex which is the cat’s meow on what Romnaus Pontifex was about.
    Giving it an exclusive purpose concerning Islam which makes it seem more religious is distortive when the text does not support that is what is happening? Imperialistic converting of all foreign peoples is what is happening by force of arms….something Vatican II now forbids in the strictest terms.

    Pope Nicholas discerned three groups as the document progresses and only one of those groups was the Saracens. He obviously saw slaves in person by that time and discerned that Blacks from lower Africa had zero to do with Saracens.

    The text shows that Pope Nicholas distinquishes between the Saracens and the people of lower Africa and…and… a group living between who also are not Islamists (third paragraph) and all are to be conquered even lower Africa which had no record of attacking Iberia as the Moors did so the self defense thing is not relevant with them.

    You will recurringly see a couplet…”Saracens and other infidels”…”enemies and infidels” and no where does Nicholas restrict slavery to male soldiers…prior to his reign, the decretals…Church law… as I showed above in Aquinas allowed for the slavery of women and their children who would then follow them in slavery.
    Throughout the centuries, this would be the loophole whereby slavery perdured…a canon law that said children followed the mother if she was a slave. The other just titles for slavery were capture in a just war/ selling one’s children to feed one’s other children (Tomas Sanchez)/ self selling of self to pay debt as with endentured servants. The loophole Portugal used was to buy blacks that were captured in a presumably just war in the interior of Africa.
    The sellers said the war was just. Your mutual fund tells you they never trade in and out of Playboy Enterprises; you are allowed to take their word for it.

    Romanus Pontifex first paragraph:

    “not only restrain the savage excesses of the SARACENS AND OF OTHER INFIDELS, enemies of the Christian name, but also for the defense and increase of the faith vanquish them and their kingdoms and habitations, though situated in the remotest parts unknown to us, and subject them to their own temporal dominion..”

    second paragraph:

    “also to bring into the bosom of his faith the perfidious enemies of him and of the life-giving Cross by which we have been redeemed, namely the SARACENS AND ALL OTHER INFIDELS WHATSOEVER, [and how] after the city of Ceuta, situated in Africa, had been subdued by the said King John to his dominion, and after many wars had been waged, sometimes in person, by the said infante, although in the name of the said King John, against the enemies and infidels aforesaid

    Thrid paragraph which now talks of conquering three distinct groups which will be repeated near the ending:

    “to aid the Christians against the Saracens and other such enemies of the faith, and might also be able forthwith to subdue certain gentile or pagan peoples, living between, who are entirely free from infection by the sect of the most impious Mahomet…he has not ceased for twenty-five years past to send almost yearly an army of the peoples of the said kingdoms with the greatest labor, danger, and expense, in very swift ships called caravels, to explore the sea and coast lands toward the south and the Antarctic pole”

    paragraph 4…future undiscovered lands perhaps motivated by the very remoteness of Antartica mentioned above..no mention of Saracens…just infidels and pagans:

    “all those provinces, islands, harbors, and seas whatsoever, which hereafter, in the name of the said King Alfonso and of his successors and of the infante, in those parts and the adjoining, and in the more distant and remote parts, can be acquired from the hands of INFIDELS OR PAGANS, and that they are comprehended under the said letters of faculty.”

    Next to the last paragraph then mentions the three groups while forbidding non Portuguese to bring things to those three groups:

    “that they do not by any means presume to carry arms, iron, wood for construction, and other things prohibited by law from being in any way carried to the Saracens, to any of the provinces, islands, harbors, seas, and places whatsoever, acquired or possessed in the name of King Alfonso, or situated in this conquest or elsewhere, to the SARACENS, INFIDELS, OR PAGANS…”

  • Bill, I think the document is clear that crusade is what the Pope had in mind. Of course it also helps to have some knowledge of the period and of the pontificate of Nicholas V. The encroaching threat of Islam consumed the pontificate of Nicholas V as it did the pontificates of most of the Popes of this time. Nicholas V viewed the explorations being undertaken by the Portugese as a prime opportunity to spread Christianity and make an end run around Islam. To attempt to read this bull as the Pope giving permission to found a slave trade or a slave empire is ahistoric. The Pope was attempting to encourage the Portugese in their endeavors, and hence that is why he granted them a monopoly in these territories.

    How Nicholas V would have dealt with long term slavery based on race is suggested by his bull in 1449 overturning statutes of the city of Toledo discriminating against Conversos, Catholics of Jewish Ancestry, on the grounds that “all Catholics are one in body according to the teaching of our faith.”

  • Donald,
    I’ll end briefly too. Were Pope Nicholas only about crusade, he would not have promised all the lands and assets of conquered countries to the Portuguese with the conquered people being perpetual slaves…unless there is a new definition of crusade that I never saw. And you then in your paradigm have the conquered males being slaves and the women and chidren as free as you and me. That is an odd picture of a conquered country with two classes of people…free women and enslave males. Sounds like the beginning of women’s lib. Romanus Pontifex said “perpetual slavery” not slavery til ransom as you said way above as you tried to subsume it under war practices.
    Pope Nicholas did not envision what the slave trade would become just as Henry Ford did not picture the New Jersey Turnpike and people being maimed in accidents… but he was responsible in great measure for giving slavery it’s license from Heaven prior to Protestantism and its justifications of slavery. And you are ignoring the text of Romanus Pontifex and its listing of two groups at first and its eventual listing of three groups of which Islamists were only one.

    A previous bull of “Unam Sanctam” mistook the two swords the disciples told Christ they had in the gospel… as saying that the Pope had both a secular sword and a relgious sword….power over the Church and power over the world. In the actual text of the gospel, scholars now feel Christ was exasperated with the two disciples taking His reference to swords as literal and so Christ says “Enough”. “Unam Sanctam” said Christ was saying that the “enough” meant that the two swords for the Pope are sufficient in the sense of complete..one over the Church and one over the world…the most dire misinterpretation of Christ that perhaps ever occurred.

    Pope Nicholas was the next step for the two swords; he actually carried that two fold purpose out with a nation. He saw himself capable of giving the world to Portugal due to his dominion over the secular sword and that they must convert others during that conquest as an integral part of conquest. Soon after Nicholas, in 1493, a Spanish Pope who had more children as Cardinal than the average NFP person today…Alexander VI… divided that entire world between Spain and Portugal each getting half of the world and that Pope gave the longitude they were to go by which oddly resulted in Brazil being Portuguese and the rest of South America being Spanish. It had nothing to do with Islam whatsoever. He was Spanish himself and was making sure the Portuguese did not get the whole world thanks to Nicholas. And the same rights of invasion and dominance and perpetual slavery were given Spain as were in Romanus Pontifex for the Portuguese (Noonan)…including the right of taking assets of those who resisted the gospel which Niall Ferguson of Harvard and Oxford in his recent best seller, “The Ascent of Money”, notes allowed a priest accompanying the conquistadors to hand a Bible to the leader of those natives in Peru as constituting preaching the gospel and see if he resisted the gospel; the leader did not open the bible…perhaps he could not read Latin and it was very lengthy. Anecdotes say that he threw it on the ground and that constituted resisting the gospel. Spain was subsequently to take that kingdom and all their silver for over 200 years from that area…at first with paid labor and later with local slaves and then after that black slaves….all of whom were easily maimed from falling stones in that type of mining and that silver and Mexico’s were 44 percent of Spain’s budget by the end of the 16th century and thus of the Inquisition’s budget…and Spain still waned before Britain due to her European wars. Ferguson quotes an Augustinian monk, Fray Antonio de la Calancha writing in 1638 AD: ” Every peso coin minted in Potosi(Peru)has cost the life of ten Indians who have died in the depths of the mines.”

    Historical context? Romanus Pontifex must be seen as the logical outgrowth of the mistake within Unam Sanctam…that the Pope literally owns the world in the name of Christ and so can give it to a nation that will conquer and convert under the threat of arms. That is how Filipinos and their country came to be named not after one of their heroes… but in honor of Phillip II of Spain who conquered them… much as Islam still threatens to conquer for God. God’s Providence removed throughout history land from the papacy… perhaps precisely in order to correct those several bulls.

  • Presuming to know God’s providence is a tricky business Bill. But for the actions of the Popes in sponsoring crusades across the centuries I have little doubt but that Islam would have conquered Europe. Perhaps God had the Popes assume secular authority during those centuries in order to prevent this. The answer to these type of questions will be in the next world.

    In regard to my point about Nicholas V and his overturning of the decrees against Conversos, I would note that in 1462 Pius II condemned the enslavement of baptized natives in the Canary Islands, calling slavery itself a great crime. Sublimus Dei of 1537 can thus be considered an application of the teaching regarding baptized natives and applying it to the non-baptized. Since readers of this thread might be unfamiliar with the text of Sublimus Dei I quote it in full:

    “To all faithful Christians to whom this writing may come, health in Christ our Lord and the apostolic benediction.

    The sublime God so loved the human race that He created man in such wise that he might participate, not only in the good that other creatures enjoy, but endowed him with capacity to attain to the inaccessible and invisible Supreme Good and behold it face to face; and since man, according to the testimony of the sacred scriptures, has been created to enjoy eternal life and happiness, which none may obtain save through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, it is necessary that he should possess the nature and faculties enabling him to receive that faith; and that whoever is thus endowed should be capable of receiving that same faith. Nor is it credible that any one should possess so little understanding as to desire the faith and yet be destitute of the most necessary faculty to enable him to receive it. Hence Christ, who is the Truth itself, that has never failed and can never fail, said to the preachers of the faith whom He chose for that office ‘Go ye and teach all nations.’ He said all, without exception, for all are capable of receiving the doctrines of the faith.

    The enemy of the human race, who opposes all good deeds in order to bring men to destruction, beholding and envying this, invented a means never before heard of, by which he might hinder the preaching of God’s word of Salvation to the people: he inspired his satellites who, to please him, have not hesitated to publish abroad that the Indians of the West and the South, and other people of whom We have recent knowledge should be treated as dumb brutes created for our service, pretending that they are incapable of receiving the Catholic Faith.

    We, who, though unworthy, exercise on earth the power of our Lord and seek with all our might to bring those sheep of His flock who are outside into the fold committed to our charge, consider, however, that the Indians are truly men and that they are not only capable of understanding the Catholic Faith but, according to our information, they desire exceedingly to receive it. Desiring to provide ample remedy for these evils, We define and declare by these Our letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, to which the same credit shall be given as to the originals, that, notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.

    By virtue of Our apostolic authority We define and declare by these present letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, which shall thus command the same obedience as the originals, that the said Indians and other peoples should be converted to the faith of Jesus Christ by preaching the word of God and by the example of good and holy living.”

  • Donald
    Paul III whom you quoted above was not quite as consistent as you would like. He did not want enslavement based on conquering as the previous Popes did (see below). Yet Noonan found a later motu proprio of the same Pope Paul III “Statutorum almae urbis Romae libri quinque (Liber bullarum 19 v.)1548…11 years later than 1537 which stated: “from a multitude of slaves,inheritances are augmented.” Remember that Catholic moral theology until 1960 (Tommaso Iorio,S.J….Theologia Moralis…5th printing 1960)still contained several just titles for slavery in general and I actually regret that but accept it and that Leviticus 25 does mean at minimum that in some eras of debilitated economy and political structure, it can be existent morally and that John Paul II erred in calling it “intrinsic evil” in section 80 of “Splendor of the Truth” (the ordinary magisterium can err in morals…see Ludwig Ott/ end paragraph of section 8 of the intro to Fundamentals of the Catholic Faith) (see section 40 of Evangelium Vitae for John Paul’s rather unconventional estimation of the severe within the OT as not coming from God).
    The Jesuit Salvatore Brandi centuries later in 1903 said that Paul III in the above motu proprio praising slavery was referring to mild slavery but as Noonan noted…he offered no proof.

    And I would urge intelligent readers to look at that one sentence within the piece that Donald presented just above:

    “notwithstanding [[whatever may have been]] or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty”.

    Pope Paul III is referring in the double bracketed words above to a series of 5 Popes minimum at the end of the 15th century whom Leo XIII left out of his encyclicals on the papal history with slavery and which Dulles left out of his First Things piece.

    And it was not just Pope Nicholas V and Alexander VI but included Pope Calixtus III who incorporated Romanus Pnotifex and its “perpetual slavery” (not temporary) into his own Inter Caetera 1456 as did Sixtus IV 1481 and then Pope Leo X confirmed Romanus Pontifex in writing for the Portuguese in 1514.

    We…Leo XIII and Cardinal Dulles… leave that out much as we tried leaving out many things in modern times related to the present revived scandal in the media. Opacity is over for us and for Goldman Sachs and Toyota and for everyone. But it works as long as people do not read micro history.
    But that is what the media specializes in making people read.

    Gone for real. Slavery topics kill weekends.

  • Paul III in 1545 abrograted the ancient privilege of slaves claiming freedom under a certain statue in Rome. From what I can glean online this abrogation had much to do with his desire to reduce the number of vagrants and homeless who had flocked to Rome. In 1548 he allowed the use of Muslim slaves, recall the whole crusade idea, in the Papal states.

  • “in the ongoing struggle against Islam it was commonplace for both sides to enslave captives taken in war until they were redeemed through the payment of a ransom. I think that is different from perpetual chattel slavery based upon race.”

    Bingo! Are we really supposed to be all torn up about this?

    It’s a commonplace that classical and chattel slavery were two different institutions, and that the sort of slavery resulting from war between Christendom and Islam was far more representative of the former than the latter.

    This obsession, moreover, with “INFIDELS AND PAGANS” has nothing to do with black slavery. Infidels meant Muslims. Pagans could have meant any number of non-Muslim ENEMIES of the Church.

    None of the people of Africa or the Americas were thought of in such a way, as is made obvious by the long series of Papal bulls that were for some reason summarily dismissed at the beginning of this discussion.

    The Church wouldn’t have condemned chattel slavery in the New World over and over again if she didn’t see a difference. There’s no “contradiction” and there’s no “mistake.” The mistake is on the part of those who fail to understand the difference between what an “enemy of the Church” is, and what they aren’t.

    The “mistake” is on the part of liberals and others with a political agenda attempting to re-open old wounds by judging the past by modern standards – modern standards which are hardly any better, given the 40 million plus innocent children this country has seen legally murdered since 1973.

  • Joe
    Read detail before you post on detail. Saracens, infidels, and pagans are separated by commas in e.g. the last paragraph of Romanus Pontifex and could not therefore be identical and below Pope Paul III will name them (“Indians of the West and the South”) within that generation as he corrects the earlier bulls.

    Secondly it is the Pope, Paul III, who contradicted the five above mentioned Popes during the same time in history (Paul III was the brother of Pope Alexander VI’s mistress, Giulia Farnese)and that presents a difficulty for theories like yours of that time having different standards.
    Paul III had different standards than the Popes who just preceded him immediately which means that at that time, there were two standards as to perpetually enslaving conquered blacks and native Americans if they resisted the gospel.
    So there is not one standard of enslaving in 1536 and prior; that is why Paul III wrote his bull in 1537. There were 265 Popes throughout history and relatively few took a stand against slavery and bulls in some centuries meant little beyond the immediate Pope unless they were backed up with interdict for those countries who ignored them and Paul III even did not interdict Spain or Portugal in their ignoring of him. Popes for centuries needed Kings just to have the papal territories survive and that made political bulls weak. Venice and its Bishops and priests totally ignored a papal interdict during that time of the Renaissance. That is why Pio Nono did not condemn France in the 19th century for the 2nd Opium war in China; he needed her to defend the papal territory which she did but then it was soon lost again anyway and France as papal rep within China in the second opium war both opened China to missionaries at the end of a gun but also forced the British opium trade on China simultaneously. Current Popes speak bravely against wars because current Popes get nothing from modern nations…ancien regime Popes were always dependent on nations and rarely backed up bulls with interdict so that a bull was permanent only if nations gained from what it said as in the case of Portugal and Spain who were not about to listen to an Italian Pope after a Spanish one had given them conquering rights and enslavement rights.

    And it is Paul III who further refutes your no blacks involved theory in Paul III’s own words regarding who the previous Popes gave permission to enslave. Here are the words of Paul III in 1537:

    ” The enemy of the human race, who opposes all good deeds in order to bring men to destruction, beholding and envying this, invented a means never before heard of, by which he might hinder the preaching of God’s word of Salvation to the people: he inspired his satellites who, to please him, have not hesitated to publish abroad that the Indians of the West and the South, and other people of whom We have recent knowledge should be treated as dumb brutes created for our service, pretending that they are incapable of receiving the Catholic Faith.”

  • Pope Nicholas V by the way gave the right to perpetually enslave those who resisted the gospel. He did not say that natives were incapable of receiving the gospel so that Paul is also dealing with a further lower level of evil which had crept in since Nicholas…ie that natives were incapable of receiving the gospel. Apparently Spanish and Portuguese were running into an unforeseen problem:
    if natives accepted the gospel according to Nicholas, they were not to be enslaved and that meant that believers would interfere for example in Iberia taking specific land en masse since there existed believing natives on that land. Apparently the solution was to say that natives were too dumb to believe and thus the conquistadors were actually probably trying to undo even Nicholas V caveat that implied that natives accepting the gospel could not be enslaved or stolen from.
    Paul III did not issue an interdict to back up his words but he did issue a brief, Pastorale Officium, of excommunication mentioning the King of Castile and Aragon ….but Spain protested and so he rescinded it.

  • Bill,

    Ok. I’m going to try and be nice about this, because I admit, I could have some reading comprehension deficiency that isn’t allowing me to see your point.

    I would ask you to follow your own advice, and read the bloody details before you criticize others for not having read them.

    This is what you quote:

    “We, who, though unworthy, exercise on earth the power of our Lord and seek with all our might to bring those sheep of His flock who are outside into the fold committed to our charge, consider, however, that the Indians are truly men and that they are not only capable of understanding the Catholic Faith but, according to our information, they desire exceedingly to receive it.”

    First of all, what is the evil being done here? The evil is that there men – probably the Conquistadors and others, were trying to use the supposed idiocy of the natives to justify their enslavement. The whole purpose of this bull is to REFUTE THAT IDEA. He goes on to say:

    “Desiring to provide ample remedy for these evils, We define and declare by these Our letters… that, notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.”

    Is there something about this that is unclear to you?

    INDIANS AND ALL OTHER PEOPLE.

    EVEN THOUGH THEY MAY BE OUTSIDE THE FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST.

    THAT THEY MAY AND SHOULD FREELY AND LEGITIMATELY ENJOY THEIR LIBERTY AND THE POSSESSION OF THEIR PROPERTY; NOR SHOULD THEY BE IN ANY WAY ENSLAVED.

    Someone here has severe reading comprehension deficiencies. It could be me. But I think it’s you. And I don’t know if you are motivated by anti-Catholic bigotry or you really just don’t understand the plain and simple meaning of words. You work that out for yourself.

  • Joe

    Your first post criticized my reading of words from not Paul III who you cite immediately above but from “Romanus Pontifex” by Pope Nicholas V and the words were: “Saracens, infidels and pagans” which you sought to conflate into “muslims” only. I responded to that.

    Now your above and second post is talking about an entirely different bull by an entirely different Pope as though that is one you were writing about in the first post as to the detail problem that I alleged as to those words and it was not. Your first post was about the words “infidels and pagans” within the 1453 bull not the 1537 bull by another Pope.

    You now are quoting Pope Paul III in 1537 who was opposing two errors..one of the Popes and one of the conquistadors: A. the error of the Popes prior to him who gave the right of perpetual slavery IF..IF…IF… natives resisted the faith….and B. error two (the one you mention) of those (probably conquistadors)who even wanted to go beyond what Pope Nicholas V had given them: which was the right to enslave those who resisted the gospel. They wanted to also enslave simply all natives who seemed to them too dumb to accept the gospel.
    Why did the conquistadors want to go further than enslaving perpetually those who resisted the gospel?? Probably because too many natives with clergy help were not resisting the gospel which meant that according to Pope Nicholas V who gave them the right to enslave those who resisted…it meant that they could not enslave all natives and that would leave them with land distribution problems because historically the conquistadors took vast areas for themselves and their descendants…the best land tracts; and therefore allowing some natives to hold onto their homes because they did not resist the gospel would get in the way of that land system which was later referred to as the “encomienda” system and that system is the reason there is so much poverty in South America today according to some authors like Trevor-Roper I believe it was.

5 Responses to Tea Party Barbie!

  • Hey, I wore an almost identical outfit when I attended a TP last summer, although my black T-shirt sadly lacked the Gadsden flag. However (and it pains me to admit it), the outfit is much cuter on Tea Party Barbie!

  • In the meantime, Obama thinks we should be thanking him. Via Hot Air:

    President Barack Obama said Thursday he’s amused by the anti-tax tea party protests that have been taking place around Tax Day.

    Obama told a fundraiser in Miami that he’s cut taxes, contrary to the claims of protesters.

    “You would think they’d be saying thank you,” he said.

    At that, many in the crowd at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts stood and yelled, “Thank you!”

    It’s nice to know the President of the United States is “amused” by the genuine concerns of many Americans and their desire for fiscally responsible government. I think he will find us proles considerably less amusing come November.

  • Darken the hair up a bit and she is a Sarah Palin doll…

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy:) If anyone were actually making Tea Party Barbies, I’d buy one, and probably extras as gifts for female friends & relatives (even though my daughter’s “too old” for Barbies now). It wouldn’t even have to be Mattel itself doing it — I’ve seen plenty of eBay auctions from sellers who design & hand-craft Barbie outfits, either sold by themselves or on a OOAK (“one-of-a-kind” in eBay-speak) retooled Barbie doll.

  • In response to Donna’s comment regarding obama’s claim of cutting taxes…this video from AFP:

The Tea Party and Social Conservatives

Thursday, April 15, AD 2010

Hattip to my friend Paul Zummo, the Cranky Conservative.  When asked what type of conservative I am, I have usually responded “just conservative”.  Like most conservatives I know, I am conservative on social issues, fiscal policies and foreign policy.  When one part of conservatism is ignored in a political race, electoral disaster often looms.  That is why I embrace completely what my fellow Illinoisan, Paul Mitchell said in a recent speech:

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40 Responses to The Tea Party and Social Conservatives

  • It is interesting to me that the passage above assumes the desirability of foreign policy hawkishness and low taxes; what it is justifying is the value of the family and faith. I tend to approach the question the other way around, accepting the value of family and faith and progressing outwards from there to evaluate the desirability of hawkishness and low taxes.

  • That is because you are a natural Democrat John Henry! 🙂

  • More seriously, I believe Paul was responding to attempts from some quarters to define the Tea Party as only a fiscally conservative movement. That is simply not the makeup of the Tea Party movement, as attendance at a big Tea Party rally would indicate.

  • That is because you are a natural Democrat John Henry!

    Heh. It’s worth recalling that the overwhelming majority of Catholics were Democrats prior to the hardening of their support for abortion rights in the 1980’s.

  • I believe Paul was responding to attempts from some quarters to define the Tea Party as only a fiscally conservative movement

    Yes, the pro-lifers need to fight to retain their position in the conservative coalition. About 2/3 of Republicans are pro-life, but that other 1/3 is noisy and tends to include many of the party elites. I understand the dynamics there, I was just struck by the difference between the structure of the argument in the passage and how I think the argument should be more properly ordered.

  • “Heh. It’s worth recalling that the overwhelming majority of Catholics were Democrats prior to the hardening of their support for abortion rights in the 1980’s.”

    Quite right John Henry. I am not a typical Catholic in that regard. On my father’s side, the Protestant part of my family, they have been Republicans since there was a Republican party to belong to. My Catholic mother was a Newfoundlander and therefore had no ancestral affiliation with either party, although she was proud when JFK was President, long before the colorful revelations came out about him.

  • re: defining the movement

    Local bloggers claiming to speak for the TPM recently posted a “guidelines” written up by a D.C. mid-level conservative activist named Eileen Mahony:

    “Leave the conspiracy theories at home. The Tea Parties are about small government, fiscal responsibility, and liberty — not birth certificates or black helicopters. Likewise for social issues.”

    Nice to see social issues grouped in with conspiracy theories.

    Some political leaders are getting too dumb or too personally licentious to know how to exploit social conservatives.

  • I am socially and fiscally conservative which is why I, like the Holy Father and JP2 before him, abhor an aggressive foreign policy. Being pro-life means promoting the lives of Iraqis and Afghans too. Being in favor of small government means a smaller role for the military too.

    The Tea Party needs social conservatives. It doesn’t need neo-cons.

  • Neocon restrainedradical? I was a conservative probably long before you were living on this globe. The idea that standing up to those who mean us harm abroad is an aggressive foreign policy I deny. Respecting the lives of Iraqis is ill-served by leaving them to the tender mercies of insurgents who would slaughter them, and respecting the lives of Afghanis is ill-served by leaving them to the tender mercies of the Taliban who give blood-thirsty despots a bad name.

  • The “neo-con” label is thrown about (usually as an insult) by people who have little knowledge or interest in the history of the term. It once had a very specific meaning. It was originally used to describe former leftists who were “mugged by reality” in the 1960’s and became increasingly conservative during what Paul Johnson termed “the collectivist ’70’s,” a time when democracy seemed in retreat around much of the globe. Some (but not all) of those former leftists were Jewish. All of them were strongly pro-Israel and very anti-Communist.

    Nowadays, the term seems to be used as a term of abuse to describe anyone leftists (and paleo-cons, who often sing off the same sheet of music as the lefties when it comes to defense) dislike.

    By leftist standards, Reagan would be considered a “neo-con” today, and yet nobody ever described him as one back in the 1980’s.

    Respecting the lives of Iraqis is ill-served by leaving them to the tender mercies of insurgents who would slaughter them, and respecting the lives of Afghanis is ill-served by leaving them to the tender mercies of the Taliban who give blood-thirsty despots a bad name.

    Exactly so. I wonder at those who indulge themselves in the wishful thought that if we withdraw from the world the world will leave us alone. We tried that in the ’90’s. Didn’t work out so well for us, did it?

  • Well said Donna!

  • It was intended neither as an insult nor as a catch-all for anyone I disagree with. I don’t think any of us here need a lesson in the origins of the term. I meant it in the modern sense to refer to those who share the worldview (defined primarily by foreign policy) of Irving Kristol’s ideological heirs, Bill Kristol and Co.

  • As for the matter of whether the Tea Party movement is socially conservative: I recall anti-war protests in my liberal urban neighborhood just a few short years ago (amazing how those protests vanished after November 2008, although we still have troops in Iraq and Afghanistan). Plenty of signs depicting Bush as a Nazi, etc, but also plenty of signs which had nothing at all to do with the matter at hand – everything from animal rights to “Free Mumia” to abortion “rights.” Every pet cause of the left was represented.

    Personally, I’d prefer to see the TP stay focused on economics and taxes. I would expect that if you polled a bunch of TP people, the majority of them would be more conservative socially than the population as a whole. But I don’t expect to see pro-life signs at a TP because, however dear to our hearts that cause is, it has no more to do with the TP than pro-abort signs had to do with the anti-war cause. After all, the movement arose as a response to the stimulus package. Americans may disagree on social issues but there seems to be a majority consensus that A. we are overtaxed, B. government spending is outrageous and will be a great burden on future generations and C. the political and media elites in this country have grown increasingly arrogant and out of touch with the ordinary folks who pay the bills. The TP needs to build on that consensus if it is going to be something more than people letting off steam.

    The liberals would like nothing better than to see the movement splinter as social cons and libertarians and neo-cons and paleo-cons battle each other hammer and tongs. In the meantime, the Dems continue to spend like drunken sailors and devise new ways to squeeze money out of the populace.

    It is true that a fiscal conservative is not necessarily a social conservative. But what is even truer is that a liberal Democrat NEVER is, and we found out just a few weeks ago that when push comes to shove, a Blue Dog “conservative” Dem knows who’s buttering his bread.

  • I meant it in the modern sense to refer to those who share the worldview (defined primarily by foreign policy) of Irving Kristol’s ideological heirs, Bill Kristol and Co.

    But, again, that common usage is sloppy. “Neo” means “New.” It made perfect sense to describe Irving Kristol and his wife, Gertrude Himmelfarb, as neo-cons because they were once liberals (heck, I think Irving was a one-time card-carrying Commie)who turned conservative. But their son, William, has never been on the left. There’s nothing “neo” about his conservatism. (And he is certainly a social con – I recall him and Juan Williams, both normally mild-mannered, polite types shouting at each other about Terri Schiavo. Kristol was angrier and more passionate than I’ve ever seen him.)

    Yes, he believes in a foreign policy of strong defense and interventionism when necessary – traditional cornerstones of GOP policy. I guess what baffles me is when people (not necessarily you personally, RR) talk as if “neo-conservativism” is some strange mutant strain of conservatism that sprang up like the ebola virus in the post-9/11 Bush administration.

  • Donna V. writes:

    “The liberals would like nothing better than to see the movement splinter as social cons and libertarians and neo-cons and paleo-cons battle each other hammer and tongs.”

    I suspect they would love more to see social conservatives shut up as they are further and further driven out of politics. Fiscal conservatives are incapable of challenging liberals (and improvident citizens) on a cultural level, which is why a fiscally-focused movement will not succeed in its long-term goals. Our broken culture spawned the broken economy. Focusing on economics misses the foundational damage.

  • Neo-Neoncon, a blogger, is an example of the “liberal mugged by reality” type.

    My philosophy boils down into making sure folks have a chance to make their own moral choices, with support for the right ones– thus, all around conservative and pro-active foreign policy.

  • I suspect they would love more to see social conservatives shut up as they are further and further driven out of politics.

    Liberals would love to see conservatives of any stripe shut up, so the choices facing voters ends up being like the ones faced by many Europeans – do you want the far leftist or the center-left one? Many “conservative” European pols would fit solidly in the mainstream of our Democratic Party.

    Fiscal conservatives are incapable of challenging liberals (and improvident citizens) on a cultural level, which is why a fiscally-focused movement will not succeed in its long-term goals.

    Yes, but we have to do something in the short term. When you’re suffering from a raging toothache, you go to the dentist immediately. Later on, you consider whether the fact that you eat 5 candy bars a day and rarely brush your teeth might be connected to the fact that you’ve got 10 cavities. Kevin, I certainly agree with you that a culturally self-indulgent country will not be a fiscally sound one, but when we’re in a situation where many citizens refuse to consider basic math, we have to start somewhere.

  • John Henry the Democrat Party you are referring to does not exist any longer and not just because of the abortion issue. It is a a party of elitist who believe in relativism , a govenrment controlled by those who think they know what is good for the people, regardless of what people think, a government that caters to thos bored and unhappy people who consume and produce nothing and take from those happy people who produce all. It is a party that keeps people down and continues to extend welfare rather than workfare to thousand of those on the dole and their succceeding children who continue to remain in that status generation after generation amd party of the intelligensia who continue to brain wash our children and students in an education format from kindergaten to PHDs. That is what the party is today and beware if you opne your mouth to be critical, as it is also a party who try to control speech and their own interpretation of the Bill of Rights and their so callled envolving Constitution

  • I agree that in terms of the Tea Party movement itself, the emphasis should be on the fiscal side of the equation. As Donna suggests, move of these folk are probably socially conservative as well, but in this very narrow sense it is best to concentrate on a few core economic issues.

    But in the broader sense, it is folly to separate economic and social conservatism. Even if we look at this from a purely political standpoint, it is actually on social issues that conservatives have generally had broader support than on economic issues. Sorry David Frum.

  • “We tried that in the ’90s”

    We did? Really? When?

    I recall being in Iraq in the 90’s, in Bosnia, in Somalia, not to mention military bases around the world, and that littel thing in Panama (that may have been late’80s – the memory is the first thing to go). So is that your defintion of “leaving the world alone”?

  • During the nineties the Clinton administration did its very best to ignore Islamic terrorism and hope the problem would go away. Clinton specialized in futile cruise missle strikes for public consumption.

    http://www.examiner.com/x-24794-American-History-Examiner~y2010m2d17-Terrorism-in-the-90s

  • Clinton probably bombed or deployed troops to more countries than any other president. If it weren’t for Carter’s 11th hour appeasement deal, Clinton would’ve bombed North Korea. All the intervention caused Bush to run as the more isolationist candidate.

    But trying to get neo-cons/hawks/interventionists/warmongers/whatever to understand why America is hated is like trying to get a blind man to understand what color is.

  • Rubbish Restrainedradical. You are as one with your ideological ancestors the isolationists in this country in the Thirties who almost ensured a victory by the Third Reich in World War II. Isolationism is a good way to simply kick the can down the road for a future generation to deal with a problem while posing as holier-than-thou and calling those who have eyes to see what is coming warmongers.

  • A few years ago, someone called me a “neo-con” in the comboxes on Chris Blosser’s blog, Against the Grain. Here was my tongue-in-cheek response:

    “To apply the term ‘neoconservative’ to me or any other Southerner is an oxymoron. The South is arguably the most conservative region in the country, but there ain’t nothin’ ‘neo’ about our conservatism. We’ve always been pro military and have favored a muscular U.S. foreign policy going back to the earliest days of the Republic … The appellation ‘neoconservative’ by definition doesn’t apply to the traditional conservatism of Southerners.”

  • yes restrainedradical the same country that has bailed out country after country after wars, tsunamis , earthquakes, disrepair, genocide, AIDS, and thru foreign aid. Do you think if we stop the money we send each year to keep the UN fiancially stable and stop all our aid to other countries for any reason and removed all our troops from every base in Korea, Europe, Iraq, Afghanistan, and every other country, would that make them love us more. And btw blind persons FEEL colors.

  • AFL- you forgot the sea turtles.

    When my ship was heading back to Japan after we’d helped Thailand recover from the Christmas Tsunami, which is where we’d gone after we left support for Iraqi Freedom, we stopped and cut several trapped sea turtles out of a net.

    I know I sure wouldn’t pick a guy who tried to gut the military as having “bombed or deployed troops to more countries” than any other unless I was very sure, especially when as I remember he only acted when utterly forced to do so–no matter how much death resulted, or how much it made matters worse. Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti and the NoKs come to mind….

  • I supported the war in Afghanistan. I’m not opposed to the UN or foreign aid. I’m no isolationist. If anything, I have a bias in favor of world government. I, unlike many bloodthirsty Americans, don’t celebrate every shot America fires.

    Yes, afl, pulling troops out of all those countries would make them love us more. It’s a fact supported by polls.

  • That you favor a world government restrainedradical and that you consider some of your fellow Americans bloodthirsty surprises me about as much as the news that the sun rises in the east and that it sets in the west.

  • That you favor a world government restrainedradical and that you consider some of your fellow Americans bloodthirsty surprises me about as much as the news that the sun rises in the east and that it sets in the west.

    Then why did you say he was an isolationist?

  • BA
    I’ll answer, although un-invited, why DRM called RR an isolationist.
    World government hopefuls consider that government (at least for the purposes of discussion) as being entirely non-military. Without nations, militaries will no longer exist. Then all reactionary responses to the long arm of world governance will be charaterized as threats to the domestic peace of the world. These will be handled by police, who will be armed and trained not very differently than the special operations forces now maintained by evil national governments.
    isolationism today, in response to (always) malicious nationalistic interventionism, is not inconsistent with the “can’t we all get along ruled by our oneworld betters” global governance worldview. Logic need not apply.

  • Except for paleocons BA, something I have not considered restrainedradical to be, a strong adversion to the use of American military force and a faith in the UN and globaloney often go hand in hand, as Kevin points out.

  • Foxfier, I like the sea turtle story.

    Given the UN’s less than shining track record and proven corruption, how anybody can place trust in that sorry organization is beyond me.

  • World government. That would be just great for Catholics. Sure it would.

  • Indeed Mike, there is urgent need of a true world political authority. It would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all. Obviously it would have to have the authority to ensure compliance with its decisions from all parties. Without this, international law would risk being conditioned by the balance of power among the strongest nations.

    Kevin & Don, there must be a word to describe me other than isolationist. I’m not a Pat Buchanan or Ron Paul type isolationist. Can someone who supports free trade, more immigration, foreign aid, supported the war in Afghanistan, and urged intervention in Liberia, Rwanda, and Sudan, really be called an isolationist? A soft-isolationist? A soft-interventionist? An interventionist-isolationist?

  • RR,
    I didn’t call you an isolationist, I just defended the notion that eventual-one-worlders often adopt an isolationist approach to foreign policy under the current world terms of engagement.

    From your last post, either you actually believe that man is perfectable by his own efforts (heresy, however the thought is framed) or you have left unstated the requirement that the one world government entity actually be constituted and behave as the Catechism “hopes” it will. The UN is decidedly not in compliance, nor even is it likely reconcilable to that standard.
    I too wanted us to intervene in Rwanda. But since you place so much weight in polls, just think for a few minutes about the polling data six months into a bloody US occupation in Rwanda, carried out no matter how uprightly by a predominantly white US military. Polling data would support the notion that the US was trying to re-establish the slave trade and Jesse Jackson wopuld be shaking down Army Emergency Relief for Rainbow PUSH.

  • RR,
    I should have added in my last post that there is urgent need for a true world political authority capasbvle of setting all these wrongs right. But uhnless you know when Jesus plans to return, I’ll not be holding my breath that any of the pretenders out there will make things better.

  • You need to turn up your irony detector restrainedradical in regard to Mike’s comment. 🙂

    I believe that under current world conditions a world government would be the greatest engine of tyranny in the lamentable annals of human folly. As for international law, I have always thought that books on that topic should be shelved in the fiction section of libraries. At most we have international suggestions, a condition I find preferable to ceding authority to some body that would attempt to govern all the inhabitants of this planet.

  • Kevin, I more or less agree. My support for military intervention is always conditioned on likelihood of success which I am not competent to assess. I do think a world government (not necessarily the UN in its current form) can make things better. I think it already has in many areas (e.g., trade, law harmonization, and humanitarian aid).

    Don, you need to turn up your double irony detector or I need to turn down my double irony.

  • In that case restrainedradical perhaps you would care to address Mike’s suggestion that a world government would be a disaster for Catholics?

  • I don’t know how else to address it. Maybe it’s Mike’s turn to respond to my response.

Looking into the Cloudy Ball

Thursday, April 15, AD 2010

Tax day is a day when all Americans are reminded about the importance of politics and think about the importance of the political future so they can adjust their budgets accordingly. Most of the time in politics we have a reasonably good idea of what’s going on: what the issues are going to be, who the favorites in the next election are, who are the main blocs, etc. Of course, there are always surprises and upsets.

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13 Responses to Looking into the Cloudy Ball

  • I think the GOP can count on solid tea party support in the Fall. In many states the dead line to get on the ballot is approaching or passed, and, in any case, there has been little movement by tea party members to run third party candidates. The big problem for the GOP will be if they win a huge victory in November with crucial tea party assistance, which I expect, and then proceed with business as usual. In that case I do anticipate a tea party third party in 2012.

    The post by Morning’s Minion, which you linked to, thanking God that John McCain is not president was a hoot! A weak defense indeed of the South Side Messiah!

  • Don:

    I hadn’t talked about the Tea Party as a potential third party, but I think you’re right. The Tea Party is largely built on the emotional resistance to Obama and I think the Tea Party will do its best to defeat Obama and Democrats. I would imagine they’ll stick with the GOP until at least Obama’s defeat and then perhaps start a separate party if they’re unsatisfied with the results.

    However, which candidate the Tea party will back in the Presidential primaries is anyone’s guess. Palin? Someone like Scott Brown? Will they go ideology or the best chance at winning?

  • “However, which candidate the Tea party will back in the Presidential primaries is anyone’s guess. Palin? Someone like Scott Brown? Will they go ideology or the best chance at winning?”

    At this point I am beginning to think that Palin is looking at 2016. Brown I think isn’t looking at the Presidency at all, but is completely concentrated on Massachusetts where the political revolution he initiated is gathering momentum. I think that 2012 may well be the year of someone who is little known now, at least by the general public. From the GOP standpoint it is essential that the standard bearer be someone who can cause great enthusiasm among the tea partiers.

  • From the GOP standpoint it is essential that the standard bearer be someone who can cause great enthusiasm among the tea partiers.

    Seems unlikely with Romney and Huckabee as the frontrunners. But a lot can change in two or three years.

  • The articel seems to presume that, absent the ominous “Tea Party threat,” the Republican Party would naturally sweep to victory in November, then immediately set about setting things right. Wrong! If the recent history of the American body politic says anything, it says that the parties are both more intersted in having and expanding power, rather than necessarily using power for good.

    Without the Tea Party threat, the repubs are nothing but a shade or so removed from the Dems on the critical life issues; the country club repubs most definitely want pro-lifers to go away.
    In my adult days, only once has the repub party used a majority to try to limit government expenditures and reduce the interfering influence of government in the daily lives of citizens; and ultimately, they abandoned the effort.
    Neither party can lay claim to a corner on “social justice” issues. At least not if one takes the position that forced taxpayer largesse in the social programs MUST be able to boast of resounding success in return for the now truly collossal expenditure of funds involved.

  • although not a memember of the so called tea party..people are rightly concerned that if the spending contiunes the chances of having a debt that requires a one trillion dollar interest per year will occur. the problem as i view is that we need a congress that will pass a bill demanding a balance budget each year and get rid of those bills that do not create jobs or add to an already explosive deficit and to develop a foreign policy with teeth and not just words and one that quits trying to tell people how to live. we fought one king for that right and it appears we have another trying to tell us the sme thing.

  • Kevin:

    The articel seems to presume that, absent the ominous “Tea Party threat,” the Republican Party would naturally sweep to victory in November, then immediately set about setting things right.

    Wrong on both counts though I don’t think that’s obvious from this post. I think the Republicans did a fine job of messing things up long before “Tea Party” was thought up and so would have complications going into November (i.e. the residual effects of the Bush presidency). Nor do I think the republicans would set things right, though i hope especially on issues of SCOTUS nominations and abortion funding they would be able to provide some corrections.

    My point in discussing the Tea Party was that, especially in considering 2012, they provide a variable. We don’t know what kind of effect they will have and so it is hard to predict how elections will turn out.

    afl:

    develop a foreign policy with teeth and not just words and one that quits trying to tell people how to live.

    Beware that the foreign policies with teeth (such as Bush’s) are often the ones that are based on the premise that the United States has a moral responsibility to spread democracy & its principles i.e. tell people how to live.

  • MD,
    Okay, if you say that was your point, I must believe you. But if the democrats remain in control of the house in December of this year, the political game is up. No amount of right thinking in 2012 will serve any good purpose if the leak in the dike is not stopped now.
    Those of you who think that politics, carried out with the Constitution in the fundamentally fractured state it is in now, can answer the mail are probably fooling yourselves.
    What was it Gandolf said? “The board is set, the pieces are moving, the final battle for Middle Earth has begun.”
    God help us all!

  • I don’t think any of the presumed GOP candidates (Huck, Palin, Romney) will win the nomination. I think it will be someone who catches fire–like a Paul Ryan or a conservative governor.

  • The fact that they’re more educated and wealthier may just be a reflection of the fact that they tend to be white, male, and old.

    The NY Times pool reveals some other interesting facts. Most Tea Partiers favor at least civil unions for gay couples, most favor legal abortions, and most don’t go to church regularly. Most like Palin but don’t think she would make a good president!

    My money was on Romney before this whole Tea Party thing. Huckabee and Romney have fiscally liberal records which voters may not forgive. Palin is talking up Romney though so Tea Partiers may forgive his past. The liberal elite find Romney to be the least objectionable.

    Gingrich’s negatives are too high. He’d be unelectable in the general election.

    Ron Paul is polling well but he can’t win the GOP nomination.

    A lot of excitement around Marco Rubio but he’s not even Senator yet and he’s only 38. Maybe 2016.

  • Romney is a political chameleon and I doubt if he will get the nomination in 2012. Paul is going no place slowly. Gingrich is only formidable as a talk show guest. The Huckster should stick with his show on Fox. I think Palin, as I stated earlier, is waiting for 2016. Rubio is a man to watch closely, but his year is not 2012. The New York Times poll of tea partiers is as worthless as most of what appears in that poor excuse for a fish wrapper.

  • Intrade has Romney in first followed closely by Palin. In third is John Thune. Others fall way behind. Oh how far Jindal has fallen…

    Intrade also gives the Democrats slightly better odds of retaining control of the House.

    Bad news in New York. Neither Guiliani nor Pataki will challenge Gillibrand.

  • As a twenty-something male I find the whole situation depressing. When you have Romney and Palin ahead in the poles for the Republicans and I guess, um…, Obama for the Dems, you really have to fool yourself to see anything bright in the future. The way I look at it we just have to hope that our pilot was the one who was sitting at the bar before departure who only had three whiskeys instead of five. I really am sorry for it but this nation has become the fruit of a more and more Godless society. Even though we have statistics that comfort us in being a Christian nation, the label “Christianity” is about as broad as Conservatism or Liberalism. Fact of the matter is that unless there is some major miraculous turn around in the faith of the people of this nation and their education in that faith, we will be sentenced to suffer the consequences of such a society. However, conversation such as in this com box and in the greater political arena is still necessary. I may not have much faith in the future of this country but I do realize that you have to go down swinging.

Happy Tax Day!

Thursday, April 15, AD 2010

It takes me approximately eight hours each year to prepare my federal and state income tax returns.  This does not take into consideration the quarterly estimated payments I make which probably take 20 minutes each.  After a long and frustrating day preparing a fairly complicated tax return, I, Union loving Don McClarey, often end the day as I am writing the check to the Federal government by playing the song below:

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11 Responses to Happy Tax Day!

I'm So Tired of Hearing Jesus' Name in Vain (Tiger Woods Should Apologize Again)

Wednesday, April 14, AD 2010

Be warned- the video above re-plays Tiger Woods unleashing his fury over his golf game with abusive, offensive language.

I’m not interested in getting into the whole sordid Tiger Woods’ womanizing issue- I am, however, ready to start challenging the whole phenomena of using the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, as some kind of throw-away profanity. It doesn’t really matter what the religious make-up of the blasphemer is, but it seems to me that when a Buddhist like Tiger Woods decides it is fair-game to throw out the use of Jesus’ name in a derogatory way on National TV- well this should be a teachable moment.

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16 Responses to I'm So Tired of Hearing Jesus' Name in Vain (Tiger Woods Should Apologize Again)

  • I agree completely. Think back on an otherwise very good movie like the Aviator. It really was ruined by the heavy use of “G.d.” Unbelievable – it’s almost like the cast and crew was just eager to poke their finger in the face of vast portions of their audience.

  • Honestly, I think people say crap like that because it makes them feel ‘more adult’ at first and then they just get into the habit of expressing their exasperation that way.

    I used to drop the G.D. a lot and went through a brief J.C. period. I do notice that on rare occasions when I’ve really just had it I drop that bomb. It’s terrible and inexcusable, really. J.C. was always the worse to me because it was so SPECIFIC.

    It is interesting that I’ve never heard Moses or Buddha or Mohammed ever converted into popular swear words. I suppose it could happen if you put some effort into it.

    I guess that now everyone knows what ‘kind of guy’ Tiger is, he’s not going to bother with the pretense of being a role model or feel obligated to act in a dignified manner when the world is watching?

  • Holy Moses!

    And I mean that in only the best way….

  • Tiger is a vulgar whore chaser. That’s all he ever was. The best advice he ever received came from Brit Hume. Tiger obviously ignored it.

  • It’s the responsibility of Christians to keep Christ’s name holy. Until we show some restraint ourselves — as a group — it seems a bit ridiculous to complain of it being offensive when non-Christians use the name.

  • I honestly think most people don’t even know they’re doing it it. It’s a holdover from when religious language was a natural part of our culture’s everyday language. Say you just heard that so-and-so died, you’d exclaim “Oh my God!” and really mean it as a pious ejaculation or say you’re making an impassioned plea with someone you might say “For Christ’s sake, do the right thing!” and really mean you want the person to do it for God’s glory even though they don’t want to.

    I think over time people began using phrases like these more casually which caused them to lose their meaning through over-use. A similar thing can be seen with saying “Bless you” when someone sneezes – how many people actually intend to pray for God to bless that person and how many people just say it as an almost Pavlovian reaction? Eventually we’ve come to today where these words are just meaningless exclamations – they don’t really mean anything to most people but something’s gonna come out of your mouth when you stub your toe or smash your thumb with a hammer and these are the words many people heard growing up.

    If anything, I think it’s a reflection of the “stickiness” of Christianity rather than of people’s hatred toward it. People don’t use other gods as expletives because they’re not a part of their cultural past. I’d be shocked if there are, for example, non-Christian cultures who use Christian terms as expletives.

  • Brian,
    Thank you for a very thoughtful post.

  • I’ve noticed that using God’s name in vain is acceptable, even on the networks. But it’s odd what they think is unacceptable.

    For example, one of my favorite movies of all time is “Blazing Saddles.” It just completely makes fun of racists, but it’s filled with racial epithets. When AMC or CMT plays the movie, though, they bleep out the racial slurs and leave in the G.D. or J.C. It absolutely and completely defeats the purpose of the movie, and it’s ridiculous that they find nothing wrong with using the Lord’s name in vain (or even risking offending those who see this as sinful or offensive), but they can’t leave in the racial slurs that are central to the movie’s “punch.”

    So, as a review:

    Racial Slurs are bad.

    Offending stupid Christians is good. Or at least okay. They’re probably not fun enough to want to watch Mel Brooks anyway.

  • Once upon a time, must of the worth profanity involved blaspheming God — now the “worst” profanity involves blaspheming sex. Interesting that…

    Personally, I would feel more guilty using one of God’s names in vain than dropping the “f-bomb” — which is probably why my co-workers have heard one but not the other. I don’t know if that’s virtue at all on my part, profanity is something for which I am aware I have a moral weakness, but I think one must at least have such basic standards.

  • Good feedback- thanks to all- I’m relieved to see that my thinking is shared by many out there- I wonder now if the sleeping giant of genuinely disgusted Christians can somehow get more mass media circulation on this issue to start getting the unconscious abusers of Jesus’ name to see that they are being hypocrites when they get all excited over a racial slur, but totally indulge in disrespecting the name of Jesus Christ. Anyone with contacts to a national columnist please pass on the idea of bringing this topic up and encouraging some discussion on the news/talk show front. God Bless- and I mean it!

  • Great post. A priest at our parish told us about how he has made it a habit to always bow his head when he hears the Lord’s name. When spoken reverently, it reminds everyone of the holiness of the name. When it comes up as a profanity, he doesn’t say anything or scold anyone. But that simple, silent act often makes the profanity speaker feel guilty enough to stop, at least for that conversation. I think if Catholics and other Christians would return to that traditional gesture, then other people would at least feel it was impolite to use the Lord’s name so casually. I’ve tried to pick up the habit myself. Haven’t noticed anyone noticing me yet.

  • I’ll add that I had gotten into a really bad habit of saying dammit or G-ddammit all the time. Ironically, I was mimicking my grandfather who was a very holy man. I admired him and wanted to be like him and I thought it sounded cool and grown-up. Picked it up as a teenager (once I was old enough to get away with the occasional bad word with no serious consequences from mom…) I eventually realized how inappropriate that phrase is, and have tried to break the habit. I try not to make any sort of angry outburst, but if I am going to let one fly, I’ve settled on sh*t as my bad word of choice. Because, really, is sh*t such a bad word? It’s not nice, but it has no spiritual connotation. It’s not as vulgar as the f-bomb. It’s just, well, sh*t.

  • I need help because I have a serious question.

    I grew up in a “Christian” household, in which my parents (as did many), would fight constantly. Throughout these arguments my parents (mostly my father) used extremely profane language. And my mother would use acronyms to retaliate against him.
    Outside of that, I was sheltered from profanity until I was removed from my private Christian school and placed in a public schooling system (after moving). I was exposed to extreme amounts of profanity, as well as secular music, secular film, secular everything.

    I indulged in so much garbage, that by the time I was 14, I was using God’s name in vain in combination with dozens of swear words. I along with my newly made secular friends, used horribly profane language throughout our teen years (which were also plagued with my overall Spiritual downfall, leading to experimentation with various other sinful activities).

    My biggest question is, can using God/Jesus Christ’s name in vain lead to eternal guilt? I am questioning, because Exodus 20:7 makes it very clear that God will hold them guiltless. But when Jesus died, all of our sins were forgiven, no? So does that not mean that all sins (including using God’s name in vain), may be forgiven?

    I am now 20, and for the last half year I’ve realized my wrongs (after rebuilding my faith), and have ceased from using the Lord’s name in vain. Obviously I’ve slipped up a couple times, but I immediately pray afterward, and apologize for doing so.

  • Good Morning Moses,

    If taking God’s name in vain were a damning sin that could not be forgiven, then there would have to be limits on God’s being. This cannot be so and, therefore, there is no way that any sin you can do or think of cannot be forgiven. Despair is, perhaps an “unforgivable” sin, but only because the conclusion that one cannot be forgiven because God is not great enough creates a gulf between God’s unlimited offer of salvation and our willingness to accept it. (Think, perhaps, of Judas as he hanged himself.)

    One last thought… sin is serious but we are deeply flawed creatures. Don’t expect perfection or let the defects command your every thought. There is too much beauty in the world for a 20 year old to be so consumed.

ObamaCare Bounce? What ObamaCare Bounce?

Wednesday, April 14, AD 2010

Perhaps a sign of public discontent with the passage of ObamaCare, the Republicans now lead by four points, 48-44, on the Gallup Generic Congressional ballot among registered  voters.  It is rare for Republicans to take the lead in this poll as Gallup notes:

The trend based on registered voters shows how rare it is for the Republicans to lead on this “generic ballot” measure among all registered voters, as they do today. Other recent exceptions were recorded in 1994 — when Republicans wrested majority control from the Democrats for the first time in 40 years — and 2002, when the GOP achieved seat gains, a rarity for the president’s party in midterm elections.

On the other hand, the Democrats are not performing in the poll as they have in years when they have won Congress:

In midterm years when Democrats prevailed at the polls (such as 2006, 1990, and 1986), their net support among registered voters typically extended into double digits at several points during the year — something that has yet to happen in 2010.

Gallup notes the enthusiasm gap that currently exists between the parties:

Gallup will not begin identifying likely voters for the 2010 midterms until later in the year. However, at this early stage, Republicans show much greater enthusiasm than Democrats about voting in the elections.

In other poll news, the Republicans retain a nine point lead, 45-36, over the Democrats on the Rasmussen Generic Congressional ballot of likely votersRasmussen also reports that in his latest poll on repeal of ObamaCare, 58% of voters support repeal.  Nate Silver at 538, a site which leans left politically, states the following in regard to current generic ballots:

Their bad news is that the House popular vote (a tabulation of the actual votes all around the country) and the generic ballot (an abstraction in the form of a poll) are not the same thing — and the difference usually tends to work to Democrats’ detriment. Although analysts debate the precise magnitude of the difference, on average the generic ballot has overestimated the Democrats’ performance in the popular vote by 3.4 points since 1992. If the pattern holds, that means that a 2.3-point deficit in generic ballot polls would translate to a 5.7 point deficit in the popular vote — which works out to a loss of 51 seats, according to our regression model.

These sorts of questions have been the subject of many, many academic studies, almost all of which involve far more rigor than what I’ve applied here. This is just meant to establish a benchmark. But that benchmark is a really bad one for Democrats. One reasonably well-informed translation of the generic ballot polls is that the Democrats would lose 51 House seats if the election were held today.

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20 Responses to ObamaCare Bounce? What ObamaCare Bounce?

  • The Dems are trying to reassure themselves by pointing — of all places — to Reagan’s somewhat similar circumstances in 1982. Ramesh Ponnuru and Jonah Goldberg briefly discussed this yesterday at the Corner here and here.

  • Not to crap in the cornflakes, but I really do think this is not a Republican surge. Its a anti-Obama/Pelosi/Reid, anti-government surge that will probably be greatly disappointed when STILL nothing changes after the GOP is back with increased power.

  • This is the same sort of surge that brought Obama/Pelosi/Reid to power. They greatly misinterpreted their victories as a mandate from the American public as “Yes! Democrats!” as opposed to “No, not Bush & Co.” As the GOP is set to make gains this November, my hope is that they do a better job of reading the public’s sentiments than did their opponents.

  • I ran the numbers using a “corrected” version of Nate Silver’s methodology and came up with a 51-57-seat pick up for the GOP. http://restrainedradical.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/extra-extrapolating/

    But as I also note, the rage may subside by November and the economy is a gigantic unknown.

  • If the Dems allow themselves to be caught without a response, they deserve to lose the mid-terms.

    That said, it was the Republicans who gave us two immoral and ludicrously expensive wars, plus half the bank bailout. They have no cred on the economy, and truly, the other party isn’t much better. Eighteen months out of the meltdown and we still have no meaningful reform, only the promise of more money.

    If we had a multi-party system, the GOP would already be down the drain and the Dems would be circling it.

  • That said, it was the Republicans who gave us two immoral and ludicrously expensive wars

    The Taliban and al-Qaeda mount an unprovoked attack on a trio of office buildings, kill nearly 3,000 civilians, and a war to expunge them is ‘immoral’; we devote < 5% of our military manpower to the task and it counts as 'ludicrously expensive'.

  • Thank you for saving me the work Art!

  • You’ve pretty much nailed it, Art. But I forgot to mention “incompetent” in my description of GOP Adventurism. The Taliban is still going strong. We still don’t have the Al Qaeda head. And we took out a non-aligned dictator instead. Good work, Mr Bush.

    Maybe Mr Obama should have asked for another trillion to lay waste to Southwest Asia.

    On the other hand, when other presidents have prosecuted a war against unjust enemies, people were asked to make sacrifices. Our previous president: just go shopping.

  • Non-aligned dictator? Was it in the alternate bearded Spock universe Todd where Saddam was not a dedicated enemy of the US?

  • Don,
    Todd’s point is that Saddam opposed both the US and the no longer existing Soviet Union equally. LOL.

  • Well, if you insist on being dense, Saddam was unaligned with the 9/11 attacks. If the Al Qaeda and the Taliban were such significant threats, why did the Bush administration allow itself to get distracted by Iraq? The war was incompetently waged. Enemy prisoners were tortured and killed. Whatever the initial motivation for protecting the nation after 2001 was lost in a neo-con jungle of ends justifying the means. Plus it was a hideously expensive adventure, one in which US citizens were not called to sacrifice. Only our military. And their loved ones.

    The GOP has learned no lessons from its recent tail whuppings. The Dems are little better. We need new parties and new ideas. Not the same old protectionism disguised as deregulation as an excuse for lawlessness.

  • “Well, if you insist on being dense, Saddam was unaligned with the 9/11 attacks.”

    As Hitler had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor Todd which made him no less an enemy of the United States. Why we went to war with Saddam is set forth below in the Congressional resolution authorizing the use of force:

    “Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq
    Whereas in 1990 in response to Iraq’s war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq;

    Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;

    Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;

    Whereas Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998;

    Whereas in 1998 Congress concluded that Iraq’s continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in “material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations” and urged the President “to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations” (Public Law 105-235);

    Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;

    Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;

    Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;

    Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council;

    Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

    Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens;

    Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001 underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;

    Whereas Iraq’s demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself;

    Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 and subsequent relevant resolutions and to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and refusal or obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, repression of its civilian population in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688, and threatening its neighbors or United Nations operations in Iraq in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 949;

    Whereas Congress in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) has authorized the President “to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) in order to achieve implementation of Security Council Resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677”;

    Whereas in December 1991, Congress expressed its sense that it “supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 as being consistent with the Authorization of Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1),” that Iraq’s repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and “constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region,” and that Congress, “supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688”;

    Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;

    Whereas on September 12, 2002, President Bush committed the United States to “work with the United Nations Security Council to meet our common challenge” posed by Iraq and to “work for the necessary resolutions,” while also making clear that “the Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable”;

    Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq’s ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;

    Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 or harbored such persons or organizations;

    Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

    Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40); and

    Whereas it is in the national security of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region;

    Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

    SEC. 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This joint resolution may be cited as the “Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq”.

    SEC. 2. SUPPORT FOR UNITED STATES DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS

    The Congress of the United States supports the efforts by the President to–

    (a) strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions applicable to Iraq and encourages him in those efforts; and

    (b) obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions.

    SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.

    (a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to

    (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

    (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.

    (b) PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION.

    In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon there after as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that

    (1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, and

    (2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

    (c) WAR POWERS RESOLUTION REQUIREMENTS. —

    (1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION. — Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

    (2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS. — Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

    SEC. 4. REPORTS TO CONGRESS

    (a) The President shall, at least once every 60 days, submit to the Congress a report on matters relevant to this joint resolution, including actions taken pursuant to the exercise of authority granted in section 2 and the status of planning for efforts that are expected to be required after such actions are completed, including those actions described in section 7 of Public Law 105-338 (the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998).

    (b) To the extent that the submission of any report described in subsection (a) coincides with the submission of any other report on matters relevant to this joint resolution otherwise required to be submitted to Congress pursuant to the reporting requirements of Public Law 93-148 (the War Powers Resolution), all such reports may be submitted as a single consolidated report to the Congress.

    (c) To the extent that the information required by section 3 of Public Law 102-1 is included in the report required by this section, such report shall be considered as meeting the requirements of section 3 of Public Law 102-1.”

    “If the Al Qaeda and the Taliban were such significant threats, why did the Bush administration allow itself to get distracted by Iraq? The war was incompetently waged. Enemy prisoners were tortured and killed.”

    The US Todd had more than enough power to wage war in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The initial campaign in Iraq was a masterpiece of how to topple a regime with few casualties to your side. The insurgency was a problem which, far too late it is true, the surge countered. As for enemy prisoners being tortured and killed, unfortunately that is something that occurs in all wars. Unlike most nations, the US does try individuals guilty of those offenses. If the administration you voted for wishes, it could bring charges against Bush administration officials for such offenses. Why they have not, I will leave to your musings.

    “We need new parties and new ideas. Not the same old protectionism disguised as deregulation as an excuse for lawlessness.”

    You do love Mother State don’t you Todd? I think the big lesson of the Obama debacle that you helped curse the nation with, is that most Americans now realize what a sham Nanny State truly is. We shall see.

  • Donald, either you are a super fast typist, or you have totally mastered Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V. Good work. And again, I think Mr Bush contributed far more to your so-called debacle than I did. The GOP couldn’t conduct a war, and couldn’t protect a homeland from disaster. They were bounced for good reason in ’06 and ’08. 2010 would be too soon for a comeback, I would think. But I never discount the short memory of angry citizenry. Good thing we’re not a parliamentary democracy, eh?

  • Copy and Paste were made for comboxes Todd. 🙂

    “The GOP couldn’t conduct a war, and couldn’t protect a homeland from disaster.”

    I missed the other 9-11s Todd. Keeping the US safe from a repetition of that attack was a major achievement of the Bush administration. We will see how Obama does on that score by the end of his term.

  • You’ve pretty much nailed it, Art.

    Irony is dead.

    Mr. Bush’s critics might consider the following:

    1. Decisions in war and diplomacy are commonly made under conditions of uncertainty;

    2. The Bush Administration and the Clinton Administration faced a disagreeable trilemma concering the Iraqi regime: take the sanctions off and live with the consequences, leave the sanctions on and live with the consequences (were not the humanitarian aid hucksters assuring us that there were six figures worth of excess deaths in Iraq every year?), or eject the government and live with the consequences.

    3. Institutions have skill sets useful for some purposes and not others. The measure of them is how adaptable they are to circumstances. That includes learning techniques of counter-insurgency in novel terrain.

    4. People of integrity keep their hands off the goalposts.

    5. People with a lively sense of who they are and what they amount to generally need not be reminded that if they are vociferious in their judgment that others are small, they had better be big.

    6. Self-aggrandizement is a common purpose of political discourse. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

    http://www.amazon.com/Vision-Anointed-Self-Congratulation-Social-Policy/dp/046508995X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271336185&sr=1-1

  • Yes, there was quite the push to end sanctions because of all the secondary deaths that were supposed to be caused by them. France, if I recall correctly was calling for their repeal and I believe even JPII chimed in.

    Some perspective on this from the time:

    http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/170/41947.html

    The push to keep sanctions came only after the US threatened war with Iraq.

  • “John Paul II said in his address, sanctions are “an act of force,” and current experience demonstrates that a policy of sanctions “inflicts grave hardships upon the people of the countries at which it is aimed.” Indeed, after a March 1995 meeting with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister,Tariq Azi, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state, said that sanctions “must not be used as a means of war or to punish a population.” For all of these reasons, the criterion for sanctions cannot be reduced to the one of effectiveness.”

    The end of sanctions were being pushed for, Saddam continued to defy the conditions for the end of the Gulf War and diplomacy was (as is often the case) ineffective.

    The longer I think on it the more the Iraq War does seem just.

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  • “Keeping the US safe from a repetition of that attack was a major achievement of the Bush administration.”

    Except they didn’t. The anthrax attacks ended, but were never solved. And despite a beefed up Homeland Security, Katrina was a disaster after the disaster. Political cronyism, including defense contractors, dogged the Republicans for years.

    That’s not to say the Dems would have fared better. In nearly every way, they’re just as bad.

    But hey, on the bright side, with $700B a year, at least some of that says stateside to enrich the coffers of warmongers. The alternative is to clean up health insurance. That will certainly ship American money overseas to good use, eh?

    Take the last word, gents; you’ve earned it on this thread.

  • The Anthrax attacks Todd I suspect were domestic loon based and had no overseas terrorist involvement. Katrina was mishandled, but unless I missed something had no terrorist affiliation. Political cronyism and corruption indeed helped bring down the GOP Congress.

    As always I will happily take the last word until you come back for more. 🙂

The Birth of Freedom

Tuesday, April 13, AD 2010

A trailer for a documentary from the Acton Institute.  This documentary examines the role of Judaism and Christianity in creating the conditions which led to the concept of human freedom cherished in the West.  A number of short clips from the video are available on-line and I will be using them in posts in the days to come.  In regard to the trailer I would state the following propositions for discussion:  (1)  The clash between Church and State that characterized Western Europe in the Middle Ages was a fundamental pre-condition for the concept of limited government as it developed in the West; (2) the insistence of the Church that all men and women were equal in the eyes of God established the basis for the concept of human rights; and (3) that as a Western society becomes divorced from its religious roots the very concept of freedom as it has been understood in the West becomes difficult to maintain from a philosophical standpoint.

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20 Responses to The Birth of Freedom

  • Agreed on all three. On 2, the very concept of “person” and personhood was born out of the early Trinitarian & Christological controversies in the Church… how many secularists are even aware of that? And similarly for 3… freedom is understood as indifference, license… definitely not the more philosophically-robust concept born out of the 13th century.

  • You hit the trifecta, my friend.

    The American colonists were fighting for rights they considered theirs by birthright as Englishmen. Those rights were forged in the Middle Ages, not the “Enlightenment.”

    The “Enlightenment” gave us the Jacobins, the deification of Reason, the Reign of Terror, the Vendee, the Napoleonic Wars, and communism.

  • Nothing like a little Whig propaganda!

  • “Nothing like a little Whig propaganda!”

    Actually WJ I believe Lord Macaulay, the embodiment of Whiggish history, would have argued vehemently against all three of my propositions.

    “Those who hold that the influence of the Church of Rome in the dark ages was, on the whole, beneficial to mankind, may yet with perfect consistency regard the Reformation as an inestimable blessing. The leading strings, which preserve and uphold the infant, would impede the fullgrown man. And so the very means by which the human mind is, in one stage of its progress, supported and propelled, may, in another stage, be mere hindrances. There is a season in the life both of an individual and of a society, at which submission and faith, such as at a later period would be justly called servility and credulity, are useful qualities. The child who teachably and undoubtingly listens to the instructions of his elders is likely to improve rapidly. But the man who should receive with childlike docility every assertion and dogma uttered by another man no wiser than himself would become contemptible. It is the same with communities. The childhood of the European nations was passed under the tutelage of the clergy. The ascendancy of the sacerdotal order was long the ascendancy which naturally and properly belongs to intellectual superiority. The priests, with all their faults, were by far the wisest portion of society. It was, therefore, on the whole, good that they should be respected and obeyed. The encroachments of the ecclesiastical power on the province of the civil power produced much more happiness than misery, while the ecclesiastical power was in the hands of the only class that had studied history, philosophy, and public law, and while the civil power was in the hands of savage chiefs, who could not read their own grants and edicts. But a change took place. Knowledge gradually spread among laymen. At the commencement of the sixteenth century many of them were in every intellectual attainment fully equal to the most enlightened of their spiritual pastors. Thenceforward that dominion, which, during the dark ages, had been, in spite of many abuses, a legitimate and salutary guardianship, became an unjust and noxious tyranny.”

    Macaulay, History of England, Chapter I

  • What that old Whig, Lord Acton, would have thought about the video from the Acton Institute is interesting to contemplate. Perhaps he would merely be surprised that they got it done, unlike Acton’s History of Freedom which he spent his lifetime not writing!

  • What influence of Judaism? Judaism as a religion and social force had zero influence on historical European culture. The Catholic Church marginalized Judaism because of the anti-Christian teachings of the Talmud. It was the Old Testament, as interpeted by Jesus, the apostles, and their successors that influenced the development of polictical and religious freedom. The Jews as a social force had no influence on European-American culture until the birth of modern liberalism. And they were Jews who threw off the shackles of the Talmud and sadly rejected both the Old and New Testament. Instead, they sought to ‘free’ mankind by inventing or supporting socialism, communism, and many other various isms that bedevil s to this very day.

  • Stephen, Judaism influenced European history because Christianity was born from Judaism. Judaism influence Europe the same way the root of a plant influences the flower.

    It’s in the first book of the bible we that find the truth that we are all created in the image of God, and this is the basis for our conception of the fundamental dignity of each & every human being.

  • The American colonists were fighting for rights they considered theirs by birthright as Englishmen. Those rights were forged in the Middle Ages, not the “Enlightenment.”

    This is an iffy proposition, at best. “rights they considered theirs by birthright as Englishmen” were, as Edmund Burke (a strong, and sometimes paid, advocate of the colonies) made clear, a product of the Glorious Revolution. This can be very fairly placed under the umbrella of Enlightenment, even as we recognize the big differences between the several British ones and the several continental ones (all stand in contrast to the “Middle Ages”).

  • “Judaism as a religion and social force had zero influence on historical European culture.”

    Quite untrue. Just one of many examples: The grudging tolerance that the Church gave the Jews in the Middle Ages, often in the teeth of popular hatred, was the earliest glimmerings of the concept of religious freedom and tolerance in the modern world. Christians in the Middle Ages, at the command of the Church, had to acknowledge the existence of a group within their ranks that were alien to them. Now the expulsion of the Jews from many Western nations, England for example in the thirteenth and Spain in the fifteenth, illustrates how precarious this tolerance was, but the insistence of the Church upon it was an inmportant factor in the development of the concept of freedom in the West. It is interesting that as religious faith has waned in the West, anti-semitism has become a potent force.

  • The American colonists were fighting for rights they considered theirs by birthright as Englishmen. Those rights were forged in the Middle Ages, not the “Enlightenment.”

    Thank you Joe. The more I study of the period (and I’ve studied a lot) the less enamored I become of the so-called Enlightenment influence on America. I’ve argued that the Americans were more influenced by the Scottish philosophers than the French, but I even think that is exaggerated. If you want to see the influence of Enlightenment thought, look at France, not America.

  • As the ones with the money, and being very independent because they did not have the same status as others in the countries they were in, the Jews had a considerable amount of influence on the shape of world history. Those who got their money often got the resources needed for power; those who did not, often lost out.

  • Messers McClarey and Burgwald, you missed the entire point of what I had to say. “Christianity was born from Judaism” says Mr Burgwald. Not true. Christianity is based on the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, who rejected the teachings of the rabbis who were the founders of Phariseeism which became Rabbical Judaism, which was codified as the Talmud. See Matt 23 Judaism is not the religion of the law of Moses, so it is impossible for Christianity to have developed from it.

    Mr McClarey, ‘tolerance’ doesn’t prove your point about “the earliest glimmerings of religious freedom and tolerance in the modern world”. The Jews were tolerated out of pity for their spiritally lost state. They were allowed to have their synagoges for worship services. But they were put under many restrictions to prevent them from having much interaction with the population. The anti-Christian attitudes fostered by the Talmud were well known to the Catholic clergy, so many laws were passed in all the Catholic contries to limit Christian exposre to Jewish perfidy.

    Yes, “tolerance” was “precarious”, but given the active Jewish hostility toward the Christian faith, (which is pretty well documented in history books such as “Reckless Rites” by Elliot Horowitz) what else could they expect?

    Mr McClarey is correct about anti-semitism becoming a potent force since religious faith has waned in the west. Since the Jews have gained their freedom from a formerly Christian European culture, they have used that freedom to support and sponser anti-Christian movements such as socialism, communism, fascism, gay rights, drug legalization,pornography, etc. Their known control of the mass media gives them the clout to pull this garbage off. Is it any wonder that anti-semitism is becoming “a potent force”?! Lets hope that Europe and America can recover its Catholic heritage before the Jews “freedom” destroys what’s left of it.

  • Judaism and phariseeism are not identical, Stephen. Jesus was a Jew, His mom and adoptive dad were Jews, He worshipped His Father in the Jewish Temple, His first followers were Jews and they likewise went to the Temple for prayer. St. Paul — also a Jew — makes clear that Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism. To claim utter separation between Judaism and Christianity is akin to the early heresy of Marcionism.

  • The last paragraph of Mr. dalton’s 9:53am post should have the moderator’s “Danger, Will Robinson!” klaxons going off at full volume.

  • Mr Burgwald, I’m well aware Jesus kept the Mosiac law.
    He fullfilled the law. But I repeat again, The Mosiac law and Judaism are not the same thing. The Jewish Encyclopedia’s article on Phariseeism makes it quite clear that Judaism is Phariseeism, and it is not the law of Moses. Christianity is not the fullfillment of Judaism/Phariseeism, it is the fullfillment of the law of Moses.

    As for Mr Price’s comment on the last paragraph of my last post, he must not know much about the history of Eropean politics in the last three hundred years. Otherwise, he would not have made such an assinine remark.

    And in case anyone tries to use the anti-semite smear on me, I happen to come from a very old Marrano family. For the uninformed, thats a Spanish slang word for a secret Jew. So I’m very well informed about Judaism and it’s teachings. I only wish Price, McClarey, and Brugwald were too.

  • Bye Stephen, take your issues with Jews elsewhere. You are banned from this blog.

  • Johnathan,

    “This is an iffy proposition, at best. “rights they considered theirs by birthright as Englishmen” were, as Edmund Burke (a strong, and sometimes paid, advocate of the colonies) made clear, a product of the Glorious Revolution. This can be very fairly placed under the umbrella of Enlightenment, even as we recognize the big differences between the several British ones and the several continental ones (all stand in contrast to the “Middle Ages”).”

    A couple of points.

    First, do you have a problem with the phrase “Middle Ages”? We have to call those centuries something. If you don’t, why the scare quotes?

    Second, the English Bill of Rights didn’t come out of a vacuum. You can draw a line from the Magna Carta (with its own historical antecedents), through Edward I’s establishment of Parliament, and so on and so forth, up to the English Civil War, which was fought, among other reasons, over the interpretation and understanding of these rights.

    If you look at life in the Middle Ages as well, especially in England, you can see how such a conception of rights would develop. Most of the villages were autonomous, they weren’t micro-managed by lords or by bureaucrats. If a serf escaped to a town and lived as a free man for a year and a day, he became emancipated. And there was the Church, which always stood as a barrier between the people and the rapacity of secular government.

    Of course it wasn’t all fun and games, it wasn’t The Shire, there were wars, rebellions, plots, massacres, repressions – but these exist everywhere. I don’t think you can judge a society by what it shares in common with every other society, but by which is unique to it.

    I think many of these features of medieval life at the practical level were replayed on the virgin soil and boundless spaces of America after these medieval conditions were supplanted by absolutism in Europe. If not for Protestantism, I daresay that something resembling medieval Christendom could have been established in North America.

    I think therefore that in both theory and practice, the American colonists were decidedly more conservative and backward looking certainly than the French revolutionaries. I think they were fighting to preserve their rights, not to create new ones out of nothing. But I think what they were trying to preserve was also a way of life that had a tradition going back many centuries, even before medieval times, a way of life that was gradually supplanted by the encroachments of governments.

    All the English Bill of Rights did, really, was to codify them.

  • Joe, thanks for your explanation. It does not seem to me, however, that your reasoning above is in line with the claim my first comment highlighted, which was this: the American colonists were fighting for rights they considered theirs by birthright as Englishmen, rights not forged in the “Enlightenment.”

    To your points –

    First, do you have a problem with the phrase “Middle Ages”? We have to call those centuries something. If you don’t, why the scare quotes?

    Quotes because the Middle Ages, like the Age of Enlightenmnet, is a large and complicated term with a variety of meanings across a variety of time and environments. This is one reason why your claim is awkward, and why it would be awkward for me to make the opposite claim (i.e. The American colonists were fighting for rights they considered theirs by Enlightenment). I have mentioned before that my personal view is that the American founding is a mixture of Greco-Roman civic republicanism (and how much has our educational system minimized this!), Enlightmenment romanticism, and a moralistic therapeutic Deism. This is a strange, strange, strange brew, and it has allowed democracy and orthodox religion to flourish. Yet, even so, how did the Founders understand themselves? Some by your description, but not nearly enough for your generalization.

    Second, the English Bill of Rights didn’t come out of a vacuum. You can draw a line from the Magna Carta (with its own historical antecedents), through Edward I’s establishment of Parliament, and so on and so forth, up to the English Civil War, which was fought, among other reasons, over the interpretation and understanding of these rights.

    Yes, I concur completely.

    If you look at life in the Middle Ages as well, especially in England, you can see how such a conception of rights would develop. Most of the villages were autonomous, they weren’t micro-managed by lords or by bureaucrats. If a serf escaped to a town and lived as a free man for a year and a day, he became emancipated. And there was the Church, which always stood as a barrier between the people and the rapacity of secular government. ……..

    So what does this tell us other than “Enlightenment” had very deep roots? Heck, I’d argue its roots go back to Athens and Jerusalem, those places where humans were very serious about the search for knowledge!

    I think therefore that in both theory and practice, the American colonists were decidedly more conservative and backward looking certainly than the French revolutionaries.

    Without question. In fact, I’d even argue that the Federalists were conservatives.

    I think they were fighting to preserve their rights, not to create new ones out of nothing.

    Is this true of Thomas Paine? Maybe, but its not terribly clear.

    Now in some respects we have a lot of agreement on these questions, perhaps. But your generalization which I highlighted in my first comment shouldn’t be made. Let us take the dominant religious sentiment of the founders (and of many colonists, although there was great diversity of religion across the colonies, one big result of toleration by investors in England trying to make some quick money), Deism. Deism was an outgrowth of 17th and 18th Century scientific speculation! Follow Nature – not Revelation. Use math. Ect.

    What I am saying is that when it comes to America, the Enlightenment, that large and messy term, is everywhere and always present. It cannot be escaped. This is why our conservatives will always differ from European conservatives, who can root themselves in blood and soil.

  • Johnanthan,

    Well, I disagree.

    “Quotes because the Middle Ages, like the Age of Enlightenmnet, is a large and complicated term with a variety of meanings across a variety of time and environments. This is one reason why your claim is awkward”

    This can be true, but these phrases have some pretty commonly understood meanings too. Because they do, my claim isn’t awkward at all. It can be made awkward to the extent that one wants to complicate the common understanding of when the Middle Ages occurred and when the Enlightenment occurred, but it isn’t as if these two periods follow one after the other anyway.

    I’m the first to admit that all such epochal groupings can be fought with difficulties. Nonetheless there is a massive difference between the “Age of Faith”, “Christendom”, “the Middle Ages” – and all of its dominant paradigms – and the Enlightenment with its own. And that means ideas born in each, or lets say, which gestate and develop in each, will end up looking quite differently, as did indeed the American and French Revolutions.

    “Yet, even so, how did the Founders understand themselves? Some by your description, but not nearly enough for your generalization.”

    Here I think you’re wrong again. I think they all recognized that they were fighting for rights that had historical, and not merely abstract, justification – it is only a question of how many of them ALSO believed in various Enlightenment ideals.

    I suppose it might be another awkward formulation in your view, but that is another way I separate the epochs, and I think it is how Burke did as well.

    “So what does this tell us other than “Enlightenment” had very deep roots? ”

    Now see, how is this not just a fallacious expansion of an epoch to suit the need of the moment? I don’t mean that in an insulting way, please understand, but that’s how it looks, as if now we can draw no lines, we can mark no transformation from quantity to quality, we can see no essential differences between one period and another. But this is obviously false.

    The “Enlightenment” may well have deep roots, but they weren’t sprouting very much during the reign of Christendom, thanks to the Church and her true Enlightenment.

    So, what those historical facts I pointed out “tell us” is that the rights American colonists fought for were, as I said, forged during the middle ages, during the rule of the Church, Christendom, the Age of Faith, the supposedly bad old days during which everyone was oppressed. During the very time that the “Enlightenment” supposedly came to put an end to, to eradicate for all time. So to me, that’s a tension, a contradiction, and an undermining of the Enlightenment’s supposedly vast role in the American founding.

    For crying out loud, even Marxists such as Karl Kautsky saw that the “Reformation” took a much different path in England than it did in Germany, and that in the former it ended up usurping many of these rights and driving tens of thousands of peasants into starvation.

    The autonomous village and the free town of the Middle Ages must have seemed like a lost paradise in comparison, which is probably why the whole English national identity is wrapped up in the concept of “Merry Old England”, that is, the time when the Church of Rome and not that of England held sway!

    “Is this true of Thomas Paine? Maybe, but its not terribly clear.”

    Thomas Paine wasn’t a founding father, so it really doesn’t matter. I’ll even grant that it wasn’t true of him.

    ” But your generalization which I highlighted in my first comment shouldn’t be made.”

    Which one, though? If its the one about the American founders fighting for English rights, you may have a point, though I think I’m right in saying that it was a baseline view and that it was views about the Enlightenment that greatly varied. I mean, once they ceased to be Englishmen upon telling King George to stuff it, they had to have a different reason to continue the fight. Enlightenment ideals helped.

    If its the second point, though – that the rights were forged in the Middle Ages – I stand by that. Jefferson didn’t copy John Locke, after all, who said nothing about unalienable rights. Some people think he was influenced by St. Bellarmine. And Bellarmine was following Aquinas. And Aquinas was… well, we get the idea. It’s speculation but it makes sense.

    “What I am saying is that when it comes to America, the Enlightenment, that large and messy term”

    Well sure, I agree.

  • Ok, I see better the disagreement, and it would be instructive to parcel out the American revolution in this context. I believe there were two revolutions, and hopefully we can extend these conversations. And generalizations are an unfortunate necessity in blogland….

Safe Eating!

Tuesday, April 13, AD 2010

From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  I can think of many things depressing in this world but eating alone is not one of them.  Of course, between the sound of kids eating, a dog seeking handouts, telephone calls and my wife bringing me up to date on household and school events, the eating portion of a meal often seems to be of secondary consideration around my house!

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13 Responses to Safe Eating!

  • For people with families, eating alone might seem like a luxury — but for those alone, they cannot give up being alone and eat with people that often. The difference is vast, and those who eat alone often find their treatment different than if they are eating in groups at restaurants. It is not a nice feeling. Eating alone all the time is not nice. For a brief respite and change of pace for those who don’t eat alone, sure, it will not be depressing. But for those alone, it is.

  • Here is someone who agrees with you Karlson:

    Eating alone has never bothered me. I eat lunch alone when I am traveling and as long as I have a book to read I find it quite pleasant. During my college days I would try to eat in the same manner although normally friends would seek me out, ask me what I was reading, and a meal in solitude would suddenly become a group activity.

  • How long did you eat alone, for how many years, and was it constant or just a part time affair? See, you said even in college, your friends would sit with you. In this way, you really did not experience what it is to be really alone.

    Certainly, there are some people who thrive at being alone. Some people are meant to be alone. But most people when they talk about being alone, and romanticize it, do so because of the small time they get at being alone. To compare is to look at it as the difference between having a vacation in a city and living in that city for ten years. Only after the second can you really understand and discuss the city from all its particulars; the first will tend to give a very shallow view of the city.

  • I am a fairly sociable person, but I greatly prefer eating alone when eating out, especially for lunch. Granted I have a family and take my meals with them for dinner, but I’m quite content listening to Rush while chowing down at Five Guys.

  • Living off-campus in college back in the 90’s, I’d eaten alone for the better part of 5 years. Naturally there is enjoyment to be derived from around-the-table conversation, but one of the perks of eating alone was being able to appreciate what I was eating to a greater degree. (Not to mention reading a book, which my wife is inclined to frown upon). 😉

  • I like eating with my family. In theory anyway. Meaning I like having that time as a family and participating in that family/social act of eating together, but with a bunch of young kids it often seems more trouble than it’s worth. Especially fo my wife. 😉

    So when offered the opportunity to eat alone, I cherish it. I also think the desire many of us express for eating alone is that we live in an over stimulated society and any unwind time is valued. Eating with others can be relaxing too, but it still requires effort beyond the act of taking food.

  • I can appreciate Henry’s point to some degree having married late. Though during that time I learned to appreciate my solitude even during meals. Still like to eat alone from time to time particularly when on a trip. Usually take a book with me. About the only time I get to read. That and while on planes.

  • When I eat alone I prefer to be by myself.

  • No matter where you are, there you’ll be.

  • “How long did you eat alone, for how many years, and was it constant or just a part time affair?”

    During my undergrad years at Weston Hall at the University of Illinois I rarely ate alone, even when I wanted to. I had a fair number of friends there and so I usually had a group around me.

    When I went to law school I lived in Daniels Hall, the grad dorm. I usually dined alone during my first two years of law school. I would occasionally have other law school students join me but I attempted to avoid this. Law school students would invariably talk about law school, a subject that I had more than enough of outside of meals. I greatly enjoyed relaxing by myself at meals with a book that always would have nothing to do with the law.

    In my third year I became good friends with my next door neighbor who was getting her master’s in library science. I began eating with the library students and what a lively bunch of gals, 90%, and guys they were! Their conversation at meal time was witty and completely non-related to the law. I met my wife as a result. She had gotten her master’s degree in library science at the University of Wisconsin and was working on a master’s in Spanish, but she hung out with the library students.

  • Eating with people < eating alone < eating with company < good company.

    Before I got to the ship, I almost always ate alone (in all senses) with a book.
    After experiencing good conversation and companionship during meals, I miss it greatly when I have poor company.

    I'd suggest that a bunch of blog-type folks aren't going to be very representative… I know my sister NEEDS even bad company in person, gets nothing from internet association.

  • I began eating with the library students and what a lively bunch of gals, 90%, and guys they were! Their conversation at meal time was witty

    Real librarians kvetch 24/7.

  • Not my bride of 28 years Art! A small sample to be sure, but an important one to me!

Maybe They Should Have Read the Bill?

Monday, April 12, AD 2010

Hattip to Allahpundit at Hot Air.  Sometimes life is so much funnier than any comedy ever written.  Apparently the wise Congress Critters who passed ObamaCare may have taken away their own health insurance.  According to the New York Times:

The law apparently bars members of Congress from the federal employees health program, on the assumption that lawmakers should join many of their constituents in getting coverage through new state-based markets known as insurance exchanges.

 

But the research service found that this provision was written in an imprecise, confusing way, so it is not clear when it takes effect.

 

The new exchanges do not have to be in operation until 2014. But because of a possible “drafting error,” the report says, Congress did not specify an effective date for the section excluding lawmakers from the existing program.

 

Under well-established canons of statutory interpretation, the report said, “a law takes effect on the date of its enactment” unless Congress clearly specifies otherwise. And Congress did not specify any other effective date for this part of the health care law. The law was enacted when President Obama signed it three weeks ago.

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15 Responses to Maybe They Should Have Read the Bill?

  • I think the inability of Congressmen to read the bills they’re voting on speaks volumes about the need for a diminished size of government-including the states, but especially at the federal level. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you shouldn’t be doing it.

  • “If you don’t know what you’re doing, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

    I have often given that advice to clients in almost precisely those words!

  • And the citizen lawsuits to enforce this aspect of ObamaCare will begin to be filed, in Five, Four, Three…

    What are “citizen lawsuits”?

  • Suits by non-members of Congress to enforce this provision, although considering all the publicity it is now getting I think some members of Congress might join in.

  • Congressional bills are not made to be read. If you ever try to take a look at them, the actual language makes no sense because most of the time, it is an amendment to the US Code. So the health care bill is nonsensical to 95% of the population because it contains numerous legal changes. I’d actually be angry if they did waste their time reading every page of the bill. Not caring what was in it is a different matter….

    Also, the provision was a political stunt to show that Congress is a bunch of normal people as well. It was supposed to be removed in the final bill, but sometimes politics gets in the way.

  • “Congressional bills are not made to be read.”
    Actually they are read all the time by attorneys like me. Congress has the resources to have had this bill read over countless times by staff attorneys who could have made the members aware of booby-traps in the bill like this one.

  • Agreed. I just hate when people criticize member’s of Congress for not reading legislation. I think it’s valid to wonder why their staff isn’t preparing them better.

  • Suits by non-members of Congress to enforce this provision

    I’m not sure how they would have standing to sue.

  • As someone who lacks an understanding of how many of these legal issues of standing and such work, can the lawyers here help me understand a bit how something like this works?

    As I understand the NY Times piece, the legislation as passed includes a provision that members of congress no longer be included in the federal employee health plan. Through an oversight, this provision appears to go into effect before the insurance exchanges are available as fall-back.

    I would assume, neither those in congress nor the current administration is all that enthusiastic to revoke coverage from representatives and their staffs before the exchanges are available.

    Is any particular group within the government required to enforce the provision as written? Or is BA saying that this would never go into effect because there would be no one with both the interest and the standing to insist on enforcement?

  • I doubt if they would be held ultimately to have standing, although I am not certain on that point. What I am certain of is that suits will be filed and that the publicity that this will gain will further lower, if that is possible, the view of the public as to the competency of Congress.

  • Vis a vis staff reading the legislation: sometimes the doesn’t even do that. I know someone who is a staff member for a Senator, and they were completely blindsided by a provision in the Stimulus Bill that they didn’t realize was in the bill – word searches failed to pick up on the provision because of the way it was worded. So yeah, it’s remarkable what gets into these bills without either the reps or their staff knowing.

  • Darwin,

    A citizen suit to enforce the provision would, I think, go nowhere, as there would not be standing to sue. My understanding is that the OPM would be charged to enforce the statute. If the issue really is clear cut I expect the OPM would enforce the law, but if congress makes a big enough squawk they might choose to interpret the statute to have a later effective date (assuming a non-frivolous argument can be made on that score).

  • Is any particular group within the government required to enforce the provision as written?

    Yes. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has the duty to enforce this. They would treat such persons just like anyone else who lost their eligibility to participate in FEHBP.

    It should be noted that this provision was not written by the Democrats but came from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Grassley is not known as a deep thinker or particularly good legislative draftsman.

  • This is a problem at the state level too. I deal all the time with the consequences of bills that pass the Illinois General Assembly without legislators having taken the time to read them. Agency rules and regulations can be just as bad, if the agency hasn’t taken the time to read the bill/statute that the rules are supposed to implement. I am sure this happens at the federal level also.

  • My understanding is that the OPM would be charged to enforce the statute. If the issue really is clear cut I expect the OPM would enforce the law, but if congress makes a big enough squawk they might choose to interpret the statute to have a later effective date

    Looks like it’s the latter.

Is John Paul II still great?

Monday, April 12, AD 2010

I’ve been asking myself that question as I’ve read the discussions about the sex abuse scandal and asked it again while I read Ross Douthat’s editorial at the NYT this morning. The most pertinent part is this:

But there’s another story to be told about John Paul II and his besieged successor. The last pope was a great man, but he was also a weak administrator, a poor delegator, and sometimes a dreadful judge of character.

The church’s dilatory response to the sex abuse scandals was a testament to these weaknesses. So was John Paul’s friendship with the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ. The last pope loved him and defended him. But we know now that Father Maciel was a sexually voracious sociopath. And thanks to a recent exposé by The National Catholic Reporter’s Jason Berry, we know the secret of Maciel’s Vatican success: He was an extraordinary fund-raiser, and those funds often flowed to members of John Paul’s inner circle.

Only one churchman comes out of Berry’s story looking good: Joseph Ratzinger. Berry recounts how Ratzinger lectured to a group of Legionary priests, and was subsequently handed an envelope of money “for his charitable use.” The cardinal “was tough as nails in a very cordial way,” a witness said, and turned the money down.

This isn’t an isolated case. In the 1990s, it was Ratzinger who pushed for a full investigation of Hans Hermann Groer, the Vienna cardinal accused of pedophilia, only to have his efforts blocked in the Vatican. It was Ratzinger who persuaded John Paul, in 2001, to centralize the church’s haphazard system for handling sex abuse allegations in his office. It was Ratzinger who re-opened the long-dormant investigation into Maciel’s conduct in 2004, just days after John Paul II had honored the Legionaries in a Vatican ceremony. It was Ratzinger, as Pope Benedict, who banished Maciel to a monastery and ordered a comprehensive inquiry into his order.

So the high-flying John Paul let scandals spread beneath his feet, and the uncharismatic Ratzinger was left to clean them up. This pattern extends to other fraught issues that the last pope tended to avoid — the debasement of the Catholic liturgy, or the rise of Islam in once-Christian Europe. And it extends to the caliber of the church’s bishops, where Benedict’s appointments are widely viewed as an improvement over the choices John Paul made. It isn’t a coincidence that some of the most forthright ecclesiastical responses to the abuse scandal have come from friends and protégés of the current pope.

Douthat is not alone here; most have pointed out (including Rod Dreher, who left the Church b/c of his disappointment w/ the abuse scandals) that Benedict has gone to great lengths to clean up the mess that his predecessor made. But does a “great” make that kind of mess?

Now I certainly think that JPII is a saint. I don’t think that’s in question. Interestingly enough, I have not gathered from the media’s coverage that they would disagree with that. In fact, I would say that he probably merits very serious consideration as a doctor of the Church for Fides et Ratio and “man and Woman He Created Them: a theology of the body” Heck, I even have a poster of him in my living room (which is useful for showing to Mormon missionaries when they ask if I’m religious).

But having the title of “the great” means something extra than sainthood, doesn’t it?

Of course, this is difficult b/c “the great” title has no requirements, no set guidelines. This can be a big deal, as often the rules determine the result (for example: the importance you attach to Superbowl wins affects whether you think Manning or Brady is superior. of course this question is irrelevant b/c Brees is better than both of them but I digress).

Adding further difficulty is determining how significant this scandal is. While I’m sure this has profoundly affected those who have suffered from child abuse, I’m not sure if this will be a big deal thirty, fifty, a hundred years down the road. Right now of course it seems huge but how many people will be aware of it in the coming generations?

For JPII to not be determined great, it would have to be that the sex abuse scandal made enough of a dent in his legacy. This is not a minor feat, as JPII deserves significant credit for stabilizing the Church following Vatican II (setting the stage for the current traditonalist revival), excellent contributions to theology (including Fides et Ratio and Theology of the Body), an excellent charismatic approach that changed the nature of the papacy, and-oh yeah-helping to peacefully bring down the Soviet Union.

I tend to think that in the end, he will be deemed great though for the moment I hesitate to use the term. In the end, I think this storm will pass and we’ll be left with the memories of a great man with great accomplishments. But I think it’s possible that in reflecting on the failures of JPII’s papacy that perhaps we’ll choose not to use the term, and that’s not a possibility many were entertaining 5 years ago when JPII came into eternal life.

I would really like to know how other people are approaching this problem. Please leave comments.

Of course, one has to think that if Benedict is doing better than JPII, and JPII is “the great”, ought perhaps Benedict be up for the term? Food for thought.

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27 Responses to Is John Paul II still great?

  • On one point I agree with Douthat is that JP2 overlooked liturgical abuse. Even to the point of participating in it himself “hoping” that his example would lead others to change, but alas we’ve seen how this has failed miserably.

    Thank goodness for Pope Benedict!

  • The failure to adequately address the sex abuse scandal was the great failing of the JPII papacy.

    Yet I came into the Church in 2004 – just after the height of the scandal in the U.S. in 2002. Not only was the Church’s poor handling of the crisis NOT an impediment to me, but I have my doubts that I would be here but for JPII. I had loved John Paul and considered him “the Great” for well over 20 years before I ever entered the Church.

    I think there can be no doubt to anyone who saw the entirety of JPII’s papacy and witnessed his compelling presence on the world stage – his contribution to the fall of Eastern European communism, alone, in my view, merits the sobriquet “the Great” – that such a title is apt.

  • Jay:

    You actually touch on a problem I have in evaluating this: when I really came into the faith (although I was a cradle Catholic) Benedict was pope, not JPII. So it’s hard for me to really evaluate his papacy like most others can.

  • I have to say that my love for JPII was the sort of love that one might feel for the “great man” like George Washington or Abe Lincoln. It’s not so much a personal attachment as it is an admiration for someone who is much larger than just himself. I think many people of different faiths and no faiths recognized that in JPII, and this is part of why I believe “the Great” is applicable.

    That said, the love I feel for Benedict is a much more personalized love, like one might have for a kindly old grandfather or a favorite uncle. He might not be a “great” man, but, more importantly, he is a “good” man. And that is why I am so angered by these unfair attacks upon his character.

  • “So the high-flying John Paul let scandals spread beneath his feet, and the uncharismatic Ratzinger was left to clean them up.”

    +

    “[Pope Benedict] might not be a “great” man, but, more importantly, he is a “good” man. And that is why I am so angered by these unfair attacks upon his character.”

    =

    Exactly.

  • This is why it should take decades, if not centuries to determine canonization… you need the hindsight of history, the unfolding of events and calm nerves to soberly assess these matters…

  • Anthiny:

    true. Now, I’m ok w/ Mother Teresa & JPII getting accelerated b/c I think that it’s pretty obvious that their spirituality & their following are more than enough. But for most saints, waiting a while is a good thing and it’s done for the reasons you point out.

    That said, I still want to see Sheen canonized soon, preferably yesterday.

  • I think the problem is it is John Paul the II versus Benedict. It was not till Benedict read all those scope of the problem. At this stage John Paul the II was entering the last stages of his life. Thought the Pope had some judgment lapses after (again lets face it he was again in bad shape) it does appear he backed Ratzinger on taking control. So it is perhaps a tad unfair of making it just Ratzinger versu John Paul the II

    However what about PAUL THE VI. The exahustive John Jay report shows these incidents of abuse peaked in 79 and we start seeing a dramtic fall after 84

    In fact new cases that are not decades old have been old are rare. I think there just 6 reported credible(it could have happened) allegations last year.

    John Paul the II and his reforms and the Bishops he put in(they were not all bad) I think hasto be looked at here. It is apparent that a good bit of this occured even before JOhn Paul the II got on though by reading media reports one would miss that fact.

    So I would say the failure of this mostly applies to Bishops and others that were supervising the Seminaries and their Priest from a much earlier period.

    Not to absolve John Paul the II from bad adminstrative skills in this regard. Yet to be honest it appears this was born under a lot leadership before he came on board in Rome

  • I made a passing comment about a week ago on this site about how I didn’t like the designation “the Great” used for JP2. I’m grateful that someone took up the subject in an article.

    There is a tendency to overdramatize the times that a person lives in. (I suspect we do that more today, but saying that may be an example of overdramatizing things.) The Church has to be careful not to do that, because Her majesty and holiness are more apparent when viewed across history. I think the Church has to be sparing with its praise of our contemporaries.

    There have been seven people, if I remember correctly, that the Church has regularly labelled “the Great”. Among popes, Leo, Gregory, and Nicholas; the remainder are Doctors and/or Fathers of the Church. You could pack a church with stained glass and statues of great but not Great saints: Augustine, Benedict, Joan of Arc, and Ignatius of Loyola are among the Church’s “also-rans”.

    What did John Paul do that made him a “Great”? Was his theology head-and-shoulders better than Theresa of Avila and Francis of Asissi? Did he really influence history more than Athanasius? Pius V, now there was a man who influenced history, defended the liturgy, fought heresy, and honored the rosary. John Paul II may have defeated communism without firing a shot, but he also did it without saving a soul – where is the blossoming of Catholicism in eastern Europe, outside of Poland?

    That’s my argument without mentioning Father Maciel. The fact is that John Paul hasn’t even been canonized yet. It’s impious to list him as great among the saints, and imprudent to do so with any saint without decades of reflection.

  • To the thought of the title “The Great” – in which direction would the Church have gone without him? I believe God knows what he is doing. he put the right person in as Pope at the right time. I am glad he has his short-comings – he is human after all. I don’t then Cardinal Ratzinger minded his role in that all too much.

    So yes I believe “The Great” fits in relation to JPII.

  • That said, I still want to see Sheen canonized soon, preferably yesterday.

    I have a friend who studied Sheen extensively for his license thesis; fwiw, as he progressed in his studies, he became less convinced that Sheen should be canonized. It’s not that Sheen wasn’t an excellent catechist or person; just that he had some well known faults and lifestyle choices (vanity and a taste for the finer things in life) that aren’t typically associated with sainthood. I’m not trying to trash Bishop Sheen. I have great affection for G.K. Chesterton, but I’m not sure he is an ideal candidate for canonization either.

    As for Benedict and John Paul II, John Paul II was a great man and a saint from everything I’ve read. I think the same of Benedict. It must be said, however, that John Paul II had many failings as an administrator, most notably a tendency to trust that his suboordinates and people like Fr. Maciel were as virtuous as he was. In some cases that faith was rewarded (the elevation of Joseph Ratzinger comes to mind), but in other cases the results were disastrous. Pathological liars, it seems, can deceive even (and, one fears, especially) the saints.

  • Both popes are great and good men, and we are extraordinarly fortunate to have had them (and may Benedict have many more years).

    Yet they are men, and Ross Douthat is right that John Paul was, by some measures, a poor administrator. Even so….to be a Polish Catholic leader in the 20th Century was to be overwhelmed by evil, and to have been overwhelmed by the courage of hero-priests. I expect this was his bias in the relationship, for example, to the disgraced Father Marcel.

  • Marriage suffered under JPII as he supervised the new Canon Law which was changed to ignore the crime that adultery is. Under his watch annulments have been excouraged to the point of making marriage vows impossible to make that are binding under the scrutity of “inventive” canonists. Crimes against marriage by clergy and laity involved in the “annulment process” are rampant yet go unpunished, even when the documentation sits in the hands of the Catholic Church. He was well aware of abuses but did nothing to address them or to empower those whose marriage were laid to waste to seek justice.

    JPII is not and was not great. His case for canonization should be ended, permanently, and such a declaration should be made public. I was thrilled, as a man of Polish ancestry, when he was elected. But, as time progressed and Catholicism disintigrated I became more and more disenchanted with him.

    If Benedict does not address the abuses of marriage with accountability, he should be forgotten, as I hope JPII will be. It is that important.

    I await his growing into his job. He seems to be an improvement but only marginally so. He still talks a much better case than he acts, at least regarding marriage.

    I do not mean to say that either of these men are not
    “good” men. They just did/do not do enough to hold those men, especially among the clergy, who are not “good” men to account or to allow laity to defend themselves against these abusers. This should be especially true in nullity proceedings.

    What I experienced should cost many priests and some bishops laicization and perhaps worse. It remains disgusting that the current bishops accept and encourage adultery through their priests, even in the face of accusations from a person who defended their marriage and who is watching it. Benedict knows what is going on and leaves these men in their sees. By doing so, he IS part of the corruption regarding the destruction of marriage. He may not know the details of a specific case or accusation, but he knows such are made and he has made NO EFFORT to reach out to those of us who can name names. This is more than porr management. This is a choice he is making and one he is making very, very wrong.

  • Father Z weighs in !!!

    Is Benedict XVI a “better Pope” than John Paul II? A couple views and then Fr. Z really rants.

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2010/04/is-benedict-xvi-a-better-pope-than-john-paul-ii-a-couple-views-and-then-fr-z-really-rants/

  • Jh:

    Thanks for the Fr. Z link. Fr. Z knows more about Vatican workings than Douthat does. I also agree with his diagnosis of that “update” on Dreher’s column ( I think there’s something personal; the guy’s columns are soaked with a desire to return to the Church).

  • I’ve corresponded with Dreher before via e-mail about some of this before. My take is that he is a good man who investigated the 2002 abuse cases to the point that he couldn’t look at the Church anymore without seeing the scandals; at that point he had to leave in orer to save his spiritual life. There are many victims of the abuse scandals – those abused and those scandalized – they all deserve our prayers.

  • Well, anyone who played as large a role in the fall of the Soviet Empire as John Paul II did is I think fully deserving of the title of Great.

    His constant stress of the Culture of Life as opposed to the Culuture of Death is a message truly made for our time.

    He helped restore the morale of Catholics worldwide that was badly shaken after the chaos that ensued after Vatican II.

    His globe trotting was completely necessary as he used the force of his own outsized personality to help rally the faithful.

    He put an end to much of the chaos in the Church.

    He used the papacy, which he found in a very weakened state, as a huge megaphone to preach Christ to the world.

    His papacy I think was easily the most consequential one of the last century, and to fully judge him and the impact of his papacy we will need two or three centuries distance. His mistakes, and he made them, I think will be dwarfed by the long term impact of his successes.

  • What Donald said….

  • At this point in history, people who admire him as a hero, even for religious reasons, are free to label him “the Great.” Me, I like Wayne Gretzky.

    I’m not sure what to make of turning the 21st century Chair of Peter into a popularity contest. The real issues at hand are the credibility of the pope and bishops, and what will be done to clarify the appearance that our two contestants cared more for their clergy than for victims of predators.

    And for those who pursue this comparison, what do you suppose our heroes would say to being compared man to man in this way?

  • I’d put him in the top three of the last century. Pius X did more to fight heresy, and has been canonized. Pius XII faced a more difficult situation. I can respect John Paul II’s writings, but he was practically the only non-heretic writing at the time, and that doesn’t speak well of the Church he oversaw.

    Things like the Soviet Union rise and fall all the time, if you look at history over the long haul. But the former Soviet Union hasn’t seen a rush back to the Faith. The Church has made gains in Africa, and suffered sizable losses in South America. I just don’t see this last pontificate as having been a period of gaining souls for God. That’s a fair thing to consider in rating a pope.

  • If Benedict does not address the abuses of marriage with accountability, he should be forgotten, as I hope JPII will be. It is that important.Karl Says:
    Monday, April 12, 2010 A.D. at 3:02 pm
    True Christian speaking. Ready to throw the first stone?

  • Pinky:

    I just don’t see this last pontificate as having been a period of gaining souls for God. That’s a fair thing to consider in rating a pope.

    I don’t know about that. To quote LOTR:

    “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
    “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

    To me, that last sentence is the best way to evaluate popes. JPII wasn’t the cause of the turmoil following Vatican II. He didn’t cause communism. He didn’t cause widespread materialism and secularism. But he did an amazing job fighting for souls against those forces, and preserving the church to fight in the future.

    As far as your specific claims, I disagree. Ratzinger was writing at the same time, as well as others. Just b/c many were heretics is not his fault. Again, did he do a good job combating them? W/ his writings and with the appointment of Ratzinger he did a pretty job.

    As for the Soviet Union 1) Most of the area was Orthodox, not Catholic. This makes it hard for the pope & Catholics to come into. 2) Religion was entirely wiped out. We shouldn’t underestimate the damage done by the communists. There’s a lot to rebuild (and as I said above, what was to be rebuilt was largely Orthodox).

    Perhaps the pope could have done better in hindsight, but considering the vast scope of the papacy and the tremendous gains he made in some areas I think he did very well. I don’t think many could have been handed the cup given to JPII and done better.

  • However what about PAUL THE VI. The exahustive John Jay report shows these incidents of abuse peaked in 79 and we start seeing a dramtic fall after 84

    There is a distinction between when an event occurred and when an event was reported to Church authorities. Here in New York, the statute of limitations which applies to the sexual molestation of youth was two decades ago extended to the 33d birthday of the accuser – i.e. a median of 19 years after the fact. That is exceptional in the penal law and there is a reason for that.

    One might point out that employees of the Holy See number in the low thousands. There are some 3,000 dioceses worldwide. It is not likely the manpower is there to attend to the personnel issues of each and every diocese, but don’t tell that to Rod Dreher or Ross Douthat.

    My take is that he is a good man who investigated the 2002 abuse cases to the point that he couldn’t look at the Church anymore without seeing the scandals;

    My take on it is that he is a highly emotional man who is quite incapable of suspending judgment about much of anything, has throughout the last 29 years undergone a series of affiliations and disaffiliations, and whose default mode is one of accusation. ‘Good man’, perhaps; ‘obnoxious clown’, very often. One can only hope his wife and children do not get banged up in the next of his serial midlife crises.

  • Please be accurate Piotr,

    The First and ever thrown was/is by the countless priests and bishops who continue to support the violations of tens of thousands of marriages every year by false nullities with the concurrent support for adultery and all the crimes that go along with it.

    If this truth being pointed out makes me “unchristian”, I am PROUD to wear that mantle. It is “unchristian” to hold your disgusting position.

    How dare you accuse me of throwing the first stone. You are a liar and much much worse. Where is your apology, sir?

  • Michael – Hey, you and I just disagreed, aired our sides, and ended it charitably! It really *can* happen on the internet!

  • Karl/Piotr

    No one throws stones in my threads.

    I agree with Piotr that karl is being very harsh on JPII, but I think it’s obvious that Karl has some personal experience with this that has hurt him. While I don’t want this threat to digress into a discussion on Church policy on annulments, I think we can all agree that there have been many abuses of it. As Karl points to Canon law as a source of the problem, I would ask Karl what changes in canon law he thinks would help curtail abuses in order to better guide the faithful.

    Pinky:

    Is that allowed? I may lose blogging privleges if I keep this up 😉

  • If people remember his as The Great, he ought to be called The Great. And Ratzinger was his teacher. JPII let himself be taught (however selectively :-). That does show greatness.

    He was however not as likable as The Cardinal and his cats and his writings on sacred art.

Are Great Books Not The Answer?

Monday, April 12, AD 2010

Patrick Deneen of Georgetown University has an essay on Minding The Campus in which he argues that cultural and intellectual conservatives should be more cautious about championing Great Books type programs in colleges and universities as an antidote to the rootlessness and relativism of the modern curriculum, because the Great Books format itself is often essentially relativistic:

Most curricula in the Great Books offer the various philosophies as inherently coherent and valid systems, suggesting to each student that there is finally no basis on which to decide which philosophy to adopt other than mere preference. One must simply decide. This Nietzschean (or Schmittian) lesson is reinforced by the typical organization of such curricula (where they persist), which is typically chronological. Given that most students today have deeply ingrained progressive worldviews (that is, the view that history has been the slow but steady advance of enlightenment in all forms, culminating in equal rights for all races, all genders, and all sexual preferences), a curriculum that begins with the Bible and Greek philosophy and ends with Nietzsche subtly suggests that Nietzsche is the culmination of Enlightenment’s trajectory. The fact that his philosophy is reinforced by the message that an education in the Great Books consists in exposure to equally compelling philosophies between which there is no objective basis to prefer only serves to deepen the most fundamental lesson of a course in the Great Books, which is a basic form of relativism. The choice of a personal philosophy is relative, and the basis on which one makes any such choice is finally arbitrary, the result of personal preference or attraction.

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31 Responses to Are Great Books Not The Answer?

  • I have been reading this Book:

    http://avemariaradio.onlinecatholicstore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=8070

    Called the ten books that screwed up the world and five others that didn’t help. By Benjamine Wiker.

    Helpful for me to read as I have been through philosphy in college but this cut through the garbage and broke up the idiocy of the logic.

  • If a Great Books program is run by relativists,

    That’s the caveat.

    Orthodox College’s like Thomas Aquinas College should not fall into this unless of course they begin wanting “worldly” respect such as Georgetown or Notre Shame, then yes, I can see his point.

  • Robert,

    For the record, while I think it’s pretty uncontroversial that many of the works Wiker highlights in his book have serious moral and/or intellectual problems (when you’ve got targets like Mein Kampf and Communist Manifesto, it’s not exactly hard to point to major world problems that resulted from the works) I’ve got to say I’m not crazy about Wiker as a writer or thinker. A lot of what he writes is heavily influenced by his rejection of evolution. And he’s a fairly binary thinker overall.

    I was glad to see that he wasn’t entrusted with any of the sections of the Great Books honors program during my time at Steubie, though I don’t know if he since managed to make his way in to teaching some of those.

  • I was exposed to some pretty average books, and one or two of the Great Books, by average teachers in college. I would have rather had excellent teachers instruct me about all the classics. But long after the teachers are forgotten, two things stay with you: the knowledge from the books (however poorly transmitted and received), and the awareness that there are people who’ve wrestled with the imporant things and written out their conclusions. I think that Deneen underestimates the importance of that awareness.

    Like a lot of people, I read The Closing of the American Mind and recognized the educational problems Bloom was describing. I got frustrated with the book at times, because I wanted Bloom to point to a specific tree and say “that’s the one you want to bark up”. I realize now that he was offering an overview of the thinkers that an educated person should know.

    One side note: Deneen makes a big mistake in his chronology. The Great Books programs weren’t teaching a new canon to replace Scripture. They were a continuation of the classical education under a new name.

  • I seem to recall from reading Mortimer Adler’s biography that one of the problems the U Chicago great books program faced early on was that people suspected it of having some sort of cryptic agenda: a disproportionate number of students were going through the program and then converting to Catholicism.

    People can mess nearly anything up, but I do think there’s a validity to thinking that if you get students to sit down and really read Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas and then Marx and Nietze, most will come to the right set of conclusions.

  • Darwin,

    A few years back a fine history professor at Kansas University was using the Socratic method I believe in teaching medieval history. An unusual amount of students began converting to Catholicism because of this and the university received numerous complaints from family members since many of these converts also joined monastic orders such as Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma.

    It’s interesting to see how many universities got away from this method of teaching. I wonder if there was some sort of reasoning for doing so?

  • “I seem to recall from reading Mortimer Adler’s biography that one of the problems the U Chicago great books program faced early on was that people suspected it of having some sort of cryptic agenda: a disproportionate number of students were going through the program and then converting to Catholicism.”

    That amused Adler to no end since he was a self-styled pagan at the time. He converted to the Episcopalian faith in 1984 and in 2000, just a year before his death, he became a Catholic at age 97. As long as there is breath there is hope!

  • Darwin I was unaeare of that aspect of his motives. Thanks for the information.

  • *unaware*

    Sheesh my keybord is broken 🙂

  • Great information on Adler Don – Amazes me 🙂

  • Chicago used to be described thus:

    A Baptist University where atheist professors teach Catholic philosophy to Jewish students.

    Also: The problem with a Great Books curriculum is partly, but not wholly, explicable by reference to the particular beliefs of the instructor. The whole notion of a Great Books curriculum is that there’s this “long conversation,” conducted across history, by vastly diverse thinkers, about some given set of issues. You are instructed to read these texts as responding to one another on some transcendental level, and not as deeply embedded within a particular historical set of problems to which they are trying to give a response. Consequently it encourages a kind of “abstract” view of the person, who him or herself sits outside of any particular tradition and is free to read and think about these Great Books from no vantage point whatsoever. Unfortunately this is not true.

    Also: Wiker is a hack.

  • You know, maybe those books “screwed up the world”, maybe they didn’t – maybe they’re just expressions of the times and not causes of them. I’m of the mind that someone would have thought of most of these ideas regardless, so its not “books” that screw up the world, it’s people.

    As a student of political philosophy I never liked the idea behind Wiker’s book. And as much as I respect Thomas Woods these days, after I read his review of the book I couldn’t bring myself to read it. Woods said, and I paraphrase, that Wiker had read and analyzed these books “so you don’t have to.”

    In other words, this man did the reading and the critical thinking for you.

    I’ll be blunt: I HATE secondary and tertiary sources most of the time (there are some good ones) because they are almost always tainted. If you don’t want to read Plato and Aristotle, don’t even bother with some guys’ interpretation of them.

  • Joe,

    Kind of how I feel about the USCCB.

    Tainted.

  • WJ,

    “You are instructed to read these texts as responding to one another on some transcendental level, and not as deeply embedded within a particular historical set of problems to which they are trying to give a response. Consequently it encourages a kind of “abstract” view of the person, who him or herself sits outside of any particular tradition and is free to read and think about these Great Books from no vantage point whatsoever. Unfortunately this is not true.”

    I think it is true to some extent. We have to understand that even if the great philosophers or political thinkers were addressing contemporary problems, they were also almost always attempting to draw broad generalizations based on a commonly shared human experience.

    I think the Great Books approach is a healthy antidote to the sort of extreme historicism one still sees at universities, as well as the “post-modern” interpretations, which usually boil down to deliberately incomprehensible gibberish. This is where we get relativistic ideas from.

    If we have a curriculum that points to what is unchanging in man, and what is objectively true regardless of the historical epoch (like, for instance, rules of logical argument), then we combat both relativism and fatalism.

    As always a healthy balance is needed. Some historicism is good. Some abstraction is good. The best introductions to great works I’ve read are able to both a) establish the historical context and b) lay out the idea with as little taint as possible. Then it is up for the readers to decide how much of a work is an unconscious reflection of history, and how much of it is an original work of a unique mind. It’s up for them to decide how much of the book is nothing but a technical manual of inherent value only for the people of that generation, and how much of it contains a message that is timeless and re-applicable in almost any society.

    A book is hardly “great” if it does not offer BOTH.

  • And as much as I respect Thomas Woods these days, after I read his review of the book I couldn’t bring myself to read it. Woods said, and I paraphrase, that Wiker had read and analyzed these books “so you don’t have to.”

    Heh. Yeah, that kind of thing rubs me massively the wrong way.

    Needless to say, I’m glad that the Church got beyond the Index Of Forbidden Books phase.

  • Well, I go back and forth on this, but to play devil’s advocate…

    The opposition you propose in your response to my comment is a false one. It is not that Plato’s Republic is partly “an unconscious reflection of history” and is partly “an original work of a unique mind.” It is clearly an original work, and Plato’s mind was clearly unique, but both its originality and uniqueness emerge as such only when they are understood in the context of the debates and upheavals of 5th and 4th century Athens. In other words, historicism properly understood is not *opposed* to the values you (rightly) identify, but is their precondition.

    Here I will put my cards on the table and say that much of my current skepticism regarding Great Books Curricula is heavily indebted to MacIntyre’s critique of the anthropology subtending this curricula, which he argues is a liberal, or Enlightenment, anthropology.

    Buying this argument from MacIntyre involves a bigger issue: whether there is in fact any neutral standpoint from which one can approach the Great Conversation. If there is one, then something like your account is plausible, if there is not, then it is not. But this is a big issue and, as I said, one that I’m unsure about myself.

  • WJ,

    I don’t think I gave you a false opposition. In my view, “historicism properly understood” is the same as historicism in the right amount. Maybe its not a good use of language to try and quantify such a thing, I can grant that.

    Let me put it this way: I think historicism is misused. I think it is valid when you want to ask “why did thinker x hold the opinions he did”, and to be honest, the way I approach history, the “whys” are not that important. Historicism is also good for discovering why two works from two different epochs with similar premises and reasoning will differ in the details and the implementation. So its a good tool of comparative analysis.

    Its invalid if we want to ask, “is this a logically valid argument? Do the conclusions follow from the premises? Are any of these premises still valid today?” I believe in reading, studying, thinking and writing with a purpose. Historicism can help us sort out the inessential from the essential aspects of a philosophical argument but it cannot itself serve as any kind of guide for understanding those essential aspects.

    I’m writing a commentary on the Book of Wisdom right now, for instance, that answers these questions in the affirmative. The historical context of the author really is a secondary matter next to the perennial issues he was dealing with – atheism, existentialism, hedonism, injustice, and the persecution of Christ.

    I believe that the “wisdom of Wisdom”, in other words, is timeless, applicable to all human societies in its essence. I think wisdom is what we can gain from the untainted study of philosophy, and I think the further we get away from historicist scaffolding, however necessary it might be, as you say, as a “precondition”, the closer we come to wisdom.

    And that’s what I seek to get out of philosophy – wisdom. Not a history lesson or a biography, but wisdom that men and women can use to make their lives better, to better serve God and neighbor, to achieve better justice, etc.

  • That said, let me address your last point as well:

    “Buying this argument from MacIntyre involves a bigger issue: whether there is in fact any neutral standpoint from which one can approach the Great Conversation. If there is one, then something like your account is plausible, if there is not, then it is not. But this is a big issue and, as I said, one that I’m unsure about myself.”

    The answer, strictly speaking, is no – no one is completely neutral. But then, consider the debates we have had here on this blog about the relationship between freedom and sin.

    We’ve said, many times, that although a life free of sin through the use of free will is possible in theory, it is almost impossible in practice – some say it is absolutely impossible, I will not go that far.

    But this limitation on our freedom is not an excuse not to strive to live a sinless life. We will stumble, fall, and rise many times on our path to righteousness and salvation.

    In the same way, our inability to become completely objective (which, as in the case of being completely sinless, would make us like God, or at least an angel) is no excuse for us not to try. I believe in a rational universe. There are objective truths in this universe, and that they are accessible, if not entirely comprehensible, to the human mind.

    Just as I have a moral duty to avoid sin even if I succumb to it now and then, I believe I also have a moral duty to come as close to objective truth as possible, even if I succumb to subjectivism now and then.

    So am I entirely neutral? No. But can I struggle against subjective limitations and strive for objective clarity? Yes. Will I reach total objective clarity? Most likely not. But can I move towards it? Yes.

    That’s how I see it, anyway.

  • I don’t recall hearing about UChicago’s propensity to make converts. KU’s program was run along more classical, with heavy Latin use. One of its graduates, a convert to Catholicism, is Bishop James Conley, auxiliary of Denver.

    “Great Books” are a poor substitute for mastering an ancient and modern language. It was once realistic for colleges to expect graduates to have near-fluency. Can that be the case any longer? I felt my language classes could have proceeded much more quickly.

    If you want to feel really inadequate, look up the multi-lingual Barrett’s Grammar, a bestseller in the 19th century.

    There are more comments on Deneen’s essay at http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2010/04/against-great-books/

  • Kevin, you’re right that the classics used to be taught in their original tongues. That ties in to my problem with Deneen’s argument. It wasn’t like the Great Books programs appeared out of nowhere and made a generation stupid. In reality, they were part of a long decline in the educational system. They were along the bottom half of the ladder, and they led to our current bottom rung. But the way up is with the next rung. Maybe we can get back to a liberal education over the next several decades; if we do, it’ll begin by reading the classics in English.

    Joe, I recognize the potential problems with secondary sources, but there can also be benefits. I always think of Malthus, who couldn’t write out a recipe for popcorn in under 100 pages. I also have some concern about the Great Books of math and science.

  • ““Great Books” are a poor substitute for mastering an ancient and modern language. ”

    Really? I didn’t learn one and I think I’m doing alright.

    I think nothing at all is worse than something. And I think studying the canon of books that have shaped Western civilization and hence, the world, gives you access to all of the wisdom and knowledge you will ever need.

  • I’d love to read Kant in the original language. Better yet, I’d love to read Kant in the original without having to learn German. Or, the best case scenario would be that Kant never wrote anything.

  • Hey hey! I don’t know if I mentioned this but I left my advertising job to join the Great Books program at St. John’s College in Annapolis.

    I’m almost done with the Philosophy/Theology Segment and I’m loving it.

    YES it is relativistic, but thats to be expected given the age we live in and the structure of the program. If you’re looking for a program where all the books will be seen in terms of a ‘Catholic’ response then this program is not for you.

    BUT if you are a Catholic and you put your brain on it can be a TON OF FUN to enter into dialogue with all the atheists, agnostics, etc. Every Monday and Thursday night I end up having really wonderful conversations with people, and I’m glad I made the decision despite the financial hit. Its only four semesters, which is a small price to pay for a body of learning that will shift the course of your life.

    Right now we’re on Kant after just leaving behind guys like Aquinas and Hume. Today I’ve gotta work on a Hume paper and then the rest of the month its a major paper on Confessions I’ll be slaving on.

  • Wow, now that’s a change. Glad you’re enjoying it, Anthony.

    Four semesters, is that a concentrated course for those who already have an undergrad degree?

  • Even after law school, I can’t recall a more painful reading experience than Kant as an undergrad (and does any famous philosopher have a name that invites more cheap puns than Kant)?

  • Darwin,

    Yeah for the graduate students here it essentially is a compressed version of what the undergrads here do. The program is intended for teachers, lawyers, retirees or people like myself who really needed a break from the corporate grind.

    Although my bachelors degree was in design my minor was in history, so I’ve had a hankering to return to that academic spirit. Plus, I’m completely convinced that the majority of Americans are completely clueless as to what is going on around them thanks to their mediocre education. We’re just not taught these guys anymore and we really should be. Trying to write and converse about the great questions that face mankind ought not to be something limited to an exclusive few.

    The program here is divided in to five ‘segments’ that focus on specific areas. You must complete four to earn the degree. Each segment is comprised of a tutorial, a seminar and a preceptorial. In the tutorial and precept you must do some substantive writing and in seminar there is an oral exam.

    The five segments are Philosophy/Theology, Natural Science/Mathematics, Literature, Politics/Society and History.

    Right now I’m in Philosophy/Theology and in the fall I’m probably going to take Natural Science/Mathematics. We only are using primary texts. There are no ‘textbooks’ or lectures or secondary sources. Its just you and Plato, you and Euclid, you and Augustine.

    So yeah, its fun. I have no idea what I’ll do with ‘the degree’ and I do want to get back to advertising (been looking for a job since January!), but hey— 4 semesters is a small price to pay for a lifetime’s worth of learning.

  • That’s hilarious, Donald. Yes, I remember encountering Kant in a “History of Western Philosophy” course and nearly pounding my head against my desk in frustration.

    But in grad school, I was introduced to the trendy post-modernists and deconstructionists, who were even worse in my book. (And utterly cuckoo radical feminists, who are the worst of the worst.) Read a bit of Lacan and Derrida and you’ll feel nostalgic for Kant. Read more than a few pages of someone like Andrea (“all intercourse is rape”) Dworkin and you risk ending up in the asylum.

  • The really sad thing Donna is when one considers the price one paid at college and grad school to read what one often considers in later life to be congealed nonsense.

  • I’ve got a question for the crowd: does anyone know of a Great Books blog? I love talking about this stuff, and learning from other people’s observations.

Sex, Lies and Planned Parenthood

Monday, April 12, AD 2010

Hattip to Patterico’s PontificationsWorse Than Murder, Inc, aka Planned Parenthood, has written a guide entitled Healthy, Happy and Hot.  It is subtitled a Young Persons Guide to Their Rights, Sexuality and Living With HIV.

This pamphlet is truly based upon irony in that if there is one organization more dedicated to promoting sexual promiscuity other than Worse Than Murder, Inc, I am unaware of it.  From passing out contraceptives to kids without parental consent, to promoting the idea that sex is the be all and end all of life, to killing the inevitable offspring that result from sexual activity between men and women, Planned Parenthood has done everything possible to promote a cultural atmosphere in which sexually transmitted diseases can run rampant.

So a teenager who has followed the advice of Worse Than Murder Inc and has HIV now is supposed to look to them for guidance?  I honestly sometimes think that Satan has a deep streak of the dark comedian about him.

Well, what sort of advice does Planned Parenthood dispense to their victims who have a fatal illness?    On page one the pamphlet stresses that people with HIV have a right to express and enjoy their sexuality.  But of course!  For Worse Than Murder, Inc, life boils down to:  “I fornicate therefore I am.”

In regard to disclosing the fact that a person has HIV to someone they are having sex with, the pamphlet states:

Some countries have laws that say people
living with HIV must tell their sexual
partner(s) about their status before having
sex, even if they use condoms or only
engage in sexual activity with a low risk
of giving HIV to someone else. These laws
violate the rights of people living with HIV
by forcing them to disclose or face the
possibility of criminal charges.

What about the well-being of those people who might be infected by you or have been infected by you?  Page 3 indicates that those people really have to take second place behind number one:

You know best if and when it is safe
for you to disclose your status.
There are many reasons that people
do not share their HIV status. They
may not want people to know they
are living with HIV because of
stigma and discrimination within
their community. They may worry
that people will find out something
else they have kept secret, like they
are using injecting drugs, having
sex outside of a marriage or having
sex with people of the same gender.
People in long-term relationships
who find out they are living with HIV
sometimes fear that their partner
will react violently or end the
relationship.

Sharing your HIV status is called
disclosure. Your decision about whether to
disclose may change with different people
and situations. You have the right to
decide if, when, and how to disclose your
HIV status.

Continue reading...

5 Responses to Sex, Lies and Planned Parenthood

  • Thanks Don. This bring up a lot of emotions for me. Among my sibling I am the only active Catholic and one has left the Church all together. They each have three children. Each child has been brought up in an atmosphere of “moral relativism.” In that each can find there own conception of God. If they choose to say there is no God – so be it because we all have “rights.”

    So I try to be the God-father figure to all of them and learned my lesson that I can’t play God. The most effective action for me is located in the Divine Mercy Chaplet and I continue to let them all know I love them and that I pray for them.

    I am in love with the truth and cutting through the lies of our enemy. This site has been a great tool for me to see honestly through the lies of Murder-inc. Which when the children are left to find a god on there own, may choose the a god that has sex, drugs and rock and roll as the result.

  • Incidentally, the Girl Scouts allowed PP to distribute this pamphlet last month at a Girl Scout event at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

    http://www.c-fam.org/publications/id.1589/pub_detail.asp

    http://www.suzyb.org/blog/_archives/2010/3/12/4478937.html

  • Thank you Robert. It is hard when relatives abandon the Faith. Often all we can do is pray, and talk about the Faith if they are willing to listen, which often, unfortunately, is not the case.

    Christina, I think most parents would be shocked if they realized how radicalized the Girl Scouts have become beyond the local level.

  • Pingback: Planned Parenthood and the Girl Scouts « A Voice into the Void
  • “You know best if and when it is safe
    for you to disclose your status.”

    I’m sorry, but isn’t this piece of advice, intended for teens about to undertake a sexual escapade, just ludicrously irresponsible *even* from the perspective of PP? It is clear, in any case, that they care more about their business than they do about the health of the teens they service.

One Response to The Last Enemy to be Destroyed is Death

  • I think you’re right on the sorts of things that are needed to keep a perspective on things in the midst of conflict.

    One thing I would point out, though, is that while I’d agree that the faceless nature of the internet adds to the effect, my experience has been that small religious and political communities often have pretty fractious internal politics. Back when I was at Steubenville, it really struck me at times how strongly feelings could run over seemingly small disagreements within the student small faith groups. You see the same thing, I know, within some pro-life and other social conservative groups. I think maybe it’s because everyone feels so strongly about The Cause (whatever that is in this case) that disagreement over what to do about is interpreted as lack of faith to the ideals at stake.