The True Cost of TARP

Tuesday, November 30, AD 2010

What does the fact that, so it now seems, the TARP program will only end up costing taxpayers $25 billion tell us about the merits of the program? According to Jonathan Chait, this low price-tag makes the program “one of the most successful policy initiatives in American history.” This is a bad argument. If, as its proponents claim, TARP really did stave off a second Great Depression, then it would have been one of the most successful policy initiatives in American history even if it had cost taxpayers the full $700 billion. On the other hand, if TARP wasn’t necessary, then it likely wasn’t worth it even at the cost of only $100 per American.

Positive assessments of TARP seem to typically assume that the alternative to TARP would have been doing nothing (actually many opponents of TARP also tend to assume this). But this is not plausible. If Congress had decisively rejected TARP, it’s not like Bernanke was going to pull a Ray Patterson and book a cruise to Fiji. Instead we likely would have had an earlier bigger QE I. The overall economy would have ended up roughly in the same place, except that Wall Street would have borne a larger share of the pain.

This, at any rate, is the view of a number of iconoclastic economists on both the left and right.

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6 Responses to The True Cost of TARP

  • “This would have been a massive redistribution to the rest of society — their loss is our gain.”

    What is Baker talking about? How did Lehman’s bankruptcy benefit me?

    $25 billion more QE1 would’ve done close to nothing.

  • RR,

    That mystified me at first too. Baker is comparing TARP not to no action but to what he anticipates would have been the Fed’s alternative course absent TARP, which would have been more focused on the general economy rather than bailing out the banks.

  • While I recognize why the economists have silo-ed off the foreign policy implications of their policy choices, I think by doing so they hurt their credibility. Whether anyone cares to admit it or not, there were significant foreign policy implications with our choices. Perhaps they would have been worth it, but that argument hasn’t been put forward. Given the coordination between nations for the bailouts, it is certain that foreign policy was at play.

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  • Last report (September) I saw $2.6 billion in TARP preferred stock were in arrears/unpaid dividends. The amount of unpaid TARP dividends was $126 million.

    If these banks fail, the TARP will not get repaid (this is not permanent capital) its 5% (goes to 9% after five years) dividend, limited-life preferred stock back in cash. The regulators bent the regs to alllow this stuff in regulatory capital.

    TARP added capital to banks that were in distress. Bank Capital is not liquidity. It is solvency, and brakes on excess growth and untoward risk-taking.

    Likely, the money we the taxpayers gave GM, Chrysler and the UAW is gone . . .

  • That “$2.6 billion” above should have been $3.6 billion.

    “More Institutions Missing TARP Payments – As of September 30th, 154 institutions in the TARP Capital Purchase Program (CPP) have missed a dividend or interest payment. The total Treasury investment in institutions with non-current dividends and interest is $3.6B and the amount of non-current dividends and interest is now is $126 million.”

    Since the current banking crisis struck in 3Q2008, the FDIC has been named receiver for 314 failed insured banks and its losses are estimated at $75 billion. The FDIC recently lowered its estimate of total FDI insurance losses for the current crisis from $100 billion to $92 billion.

    Let’s put this in perspective. From 1934 to 2000, FDIC handled 2,811 bank failures and its losses were $44 billion, in non-inflation adjusted (I think) $$$.

    The RTC, beginning in 1989, handled 751 S&L failures at a cost to we the taxpayer of $82 billion. See FDIC 2000 Annual Report.

    The current great recession and banking crisis are NOT unprecedented.

    The geniuses never learn!

Final TAC College Rankings of 2010

Tuesday, November 30, AD 2010

And for most of us, we’re done.

With Boise St. and LSU losing, we’re down to three title contenders. TCU will need either Oregon or Auburn to lose. In my mind, they need either one to lose big in order to justify TCU getting into the title game b/c of how pitiful TCU’s schedule is.

Some random thoughts from the weeked, as it’s exam week for me:

A few commenters on Twitter noted the irony of Notre Dame beating the Trojans in a week when the pope had to battle contraception. Everyone can enjoy the sweet, sweet tears of USC fans.

Do college coaches not know about this new fangled thing called the prevent defense? Nevada & LSU, I’m looking straight at you (or am until i burst out in tears b/c we lost to a clearly inferior Arkansas team b/c we didn’t play freakin prevent defense. Nope, not bitter at all). Speaking of Nevada, I watched that game (one of the perks of having a newborn is getting to watch late night TV!). A lot of fun to watch as a game, but the stands? This was the big road test for Boise, and the stands for the student section were smaller than my high school. Auburn has to go play in front of 90,000+ Bama fans. It’s just not comparable. I just don’t know if I can ever justify putting those kinds of schools over a BCS team for a national title.

Does Rich Rod stay at Michigan or do they give him another chance? I don’t know how much longer Michigan will be content to be so far behind not only Ohio St., but also Iowa and Wisconsin.

Boise went from the Rose Bowl to the Kraft Fight Hunger. They would play a PAC-10 team but since the PAC-10 can’t fill its spots it’ll get an ACC team: either BC or Miami, which just fired its coach.

I hate rankings being used as conference tiebreakers, especially when the teams met in the regular season. Use some metric from the season, like points differential instead.

I’m going to hate writing the next sentence, but LSU losing was great for college football. Cries against the BCS would have increased if LSU, whom the media have decided is only lucky, made it in over TCU. This would have increased if Oregon lost and we had an SEC rematch. The same is true for Boise. TCU has no business in the title game this year (they did last year), so I think the anger against the BCS will abate unless one of the big two lose this weekend.

By the way, I’m rooting for South Carolina next weekend. Pay for play is a bad deal, and while logically Auburn ought to go over TCU, emotionally I want those cheaters to watch TCU go over them. Furthermore, that would knock Arkansas out of the BCS bid, sending them to the Cap One bowl instead of us. Yes, I am rooting for LSU to get knocked out of the “better” bowl and go to the Cotton, perhaps to play the Aggies. Sorry, but after last year I never want to go to the Cap One bowl again (ps-dear SEC-when LSU fans are openly hoping to not go to your premiere non-BCS bowl, it’s time to change the premiere non-BCS bowl). And yes, I know that they put in a new field but I’d rather Jerryworld than Disney world (the fact that I could maybe convince my wife to take a texas trip but not a Orlando trip has nothing to do with it)

TCU just joined the Big East. While the Big East could use a football school, 17 teams in basketball? Sure, they get exposure but how many teams until you have to contract? If you don’t think Mike Slive will be traveling with LSU to Morgantown this fall, you’re dead wrong.

Now, for next week I figure there won’t be enough to do another set of rankings (not to mention I’ll have three exams that week), so the rankings are done for the year. However, our college football stuff will not. I’ll ask all the rankers to submit their picks for the bowls with their reasoning behind the picks. I’m not sure if we’ll do all the bowls of just the ones after Christmas. When the bowl lineups come out, I’ll make a call. However, I also want our readers to participate. So you can send in your picks via comment here or via our facebook page. We can bash each other picks, trash talk etc.

(Speaking of trash talk, is it acceptable to post your team’s victory cheer on the facebook page of the opposing team after a win? Ex: an Ole Miss fan posting “Hotty Totty!” on the wall of an LSU fan. I think so, b/c it’s not really trash talk, it’s just “yay! my team won!” and is fairly harmless, especially if there’s a history of playful trash-talk between the two. However, someone recently disagreed with me and told me I was a jerk. I was curious if in fact I am a jerk).

Allright, so to the final rankings!

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27 Responses to Final TAC College Rankings of 2010

  • Get over it, Denton. I was in no mood to be heckled after that game.




  • East Coast bias prevails again, from an LSU grad no less.

  • LSU is not overrated; their two losses were by touchdowns on the road to teams ranked #1 and #8 respectively. 7 of the 10 wins were over bowl-eligible teams.




    Rankings based on NON-of my votes due to your bitterness.

    Over bowl-eligible teams?

    You gotta be kidding!

    Everybody is bowl-eligible. All you need is a pulse.

  • And this wasn’t about East Coast bias. Fresno St. has no business in the top 25, but my complaints were the bizarre rankings of LSU, Ohio St. and Arkansas in relation to other East Coast teams. Hard to have an East Coast bias when you’re picking East Coast teams over other East Coast teams. (And I defining East Coast in this context to mean teams East of the PAC & WAC)

  • I suppose the Buckeyes are “overrated”, too, since their only loss came in Madison to the #4 team in the nation.

    I feel bad for Sparty because, under the old system, Michigan State would be headed to the Rose Bowl. Now, they’re going to be locked out of the BCS bowls altogether even though they have only 1 loss and are the only team to beat the #4 team in the nation.

    Had they not been so completely blown out by Iowa (who finished the season with a shocking 5 losses), and instead lost by a closer score, the Spartans would likely be ranked ahead of Ohio State (and maybe even Wisconsin since they beat the Badgers head-to-head) and be headed to the Sugar Bowl (or even the Rose Bowl).

  • Jay,

    Ohio State is notorious for losing mythical national championship games by 30 or more.

    When they stop choking then I’ll consider them higher.

  • Shoulda, coulda, woulda… re: Arky, Okie Lite, and Mizzou. I like the Aggies’ chances in a rematch with these teams, but that’s now how it works. These teams took advantage of the Aggies various woes and made them pay. Good for them… they did what they were supposed to do. At the end of the day, I’m loving the fact that they are 9-3, with huge wins over t.u. and the two teams vying for the Big 12 championship.

    This is a huge step towards regaining and maintaining relevance in NCAAF. Looking forward to the bowl game and next season.

    Nebraska – They can beat just about any team that’s not from the State of Texas
    ROFL… I like their chances against Baylor and tceh. And Cougar High and SMU and Rice.

    Bama surprised me. Up by 24 and lose? Either that was an EPIC meltdown, or that demonstrates the legitimacy of Auburn. Auburn and Oregon for the MNC, with Auburn taking the title.

  • List out all these games the Buckeyes have lost by 30 or more points. There must be quite a few of them, since Ohio State is allegedly “notorious” for it.

  • East Coast Bias!

    Banning the only west coast writer!

    East Coast Bias!

  • Everybody is bowl-eligible. All you need is a pulse.

    What does that say about the PAC-10? Considering that they’re looking at getting 3 teams at worst and 5 teams at best into bowls?

    Had they not been so completely blown out by Iowa (who finished the season with a shocking 5 losses), and instead lost by a closer score, the Spartans would likely be ranked ahead of Ohio State (and maybe even Wisconsin since they beat the Badgers head-to-head) and be headed to the Sugar Bowl (or even the Rose Bowl)

    Yeah, I really hate the idea of conferences using rankings as tiebreakers. These teams played on the field; we use the rankings to compare teams that haven’t played. OSU, OU, and A&M played each other. Use on the field stuff. Same with the Big 10, though the problem there is allowing teams to not play each other and not having a conference title game.

  • I was being sarcastic, but when you get as many shots at the MNC and still lose (and you only get in because of your reputation), then they get the ranking they deserve.

  • Banning the only west coast writer!

    Don’t you live in Houston?

  • All you need is a 6-6 season to get in.

    That doesn’t make it all that remarkable.

    I live in Houston, but I was raised on WAC and PAC-10 football.

    We’re used to getting the shaft from the east coast establishment.

  • Ohio St. the last two shots at the title game were the only undefeated AQ team and the only AQ 1 loss team. The last two times they got in on merit. I think the Big 10 gets a lot of media hype, but if we’re looking at a team getting in on reputation alone, the criminal is OU. OU had no business being in the title game in 2003 or 2004 and have played poorly in bowls since (losing to Boise, then losing again in the BCS title game v. Florida).

  • There was an aberration in ’84 when BYU won the MNC, but besides that, Oregon and USC have been denied the MNC because of east coast bias.

    Am I complaining?

    No, but I bring it up because of the FACT that I have been banned from this poll from you easterners.

  • Yeah, getting to a bowl isn’t impressive. However, it’s a good measuring stick for strength of schedule. To see the SoS, you look at number of ranked teams (either at the end or at the time played) and then the number of bowl eligibility. That way you can see top wins as well as the depth of the schedule.

  • USC getting East Coast Bias? Wtf. They got the national in 2003 despite not getting in the game. They got the nod of Auburn in 04 despite having a much weaker schedule. USC was declared the greatest team ever in 2005 before Young Stomped them. I’m sure Oregon has complaints, but USC is so far up ESPN’s rear that it’s ridiculous to claim they’re hurt by bias.

  • I’ll admit I tanked LSU, but does it really matter?

    I re-did my rankings after second thoughts on TCU (had them #24) after jumping to the Big LEast.

    Considering the WAC has three teams ranked nationally and the Big Least only one (and behind the other WAC ranked teams).

    Yet Boise State gets the Toilet Bowl game and a Big Least Champion gets a ticket to a BCS bowl game.

    Anyhoo, I can’t wait for bowl season and watch all the Big Least teams choke in the bowls (along with Ohio State).

  • Tito:

    I didn’t yours in b/c I had already finished writing this up & your rankings weren’t based on what you really think. I’m just not going to spend time re-doing rankings b/c you’re mad at LSU fans (which by the way, the Miles haters annoy me too, but they’re overblown in the media. Go to And the Valley Shook blog; you’ll see that they are by no means the only LSU fans). If you really think LSU & Ohio St. are 22nd and 25th, then fine, but I don’t think you do. If you say that they are, fine, I’ll go back and edit them. If you want to re-do your rankings, I’ll put them in.

    Now, we really need to talk about this TCU jump. In this, the WAC is dead, Boise is screwed, and the Big East somehow ended up securing an auto bid (unless the SEC takes WVU). What does Boise do now? Do they go to beg the PAC for an invite? They gained nothing except a game against Air Force.

  • Aggies to the Cotton Bowl.

    Awesome! It won’t matter which SEC team they face–the Aggies are getting 10 wins this year!

  • Tito,

    You do realize that Ohio State actually won one of the three “mythical national championship” games they played in, right?

    You do realize that Ohio State’s BCS bowl record was 4-0 prior to losing those last two “mythical national championship” games, right?

    You do realize that their overall BCS bowl record at this point is 5-3, in stark contrast to Oklahoma’s paltry 2-5 BCS bowl record, right?

    Yet Oklahoma always gets a pass and everyone always gives Ohio State hell. Yeah, SOME “East Coast bias”. Give me a frickin’ break.

  • By the way, Tito, who was the last team your precious west coast Oregon Ducks lost to (say, sometime around New Year’s Day in Pasadena)?

    Overrated and getting in based on reputation alone, my ass.

  • It won’t matter which SEC team they face–the Aggies are getting 10 wins this year!

    Them be fighting words. If the Aggies face the Tigers, this blog is going to explode.

  • Them be fighting words. If the Aggies face the Tigers, this blog is going to explode.

    From what I’ve been hearing, it’ll be LSU. I’ll bring the beer. You bring the boudin. Jay will bring some BBQ and his REK collection. Darwin will provide Scotch. MJ will bring the rotel dip and fritos. Tito can bring the organic, fair-trade tofu he heard about from the hippies in Eugene, OR. 🙂

Wikileaks: US Never Expected Ratzinger Elected as Pope

Tuesday, November 30, AD 2010

[Updated Below]

Wikileaks information has been disclosed by Rome Reports that the U.S. intelligence services were completely caught off guard and surprised at the election of then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

[Found another YouTube video that works]

Updated as of 10:40am Central time, 11-30-2010 AD:

U.S. intelligence was expecting a Latin American as the next pope, and predicted that then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger would have lost in the first round voting.

The rest from Father Zuhlsdorf:

Before the election the staff of the US embassy to the Holy See sent speculations to Washington about the one to be elected.

“The first factor will be age, the cardinals will seek someone who is neither too young nor too old, because they don’t want to have another funeral and conclave quickly” but “they also want to avoid having a long pontificate like that of John Paul II.”  Furthermore, “it will be a person in reasonably good health”.  Another element will be “linguistic ability” and he will have to know Italian.

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16 Responses to Wikileaks: US Never Expected Ratzinger Elected as Pope

  • I wonder who they did expect.

  • One good thing about Wikileaks: It will demonstrate the incoherency (faintly perceptible in Fr. Z’s remarks) of those who are rightfully critical of domestic bureaucracies but who still seem to believe that the State Department and/or the Pentagon could be any less bureucratic or incompetent. Fr. Z seems almost *surprised* at the incompetency of the intelligence. But the State Department and Military *are* largely incompetent. They are no different from the post office or the DMV, just more dangerous.

  • But the State Department and Military *are* largely incompetent. They are no different from the post office or the DMV, just more dangerous.

    Largely ‘incompetant’ by whose standards at what? Dangerous to whom? You can compare the Postal Service to UPS and FedEx as a standard of performance. To what are you comparing the United States Military?

  • “Incompetent”: OED 2.a: “Of inadequate ability or fitness; not having the requisite capacity or qualification; incapable. Const. to, to do something.”

    The concept does not require a comparison with another entity to be made intellegible. What are the final ends or goals of the State Department and of the Pentagon? Do the actions of these entities achieve these ends or fail to?

  • Well, Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo (Pontifical Council for the Family) had been on my short list. I suppose it was good that he was not elected because he died three years later (at the young age of 72).

  • What are the final ends or goals of the State Department and of the Pentagon? Do the actions of these entities achieve these ends or fail to?

    You never defined any goals, nor offered a concept of what counts as an achievable goal. (And no, the question of who can do the U.S. Military’s job better than the U.S. Military is not irrelevant to your remarks).

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  • EXCEPT it was not that much of a SHOCK. See my post “Contrary To Wikileaks Reports U.S Government Had Strong Indications Ratzinger Would Be Pope ”

  • Looks like the Internet police have struck.

  • Art Deco,

    What are the end goals of *any* State Department and Military?

  • It is curious that our government would find the election of the Pope curious. Do they also do intelligence on the elections of the Archbisop of Cantebury?

  • Popes matter globally, unlike the Archbishops of Canterbury who do not even matter in the UK.

    I would take these wikileaks with a large boulder of salt. One of the curses of government is the huge amount of useless paper generated. Intelligence agencies are especially prone to this type of bloat, and often the opinions aren’t any better than you could find on blogs, except that the taxpayers pay us zip for doing this. However, if the CIA is ever eager to have a Catholic blog all its own… 🙂

  • What are the end goals of *any* State Department and Military?

    Costa Rica’s or ours?

  • “On the day of the election itself, there was a cable to Washington which pooh-poohed the possible election of Ratzinger. Apparently the election shocked them.”

    I wonder what President Bush’s reaction was? As I’ve noted before, on the very day, and at the very hour, Pope Benedict’s election was announced, Bush was in Springfield for the dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. I remember hearing both events reported live on my car radio while driving between newspaper assignments….

    Also, isn’t there a rumor, persistent allegation, or whatever to the effect that when Pope Paul VI was elected in 1963, Cardinal Spellman secretly transmitted the result to a CIA operative in Rome with some kind of hidden two-way radio? Not saying it’s true but I just wonder if anyone else has heard this. If true (and that’s a HUGE “if”) then it would seem to indicate that the CIA cultivated some, shall we say, much more reliable contacts within the Vatican in those days.

  • Meanwhile, via Catholic Vote/American Papist, we learn that more than 800 of the Wikileaks documents still slated for publication involve communications with the Vatican:

Bankruptcy Coming Soon to a State Near You?

Tuesday, November 30, AD 2010

Most attention regarding public debt tends to be riveted on the Federal ocean of debt.  However, several states have also gotten themselves into a fiscal morass.  California faces a pension shortfall of half a trillion dollars.  Comparatively speaking, Illinois is in the worst shape of any state in regard to public employee pensions, with a shortfall of 54 billion. Illinois was in the red 13 billion this year and Democrats in the General Assembly want to borrow 4 billion in new debt to make this year’s pension payments.

This cannot go on.  States like California and Illinois have amassed debts that they simply cannot pay under any reasonable forecast of state tax revenue over the next two decades.  Even if spending were slashed to the bone in these states, continuing to operate the state governments and meet the present obliagtions appears to be mathematically impossible.  This leaves two options for the debt of these states.  The first option is a federal bailout.  Although I do relish the image of a bankrupt Federal government bailing out bankrupt state governments, this is simply not going to happen in the current political environment.  The second option is that the states go bankrupt.  Current law allows local governments, cities, counties, towns, etc to go bankrupt but  not states.  The bankruptcy code would have to be amended to allow this, and the only way for this to be done is for Congress to do it.  Mainstream commenters like Michael Barone are beginning to seriously discuss the prospect of states going bankrupt.

I do not see the political will yet to amend the code in Congress, for the President to sign it if such an amendment were to pass, or for states to declare bankruptcy if the option becomes available.  However, I do see it coming eventually.  Already California has found it difficult to sell recent bond issues, and Illinois bonds have been downgraded in credit ratings.  However, assuming states in fiscal holes reach a point where they can no longer borrow, and we may reach that point sooner rather than later, bankruptcy may be the least terrible option.

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6 Responses to Bankruptcy Coming Soon to a State Near You?

  • On the federalism question, I don’t really see a problem. Allowing a state to go bankrupt indicates federal inaction, and there are really no Constitutional prohibitions upon inaction. The only guarantee in the Constitution with regards to the states is that they shall have a republican form of government, and I don’t think bankruptcy violates that clause. But as you said, the political will to do so is a completely different question.

  • Three states defaulted on their debts during the early Depression years. You might look into how that was handled at that time for precedent. I think that under point 5, the default view of the Democratic caucuses in various legislatures will be that their preferred constituencies (i.e. unionized public employees) are always at the head of the line.

    California’s constitution requires supermajorities to enact tax increases. You have gridlock because the Republican caucus will not countenance tax increases and the Democratic caucus will not countenance spending reductions. That would make for the most likely default, though I think priority of disbursements in California is accorded to paying interest on bonds and accounts payable down the line are accorded IOUs when necessary, so perhaps not.

  • The concept of unions for “Public Service” employees has always appeared to be a bad idea. The very fact that in places like Illinois where these Unions use the dues of it’s members to buy and sell politicians has led to the crisis.

    What is required is legislatures who do their duty (Mike Madigan led Illinois House makes this doubtful) and a Govenor with the courage to sign the bills defunding these pensions.

    What has happened to courage…

  • While everyone was wrapped up in the hullaballoo over Illinois legalizing civil unions (more on that topic tomorrow from Don), hardly anyone other than hard core political/fiscal junkies noticed this post on The Capitol Fax Blog:

    “Illinois paid a pretty high price for its tobacco bond sale yesterday…

    “Illinois drew robust investor interest for a $1.51 billion tobacco bond, but at a price: it offered a yield above 6% for its longest maturing debt, more than a full percentage point over other recent muni offerings.

    “The state agency selling the bond increased the size by about $50 million and shaved the yield 0.15 percentage point from its original starting point Tuesday, as the deal’s hefty return and conservative structure offset worries about Illinois’ finances and falling cigarette sales. Citigroup was the senior manager on the sale; Barclays Capital was the co-manager.”

    Following is Captain Fax himself, Rich Miller, offering his explanation of what the above info means in layman’s terms:

    “Most of that $1.3 billion the state will get up front will be used to pay off overdue state bills, which means we’re exchanging soft debt for hard, Wall Street debt. That’s risky business, but the state is so freaking broke it basically has no choice. We’re borrowing long-term for current operations. Scary stuff.”

  • Just to clarify, the “tobacco bond” is so called because it’s being leveraged by the state’s share of the tobacco settlement proceeds. Which if I remember correctly, were supposed to be used to fund anti-smoking initiatives but of course now gets spent on just about everything but that.

  • “That’s risky business, but the state is so freaking broke it basically has no choice. We’re borrowing long-term for current operations. Scary stuff.”

    Scary stuff indeed. Elaine, our poor Illinois has had idiots running it for so very long who have handled our finances with such consumate folly. This is definitely not going to end well.

The Pulpit, The Catholic Blogosphere’s Newest Catholic Newsite

Monday, November 29, AD 2010

The Pulpit.

This is my newest creation and contribution to the Catholic blogosphere, a news aggregate site that combs the Internet for the best Catholic punditry around the world.

I hope the faithful readers of The American Catholic surf over there and take a gander of what we, The Pulpit, have to offer.  We differentiate ourselves from other news aggregaters in which we display articles written from such authors as Father Zuhlsdorf to Mark Shea and from George Weigel to Ross Douthat and everything else in-between.  Hopefully providing for you the most insightful and well written articles that affect us as Catholics.

If you like what you see, subscribe to the feed or tell your friends in an email!

Again, here is the website:


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5 Responses to The Pulpit, The Catholic Blogosphere’s Newest Catholic Newsite

  • Ah, I was wondering what that trackback was from. I like it – I’ve already found it useful linking to sites that I don’t always check.

  • I am shocked you haven’t linked to the brilliance happening at the Debate Club at Aushwitz. But I guess another post that gives cover to pro-abort positions is not news.

  • James

    How does discussing Peter Lombard’s Sentences give cover to abortion? Either you did not properly read the post (which stated abortion can not be approved) or you are being dishonest. The Church continues to state it does not know when ensoulment occurs; recognizing this is important, because it shows that arguments against abortion do not rely upon ensoulment. This is helpful for engaging secular people who do not believe in the soul: if you can find out how and why the Church argued against abortion in the time of Augustine, Lombard, Aquinas, Ficino, and many others, you will have a way to engage people on a grounds which allows much fruit. That, indeed, is what I said at the end of the post. Engaging the world where it is at is important. If you have been poisoned, first try to find an antidote to the poison; if you do, then you have the time to figure out where it came from.

  • Admittedly I only skimmed Henry’s post but I saw nothing wrong with it, nor anything particularly revelatory. It appeared to be nothing more than restating what Pope John Paul said in Evangelium Vitae (I think it was Evangelium Vitae, but could have been something else).

More MSM Foolishness on the Condom Kerfuffle

Monday, November 29, AD 2010

To be honest, I’m a little tired myself of the Great Condom Debate of 2010, and had no intention of blogging about this business.  Then I read this article in the Washington Post, and after almost giving myself a concussion from banging my head on the table, felt the need to vent a little.    It manages to combine MSM ignorance regarding the nuances of theological debate with some casual Catholic dissidence on a great moral matter.    Good times indeed.

The reporter, Michael Ruane, was getting reaction from the parishioners at St. Matthew’s Cathedral yesterday.  It should be noted that until ten months ago this was my parish, and I’m still heavily involved with it.  That the reporter managed to nail down a few people who disagreed with the Church on the issue of contraception is not necessarily an indictment of the Cathedral, as I’m sure he would have – unfortunately – received similar responses at most Churches.

To begin with, Ruane inaccurately summarizes the issue:

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One Response to More MSM Foolishness on the Condom Kerfuffle

Newman: Reflections at the Beginning of Advent

Monday, November 29, AD 2010


“Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” Isaiah xxxiii. 17.

 YEAR after year, as it passes, brings us the same warnings again and again, and none perhaps more impressive than those with which it comes to us at this season. The very frost and cold, rain and gloom, which now befall us, forebode the last dreary days of the world, and in religious hearts raise the thought of them. The year is worn out: spring, summer, autumn, each in turn, have brought their gifts and done their utmost; but they are over, and the end is come. All is past and gone, all has failed, all has sated; we are tired of the past; we would not have the seasons longer; and the austere weather which succeeds, though ungrateful to the body, is in tone with our feelings, and acceptable. Such is the frame of mind which befits the end of the year; and such the frame of mind which comes alike on good and bad at the end of life. The days have come in which they have no pleasure; yet they would hardly be young again, could they be so by wishing it. Life is well enough in its way; but it does not satisfy. Thus the soul is cast forward upon the future, and in proportion as its conscience is clear and its perception keen and true, does it rejoice solemnly that “the night is far spent, the day is at hand,” that there are “new heavens and a new earth” to come, though the former are failing; nay, rather that, because they are failing, it will “soon see the King in His beauty,” and “behold the land which is very far off.” These are feelings for holy men in winter and in age, waiting, in some dejection perhaps, but with comfort on the whole, and calmly though earnestly, for the Advent of Christ.

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One Response to Newman: Reflections at the Beginning of Advent

The Priest and the Marine

Sunday, November 28, AD 2010

Born on January 3, 1936, one of five kids, Robert R. Brett knew from an early age what the wanted to be.    As his sister Rosemary Rouse noted, “He always wanted to be a priest. He was always there for everyone.”

He attended Saint Edmond’s and Saint Gabriel’s grade schools and then attended a preparatory seminary for high school.  Brett entered the Marist novitiate at Our Lady of the Elms on Staten Island and made his profession of vows on September 8, 1956.  Studying at Catholic University, he received a BA in philosophy in 1958 and a Master’s Degree in Latin in 1963.  He was ordained a priest of the Society of Mary in 1962 by Bishop Thomas Wade at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

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6 Responses to The Priest and the Marine

  • Thank God for such men as Father Brett who hear His call and heroically carry out their vocations – zeal for the salvation of souls.

    I believe Father Brett and Cpl Chin are in the company of the saints praising God for eternity.

    But, we need men like him down here.

  • The fact that he wanted to go into harms way to administer to men that were serving their country, and dying for their country, says everything about this Priest. What a hero. What a man. If only our culture could celebrate heroes like him instead of the founder of facebook, or the next american idol, then I could have some hope for our republic.

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  • Another fine Catholic Chaplain from the U.S. Navy along with Fr. Capadano, Medal of Honor Winner.

  • The first Chaplain killed in WWII at Pearl Harbor was a Catholic Priest. Another fine example.

    Born in St. Lucas, Iowa, Fr. Schmitt studied at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. He then studied in Rome for the priesthood. He was ordained on December 8, 1935. Father Schmitt was assigned to parishes in Dubuque, and one in Cheyenne, Wyoming. After four years, he received permission to become a chaplain, and joined the United States Navy. He was appointed Acting Chaplain with rank of Lieutenant, Junior Grade (LTJG) on June 28, 1939.

    Assigned to the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor
    On December 7, 1941, Fr. Schmitt was serving on board the battleship, USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. A Japanese hit caused the ship to capsize. A number of sailors, including Fr. Schmitt, were trapped in a compartment with only a small porthole as the means of escape. Fr. Schmitt helped a number of men through this porthole. When it came his time to leave, he declined and helped more men to escape. In total, he helped 12 men to escape.

    Fr. Schmitt died on board the Oklahoma. He was the first chaplain of any faith to have died in World War II.

  • Father Schmitt has been the subject of one my posts.

    As for Servant of God Capadanno, I am making my way up to him.

14 Responses to Katyusha

  • I’ve been a fan of the RAC for a long time. Fantastic ensemble.

  • I prefer:

    In other news: Russia accepted Stalin’s responsibility for the 1940 massacre of 22,000 Catholic, Polish POW’s.

    Pure evil at war with unadulterated evil . . .

  • And: 42nd Highlanders regimental march followed by Heilan Laddie, etc.

    The men seem old enough to have fought at Waterloo.

    These tunes were played in the old “Gunga Din” movie.

  • No doubt Stalin is playing tag with Hitler in Hell in one of the less fashionable pits T.Shaw. However, you can’t blame the average Red Army soldier in World War II for Stalin. He had as little to say about things as the average German soldier during that conflict did, and he was fighting against an invading force. Additionally, millions of Red Army troops were sent to the Gulag by Stalin for such “crimes” as surrendering after being surrounded and cut off. Solzhenitisyn, undoubtably one of the more uncompromising foes of the Communists, was arrested while serving in the Red Army as an artillery officer and tossed into the Gulag. He wrote frequently of his admiration for the troops he served with, and viewed them also as victims of the evil system that ruled their nation.

  • Additionally, millions of Red Army troops were sent to the Gulag by Stalin for such “crimes” as surrendering after being surrounded and cut off.

    You would know if this as actually correct, Don: I seem to recall reading that more Russian soldiers were shot by their own government during WW2 than the total number of US soldiers killed by the enemy in both theaters.

  • That is probably true Darwin. Some 291,000 Americans died from combat in World War II. About 158,000 Red Army troops were sentenced to death, but that does not include vast numbers of informal excutions on the battlefield that were never recorded. Additionally, about 422,700 Red Army troops served in penal battalions where they were literally used as cannon fodder. Special “trampler” battalions were included among them where the men would be sent through mine fields unarmed to clear a path by the simple process of setting off the mines as they marched through. Life was very cheap in the Red Army.

    In comparison, one US soldier was shot for desertion during World War II.

  • I knew and visited the homes of former wehrmacht troops when I was stationed with NATO/USAFE at Ramstein AB in the early 1970’s.

    They were like you and me. Then, they were civ employees in our squadron. Had started out as POW’s. Theyw ere lucky they were US POW’s.

    One was a former para who had fought in Crete. He was hit and captured around D-Day in Normandy. He said a French farmer had saved his life (from bleeding to death). He was, 30+ years later, surprised by that. Another was a tanker. One civ had been a Dutch soldier who was a POW of the Germans until the US liberated him. Ironically, he was getting German retirement credit for the years he was in the Dutch Army – counting POW time.

    One civ was a Hitler youth too young to have fought. His father had been a big fighter ace KIA. He saw wrecked B-17’s as a kid. He was a nice guy, an athlete, glider pilot, but a loud mouth and somewhat immature. He would say he didn’t understand how the Americans beat them. The older men just shook their heads.

    At the time, the FRG (West Germany) Luftwaffe was crashing F-105’s all over the place . . .

    I liked the Germans better that the Saxons and the French . . .

    Ein bier bitte!

  • My brother commanded a tank platoon in Nato in the early eighties. One night he went to a pub and found that German panzer troops from World War II were having a reunion. When they found out that he was a tanker they treated him like a long lost brother. They all claimed to have fought on the Eastern front except for one old guy who pointed to his stiff leg and said “Normandy!”.

  • Okay, I’m going to get completely unserious here: I’m now being driven bonkers by the sudden realization that Dschingis Khan must have ripped the tune off for their disco bonbon Moskau.

    Thanks, Don.

  • I watched the Youtube video of Moskau Cminor. Time for a mind-wipe!

  • And you thought the Age of Disco was bad on this side of the pond! In my nightmares, the King of Siam will be dancing out of step with Bee Gee and Debra Harry impersonators.

  • Hey, I know that song! It’s on my favorite Brave Combo album:

    Best band EVER.

  • hey, that is a good tune, I think it was in The Deer Hunter movie too..

The L’Osservatore Romano Fallout

Friday, November 26, AD 2010

Here’s a roundup of articles highlighting the mess the the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has done:

Pope & the Great Condom Conundrum – Chris Blosser, The Amrcn Cthlc

NCReporter Getting Condom Conundrum Wrong – Fr. Z WDTPRS?

The Continuing Mess at L’Osservatore Romano – Dr. Ed Peters, ItLotL

The Vatican Newspaper Has Betrayed the Pope – Phil Lawler, Cth Cltr

Cthlcs, Journos Want Firings at L’Osservatore Romano – H. White, LSN

In Defense of L’Osservatore Romano – John L. Allen Jr., All Things Cthlc

Are You Kidding Me John Allen? – Tito Edwards, The American Catholic

More on the Condom Conundrum itself:

New Developments on the Pope & Condoms – Jimmy Akin, NCRegister

Jimmy Akin, Pope & Magisterium – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

Did the Pope Actually Say We May Use Condoms? – M. Brumley, LOTW

Did Pope “Justify” Condom Use? – Fr. Fessio, Cth Wrld Rep

Pope Benedict Doubles Down on Condoms – Brett Salkeld, Vox Nova

Pope Changes Catholic Faith Completely! – Mark P. Shea, InsideCatholic

Is Ed Peters A Shill? – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

Condoms, Catholicism and Casuistry – Ross Douthat, New York Times

A Good Clarification On Pope’s Condom Conundrum – Fr. Z., WDTPRS?

(Hat Tip:

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Pope Benedict and the Great Condom Conundrum

Friday, November 26, AD 2010

As far as the Great Catholic Condom Conumdrum of 2010 goes (prompted by an excerpt of no more than 2 out of a nearly 200 page book-length interview God and the World), the myriad reactions among Catholic circles, seems to me largely (perhaps loosely) divided among two camps. But this is not simply a division between “progressives” and “conservatives”. Even those who would consider themselves orthodox, faithful adherents to Church teaching and admirers of Pope Benedict are divided.

On one side you have Fr. Martin Rhonheimer, Dr. Austen Ivereigh and even Fr. Lombardi himself. On the other side, you have Janet Smith, Fr. Joseph Fessio, and Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Consider…

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9 Responses to Pope Benedict and the Great Condom Conundrum

  • I’ve stated my views in another comment thread… while the Church’s teaching on condoms isn’t as absolute as we often think, Benedict wasn’t addressing that question in this context.

    What I really hope, though, is that the controversy prompts people to actually buy the book and read it… I got my copy Wednesday night and am nearly done, and it really is a fantastic read. It’s vintage Ratzinger/Benedict… brilliant, insightful, and spiritually edifying. And when you read the entire book, the fact that this controversy is really a miniscule part of the text is even more apparent.

    So: tolle, lege.

  • I don’t think that Rhonheimer is saying anything that is at odds with what Long says. The former is simply saying that the Church is not in the business of counselling people how to “sin prudently”. The latter is giving a more penetrating analysis, however, in showing that the good intention to take responsibility is completely accidental to the act. No conflict here.

  • I’m curious what you make of the reasoning of Dr. Steven A. Long. I do think this (real? apparent) conflict of views among those explaining what the Pope meant is going to create a lot of problems.

    Even those “going to the text” are going to walk away w/ dueling convictions as to whether condom use is acceptable in such circumstances. The emphasis on the Pope’s words seems to be placed on either “NOT a real or moral solution” or “the first step in taking responsibility.”

    The lack of uniformity among those at the top is disconcerting.

    As far as your wish that people won’t let this impede their picking up the book and reading the whole thing, I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve been compiling non “condom-controversy” related reviews and discussions of the book here.

  • I think your breakdown is more or less accurate, though my inclination to take option #1, does not mean I don’t see some value in option #2. Could this question give some clarity:

    May a definitively infertile (say, post-hysterectomy) married, heterosexual, HIV-discordant couple use a condom that was known to be 100% effective?

    I think that they could. In this sense, I reject the idea that condoms are intrinsically evil. Nevertheless, I do no advocate their use because this situation (especially the last qualifier) does not exist in the concrete.

    What I do hold is that we do not need to feel we are somehow trangressing Catholic ethics if we hope that those we know to be engaging in dangerous sexual activity are protected from infection. We can hope this, if the infection reducing aspect of condoms is not itself evil (#1), by hoping that those engaging in such acts at the very least care for something more than themselves (#2).

  • Charles,
    I agree. Though I think Chris is right in showing that there have basically been two kinds of responses from orthodox Catholics and he catalogues them fairly accurately.

  • Chris,

    For the most part, I agree with Steve Long, particularly in that I think he’s right about this being an epistemic issue primarily.

    Again, though… while with Long, I disagree with Rhonheimer et al., I think it important to recognize that at least at this point their position with regard to condoms is within the bounds of orthodoxy. I think they misread Benedict to be in agreement with them, but that doesn’t mean that their position on condoms is heterodox.

    At this point I think it more important to correct their misreading of Benedict than engage them on the issue of condoms… that can wait for another day.

    Incidentally, I finished the book earlier today… my opinion as indicated in my comment above stands: it’s a fantastic read, and a book I’d heartily recommend to give to anyone interested in learning more about Catholicism, whether they be Catholic or otherwise.

  • I agree with Chris Burgwald that Benedict’s actual statements are best understood as limited to the “epistemic” sense of moral awakening that may, or may not, issue finally in a legitimately real and moral solution. So I agree with Steve Long on this score.

    However, Long’s statement that condom use is “wholly predicated upon, and willed as a function of, the intention of sodomy, and condom used participates the species of the sodomitic act,” is, on my understanding, not reflective of settled magisterial teaching but of Long’s own application of natural law to the issue of condoms. Here is where Long and Fr. Rhonheimer might disagree: Fr. Rhonheimer has noted, correctly, that the magisterium has *not yet* definitively decided upon the hypothetical case referenced by Brett in this thread, and to that extent at least Long’s claim that condom use is *intrinsically* sodomitical is open to question.

    Fr. Rhonheimer also has noted, again and again, that he will have no trouble assenting to whatever the Magisterium decides in this case; he should not be thought of as agitating for a “change” in the Church’s position here but rather as noting, correctly, that moral theologians can legitimately differ on the question at hand–i.e. whether *in every instance* the use of a condom is intrinsically sodomitical.

    This issue is not, I repeat, one whose discussion is necessitated by the Pope’s comments.

  • WJ,
    I am having a difficult time remembering the last time I disagreed with you. Think you could write my dissertation for me?

  • A new post regarding the remarks recently made by Fr. Rhonheimer–

    With all the best–

    S. Long

2 Responses to Obama, the Turkey and Mercy

  • Shakespeare,

    “The quality of mercy is not strain’d.
    […] It is twice blest:
    It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

    Obama’s PR Department may be vapidly approaching competence.

    The Obamba PR Department might have stumbled upon a photo-propaganda composition wherein Obama is not the least experienced nor most incomepetent subject in the frame.

    It appears Jimmeh Carter was out to lunch with a mass murderer . . .

  • I’ve just gotta get the audio fixed on my ‘puder.

    Did I see Obama talking to a turkey?
    Did I see Obama talking turkey?
    Did I see Obama, a talking turkey? 🙂

Would You Like Some Politics With Your Turkey?

Thursday, November 25, AD 2010


The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, fresh off a disastrous election campaign, believes that Americans might be discussing politics with their Turkey today.  (I can’t think of a subject less likely to come up today at the McClarey Thanksgiving Dinner except for raising armadilloes for fun and profit.) 

Just in case your Republican friends or relatives at Thanksgiving try to repeat anything they’ve heard from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or by reading Sarah Palin’s Facebook page, we wanted to help you respond with the truth.

In the event that it does, the DCCC has a cheatsheat which you may peruse here.

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7 Responses to Would You Like Some Politics With Your Turkey?

  • Rush, a majority of the GOP in Congress, and 61% of we the people oppose the listed big government taxes, rationing, and wreckulations.

    BTW: we had chocolate covered mousse balls for dessert. Delish!! Thank you, Sarah Palin!

  • After the dressing down they received, they are still convinced they can sell this turkey of a platform. They will continue yam-mering until we are all vegetables. They made the mistake of thinking it was all gravy after the 2008 election, but the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. If they could have squashed the political talk on this American feast, they could have gotten down to meat and potatoes tomorrow. But perhaps they feel the sauce this Thanksgiving is a little thin, so they need to butter up the faithful and roll with the political punches. But we’ll just relish in their disarray passively today.

    Wishing all a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

  • Dminor, all I can add to your yummy comment is that reaching for the antacid is the only possible reaction to the attempt by the DCCC to inject politics into our Turkey revels. (That, and the fact that I am nomally reaching for antacid at 6:00 PM on Thanksgiving!)

  • On the contrary, I enjoyed the annual political discussion at my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. With 4 Republicans, 2 Democrats, 1 liberal Libertarian and 1 Independent (myself), the conversation was often heated and animated. But it was enjoyalbe and nobody left the table angry.

    I reminded my Catholic family members that healthcare is a basic human right; I don’t know how else to read Matthew 5 and 25. In addition, the church explicitly supports redistribution of wealth. If you call yourself a Catholic and you do not believe this, you may want to re(?)familiarize yourself with the Catholic Catechism, beginning with paragraph 2426 — Social and Economic Justice.

    And please don’t choke on your leftovers! Enjoy the rest of the long holiday.

  • “I reminded my Catholic family members that healthcare is a basic human right; I don’t know how else to read Matthew 5 and 25.”

    Astonishing then that this “right” took almost 2000 years to be recognized.

    As for redistribution of wealth, that is a very strained interpretation of 2426:

    “The development of economic activity and growth in production are meant to provide for the needs of human beings. Economic life is not meant solely to multiply goods produced and increase profit or power; it is ordered first of all to the service of persons, of the whole man, and of the entire human community. Economic activity, conducted according to its own proper methods, is to be exercised within the limits of the moral order, in keeping with social justice so as to correspond to God’s plan for man.”

    You might also wish to read 2431:

    “The responsibility of the state. “Economic activity, especially the activity of a market economy, cannot be conducted in an institutional, juridical, or political vacuum. On the contrary, it presupposes sure guarantees of individual freedom and private property, as well as a stable currency and efficient public services. Hence the principal task of the state is to guarantee this security, so that those who work and produce can enjoy the fruits of their labors and thus feel encouraged to work efficiently and honestly. . . . Another task of the state is that of overseeing and directing the exercise of human rights in the economic sector. However, primary responsibility in this area belongs not to the state but to individuals and to the various groups and associations which make up society.”

  • Wow, what a collection of a) things I oppose, and b) methods I oppose aimed at things I support! Thanks, DCCC, for providing such a succinct list!

  • Uhh…
    Matthew 5 includes: the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes, the similes of salt and light, “I come not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it,” and teachings about anger, adultery, divorce, oaths, retaliation, and loving your enemies. One could perhaps find an individual responsibility to practice works of charity in some of the Beatitudes (though it would require some parsing,) but one person’s individual responsibility to charity does not equal another’s right to specific service. And neither a moral responsibility to charity nor a moral right to benefit from it equal a government right to dictate citizen contributions or to decide who benefits. Where did you get a “basic human right” to healthcare from this?

    Matthew 25 includes: the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, the parable of the talents, and the judgement of the nations (separating the sheep from the goats, when I was hungry, you fed me, etc.) Again, the individual responsibility to charity is emphasized, not because the hungry, thirsty and imprisoned necessarily have a claim on you, but because voluntarily serving them is like serving God. So the Christian has a moral obligation, and one could from that, if one really wants to find one, extrapolate a moral right to receive charity for the hungry, thirsty, etc. But how that translates into a “basic human right” to healthcare or grants a government the right to mediate the provision of charity, I’d like to have explained.

George Washington: First Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thursday, November 25, AD 2010

A contemplation of the compleat attainment (at a period earlier than could have been expected) of the object for which we contended against so formidable a power cannot but inspire us with astonishment and gratitude. The disadvantageous circumstances on our part, under which the war was undertaken, can never be forgotten. The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparalleled perseverance of the Armies of the U States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.   George Washington

The father of our nation was a religious man.  He had no doubt of the existence of God, and that He intervened in the affairs of men and nations.  Therefore it is no surprise that he originated the tradition of the last Thursday in November for Americans to thank God.  Lincoln revived the tradition in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War.  When we celebrate Thanksgiving today, we are celebrating a holiday that is at the very core of American history from the Pilgrims forward.

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7 Responses to George Washington: First Thanksgiving Proclamation

  • He was a deist, not a Christian. Just because he believed in God, doesn’t mean he believed in the Catholic God.

  • That is quite a popular theory Charles, but I believe it is wrong. I think Washington was a fairly conventional Christian. He avoided the use of language that could smack of sectarianism, and he made it a point of attending Christian services of all the major sects in America at the time. However, his relatives attested to his belief in Christ and they knew him best. Unlike Jefferson, there is not a word in Washington’s correspondence indicating any doubt in Christianity.

  • He oversaw the “No Religious Clause” of the US Constitution and oversaw the completion of the Treaty of Tripoli which laid out in perfect terms that the US wasn’t founded on Christian values. I don’t see how any Christian man could endorse it if it weren’t true. He was forced to declare himself apart of the Anglican Church in order to be granted such credulity in the first place. He was a Freemason, and as any Freemason will tell you, he was known for his doubts of Christian literature (but not particularly of God).

  • There is no “no religious clause” in the US Constitution. There is a First Amendment which establishes freedom of religion and bans Congress from creating a Federal established religion.

    Actually the treaty with Tripoli was ratified in 1797 under John Adams. The provision you cite:

    “Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

    was thrown in because the Barbary Pirates routinely declared war on all Christian states. As the subsequent wars with the Barbary Pirates and the US indicated, the Treaty was unsuccessful.

    Washington was an Episcopalian by birth, and regularly attended those services, as well as those of other Christian denominations, including Catholic mass, when traveling. As for his Freemasony, Washington didn’t make much of it, as he indicated when he wrote a letter to a crackpot, George Washington Snyder, who sent him a book warning against the dangers of the Illuminati:

    “Mount Vernon, September 25, 1798.

    Sir: Many apologies are due to you, for my not acknowledging the receipt of your obliging favour of the 22d. Ulto, and for not thanking you, at an earlier period, for the Book you had the goodness to send me.

    I have heard much of the nefarious, and dangerous plan, and doctrines of the Illuminati, but never saw the Book until you were pleased to send it to me. The same causes which have prevented my acknowledging the receipt of your letter have prevented my reading the Book, hitherto; namely, the multiplicity of matters which pressed upon me before, and the debilitated state in which I was left after, a severe fever had been removed. And which allows me to add little more now, than thanks for your kind wishes and favourable sentiments, except to correct an error you have run into, of my Presiding over the English lodges in this Country. The fact is, I preside over none, nor have I been in one more than once or twice, within the last thirty years. I believe notwithstanding, that none of the Lodges in this Country are contaminated with the principles ascribed to the Society of the Illuminati. With respect I am &c.”

  • I misspoke. I was referring to the “No Religious Test Clause” located in Article VI, paragraph 3 of the US Constitution.

    George Washington was a 33rd Degree Mason. Here are some pics of Washington in full outfit:

    I realize there are a lot of enemies to the Masons, and that’s okay, but it’s not okay to conjecture facts. In the Lodge at Fredericksburg in
    Virginia, he was declared Master Mason. He visited the lodge numerous times, and they’re all on record. If this is a legitimate letter, it must have been a lie to cover himself up, because there are in fact records of him being a member of several lodges. I suspect you know nothing about Freemasonry, and again that’s okay, but it’s not okay to project prejudices before conducting objective historical research.

    As to the Treaty, it was still unanimously voted on, and that is enough evidence as any to definitively claim that we’re not a Christian nation.

  • 1. The No Religious Test Clause has nothing anti-religious or anti-Christian about it. It was meant to avoid the situation in England where political office was restricted to Anglicans and a few other favored Protestant sects.

    2. In regard to Freemasony the letter is part of George Washington’s recognized correspondence. Look it up for yourself. As to your contention that he was lying, that is risible. Why on Earth would he lie in a piece of private correspondence about his attendance at Masonic lodges? The Masons made much of Washington being a member, but he apparently viewed it as little more than a fraternal organization. His correspondence has precious few references to the Masons, and it apparently just wasn’t very important to him.

  • As to the Tripoli treaty, you have completely ignored my exaplanation as to why the provision about this not being a Christian nation was tossed in there, no doubt because you are unfamiliar with the early history of this nation, and mentioned the Tripoli treaty because you had heard about it on the internet. Atheist web-sites are fond of citing this treaty in contending that the Founding Fathers were not Christians, and reveal their bone ignorance about the time period when they do so.

Are You Kidding Me John Allen?

Wednesday, November 24, AD 2010

John L. Allen Jr., otherwise referred to in most circles as John Allen, is the prolific writer for the dissident Catholic newspaper National Catholic Reporter has come out defending L’Osservatore Romano in the recent Pope Condom Comments controversy.

John Allen laid the blame clearly on orthodox/conservative Catholic bloggers for “jealousy, politics, and dated expectations of how the Vatican paper ought to behave.” referring to critics of L’Osservatore Romano and its editor Gian Maria Vian, of which I am one of those critics.

Mr. Allen, by “dated expectations of how the Vatican paper ought to behave”, do you mean as in defending Church teaching and not embarrassing the pope at all costs?

Are you kidding me?

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14 Responses to Are You Kidding Me John Allen?

  • I would call this post outrageous, but it is so over-the-top that it seems just plain silly instead. John Allen is generally respected by Catholic commentators of all stripes, and his comments about “Taliban Catholicism” did not refer to “practicing Catholics” but to Catholics who direct inflammatory nonsense like this at their fellow Christians.

  • Ron,

    Just par for the course of your nonsensical comments.

  • Why heterodoxy failed . . .

    By even-handed, do you mean Mr. John listed a positive for every detraction of Opus Taliban?

    I wouldn’t waste my eyesight or time . . .

  • Use of the phrase “Taliban Catholics”, a common enough phrase on the Catholic Left, indicates that Mr. Allen knows little about the Taliban, and that his prejudices are what one might expect from someone who writes for the birdcage liner called the National Catholic Reporter. Of course what truly upsets him I think is that Catholic bloggers are eclipsing the readership of rags like the National Catholic Reporter that used to have a virtual monopoly in attempting to shape Catholic opinion in this country. No matter how many unread copies of the National Catholic Reporter are ordered by leftists priests, and the chancery staffs of leftist bishops, they simply cannot compete in aggregate readership with the Catholic blogs, most of which are orthodox. Allen’s comment is the lament of the buggy whip manufacturer as more of those horseless carriages are clogging the roads.

  • For the record, I consider myself orthodox and do not think I would fall under Mr. Allen’s “Taliban Catholicism.” Now, there may be a few on the distant right who think I’m a heretic, but they’re pretty rare birds. It seems he’s referring to more than just orthodoxy here.

    Whether using a loaded term like “Taliban” to make his point was a good move is, however, another debate.

  • Allen is usually good when writing about the Vatican, but when it comes to writing about the American scene in Catholicism he has a tendency to get all tribal in defense of his fellow National Catholic Reporter writers. How one gets off seeing the Mark Sheas and Fr Zs of the world as “Taliban” while having not beef with his fellow columnists like Chittister, McBrian and Winters (who are prone to far more frequent accusations that their fellow Catholics aren’t real Catholics and do so from a dissident psotion to boot) escapes me.

    In this case, that’s compounded with Allen being of the brand of Catholic which while not dissident would clearly like to see Church teaching on birth control be more “open” — and some such seem to have deceived themselves that this particular blunder by LOS indicates this is coming.

    Honestly, though, that site is just hard to read. I’d read Allen’s first piece on the issue, which was good, and the comment boxes were 90% 60s bitter Enders lashing out at the pope, with many of them accusing him of being “clearly obsessed” with male prostitutes. I think beyond a certain point, one’s readership is indicative. If you’re mostly read by people who hate the Church, there’s something wrong with what you’re doing.

  • Brett,

    I wouldn’t sweat it about where you fall in this category.

    The bottom line is that Mr. Allen should have never even uttered the world “Taliban Catholicism” for whatever reason.

    The AP picked it up and clearly planted in the camp of Catholics that love Jesus and His Bride.

  • The term “Taliban” may not be the most fortuitous, but I’d sure like a word other than “conservative” to tell the difference between Michael Voris and Robert Barron, between Steve Kellmeyer and Matthew Kelly. Any suggestions?

  • Donald,
    I also find the comboxes under Allen a little frustrating, but I think he’s managed to pull off something important; namely, not always preaching to the choir. Sometimes insisting on only writing for audiences that already agree with us is a little like putting the lamp under the bushel basket.
    A lot of the time high ratings for a blog indicate its tribal nature, not its evangelical possibilities.

  • “The term “Taliban” may not be the most fortuitous”

    That will do as the understatement of the day on this blog until something better comes along.

    As to what to call one’s adversaries, I always prefer something that actually fits them. “Taliban Catholics” is purely insulting, since no Catholics on the blogosphere that I am aware of have embraced suicide bombing or any of the other charming manifestations of that Afghanistani political/religious movement. School yard insults against one’s opponents are good for venting purposes, but for little else.

  • I’ll take understatement over overstatement when I can help it. 😉

    I’m not sure it’s much to do with adversaries. The thing about Catholics like Barron and Kelly is that they don’t frame their Catholicism in terms of how wrong everyone else is. They’re precisely non-adversarial and they’re perfectly orthodox, I daresay moreso than Voris or Kellmeyer. Not that Voris or Kellmeyer consciously dissent, but it is very easy to say something out of step with the tradition when you are more intent on pursuing your enemy than seeking understanding.

    Hmm, maybe the word for such Catholics should be “adversarial.” I’m really quite sick of letting them steal “orthodox” out from under the rest of us.

  • If Allen simply wanted to complain about the approach of folks like Voris (which I would consider legit) a term like Gonzo Catholicism would suffice and be far more accurate it seems to me. What makes “Taliban Catholicism” particularly offensive is that it manages to neatly package a whole set of prejudices (that people are irrational, ignorant, fundamentalist, prone to violence, hate women, likely to commit stonings and beheadings, etc.) in one neat package which gains instant support from an anti-religious stereotype which the New Atheists have been at pains to create about religion in general and traditional religion in particular. That Allen chose to use the term in a secular outlet where he could better harness those anti-religious prejudices strikes me as particularly bad.

    On can hardly blame people for feeling that this represented a nasty case of playing for the other side.

    And, of course, there’s a rather nasty irony to attacking people who you ink are too quick to try to discredit the orthodoxy of others as “Taliban”, since this is, effectively, attacking their own orthodoxy and taking things to a higher level as well.

    On the diversity of opinion point — I certainly don’t think one should try to foster a readership of only those who already agree with you. But at the same time, it strikes me that if a Catholic periodical’s readership is made up almost entirely of those who disagree with at least some of the Church’s teachings to the point of scorn and really hate the pope (so much that the first thing that jumped into many of these commenter’s heads was to imply that the pope frequented male prostitutes) this might suggest that people with these feelings find something about your periodical rather congenial. And if you care about the Church, you might want to consider what those elements might be and change them.

    By analogy: if for some reason my writing seemed to have drawn a huge number of white supremacist readers, I would consider it a moral requirement that I examine my writing and see if I was somehow doing something that appealed to these people’s errors. If I failed to do so, I would be implicitly supporting them.

  • Gonzo Catholicism? I like that.

  • Also, I don’t think Allen is the one drawing the crazies to read his publication. On the other hand, I know many like me who read his column online each week and don’t have much to do with the rest of the Reporter.

Must Read: Mark Brumley

Wednesday, November 24, AD 2010

Mark Brumley is the president of Ignatius Press, which today published a little book by a little German which is generating a little buzz.

Yesterday at IP’s official website for the book Mark posted a “summary interview” regarding the condom controversy. I highly encourage anyone interested in better understanding what the heck is going to read this interview.

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Notable Catholic news stories (I mean, besides condoms)

Wednesday, November 24, AD 2010

Providing a moment’s respite from what George Weigel dubs the media obsession with “Salvation by Latex”, here are some other notable (and/or interesting) Catholic stories that caught my attention:

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