Political Miscellania 6/16/10

Wednesday, June 16, AD 2010

1.  As the above video indicates, Congressman Bob Etheridge (D.NC) does not realize that he is living in the age of video cell phones and Youtube.  His GOP opponent, Renee Ellmers, reminds him of the current facts of political life.

2.  If you are a Democrat, you know that political times are bad for you if National Public Radio runs a poll which indicates that your party is going to be creamed in November.

Democrat Stan Greenberg and Republican Glen Bolger conducted the first public battleground poll of this election cycle. They chose the 70 House districts experts regard as most likely to oust incumbents this fall. What they found was grim news for Democrats.

For this poll, Bolger and Greenberg chose the districts where incumbents are considered the most vulnerable, and, in the case of open seats, the ones most likely to switch party control in November. Sixty are currently held by Democrats — many of whom won these seats even when voters in the same district preferred Republican John McCain for president in 2008. The other 10 districts are the flip side — held by Republicans in the House, even though their voters went for Barack Obama in 2008.

These are this year’s swing seats — the political terrain where the battle for control of the House of Representatives will be won or lost. In this battleground, voters are choosing Republicans over Democrats 49 percent to 41 percent.

Continue reading...

One Response to Political Miscellania 6/16/10

  • Nothing like speaking in clicks and grunts then grabbing a juvenile by the scruff of the neck. Cavemen everywhere are embarrassed by Bob E. who obviously left his large club behind in the bar, or perhaps the bordello.

Whats That Purple Building, Daddy?

Wednesday, June 16, AD 2010

Pornography has taken off with the advent of the Internet.

Now you can get streaming video and pictures of exploitive acts of all sexual natures and variety.

Viewing pornography can be addictive.  It can also destroy your soul, not to mention your relationships with women and how you view women in general.

It is said that your eye is the window into your soul.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Holy Gospel of Saint Matthew 6:22-23)

Then why do you view pornography?

A documentary film titled What’s That Purple Building, Daddy? explores how pornography destroys souls, families, and this nations fabric of life.  It also shows what you can do to fight this evil.

Former porn users, Mark Houck and Damian Wargo, co-founders of The King’s Men, have taken steps to fight pornography by engaging in a strategy to close down Coyotes, a strip club in their own backyard. They succeeded! This inspirational video tells you how they went about it and outlines a plan of action for others to follow.

What’s That Purple Building, Daddy? will give you a fresh insight into how pornography is affecting everyone in America, and how men can successfully fight against this evil in their own lives and in their communities.

Continue reading...

11 Responses to Whats That Purple Building, Daddy?

  • Thanks for this. This is a movement that needs to grow. I don’t have statistics in front of me, but believe me I’d be lowballing it to say that 8 or 9 out of 10 men view pornography regularly, especially with the advent of the internet. Porn addiction is a real thing, and it is every bit as difficult to kick as drugs.

    We need movements like this that put a public face on the resistance, a group that lets men know that they aren’t alone in their struggles, and we need to fight back against this industry that exploits women (by reducing them to their physical appearance) AND men (by appealing to their basest, strongest sexual urges to make money).

    Porn is typically a private problem, and most individuals feels alone in the struggle. Let’s get this monster out into the light, where we can overcome it together.

  • Nice. Porn is shown prominently in the anti-porn trailer and documentary itself.

  • TAD,

    No it is not.

    Scantily clad women are out of focus and in the background, hence the warning.

  • They are not always out of focus or in the background. Despite the clear warning, the film itself is pornographic.

  • TurnAroundDude is the Catholic Anarchist who has been banned from this site, in yet another pathetic, and transparent, guise to leave a comment on this blog.

  • Catholic Anarchist redefines the concept of “pathetic.”

    Nothing less than a modern-day crusade against pornography and pornographers is required. On the website, the makers of the video take credit for costing one porn business hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    If we had real Catholic leadership, indulgences would be promised to those who caused similar financial and other kinds of serious damage to the pornography industry. As far as I’m concerned, it is the top threat to families and the souls of children and young adults today.

    Of course, within the boundaries of the law, moral and civil. Maybe instead of focusing on trying to cripple the economy of Arizona, for instance, the outraged Catholic left could try and cripple the finances of the porn industry.

    Wonder what our friend will think of that suggestion?

  • Wow, reading the comments at Mother Jones is pretty eye-opening…

  • Andy,

    I completely agree.

    It is an addiction and Catholics must be on alert for those to help those in need.


    I read the first few and I stopped.

    The contempt for Christians was unbearable.


  • Thank you all for making a video to help those of us who want to help others’ but not sure where to even begin.
    The Kings Men are Awesome!!!

What the Left Cannot Supply, the Right Will Not Demand

Tuesday, June 15, AD 2010

Recently I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a series of posts looking at the recent survey purporting to know a lack of economic knowledge on the Left, with one post for each of the eight questions on the survey. As I look at the list of questions, however, a clear theme emerges, namely that liberals tend to think that the price of a good or service isn’t much affected by the supply of that good or service or visa versa. According to the survey, liberals tend to think that restricting the supply of housing doesn’t increase the price of housing (question 1), that restricting the supply of doctors (through licensing) doesn’t increase the price of doctors (question 2), and that price floors won’t decrease the supply of either rental space (question 4) or jobs (question 8).

Coincidentally, I’m currently reading a (surprisingly good) book by Paul Krugman, in which he argues that conservatives tend to minimize or dismiss the part changes in demand have on getting us into or out of recessions. Naturally this got me thinking whether one of the things separating left from right in this country is a difference in the importance of supply and demand in economic phenomenon. For the above issues, at least, liberals seem to be ready to discount the importance of supply, whereas conservatives underestimate the importance of demand.

Continue reading...

0 Responses to What the Left Cannot Supply, the Right Will Not Demand

  • I realize there is a standard argument that licensing restricts supply. Does it though? I think it is akin to arguing the ACT artificially restricts the supply of college students. (Admittedly, most colleges don’t require the ACT, but work with me here.) In both cases, there is a nominal fee and a background requirement, either explicit or implicit. While it is certainly true that there are people capable of going to college that don’t don’t take the ACT, there are also people capable of becoming doctors that don’t complete the formal requirements to do so. But is it truly the case that the ACT or licensing is restricting supply?

    In the case of supply, I think an example would be airline regulation. By essentially setting a price floor, money was able to be spent on R&D resulting in better aircraft over time. I think a lot of the interurban rail arguments are similar as well, where you have to have a sufficient base of supply before demand will truly kick in.

  • It’s true liberals tend to be Keynesian demand-siders and conservatives tend to be Say’s supply-siders. But you can be a Keynesian like Krugman and still get those questions right. Our political divide on economic issues seems to be primarily driven not by Keynesians and supply-siders but illiterate Keynesians and supply-siders. I bet if you get Krugman and Gary Becker in a room, they’d come out with pretty sensible economic policy roadmap.

  • The best lecture on supply and demand is

  • But is it truly the case that the ACT or licensing is restricting supply?

    Does it render the supply of providers smaller than it would otherwise be? If so (and there would not be much point to licensure if it did not) then it restricts supply and affects price.

    A more telling example than that of physicians would be certification requirements for school teachers and librarians, which are often a parody of vocational training.

  • I would imagine that the degree to which licensing restricts supply is directly proportional to how much of an obstacle the licensing is.

    If a license was as easy to procure as the ACT, it seems unlikely that it would restrict supply much — though it would do so slightly at the margins. (Arguably, the sort of college student who fails to go to college because he doesn’t get around to taking the ACT isn’t that much of a loss, academically.)

    However, when licensing requirements become steep, they restrict supply more. Librarian work is probably a decent example. My mom works as a library aide. The work she does is essentially the same as that which the librarians do (a bit more shelving and less answering questions), but the city she lives in only hires people with masters degrees in library science. Since a lot of the sort of people who want to work part time at a library are not going to go sink $30k+ and two years into getting a masters degree for it, the librarians are in comparatively short supply and highly paid (while there are lots of aides, and they’re low paid.)

    I find it hard to imagine that the masters requirement is not inflating the salary (by decreasing the supply) of librarians relative to the actual skills required.

  • The President’s speech tonight was a classic example of the utter economic ignorance that dominates the left.

    “Lets all stand in a circle, hold hands, and embrace a new “green economy”, because the time is now. Here it is, I think its coming. There, we did it, a brand new green economy.”

    Mr President, stop the BS, our country has been ripped off by false promises and promoters of junk science for years now. FOSSIL FUELS ARE BY FAR THE CHEAPEST SOURCE OF THE ENERGY AVAILABLE. If you have to subsidize something to get it to compete with fossil fuels, then its less economic. The money to subsidize it has to come from somewhere, and that means a net loss of productivity and jobs.

    A green economy is a less productive economy because our economy is more productive when energy is cheaper. He’s gonna make some green jobs, but what he isn’t telling everyone is that for each green job we’ll lose many regular jobs as even more manufacturers and businesses go somewhere else where the energy is cheaper.

  • Yes We Can!! Gulf D-Day 58, or is it 59?

    It’s tragic. Quis Ut Deus could have declared war on the Gulf. That could be very good for the Gulf.

    Kumbaya, my Lord! Kumbaya!!!!

    This is what happens when liberals, clueless college profs, people with multiple PhD’s in theology, economists of the income-redistribution-is-everything school, community agitators, ex-weather underground terrorists, etc. take over everything. Some dad-gummed fact that adults have lived with since God created us jumps out and bites them in the @$$.

    And, he fired that other gen’l. and put in snake-eater McKrystal as OIC of Afghanistan ‘war.’ Go long on the Taliban. Short US health care and the Gulf.

    It’s okay! They can always blame Bush.

  • I imagine the argument would be that while you may not see librarians and library assistants as distinct goods, those hiring them do see them as such. I’m not sure of the extent economics has seen every man as a potential supplier of goods. I’m well familiar with licensing being a bugaboo for a while.

    Does it render the supply of providers smaller than it would otherwise be? If so (and there would not be much point to licensure if it did not) then it restricts supply and affects price.

    This is of course dependent on what you want to consider supply. For example, I can supply oil changes to your car, but I haven’t increased the supply of car mechanics. Most folks outside economics see licensing as a way of legally certifying duties and providing a means of redress when incompetence occurs. Not only does a plumber who consistently allows sewer gases to enter a home get sanctioned civilly, he can be sanctioned by license loss and prevented from harming other households.

  • I’m not sure of the extent economics has seen every man as a potential supplier of goods.

    I take that back. In Econ 101, there are assumed to be no frictional costs to transitioning.

  • I’m not sure I see the analogy to the ACT. Aside from the fact that you don’t have to take the ACT to get into college, simply taking the ACT doesn’t mean you’ll get into college, whereas getting a license does mean you can work in the given field.

  • perhaps its not the licensing per se, but the entrance costs to the chosen field that does the limiting. The licensing portion, after all, is the least costly of it, unless you include the capital requirements (college and grad school) that go into getting that license. Dropping the licensing requirement for doctors would not likely reduce costs much, since it would still be prohibitively expensive for most to become.

    I suppose you may have several tiers of “doctors”, those that deal with more complicated ailments and conditions, and those treating run of the mill stuff (maybe for $30 you’d be willing to go to someone with a bachelor’s in biology if you had a headache, but willing to pay $8,000 to an M.D. for a C-section).

  • Pingback: Quick Econ Thoughts on Licensing « The American Catholic

Men Need to be Men

Tuesday, June 15, AD 2010

The King’s Men is an organization for Men to (re)discover what it means to be a man, a real man, a Catholic man as well as a manly Catholic.

As men we lead and protect the family.

We need to be active in the life of the Church.

We need to learn more about our Catholic faith and much, much more.

In today’s society and culture the role of men have been degraded, feminized, or ridiculed.  Our roles as men have been degraded to eliminate ‘gender bias’ by militant secularist humanists.  We have been feminized to the point of denying our natural gifts of being a leader, provider, and protector.  And we have been ridiculed by being attacked as misogynists.

This has taken such a toll on our role as men, we have forgotten what it means to be a husband, father, and a leader in the Church.

Mark Houck and Damian Wargo of The King’s Men apostolate explain this and much more in a 35 minute segment of EWTN‘s Life on the Rock.

Part 1 of 4:

Continue reading...

12 Responses to Men Need to be Men

  • Pingback: Whats That Purple Building, Daddy? « The American Catholic
  • I simply don’t get Donald’s obsession with “manliness” and the military. Ain’t those two obsessions signs of fascism? That’s what I learned in my history class.

  • Why look, it’s the Catholic Anarchist who has been banned from this site, adopting the guise of “Ricky the Teenager” to call me a fascist yet again. I do have to give the Catholic Anarchist a half point on this post. His understanding of both fascism and history certainly never got past the sophomore level.

  • In all fairness, if Michael, oh , excuse me, “Ricky” really was/is an American public school student, it’s no wonder his understanding of fascism would be so flawed.

  • Fascinating… “Ricky the Teenager” and “TurnAroundDude” both share the same IP address, which originates in West Virginia…

  • Not that Michael doesn’t often have interesting things to say, but if we did ban him from commenting, shouldn’t we remove these comments? If we’re wrong, ‘Ricky’ and ‘TurnAroundDude’ can e-mail us from a legitimate e-mail address (rather than the obviously fake ones used those comments) and we can apologize for mistaking the user of that IP Address with Michael.

  • I have put the ban on the Catholic Anarchist’s ip of the day. Tito the post author can decide what he wants to do with “little Ricky’s” comment.

  • John Henry:

    There is no way I want to lose “Ricky the Teenager” from the records. It’s too funny if it is Michael I. He once made fun of me from trying to use a pseudonym (granted it was Aragorn but still…) and I’d like evidence of Ricky the teenager for posterity’s sake.

  • Fair enough, Michael D. I noticed some of Michael I.’s more outlandish posts and threads had disappeared over at VN. I suppose there is something to be said for posterity; and Ricky the Teenager is a much more original handle than Aragorn….. 😉

  • Happy to help with your record keeping!

  • Thanks Donald.

    He’s staying (at least the IP address) in the banned column.

Is Collective Punishment Always Wrong?

Monday, June 14, AD 2010

As readers of this blog are probably aware, I am not a fan of the Israeli blockade of Gaza. I find the blockade to be morally unjustifiable and ultimately not in the interests of Israel’s security. Yet I do wonder about some of the moral claims made in the course of the controversy.

For example, a recent Vox Nova post by contributor Morning’s Minion contains the following aside:

Remember, collective punishment is absolutely forbidden under the moral law.

Morning’s Minion, of course, is hardly the only one to make this point, and at first blush it seems fairly sensible and obvious. It’s easy to see why punishing one person for the crimes of another, which is what collective punishment seems to consist in, would be morally objectionable, and one might readily conclude that, just as a straightforward application of moral logic, collective punishment is always and everywhere morally wrong.

Continue reading...

0 Responses to Is Collective Punishment Always Wrong?

  • Considering the fact that our entire faith is based on the concept of collective guilt (Original Sin) and collective punishment (death) combined with collective redemption (achieved by Christ), it would be kind of difficult to argue that collective punishment is always and everywhere inherently evil.

    Also, weren’t all of ancient Israel’s military defeats and even the Bablylonian exile itself presented in Scripture as a collective punishment for the sins of the nation — meaning in effect, the sins of the king, since such punishment always turned on whether or not the king was faithful to the Lord or not, regardless of what the rest of the nation did.

    To top it all off, didn’t Our Lady of Fatima state that World War II (referred to as “another and greater war” because it hadn’t happened yet), and in fact ALL wars, were a collective punishment for sin? I realize that is private revelation and not part of the deposit of faith, but it is not contrary to the faith to accept this.

    I suppose one could argue that collective punishment is something that ought to be reserved to God alone and for human beings to attempt it is a form or presumption or pride.

  • Popes used to place entire nations or regions of nations under the interdict for reasons that they deemed sufficient.

    Jesus makes several references to collective punishment in the New Testament:

    “Woe to thee, Corozain, woe to thee, Bethsaida: for if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the miracles that have been wrought in you, they had long ago done penance in sackcloth and ashes.”

    “Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.”

  • The analogy to detention was helpful. Maybe the distinction is the nature of the punishment? If a murderer can be one of two people, the other being entirely innocent, we can justly detain them both but we can’t justly imprison both of them. Maybe collectively punishing a people by denying them the means of survival is always wrong.

  • It also prompts the question: Who is punishing the Gazan Palestinians? I have read (admittedly, not witnessed) that large amounts of supplies are shipped from Israel, and markets in Gaza have plenty of goods. Even the media claim that the Israelis did not allow chocolate to cross the border was apparently false.

    On the other hand, Hamas is running a totalitarian religious terror state. And yet, Hamas won the elections to achieve power, and still enjoy considerable popularity there.

    So, is this ‘punishment’ and are the recipients really so far removed from responsibility?

  • Whether or not collective punishment is right or wrong is irrelevant to this issue – the Israelis aren’t punishing anyone, collectively or otherwise. Hamas and Israel are in a state of war and Israel is carrying out a legitimate war measure – blockade. In point of fact, Israel’s blockade is softer and more merciful than the Union blockade of the South in the Civil War or the British blockade of Germany in the World Wars. Essentially, those earlier blockades were of everything – not just weapons of war, but of anything which could conceivably help the other side. Merely allowing something as simple as bread to come through puts Israel on a higher moral plane, blockade-wise, than us.

    Collective punishment would be to, say, area bomb a section of Gaza from which rockets are fired – unless something like that happens, Israel is not in the business of punishing, at all.

    Mark Noonan

  • Not sure if MM is a theologian.

    When I (torture myself) read the male-of-the-bovine-species-feces they spew over at vn, the following thought rolls through my alleged mind: “Theology is making up stuff about God to advance some secular humanist agenda item.”

  • First of all, Chuck Schumer’s comment is disgusting.

    Having said this, I hasten to add that it is irrelevant, and the attempt, which Morning’s Minion so egregiously makes, to color the Israeli security action with the moral squalor of a US Senator, would be outrageous if it were not comic in its transparent absurdity.


  • I think Schumer is wrong but his rationale is not any different from the rationale for the embargo on Cuba.

  • Oh, and to answer your question: sic et non.

    Yes, it seems that there is no positively constituted human authority capable of justly meting out punishment collectively, i.e., upon a group constituted not by each member’s peccaminous and/or criminal participation in a given act or series of acts (or policies), but by some other criterion.

    His scriptis, a blockade is not properly an act of punishment. The point is: most acts that would bring suffering upon a group or population, generally, are not punitive acts, properly speaking. They might be discutble and even condemnable under other areas of the moral law, but not under the prohibition against “collective punishment”.


  • Obviously, I am speaking of positively constituted judiciary authority.

    The squad leader who confines all his men to base because of one man’s transgression is another matter.


  • Lazy Disciple, I would imagine that a blockade that denies the population of necessities for survival would be punishment, no?

  • restrainedradical:
    I suspect the purpose of the blockade is prophylactic not penitential. While I do not claim that this distinction resolves all moral questions, I do speculate that evaluating these questions by using a “morality of punishment” analysis probably muddies the waters.

  • Why is this not being more widely reported? Because it disrupts the narrative?

  • The difficulty with Minion’s principle stated in those terms is that any penalty has knock-on effects on the persons proximate to those punished, because life is lived socially, and can thus be conceived of as ‘collective punishment’.

  • First of all, Chuck Schumer’s comment is disgusting.

    Schumer’s comments are in keeping with comments Israeli officials have made about the purpose of the blockade. So if you find them disgusting….

  • I believe collective punishment is always wrong. In the schoolchild case, we are talking about a mere peccadillo. But it still violates the principle of justice, and even children know that (I rememember vivly how unfair I felt these little “collective punishments” as a child).

    But the matter of hand is not a mere peccadillo. It is a war crime. It is a systemic deprival of 1.5 million people of their basic rights – to food, shelter, employment, healthcare.

    Let us not forget what is happening in Gaza:

    (1) Severe food shortages. Chronic malnutrition at 10 percent. Over 60 percent of households are food insecure. 80 percent depend on humanitarian aid.

    (2) Serious water shortages. Israel refuses to allow the sewage system be repaired, so that 95 percent of drinking water is contaminated and unfit for consumption.

    (3) Industry decimated. 98 percent of industrial operations have shut down. Exports practically banned. Unemployment at 42 percent. Fishing catch down 47 percent.

    (4) Severe electricity shortages, as Israel refused to allow the reconstruction of Gaza’s only power plant after bombing it (from 140 to 80 megawatts in 2006, 60 megawatts in 2009, 30 megawatts in 2010). Most have power cuts from 8-12 hours a day.

    (5) Healthcare in crisis. 15 of 27 hospitals, 43 of 110 of primary care facilities, and 29 of its 148 ambulances were damaged or destroyed, and not rebuilt of replaced. 21 percent of permits to leave for emergency medical treatment were denied or delayed, sometimes resulting in death.

  • Gee, perhaps if the Palestinians weren’t so devoted to the murder of Jews they’d have the resources to farm (remember those greenhouses they destroyed when Israel left Gaza?), repair their sewer, engage in productive industry instead of suicide bomb-making, etc.

    I’m not really feeling sympathetic to a society whose entire existence revolves around murdering Jews.

  • Oh, and I agree with T.Shaw. It’s stupid to take seriously anything the VN sophists say. Their entire agenda is liberalism. Catholicism for them is a means to an end.

  • Yes, but it would be nice if MM really did believe all that tripe about the Palestinians. Then one of us could sell him the Brooklyn Bridge.

  • “Remember, collective punishment is absolutely forbidden under the moral law.”


    “I believe collective punishment is always wrong.”

    The claim has lessened. I also find this curious givne the concept of Original Sin, the punishment of nations, etc.

    Seems to me that if we are to act in solidarity (as MM and other VN contributors would suggest with things such as the health care bill) then it is also possible that we can be punished collectively as a society. Indeed the claim that we cannot be punished as a group smacks of the individualism that MM and others on VN continue to reject out of hand.


  • I don’t think original sin counts as collective punishment in Catholic theology (which is to say that it is something inherited rather than imputed).

    The issue of the judgment of nations is trickier, but I think we should always be cautious in trying to apply examples from the Old Testament outside their historical context.

  • So what is the “historical context” of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah? Abraham tries to strike a bargain with the Lord and keeps lowering the bar. God agrees at every point, but trashes the joint anyway.

    But I guess God wouldn’t do that nowadays because He has decided that gays aren’t that bad.

    I’m not claiming this is the way to look at things, just throwing some stuff at the wall and seeing if it sticks. Get out the heresy meter if you want.

  • It is always wrong to punish an innocent person. God does not punish the innocent – to claim otherwise is the embrace the very voluntarism that the pope condemned in his infamous Regensburg address. It will not do to read the OT as a fundamentalist.

  • So what is the “historical context” of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah?

    God said He would spare the entire city if there were ten innocent people there. It turned out that there were only 4-6 innocent people in the city, so He destroyed it after telling the six to leave. It hardly seems a good example of collective punishment in action (do you really think that in all of Gaza you couldn’t find ten people who hate Hamas?)

  • “I don’t think original sin counts as collective punishment in Catholic theology (which is to say that it is something inherited rather than imputed). ”

    Fair enough.

    “It is always wrong to punish an innocent person.”

    MM, that’s the point. Can we be punished collectively for the sins of a nation? As we can do good as a society we do evil as well. As such I see no logical reason why we cannot be punished as a nation for the sin of abortion, for example.

    It seems to me that if we are to maintain that we are tied to a society and therefore are responsible for doing good we can in turn be punished for doing evil as a society, even if as an individual might hold opinions contrary to the society’s. We cannot be wholly innocent of a society’s sins if we are also responsible for that society’s well being, right? The society is an aspect of who we are.

  • If I were Lot I might feel a little punished to have my wife whacked on the way out. Of course I might feel a little to blame as well. I mean, if he was like me he was probably always saying “Honey did you turn off the teakettle?”

    (BTW, I’m not thinking about the Hamas/Gaza thing. It’s too obvious to even discuss seriously.)

  • I assume the first born of Egypt, slain in the final plague on Egypt before the Hebrews were liberated, are following this discussion in the next life and saying, “Now they tell us!” Unless the Old Testament in many passages is going to be rendered devoid of the meaning that is obviously meant to be conveyed, I do not see how any Christian can argue with a straight face that God is opposed to collective punishment when it suits His purposes. The Faith is useless indeed if we simply invent away hard passages in Scripture which do not comport with modern concepts of morality.

  • I don’t care to make a point about collective punishment, per se, but rather I post this in response to MM’s comment about God not punishing the innocent and about reading OT scripture like a “fundamentalist”.

    What does it mean to be admonished not to “read the Old Testament as a fundamentalist”? I generally see such terminology used whenever there is something in OT scripture that makes certain people uncomfortable because it is at odds with their particular world view.

    Is it meant in the sense that we are not to read ANYTHING in the OT historically? That the OT isn’t to have any practical applicability to our own lives and circumstances?

    Let’s take, for example, the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel to Assyria in 722 B.C. and the fall and ensuing captivity of the Southern Kingdom of Judah to Babylon in 587 B.C. These are ACTUAL historical events for which the divinely inspired word of God makes some specific claims: namely, that the people of those two kingdoms were being punished – collectively – for falling away from God.

    Was EVERYONE who was affected by this punishment “guilty”? Was Jeremiah guilty? Did Jeremiah suffer, along with the rest of the people of Judah, the loss of his homeland and the Temple where his people had worshipped? See, e.g., Lamentations.

  • It is a war crime. It is a systemic deprival of 1.5 million people of their basic rights

    The bulk of those 1.5 million and all of the political leadership prefer the current situation to feasible alternatives, because the feasible alternatives require they give up something they value that most folk would not. Their claim on anyone’s sympathy is exceedingly limited.

  • The bulk of those 1.5 million and all of the political leadership prefer the current situation to feasible alternatives

    The bulk of the 1.5 million are children.

  • Jay,

    I don’t the point is that you cannot read the OT historically as if everything is merely metaphorical and/or allegorical.

    For example, the Psalmist often prays for not simply deliverance from his enemies, not even just the death of his enemies, but at times, he prays for their utter annihilation and eternal damnation. But we are instructed in the Gospel to love and pray for our enemies.

    The Old Testament permits divorce, but Jesus instructs the Jews that the ordinance given to them was because of the hardness of their heart — and had they understood the true spirit of the law, they would not have reached the conclusion they had.

    I think “Dei Verbum” assists in this endeavor because it illuminates the question of inspiration — and how something inspired to be included in the Sacred Text need not be taken as “dogmatic,” if read in a literal (at-face-value) manner (e.g. read Sirach and the Sacred Author’s theological treatment of women).

    So I think I share your fundamental concern and I’m not sure we disagree.

    But MM’s point about a fundamentalist reading of the OT being problematic is obviously correct — though I’m not sure who was being a fundamentalist (I didn’t thoroughly read throught the comments). A literal reading of the Psalms could lead one to believe that it is morally acceptable to bash the heads of your enemy’s infants against rocks — or in the words of the Psalmist, “blessed” is he who does these things (cf. Psalm 137).

    There are other instances where certain OT realities seem to clash to a degree with the Gospels and/or the paradigm of moral theology, particularly natural law thinking, promulgated in the Church.

    Obviously none of this means the Old Testament is to be ignored or subordinated to the New Testament. It is a question of biblical hermeneutics and the proper methodology of reading and interpreting the Sacred Text particularly given the varying historical circumstances of each text as well as the fact that each a number of the books are different genres, e.g. letters, apocalyptic texts, gospels, etc.

  • Also see Sirach 25 — the Fall is blamed entirely on women. In patristics, it always “fault of Adam” — as St. Augustine so popularly termed it — when the subject of original sin occurs. So again there is a question of biblical hermeneutics.

  • The bulk of the 1.5 million are children.

    Yeah, you’ll get that when you allow multiple wives.

  • The bulk of the 1.5 million are children.

    The median age in the Gaza Strip is 17.5 years, so, no.

    And the primary responsibility for their welfare does not lie with the Israel Defense Force.

  • In regards to the Babylonian Captivity, I could see arguing that when the Bible talks about it being because of Israel’s sins, it doesn’t necessarily mean that because of their idol worshiping God specifically “helped” the Babylonians in some way, or that God would in some definite way not have allowed the Babylonians to conquers Israel if they had been more faithful to some specific degree. Scripture could be describing the Captivity as an opportunity for Israel to expiate its sins, without asserting a direct cause and effect relationship.

    However, this strikes me as pretty clearly going against how both the authors and most of those within the Church have interpreted such passages them through history. My personal tendency is to take such expressions as metaphorical in the context of my life, but that doesn’t mean I’m right and it certainly doesn’t mean one can simply assume that because one tends not to see misfortunes as being “punishments” from God, that therefore one may discount anything in scripture which runs contrary to one’s preference.

    I have to agree with Blackadder’s basic point: there are situations in which collective punishment is not unjust, I don’t think that we can assert that it is “always wrong”. (And I say this while agreeing that the blockade is not right in its current form.)

    If I can make a suggestion with tongue only slightly in cheek — it strikes me that an absolute assertion that no form of collective punishment is ever justified can only spring from a form of radical individualism, whereby we refuse to admit the possibility that a group as a whole may share in guilt, or indeed that communities or countries in fact exist.

    I could certainly see that many severe sorts of punishment are always unjust if applied collectively, and I would have no problem with the claim that the practice of punishing randomly selected people (along the lines of: turn over the guerrillas or we’ll execute ten randomly chosen people from the village) is always wrong, but I don’t see that one could claim that an example such as the school example is unjust, in part because it’s a situation where everyone by action or inaction shares a degree of culpability.

  • You raise a good point DC, albeit indirectly. In the Old Testament, it is evident that the Israelites believed that misfortunes were a “punishment” for sin. If something bad happened to you, it was because God was punishing you for it. But in the New Testament, Jesus makes it clear that this is not the case. The story of the blind man in the Gospel of John comes to mind — where the Pharisees are sure his blindness is the result of his own personal sinfulness.

  • Good point.

    To refine slighter further: From the gospels we get the feeling that at least some Jews in the time of Jesus believed that basically all misfortunes were the result of some kind of sin. Jesus clearly rejects that. (The blind man, the fallen tower, etc.) Arguably, this was off base from the OT view anyway, since in Job we have someone who suffered great misfortune which was not the result of any sin.

    However, I think that that many of us now (and I’d count myself here) tend to go to the other extreme and assume that misfortunes are never punishment sin, that “bad things just happen”, and I’m not clear that this is necessarily what Jesus is saying. So far as I can tell, it could be that some misfortunes are not the result of sin, but others are. Or it could be that they are the result of sin in one sense, but not in other senses.

    No matter how well it comports with my prefered way of viewing the world, I guess I’m hesitant to rule out the idea that some misfortunes may in fact be punishments from God (especially in some cases in the OT where the prophets say outright that they are), though I’m certainly skeptical enough that I wouldn’t necessarily believe anyone who claimed that any particular misfortune was punishment for any particular sin.

  • what i continue not to understand is that Israel will allow the ships in thier port so they can make sure the supplies are those intended to aiid the people but want to ascertain there are no arms or counterbrand and guarantee the delivery of the goods into Gaza. why does this not seem reasonable, erspecially when arms are intended to contiune the confict.

  • afl,

    The blockade isn’t limited to arms.

  • Good points, Darwin and Eric.

    I guess my take on it is that either Jeremiah was truly a prophet of the Lord, delivering God’s message that misfortune was about to fall upon Judah for their sins, or he was the equivalent of an OT Pat Robertson, blaming completely unrelated misfortunes on the collective sin of the nation. I’m not sure if this makes my reading of the OT “fundamentalist” or not, but I choose to believe the former.

    If it’s the latter, then I suppose we can pay about as much attention to the book of Jeremiah as we pay to The 700 Club.


  • Or maybe it’s the fact that I put it in terms of that either/or without leaving room for a more “nuanced” reading that marks me as a “fundamentalist”.


  • Morning’s Minion,

    So, a blockade is collective punishment and health care is a right? How so? Seems to me that a blockade is just that – and if you can come up with a logical argument which determines that someone who voluntarily enters the medical profession becomes encumbered with an absolute obligation to treat people, then I’d like to hear it.

    Mark Noonan

  • When the Gazans, the West Bankers, the Lebonese, or the Egyptians for that matter, begin the process of demonstrating an intolerance for those who smuggle weapons (large and small) into their territories for the purpose of releasing them toward or in Israel, with the hoped for civilian casualties, I may take seriously any discussions about Israeli “punishment”, collective or otherwise, of the willing subjects of the Hamas regime.
    Until then, a day that will not occur while the fires burn in hell, all of the hand-wringing over the plight of these willful unlawful combatants makes me nauseous.

  • Modern criminal law does not recognize collective punishment. Only those found guilty as individuals are punished under modern criminal law. No State openly claims the right to inflict collective punishment. The reason is that such form of punishment is considered contrary to human rights and humanitarian law.

    Yet, feelings sometimes tend to blur our vision. We may sometimes feel that entire groups or societies should be rightfully punished, or coerced, in order to bring about more justice. One particular case in point is the State of Israel, in which the public willingly supports policies generally regarded as war crimes. By inflicting hardship on such a public, so goes the reasoning, that public would perhaps refrain from supporting politicians who pursue such criminal policies. The theory bases on the premise that the Israeli public enjoys democratic rights and can, without incurring hardship, remove their government by peaceful, electoral means.

    The policy of collective punishment would thus be applicable particularly against democratic societies, because a democratic government truly represents the will of its citizens (or at least the majority of the citizens).

    The question arises therefore, whether collective punishment should be allowed where the targeted victims possess real and viable choices and are not enduring duress or danger by opposing certain policies. A further question will have to be answered: Who would be in a position to assess the degree of freedom by the targeted victims of collective punishment? And why should those individuals within the targeted collective who strive to oppose the criminal acts of their government and even incur risks in doing so, be equally punished?

    The answer to the above conundrum would seem to be that punishment or coercion should be targeted against specific individuals or institutions who refuse to oppose criminal policies.

Louisiana Close to Passing Pro-Life Measures

Monday, June 14, AD 2010

One of the many things that makes Louisiana the greatest state in the Union is that due to its high population of Catholics it is the most pro-life state on the issue of abortion. This allows Louisiana to develop and pass pro-life laws that legislators in other states can adopt.

The latest laws are no exception, though perhaps they are too late. You may remember how in the healthcare debate, Catholics promoting the bill often pointed out that insurance often covers abortion and that the federal bill was doing little to expand coverage for abortion over the current private insurance system. Some in that camp obviously believed that the Republicans were too wedded to big business/insurance to actually change that.

I was glad they pointed this out, as it exposed a situation which I believed pro-lifers would soon rectify. Indeed, Louisiana is very close to doing just that:

House Bill 1247 by Rep. Frank Hoffman, R-West Monroe, would bar private insurers from covering “elective” abortions, including by women who are victims of rape or incest. The only exception would be for abortion procedures performed to save the life of the pregnant woman

Sen. Gerald Long, R-Natchitoches, who handled Hoffman’s bill, said it was filed in response to the health-care overhaul bill approved earlier this year by Congress, which gives states the right to “opt out” of covering elective abortions. He said the legislation is meant to affirm Louisiana’s long-standing opposition to abortion.

Hoffman’s bill, which passed 28-3, must go back to the House for agreement with changes made by the Senate before it can go to Gov. Bobby Jindal‘s desk.

Hopefully more pro-life states will follow Louisiana’s lead.

But it does clearly show the problems with the positions adopted by Catholics who promoted Obamacare. They gave up on the pro-life movement’s ability to actually change things. While sometimes the GOP does justly cause pro-lifers to be close to despair, Louisiana shows that sometimes real pro-life change can come if only we work for it.

Continue reading...

10 Responses to Louisiana Close to Passing Pro-Life Measures

  • “They gave up on the pro-life movement’s ability to actually change things.”

    Michael, you hit the nail squarely on the head there, my friend. And it wasn’t just in the Obamacare fight. We saw the same thing during the 2008 election when formerly solid pro-lifers abandoned the principled positions they once held regarding the necessity of pursuing a legal regime that protects the unborn in law and decided to play the pro-choice Catholic game of pursuing left-wing “quality-of-life” measures that allegedly “reduce” the so-called “need” for abortion.

    Examine the things Kmiec, Cafardi, et al said during the 2008 election to justify their support of the pro-abortion Obama, and it basically comes down to the problem you identify: they appeared to have despaired of the ability of the pro-life agenda and the efforts of pro-lifers to bring about change (never mind just holding the line against the encroaching culture of death). Either that or they were flakes hoping to latch onto the hopey-changey bandwagon. Probably a little of both.

  • Any thoughts on if the restrictions will be found Constitutional? Not being negative, just don’t know.

  • “due to its high population of Catholics, (Louisiana) is the most pro-life state”

    By that measure, Rhode Island ought to be the most pro-life state in the Union since nearly 60 percent of its residents are Catholic (2006 figures).

    According to this chart, Louisiana, with 26.1 percent Catholic residents, is only #12 on the list of “most Catholic” states (based on pre-Katrina 2005 population figures):


    A question that really begs to be asked is, why are at least 8 of the top 10 “most Catholic” states on the list controlled or dominated by liberal, pro-abort (not to mention corrupt) Democrats?

  • I can only imagine St. Peter’s verdict on our betters’ male-of-the-bovine-species-feces rationals for advancing untrammeled mass exterminations of millions of unborn babies; ESCR; gay marriage; and public schools’ immoral brainwashing of a hundred million American youth.

    We can pray for them. As long as they live there is the chance they may come to a better mind that the sanctity of human life is more vital than the secular human, progressive agenda, i.e., socialism (which is mass brigandage).

    These are the teachings of the Popes, including the current Pope who promulgated a list of four non-negotiables which were wilfully ignored by 54% of catholics, including bishops.

    Kmiec was named ambassador to Malta. He thought he’d get the Vatican . . . [heh] I think Malta is the most Catholic nation on the planet, and the Maltese should have turned him away.

  • “Any thoughts on if the restrictions will be found Constitutional? Not being negative, just don’t know.”

    The restrictions are not contrary to the statues written into law, so there is no reason it would be challenged in court.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Michael on this — more states need to follow this example. Though as a native Texan, Michael could not be more wrong on what state is the greatest in the Union.

    However it would be intellectually dishonest for it not to be mentioned that Louisiana’s new law is not a slap-in-the-face to the federal government.

    During the health care debate last year, the U.S. House adopted at the last minute a measure (the Stupak Amendment) that would prohibit any insurance plan sold in the exchanges from including policies that cover abortion, whether public (when the “public option” was on the table) or private.

    In the Senate, there were not a sufficient number of pro-life votes to adopt a federal-wide policy like the Stupak Amendment to ban abortion in the exchanges. The vote on such an amendment only garnered 38 Republican votes and 7 Democrats. The final compromise (because Senator Nelson did not hold out) was that each state would be allowed to enact an abortion ban in its exchanges as well as opt to ban abortion in any private insurance plan sold in the state period (which was already existing law; it was illegal to sell abortion as a primary benefit in any plan in Missouri prior to the health care debate).

    This law that is on the brink of passage in Louisiana has already passed in Tennessee and is the law. In other words, the state legislatures are merely acting within the frame of “ObamaCare” and what they are doing is acting on a provision that was explicitly written into the bill. It was known without any ambiguity before the bill passed that states were going to be able to do this. It was not some “obscure” provision (as Fox News recently put it) because I recall it (the “Senate compromise” as the NRTL termed it) being rejected by pro-life groups that insisted that the Stupak Amendment was the only acceptable option.

    Quite honestly, I opposed the final bill and I think there was great reason to do so. But I am somewhat dismayed that there was so much information, mostly “talking points”, both true and false, circulating that people were unaware of how actual policies would look when they materialized.

    I’m not trying to take a shot at anyone here particularly. If it seems that way, I truly apologize. But I have honestly lost some trust in groups that condemned this very compromise the day it was unveiled and are now today celebrating its existence.

    I suppose this was God’s gift of a window, when it seemed to the pro-life mind that a door had closed when the bill passed.

    That’s my two cents.

  • Eric:

    I agree that this isn’t a slap in the face to Obamacare.

    As you point out though, states could already do this before Obamacare. I do have to give Obamacare credit if permission is explicitly written into the law (I didn’t know that before). That said, I’m still uncomfortable with the money that the federal government does pay when states don’t ban abortion in the exchange.


    My feeling is that Louisiana has a much higher number of practicing and/or orthodox Catholics. Why Louisiana has retained this while many of the states in the list have more secular versions of Catholicism is an interesting question, though I imagine Louisiana’s culture (Acadiana for example) has done much to retain it.

  • “My feeling is that Louisiana has a much higher number of practicing and/or orthodox Catholics”

    I suspect the active Catholic culture of New Orleans and Cajun country has a lot to do with this. However, there was an equally active Catholic culture among the Irish in New York and Boston, among French Canadians in New England, and among Italians, Poles, and other ethnic groups in Chicago, Philly, Milwaukee, etc.

    One explanation I have read is that Louisiana lost a lot of its reliably Democratic voters after Katrina, which enabled more conservatives and Republicans like Gov. Bobby Jindal to be elected. It pains me to suggest this, but perhaps Louisiana has actually become LESS Catholic and more evangelical Protestant since Katrina and that is why pro-life measures are moving more quickly?

  • Eric,

    Even though it is written into statute, can’t the statute be declared unconstitutional?

  • One explanation I have read is that Louisiana lost a lot of its reliably Democratic voters after Katrina, which enabled more conservatives and Republicans like Gov. Bobby Jindal to be elected. It pains me to suggest this, but perhaps Louisiana has actually become LESS Catholic and more evangelical Protestant since Katrina and that is why pro-life measures are moving more quickly?

    Bobby Jindal is Catholic and almost beat Blanco the first time he ran for governor (when he came out of nowhere), then spent the 4 years in between courting the Protestant North Louisiana by convincing them he wasn’t crazy (and not a Muslim, which seemed to be a problem up there). So it’s not Jindal needed a dramatic change via Katrina to win.

    The bulk of the population loss in Louisiana was African-American (from what we can tell). Most of that was probably Protestant, as the majority of the African-american community is Protestant. We also had an influx of immigrants who came looking for the construction jobs (we’re not sure how many of them are still around or whether they moved on), but that would be a more Catholic influx. So if anything, Louisiana may have become more Catholic rather than Protestant.

    It’s also worth noting that at this point, the only prominent pro-abortion politicians are the Landrieus (Sen. Mary and Mayor of New Orleans Mitch) which has for a long time been the most prominent political family in the state. This means that across both Protestant North Louisiana and Catholic South Louisiana, most of the politicians are pro-life. That might change when the New Orleans votes out Cao and puts in an African-American democrat but both Protestants and Catholics seem to be strongly united on the pro-life side of the abortion issue.

  • “Even though it is written into statute, can’t the statute be declared unconstitutional?”

    I am not a constitutional law scholar, but I don’t see any reason it should be overturned in court — and if it were challenged, I think we (pro-lifers) would have a pretty good case.

    States do not make it illegal for private insurance to sell abortion coverage, but states can and do regulate how they offer it. For example, in Missouri before the health care debate it was illegal to sell abortion as a primary benefit in any private insurance policy — it always had to be a “rider” or supplemental policy that is bought in addition to any health plan, paid for in a strictly separate manner. The goal was to protect the conscience of other citizens in the state so that they would not be directly or indirectly subsidizing abortion by funding a risk pool that covers such an evil.

    In the exchanges, it would have the same effect — no insurance company could sell abortion as a primary benefit, but if someone opted to have abortion coverage, they would have to purchase a “rider” with their own funds on top of the comprehensive plan they bought into. This was precisely what the Stupak language would have done at the national level. Obviously we did not get that in the Senate, so the best bet (given that the bill passed) is to have each state pass Stupak-like legislation.

    This issue, in effect, is very similar to the Medicaid problem. Under the Hyde Amendment, federal dollars cannot be used to subsidize abortions through Medicaid. But Medicaid is a joint federal-state program. 32 states follow the federal government’s initiative and don’t fund abortion except for the three infamous exceptions. However, 17 states use state funds — and I’m not assure about the accounting methods and how it is kept, if it is at all, separate from federal funds — to cover all “medically necessary” abortions, which really means any and all abortions.

    So this legislation, though very imperfect, has brought the abortion fight back to the states and it is at the state level, by and large, that pro-life gains occur the most.

    We should count our blessings.

David, Nathan and Freedom

Monday, June 14, AD 2010

In the Mass Readings last Sunday, for the reading from the Old Testament we had Nathan the Prophet denouncing King David for his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband Uriah the Hittite after Bathsheba became pregnant with his child.  It is a familiar tale for us, and the familiarity conceals from us just how remarkable it is and how important for us it is, not just in a religious sense but also in our secular lives.

A forgotten masterpiece from Hollywood, King David (1951), helps remind us of the importance of the two great sins of David and their aftermath.  David is well-portrayed by Gregory Peck.  No longer the shepherd boy, he is now an increasingly world-weary King.  God who was close to him in his youth now seems distant.   Rita Hayworth gives a solid performance as Bathsheba, David’s partner in sin.  The best performance of the film is by Raymond Massey as Nathan.  Each word he utters is with complete conviction as he reveals the word of God to those too deafened by sin to hear it.  In the video clip above we see this when David attempts to argue that the soldier who died when he touched the Ark of the Covenant may have died of natural causes.  “All causes are of God”, Nathan responds without hesitation.  He warns David that he has been neglecting his duties and that the people are discontent.

Continue reading...

4 Responses to David, Nathan and Freedom

  • Today is Flag Day and the 235th anniversary of the United States Army.

    Pray for our gallant troops!

    Pray for Victory and Peace!

    God bless America!

  • The essence of this story of David and Nathan was captured by a French priest, Fr. Louis Evely, several years ago in his inspiring book “That Man is You”. Anyone who is interested in deepening their understanding of Christ’s message and/or increasing their insight of the Word of God should try to find a copy of this heart awakening read. You’ll never want to part with it because it opens ones eyes to the light of truth like no other.

    It has been out of print for some time but well worth a search for this treasure.

  • This Old Testament reading is an important one in the field of Catholic Apologetics.

    Most if not all protestants deny that the priest has the authority to forgive sin in the sacrament of Penance; that a priest is not needed, we can go straight to Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins.

    However, in this passage of scripture, we see Nathan being given the authority by God to forgive David his heinous sin, and the penance is the death of his son born to Bathsheba from their illicit union.

    This is a clear scriptural precedent for confession of sins to a priest. Of course, the protestants have other arguments, but they will not deny the scripture.

  • Good post. My comment is here:


    My point of view may be a bit different. And no, I am not a troglodyte. I simply despise and loathe liberalism and progressivism.

My Body My Choice, Drill Baby Drill, Hmm… Not So Much

Sunday, June 13, AD 2010

There are two political mantras which have come to symbolize big problems in our mainstream party choices- “My body, my choice!” and “Drill baby! Drill!”. The liberal and conservative camps get so excited when their political heroes shout out these short catch-phrases. For me, they represent some really huge moral deficiencies.
Continue reading...

30 Responses to My Body My Choice, Drill Baby Drill, Hmm… Not So Much

  • The problem is the mixed economy you were mentioned. The government nominally regulates the oil companies, not to mention forcing them to drill off-shore (much riskier than on-shore) and then they are forced to operate in deep water environments compounding the risk. Then the contribution heavy legislators try to protect the oil companies by capping their liability. If they were fully liable for damages does anyone think they would not have taken many more precautions, like the acoustic shut-off valves required in Europe?

  • Perhaps if corporations were made fully liable as well the personal riches of their Executives- then if they would say well, no we aren’t going to be able to go offshore and take the risk- come up with another plan for domestic energy or allow us to drill on public lands with the same liability, with the public getting generous royalties, and maybe since all the right parties are made accountable, and The People are given financial reward- either by each citizen getting a check or by having the money earmarked for some for very obvious public work that has popular support- something like this could work better since corps would have more ammo for making the case that they can do the drilling on dry land if given the chance, and do it much more safely than at Sea- but are also willing to hang their profits and Executive net worth out as collateral to keep everyone honest- could work as the government would still have a hand in seeing to it all such agreements were met, and that plans and sites are inspected by competent, neutral parties to make sure nothing sinister is in the works by real baddies who are at the level of James Bond villians!

  • If they were fully liable for damages does anyone think they would not have taken many more precautions, like the acoustic shut-off valves required in Europe?

    Me. They are fully liable for clean up costs. Only their civil liability is capped and even that can be lifted upon a showing of gross negligence. You think billions isn’t enough of an incentive to install shut-off valves? What we should have learned from the banking crisis and Enron and Worldcom before that is that large corporations left to their own devices, will take excessive risks. Poor corporate governance (including poor executive compensation structures) is partially to blame but there are also unavoidable agency costs.

    I never had a problem with “drill, baby, drill” but I never understood the cost until this tragedy. Sometimes the risks are just too great in relation to the potential benefits. If deep-water drilling can’t be 100% safe, it should be banned entirely and I’m very skeptical it can be made 100% safe.

  • What would be the effect on the economy of $10 a gallon gasolin/heating oil?

    As if THE OIL SPILL (an accident that big gov and big oil can’t fix, big gov inspected and didn’t shut down the rig or ensure safety violations were corrected!) is the moral equivalent of 47,000,000 murders of unborn babies that big (the one you voted for) government sanctions, protects, and funds.

    People employ moral and intellectual contortions to salve their consciences for voting for Obama and abortion.

  • BIG government refused (Jones Act a relic of Depression econ protectionism) to allow many foreign specialized ships to help mitigate the enviro damage.

    The environazis are giving Obama a free pass on this one, too. Also are Obama-worshiping imbeciles . . .

  • T. Shaw wrote:

    What would be the effect on the economy of $10 a gallon gasolin/heating oil?

    As if THE OIL SPILL (an accident that big gov and big oil can’t fix, big gov inspected and didn’t shut down the rig or ensure safety violations were corrected!) is the moral equivalent of 47,000,000 murders of unborn babies that big (the one you voted for) government sanctions, protects, and funds.

    People employ moral and intellectual contortions to salve their consciences for voting for Obama and abortion.

    I do not think this very well written article was attempting to draw a moral equivalency between the spill mismanagement and the abortion holocaust. I did not get that sense at all. The author was attempting to bring the light of faith to bear on two current problems in our society – and they are both current problems – and the deficiencies in how partisan political factions have addressed them. Christians owe it to society to offer something more than mere party spirit – which St. Paul calls a work of the flesh (Gal 5:20). We owe it to society to provide a critique based on the Word of God.

    The author’s point stands, and stands correctly: it is wicked to brutalize the living space entrusted to us by God for the profit of a very few; it is also wicked to murder children. One does not detract from the other. A Christian is not bound to rush off and vote Republican because they pay lip service to the pro-life cause (they have now fronted pro-choice presidential candidates and the chairman of the party is on the record as being pro-choice). We cannot in conscience vote for an abortionist, either.

    We must start looking for and thinking of third options.

    T. Shaw, your response kind of demonstrates the need for the underlying principle that the author is applying. I have gone to the March for Life 23 or 24 of the 33 years I’ve been alive. I’ve spent hundreds of hours praying outside of abortion clinics. And I can honestly say that some pro-lifers go ballistic about the topic. If one says abortion is a big problem, another flips out and says it is the problem, and that moreover the first person – praying at the same clinic – is “soft” on abortion because they didn’t use the same word choice or because they think terrorism is also a problem. This attitude is uncharitable and often counterproductive.

  • hey have now fronted pro-choice presidential candidates

    Rudy Giuliani went nowhere in 2008, and no pro-choice GOP candidate has really made much of a dent in the presidential primaries.

    and the chairman of the party is on the record as being pro-choice

    Michael Steele has said many stupid things in the year and a half that he has been chairman, but he has not ever said that he was pro-choice.

  • Mr. Zummo,

    You are incorrect, sir. Michael Steele said in an interview with Lisa DePaulo of GQ on 11 March 2009:

    Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?
    Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice.

    You do?
    Yeah. Absolutely.

    Are you saying you don’t want to overturn Roe v. Wade?
    I think Roe v. Wade—as a legal matter, Roe v. Wade was a wrongly decided matter.

    Okay, but if you overturn Roe v. Wade, how do women have the choice you just said they should have?
    The states should make that choice. That’s what the choice is. The individual choice rests in the states. Let them decide.

    Do pro-choicers have a place in the Republican Party?


    Note the interviewer’s shock at his answer. His subsequent clarification flatly contradicts what he said in the interview. Flatly.

    Laura Bush made some choice pro-choice comments early in her husband’s tenure, including that she thought Roe v. Wade should stand. She has recently reiterated these sentiments.

    These aren’t insignificant slips. This is the chair of the RNC/GOP and the wife of a president-elect (at the time of her first instance). How strongly do you think Bush could feel about it to marry a woman who might very well abort her own child? How strongly do you think the GOP in general can feel to allow Steele to stay in his position after a tip of the cards like that?

    Moreover, these aren’t isolated. RINO is getting to be a bit trivial when it comes to abortion, given the number of votes cast in Congress in favor of abortion with (R) after their name.

  • Michael Steele answered that question as horribly as he could, I won’t deny, and he’s been cringe inducing at times as chair as the head of the RNC. But he is not pro-choice.

    Laura Bush made some choice pro-choice comments

    I didn’t realize that Laura Bush ever ran for President or was a GOP candidate.

    ow strongly do you think Bush could feel about it to marry a woman who might very well abort her own child?

    This is honestly one of the silliest comments I have ever read, and the leap of logic here hurts my brain.

    RINO is getting to be a bit trivial when it comes to abortion, given the number of votes cast in Congress in favor of abortion with (R) after their name.

    Which votes in Congress “in favor of abortion” have occurred recently where there were large numbers of Republicans voting for said measure. Specifics please.

  • If deep-water drilling can’t be 100% safe, it should be banned entirely and I’m very skeptical it can be made 100% safe.

    That’s a pretty high hurdle, and I’m not sure the cost-benefit calculus justifies it. Yes, this is a major environmental accident, and there is a need to reconsider the engineering involved in deep sea drilling, but there are vast deepwater oil reserves that will probably need to be tapped even if we make a best-case switch to alternative energy.

  • If driving/flying/the Church/schools/electricity/fire can’t be 100% safe, it should be banned entirely and I’m very skeptical it can be made 100% safe. Really?

  • Michael Steele is pro-choice. He said it. He wont’t say it any more, but he is. Wisc. Congressman Paul Ryan said on MSNBC a few days after the Michael Steel affair:

    “There are pro-choice Republicans in Congress. There are pro-choice Republicans that is I represent in Wisconsin. We are a big tent party. I’m pro-life. Michael Steele is pro-choice. And you know what? We both fit within the tent of the Republican Party.”


    I do believe that George W. Bush is pro-life. As for Laura Bush, she was the president’s other half. Would you marry a pro-choice woman, Mr. Zummo? I do not think it a trivial point at all that a “pro-life” president did.

    Republicans in Congress are voting pro-life now because they are voting anti-Obama. They were singing a different tune when Dede Scazzofava was running for Congress, weren’t they?

  • Steele’s comments during the interview may have been sincere or may have caught him off guard. Here is his clarification after the interview. Take it as you will:

    “I am pro-life, always have been, always will be.
    I tried to present why I am pro life while recognizing that my mother had a “choice” before deciding to put me up for adoption. I thank her every day for supporting life. The strength of the pro life movement lies in choosing life and sharing the wisdom of that choice with those who face difficult circumstances. They did that for my mother and I am here today because they did. In my view Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided and should be repealed. I realize that there are good people in our party who disagree with me on this issue.
    But the Republican Party is and will continue to be the party of life. I support our platform and its call for a Human Life Amendment. It is important that we stand up for the defenseless and that we continue to work to change the hearts and minds of our fellow countrymen so that we can welcome all children and protect them under the law.”

  • Would you marry a pro-choice woman, Mr. Zummo?

    I almost did.

    Republicans in Congress are voting pro-life now because they are voting anti-Obama. They were singing a different tune when Dede Scazzofava was running for Congress, weren’t they?

    This comment makes no sense to me whatsoever. What does Dede Scazzafova’s aborted (sorry for the pun) candidacy have to do with pro-life Republicans and how they vote? There are non sequiters, and then there are comments like this.

    And again, I ask you to identify the votes in “favor of abortion” that large numbers of Congressional Republicans have made. Perhaps you’re thinking of the health care bill, in which a whopping zero Republicans voted in favor of? Specifics would help.

  • Today is Flag Day and the 235th anniversary of the United States Army.

    Pray for our gallant troops!

    Pray for Victory and Peace!

    God bless America!

  • Charlie Crist, prior to running for governor of Flordia described himself as pro-choice. Now an independent, he just vetoed an ultrasound/informed-consent law (http://tiny.cc/vw6yr).

    Arlen Specter sat as Republican senator for Pennsylvania for twenty seven years with an increasing approval rating from NARAL (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arlen_Specter). He has switched political affiliation, but not his voting pattern.

    Reps. Lance and Frelinghuysen of NJ are both Republicans who consistently vote pro-choice.

    Tom Ridge, former governor of PA, was on the record at the time as being pro-choice.

    Rob Ehrlich, former governor of my own fair state of Maryland, a Republican, voted consistently pro-choice except in the most extreme cases. He is joined by Wayne Gilchrest (R, MD-1) in this basic stance. Connie Morella, a Catholic and Republican, served Maryland for 16 years as a congresswoman, never failing to get NARAL’s ringing endorsement.

    George Pataki, New York’s governor for eleven years, was pro-choice the whole time, and proud of it. Susan Molinari served New York’s 13th in like fashion through most of the 1990s. Sherwood Boehlert served three different districts from 1983 to 2007-ish, pro-choice the whole time. Benjamin Gilman who served three districts from ’73 to ’03 was on NARAL’s good list – he scored 100% with them. A Republican.

    Do I really need to continue? Really?

    Paul, we’re getting pretty far afield from my point and from the author’s. I am not trying to gun down the GOP. I am not going to sell my soul to them, either, just because “the Dems are worse.”

  • “Do I really need to continue? Really?”

    You mean, since you didn’t really answer the question asked?

    “I ask you to identify the votes in “favor of abortion” that large numbers of Congressional Republicans have made.”

    I’d say yeah, you probably need to continue.

    No one denies that there are pro-choice Republicans (but, interestingly, you seen to only be able to name a couple of EX-Republicans, some FORMER Governors, and a handful of FORMER congresspersons).

  • Ryan:

    Everybody knows about these particular men. I never said that the GOP was perfect – far from it. Clearly there are numerous pro-choice Republicans; however, they are the minority. You still haven’t responded to my question about specific votes where large numbers of Republicans have voted “pro abortion.” You can’t find it because no such vote exists.

    Even the list you gave is pretty weak. Crist has been exiled in favor of a strongly pro-life candidate, Specter is gone and would have lost to Toomey had he not switched parties, Pataki is gone and is considered a joke by most Republicans, and Ridge is also no longer active in politics. And then of course we see what happened to people like Giuliani and then Scazzafava.

    Yes, there are pro-choice politicians within the GOP. You have not made your case that they represent a significant enough interest within the party to continue this holier than thou third party shtick.

  • And I write what I wrote above as someone who comes fairly close to despising the Republican Party. The GOP has its own culture-of-death issues that make membership in that party untenable.

    But, honestly, it’s not even a close contest for who bends over backward the most in service of Moloch.

  • T. Shaw – My juxtaposition of these two mantras is not meant to convey that I believe that the mass killing of the unborn over long decades is on par with the current ecological disaster brewing in the Gulf- sorry if you misread my intent there- re-read my article to re-assess if you will.

    I am someone who tries to follow the lead of the popes and the Holy See- and they do spill – no pun intended- a lot of ink on issues other than abortion- and there is no way one could miss that the Catholic Hierarchy stands strongly for the unwanted, unborn child. I am also similarly predisposed to care about every life threatened by avoidable actions leading to human and environmental damages. The Gulf Leak is a big concern- bigger still for those of us living in the region- you have to be able to walk and chew gum sometimes- it’s called multi-tasking- we do it all the time as parents- say one child is sick or all of your children are sick- you prioritize yes, but you don’t neglect any of your children and use the priority system as your cop-out excuse. We Catholics have a lot of battles to wage, but only One War- the War for souls starting with our own- I am following my conscience and continuing to properly form my conscience my doing in-dept readings of Scripture, and the Catholic official documents- like the pope’s encyclicals and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church- from these sources I am picking up the idea that there is a strong interrelationship between all of the Church’s social teaching themes- it does the cause of pro-life no good, to act like all other social concerns are lame or not to be considered at all.

    If lives and God’s creation are at risk- I bet God is concerned, and He is my guide- not partisan political pundits. Catholics should always be at the forefront of any and all good fights for the causes of justice for all and protection for the weak, vulnerable, and for the sustainability of life here on earth for our children’s children and beyond. That’s living a both/and Catholic theology out in the real world where we are tested and ultimately judged by the standards of “The Judgment of the Nations” and “the Beatitudes” along with the Ten Commandments.

  • j. christian, my position on this has change. Had the leak been plugged early, I would have no problem with deep-water drilling but this has proven far costlier than I’ve ever imagined. Costly enough to consider an outright ban.

  • Oh Please!
    “It seemed to me that in the “Sunshine State” this would be the perfect place to begin bold and broad experiments in net-metering solar energy- turning every home and business with a roof into an energy producing unit- start with one county and see how it goes. The very idea of just mindlessly supporting more drilling in the Ocean to get at more oil without exhausting other less polluting options- seemed like the type of thinking that leads to the groupthink of machismo- macho men who like drilling holes and blowing up stuff, drilling random women ( if they could), and parading their toughness in public to perhaps offset their own deeper masculine insecurities.”

    So, green weenie senstitivities drive a stake in the heart of on-shore, and shallow water drilling. So companies are (maliciously I would say) left with the most dangerous, most potentially disastrous (in terms of liability), and most dangerous (to the environemnt and other living things) option of drilling deep offshore.

    If you saw this happening in a horror movie, you would be shouting at the screen “NO! Don’t go through that door!”

    Then somehow, we seem to get to the author’s point; the people doing this drilling are testosterone-crazed mysogynists who offend the more refined among us.
    Please excuse my disgust as I call you what you deserve to be called- a petty little wimp!

    And while you are huffing and puffing, please explain how all the solar collectors and wind farms in the world obviate the need for even one reliable fossil or fissile-fueled plant. If you have fixed the ultra-high capacity electrical charge storage problem, then you ought to be too busy becoming a trillionaire to spend time on this blog.

  • RR,

    I suppose our expected value calculations are just different. Although this spill is very bad, I look at Ixtoc I and conclude that it is not a world-ending disaster. There are clear engineering lessons to be learned from this — BOP rams actuated manually or by secondary means, anyone? — and I expect the likelihood of another such accident to be remote.

    On the other hand, most of the large reserves left to be put into production are of the deepwater variety, such as the recent discoveries off Brazil. Like it or not, oil is the whole energy game right now. Unless it becomes economically viable to produce oil from kerogen shale, I don’t see where else it’s coming from. What other choice do you think we have?

  • I don’t know how much oil we get from deep-water drilling off American shores but I’m sure it’s a much less than we get from other sources so I doubt a ban would add more than a few cents at the pump. A small price to pay in my guesstimation, especially considering that we have relatively cheap gas to begin with.

  • And it’s not like the oil is going anywhere. If future technology makes it easier to get at deep sea oil or we get desperate, it will always be there.

  • I took “ban” to mean indefinite and global; what you and BA are saying sounds more like a national moratorium, which is a sensible conclusion given the current state of the technology and regulatory regime.

  • Though part of the problem seems to be that BP may not have followed standard industry practices. Time will hopefully sort out the truth:


  • The problem I have with Kevin in El Paso- besides the fact that he calls me “a petty little wimp” is that my criticism with the “Drill Baby” crowd had more to do with the blind enthusiasm for drilling off-shore- it was not typical to hear the fine-tuned critique that the deep off-shore drilling was a risky business- that is hardly the message being sold out there in the mainstream. Back before this BP disaster, the primary noise I was hearing was that any and all drilling anywhere/anytime should be going forth- that is the attitude I compare to machismo- now it is fine to go back and try to correct the record- but the mainstream candidates certainly did not do a good job of using the bully pulpit to lead the populace into more uplifting debate on the facts and choices we must deal with.

    Myself? I publicly support Green options like Nuclear energy with some very specific qualifications like standardized plant designs making it easier for authorities to keep inspections current and simplified- also I put forth the idea of having more passively-safe small plant designs such as the type I promoted when I spent a year in the Czech Republic in the year after their Velvet Revolution- I met personally with President Havel and handed him such materials and also had a formal meeting with their Industrial Minister- Havel did have positive things to say about such nuclear possibilities but I don’t think the country could afford to implement the newer technologies unfortunately. I also supported the French-mode of recycling the nuclear waste instead of having to deal with all the storage issues- but again we are not having very edifying discussions on nuclear energy, oil drilling options, or solar energy/net-metering at the national popular levels- which leaves the discussion in the hands of opportunistic political hacks playing to the liberal/conservative groupthink and the mass media dumbing down effect. Too bad.

    I’m one who is always open to constructive dialogue and sound facts and rational planning- don’t know if that puts me in the “petty little wimp” camp- but I know that blessed are the meek and blessed are the peacemakers and suffering insults well can actually assist my journey to sainthood- so thanks for your remarks:)

  • I’m sorry, but it’s just hard for me to take the article seriously. It calls Sarah Palin a “she-male,” it says off shore drilling is some form of machoism, it gives no summary of the events leading up to the spill- in which government’s culpability is severe- it somehow associates “drilling random women” with looking for and aquiring oil (and come on; who is traditionally more promiscuous, environmentalists or conservatives), and it assumes that the government can somehow breathe life into solar technology, and through an act of legislation, cause a break through in technology by willing it (pumping money into a project doesn’t count as much more).
    The autor doesn’t address any of those concerns, and is just plain intellectually dishonest in his conjured associations between promiscuity and offshore oil drilling.
    As I finish the post, I question my sanity that I commented on this article. I won’t be commenting again, so take my objections for what they are.

  • Ike- I would agree that religious conservatives would tend to be less promiscuous than liberal religionists- at least in theory given their more traditional take on moral values- but with secular conservatives I wouldn’t necessarily take that bet that they are more chaste than secular environmentalists- I’ve encountered many different sorts of political conservatives – some religious some not- it makes a big difference- many secular conservatives would seem to me to be very inclined toward machismo in many ways- sexual attitudes, attraction to violence and so forth- Rush “Elizabeth Taylor” Limbaugh and the neo-conservative Straussians, along with some of the male libertarian Randian-types also seem to be cut from the macho groupthink that would be seen lustily cheering on the sound of Buzz saws cutting down old growth forests or shouting mindlessly- Drill baby, Drill! I’m not a fan of ideologies or ideologues so I’m not interested in carrying the water for liberals/conservative, Dems of Repubs-

One Response to Lament of the Three Marys

Great Jesuits 6: Peacemaker

Sunday, June 13, AD 2010

Number 6 in my series on great Jesuits of American history.  Pierre-Jean De Smet first saw the light of day in Dendermonde in Belgium on January 30, 1801.  His parents would have been astonished if they had been told that in his life their newborn would travel over 180,000 miles as a missionary, and most of it in the Wild West of the United States.

Emigrating to the US in 1821 as part of his desire to serve as a missionary, De Smet entered the Jesuit novitiate at Whitemarsh, Maryland.  In a move that today would have secularists screaming “Separation of Church and State!” and conspiracy buffs increasing the tin foil content of their hats, the US government subsidized a Jesuit mission being established in the new state of Missouri among the Indians.  At the time the US government often did this for missionaries of many Christian denominations among the Indians.  So it was that in 1823 De Smet and other members of the order trekked west and established a mission to the Indians at Florissant, Missouri, near Saint Louis.  Studying at the new Saint Regis Seminary in Florissant, Father De Smet was ordained on September 23, 1827.  Now a prefect at the seminary, he studied Indian languages and customs.  In 1833 he returned to Belgium for health problems and was unable to return to Missouri until 1837.

In 1838 he founded the St. Joseph Mission in Council Bluffs for the Potawatomi Indians.   He also began his career as a peacemaker as he journeyed to the territory of the Sioux to work out a peace between them and the Potawatomi.  It should be emphasized that Father De Smet was making these journeys at a time when he was often the only white man for hundreds of miles other than for a few mountain men and scattered traders.  He quickly earned a reputation among the Indians as utterly fearless and a white man whose word they could trust.

In 1840 he journeyed to the Pacific Northwest to establish a mission among the Flathead and Nez Perces tribes, who had been begging for a decade for “Black Robes” to be sent to them and teach them about Christ.  After visiting them, Father De Smet promised that he would go back to Saint Louis and return with another “Black Robe” to establish a permanent mission.  On his way back he visited the Crow, the Gros Ventres and other tribes.  In 1841 he returned to the Flatheads along with Father Nicholas Point and established St. Mary’s Mission  on the Bitterroot River, thirty miles south of present day Missoula.  The mission was quite successful as indicated by this event.  One of the converted chiefs of the Flatheads, after baptism, chose the baptismal name of Victor.  On one occasion Father De Smet was preaching to the Flatheads and mentioned how in Europe the Holy Father confronted many enemies of the Faith.  Victor became indignant and said, “Should our Great Father, the Great chief of the Black robes, be in danger–you speak on paper–invite him in our names to our mountains. We will raise his lodge in our midst; we will hunt for him and keep his lodge provided, and we will guard him against the approach of his enemies!”

Continue reading...

4 Responses to Great Jesuits 6: Peacemaker

  • Blest are the peacemakers.

    Blest are whose missions are the salvation of souls.

  • Thanks for another great history post, Don.

    And one other side note, having a house full of young ladies who must be read do: The town of De Smet, South Dakota is named after Father De Smet, and in the 1880s became the home of the Ingals family of Little House fame, and the setting of the last five books of Laura Ingalls-Wilder’s books.

  • Excellent post, Don! And Darwin–thanks for that tidbit. I never would have put the two together.

    My wife and girls are convinced fans of the series, and my son and I enjoy them, too. For my money, “The Long Winter” is a masterpiece.

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy:) I reminded Don about the “Little House” connection while he was finishing up the post — thanks for mentioning it, Darwin & Dale! “The Long Winter” makes a great read-aloud over the summer, a chapter a day. Hot, humid summers with the occasional torrential downpour or tornado seemed just a bit more bearable for the kids (when they were younger) & I, when we had the privations the Ingalls family endured to compare them with.

My Spiritual Journey

Sunday, June 13, AD 2010

The spiritual journey that I have been experiencing these many years all started with a prayer to our Holy Mother of God.  Because of her I have had the great fortune of living the beauty of our Catholic faith and the joy of knowing Jesus our Lord and Savior.

Continue reading...

How Did Your Family React When You Told Them That You Wanted To Be a Priest?

Saturday, June 12, AD 2010

I enjoyed the response of one priest in which he told his parents it just became clear to him at the moment.  His parents responded by saying that’s how they felt about each other when they first met (and decided to get married)!

For the Rome Reports website click here.

For the Rome Reports YouTube Channel click here.

Continue reading...

How to Reverse the Catholic Exodus

Saturday, June 12, AD 2010

Let us pray for all those change agents that are striving to bring back the authentic Catholic culture inside parishes, chanceries, and apostolates.

To view RealCatholicTV click here.

For RealCatholicTV’s The Vortex click here.

For the RealCatholicTV YouTube Channel click here.

Continue reading...

5 Responses to How to Reverse the Catholic Exodus

Sorry Charlie, Crist Vetoes Florida Ultrasound Bill, Bottom Line – More Babies Will Be Killed

Saturday, June 12, AD 2010

The following is from Florida Right to Life Organization:


HB 1143 was a pro-life and a pro-choice bill. It required that an abortionist give an ultrasound test before an abortion. 82% of the abortion clinics in Florida already do, but they do not all give the woman the option to see or discuss the ultrasound.

Continue reading...

17 Responses to Sorry Charlie, Crist Vetoes Florida Ultrasound Bill, Bottom Line – More Babies Will Be Killed

  • Mr. Crist seems to be showing his true colors, hmm?

  • A sad day for our most vulnerable, precious, and innocent unborn babies. Praying for Crist’s soul…

  • The only way to properly frame this issue is to realize that the two sides have different prospectives.
    Pro-lifers see it as a just and moral cause to protect women and their children from harm.
    That’s good enough for discussion and debate but far short of the response needed to stop the slaughter of the innocent lives as pictured in this article.
    The abortionist and their subjects who go under the banner of Pro-Choice are not interested “causes”; they are far beyond that stage. They have declared WAR with any and all opponents of their religion and the “industrial complex” which powers the advance of their “Crusade”. They are rich and powerful and unfortunately know for the most part that the enemy’s main weapon is simply conversation which can be matched word for word.
    We have to likewise be willing to adjust to the conditions of war. The many of faith must become Christian Soldiers and march into battle willing to give more than voices to a cause. How you say?
    It would only take 10 to 20 thousand tax paying citizens refusing to file next year united and willing to go to jail unless all public funding for abortions be stopped immediately by say “executive order” followed by proper legislation. That, I’m afraid, is too much to expect. And there would be Bishops against it sighting “civil disobedience”.

  • Crist has left the Republican party as I explained in this post:


    He realizes he has no chance of getting pro-life Republican votes against Marco Rubio in the Senate race, so he is going after pro-abort votes.

  • Marco Rubio responds to the veto:

    “Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio said Crist’s veto was coldly calculated politics, not compassion for poor women faced with paying for ultrasound exams.
    “Once again, Charlie Crist has put politics ahead of principled policy-making,” said Rubio. “This veto will now make it harder for Florida to fight Obamacare, since the bill would have enabled our state to opt out of the abortion coverage mandate in the federal health care law.”


    Here are the responses of the the two Democrats vying for their parties’ nomination in the Senate race:

    “Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek, D-Miami Gardens, called the veto “a no-brainer.” But he agreed with the Republicans that Crist was trying to move back to the political center after a political lifetime of opposing abortion.
    “The governor wants to put politics ahead of public policy,” said Meek.”

    “Democrat Jeff Greene, also running against Crist for the Senate, said the governor should have “opposed from the start” Hudson’s bill.
    “The fact that Charlie Crist even had to think about whether or not to veto this bill is just more evidence that Crist is a flip-flopper,” said Greene.”

  • Is the political center pro-abortion?

    Bottom line: you vote for Dems more babies will be exterminated, and almost certainly you will not get into Heaven.

  • I have an update to my post to include something from National Geographic’s “In the Womb” documentary to assist those who are actually on the fence in this debate- those who could be persuaded by facts like pictures of the end products of abortions and video of actual children in the womb and making their tiny presences known in very impressive and dramatic effects.

    If it is beneficial to show the world the realities of birds stuck in an oil spill and dead or dying, or innocent victims of a controversial just/unjust war- why would objections come from the political Left over the raw footage of Life and Death in the womb or I should say when the womb is turned into a killing field? I admire that the Left will go to great extremes to analyze a military action which may or will kill foreign persons- but where is that interest in determining the validity of the Life claims made by those who know something about the lives of the unborn children?

    Before my first child was born, I really didn’t fully get what was going down- I had no idea that that tiny life I first glimpsed on a grainy ultrasound would end up being a child that I would consider more valuable than all the material wealth of our entire planet- more valuable than a million of my own lifetimes- her value completely transcends all of this- at one point in my early 20’s I joined with others to counsel a good friend to have an abortion, and even sat in the clinic waiting for her while her boyfriend went back to his life a thousand miles away- literally. She and I eventually came to our senses, came to become Catholics, and we both were just full of extreme sorrow and guilt over what went down- both of us blaming ourselves for our roles more than putting blame on the other. I only wish I had been the man I am now back then. I can’t, and my friend has since passed away, childless, except for the child no one thought should be coming into our world. Forgiveness came to both of us in Confession, and in Repentance- I still actively pray with and through my friend and her child in ways I need not describe to fellow Catholics. Part of my own Repentance is to take a very aggressive position on Abortion- as some kind of Woman’s Right. I am a pro-Woman, pro-Child, pro-Humanity, pro-Environment, pro-humane treatment of Animals kind of Catholic watchdog- I do not shy away from those who want to tar me as anti-woman because I care about women in tough spots- I am all for mobilizing the culture and economic forces to help every women in the situation of bringing a child into the world through her own precious body. I simply do not value the opinion that it is ever, the right decision to kill an innocent child- if that makes me a Right Wing Catholic extremist in the eyes of pro-Death Choice believers then So Be It. I know the score, I aided the process of one demonic abortion- I am forgiven, but in my mind I have some serious work to do to help make this whole situation of the genocide against unwanted, unborn children- come to a rapid conclusion. I have no truck with the “state’s rights” pro-life strategists and mainstream politicians because I don’t see that as an incremental strategy, I see it as a tragic end game legal strategy- one where even if you win it, you lose the war for the unborn.

    My advice is for the Catholic priests and Catholic Sisters to begin a bold movement- since they do not have spouses and children they are more free to conduct some very intense non-violent non-cooperation exercises by praying in front of abortion mills until the authoritites drag them off- and if Catholic parishoners want their Jesus on Sunday- they will have to find their priests or demand that the system changes to end the genocide going on in our collective names. The Catholic clergy must hold the laity to a minimal standard, just as we must hold the Catholic clergy to a minimal standard- the laity should not tolerate the legal and systemic killing of unborn children, and the clergy should never tolerate the molestation of a single child.

  • I await the sophists over at Vox Nova to tell us why this is a great thing that Crist has done, and how Tim is more evil for putting that picture up…

  • How many wars, tornados, earthquakes, and other natural disasters is it going to take for America to wake up to the fact that abortion is murder?

  • Sydney,

    My thoughts too, at least on the picture.


  • The sophists over at Vox Nova inadvertently “hit on” a Catholic principle – possibly first time ever.

    One of the Corporal Works of Mercy is:

    Bury the dead.

    Let’s say the pro-life Democrats (HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!) enact a law that exterminated babies be accorded Christian/Jewish burials, as appropriate?

    Pro-life Democ . . . (I’m about to bust a gut).

    I can imagine a vegetarian hyena. I cannot, in my wildest hallucination, imagine a pro-life Dem.

  • Well, perhaps you’ve never met a pro-life Democrat.

  • T. Shaw,

    I’ve known some very principles pro-life democrats, though sadly it may be a lost cause when it comes to actual candidates for high office in the party.


    I agree that it’s important that people see those kinds of images — though I must admit that I also appreciate your moving that one below the fold. I sometimes have my kids around when I’m reading down the TAC main page, and at their ages I’d rather keep the full depravity of our nation concealed from them a little longer.

    God forgive us…

  • Most probably, these tiny ones, considered pathological waste, are incinerated, turned into ash, and taken to a landfill. Thus, not only is the child murdered and disposed of in such a cruel manner, but it has also been denied the opportunity to love and be loved. It has been denied sleeping peacefully in its mother’s lap, of being playfully tickled and cuddled, of taking its first steps and learning its first words under the guidance of its father. Everyone in its family, including grandparents, has been denied the opportunity to experience divine love. Some Catholic cemeteries are setting aside land for memorials in remembrance of these tiny ones. One cemetery has the statue of Rachel, who is weeping, to give comfort to those who have experienced the tragedy of abortion. Like the poster above, I wonder how much longer God will bless our country with blue and sunny skies while this vile darkness covers our nation like a shroud. I really do think we are on the precipice of destruction. Charlie Crist has made a heinous decision to try to gain earthly treasure, but the eternal heavenly treasure may just elude him.

  • I expect the debate over the use of graphic pictures of aborted children will continue- my own decision is based on a consistent standard- I agree with the Left when they wish to show the realities of war, and to put up posters of baby seals being clubbed to death or birds dying soaked in BP Oil- that is fine in my book- but if the Left objects to the use of real pictures of aborted children then I would call them out big time- didn’t they claim that George W. et al was keeping photos of dead soldiers and Iraqi civilians from public view because of his fears of public opinion turning against his policies? Well- ok then- why would it be so wrong to use undoctored photos of aborted children to convey the truth to try to convince people of goodwill that their taste for pro-choice politics is the wrong choice?

    Now within the pro-life community- as Darwin brought up- what about the stray child who takes in the aborted children pictures? I found confirmation from Fr. Pavone of Priests for Life who understands the dilemma- first- the pictures are effective, it is akin to seeing those dead bodies stacked up in the Nazi concentration camps- it is chilling but it is educational- helps solidify the ideal- “Never Again”. And why does the media keep showing video of oil soaked pelicans in the Gulf- as Brian Williams et al says things like- “these images are tough to watch”- so why show them when children may be watching- it might make them cry or have a nightmare? Well, Fr. Pavone added that his contacts with mental health counselors has given him assurance that the disturbing images will only leave some negative residual feelings for children who are left to themselves after viewing the graphic sorrowful images- if parents don’t use the image exposure as a teachable moment and explain why something is really bad, and should be stopped- then all bets are off as to what effects will linger in that child.

    For me, my wife and I have had a difference of opinion on this when we have driven down the road with out kids and sometimes there is an elderly couple out holding up a huge sign with an aborted child picture on it- my wife opposes abortion obviously, but she is thinking that children shouldn’t be exposed to these nightmarish images- my take on it was along the lines of Fr. Pavone’s even before I heard his view. I say to my kids when they see those signs- “sweathearts- those pictures are abortions- children inside their mama’s bellies are killed by the people who are supposed to be their protectors- this is why mama and papa are fighting against abortion- do you understand?”. Children get that abortion is evil, insane, unbelievable once they see a single picture- it is that obvious- only deceitful adults can find ways to cover up or explain away such brutishness. I think it is along the lines of how we are to become like little children, and the wisdom of the world is not on par with the truths transmitted through the Gospels.

    Now my experience with my kids who have seen big photos of dead children in these street protests has fit with what Fr.Pavone described- they aren’t traumatized, they speak with a firm conviction about the right to life for all babies- they are interested in knowing more and even wanting to help save babies. They know from the experience at home- how we are so careful about the unborn child and mama when she is pregnant- as she is right now- due very, very soon- how we are praying for the little guy and mama at every meal, and in our night prayers, how we are all stepping up to do more work at home and have better attitudes all to help make life more peaceful for mama so she can focus on being healthier for the sake of the baby and for herself. This is the way that should be normal- as Peter Kreeft writes about in his – Philosophy of Jesus- humanity has become abnormal- Jesus is the one who is truly normal- we become more human, more ourselves when we become more and more like Jesus- with the Holy Spirit enabling us. Human families should be modeled on the Holy Family in the openness to life – even in unusual or threatening conditions- and to love unto death, not cause the death of a loved one- as the warped logic of pro-choice would frame it.

  • Darwin & Tim S.,

    I moved the pic below the fold so the YouTube video could get some exposure.

    At first it was an accident as I was trying to embed Tim’s link into the post, so I miss-embedded it at the top.

    It looked good that way so I rearranged the pic below the fold.

  • No problem Tito- I trust your judgment on that- I want people to see the juxtaposition of beautiful life on latest ultrasounds with the hideous reality of abortion- this should maybe tame some of the outrageous celebatory comments being tossed around on mainstream Democrat blogs and facebook pages- I mean really- you want to cheer for Abortion? When I was a serious Pro-Death Choice guy back in my 20’s at least I could say I was completely clueless about fetal development and what abortion even did- it was just a reflex reaction to what seemed cool and smart in liberal secular circles- which was my world then. When I first saw “Silent Scream” I was pretty much blown away- cold, hard facts hitting me in the face of my conscience- but before I even got to the point where I was introduced or open to seeing something like “Silent Scream”, it took several people I knew and trusted- many of them women- to get me thinking twice about the whole pro-abortion choice idea. I pray this posting gets viewed by at least some who have not already converted to a pro-life comprehension. Come Holy Spirit!

2 Responses to Song of the Volga Boatmen

  • Robeson: The voice of evil.

  • Much as I like Paul Robeson’s voice, I think Leonid Kharitonov’s version of the Volga Boatmen [You ho heave ho] is far better. It is on You Tube.

    One can sympathize with Paul Robeson, forbidden as we was to sing in his own country. But the banal English words of the Soviet anthem should have given him a clue.
    “Long live our [sic] Soviet motherland / built by the people’s mighty hand”.
    Indeed! Pfui!

Social Contract and Morality

Friday, June 11, AD 2010

Kyle Cupp has a brief post describing the dehumanizing moral effects of seeing human dignity and rights as springing entirely from a social contract (implied or explicit):

This reduction occurs when we understand and act upon our moral obligations to one another only within the framework of a social contract–when we limit our obligations to those who have entered into such contracts and consider ourselves obligated only to those who share our citizenship, have signed a treaty we have signed, or participate with us in some other contractual arrangement. I make this reduction when I don’t care about torturing terrorists because they’re not signers of the Geneva Conventions, when I wish to alienate the immigrant who enters my country against my country’s laws, when I ignore my obligations to those not yet born because the laws of the land do not recognize their personhood, or when I insist that others shouldn’t be given Constitutional rights when the rights I wish to withhold from them are basic human rights.

I think that he’s right as far as he goes, but I don’t think that his point that basic human rights and duties are inherent to humanity (rather than assumed via some sort of contract/relationship) is actually the point usually at dispute in our society. Rather, what seems often to be disputed is what the extent of basic human rights are — and which “rights” are merely agreed civic rights which we grant explicitly via the social contract.

Continue reading...

15 Responses to Social Contract and Morality

  • Of course what are called “human rights” today are almost entirely the product of Western societies since the Sixteenth Century, much of it from Great Britain and America in origin. Much of what we call “human rights” today would have been denounced as pernicious and/or dangerous throughout most of human history by most cultures. To say that “human rights” arise simply due to inherent moral obligations that exist between people, we are confronted with the difficulty that most cultures for most of human history would vigorously disagree.

  • Thank you for the thoughtful response, Darwin. I’m pretty sure that I agree with the points you make, particularly in your last paragraph. To clarify my post, let me say that when the reduction is made, it isn’t usually (if ever) made flat out in a way that covers a person’s entire morality; it’s rather applied here and there inconsistently.

  • Donald,

    You raise a good point about the history of rights language. It is a recent invention. I tend to call rights a useful fiction, myself.

  • I do agree with what Kyle said. But, from other discussions I know that I don’t agree with how Kyle applies his generic or all inclusive definition of basic human rights to all persons of all types of backgrounds, since his definition doesn’t seem to take into consideration ( or very little consideration) certain circumstances and/or the consequences that one must face when committing a crime or an act of war. This is applicable with regards to both illegal immigrants and terrorists.

    While I do believe that enhanced interrogation techniques are justified in very extreme, life saving circumstances, I do think that the Bush administration allowed the use of them too frequently. But, then again, one needs to realize the atmosphere after 9/11, and no person wanted anything like this to ever happen again. I don’t support the three items on your list. They are in violation of basic human rights. With regards to immigration, I am all for legal immigration but am against illegal immigration. One would think that having secure borders would be a good thing, especially for our safety, but certain people deride people who advocate for secure borders and call us other vile names just because we want immigrants to follow our laws and immigrate here via the proper channels.

  • My only issue is that I don’t ever recall Morning’s Minion, whom Kyle is supposedly defending with his post, demonstrating an accurate understanding of classical social contract theory, nor providing and concrete examples of this bad sort of “contract thinking” in our society.

    There is nothing wrong with the social contract. It defines clearly the parameters of government. The alternative is arbitrary authority. We as Catholics can be proud that the resistance to absolute, arbitrary authority probably began in the Salamanca school.

  • Yes, clearly those who support enhanced interrogation do so on the basis that:

    (a.) It is not a violation of basic human rights;

    (b.) Strictures against using such techniques in the civilian criminal and civil code apply only in the civilian criminal and civil code, because they arise from the social contract;

    (c.) Strictures against using such techniques against prisoners of war also arise, not from a fundamental right, but from a contractual obligation; namely, treaty obligations regarding lawful combatants. These do not apply to persons whose status is “unlawful combatant.”

    Of course, (b.) and (c.) depend on first establishing (a.). If in fact everyone does have a basic human right, intrinsic to their dignity as a human person, not to be waterboarded, why then the presence or absence of a contract doesn’t matter a whit. Only if (a.) is true, does anyone even bother with (b.) and (c.).

    So, what about (a.)?

    To repeat, (a.) asserts that enhanced interrogation is not a violation of the basic human rights intrinsic to the dignity of human persons.

    Now it sounds absurd on the face of it to say this. Obviously we know we shouldn’t go grabbing random persons and waterboarding them, so, in obedience to this moral intuition, we conclude that it must be “a violation of their basic human rights” to do so, right? And if it’s a violation of the basic human rights of any random person, it must likewise be a violation of the basic human rights of a war criminal like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, right?

    Well, not so fast. One mustn’t go around waterboarding random persons. One mustn’t go around locking up random persons, either. Does it follow that locking up Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a violation of his basic human rights?

    Why, no. It would only be a violation if he were innocent of wrongdoing. As he is a particularly nasty terrorist and about as far from innocent as it is possible to be, it’s perfectly okay to violate his basic human right of liberty, which is intrinsic to his dignity as a human being, by locking him up.

    Actually, I said that incorrectly. It’s not okay to violate his basic human right…but locking him up is no violation, because getting locked up is a freely-chosen consequence on his part. He chose, even asked, to be treated that way just by doing what he did. If he wasn’t willing to do the time, he shouldn’t have done the war-crime.

    But that raises a problem. Why can we not likewise argue that, while of course persons in general have a right to not be waterboarded, KSM voluntarily renounced that right by choosing to orchestrate terror plots to kill thousands of innocent people. Why can we not argue that, by doing this, he “chose, even asked,” to be waterboarded?

    Is there some qualitative or categorical difference between the right to freedom from imprisonment and the right to freedom from waterboarding, such that the former right can be voluntarily renounced by evil deeds, but the latter cannot?

    So the question is this:

    Given that people voluntarily renounce certain of their rights (at minimum, their liberty and/or property) when they commit heinous crimes by committing those crimes, it is reasonable, and not a violation of their rights, to forcibly deprive them of the benefits of the rights they have renounced.

    Yet, even before we read Church teachings on the matter, we recognize that the Moral Law forbids us to treat these persons as if they had, by committing whatever evil deed, renounced all of the rights intrinsic to the human dignity. We may lock them up; so, crimes are clearly capable of constituting a rejection of one’s right to liberty. We may not hang them from a mechanized hook and lower them an inch at a time, screaming, into an industrial shredding machine; so, crimes are clearly incapable of constituting a rejection of one’s right to not be shredded alive.

    How then, can one distinguish between the two categories of rights? Which ones may be renounced by crimes of sufficient magnitude, and which may not, no matter how horrific the crime?

    The Right to Not Be Waterboarded seems, according to Church teaching and most thinking Catholic opinion, to fall in the category of rights which are never, ever renounced. Even if one were, say, to personally rape and slowly murder fifty thousand innocent children while enjoying the whole process, one would have, by doing so, renounced one’s rights to both life and liberty, but not one’s right to avoid waterboarding.

    Why so?

    I am perfectly content agreeing that there is a line to be drawn; I am perfectly content saying that that is where the line is drawn; but I am confused about whether it was drawn there arbitrarily and could have been placed elsewhere, or if it was drawn there according to some unalterable moral principle which, when understood, allows us to see that the line could only ever be drawn in that way.

    Does anyone want to propose a principle which explains the positioning of the line? Or is it arbitrary, after all?

  • Joe,

    I agree that there is nothing wrong with the social contract per se. My concern is with the social contract used as a metaphorical framework for moral thought and action. I’m critical of thinking of moral obligations too much in terms of a social contract, moral thought that relies too heavily on the metaphor, that at times fails to account for obligations that exist beyond its boundaries. When someone denies another a basic human right because that other is not a “signer” of the social contract, he has treated a personal moral obligation as if it were an obligation under a social contract.

  • And as others have pointed out, we have to distinguish between civil and “basic human rights.” Who decides what a basic human right is?

    For instance, I believe an illegal immigrant has a basic human right to have their immediate needs met – if they are hungry, feed them, if they are naked, clothe them, if they are sick, care for them, contract or no contract. That is the basic Christian obligation.

    But when it comes to say, access to social services such as medical care beyond the emergency level, or education, or food stamps, etc. – then the public authorities, whose charge is to maintain the common good, have every right to regulate and restrict who has access to these services on the basis of what is fiscally and socially sustainable.

    This used to be understood in Catholic social thought. Now I’m not so sure it is. Now “common good” has come to mean services and spending without limit, in the name of satisfying “basic human rights.” That is to say, more and more things are falling under the umbrella of “basic human rights”, all of which the state is obliged to tax and pay for.

    But unsustainable policies cannot benefit the common good. If society collapses under the weight of entitlements, benefits, and a greatly expanded understanding of “basic human rights”, then I would say a much greater moral harm is done a great many more people. Some may call that “consequentialism”, but I don’t think it is an intrinsic evil for states to set boundaries and limits in order to ensure basic functionality.

  • Who decides what a basic human right is?

    Spoken like a good anti-Christian nihilist!

  • I wasn’t going to allow or respond to this childish nonsense, but for the sake of clarity I will indulge:

    My intention was not to say that it is impossible to decide what a basic human right is, but that in politics, there are many competing claims that demand recognition.

    I am neither anti-Christian nor a “nihilist” (another one of the pet words). I will rephrase the question: who decides which claims to basic human rights are endorsed by the state? Why is it that many more things are considered “basic human rights” than were 100 years ago? I don’t say that there are no basic human rights, but that in the current political climate, the concept continues to expand without limit, without regard for realistic limitations, and in doing so, putting ALL human rights in jeopardy.

  • Joe, don’t let Karlson get under your skin. That’s just how he reacts when he can’t control the discussion and drop the comments that he doesn’t see as advancing his pet agenda. He becomes unhinged and resorts to desperate ad hominems. It’s his tell – like when someone who doesn’t have any good cards tries to bluff his way through a poker hand but doesn’t realize that when he does his unconscious “rub-his-nose-with-his-index-finger-and smile” routine he is telegraphing the fact that he’s got nothing to every skilled player at the table. Pity him.

  • Yeah, sorry, Joe. I didn’t see Henry’s comment while it was still sitting in moderation, or I probably would have just deleted it as the non-comment it is.

    Pity is probably the right move here.

  • Eh. Maybe I should have let you, but it’s good to clear the air. People should see what we’re dealing with too.

  • My understanding, with regard to whether a terrorist or criminal forfeits the right not to be tortured, lies in the distinction between torture and other types of violence. War is inherently violent, and if it is unjust it is a travesty, but if it is just it is permitted (notice I don’t say noble, however, though personal acts of courage that are genuinely noble certainly occur even in unjust wars). Torture is not merely violence, but violence ordered toward a particular end: getting information out of the subject. So, where punishment or defense merits “violation” of the right an aggressor forfeits, the same may not be true of merely getting information from them by force that damages the body or the mind. (That’s my definition of torture in concrete terms, also.) I would suggest that while punishment is oriented directly toward dealing with the action it punishes and defense likewise, torture is on the other hand oriented directly toward information and therefore not, in the moral order, an immediate necessity and justified response to forfeiture of rights (which is a very limited forfeiture even where it does occur, by the way; it’s almost as if the criminal forces his rights out of the picture, although I do not mean by that a necessity argument which is a nicer way of saying a utilitarian argument). I would further argue that we have historically viewed torture as wrong regardless of any contract — things such as the Geneva Convention were put together largely after and in response to the great war crimes of the twentieth century that we prosecuted anyway (waterboarding by the Axis forces in WW2, for example). Finally, I would note that the Church appears (I say appears because the Catechism has been unclear in the past, inasmuch as stating as if it were required what is still technically only pious opinion is technically unclear) to teach that torture, that violence ordered toward extraction of information rather than either punishment or direct defense, is intrinsically evil.

    Thus, while I’m not totally closed to being corrected if I’m mistaken as to any of those moral standpoints, those are the well developed points that would need to be addressed to even begin suggesting torture is permissible on those who forfeit the bulk of their rights.

    Also, if one does argue that torture is permissible on war criminals because they’ve forfeited rights, one has to demonstrate the forfeiture of rights before one can act on it — and in terms of law, that generally means convict the war criminal first and interrogate after — which entirely robs the “necessity” argument of any urgency factor, the way it takes time to convict. One could argue also that an active combatant proves his status by that action, as these are whom one may shoot in a war without any trial or other formal process; however, one may not generally shoot an enemy who is captured and deprived of ability to combat because you’ve removed them from the very situation of immediate combat that both allows and necessitates said immediate judgement, so it’d be questionable whether such a parallel would even make torture of captured foes legitimate or rather prove it illegitimate.

  • I should also note regarding my definition of torture that damage need not be permanent. Also, I’m not sure I shouldn’t include direct infliction of pain in there, but one could argue pain as passing mental damage (since it impairs one’s immediate ability to think clearly)… but it’s the direct infliction, not the result of damage, that makes the difference — not that the classical notion of the direct object of an act means anything to the vast majority even of Catholics today, who would probably fail to realize that that _is_ drawing the line between mere discomfort (which is different from pain in kind, not just degree) or poor living conditions or anything like that and actual inflicting of pain. Let’s see, anything else… Risk. I’d probably count anything that risks such things just as sure as anything that obviously does it, simply because morality doesn’t play loose with possibilities and doubts (even where it acknowledges the _subjective_ effects of doubt, which, mind, can worsen the moral content if one is guilty of allowing the doubt to stay and especially to stay in a thing one knows one will act in).

    There’s a lot of temptation these days to call definitions unclear because we can equivocate around them, as if a clear definition would be immune to equivocation — and yet actually, that’s in the definition of equivocation: when something’s not clear in the first place, there isn’t a good meaning #1 for which to misconstrue with meaning #2, now is there? So anyway… yeah, I felt the need to try to add further qualification. Not sure I succeeded.

    And of course, one can also say all this is my “armchair theologian” pontification, but then, I don’t have to be stolen from to tell you we should criminalize theft either.