Cardinal Newman Development of Doctrine-Fifth Note-Anticipation of Its Future

Sunday, April 11, AD 2010

Continuing on with my series on the Seven Notes, I would call them tests, which Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman developed for determining whether some aspect of Church teaching is a development of doctrine or a corruption of doctrine.  We began with Note Six-Conservative Action Upon Its Past, and I would highly recommend that any one who has not read the first post in the series read it here before reading this post.  We then proceeded with an examination of the First Note-Preservation of Type here,  the Second Note-Continuity of Principles here , the Third Note-Power of Assimilation here and the Fourth Note-Logical Sequence here.  This post will deal with the Fifth Note-Anticipation of Its Future.

Newman contends that in the development of an idea we may see anticipations of future developments at any early stage in the history of an idea.  Such anticipations may serve as evidence, after such an anticipation of a development comes to fruition, that we are seeing a true development and not a corruption of the idea.  Newman demonstrates what he is talking about by noting stories of the lives of great men when an early event anticipates the later course that a life is to take.    

Nothing is more common, for instance, than accounts or legends of the anticipations, which great men have given in boyhood of the bent of their minds, as afterwards displayed in their history; so much so that the popular expectation has sometimes led to the invention of them. The child Cyrus mimics a despot’s power, and St. Athanasius is elected Bishop by his playfellows.

In the world of English politics Newman sees in the reign of James I an early use of patronage to influence political parties. 

In the reign of James the First, we have an observable anticipation of the system of influence in the management of political parties, which was developed by Sir R. Walpole a century afterwards. This attempt is traced by a living writer to the ingenuity of Lord Bacon. “He submitted to the King that there were expedients for more judiciously managing a House of Commons; … that much might be done by forethought towards filling the House with well-affected persons, winning or blinding the lawyers … and drawing the chief constituent bodies of the assembly, the country gentlemen, the merchants, the courtiers, to act for the King’s advantage; that it would be expedient to tender voluntarily certain graces and modifications of the King’s prerogative,” &c. The writer adds, “This circumstance, like several others in the present reign, is curious, as it shows the rise of a systematic parliamentary influence, which was one day to become the mainspring of government.”

Newman saw the Lutheranism of his time as sunk in heresy or infidelity.  He sees anticipations of this in the positions of Martin Luther.

Lutheranism has by this time become in most places almost simple heresy or infidelity; it has terminated, if it has even yet reached its limit, in a denial both of the Canon and the Creed, nay, of many principles of morals. Accordingly the question arises, whether these conclusions are in fairness to be connected with its original teaching or are a corruption. And it is no little aid towards its resolution to find that Luther himself at one time rejected the Apocalypse, called the Epistle of St. James “straminea,” condemned the word “Trinity,” fell into a kind of Eutychianism in his view of the Holy Eucharist, and in a particular case sanctioned bigamy. Calvinism, again, in various distinct countries, has become Socinianism, and Calvin himself seems to have denied our Lord’s Eternal Sonship and ridiculed the Nicene Creed.

Newman concludes by stating that a definite anticipation of a future development in an idea is evidence of a true development rather than a corruption.

Newman on the Fifth Note:

Continue reading...

One Response to Cardinal Newman Development of Doctrine-Fifth Note-Anticipation of Its Future

I Have Known Lightness and Darkness

Sunday, April 11, AD 2010

The God of Scripture- the Blessed Trinity- is such a compelling Mystery- a total All or Nothing Proposition- I can’t believe that we try to put this God on trial all the time- we try to use Him when all else fails or we make light of Him when all is well. I have come into the “All” phase of the spiritual life- like being husband and father- it is now cemented in my soul- it cannot be otherwise unless I somehow lose my mind, lose my heart, and thus lose my humanity and soul- God forbid I ever stray from Jesus’ Way for even a minute- I have known Lightness and Darkness- why I ever chose blindness I cannot say- some combination of youth’s folly and demonic persuasion coupled with a weak will and underdeveloped intellect- perhaps that explains much of it.
Continue reading...

Polish President, Top Brass, Die in Plane Crash Over Russia

Saturday, April 10, AD 2010

The London Daily Telegraph is reporting that Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, the Polish army chief, and most of the Polish political elite and their wives perished in a plane crash over Russia.

“It clipped the tops of the trees, crashed down and broke into pieces,” Mr. Sergei Antufiev reported of the Polish plane carrying President Lech Kaczynski how it crashed.  “There were no survivors.” Polish state news agency PAP reported the same.

In the case of a president’s death, the speaker of the lower chamber of parliament, Bronislaw Komorowski, takes over as head of state, Mr Komorowski’s assistant Jerzy Smolinski told Reuters.

Poland declared a week of national mourning as shocked citizens flocked to lay flowers and light candles outside the seat of government.

Notable Catholic blogger Damian Thompson, understanding the Polish people’s propensity for conspiracy theories, is speculating that many will begin blaming a cabal of Russian agencies for this tragic accident.

Let us keep those that have died and the grieving Polish people in our prayers.

For more breaking news of the tragic death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski click here.

Continue reading...

11 Responses to Polish President, Top Brass, Die in Plane Crash Over Russia

  • A terrible tragedy for a great people:

    May their souls rest in peace.

  • Amen to that, Donald.

  • “…and make eternal Light to shine upon them.”

  • It’s also worth mentioning that Bishop Tadeusz Ploski, the head of the military ordinate in Poland, also perished in the crash.

  • “A terrible tragedy for a great people.”

    Indeed. I recall my mom (who passed away recently) remarking when Pope John Paul II was elected, that if any nation deserved to have a pope of its own, it was Poland, whose people had steadfastly kept their faith under communism all the while Italians were ELECTING communists to public office.

    We should remember them tomorrow on Divine Mercy Sunday — a feast we owe to two Poles, St. Faustina Kowalska and Pope John Paul II.

  • …Shoot, I’m not prone to conspiracy theories and this sounds like the opening for a really, really bad conspiracy movie.

    Poland is “less developed”?

  • This is quite a shock – hadn’t heard of this till I came onto the blog.
    No doubt it’ll be all over the TV news in half an hour.

    Thanks for that youtube clip Don.

    I recall my father speaking very highly of the Polish soldiers during the Italian Campaign in WW2 when Kiwis and Poles, together with Canadians, South Africans and Gurkas fought together. When I was a lad, I knew several of dad’s friends who fought in the NZ squadrons in the RAF who also spoke very highly of the Poles. Only trouble was, they couldn’t carry on a conversation with them. (language) 😉

  • ace,

    You’re deranged.

  • Ace’s comment has now entered the Trash dimension Don! For the Poles Don, they rightly thought they were fighting a Crusade druing World War II.

  • It was reported that one of the three original leaders of Solidarity movement was on that plane also. I remember the first or second strike (1980) a priest came to speak to our prayer group rode up on his motorcycle with a bumper sticker Proud to be Polish. These events gave us such hope.

  • Ah, I have been busy with other matters and haven’t been online – but these deaths have greatly saddened me. I’m half Polish and my late mother was both very devout and very proud of her Polish heritage. Playing the comparison game is odious, but if Ireland was misruled by Britain for centuries, consider the lot of poor Poland, with not one, but two powerful and ruthless neighbors – Russia and Germany – to contend with. It was my hope, after Communism fell (much credit to the Pope and the brave men and women of Solidarity)that Poland’s story would finally be a happy one. This tragedy, coming on top of so many others in Polish history – well, my heart and prayers go out to those people.

    But the silver lining is that democracy in Poland is strong. Unlike many in the West, they are not a people who take their freedom for granted.

Pro-life Victory: Dawn Johnsen Withdraws

Saturday, April 10, AD 2010

The White House on Friday announced that Dawn Johnsen has withdrawn her nomination by Obama to head of the Office of Legal Counsel.  This was after a year during which it became increasingly clear that Republicans in the Senate, joined by some Democrats, would never vote to confirm her, and that the administration lacked the votes to break a filibuster.

Continue reading...

One Response to Pro-life Victory: Dawn Johnsen Withdraws

The Easter Rising 1916

Saturday, April 10, AD 2010

Something for the weekend.  The Clancy Brothers pay tribute to the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin which, although completely unsuccessful, started a chain of events which led to Irish independence, the dream of Irish men and women for centuries.  The songs featured are Legion of the Rearguard, the Foggy Dew and God Bless England.  Ironically, Legion of the Rearguard has nothing to do with the battle for Irish independence.  It was written during the Irish Civil War which was fought in 1922-23.  The title of the song is from  Eamon de Valera, who led the rebels and who, ironically, would end up leading independent Ireland for most of the rest of the Twentieth Century, and who admitted defeat in the Irish Civil War with his usual purple prose:   

Soldiers of the Republic! Legion of the Rearguard! The Republic can no longer be defended successfully by your arms. Further sacrifice of life would be in vain, and continuance of the struggle in arms unwise in the National interest. Military victory must be allowed to rest for the moment with those who have destroyed the Republic.

De Valera of course was referring in his phrase to “those who have destroyed the Republic” to men like Michael Collins, who was killed in the Civil War, who were responsible for the creation of an independent Ireland.  De Valera, at the end of the Irish fight for independence, realizing that the only terms that the British would grant which would lead to an independent Ireland would be unacceptable to many hard core Irish Republicans, refused to engage in the negotiations with the British himself, sending Collins instead, over the protests of Collins.  When Collins came back with the best treaty terms possible that would be granted by the British, de Valera denounced him and the treaty and the Irish Civil War was the result.  De Valera therefore got the benefit of the treaty terms, an Irish Free State, while still able to pose as an uncompromising champion of complete independence, something which benefited him politically to no end, for over half a century after Collins died in the Civil War de Valera started after he rejected the treaty.  Very shrewd of de Valera.  The morality I will leave for the reader to judge.

Continue reading...

13 Responses to The Easter Rising 1916

  • Pingback: Jigsaw of EASTER RISING/DUBLIN from Mary Evans :The Streets Of Dublin (EU)
  • The Irish didn’t cover themselves with glory in the Second World War. Unlike the Swiss they were seperated from the Germans by a large body of water, they could have pushed the boundary a lot more without the Nazis being provoked into action. Much of the Irish behaviour can be reduced to indifference. Of course being Irish they had to cover their actions with a swarm of empty words.

  • Well Ivan, 70,000 citizens of the Republic of Ireland volunteered to serve in the British armed forces during World War II, which, considering the size of Ireland, was not an insignificant contribution. Additionally, calling to mind the “great kindness” which Great Britain has shown to the Irish over the centuries, it can be considered a tribute to the Irish that any of them were willing to fight on the same side as Great Britain at all.

  • Donald, 70,000 is a huge proportion of a small population like Ireland’s. I take back my stupid remarks.

  • No sweat Ivan. A lot of us over here still recall the debt of gratitude the entire world owes the UK, and the British Empire and Dominions, for standing alone against Hitler for a year.

  • Irish Independence is rooted in neutrality. De Valera said that small states which enter major wars risk their existence without the possibility of gaining influence on either the course of the war or the ensuing peace.

    When the 1916 Rising and developments it inspired led to the democratic assertion of Irish Independence in the 1918 Election, and Britain continued to rule Ireland by force, and the Irish resisted by force, Whitehall determined to destroy the Irish democracy to preserve its own strategic interests. Britain offered a measure of self-government under the authority of the Crown, and threatened unrestrained warfare on the democractically elected government if they refused the offer, and manipulated those who accepted the offer into making war on those who rejected it. The Army who fought the British to the negotating table were crushed with weaponary supplied from London.

    Michael Collins recognized that his acceptance of the Treaty was made under duress (which as a plenipotentiary he had no authority to do), which is why he showed no scruple in ordering the killing of Sir Henry Wilson, heavily arming the Belfast IRA (while scrupulously ensuring the weapons could not be identified as British), and infilitrating the RUC and B-specials with IRA spies after the Craig-Collins Pact. He wanted to use the machinery of the southern Irish state to destroy the northern state, which is something no southern government has since attempted. A very cunning man.

    Although their anguish and fury at the plight of northern Catholics led Collins and Mulcahy to continue supplying them with arms (albeit secretly and indirectly through the IRA) the process already described whereby they became locked ever more tightly into the treaty in the early summer of 1922 rendered enterprises jeopardising the treaty settlement increasingly foolhardy. It has been well said that ‘the Republicans had nothing to lose by attacking the North, the Free Staters everything’ and we have seen how the IRA forces in the Four Courts decided to attack the north in a last gamble to overthrow the treaty in the days before civil war began. Until then active non-cooperation remained Collins’s order of the day” (J. M. Curran, “The Birth Of The Irish Free State 1921-23”, p179).

  • I doubt if Collins was involved in the assassination of Sir Henry Wilson, for the reasons set forth in the article linked below.

    http://fds.oup.com/www.oup.co.uk/pdf/0-19-925258-0.pdf

  • “It is my considered opinion that in the fullness of time, history will record the greatness of Michael Collins, and it will be recorded at my expense.”

    ~ Eamon de Valera

    Don, I won’t be as reticent about passing judgment on de Valera, but I’ll allow the words of our friend Dale Price to suffice for my own:

    http://proecclesia.blogspot.com/2007/08/85th-anniversary-of-death-of-big-fella.html#c5466077146080362000

    “Eamonn de Valera was a grade-A certified sack of what I know from shinola… morally withered descendent of Armada boat trash.”

    Yep, that about covers it.

  • That chapter is from a controversial book The IRA and Its Enemies authored by the customary sensationalist Peter Hart. It has been heavily criticized by Cork history expert Owen Sheridan in its methodology [..the reviewer here is head of History Dept, Limerick University]

    http://www.irishdemocrat.co.uk/book-reviews/propaganda-as-anti-history/
    and by Niall Meehan at Griffith College and Benedictine monk Brian Murphy :
    http://www.indymedia.ie/article/89666

  • I’d like to hear some application of “just war” theology to the Easter Rising. The IRB and their allies had no chance of success, and they knew it. Besides the loss of life, they created heavy damage to central Dublin, and caused serious hunger among the spouses and widows of Irish solidiers, who were living hand to mouth in Dublin at the time. Home Rule was already the law, the implementation of which was postponed due to the start of the Great War immediately after its passage. The Rising only served as an excuse, after the War, to go backwards, since “the Irish” had now stabbed their country (as the Brits saw it) in the back, with the help of the Germans.

    The Civil War was clearly an unjust war, since the anti-treaty side had lost, overwhelmingly, the referendum on approval of the treaty with Britain.

    Dev’s character was clearly manifested by his opportunistic split with the IRA, to enter the Dail as the leader of Fianna Fail, swearing allegiance to the British King. When challenged about how he could have done that, he explained that when he did so “my hand never actually touched the Bible.”

    Politicians. No matter the country or the party, you can not trust them.

  • “Home Rule was already the law, the implementation of which was postponed due to the start of the Great War immediately after its passage.”

    Actually the implementation of Home Rule caused a threatened rebellion by Protestants just before the outbreak of WWI. Segments of the Royal Army had agreed to mutiny if the British government used troops against the Protestants in Belfast. I can’t blame Irish nationalists for being skeptical as to whether Home Rule would be implemented after the War.

    “The Rising only served as an excuse, after the War, to go backwards, since “the Irish” had now stabbed their country (as the Brits saw it) in the back, with the help of the Germans.”

    The Brits already had plenty of reason to go backwards since the Protestants in Belfast had indicated prior to World War I that they would rather fight than submit to Home Rule. The huge overreaction by the British to the Easter rising played completely into the hands of the Irish Republicans.

    “The IRB and their allies had no chance of success, and they knew it.”

    Yep, it was doomed from the first. I can think of few military adventures that were less likely to succeed. It was crushed with relative ease by the British. Yet, it set in motion events which led to independence for most of Ireland. When it comes to predicting the future from what we know today, the 1916 uprising and its aftermath teaches us all humility on that score.

    “The Civil War was clearly an unjust war, since the anti-treaty side had lost, overwhelmingly, the referendum on approval of the treaty with Britain.”

    Unjust and completely futile.

    “Politicians. No matter the country or the party, you can not trust them.”

    Certainly I would agree as to the vast majority of them.

  • “The Rising only served as an excuse, after the War, to go backwards, since “the Irish” had now stabbed their country (as the Brits saw it) in the back, with the help of the Germans.”

    The 1916 Rising took place in the context of the British Government having rewarded those who had openly, ostentatiously, and remorselessly committed treason (the Ulster Unionists) by putting them in government. Formerly, in 1912, Home Rule had the backing of the vast majority of people in Ireland, including many of the 1916 rebels such as Patrick Pearse, who actually then supported the Home Rule Bill. Ulster Unionists, backed by the British Conservative Party and the Liberal Unionists threatened the Liberal Governemnt with civil war. (Fenianism by 1912 as a military force was all but dead). Andrew Bonar Law showed his utter contempt for the democratic process when he declared that: “Unionsits would be justified in resisting by all means in their power including force” and that he could “imagine no lenth of resistance to which Ulster will go in which I will not be reasy to support them”. This changed the scenario completely. The government’s backing away from the Parliamentary procedure to establish Home Rule when the Unionists threatened it with civil war allowed Republicans to demand equal treatment. If Britain was stabbed in the back (she wasn’t) it was entirely her own fault.

    RE: “the loss of life”

    The handful of people killed in the Easter Rising immediately resulted in an instant collapse in recruitment for the mass killing in the futile trench war in France – a war which had been marketed in Ireland as being undertaken for the “freedom of small nations”, a rationale now exposed as a lie. Overall the Rising saved incalculable thousands of lives.

    Patrick esteems the 1922 Election as democratic but does not refer to the 1918 election when Sinn Fein won an overwhelming electoral mandate for complete seperation. Britain’s response to that decision was to threaten the country with a brutal conquest. The 1922 Election was held under the threat that the British Empire would undertake massive force to subdue Ireland if she voted the wrong way. An election held on those terms is hardly democratic and would not be recognized as so today.

    DeValera was not being ‘opportunistic’ by taking the oath, he was being pragmatic. There was no other way to take his seat, and Fine Gael had threatened his party with proscription if he failed to do so. De Valera had widely consulted theologians and ethicists before doing so. The Bishop of Galway, Michael Browne, advised him that his course of action was perfectly permissible so long as he made it clear before hand that he was merely repeating a prescribed formula and was not actually giving it internal assent. And that was precisely what he did.

  • Pingback: In Memoriam: Michael Collins « The American Catholic

If You Repeat a Lie a Thousand Times…

Friday, April 9, AD 2010

Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis has defended Pope Benedict in his column in the archdiocesan weekly newspaper.

In reporting on the column, the Associated Press closed their story with this:

Critics of the church’s handling of abuse cases are citing Benedict’s tenure as head of the Vatican office charged with disciplining clergy. The office halted a mid-1990s investigation into a Wisconsin priest accused of molesting some 200 deaf boys.

Dear Associated Press: the CDF did not stop the investigation. If you’d actually do some journalism you’d know that.

Continue reading...

5 Responses to If You Repeat a Lie a Thousand Times…

  • The communists succeeded in branding His Holiness Pius XII as a virtual agent of Hitler because of his alleged silence in the face of Nazi atrocities. The facts suggest otherwise, but they have been buried over time, and the mud sticks. Now, secularists (and others, including some in the Church herself) are trying to do the same to His Holiness Benedict XVI with regard to the priest sex scandal. The facts tend to exonerate him, but I fear the mud will stick. It will take a persistent and forceful defense if there is to be any hope for his legacy.

  • So, did you try to contact MPR to address their error?

  • I tried to contact the AP, but there’s no writer in that or other bylines, so I have little idea who to reach. And given that it’s been picked up elsewhere, merely trying to communicate with MPR seemed pointless.

  • You ask,

    “If they [AP] can botch this story this poorly, how can I trust their reporting on other issues?”

    So far as I can see, you can’t.

    All you can do is trace the facts about any given story that AP presents in a broad-brush kind of way, compare those to the facts presented from other sources, find the commonalities, then go seeking criticism from bloggers who specialize in the relevant topics to get a sense of which commonly-reported facts are open to debate or alternative interpretation, and which are thought by the bloggers to be missing.

    Rinse, repeat, for several days.

    Then you ruminate, allowing that picture simmer and stew until you come to some kind of conclusions about what actually happened.

    That’s how one “checks the news” these days. AP is just mono-sourced data. If you want information, even minimalist “satisficing” (let alone detailed knowledge) will require individual collation of data from multiple inputs.

    The darkly amusing thing to ponder is this: Were the MSM always this bad, and we just didn’t have enough sources of alternative opinion to know about it? Or has the failure of intellectual and moral standards brought us gradually to this point from some earlier state of being in which media organs were moderately trustworthy?

  • “Were the MSM always this bad, and we just didn’t have enough sources of alternative opinion to know about it? Or has the failure of intellectual and moral standards brought us gradually to this point from some earlier state of being in which media organs were moderately trustworthy?”

    Bad reporting there has ever been, and the access of the internet to multiple sources displays such reporting in bold relief. However, I doubt if there has been a time before when the ink stained wretches were so ideologically committed in one direction and so uncaring about their professionalism.

Stevens to Retire

Friday, April 9, AD 2010

Get ready for Obama appointment, Round 2.

Supreme Court Justice Stevens announces he will retire in the summer.

Not sure how the timing will work on this, especially as Obama and the Democrats try to avoid being too contentious right before the November elections. That might play in our favor as far as getting a more moderate nominee. It will also be interesting to see if the GOP can or will delay the nominee as they have the 41 votes to filibuster.

The names being thrown around are the same ones being thrown around before; we’ll see where he goes with this pick. Time to start praying again.

Continue reading...

39 Responses to Stevens to Retire

  • Jerry Ford’s gift to liberal Democrats everywhere finally decides to call it quits during a Democrat administation, which shocks me as much the sky being blue and water being wet.

  • I don’t foresee a filibuster. There are only 41 Republicans, and it will just take one R to break a filibuster, and in this case I highly doubt Snowe, or Collins, or even Brown would join in one.

    Anyway thus passes Gerald Ford’s great gift to the country.

  • Heh, Donald beat me to the punch by seconds on the gift remark.

  • Stevens being from Chicago Paul I was in a hurry to give him a proper “the Chicago Way” send-off. 🙂

  • I have to admit, going to 90 to make sure his replacement shares his views is pretty stout.

    I agree that the filibuster seems unlikely, but there is a chance and that might affect the choice of nominee.

  • Pray for what?

    I don’t say that to doubt the efficacy of prayer, or to discourage anyone from praying for the souls of the Supreme Court members. But the way this game is played, 100% of nominees from Democratic presidents are activist pro-choicers, and 50% of Republicans’ nominees are originalist pro-lifers.

    The only way loyal Catholics get someone palatable is if the paperwork gets mixed up in the mail, and Bishop Gomez gets on the Court and some liberal judge takes over the Diocese of LA.

  • Pinky:

    Well, one could always hope the Democrats make their first mistake.

    But if that’s not a hope, then I think we should pray that he picks someone more moderate on the issue rather than the absolute “abortion is a right and ought to be fully funded by the federal government” crowd. There are various shades of being pro-choice, and we can pray that we get a lighter shade than Stevens.

  • I for one am going to start praying that Scalia does not fall over with a Heart attack

  • I for one am going to start praying that Scalia does not fall over with a Heart attack

    Yeah. . . where will we find another judge as dependably pro-torture as he is!

  • Through Obama.

  • “Yeah. . . where will we find another judge as dependably pro-torture as he is!”

    Why the entire liberal wing of the court unless you do not consider partial birth abortion to be torture, in addition to infanticide.

    From the Ginsburg dissent in Carhart, the Supreme Court decision upholding a law against partial birth abortion joined in by Stevens, Souter and Breyer.

    “Today, the Court blurs that line, maintaining that “[t]he Act [legitimately] appl[ies] both previability and postviability because … a fetus is a living organism while within the womb, whether or not it is viable outside the womb.” Ante, at 17. Instead of drawing the line at viability, the Court refers to Congress’ purpose to differentiate “abortion and infanticide” based not on whether a fetus can survive outside the womb, but on where a fetus is anatomically located when a particular medical procedure is performed. See ante, at 28 (quoting Congressional Findings (14)(G), in notes following 18 U. S. C. §1531 (2000 ed., Supp. IV), p. 769).

    One wonders how long a line that saves no fetus from destruction will hold in face of the Court’s “moral concerns.” See supra, at 15; cf. ante, at16 (noting that “[i]n this litigation” the Attorney General “does not dispute that the Act would impose an undue burden if it covered standard D&E”). The Court’s hostility to the right Roe and Casey secured is not concealed. Throughout, the opinion refers to obstetrician-gynecologists and surgeons who perform abortions not by the titles of their medical specialties, but by the pejorative label “abortion doctor.” Ante, at 14, 24, 25, 31, 33. A fetus is described as an “unborn child,” and as a “baby,” ante, at 3, 8; second-trimester, previability abortions are referred to as “late-term,” ante, at 26; and the reasoned medical judgments of highly trained doctors are dismissed as “preferences”motivated by “mere convenience,” ante, at 3, 37. Instead of the heightened scrutiny we have previously applied, the Court determines that a “rational” ground is enough to uphold the Act, ante, at28, 37. And, most troubling, Casey’s principles, confirming the continuing vitality of “the essential holding of Roe,” are merely “assume[d]” for the moment, ante, at15, 31, rather than “retained” or “reaffirmed,” Casey, 505 U. S., at 846”

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/05-380.ZD.html

    Scalia’s dissent in the earlier Carhart decision which overturned a law banning partial birth abortion:

    “I am optimistic enough to believe that, one day, Stenberg v. Carhart will be assigned its rightful place in the history of this Court’s jurisprudence beside Korematsu and Dred Scott. The method of killing a human child–one cannot even accurately say an entirely unborn human child–proscribed by this statute is so horrible that the most clinical description of it evokes a shudder of revulsion. And the Court must know (as most state legislatures banning this procedure have concluded) that demanding a “health exception”–which requires the abortionist to assure himself that, in his expert medical judgment, this method is, in the case at hand, marginally safer than others (how can one prove the contrary beyond a reasonable doubt?)–is to give live-birth abortion free rein. The notion that the Constitution of the United States, designed, among other things, “to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, . . . and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” prohibits the States from simply banning this visibly brutal means of eliminating our half-born posterity is quite simply absurd.

    Even so, I had not intended to write separately here until the focus of the other separate writings (including the one I have joined) gave me cause to fear that this case might be taken to stand for an error different from the one that it actually exemplifies. Because of the Court’s practice of publishing dissents in the order of the seniority of their authors, this writing will appear in the reports before those others, but the reader will not comprehend what follows unless he reads them first.

    * * *

    The two lengthy dissents in this case have, appropriately enough, set out to establish that today’s result does not follow from this Court’s most recent pronouncement on the matter of abortion, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). It would be unfortunate, however, if those who disagree with the result were induced to regard it as merely a regrettable misapplication of Casey. It is not that, but is Casey’s logical and entirely predictable consequence. To be sure, the Court’s construction of this statute so as to make it include procedures other than live-birth abortion involves not only a disregard of fair meaning, but an abandonment of the principle that even ambiguous statutes should be interpreted in such fashion as to render them valid rather than void. Casey does not permit that jurisprudential novelty–which must be chalked up to the Court’s inclination to bend the rules when any effort to limit abortion, or even to speak in opposition to abortion, is at issue. It is of a piece, in other words, with Hill v. Colorado, ante, p. ___, also decided today.

    But the Court gives a second and independent reason for invalidating this humane (not to say anti-barbarian) law: That it fails to allow an exception for the situation in which the abortionist believes that this live-birth method of destroying the child might be safer for the woman. (As pointed out by Justice Thomas, and elaborated upon by Justice Kennedy, there is no good reason to believe this is ever the case, but–who knows?–it sometime might be.)

    I have joined Justice Thomas’s dissent because I agree that today’s decision is an “unprecedented expansio[n]” of our prior cases, post, at 35, “is not mandated” by Casey’s “undue burden” test, post, at 33, and can even be called (though this pushes me to the limit of my belief) “obviously irreconcilable with Casey’s explication of what its undue-burden standard requires,” post, at 4. But I never put much stock in Casey’s explication of the inexplicable. In the last analysis, my judgment that Casey does not support today’s tragic result can be traced to the fact that what I consider to be an “undue burden” is different from what the majority considers to be an “undue burden”–a conclusion that can not be demonstrated true or false by factual inquiry or legal reasoning. It is a value judgment, dependent upon how much one respects (or believes society ought to respect) the life of a partially delivered fetus, and how much one respects (or believes society ought to respect) the freedom of the woman who gave it life to kill it. Evidently, the five Justices in today’s majority value the former less, or the latter more, (or both), than the four of us in dissent. Case closed. There is no cause for anyone who believes in Casey to feel betrayed by this outcome. It has been arrived at by precisely the process Casey promised–a democratic vote by nine lawyers, not on the question whether the text of the Constitution has anything to say about this subject (it obviously does not); nor even on the question (also appropriate for lawyers) whether the legal traditions of the American people would have sustained such a limitation upon abortion (they obviously would); but upon the pure policy question whether this limitation upon abortion is “undue”–i.e., goes too far.

    In my dissent in Casey, I wrote that the “undue burden” test made law by the joint opinion created a standard that was “as doubtful in application as it is unprincipled in origin,” Casey, 505 U.S., at 985; “hopelessly unworkable in practice,” id., at 986; “ultimately standardless,” id., at 987. Today’s decision is the proof. As long as we are debating this issue of necessity for a health-of-the-mother exception on the basis of Casey, it is really quite impossible for us dissenters to contend that the majority is wrong on the law–any more than it could be said that one is wrong in law to support or oppose the death penalty, or to support or oppose mandatory minimum sentences. The most that we can honestly say is that we disagree with the majority on their policy-judgment-couched-as-law. And those who believe that a 5-to-4 vote on a policy matter by unelected lawyers should not overcome the judgment of 30 state legislatures have a problem, not with the application of Casey, but with its existence. Casey must be overruled.

    While I am in an I-told-you-so mood, I must recall my bemusement, in Casey, at the joint opinion’s expressed belief that Roe v. Wade had “call[ed] the contending sides of a national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution,” Casey, 505 U.S., at 867, and that the decision in Casey would ratify that happy truce. It seemed to me, quite to the contrary, that “Roe fanned into life an issue that has inflamed our national politics in general, and has obscured with its smoke the selection of Justices to this Court in particular, ever since”; and that, “by keeping us in the abortion-umpiring business, it is the perpetuation of that disruption, rather than of any Pax Roeana, that the Court’s new majority decrees.” Id., at 995—996. Today’s decision, that the Constitution of the United States prevents the prohibition of a horrible mode of abortion, will be greeted by a firestorm of criticism–as well it should. I cannot understand why those who acknowledge that, in the opening words of Justice O’Connor’s concurrence, “[t]he issue of abortion is one of the most contentious and controversial in contemporary American society,” ante, at 1, persist in the belief that this Court, armed with neither constitutional text nor accepted tradition, can resolve that contention and controversy rather than be consumed by it. If only for the sake of its own preservation, the Court should return this matter to the people–where the Constitution, by its silence on the subject, left it–and let them decide, State by State, whether this practice should be allowed. Casey must be overruled.”

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/99-830.ZD1.html

  • Why the entire liberal wing of the court unless you do not consider partial birth abortion to be torture, in addition to infanticide.

    Wel then, I am confused. . . after all, since torture isn’t wrong, then how can partial birth abortion be. . .

    Unless. . .

    Of course! It makes sense now: abortion means no children. No children means no children’s testicles. And if there are no children’s testicles to crush. . . the terrorists win!

    Ex Conservatatione Quod Libet

  • I am sure phosphorious that you will be able to cite a text where Scalia ever indicated that he was in favor of someone’s testicles being crushed. On the other hand I have just provided you with chapter and verse where the liberal wing of the court views as a constitutional right the ability of an abortionist to stick scissors into the base of an unborn infant’s skull. However, I suppose in your view that since it is abortion it cannot be torture. Res Ipsa Loquitur

  • Don,

    phosphorius is right. Obama prefers murder to torture.

  • Bush’s legal advisors has defended Bush’s right (I don’t know if a “lib” president is invested with a similar “right”) to crush a child’s testicles to extract information from his parent. Scalia is known to have defended Bush’s torture policies in toto.

    Bush ordered torture to be performed. Did Obama ever order an abortion to be performed, partial-birth or otherwise? A distinction a “conservative” should take seriously.

  • phosphorius is right. Obama prefers murder to torture.

    Whereas I can’t think of anything that conservatives prefer to torture. they defend it every chance they get.

  • Actually many conservatives oppose torture. Many liberals (such as Pelosi)supported the CIA interrogation techniques (though she lies about it.) Obama, given his penchant for murder would likely not oppose past interrogation techniques if the right situation arose. Did he order any murders? See discussion on assasinations below.

  • Phosphorious raises some very good points, and I would like to follow up with a post of my own. I would just ask phosporious if he could kindly supply some of the links or other supporting literature that shows that Bush’s legal advisors defended his right to crush a child’s testicles, where Bush so ordered such an action to be taken, and the opinions offered by Scalia demonstrating his approval of such. I look forward with great anticipation the roundup of this information.

  • Google “Yoo testicles” and you will see the defense. As for proof that Bush actually ordered the crushing of testicles, child’s or not, I assume that’s a matter of State security that only a traitor would pry too closely in. If the terrorists knew about it, they would train their children to withstand testicle crushing, after all.

    But Bush did order the torture of prisoners. And Scalia supports it. . . citing I believe “24” as proof that law enforcement needs “lattitude” in the fighting of terrorism.

    But gentlemen, we digress. The point is that abortion is the litmus test, and nothing else.

    On that, conservatives can agree, no?

  • “Did Obama ever order an abortion to be performed, partial-birth or otherwise? A distinction a “conservative” should take seriously.”

    Nah, he merely defends it as a constitutional right and raises campaign funds trumpeting his opposition to laws banning partial birth abortion, what the late pro-abort Senator from New York Daniel Patrick Moynihan referred to as “barely disguised infanticide”.

    http://www.jillstanek.com/partial-birth-abortion/michelle-obamas.html

  • I assume that this interview on 60 minutes is what elicts phosphorious’ attempts to defend Obama on abortion by attacking Scalia on torture:

    Viewing Leslie Stahl attempting to question Scalia is rather like watching Bill Clinton attempting to teach a course on legal ethics. She didn’t have even the foggiest notion of what he was talking about.

  • “The point is that abortion is the litmus test, and nothing else.”

    The point is phosphorious almost a million dead unborn children a year and your desperate attempts on a Catholic blog to supply political cover to a President who is dedicated to this continuing forever.

  • Stevens’ retirement troubles me because, every time a justice retires many people speak in terms of litmus tests related to societal issues such as abortion and freedom religion. In discussing such tests for prospective nominees most individuals focus solely on the subject of abortion.

    The use of abortion as the sole litmus test that nominees must be subjected to is akin to tunnel vision because, most social conservatives fail to realize that the adoption of such a position is tantamount to heresy in many circles and no politician would risk their careers by taking such a position openly and publicly because, it would alienate an extremely large bloc of voters who see overturning Roe v Wade and it descendants as potentially causing even more harm than good because, attempting in their eyes restoring the status quo as it existed before 1973 could engender the return and resurgence of backroom abortionists who are not medically trained.

    I would advocate the development of additional tests. For example, how would the nominee defend the rights of the disabled, minorities and women?

  • “I would advocate the development of additional tests. For example, how would the nominee defend the rights of the disabled, minorities and women?”

    In other words, shut up about the right to life of the unborn. Additionally, what attempts are there on the scale of abortion in reference to unborn children to deny rights to minorities or women? Unborn disabled children are of course often targeted for abortion because of their disability.

  • I assume that this interview on 60 minutes is what elicts phosphorious’ attempts to defend Obama on abortion by attacking Scalia on torture

    I am attacking the smug, self-righteous Catholics who only object to the sins that political liberals commit.

    Which is every poster here, far as I can tell.

  • In other words, shut up about the right to life of the unborn.

    Because, of course, if abortion is not the only issue, then it is no issue at all.

    Heresy is not necessarily the abandoning of Church doctrine. Focusing on one bit of doctrine to the exclusion of all else will do quite nicely.

  • The point is phosphorious almost a million dead unborn children a year and your desperate attempts on a Catholic blog to supply political cover to a President who is dedicated to this continuing forever.

    Obama has dedicated his life. . . and beyond. . . the making sure that mothers kill their children?

    Wow. . . I had no idea. . .

  • What are the penalties for refusing to abort your child?

  • Phosphorious it would be much more concise if you simply said: “I’m a liberal and I don’t give a damn about abortion. Go Obama!” That is, after all, what your position boils down to.

  • The Cajun is right, how much damage does President Obama want to incur in order to nominate another pro-abortion advocate.

    I think he will, he seems to believe he is invincible and 2012 is far away enough to recuperate lost prestige.

    He apparently doesn’t really care about the Dems this election cycle, so why not write this election off. Besides, what’s the worse that can happen? The Democrats will have a small majority in the House and in the Senate he’ll have veto powers that can’t be overcome.

  • At no time did I argue that anyone needed to be silent about the rights or lack thereof accorded to the unborn. I merely assert that a multitude of sociopolitical issues must be considered in addition to when nominating a successor to Justice Stevens.

    As for my assertions regarding the nature of politicians and their desire to maintain their positions at the expense of their morals, such a school of thought has existed in some form or other since, the foundation of the Roman Empire. Indeed both Machiavelli and Gracian discussed this tendency at length.

  • Mr. McClarey, I know very well how many fetuses are subjected to abortion because of their disabilities. I myself am possessed of cerebral palsy characterized by ataxic presentation.

    I merely sought to point out that in my opinion if an individual chooses to focus on the issue of abortion alone, while failing to review the positions taken by a prospective nominee on other sociopolitical issues is possessed of a focus so narrow that it fails to meet the standard set by Saint Basil Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Bonaventure, and Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

  • Nathan, I rather think all of the Saints you name would be protesting outside of abortion clinics constantly if they were alive today. Abortion is the human rights issue of our day, and to sit on our hands because of opposition from pro-aborts is not an option.

    I think Cardinal Ratzinger put it well in a letter:

    “2. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorize or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a “grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. […] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it’” (no. 73). Christians have a “grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. […] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it” (no. 74).

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

    http://www.priestsforlife.org/magisterium/bishops/04-07ratzingerommunion.htm

    Catholics and all who cherish innocent human life must be untiring in their battle against the crime of abortion.

    In regard to your disability, my prayers. One of my sons is autistic. I have no doubt that if there were a test to determine autism in utero, many of his autistic peers would not be alive today, just as has occurred with 90% of Down Syndrome children where such a test does exist. This slaughter of the innocents must stop and I will never cease working against abortion until I take my final breath.

  • Phosphorious it would be much more concise if you simply said: “I’m a liberal and I don’t give a damn about abortion. Go Obama!” That is, after all, what your position boils down to.

    As opposed to saying that the mere mention of torture distracts from abortion, which is the only sin.

  • I agree they would be protesting, and they would be examining the positions held by candidates in regards to other issues as well so that could more fully ascertain the candidates in order to have a fuller understanding of their character, so that they could more effectively battle them.

  • Phosphorious your laborious dragging of red herrings through this thread merely demonstrates that my concise version of your position is totally accurate. Such tactics may work at Vox Nova, they are absolutely of no use on this blog.

  • I merely sought to point out that in my opinion if an individual chooses to focus on the issue of abortion alone, while failing to review the positions taken by a prospective nominee on other sociopolitical issues is possessed of a focus so narrow that it fails to meet the standard set by Saint Basil Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Bonaventure, and Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

    An aspirant for a seat on an appellate court of last resort who proposes to uphold Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton is in doing so subscribing to a particular conception of judicial review favored by Laurence Tribe. A judge engaging in authentic judicial review declines to apply administrative rules which conflict with statutes and statutes which conflict with constitutions. A judge engaging in Tribean judicial review assumes plenary authority to annul any statute or administrative rule incongruent with the policy preferences of law professors, so long as his shallow and smart-assed clerks can gin up a salable excuse. An adherent to Tribean judicial review is unfit for any office or public trust, period.

    Judge Stevens was one of four members of the federal Supreme Court who contended (in a dissenting opinion issued in 1977) that the federal and state governments were required by constitutional provisions to appropriate public funds to provide abortions on demand. Congress should have stuck a fork in this bastard a long long time ago.

  • In this country, ‘sociopolitical issues’ are the business of legislators, not judges.

  • The reason it appears that Roe v. Wade is all that matters is because, in addition to being about the civil rights issue of our time, it also has become a proxy for two opposing views of constitutional jurisprudence. How a judge is likely to vote on Roe tells me almost all I need to know about that judge.

Front and Center

Friday, April 9, AD 2010

Hattip to Father Z. In too many Catholic churches the tabernacle has been shunted off to the side since Vatican II.  Bishop Daniel Jenky of the Peoria Diocese, my diocese, has decided to do something about this.  Here is the text of a directive he issued on Holy Thursday:

April 1, 2010 +Holy Thursday

Dear Priests, Deacons, Religious and Faithful of the Diocese of Peoria,

The Mass, of course, is our most important act of worship — the very source and summit of all we do as a Church. A profound reverence for the Reserved Sacrament is also intrinsically related to the Eucharistic liturgy.

The Reserved Sacrament must therefore be treated with the greatest possible respect, because at all times the Blessed Sacrament within that tabernacle, as in the Eucharistic Liturgy, is to be given that worship called latria, which is the adoration given to Almighty God. This intentional honor is incomparably greater than the reverence we give to sacramentals, sacred images, the Baptistry, the Holy Oils, or the Paschal Candle. The Sacrament is reserved not only so that the Eucharist can be brought to the dying and to those unable to attend Mass, but also as the heart and locus of a parish’s prayer and devotion.

There is a kind of bundle of rituals in our Catholic tradition with which we surround the Tabernacle. As we enter or leave the church, we bless ourselves with holy water, we genuflect towards the Tabernacle, we prepare for Mass or give thanks after Mass, consciously in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament. At prayers and devotions, during the Liturgy of the Hours, in any private prayer which takes place in a Catholic Church, we truly pray before the Risen Christ substantially and really present in the Sacrament reserved in the Tabernacle.

These core Catholic convictions and their architectural ramifications have recently been reaffirmed by many Bishops in the United States. As bishop of this Diocese, I am also convinced that where we place the Tabernacle — and how we ritually reverence the Reserved Sacrament — is as important for the continuing Eucharistic catechesis as is all our preaching and teaching. With Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament at the physical center of our places of worship, how can He not also more firmly become the center of our spiritual lives as well?

After consultation with my Presbyteral Council, I am therefore asking that those few parish churches and chapels where the tabernacle is not in the direct center at the back of the sanctuary, that these spaces be redesigned in such a way that the Reserved Sacrament would be placed at the center. In some cases, this change can be easily achieved, but given financial and design restraints, plans for redesign may be submitted to the Office of Divine Worship at any time during the next five years. Monastic communities whose chapels are open to the faithful as semi-public oratories may also request a dispensation from this general regulation according to the norms of their particular liturgical tradition. There may also be some very tiny chapels where a change could be impossible. These requests should be submitted in writing to my office.

I would also like to remind everyone in our Diocese that at Mass, in accord with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the Tabernacle should only be reverenced at the beginning and end of the liturgy or when the Sacrament is being taken from or returned to the Tabernacle. At all other moments and movements in the liturgy it is the Altar of Sacrifice that is to be reverenced.

It is my conviction that Eucharistic Liturgy and Eucharistic devotion are never in competition but rather inform and strengthen our shared worship and reverence. May all in our Diocese grow in greater love and appreciation of the gift of the Eucharist.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C.
BISHOP OF PEORIA

Continue reading...

4 Responses to Front and Center

  • Amen.It would be a major move if the USCCB would issued a directive and place the Eurcharist and Tabernacle back where it belongs in the center of our worship for all Dioceses.

  • The modern genesis of the separate chapel is the document Eucharisticum Mysterium. Sections 52-54 are helpful, as they give flexible guidance on the reservation of the
    Eucharist: http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/2007/07/04/eucharisticum-mysterium-52-54-reserving-the-eucharist/.

  • May God’s Holy Name be praised!
    Now THAT is a BISHOP!

  • Forgive my ignorance, but what does:

    “I would also like to remind everyone in our Diocese that at Mass, in accord with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the Tabernacle should only be reverenced at the beginning and end of the liturgy or when the Sacrament is being taken from or returned to the Tabernacle. At all other moments and movements in the liturgy it is the Altar of Sacrifice that is to be reverenced.”

    mean?

    We kneel when we enter and leave the church so long as the Tabernacle contains the Eucharist. I think this is the practice referenced above. Is the rest of the statement saying that we are kneeling or lowering our head and such during Mass with reverence to the Altar itself? I hadn’t heard that before and would like to know 1) if I am understanding it rightly and 2) why the altar itself is worthy of reverence.

    Thank you,

    David

Obama Approves Assassination of Citizen

Thursday, April 8, AD 2010

When Catholics justified their decision to vote for Obama, they did so on two grounds: healthcare and foreign policy. The premise was Obama would actually save lives through healthcare and through his more peaceful foreign policy, thus outweighing the damage he would do through his promotion of abortion.

I never found that premise convincing. Not only did I think they underestimated the damage abortion does, but I also believed that they were ignoring what Barack Obama was actually promoting in his foreign policy. To make a long story short, I think most people assumed that since Obama was a Democrat who had opposed the war in Iraq that he would be the opposite of Bush when in truth their positions are very similar.

Since taking office, Obama has largely followed the lead of his predecessor. However today news is coming out that he has surpassed his predecessor in circumventing due process: Obama has authorized the CIA to kill a US citizen believed to be involved in terrorism (H/t Vox Nova).

The idea that an American citizen can be killed without a trial outside of battle is a troubling one, regardless of whether you voted for Obama or not. The death penalty is something that should be used only rarely (if at all-I’m w/ the bishops that it’s not good in modern America), and if used then used in the context of a trial. The rights of trial are not merely procedural technicalities but safeguards designed to protect the dignity of life: that is, regardless of what someone has done, freedom & human life itself are so precious that we take it away only after a deliberate and careful process.

To take away human life outside of self-defense is a power no one, including the President, possesses. One will hope that the media will publish this and emphasize it so that public pressure will dissuade Obama from taking this course of action. Unfortunately, one has to doubt that that hope will be realized.

Continue reading...

63 Responses to Obama Approves Assassination of Citizen

  • Oh, but surely the president deserves the benefit of the doubt! He has “more information” than we do! And he should be allowed to do anything to save american lives!

    At least, this is the defense you people made of Bush. Now you’re criticizing Obama on the same grounds?

    Of course, much of Obama’s foreign policy is sheer evil, just like Bush’s. But do forgive me if I find your opposition of it laughable, considering you defended Bush’s policies. Your concerns ring hollow.

  • An interesting debate on this topic taking place on National Review Online:

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/

    I found this comment by Jonah Goldberg interesting:

    “Re: Assassinating Awlaki [Jonah Goldberg]

    Just my quick two cents: I think this is a good and fine debate to have, but it’s worth considering that one reason we’re having it is that the White House wants us to. As Steve Hayes noted last night on Special Report, the news that we would be targeting Awlaki was leaked months ago, around the time of the Christmas bomber. It was releaked this week, perhaps to counterbalance the news that the White House is considering removing references to Islamic extremism in its national security strategy.”

  • The Catholic Anarchist’s response to the news that the man he voted for is willing to have the CIA assassinate an American citizen is to rant against Bush and his supporters. I am shocked, shocked!

  • I will have to let the others included in the group of “you people” answer for themselves, whoever “you people” is meant to address.

    However, I think you need to show me where I defended Bush’s policies. To my knowledge I have never done so on a blog. While I was very much a neocon in 2004, as I learned about Church teaching in college I came to oppose Bush’s foreign policy in regards to the war in Iraq, treatment of prisoners, etc. I don’t believe I have ever blogged supporting Bush’s actions, so I presume your accusation against me is nothing more than reasoning by stereotype & generalizations rather than any substantial basis.

    But of course, I digress. Whether or not my concern is has ill motives does change the fact that what I’m saying is true. I’m the one who voted against the man who’s trying to assassinate American citizens and you’re the one who voted for him.

    Donald:

    That is an interesting idea. Obama’s pretty good about getting the media to follow along; I wonder what the strategy is.

    And you are more than welcome to continue to post clips from Casablanca on any post I write. In fact, this post is surely deficient for lacking clips from that classic movie.

  • One of my rules of life Michael is that there are few things that cannot be made better by a Casablanca reference!

  • To quote my mom:
    “Life is technicalities.”

    I have no problem with murderers being targeted for death, I object to this one being killed without a trial to revoke his citizenship. (on the basis of having declared war on the US, if this is the youtube fellow I seem to remember)

    (Ed note-No profanity, even if merely abbreviated.)

  • I have no problem with murders being targeted for death

    Typical view of The American Catholic.

    (Ed-I changed your quote of him to what I changed him to say without the language).

  • Foxfier:

    They still retain human dignity and ought not to be killed, regardless of what they have done, unless self-defense requires it. There is no reason this man should not be “merely” imprisoned.

    MI:

    You really need to stop arguing by association.

  • You really need to stop arguing by association.

    And you should take your own advice, methinks.

  • MD-
    Sure there is: we can’t do it, and trying to will make for a nice big pile of dead bodies. Failure to act has already resulted in innocent deaths– in part because this unspeakable has been able to be at war with a nation without even losing his citizenship of that nation.

  • Foxfier:

    Do you have any evidence of someone who has died b/c the United States was trying to capture this man rather than assassinate him?

    MI:

    This thread is not about my decision to blog for TAC so please stop submitting comments in that regard. Needless to say, I do not agree with everything my co-bloggers or the commenters say. In fact, I accepted the invitation to discuss those differences.

    Furthermore, as one of your co-bloggers has just mentioned some support for Obama’s decision at your blog, you should check your own house.

  • Question:

    What’s the standard?

    What I mean is, under what circumstances may the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States authorize armed force against an enemy person?

    Obviously we don’t try all enemy soldiers in American courts prior to bombing their positions.

    On the other hand, obviously the President shouldn’t be able to declare any given Person X somewhere in the world to be an enemy and have him shot.

    Somewhere between those two extremes is a line, which can be demarcated on the basis of moral principles.

    What’s the standard?

    I notice that the article brought up whether the target was on a battlefield. In this war, what battlefield would that be? A Paris nightclub? An apartment in Beirut? A city street pretty much anywhere?

    It seems more pertinent to me to ask whether the subject is armed…but once the Nazis bedded down for the night, they weren’t armed. Yet I suppose we were perfectly willing to bomb the Nazi barracks, and I don’t suppose that was unjustified.

    What then?

    Perhaps the concern is whether the man is an American citizen? Hmm. The only way that seems pertinent to me is that, if we can capture him, we should try him for treason instead of locking him up until end-of-hostilities as an unlawful combatant. I mean, if we’re talking about a matter of human rights, and not just the particular privileges of citizenship.

    I don’t mean to make absurd comparisons here. Of course I see the difference between blowing up a guy’s house in Kentucky and blowing up a Nazi barracks.

    But I want to see the standards and criteria for authorizing force spelled out in plain language. It seems to me that doing this allows those standards to be evaluated dispassionately.

    So: Those of you who think the CIA hit isn’t okay: What’s the least alteration in the situation required to make it okay? Those of you who think it’s fine: What alteration would make it beyond the pale?

    Where’s the line? What’s the standard?

  • God Bless America! I just want everyone to know how much I love my country.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

    If this doesn’t make you cry, you’ve got the devil in your soul.

    (Ed-note: This is not an actual comment from Iafrate but a joke played on him)

  • I for one find this development troubling on several levels. This is very much in line with the previous administration’s foreign policy, but it goes a step further.

  • Yes, the thing that Obama defenders seem to be missing out on this topic is that by ordering the killing without trial of an American citizen, Obama is taking a step which the Bush administration explicitly declined to do. (And rightly, I would argue.)

    Ordering any kind of assassination is troubling from a moral and a legal point of view, and it is (I think) with good reason that US law has generally forayed this. Setting the precedent of ordering the assassination of a US citizen (even on suspicion of terrorist involvement) without trial essentially means that Obama is claiming the authority to order the death of any person, at any time, for any reason.

    That’s not something one wants any authority to claim. (And someone who imagines this is “the same” as having the authority to order military action is either ignorant or duplicious.)

  • I just wanted to make sure you all saw this, so here it is again.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

    Why, I love this song so much that I may never post anything else here again.

    (Ed-note: this is not an actual comment of Iafrate but a joke played on him.)

  • First, will whoever it is that is manipulating Michael I’s posts stop?

    Second, Michael D: did you read the updates on the link? Already the discussions are open.

    Third, Darwin, are you so sure?

    http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/usnews/politics/2856-cia-has-program-to-assassinate-us-citizens

  • Only American citizens deserve human dignity?

    I’m not really worked up over this one way or the other, maybe because I don’t see any other president doing any differently, but I do find it somewhat disturbing that some believe killing Americans is somehow less immoral than killing non-Americans.

  • Would you be worked up about it if Bush did do so?

  • Restrainedradical

    For me, the issue is that this is another step away from human rights; I agree with you that assassination is wrong, whether or not an American. However, there has always been a sense that Americans are given more rights and protections – rights and protections I think which should be extended outside of America, but instead, we see the rights and protections being eliminated, to make everyone equal.

  • Henry,

    Is this the WaPo article – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/26/AR2010012604239.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2010012700394 – with this correction:

    “Correction to This Article
    The article referred incorrectly to the presence of U.S. citizens on a CIA list of people the agency seeks to kill or capture. After The Post’s report was published, a source said that a statement the source made about the CIA list was misunderstood.”

  • The posts attributed to Iafrate are simply wrong. I disagree with the guy on a lot of things and I wouldn’t exactly consider him the most considerate and thoughtful person around the blogosphere, but while I appreciate the humor of it, it’s just wrong and makes you all look bad.

    It’s your blog to do with as you see fit. I’ve voiced my opinion in the past that I don’t think you should moderate even the worst of his comments because most people can see them for what they are. They’re a true reflection of what he stands for and his character. Posting comments under his name that he clearly didn’t write shameful and even worse than the way the other blog refuses to post comments that challenge the fallacies and unwarranted assertions offered.

    I would remove the comments, apologize, and promise to not do anything like this in the future. Common decency dictates that, and your regular readers deserve better (at least this regular reader thinks he deserves better).

  • Michael’s posts are faked?

  • Jonathan

    A couple things. If you read beyond that, there is still the assertion of Americans being targets, just the CIA source is wrong. Second, there are other articles and discussions on the CIA affair– not just that one article. So, it is possible they were wrong, but as I said on the VN post, there are all kinds of indications which the Bush administration favored such actions and did them — even if we cannot prove it, I suspect this is not new, a creation ex nihilo, but an open admission to what was once not open. That is my intuition. Even if I am wrong there, there is nonetheless evidence which, though not proof, shows why one can suspect it is the case — and again, the line beyond what you quote is indicative of that, too.

    Still, Obama is bad for doing this. But to believe it is new… and the Bush team opposed such an idea? Read Cheney.

  • The posts attributed to Iafrate are simply wrong.

    Agreed RL. Completely classless. Michael’s a troll on this blog, no question about it. And anyone familiar with his writings will recognize the joke. But editing comments that way is a basic violation of blogging etiquette (as is the delete-all-dissent (DAD) policy at VN from some writers) and it shouldn’t happen. Apologies are owed to Michael I.

  • I generally approve of what Obama is doing here. I can see the other side but I think he is solid COnst grounds here.

  • If it was found in WWII tha there were in a army camp numbers of Japanes Americans that had returned to Japan to fight could we bomb it or since it they are citizens would we have to send in the FBI to arrest them

  • “The death penalty is something that should be used only rarely (if at all-I’m w/ the bishops that it’s not good in modern America), and if used then used in the context of a trial. The rights of trial are not merely procedural technicalities but safeguards designed to protect the dignity of life: that is, regardless of what someone has done, freedom & human life itself are so precious that we take it away only after a deliberate and careful process.”

    I think calling this the Death penalty , while a good way to try to put this in the Civil Context , is largely incorrect.

    We currently have an young American Citizen from Mobile Alabama that is in Somilia (at least was) creatingterror and destruction in his for work for AQ. In his spare time he sends out videos urging all to the join the war against the United States

    Woull targeting him be the death sentence or would it be valid military exercise?

  • I woke up this morning to the altered comments. As they’ve been discussed, I don’t think it’s fair to delete them but for the sake of avoiding any confusion I have added a note to both comments making it clear that the content was not of Iafrate’s doing. As I didn’t do the editing, I think that’s all I can do other than to promise that there will be no further editing of comments in my threads other than modifying inappropriate language. I apologize for the editing that took place and am trying to rectify it as best I can.

    If there’s anything else MI would like me to do (or anyone has suggestions for me to do), please let me know.

  • Jh:

    I’m thinking about it, but let me ask you a question: what is the difference between an assassination and a “valid military exercise?” That is, is it always permissible for another country to execute kill orders for the leaders of the opposition? If say Robert E. Lee had been shot in the back during the Civil War by a Union sniper, is that morally acceptable as a “valid military exercise?”

  • Michael D:

    Actually, there is a real-life example you can use: the targeted shooting down of Japanese Admiral Isoruko Yamamoto’s plane while on an inspection tour. Yamamoto’s plane route was discovered because we had cracked the Japanese military code. The attack was authorized by President Roosevelt:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isoroku_Yamamoto#Death

  • Michael There would be nothing wrong for a Union Sharpshooter to shoot General lee in the back

    Union and Confederate sharpshooters were shooting Officers all the time

  • Jh:

    My example was poor. Let be more specific-General Lee is sitting 300 miles from a battlefield visiting with his family. He sits down to the dinner table with one of his kids on his knees. At that moment, the Union sharpshooter fires. Or we can play with the example of a regular private, sitting at home with his family.

    I think we would agree that a sharpshooter in the heat of battle is justified in aiming at officers-it causes confusion and makes victory more likely, not to mention it is battle. One can further argue that when one is conducting military missions, like the example Price gave, one can expect to be attacked and so is permissible.

    I don’t think that however we can argue that a participant in war is subject to be killed at all times regardless of whether or not they are involved in the war. A soldier on leave is not a target.

    What makes the problem fuzzy w/ Obama’s decision however is trying to decide what constitutes a battlefield here. I’m not prepared to say that the decision to be a terrorist constitutes a continuous act of war. I think the US has the right to seize him arrest and use force to do, including the force necessary to defend the soldier’s lives. I’m not prepared to say that if they find him unarmed & alone they can kill him.

  • Michael D:

    A soldier on leave is not a target.

    Exactly. It is more than this, but this is the heart of the issue — for a war to be just, there are all kinds of rules for war; among them is how one finds targets (which goes with the question, is the soldier acting as a soldier, or outside of that domain). To approve of assassination in this instance is to extend the domain of the battle and the domain of what is and is not soldiering, both of which are troubling.

  • Of course the classic example is Adolph Hitler. Even before we were at war with Hitler I would have had no problem, moral or otherwise, with anyone assassinating Hitler after he came to power in Germany. The question gets much murkier when we are dealing with smaller fry in service to evil.

  • I don’t think that however we can argue that a participant in war is subject to be killed at all times regardless of whether or not they are involved in the war. A soldier on leave is not a target.

    I may be wrong on this, but I’m not aware of any restriction on killing enemy soldiers who aren’t on the battlefield or on leave or whatever. Nor is it clear what the moral difference would be.

  • If there’s anything else MI would like me to do (or anyone has suggestions for me to do), please let me know.

    Whoever did it should personally and publicly apologize.

  • I may be wrong on this, but I’m not aware of any restriction on killing enemy soldiers who aren’t on the battlefield or on leave or whatever.

    You are wrong. The church condemns the killing of non-combatants.

  • BA

    Actually, just war theory discusses the status of soldiers, and makes sure that they must be, when engaged, combatants; military necessity and proportionality are a part of the ways this is addressed in classical terms. The soldiers can be captured, but if they have given up fighting, they can’t be killed as if they were still fighting. And if they are, for example, off the battlefield, they are no longer fighting.

  • BA

    BTW, this is why we can’t just take out wounded soldiers or prisoners of war; just because they are soldiers does not mean they fit the status of combatants, they can lose that status in various ways.

  • Actually, just war theory discusses the status of soldiers, and makes sure that they must be, when engaged, combatants; military necessity and proportionality are a part of the ways this is addressed in classical terms. The soldiers can be captured, but if they have given up fighting, they can’t be killed as if they were still fighting. And if they are, for example, off the battlefield, they are no longer fighting.

    I agree with all of this except the last sentence. I’ve never seen any discussion of Just War stating that you can’t kill enemy soldiers when they are “off the battlefield,” whatever that means.

  • BA

    Just gave you an example where this debate actually exists in the tradition — naked soldiers taking a bath. And if you agree that prisoners of war or wounded soldiers cannot be taken out indiscriminately, why? What makes them no longer free game, if they are still soldiers?

  • BTW, this is why we can’t just take out wounded soldiers or prisoners of war; just because they are soldiers does not mean they fit the status of combatants, they can lose that status in various ways.

    Soldiers who are captured or wounded are *incapable* of fighting, and thus have traditionally been protected as noncombatants. That’s a far cry from someone who is capable of fighting, and who isn’t doing so at the moment only because he’s not aware of your presence.

  • Just because they are wounded or captured does not mean they are incapable of fighting; many wounded people get up and fight, and many people who are captured struggle for release. They might be less capable, but so is someone who is not on the battlefield, without any weapons of any kind. Capture them, if you wish. Assassinate when they don’t possess a threat? What?!

  • You are wrong. The church condemns the killing of non-combatants.

    Well sure. But an enemy soldier is a combatant.

  • Just gave you an example where this debate actually exists in the tradition — naked soldiers taking a bath.

    Larry May (the author you cite) argues that you shouldn’t kill a naked soldier but says that this is not a matter of justice but humaneness, and admits that his position is not the standard one. The only source he cites discussing the issue, Walzer, treats it as obvious that killing the naked soldier is permitted.

  • Just because they are wounded or captured does not mean they are incapable of fighting; many wounded people get up and fight, and many people who are captured struggle for release.

    Right, and if a wounded soldier picks up a gun and starts shooting or an enemy soldier tries to escape then they lose the protection of noncombatant status. Do you not agree with that?

  • BA:

    The point of the article is that it is an issue of concern and debate within the framework of just war discussions. And humanness and mercy is within the context of just war discussions (see Augustine). More importantly, your answer “and if they pick up a gun and starts shooting” goes back to the naked soldier point. They are not with a gun, not shooting. Remember, one aspect of just war theory is response must be just — which goes with the humanness issue of the article but he didn’t put it in that context — that is, if you can capture without killing, that is what is expected.

  • “if you can capture without killing, that is what is expected.”

    In the case of al Qaeda-style terrorism, the likelihood of a Khalid Sheikh Mohammed arrest scenario is probably low. More likely the “combatants” will go out like the Madrid train bombing cell.

    This is what is so vexing about jihadist terrorism; it exists in limbo somewhere lower in intensity than conventional warfare, but significantly more intense than organized crime. The Catholic moral philosopher has his work cut out for him. What is the battlefield, and who are the combatants? Is a UAV-fired missile strike legitimately called assassination, or is it just the regular course of this type of warfare? I’ve seen this stuff argued back and forth in comboxes ’til everyone is blue in the face, but I haven’t found a good treatment of the subject from a Catholic perspective.

  • Well sure. But an enemy soldier is a combatant.

    No, not always. I saw a Marine havin’ lunch at the Pizza Hut the other day. Is he a legitimate target?

  • I saw a Marine havin’ lunch at the Pizza Hut the other day. Is he a legitimate target?

    No, but then he’s not an enemy soldier either.

  • No, but then he’s not an enemy soldier either.

    Not to his fellow lunchtime buffet diners, no…

  • This is a fascinating discussion. With regards to these latest posts, though, how plausible would it be that an individual Marine would be targeted for an attack?

    For the purposes of the analogy, it might be better to consider a high-ranking officer, someone who has been promoted off the battlefield but nonetheless plays a major role in directing operations–say, a member of the joint chiefs of staff, or the enemy organization’s equivalent.

    When and when would not that individual be a legitimate military target?

  • And what about civilian commanders like a head of state? What about president-elects who have no power yet but certainly will unless stopped?

  • Pingback: Blog Comment Policy and Conflict « The American Catholic
  • Has anyone yet proposed a standard for what constitutes a combatant who may be legitimately targeted?

    I mean, IF…

    1. He has participated in attacks, or the planning of attacks, against the U.S.; and,

    2. He declares himself to be at war against the U.S.; and,

    3. It is not feasible to capture him;

    THEN, if he’s in a cabin or compound by himself, is it okay to blow the place up with a Hellfire missile?

    Under what circumstances is it not okay?

  • * crickets chirping *

  • The way I understand it is that in war one does not directly aim to kill but rather one aims to stop an unjust agression. Such is the case with self-defense also. Not clear at this point but some argue this is how the Church has moved captial punishment – from punishment to defense of society. Thus the moral object (perhaps) is the use of force to render an attacker impotent and not killing of the attacker. That consequence may be forsee under double effect but again is not directly intended.
    Can such an argument be used here? There is a person who is in fact, if not at that moment at some point in the past and probably in the future, involved in attacks on the US. Can we apply the above reasoning. It seems hard to make the argument that one is not directly intending the killing of a specific person in this situation. Perhaps an argument can be made that it isn’t and is licit. Perhaps, if as noted above capital punishment is not direct killing, one can apply the principle of the state executing a person to defend society.
    Then it would seem clear the guilt of the individual would need to be clearly established. In that case one would need to argue that a finding by the President on secretly held information would suffice. Does the Church say that determinations of guilt must be public and/or judicially based?

  • Phillip:

    I don’t know of any direct Church teaching on that point.

    Unless there is some passage of which I am unaware which says otherwise, I expect that the rule is a matter of the morality of individual action, initially, with social and corporate action envisioned as an outgrowth and an organization of the former. It is to the individual act that universal and objective moral laws are directly applied; the corporate organization of a nation’s laws is reflective of this individual obligation indirectly, showing forth the moral pattern at higher levels of organization in a fashion similar to the way a fractal pattern is repeated at larger scales.

    If so, then a need for determinations of guilt to be public and judicial in character is not a primary moral obligation but an outgrowth of that which is healthy for society; namely, the rule of law and the need that society’s judgments in matters of life and death be carried out in “daylight” and with great deliberation whenever possible.

    That, of course, is healthy for society. But note the caveat “whenever possible.” It is not always possible.

    The law, as it ought, provides for instances in which a man defends his family or even his property by armed force against an intruder “in the gravest extreme”; that is, when the need to stop the criminal attack is now and the soonest intervention by police is ten minutes hence. If Person Y comes storming into Person X’s house in the middle of the night, and Person X stops the invasion with a firearm, thus killing Person Y in the process, no crime is committed. (Provided there’s no disparity of force, that Person X didn’t chase Person Y while Y is fleeing the scene, and so on.) The normal orderly intervention of society was not possible in this instance.

    So too there may be — in fact, certainly are occasions when a trial and a civilian conviction and incarceration are impossible responses to an attack. Military initiative is therefore required instead. I don’t think anyone denies this; the question is how to write our laws in such a way as to (1.) adequately anticipate this need and allow for it under the law, so that the rule of law is not visibly violated every time one of these exceptional cases arises, and (2.) write the law in such a way that it does not allow the unscrupulous, incautious, or confused to exercise military initiative in instances where a capture and trial are plausible.

    Writing the law to meet those two goals in a fashion sufficient to satisfy all observers is impossible. Satisfying most observers is extremely tricky even if some of them weren’t biased towards finding fault. In an adversarial political system, in which half the observers are finding fault wherever possible in order to win the next election, you probably won’t even be able to satisfy a majority of observers.

    Which is why I wasn’t surprised when, in response to my two requests that someone propose a standard or even lay out where they thought the lines should fall, I got the blog equivalent of chirping crickets. (Even among this usually quite vocal crowd!)

    Now in a sense that request isn’t quite fair of me. Or, if the request is fair, it isn’t quite fair that I should waggle my finger at everybody for not proposing a standard. After all, I haven’t proposed one, either!

    But I’m making a larger point; namely, that criticism of a president for “going too far” in this area of policy is meaningless unless one has a standard by which one may judge he has gone too far. Without the standard, how does one know if he has gone too far?

    We have here a crowd of folks some of whom gave G.W.Bush quite a tongue-lashing for the laxity with which he carried out policies in this area. Later, a slightly different crowd with (tho’ with some overlap) gave Obama equally nasty language for doing basically what Bush did, or perhaps a bit more.

    Now one would guess from all these loud pronouncements of fire and brimstone against both presidents that every poster here has in mind a standard of what is and isn’t appropriate target-selection, which (1.) he knows to be the correct standard, (2.) can articulate, (3.) can defend against other proposed standards, and (4.) which one or both presidents have violated.

    But I suspect very few if any of the posters here really do have a well-defined standard in mind. At least I haven’t heard one articulated. And I myself am having difficulty coming up with one, so I suspect others are as well.

    But why, then, are folks giving Bush and Obama a lot of grief, if they can’t even say for sure that either man is operating outside the correct moral standards for this area of policy-making?

    I suspect it’s for two reasons: (1.) We have a gut feeling that this targeted assassination (what a choice of words: why is it considered assassination, I wonder, rather than an attack or assault?) is going too far; and, (2.) Even if it isn’t, we’re aware that a precedent granting the president power to do this sort of thing is dangerous when wielded by a man without a well-formed conscience.

    Now item (2.) is entirely logical, and if we all opposed this policy on the basis of avoiding the precedent, I would not complain of holes in our argument.

    But it seems to me that some folks are composing their criticism in such a way as to imply that Bushama have violated a standard of policy-making which everyone ought to know and which Bushama has no excuse for not knowing and following. It seems to me that they’re making this implication, without actually articulating the standard, because in reality they don’t have a clue exactly what the standard is.

    And, as I said before, I’m not sure what it should be, either.

    But let’s face up to it. On Argument 2 (dangerous precedent) we can articulate exactly what the problem is. But on Argument 1 (violation of an objective moral standard) all we have is gut feeling. And I don’t think it’s very just to blame Bushama for not having the same gut feeling as we, and following it.

  • R.C,

    I think your points are well made. There is certainly a tendency to think politically and it affects both sides of the house. I think this is showing up now on this issue. I think it has been more prominent on the torture issue. I have asked plenty of times some very vociferous opponents of torture what licit interrogation looks like and gotten no answer. I think the terrorism piece makes traditional assessments more difficult and need to be looked at dispassionately. But this is perhaps a reflection on the current state of American politics.

  • The danger in this case, and many other cases, in this thing we used to call the “global war on terror” is this- we become too accustomed to the demonization effect that creating a special kind of warfare always produces.
    Because the Muslim jihadists who cloak their cause for war in their faith make us uncomfortable, we decide that they are terrorists, rather than merely being unlawful combatants engaged in combat against a signatory nation to the various Geneva Accords. When we have to make them special because they are non-standard enemies, we commit ourselves to mental, legal, and geo-political gymnastics that always seem to produce bad results and bad decisions.
    The no-good, non-state, illicit Muslim jihadi swine declared, through action, war upon the United States (a signatory to the Geneva Accords).
    Congrtess should have declared war upon them and their supporters wherever they may be found- what they did, was authorize the POTUS to take whatever military action necessary to bring them to heel.
    In this case, the POTUS had, and still has, the legitmate authority over the armed forces of the US to prosecute the war as necessary (in compliance, where understood, with international standards for war).
    What you describe here, and what is not particularly new, is the POTUS ordering civilian (non-military) security and intelligence personnel to take lethal actions in cases where such authority is suspect at best. If the military commander assigned to the area of responsibility locates, targets, develops and strikes said scuzzy individual into non-existence, so be it. But where and when will end the POTUS’ authority to issue “kill” orders against “terrorists” at his own discretion, apparently independent of his authority as commander in chief? Certainly not at the conclusion of hostilities. Unable to even formulate a strategy to defeat global jihad without conducting all-out war, the Pentagon has adopted the capstone military concept of “persistent conflict.” Do not look for the conflict to ever end, nor for the military to seek victory.
    At water’s adge? That famous dividing line for domsetic politics is now long gone politically, as well as operationally. The new administration has been most vocal first in extending to domestic political enemies the moniker of “potential terorrists” and in declaing that home grown extremism (worded to appear to account for MAJ Hasan, in reality the wording more closely fits previous warnings about Tax Tea Partiers) is a gfreater threat than Al-qaida.

    In my opinion, the lout is an absolutely valid target. So kill him in combat, not as a covert operation of clandestine intelligence services.

Stupak to Retire?

Thursday, April 8, AD 2010

Hattip to Gateway Pundit.  NBC’s First Read is reporting that Stupak is considering retirement.

Stupak to call it quits? With just a few days to go before the end of this recess, House Democrats are cautiously optimistic that they could get through it without a single retirement announcement. That said, there is still a concern that some important incumbents in districts that they are uniquely suited could call it quits. At the top of the concern list this week: Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak. The Democrat best known this year as the Democrat who delivered the winning margin of votes for the president’s health-care reform bill is said to be simply exhausted. The criticism he received — first from the left, and then from the right — has worn him and his family out. And if he had to make the decision now, he’d probably NOT run. As of this writing, a bunch of senior Democrats (many of the same ones who twisted his arm on the health care vote) are trying to talk him into running. The filing deadline in Michigan is still a month away, but veterans of that state’s politics are skeptical anyone other than Stupak can hold that district in this political climate.

Continue reading...

24 Responses to Stupak to Retire?

  • Whether Stupak retires now, or runs for reelection and loses, he’s already suffered plenty of humiliation.

    Just look at the poster at the top of this post — that’s an internet meme that will be around long after he’s gone from Congress (hopefully soon). His very name has become a synonym, at least in some circles, for being betrayed or screwed (“Stupak’d”)

    No matter what he does, he’ll still get his Congressional pension, and still be in line for some high-paid lobbying job or whatever. Either way, his last-minute cave-in cost him his seat in Congress and that’s good enough for me.

    Of course, there’s always a chance he’ll win if he runs again… though at least one Gateway Pundit commenter, who recently visited Sault Ste. Marie and says Stupak is “toast” there, indicates otherwise.

  • “Any decision, he said, would come after the April 15 deadline by which his opponents would submit financial statements to the FEC but before the May filing deadline.”

    With the iron determination he demonstrated in voting against his own amendment, my guess is that his ultimate intentions are a complete mystery to him at the present time.

  • True. But don’t underestimate the call of power, especially when those about him proclaim him a hero for his vote.

  • He’s apparently announcing his retirement today at 12:30.

  • Thank you for the update Chris.

  • Stupak’s fall reminds me of something out of a Greek tragedy. It’s a shame–I’m reasonably convinced he thought he was doing the best he could, but his collapse at the last minute has the potential to damage the country and the pro-life cause for decades.

  • Dale, I don’t see it. The shrill attacks on him have deeply damaged the pro-life movement in the public eye. It may well be that a few fringe folk orchestrated the attack on one of our own. But critics like the ones on this web site have allowed their focus to shift far away from the defense of the unborn and the persuasion of women in crisis (real or perceived) pregnancies.

    We never save so much bile as for those once loyal we perceive to be disloyal.

    And a “fall?” You speak as if public life were some high calling. If the man’s family has been the target of harassment and obscenity, the man is a hero for sacrificing his own career for the greater good.

    This is a sandals-and-dust moment for Mr Stupak. His district, the country, and the pro-life movement are the losers here.

  • Todd, how do I fit the pattern of “shrill,” “fringe” and “bile” that you decry here? I’m going to decline the invitation to be your straw-y sparring partner. I’m sure someone else here will be happy to take up the gauntlet, though.

  • Pingback: Stupak: Sandals and Dust on the Edge of Town « Catholic Sensibility
  • Oh well, wrong again. Or maybe I should be happy. 🙂

  • “His district, the country, and the pro-life movement are the losers here.”

    Yeah, self-serving cave-in artists are always in short supply.

  • Dale, I used your name, “shrill” and “bile” in the same post, but careful reading here would indicate I accused you of neither of these. I’m sure you and your colleagues here have also typed “Obama” and “pro-life” in the same post, but I’m sure no connection was intended.

    “Bile” is associated with “we,” and I was careful to include myself as part of the human condition of our reaction to disloyalty.

    You can engage my argument or not: that’s your choice. But don’t play the aggrieved when you are quick to paste labels on me and others based on your own perceptions.

    That said, it’s remarkable how quickly you folks zero in on the critic here, not his argument. Mr Stupak is taking his toys and going home. It’s not tragedy; it’s a career decision. Moral adults make such decisions every day.

    My sense is that a pro-lifer finally got something substantive done in the political sphere, and danged if he happened to be a Dem.

  • “My sense is that a pro-lifer finally got something substantive done in the political sphere, and danged if he happened to be a Dem.”

    “Substantive” as in an executive order that can be rescinded at any time, that did not remedy the problem with abortion funding that Stupak saw clearly in the Senate bill before his cave-in and that would not stand up for a moment in court, because an executive order cannot prevail over a law.

  • Timothy Noah at Slate explains just how completely meaningless Stupak’s executive order is:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2248490/

  • Ah, so you were talking *at* me and not *to* me. That’s an improvement over insults, yes, but I tend to bow out of “conversations” where people ride up to me on a hobbyhorse and start barking about the bad behavior of the disliked other.

    If you want to springboard off my comments to make a point about what you regard as the many failings of the pro-life movement, it’s a free internet. Just do me the courtesy of bracketing me off from what you’re going to harangue the comment box about. As an additional example of the peril of talking at, not to:

    “You speak of public life as if it were a high calling.”

    Yeah, Todd, I do. Given that public service is what I have done for the bulk of my professional life, I like to think I make a difference and that it’s not some transactional time serving.

    Oh, and just where “have I been quick to paste a label” on you, Todd? Maybe an old liturgical thread from a few years back? Seriously–what?

    Finally, a substantive point: Stupak took a lot of threatening hate from the pro-abortion left prior to the vote, too, with him describing it as “a living hell.”

    http://thehill.com/homenews/house/87519-its-been-a-living-hell-says-rep-stupak

    Having the pro-lifers pile on afterward was almost certainly the breaking point, but the left had rolled out a primary challenger and was making his life miserable, too. It just didn’t get on CNN.

  • “Oh, and just where “have I been quick to paste a label” on you, Todd?”

    The other day, the other thread.

    Look, my friend: I may or may not be angrier today than I was a few years ago. Odds are you can pick out two days in my life and say I was more angry here, less angry there. It’s also easy enough to make other people angry on the net. Some of our blogging friends are experts at it. And I don’t deny I’ve been the cause of vituperative upset on the part of some folks. To a degree, we all make choices every day about putting a shine on things or moping around.

    As for your comment about bracketing, point taken and accepted. I apologize for rendering guilt by association. You don’t have a character limit here at AC, so I will take the extra minute, the extra sentence to be careful, not only with you, but with your blogging comrades.

    Because I know you to be a man dedicated to truth and faith, I mention a final suggestion directed at you, Dale. Why is it that you chose to ignore my point that pro-lifers behaving badly damage the movement in the perception of the abortion fence-sitters as more significant than Mr Stupak’s “betrayal” to the hard-core movement? This political defeat was hard for the GOP–no doubt about that. But women may well choose not to have abortions, even in the hundreds of thousands in the years ahead, and this would be a victory for the pro-life effort, wouldn’t it?

  • Please point out the other thread. I simply do not remember it–not the weasely “do not recall” but rather complete amnesia–and from what you say, it appears I owe an apology.

    Pro-lifers behaving badly damages the movement–I would be an idiot to argue otherwise. They do it often, and I think the shellacking administered to Stupak by the hotheads was excessive. I think he was [given that his political career is now gliding to its end], in the main, a decent public servant.

    The political defeat was not of the GOP–that happened in 2006 and 2008, for which it paid rightly for its sins.

    Rather, the defeat–the tragedy–is two-fold. First, the pro-life movement in America is now, and entirely for the worse–anchored politically to the Republicans. Stupak’s fold–and that’s what it was, intentions aside–means that the pro-life Democrat is dead and buried at the national level, for at least a generation. Pro-lifers need voices in both parties, and while Stupak and his colleagues held out, we thought we did. Now we don’t. Instead, we have a sorta voice in the GOP and the finger from the majority party.

    Which brings me to the second fold: we can’t celebrate women who choose to do the right thing under the legislation when that same legislation pays them to do the wrong thing. The bottom line is that funds abortions and herds people into exchanges where there may be only one insurer who doesn’t. Stupak understood that, otherwise he wouldn’t have crafted his amendment as he did and decried Casey’s semantic re-write of Capps. The fact he sought out an an executive order to “correct” it speaks volumes about the legistation as passed. [As an aside, I think Bob Casey Jr.’s actions are by far more troubling than Stupak’s.] Our HHS secretary has assured us that it funds abortion, and I have every confidence in her judgment and the impotence of the executive order that it will.

    As I said in another thread that I remember (if having no desire to re-argue), I’m happy with the bits of the legislation that support working mothers and help women and men make the right decision. In a related vein, I’d be altogether delighted with the passage of the Pregnant Women Support Act. But I can’t support expanded abortion. The pro-life parts of the legislation still strike me as equivalent to adding a vitamin supplement to a goblet of hemlock. Yeah, in some sense it’s better but it’s still bad overall.

    Thank you for the courteous response, not so by the way.

  • If I could get my comment out of moderation, I’d appreciate it. I think the software’s glitching.

  • I’m not going to say there weren’t things said in reaction to Stupak’s move that reflected poorly on the pro-life movement, but why do those who feel it important to make the observation not consider that Stupak himself made the pro-life movement look bad?

    Stupak was held out as a staunch defender of the unborn. He was bucking his own party, crafting iron clad legislation, condemning the Senate bill and the sell-outs and unethical political payoffs that came with it, etc. Good stuff. Then, when things came down to the wire, his district was awarded federal funds for airports, he voted against his own legislation, and voted with his party and justified it with the magic beans of the EO.

    Who made the pro-life movement look bad?

  • Well now we know he didn’t do it for political gain. If I were pro-choice and in favor of ObamaCare, I’d send him a letter of gratitude and another letter to Obama urging him to award Stupak a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

  • I appreciate the reply, Dale. We’ve often butted heads, especially in the early days of the St Blogosphere, but I always respected you–and still do–for piecing together a decent argument. Not to mention being a guy I know I could sit down for a coffee or a beer and have a solid man-to-man chat.

    To answer your question, it was your last post on the Gomez thread referring to my anger and bitterness. If anything, I’m willing to concede that since Nov 2008, I don’t avoid getting under conservative skin here and there. And also willing to concede that I’ve been delivered a pink slip or two in the aftermath of ’08, so I have fewer qualms about sticking a sliver under someone’s philosophical fingernail. All for the cause of keeping the opposition honest, if not above-board.

    And I confess: you and Donald are far more politically aware on this level than I bother to be. Honestly, I have no stomach for national politics. I stopped reading serious history and politics years ago. Local action in fighting arts-and-music cuts and volunteering as an election official–that’s a whole lot more appealing to me. I know I can make a difference there. Fighting Big Oil and DuPont and media empires–not so much.

    Lots of good Catholics knowledgeable about insurance reform and the goings-on in Washington thought Mr Stupak got as much as he could out of this. And more, they convinced me the bill was sound for the pro-life effort. The president was going to the wall for insurance reform, and seemed prepared to make concessions on the abortion front. And quite honestly, given the level of rhetoric on FOCA (I may not know much, but I do know the basics of how legislation happens) if Deal Hudson and a few others try to tell me this is bad, I’m inclined to believe the opposite.

    If you were in Mr Stupak’s shoes, you would have done differently. I can respect that. My problem with your site here is that too many of you bloggers lack basic respect. The photoshopped slogan on the image at the top shows it. Whatever kind of man Bart Stupak is, he doesn’t likely deserve that level of disrespect. But I think it’s pretty clear that on this issue, the blog author hasn’t risen above the sandbox at second grade recess.

  • Todd:

    As God is my witness, I didn’t comment on any of the Gomez threads, nor did I ask anyone to take down a comment on them. Darwin and Don did, and perhaps you confused “D”ale with them, given the alliterative quality of our handles. 🙂 That said, I can’t imagine that I *haven’t* given you ample and rightful reason to feel cheap shot offense in the past, given our clashes, and for that I offer an overdue apology.

    As to Rep. Stupak, I sincerely hope he’s *right* and that his EO prevents abortion funding. I’d note that my archbishop, Allen Vigneron, was careful to hope for the same in a recent speech and avoided condemnation. For my part, I simply can’t see how it will work. I hope and pray to God I am wrong, but I am morally certain I am not.

    Keep fighting the good fight on the arts front. I’m trying to make sure my kids get drenched in the arts, and Detroit area museums are taking it in the shorts in this economy. It’s the first thing that faces the knife, and it shouldn’t be.

  • Dale, I offer my unconditional apology to you. It was Darwin. I need to check my own reading comprehension. Or my glasses.

2 Responses to Back To The Future

  • And this is different from Boston circa 2010 exactly how?

    If you’ve never seen it, the best dig at Red Sox Nation ever was Colin Cowherd’s hilarious radio segment when they were trying to sign Daisuke Matsuzaka; audio with visual embellishment found here:

  • Heh heh, oops. Pasted the link not knowing it would automatically embed with that unfortunate graphic! Honestly, the thing is pretty clean except for that one photo….!

Moral Choice and Probability

Wednesday, April 7, AD 2010

As part of the ongoing discussion about sin, free will and structures of sin, I’d like to take the risk of tossing out a question which has fascinated me for some years. After all, I don’t think I’ve been called a heretic in a good thirty minutes, so I might as well be adventurous.

Question: Does free will mean that it is possible for someone to be sinless throughout his life?

It seems to me that the answer is that in a certain theoretical sense: Yes. But in any practical or probable sense: Absolutely no.

Free will means that in any given moral situation, we are capable of doing the right thing. We could choose rightly, or wrongly. However, in practical reality, we are often far more disposed to do wrong than to do right. We are also often unclear or deceived as to what the right thing to do is. And we are faced with moral choices constantly, many of which we react to instinctually, without really thinking. (And in this regard, our fallen instincts are often selfish and otherwise sinful.)

So it seems to me that while theoretically in every single moral choice situation it is possible for a person to do the right thing — from a point of view of probability it is so improbably as to be virtually indistinguishable from impossible for someone to actually remain sinless through his own will.

Continue reading...

9 Responses to Moral Choice and Probability

  • Your post is in agreement with many Church Fathers. I believe it was St. John Chrysostom who said that “is it possible for a man (aside from being marked with Original Sin) to be sinless, however I have never met nor know of any man who is, in fact, free from conscious sin. Furthermore, it is possible that God could create a man (just as he did for Mary) without even Original Sin, for some holy purpose of His, but who this would be, or if such a person has or ever will exist, is beyond my knowledge, but I’m of the opinion that this will never happen in the entirety of human history.”

  • DC, just to be sure I’m not misinterpreting your last line there, you’re not asking if someone could hypothetically avoid sin for an entire lifetime purely out of his own free will and with no divine assistance, i.e., grace, correct? If that is your question, I can’t even imagine that being remotely possible, unless we were to deny the effects of concupiscence on our mortal conscience. But if you mean that one could hypothetically avoid all sin with the help of divine grace, then yes, I’d have to agree w/ many theologians and Church Fathers much smarter than I by responding that it’s remotely possible, but infinitesimally likely. 🙂

  • Kevin,

    I’m a bit perplexed as to how to answer your question. I think I’d say that my position would be that it is true either way, but that it’s even more unlikely without God’s grace.

    But then, it depends what you mean by with God’s grace. After all, God is the Good, and so in some sense whenever we know what the good is to do the good, we are recognizing God.

    But leaving that aside, I guess I’d do the math like this: If we are free, it is possible in every case to do the right thing. However, it’s often hard to know what the right thing is, and it’s also often hard to resist temptation. Both of these are even harder (sometimes very much harder) without the graces of baptism and the sacramental life of the Church.

    So I guess I’d say, it’s approaching the limit of impossibility either way, but it’s approaching it a lot more without grace.

    That said, I would believe steadfastly that this would never actually happen without an incredible act of God on the level of his preservation of Our Lady from sin.

    What fascinates me about it is thus the sum of possibilities adding up to an impossibility.

  • As I noted in Joe’s thread, the general theological consensus has long been that without grace, sin is inevitable; while we reject the Protestant conception of the total depravity of human nature, we do hold that we are sufficiently deformed by original sin and concupiscence that without grace, sin is inevitable.

    And as I noted with Joe’s post, I’m not sure if this is agreement or not with Darwin’s… I imagine that further conversation will tease this out more.

  • Chris,

    That’s the thing that’s mystifying me a bit. I would 100% agree that in realistic terms sin is inevitable for the soul deformed by original sin. (Indeed, I’d say it’s virtually inevitable for the baptized soul in a state of grace, given the stretch of time of a lifetime.)

    I guess my hold up is a probabilistic one, in that it seems to me that if we have free will, there is in every opportunity to sin (even for the unbaptized soul lacking God’s grace) a finite (though perhaps very small) chance of the person doing the right thing. And if in ever choice there is a finite chance of acting rightly, there must be some level of probability (though arguably so low as to approach the limit of impossibility) that someone in this state could avoid sin every time.

    And yet, when looking at the person rather than the choices, it seems clear to me that no person (excepting obviously Christ who was God and the Virgin Mary who was preserved from original sin and was also of heroic virtue personally) is ever going to actually avoid sin every time.

    It strikes me as logically possible (though very, very improbable), yet personally — as in, looked at in terms of the personal, human experience — impossible (not even very, very improbable, but impossible).

    Is that sufficiently confusing?

  • Some pious traditions hold that a few saints (in addition to Our Lady) lived their lives without ever committing mortal sin, at least. St. John the Baptist and St. Joseph spring to mind, and I believe it’s held that they committed no venial sins even.

    But I’m not sure probability is the best approach to this question. After all, most moral quandaries are not binary choices between right and wrong; often there are multiple goods held in balance, and some choices are better or worse, more or less virtuous, more or less sinful.

    We have several obstacles: first, our finitude, in that we do not know fully what the best good is in every concrete situation; second, original sin, which further damages our ability to know and will the good; third, the additional damage of the sins of the world, which add temptation and distort the goods we could and should pursue; and finally, any single personal sin adds to the damage of original sin, and makes good moral choices more difficult to make in the future.

  • Robert, to your first ‘graph, the question isn’t whether or not avoiding sin is possible, but whether or not avoiding sin *without grace* is possible… St. John the Baptist was certainly graced when he was in the womb of his mother; we don’t have explicit proof that St. Joseph was similarly graced, but it seems only likely.

  • You might want to come at the question from the angle of the age of reason, and capacity for judgement. Do we say that an infant commits sin? A retarded person? Someone sleeping, or drunk?

    Technically, an unborn child violates the fourth and fifth commandments when it kicks its mother. Striking a parent is grave matter. But it doesn’t in any meaningful way constitute a sin. We generally say that someone under the age of seven lacks the ability to make moral decisions, but anyone who’s been around a young child knows that they act with some amount of knowledge and consent.

  • I didn’t really flesh out that comment. Reading it now, it comes off as incoherent. I just wanted to put some of the ideas out there that someone else could take up.

Priestess Barbie

Wednesday, April 7, AD 2010

Well, I guess it was only a matter of time.  This is the work of an Episcopal priestess, Julie Blake Fisher, in Kent, Ohio.

She arrived at the church fully accessorized, as is Barbie’s custom. Her impeccably tailored ecclesiastical vestments include various colored chasubles (the sleeveless vestments worn at Mass) for every liturgical season, black clergy shirt with white collar, neat skirt and heels, a laptop with prepared sermon and a miniature, genuine Bible.

Apparently a devotee of the “smells and bells” of High Church tradition, the Rev. Barbie even has a tiny thurible, a metal vessel used for sending clouds of incense wafting toward heaven.

Continue reading...

5 Responses to Priestess Barbie

  • Satire is dead.

  • At risk of being snarky…. “nearly complete Bible”? How fitting!

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy:) I wanted to get our daughter either a saint doll (too expensive) or a “Sister Barbie” nun outfit (too much sewing required for the pattern available from a Catholic homeschooling website) as a First Communion present years ago; we ended up getting her a “Sister Baby” doll (baby doll in traditional habit, complete with rosary) off eBay instead. I remember that Catholic homeschooling website also had a sewing pattern for “Father Ken’s” vestments. Now if only that silly Episcopalian priestess could size up all that clerical garb slightly to fit a Ken doll — but then it wouldn’t have been news, would it?
    The Lair of the Catholic Cavemen found that “Priestess Barbie” story and came up with some of their own ideas here: http://catholic-caveman.blogspot.com/2010/04/this-particular-barbie-cant-swim-tiber.html#links

  • Goes to show that unless it’s the real thing your just playing games.

  • I guess the “nearly complete bible” would be the one they think of as “interesting to read, but not something to live youre life by.” ?
    I remember hearing those, or very similar, words on the radio back during the whitewash of the election of the adulterous gay anti-bishop in New Hanpshire.

    I can hardly believe that I grew up an Episcopalean.

Could This be a 1946 Election?

Wednesday, April 7, AD 2010

When it comes to Congressional Elections, the foremost expert in the country is Michael Barone who has been studying these elections district by district for 50 years.  His Almanac of American Politics, which you may browse on line here , is the reference work for political professionals and political junkies.   He sees signs that the Congressional elections this year might resemble the Republican sweep in 1946.

Recent polls tell me that the Democratic Party is in the worst shape I have seen during my 50 years of following politics closely. So I thought it would be interesting to look back at the biggest Republican victory of the last 80 years, the off-year election of 1946. Republicans in that election gained 13 seats in the Senate and emerged with a 51–45 majority there, the largest majority that they enjoyed between 1930 and 1980. And they gained 55 seats in the House, giving them a 246–188 majority in that body, the largest majority they have held since 1930. The popular vote for the House was 53% Republican and 44% Democratic, a bigger margin than Republicans have won ever since. And that’s even more impressive when you consider that in 1946 Republicans did not seriously contest most seats in the South. In the 11 states that had been part of the Confederacy, Democrats won 103 of 105 seats and Republicans won only 2 seats in east Tennessee. In the 37 non-Confederate states, in contrast, Republicans won 246 of 330 seats, compared to only 85 for Democrats.

There are some intriguing similarities between the political situation in 1946 and the political situation today.

Continue reading...

42 Responses to Could This be a 1946 Election?

  • What do you think the Republicans should do if they win back the majority?

  • Force Obama to veto popular legislation time and again. This is assuming that Obama does not do a Bill Clinton and trim his sales as Clinton did after 94. I doubt he will. I think Obama is far more ideologically driven than Clinton who, I think, was only committed to Bill Clinton. If Obama is willing to work with a Republican Congress on fiscally responsible legislation then they should work with him, while dodging the flying pigs.

  • My concern, though, would be: Do the Republicans actually have lots of popular legislation to pass (and force Obama to veto or agree to) or would a spare GOP majority get itself involved in one of the “national priorities” like Cap & Trade for new financial regulation to “protect main street from wall street.”

    Goodness knows, I want Pelosi’s majority out, but even if we got both houses my concern would be we’d have a majority without a plan. We haven’t exactly seen Contract With America level thinking lately.

  • I recently turned on C-SPAN to see speaking a fellow from the American Enterprise Institute. He told a tale of speaking to a Republican congressional candidate (whom he did not name) and asking him about what the pathway for Social Security should be. In his telling, the man ruled out a tax increase or raising the retirement age and said he wanted to go after “waste, fraud, and abuse”. The AEI fellow said here’s the problem with the political class: “they are not serious”.

    A generation ago, Jack Beatty (then literary editor of The New Republic defined a quality he called ‘unseriousness of mind’: 1.) the inability to recognize a logical contradition; 2.) the inability to relate acts and consequences; and 3.) the unwillingness to change course when events defy expectations.

    Paul Ryan has a plan. The anxiety is that the rest of them will default to ‘hey, let’s have a tax cut’. (A default setting which is Mr. Reagan’s most salient legacy, alas).

  • New blood like Paul Ryan is why I think the Republicans may realize that business as usual will not allow them to triumph in 2012.

  • Donald,

    What popular legislation do you you have in mind? From what I can tell, the extent of the Republican agenda right now is that some of them want to repeal ObamaCare while some do not.

    Republicans managed to win 55 House seats and a majority in 1946, but they didn’t do much with that majority, and two years later they lost 74 seats (and, of course, the Democratic President was re-elected).

  • but they didn’t do much with that majority

    Legislation generally requires Presidential assent.

    Wartime price controls and rationing were dismantled fairly rapidly in the United States, while remaining in effect in Britain until 1955. Likewise, initiatives on the part of factions within the Democratic Party to render the political economy more thoroughly corporotist and mercantilist than it had been were frustrated. The Taft-Hartley Act rendered industrial relations in this country significantly different than was the case in Britian or Austria.

  • Legislation generally requires Presidential assent.

    In that case the Republicans are in trouble, as we are going to have a Democratic president in 2011-12.

  • Obviously, I want the GOP to win, they are “my team” to the extent that anyone is in the political process. But there is a sense in which I wonder if it might be better for our long term political prospects if we remained in the minority but only by 10-20 seats in the House and 2-3 in the Senate and then could run against both the White House and the Congress in 2012. One hardly wants to see Obama’s 2012 argument being, “Don’t you want a two term Democrat to balance out that crazy new GOP congress” a la 1996.

    On the other hand, arguments that nothing succeeds like failure always seem a little odd. And in 2012 we may be hampered by a less than ideal presidential nominee. Hard to say.

  • I don’t think, really, that any specific argument about Congress or the Presidency is going to make the difference in 2012; the economy will decide the election. Winning back Congress in 2006 didn’t seem to hurt the Democrats any in 2008. Clinton won in 1996 not primarily because of any argument he made about controlling Republicans in Congress, but because people liked him and the economy was humming along (plus Dole was a terrible candidate).

  • On wild card in all of this is the stupefying behavior of the Administration and Congress. Proposing to increase in nominal federal expenditure by a third over a triennium when nominal domestic product might increase by 5% even though there was an extant deficit and the political class had conspired to socialize much of the country’s outstanding mortgage debt beggars belief, but it has happened. Compounding this by adding another massive entitlement program when the extant programs remain actuarially unsound defies one’s capacity for description. One can only imagine that Dr. Bernanke and various others have remained in place only because they fear what might come after them. These goons are poised to do far more damage than Clinton, Gephardt, and Daschle ever dreamed of.

  • “Republicans managed to win 55 House seats and a majority in 1946, but they didn’t do much with that majority, and two years later they lost 74 seats (and, of course, the Democratic President was re-elected).”

    Truman ran successfully against the Do-Nothing-Congress, not the biggest lie he ever told but it came close. The Republican Congress actually accomplished quite a bit. Here is a link on the 80th Congress:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/80th_United_States_Congress

    Unfortunately Dewey was the most uninspiring Republican candidate for President until John McCain took that title.

    In regard to what the Republicans should do, just a few ideas off the top of my head:

    1. Press for repeal of ObamaCare.

    2. Pass a balanced budget and force Obama to veto it several times.

    3. Begin investigations of the rampant corruption that no doubt has occurred between those who administer government bailouts and individuals in private enterprises which received bailout money.

    4. Push to make the Bush tax cuts permanent.

    5. Initiate legislation to defund the Leftist beneficiaries of government funds, and Planned Parenthood should be at the top of that list.

    6. Pass a package of tax incentives for those starting new businesses.

    7. Introduce legislation to reform the federal pension system.

    8. Pass legislation abolishing Congressional pensions and medical treatment for life for retired members of Congress.

    9. Pass legislation reducing the pay of members of Congress.

    10. Press for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

  • Donald,

    One of the problems I see with your list (or the major elements on it, at least) is that you can’t force the President to veto a bill unless you pass it first. While there is a slim chance that the Republicans could retake both the House and Senate in 2010, I don’t believe it’s possible even in principle for them to get a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.

    Not only that, but I doubt you’d be able to hold a lot of Republicans for some of the things you’re proposing. It’s great to rail against ObamaCare in the abstract. Actually repealing it, however, means repealing the popular parts (e.g. bans on pre-existing conditions) as well as the unpopular parts (e.g. the mandate, Medicare cuts). Likewise, submitting a balanced budget is not going to be possible without some combination of 1) substantial tax increases, or 2) substantial spending cuts. I know Republicans aren’t going to propose increasing taxes. Are they going to pass a bill with with massive cuts to entitlements and the military? Somehow I doubt it.

  • “While there is a slim chance that the Republicans could retake both the House and Senate in 2010, I don’t believe it’s possible even in principle for them to get a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.”

    Let the Democrats filibuster popular legislation. For political purposes that is as good for the GOP as a Presidential veto. However, considering how many vulnerable Dems are up in 2012, and how shell-shocked I think the Dems will be after the November massacre, I doubt if they will be able to hold a filibuster against legislation that is popular enough.

    “Not only that, but I doubt you’d be able to hold a lot of Republicans for some of the things you’re proposing. It’s great to rail against ObamaCare in the abstract. Actually repealing it, however, means repealing the popular parts (e.g. bans on pre-existing conditions) as well as the unpopular parts (e.g. the mandate, Medicare cuts).”

    Repeal and replace I believe is the strategy that will be followed.

    “Likewise, submitting a balanced budget is not going to be possible without some combination of 1) substantial tax increases, or 2) substantial spending cuts.”

    Substantial spending cuts will be the order of the day. In normal political times I agree the Republicans would probably lack the stomach for such cuts. These are far from normal political times. Additionally the path we are on now is simply unsustainable, and I believe that a majority of Americans are realizing that. Government debt and spending simply has to be dealt with now. This I think is the issue that is becoming the new political reality as the Democrats are about to find out in November.

  • Both parties are pretty entrenched, it would seem. And since 60 has become the new 51, there’s a broad swath of paralysis for corporations to enjoy.

    The GOP (and the Dems, too, of course) should thank their lucky stars for the two-party system. If there was a populist alternative to spending the country into oblivion while bleeding in Asia, one of the existing parties might well come in third in 2010. Or 2012 for that matter.

    I’d say it’s a pretty safe arena for politicians in the major parties. Nobody has any incentive for rteal reform–like protecting the unborn for example. Lip service and chip away at the fringes. Big business remains largely above the law. The citizenry can get distracted by the Scandal of the Week or how Kate and Buzz are dancing with the stars.

    As for spending, I’d say the American public still has more blame to pin on the GOP: two wars, plus half the bailout. If the Dems can’t sell that in November, I’d be rooting for them to take third place. They would deserve it.

  • “If the Dems can’t sell that in November, I’d be rooting for them to take third place. They would deserve it.”

    Dust off your rooting hat Todd. The Democrats have demonstrated in the past two years that when it comes to absolutely insane government spending they are in a league all their own.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/01/obamas-trillion-budget-deficit_n_444031.html

  • Donald,

    We are currently spending $3 trillion while taking in $2 trillion. I agree that this is a serious issue, but the idea that in current circumstances you could get a balanced budget in 2011 (particularly without raising taxes) is just not serious. For perspective, Paul Ryan’s plan has been described by friend and foe alike as being extremely tough minded about entitlement cuts. Most Republicans aren’t willing to sign on to his plan. The Ryan plan does balance the budget . . . in 2063.

    Here are my predictions:

    1) ObamaCare won’t be repealed (indeed, I suspect you’ll soon see Republicans start to redefine what they mean by ObamaCare so as to minimize their opposition).

    2) Any significant spending cuts will be accompanied by significant tax increases.

  • Donald, I do not think your sums add up.

    Blackadder,

    The filibuster is a practice in parliamentary rules which can be discontinued. It can also be amended to require filibusterers to stand on their feet for 26 hour stretches, which is how it had to be done prior to 1975 or thereabouts.

    We are currently careering toward failed bond sales and quite possibly sovereign default. Congress doesn’t have until 2063.

  • We will see BA. My predictions are that Obama will veto legislation that basically repeals ObamaCare and that he will also veto a Republican budget with steep decreases in spending and no tax increases. I see zero sentiment among Republicans in Congress for any tax increases.

  • In regard to balancing the budget, a good start could be made by zeroing out the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Energy. These of course seem like radical proposals today. When we can no longer make money out of thin air, and that day is rapidly approaching, they will not seem so radical.

  • Of course if we simply wanted to slash the deficit by about two-thirds we could return to the budget numbers of the Bush administration for fiscal year 2005.

  • The Department of Homeland Security comprehends most of the federal police. Frills?

    I think if you add up the share of the federal budget devoted to the military, veterans’ benefits, Social Security, Medicare, interest on the public debt, and civil service and military pensions, you corral about 70% of the total. We can look it up though. The current circumstances abroad rather limit opportunities for economy in the military or veterans’ budgets. The elderly have limited opportunities to adjust to imposed alterations in their real income, so amendments there are properly gradual and implemented on a cohort-by-cohort basis. You cannot welsh on your interest payments, or country go blooey. I think interim tax increases will likely be the order of the day, and properly so.

    One thing I would like to see the Republicans pass is the placement of the retirement age on an appropriately rapid escalator. The Democratic Party would be atrociously demagogic about it. That would be the time for the public relations mavens they use (F. Luntz, et al) to start earning their retainers.

  • “I think interim tax increases will likely be the order of the day, and properly so.”

    Give them more taxes Art and I guarantee you they will more than wipe out the tax increases by increases in spending. I also do not see it happening politically. The GOP will regain political power mostly through people fed up with government spending. Giving the Feds even more money would be political seppuku for the GOP.

    Increasing the retirement age for social security makes complete sense, and therefore I have my doubts as to whether such a measure could pass Congress. If it did I have no doubt that Obama would veto it.

  • I think that when we see real budgetary reform (serious spending cuts that stick) it will be only in coordination with some tax increases — perhaps in the form of a shift to a new approach to taxation (maybe not as complete as the fair tax or flat tax, but something.) My theory is basically that we’ll never see spending restraint until we return to a point where the majority of the population actually pays income taxes. Right now, the majority don’t, they only pay into the programs that (falsely) are seen as membership or account based (Medicare, Social Security). If 70%+ of the population actually paid income taxes, then we’d get serious about spending restraint, so I’d be in favor of a tax reform/increase which resulted in most people paying some amount of income tax — though in the case of many who currently pay none it might only be a few hundred dollars. (Just figured I’d cram all my heresies into one day.)

  • “(Just figured I’d cram all my heresies into one day.)”

    🙂

    In regard to the current income tax system it is now effectively a welfare program for a substantial portion of the population. I was stunned in examining the tax returns of a married couple who are my clients to see on an income of $27,000.00 they received a “refund” from the Federal government of $11,000.00.

  • In regard to balancing the budget, a good start could be made by zeroing out the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Energy.

    Well the Department of Health and Human Services budget includes Medicare, Medicaid, and S-CHIP. I’m not sure if you meant to suggest that Republicans should or will just eliminate those programs. If so, then in the immortal words of Bagdad Bob, I regret to inform you that you are now too far from reality.

    As for the other Departments, I would be happy to see them eliminated. However, (1) you and I both know that’s not going to happen, and (2) the budgets of all of those Departments combined is less than 8% of the total budget.

    Of course if we simply wanted to slash the deficit by about two-thirds we could return to the budget numbers of the Bush administration for fiscal year 2005.

    Technically true but misleading. There are, for example, more retirees on Social Security and Medicare today than there were in 2005, and because of increases in health care inflation. So returning to 2005 budget levels today would mean cutting benefits below the level they were at in 2005.

  • “So returning to 2005 budget levels today would mean cutting benefits below the level they were at in 2005.”

    Yes it would. People who benefit from government largesse will, sooner or later, be getting less from the overnment.

    “I’m not sure if you meant to suggest that Republicans should or will just eliminate those programs.”

    S-Chip most certainly. In regard to Medicare and Medicaid I think we could reduce expenditures by 25%.

    “However, (1) you and I both know that’s not going to happen, and (2) the budgets of all of those Departments combined is less than 8% of the total budget.”

    Actually BA I think slashing government spending to the bone is precisely what we will see in the years to come. “The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present.” I think that quote from Lincoln is apt to the times in which we live. The European model of an ever-expanding welfare state and economic stagnation is in the process of being decisively rejected here. The Obama presidency is one of great consequence but not for what he proposes but for the reaction that he is producing.

  • My theory is basically that we’ll never see spending restraint

    If I am not mistaken, the ratio of federal expenditure to domestic product has tended, like your weight, to fluctuate around 0.21 for the last fifty-odd years. The country began running chronic deficits during the Kennedy Administration, because Congress just did not feel like doing it any differently.

    The composition of that spending has changed considerably, of course. During the years running from 1947 to 1961, military expenditure accounted for about 45% of the federal budget. I think at this time it is about 18% or thereabouts, and so forth.

    Blackadder is right. The low-hanging fruit do not constitute enough to close the deficit. Alas, the low hanging fruit are also often the pet projects of various and sundry ghouls in Congress. Remember Jimmy Carter’s effort to shut down several dozen crappy water projects. They never forgave him that.

  • Actually BA I think slashing government spending to the bone is precisely what we will see in the years to come.

    I expect we’ll see some serious spending cuts at some point. I just think they will be accompanied by some serious tax increases (I also expect a fair amount of the spending cuts will come from the military). What I doubt is that we’ll see the elimination of the cabinet posts you mentioned. A lower budget for those departments maybe. But lots of countries have gone through spending induced crises, and I’m not aware of any that have responded in the way you suggest.

  • If I am not mistaken, the ratio of federal expenditure to domestic product has tended, like your weight, to fluctuate around 0.21 for the last fifty-odd years.

    I’m trying to think of what my weight would have been 21% fifty years ago… But yes.

    FWIW, I would argue that “spending restraint” is semi-relative. In some ways, although spending is the same percentage of GDP, it seems that we’re fairly cushy at the moment even compared to 15 years ago. More to the point, if we are to significantly reduce spending from current levels, I suspect it would require some amount of taxation to go with it in order to make people aware of the costs of spending.

  • My theory is basically that we’ll never see spending restraint until we return to a point where the majority of the population actually pays income taxes.

    The irony, though, is that it is precisely the programs that are funded by everyone (i.e. Social Security and Medicare) where we have the biggest spending problem. And indeed, anecdotally it seems like the fact that everyone pays in is part of the reason it’s so hard to control spending, since people are less willing to give up a benefit that they have “paid for” than they are one that is explicitly funded by taxes on someone else.

    Personally I think making everyone pay income tax on net would be a bad idea. My guess is that if everyone was paying something there would be more pressure to raise the top rate, and it would be harder to cut taxes, since pretty much every tax cut over the last few decades has included tax rebates for the poor as a means of gaining political support. Further, I think that the idea of a negative income tax (like the EITC) makes a lot of sense. But such a program by definition would involve some people being net receivers of taxes, rather than everybody paying in more than they get out (assuming that is even theoretically possible).

  • “But lots of countries have gone through spending induced crises, and I’m not aware of any that have responded in the way you suggest.”

    The preferred modes seem to be debt repudiation, Argentina for example, and currency devaluation combined with hyperinflation. That and of course increased taxation. I think we will, long term, be wiser than that.

    The policies I wish to see enacted were of course precisely what was done by the Pinochet regime in Chile with spectacular success after the Allende administration had done its level best to wreck the Chilean economy. It is melancholoy to observe that the most successful economic policy in the post war world was implemented by an oppressive dictatorship, but such is the case.

  • And indeed, anecdotally it seems like the fact that everyone pays in is part of the reason it’s so hard to control spending, since people are less willing to give up a benefit that they have “paid for” than they are one that is explicitly funded by taxes on someone else.

    I would tend to think it’s the fact that everyone benefits from social security and medicare that makes them so popular — not the fact that everyone pays for them. I suppose the test would be: would there be support for removing payroll taxes for those in the bottom 50% of the income distribution so long as everyone continued getting benefits. My guess would be, “Yes”, though it would be interesting if there’s some data pointing the other way.

    Personally I think making everyone pay income tax on net would be a bad idea. My guess is that if everyone was paying something there would be more pressure to raise the top rate, and it would be harder to cut taxes, since pretty much every tax cut over the last few decades has included tax rebates for the poor as a means of gaining political support. Further, I think that the idea of a negative income tax (like the EITC) makes a lot of sense. But such a program by definition would involve some people being net receivers of taxes, rather than everybody paying in more than they get out (assuming that is even theoretically possible).

    I’m of several minds on this, but let me try floating a couple ideas:

    – I don’t have any problem with some of the population getting more back than they put in — I just think it’s too many right now with less than 50% of the population paying any net income taxes. I’d rather see the number paying net income taxes of some amount be 60-70%, unless the budget is humming along so well we just don’t need the revenues.

    – This is waaaaaay too gimicky, but I suppose what I think would be the best incentive is if there was an “overage tax” which was calculated each year if some very simple set of fiscal rules was not followed (federal budget deficit existed, or grew too fast, or federal spending increased more rapidly than GDP or something) and bills for this tax were sent out on January 15 of every year, due April 15th. The tax could be 1% of your total taxable income (if you want to be progressive, make add 2-3 brackets up from there), and the trick would be that it had to be paid to the government, it couldn’t come out of witholding. If you defaulted, then it would be either held out of your next tax refund, or they’d put a tax lein or your wages or what have you. Basically, give people a very simple financial incentive for getting mad if we weren’t being fiscally responsible.

    Now, as outlined, that wouldn’t work and would be way too easily gamed. (Though the idea of a tax that kicks in under only certain circumstances would be interesting.) But to get back to the real life point: My concern would be that so long as we can fund whatever we want to do by only taxing “the rich” (as in: someone else) there’s little incentive to moderate. If it seems clear that most of us pay more if we spend too much, there will be more pressure on the parties to cut back.

    (Or we set up a VAT and the swine all gather to the trough…)

  • If I am not mistaken, Canada was able to reduce the ratio of public expenditure to domestic product by about a quarter (from ~55% to ~40%) over a period of about 15 years, so this sort of thing is possible (absent debt repudiation & currency crises) in occidental countries with defective party systems and unsettling demographic metrics.

  • The policies I wish to see enacted were of course precisely what was done by the Pinochet regime in Chile with spectacular success after the Allende administration had done its level best to wreck the Chilean economy.

    If you look here, you will find the current Chilean Cabinet. Notice that they still have a Departments of Agriculture, Health, Education, Energy, Labor, and Housing (I don’t think they ever had an equivalent of Homeland Security, and if they had I’m pretty sure Pinochet wouldn’t have been the one to get rid of it). From what I’ve read, Pinochet was able to reduce the budgets of housing, health, and education by about 20%. So even in what you claim is the best example of spending reform since WWII, Chile did not do what you are suggesting the U.S. should or will do.

  • I would tend to think it’s the fact that everyone benefits from social security and medicare that makes them so popular — not the fact that everyone pays for them.

    Everyone benefits from spending on roads too, but I don’t see the same reluctance to cut road funding. In any event, if it’s true that what matters is that everybody benefits not that everybody pays, then making everybody pay won’t solve the problem.

    I suppose the test would be: would there be support for removing payroll taxes for those in the bottom 50% of the income distribution so long as everyone continued getting benefits.

    Supported by whom? If I’ve been paying for something and you offer to start supplying it for free, I’m hardly going to say no on the grounds that if I’m not paying for it I might not care as much if you stop giving it to me for free. Most people don’t think that way.

    There’s been a fair amount of research in recent years about how people respond to income transfers. One of the findings seems to be that it matters a lot to people whether they think the money has been earned or not. If people think they have earned a certain benefit they are less willing to give it up than if they think it’s just been given to them, and likewise are less willing to take from others if they believe that the other person has earned what they have vs having it handed to them. I think you see the same phenomenon with Social Security.

    My concern would be that so long as we can fund whatever we want to do by only taxing “the rich” (as in: someone else) there’s little incentive to moderate.

    I understand the concern, I just think the evidence doesn’t bear it out. In practice the desire to tax the rich goes up the more the non-rich pay in taxes.

  • Everyone benefits from spending on roads too, but I don’t see the same reluctance to cut road funding. In any event, if it’s true that what matters is that everybody benefits not that everybody pays, then making everybody pay won’t solve the problem.

    It’s true that everyone benefits from spending on roads, but people are willing to balance that benefit against the cost just like they are willing to do cost benefit analysis on their personal spending.

    FWIW, I think we probably agree that the thing which makes Social Security and Medicare so hard to cut is at root neither that “everyone benefits” nor that “everyone pays” but rather that people actually believe the fiction that these are retirement plans which they pay into and then get their own investment back. The idea of cutting them seems like cutting your house after paying it off. (Which is what makes the design of those programs so devious, given that they are not, in reality, accounts that people pay into, but rather have served effectively as a source for other government money which now needs to be paid back.)

    So reforming Social Security and Medicare is going to be very hard no matter what. However, in regards to all other government spending, some people benefit more than others. (For instance, most people won’t benefit much at all from the health care reform bill. And most people don’t directly benefit from bailing out GM. Etc.) In this regard, it seems to me that if there were a broader impact to new or increased spending in terms of taxes, people would be less supportive of spending increases.

    Maybe I’m wrong on this, but it at least seems intuitive enough that I’d want to read a couple articles on the topic to be convinced of the contrary.

    Supported by whom? If I’ve been paying for something and you offer to start supplying it for free, I’m hardly going to say no on the grounds that if I’m not paying for it I might not care as much if you stop giving it to me for free. Most people don’t think that way.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but it seemed to me like the obvious test of the claim “people support Social Security because everyone pays for it while they support other spending less because only the ‘rich’ pay income taxes” would be to see whether people would continue to support Social Security if it were paid for only by the rich.

    Given your point, which I agree with, about people feeling more strongly about things they feel they’ve “earned”, it seems like the answer would be: In the short term, people have no particular attachment to paying for things. If you could fund social security off the top 40%, people would support that. However, in the long term, people might come to see Social Security as an expendable hand out. (The question would be whether this effect would actually kick in since it’s effectively a guaranteed income. Most people are attached to their income whether they think they earned it or not.)

    There’s been a fair amount of research in recent years about how people respond to income transfers. One of the findings seems to be that it matters a lot to people whether they think the money has been earned or not.

    Fully agreed here.

    I understand the concern, I just think the evidence doesn’t bear it out. In practice the desire to tax the rich goes up the more the non-rich pay in taxes.

    I’m trying to understand how broadly you mean this. Certainly, when people are hurting from taxes, they may get urgent about, “Are other people not paying their share?” So if the middle class are paying taxes, they may demand that the rich pay more.

    On the other hand, it seems fairly obvious that if you tell someone, “Program A is going to be expensive, but we can fully fund it by taxing the pople in the top 20% of income,” versus “Program B is going to be expensive, and you’ll see your taxes go up $1200 per year to pay for it, but don’t worry, Bill Gates will be paying $50M per year,” the former will get more support than the latter.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d at least want to read some of the evidence on why. Any good links on some public choice theory work on this?

  • Maybe I’m missing something, but it seemed to me like the obvious test of the claim “people support Social Security because everyone pays for it while they support other spending less because only the ‘rich’ pay income taxes” would be to see whether people would continue to support Social Security if it were paid for only by the rich.

    I misunderstood what you were saying. Sorry.

    I’m trying to understand how broadly you mean this.

    I think there are a couple of different mechanisms at work here. The first is that historically if you want to pass a major tax cut then you usually need to make it be a tax cut for virtually everybody (obviously the amount of the tax cut can be more for some than for others). Effectively that means that if you want to reduce the top rate below a certain point you are going to have to reduce the rates for lots of people to zero or below.

    In terms of tax increases, at least in the U.S. you usually don’t see major tax increases absent a war or some other major crisis. For example, the original income tax was established during the Civil War, then abolished afterwards. When the income tax was established again in 1913 the top rate was 7% until the U.S. got into WWI, when it went up to 70+%. It came down after the war, then went back up with the Depression and WWII, came down a bit, went back up for the Korean war, came down again under Kennedy, edged up a bit during Vietnam, and then began its recent decline. The only counter-example is the 1993, which took us about back to where we were in 1987.

  • Blackadder,

    That does not tell us precisely what those departments do. They might be engaged in regulatory functions, service provision, redistribution, or statistical surveys, or some combination of these. The first and the last of these functions eat up comparatively little cash, btw.

    All else being equal, they are likely to have somewhat different fuctions in Chile than in the United States because Chile has a population similar to that of Illinois and is not formally constituted as a federal republic.

    Now, I haven’t a clue as to what Chile’s Energy ministry does. The federal cabinet department of that name in this country is engaged in pork barrel for scientists and engineers. Ask John Simmins (who occasionally appears in these fora) what he thinks of the national laboratories where he used to work. The U.S. Dept. of Energy acquired a reputation for mismanagement within about two years of its formation and Mr. Clinton’s Secretary of Energy (Hazel O’Leary) said only someone ‘certifiable’ would ever want that job for more than about four years.

    (Also, Agriculture is abnormally prominent in Chile’s export mix and the country produces proportionately less for its domestic market than does the United States. In the U.S., agriculture and forestry amount to about 2% of domestic product.)

  • ObamaCare won’t be repealed (indeed, I suspect you’ll soon see Republicans start to redefine what they mean by ObamaCare so as to minimize their opposition).

    I must be psychic or something.

  • “ObamaCare won’t be repealed (indeed, I suspect you’ll soon see Republicans start to redefine what they mean by ObamaCare so as to minimize their opposition).”

    Mark Kirk? The pro-abort Mark Kirk, future senator from Illinois due to the inability of the Democrats not to nominate a mobbed up candidate for the Senate seat of Obama, is the closest thing to voting for a Democrat without actually voting for a Democrat. He voted for Cap and Trade last year and is against it this year. By the Fall I have no doubt this insult to weather-vanes everywhere will have changed his mind twice on the subject of ObamaCare.

    As to Senator Cornyn, I have no doubt that he will vote to repeal ObamaCare when the time comes.

    http://cornyn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=NewsReleases&ContentRecord_id=bb9f3eb8-20b7-458d-a083-be2b826ca4d8&ContentType_id=b94acc28-404a-4fc6-b143-a9e15bf92da4&Group_id=24eb5606-e2db-4d7f-bf6c-efc5df80b676

    As to Senator Corker, considering his backtracking in the Weekly Standard, I have no doubt he will vote whichever way his political base is demanding, and I have no doubt that will be against ObamaCare.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/sen-corker-clarifies-repeal-isnt-going-happen-after-election-cycle

  • ObamaCare is so unpopular that Democrat Congress Critters are reduced to lying about its provisions.

    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2010/04/08/mandate-denial/

    Color me non-shocked.

Speculating on Gomez

Tuesday, April 6, AD 2010

First of all, I need to introduce myself: my name is Michael Denton and I’m from what Tito calls the People’s Republic of Cajunland and what I call paradise: South Louisiana. As for my qualifications: well, like most other bloggers, I really have no idea what I’m talking about. If that’s a problem for you…well, then you probably don’t need to be reading blogs.

Anyway, today we heard the anticipated news that Los Angeles will soon see Cardinal Mahoney replaced with San Antonio’s Archbishop Jose Gomez. To read all about it, I suggest you head over to Rocco Palmo‘s site, as he is one of the few bloggers who actually does know what he’s talking about. In sum, Abp. Gomez is from the “conservative” order of Opus Dei and could be very different from his predecessor, who built a monstrous cathedral (not in a good way) and is known for hosting a Conference that annually provides Youtube clips for Catholics wishing to show others just how bad liturgical abuse can be. I don’t know if that’s very interesting though. While the liturgical element is certainly important, as the “Spirit of Vatican II” types are losing their foremost defender, I think we knew beforehand that Benedict was going install a replacement very different from Mahoney in liturgical views.

More important is how they’re similar.

Continue reading...

36 Responses to Speculating on Gomez

  • Just a note. Opus Dei is not a Religious order. Its a Personal Prelature with the priest being incardinated in it.

  • A second note. The Church does recognize the right of the state to regulate immigration. Gomez recognizes this and sees that there must be some penalty for violating immigration laws (though he does not recommend deportation.)

  • Yes, I think a critical distinction needs to be made between those who advocate “open boarders” and those who simply believe in treating immigrants with dignity and respect.

    I really hope that Gomez puts an end to liturgical abuse, to sacrilege, to ceremonies that are more pagan than Christian, as well.

  • Welcome soon to be second year law student! Your first year of legal hell is almost up!

  • I look forward, with very guarded hope, to Archbishop Gomez’s ascension to the throne of Mahoneyland, er, I mean, the Archdiocese of L.A. I had occasion to write him some time ago regarding a concern I had with actions and attitudes here in the Diocese of “All Borders are heinous injustices.”

    That said, I think we do the Catechism (where the full foundation of Church teaching is to be found) serious disservice when we reduce it word-searching. “See, see here! It says immigrant!”

    A nation or people may be called to account for how outsiders within their borders are treated. I think we sometimes take that notion and run straight to the place from which we so often hear Card. Mahoney and others villify the nation for our “inhumane” treatment of Latino (and that’s all anyone really cares about here) immigrants.

    If you want to see migrants (brought to the country legally, often by the government, to work in the “jobs our citizens won’t do” category, go to Saudi Arabia and see how they treat the Filipinos and other island (and some Asian) “third country nationals.” They are normally corraled in living areas near where they work and transported to/from their work areas with little or no ceremony. If they venture into Saudi cities on their free time, they do so with virtually no expectation of good treatment by any authorities. Any rights or dignity thewy might be afforded will be owing only to their demonstrated adherance to Islamic “faith.”

    Unless it truly is unacceptable to have and enforce borders (and if so, I missed that article in the Catechism), we need to accept that the licitness of borders and the control thereof has something to say about the illicitness of those who make of themselves a commodity, by placing themselves in the shadows of the society against whom they trespass. (The trespass of those who hire them does nothing to eliminate the alien’s trespass against the society as a whole.)

    We Catholics seem satisfied with absurd notions that we (the USA) are responsible for the family situations of those who make themselves prisoners or fugitives in our land. To say so is to say that laws against and prison sentences for murder are unjust because of the family separation they impose.

  • I cannot imagine any Archbishop who is given the archdiocese of L.A.who will not work from what is organic. I do believe we are going to experience new wine. I read an article which stated Gomez like past Bishops of American Catholic immigrants also has a main concern to teach authentic Catholicism to the Hispanics. This is not unusual if you look at the Irish and Italian immigrants and their needs in past centuries. I read where he gave a talk on taking the Word of God out to the world and a Hispanic women approach him and said she would start a bible study. What a novel idea a Bishop through preaching converted a person from old ways to the new way.
    I was on the L.A. Times blog and boy the secular world is upset that attention is being given to Hispanics, our culture does need to be re-evangelized.

  • The pro-amnesty position of Cdl Mahony is NOT the “Church’s teaching” on immigration.

  • While I think one can make an open borders argument based on Catholic teaching, I didn’t make the argument nor did Benedict (perhaps Mahoney did; it wouldn’t surprise me). Without getting too deep into Church teaching on immigration (which would merit more research on my part & another post), my understanding is that the bishops’ problems with current US immigration policy is twofold

    1) That the US is unfairly limiting immigration. The US can support more immigration and take them in legally but is refusing to do so. While this can be interpreted as “open borders” it doesn’t have to be; only that the borders should be more wide open.

    2) That the US is committing an injustice by treating illegal immigrants like sub-human beings-allowing below minimum wage, denying health care, making citizenship difficult, etc. I think the current condition that the immigrant finds himself is the greater concern of the bishops as it shows a lack of respect for the dignity of the human person, which does not stop once once sets foot over the arbitrary imaginary line we call the US/Mexican border.

    Now, I don’t know nearly enough to say what the solution is, especially with the rightful balancing of a country’s need to secure its border and enforce its laws, other than deportation is not the answer (for ethical & financial reasons). But I don’t think it’s unfair to at a minimum point out that illegal immigrants are facing injustice and more effort should be spent finding solutions rather than on nativist rhetoric.

  • illegal immigrants are facing injustice

    They broke the law to enter the country. Naturally that doesn’t remotely justify treating them inhumanely (though I would strongly suggest that the actual treatment of illegal immigrants in this country is far from inhumane), but let’s not lose sight of what the real issue is, nor should we engage in baseless rhetoric about “nativist rhetoric” when those opposed to amnesty have far loftier and reasonable justifications for their position.

  • ” … the “Spirit of Vatican II” types are losing their foremost defender …”

    Hardly. The archbishop is a JPII man, and rather autocratic to boot.

    Spelling, spelling, spelling … sheesh.

  • I think if one argues that illegal immigrants should have their status legalized with the simple penalty of community service, then one in effect has open borders. Its a get out of jail card with no real penalty.

    I also think that if one considers it sub-human treatment to deny citizenship for one illegally here then there is no point in discussion. Emotion wins.

  • In my parish, St. John the Evangelist in Goshen, NY, the first major pedophile scandal materialized in the early nineties. The priest in question, “Father Ed” had been molesting boys in their early teens. To say that the parishioners were traumatized by this would be an understatement. They were devastated. Then something wondrous happened….

    Father Ed was eventually replaced by Father Trevor Nichols. Father Trevor had been an Anglican in merrie old England when he converted to Catholicism. On becoming a Catholic was transferred to Saint John’s – WITH HIS WIFE AND TWO DAUGHTERS! A married priest! WITH TWO KIDS!

    You want to hear the punch line? Our little parish did not implode. The sun did not fall from the sky. Huge cracks did not appear in the earth’s surface. In fact, it was nice having them. They were – and are to this day – deeply beloved by the people of St. John’s.

    Allowing priests to marry would transform the Catholic Church. Having Father Trevor, his wife Marian and their two lovely daughters in our midst certainly transformed the people of St. John’s.

    http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

    Tom Degan

  • “Allowing priests to marry would transform the Catholic Church.”

    It certainly has done wonders for the Episcopal Church, assuming that the term wonder encompasses extinction.

  • Tom Degan,

    What does your proposal for disobeying Church discipline have to do with Archbishop Gomez moving to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles?

  • Todd,

    How many bishops are there at this point who weren’t selected by John Paul II? If that constitutes a disproof of being a “Spirit of Vatican II” type in your mind, then it’s already extinct. Whatever one wants to call Mahony, it must be admitted that he represents a type of diocesan leadership that conservative Catholics will be very glad to see go, in regards to liturgy, dealing with the scandals, politics, vocations, religious education, and a host of other issues. And whatever his other faults, progressive Catholics have often found themselves in his corner — as when he squared off against Mother Angelica. Of course, he’s not the darling that Archbishop Weakland was… But we know how that one worked out in the end.

    Tom,

    It’s certainly a good thing that your parish got a faithful new priest — and there are some very good priests who are converts from Anglicanism, some of whom are married. (Father Longnecker springs to mind.) However, one cannot really see that it was only because he was married that he proved to be a good priest for your parish. There are, of course, a great many celibate priests (some of them also converts from Anglicanism) who also do not molest teenage boys. The vast, vast majority, in fact. That yours happened to be married does not mean that the Church needs to change its general discipline in the Western Church.

  • Darwin, I don’t see things with an enemy-of-my-enemy mindset.

    Speaking as the liberal you know me to be, I find Cardinal Mahony’s leadership style distasteful, and this isn’t (or shouldn’t be) news to St Bloggers who have stalked me over the years. If you pressed me, I could probably name about a half-dozen things I dislike about the man’s legacy.

    My preference in bishops (a qualified hero) would be guys like Ken Untener and Michael Kenny, both of whom I’ve met and heard speak, not only for what they had to say, but more: how they lived their lives as bishops in witness to the gospel. But it’s probably little surprise I’m more of a sell-the-mansion, reach-out-to-the-poor kind of guy anyway.

    This liberal is happy that his kind of autocrat is leaving. I know Archbishop Gomez even less than I know the cardinal. He seems to be more energetic, and maybe he’s less of an autocrat. If so, good for LA. If not, I’ll probably be happy when he retires, too.

    Interesting that you should mention vocations, because two of the Right’s favorite punching bags over the years, Mahony and Trautmann, are both doing pretty well when it comes to clergy. Far from the bottom of the heap, as it were.

  • “So while conservatives rejoice at the sufferings the liberals must endure at the loss of their liturgical dancers, it would be wise to remember that Benedict wants some change from the right as well.”

    True. But I do think it is problematic that define support for immigration reform as just on the left and opposition to it just on the right. That does not seem to mirtor the actual poltial reality

  • The world not being a polarity, people are certainly not required to like those who are more on their end than not — but it can’t really be denied that much of Mahony’s influence especially in the last 15 years of his episcopacy has been much more towards the progressive side of the Catholic spectrum than otherwise.

    Also, franky, I’m perplexed as to how you can say that Mahony has been doing well as regards vocations. My native diocese (Los Angeles) has more than ten times as many Catholics as my adopted one (Austin) but a similar number of ordinations and seminarians. Plus, the most of vocations LA does manage are “imports” — that is, come to the diocese as seminarians but didn’t live there prior to entering seminary.

    That said, having met Cardinal Mahony on several occasions and heard him speak, I can assure you that he is in person a very nice guy. You would probably like him if you actually met him.

  • Todd,

    “St Bloggers who have stalked me over the years”

    And I suppose you never went around provoking people with your comments. No, you just tell the truth, and people get so mad that they have to stalk you. That it?

  • jh:

    Well, I think the right has deeper problems than the left on the issue. I don’t think you’re going to get much traction on a “Make them speak English” platform in a Democratic room while you’ll get some in a GOP room.

    That said, as the healthcare debate showed both sides have the concerns of the immigrant as very low priority so you’re right to point out that both have significant problems on this issue.

  • “He seems to be more energetic, and maybe he’s less of an autocrat.”

    When it comes to Church leadership, I’m not a fan of democracy.

  • MD,

    Don’t conflate politics with Catholicism.

    I volunteer and help the homeless and serve food to the hungry, but I am not a Democrat.

    Just sayin’!

    😉

  • MD,

    Actually you ask most first generation immigrants and they want their children to learn English. Only so far you can get in a culture if you don’t speak the dominant language. Can’t carry bilingual education to the college level.

    Its compassionate liberals that will keep immigrants down by keeping them in a linguistic ghetto.

  • When it comes to Church leadership, I’m not a fan of democracy.

    You’re so right. Fascism makes for a better, tighter, more unified, ecclesiology.

  • “Speaking as the liberal you know me to be, I find Cardinal Mahony’s leadership style distasteful, and this isn’t (or shouldn’t be) news to St Bloggers who have stalked me over the years.”

    Stalked? Todd, you are the one who keeps showing up here in the comboxes.

  • Donald, there’s a significant and logical difference between my visiting your site and selectively posting on topics of interest, and your practice of responding to practically every one of my posts here. Though to be fair, you pretty much post anywhere you disagree with one of your visitors.

    You do have a colleague here who sees fit to mention my federal voting record, even on threads in which politics is not in the tag.

    That said, you’ve left alone my comments on Cardinal Mahony, so I’ll take that as evidence you mostly align with me in disliking the man, and perhaps even for not totally different reasons. On that point, I’ll conclude my remarks here and stalk…I mean visit another thread later.

  • You do have a colleague here who sees fit to mention my federal voting record, even on threads in which politics is not in the tag.

    When you claim to be a “Catholic” and yet vote for the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history, I have to bring that up so people understand that you’re just a Catholic-In-Name-Only.

    Hence innocent Catholic’s won’t be strayed from their faith because of your lies, innuendo’s, and false interpretations of Catholicism.

    We aim to evangelize Catholics here at TAC and will disallow you from misleading them.

  • Todd has become increasingly angry and bitter in the last couple years (and seems to take undue opportunity to needle conservative Catholics), and I think it shows very poor judgement (including moral judgement) to think that Obama was worthy of a vote in the last election, but I don’t think that it is correct or appropriate to label Todd a “Catholic-in-name-only” for that reason.

  • “Donald, there’s a significant and logical difference between my visiting your site and selectively posting on topics of interest, and your practice of responding to practically every one of my posts here.”

    When anyone posts in one of my threads Todd I will normally respond eventually, although time constraints and laziness on my part sometimes prevent me from doing so. Additionally if someone else in the thread has made the point I was going to make I normally don’t bother.

    “Though to be fair, you pretty much post anywhere you disagree with one of your visitors.”

    Not really, but a bit of hyperbole goes with commenting in comboxes. Usually I won’t post in other threads unless I have a strong interest in the topic or my name comes up.

    “On that point, I’ll conclude my remarks here and stalk…I mean visit another thread later.”

    Feel free to stalk…I mean visit here, as much as you wish. I agree with you on little, although we share a similar distaste of Cardinal Mahoney, but you conduct yourself within the bounds of blog decorum and I have no problem with your visits whatever our sparring, something we of course have been doing since the Welborn Open Book days. (How swiftly time passes!)

  • I agree with Darwin that I would not call Todd a Catholic In Name Only. Beyond a distaste for attempting to judge the sincerity of someone else’s religious committment, I do not think it accurate in his case. I might call him, because of his vote, a Pro-lifer In Name Only, but I do not know if Todd claims to be part of the pro-life movement.

  • How can a Catholic who know’s his faith vote for the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history?

  • Darwin and Don,

    Words matter and I believe that you two are correct. After sleeping on it I should not have labeled Todd as a “Catholic-In-Name-Only”.

    A much more precise label would have been more accurate, but not charitable to say the least.

    I won’t refer to him this way again.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • DRM,
    How exactly is it that one becomes a pro-lifer in name only without meriting at the same moment the appellation “Catholic in Name Only?”

    Pro-abortion baptised Christians come in only one flavor, regardless of the “denomination” they choose to attend services in; protestant.

  • Actually Kevin some of the most fervent pro-lifers I know are protestants. I have a personal distaste for passing on the religious committment of others, and I do not like going beyond what I think the evidence shows me.

  • Kevin:

    I think you mean that once you dissent from the Church’s teachings you cease to be Catholic and become a Protestant.

    That said, I think Donald was right to point out that the way you wrote it could be interpreted very negatively by our Protestant brethren who do a lot for the service of life.

Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 16

Tuesday, April 6, AD 2010

In light of the fascinating discussion of personal and social sin kicked off most recently by Darwin here (make sure and read the comments) and followed up by Joe here, I thought it would be worth posting article 16 of John Paul the Great’s post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, entitled “Personal and Social Sin”. It’s obviously very pertinent, yet unless I missed it, no one has referenced it yet. The actual text is below the break. As the reader will note, one point relevant to the discussion here is that sin properly speaking is an act on the part of an individual person. Yet while social sin is such only in an analogous sense, JPII makes clear that it does describe something real. Now, on to the text.

Continue reading...

6 Responses to Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 16

  • Great stuff. I would add the pertinent section of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:

    117. The mystery of sin is composed of a twofold wound, which the sinner opens in his own side and in the relationship with his neighbour. That is why we can speak of personal and social sin. Every sin is personal under a certain aspect; under another, every sin is social, insofar as and because it also has social consequences. In its true sense, sin is always an act of the person, because it is the free act of an individual person and not properly speaking of a group or community. The character of social sin can unquestionably be ascribed to every sin, taking into account the fact that “by virtue of human solidarity which is as mysterious and intangible as it is real and concrete, each individual’s sin in some way affects others”[226]. It is not, however, legitimate or acceptable to understand social sin in a way that, more or less consciously, leads to a weakening or the virtual cancellation of the personal component by admitting only social guilt and responsibility. At the bottom of every situation of sin there is always the individual who sins.

    118. Certain sins, moreover, constitute by their very object a direct assault on one’s neighbour. Such sins in particular are known as social sins. Social sin is every sin committed against the justice due in relations between individuals, between the individual and the community, and also between the community and the individual. Social too is every sin against the rights of the human person, starting with the right to life, including that of life in the womb, and every sin against the physical integrity of the individual; every sin against the freedom of others, especially against the supreme freedom to believe in God and worship him; and every sin against the dignity and honour of one’s neighbour. Every sin against the common good and its demands, in the whole broad area of rights and duties of citizens, is also social sin. In the end, social sin is that sin that “refers to the relationships between the various human communities. These relationships are not always in accordance with the plan of God, who intends that there be justice in the world and freedom and peace between individuals, groups and peoples”[227].

    119. The consequences of sin perpetuate the structures of sin. These are rooted in personal sin and, therefore, are always connected to concrete acts of the individuals who commit them, consolidate them and make it difficult to remove them. It is thus that they grow stronger, spread and become sources of other sins, conditioning human conduct[228]. These are obstacles and conditioning that go well beyond the actions and brief life span of the individual and interfere also in the process of the development of peoples, the delay and slow pace of which must be judged in this light[229]. The actions and attitudes opposed to the will of God and the good of neighbour, as well as the structures arising from such behaviour, appear to fall into two categories today: “on the one hand, the all-consuming desire for profit, and on the other, the thirst for power, with the intention of imposing one’s will upon others. In order to characterize better each of these attitudes, one can add the expression: ‘at any price”'[230].

  • I agree that this is good stuff. I would only want to point to a couple problematic or confusing parts, toward the end.

    The real responsibility, then, lies with individuals.

    I’d say persons rather than individuals. In other words, there is no “system” or “situation” apart from human persons.

    A situation-or likewise an institution, a structure, society itself-is not in itself the subject of moral acts. Hence a situation cannot in itself be good or bad.

    The last sentence undermines everything he said about the “culture of death.” Is a “situation” in which abortion is considered birth control NOT “bad”?

    At the heart of every situation of sin are always to be found sinful people. So true is this that even when such a situation can be changed in its structural and institutional aspects by the force of law or-as unfortunately more often happens by the law of force, the change in fact proves to be incomplete, of short duration and ultimately vain and ineffective-not to say counterproductive if the people directly or indirectly responsible for that situation are not converted.

    Notice all he aid was that systemic change does not complete the job. He did not say that the way to change structures of sin or sinful “situations” is merely to “change hearts,” which is the nonsense we hear from politically conservative Catholics.

  • (A complaint about the title “JP the Great” would be off-topic, and I don’t want to ruin the potential thread, but I hope I get the chance to rail against that some time.)

  • Thank you for the authoritative reference. I suspect Darwin agrees with all of what Pope John Paul II writes here. Sin is a personal act with individual and social consequences.

  • Thanks, Chris. What John Paul II says here clarifies things for me a lot, especially in regards to the correct use of the terminology of “social sin”.

    It sounds like in my original post what I was attempting to address was not a dichotomy of “social sin” versus “personal sin”, but rather an offshoot of what John Paul II says in his fourth paragraph from the last in regards to those who assign virtually all blame to structures of sin and none to the person acting. Further, I’d say what I was attempting to address was a side-issue of this tendency to place huge emphasis on structures of sin over personal will, which is the tendency to ridicule the important of focusing on avoiding ones own sins and instead place primary moral weight on whether one is correctly alligned on combating structures of sin in the wider society. Essentially, dismissing most sins one is capable of committing oneself as unimportant and instead chosing to focus almost exclusively on whether ones advocacy is in the right place.

    I think if I re-wrote the post I would drop the term “social sin” entirely and focus on the primary point of how advocacy and aligning oneself with large just causes can not be a substitute for pursuing virtue in one’s own life.

  • Darwin,

    I think that approach would be best! Our enemy here is fatalism, determinism, and any other theory that deprives man of free will and moral culpability.

    For all of the ranting and raving some people do here about our “Calvinism” (in addition to our “Americanism”, “individualism”, “liberalism” and the like), I sure see a lot of Protestant-sounding opposition to the concept of personal sin.