The Materialism of Limited Toolset

Wednesday, January 19, AD 2011

I make a point of always trying to listed on the EconTalk podcast each week — a venue in which George Mason University economics professor Russ Roberts conducts a roughly hour-long interview with an author or academic about some topic related to economics. A couple weeks ago, the guest was Robin Hanson, also an economics professor at GMU, who was talking about the “technological singularity” which could result from perfecting the technique of “porting” copies of humans into computers. Usually the topic is much more down-to-earth, but these kinds of speculations can be interesting to play with, and there were a couple of things which really struck me listening to the interview with Hanson, which ran to some 90 minutes.

Hanson’s basic contention is that the next big technological leap that will change the face of the world economy will be the ability to create a working copy of a human by “porting” that person’s brain into a computer. He argues that this could come much sooner than the ability to create an “artificial intelligence” from scratch, because it doesn’t require knowing how intelligence works — you simply create an emulation program on a really powerful computer, and then do a scan of the brain which picks up the current state of every part of it and how those parts interact. (There’s a wikipedia article on the concept, called “whole brain emulation” here.) Hanson thinks this would create an effectively unlimited supply of what are, functionally, human beings, though they may look like computer programs or robots, and that this would fundamentally change the economy by creating an effectively infinite supply of labor.

Let’s leave all that aside for a moment, because what fascinates me here is something which Roberts, a practicing Jew, homed in on right away: Why should we believe that the sum and total of what you can physically scan in the brain is all there is to know about a person? Why shouldn’t we think that there’s something else to the “mind” than just the parts of the brain and their current state? Couldn’t there be some kind of will which is not materially detectable and is what is causing the brain to act the way it is?

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15 Responses to The Materialism of Limited Toolset

  • This is like saying, “I’ve examined books with the most powerful microscopes and chemical detection kits, and I can’t detect anything except ink and paper. Therefore books do not refer to anything else and do not contain any ‘meaning’ — it’s all just ink and paper.”

  • The atheist would respond by saying:
    1. Our non-deterministic mind may be like a computer’s random number generator. In certain situations, or perhaps constantly, our brains pick random paths and this can be emulated by a computer though obviously the computer would end up picking different paths.
    2. Things like appreciation for beauty and justice are hardwired.
    3. It’s illogical to believe in something that has no proof of being or at the very least it’s reasonable not to believe in something that has no proof of being.

  • SB,

    Well, I think it’s a bit different, in that a book is a static record of information, while a human brain clearly has a lot going on in it — it’s just unclear to me a that the measurable activity includes the actual cause of the activity. But I’m having trouble coming up with another analogy. Perhaps trying to replicate a car and expecting it to drive itself around while neglecting to account for the existence of a driver?


    Oh, and believe me, I’ve encountered those in conversations. However:

    1. The random explanation does not seem to explain the actual experience. My experience of why I married my wife rather that someone else seems neither deterministic nor random, it seems chosen.
    2. If so, there’s no particular reason we should adhere to them, and yet most people do not think that. (Actually, more frequently, I’m told that justice and beauty are evolutionary adaptations for efficiency and can be arrived at through game theory, but again I don’t think that fits with our experience.)
    3. My whole beef with this line of thinking is that we do have evidence for the existence of the will — the evidence of experience. But in this line of thinking we completely dispense with that experience of being an I who decides things and instead assume that we’re not, simply because the particular set of tools we are using isn’t able to come up with a measurable thing which correllates to our experience. Now, I can accept it if someone is willing to explicitly say that he’s making a dogmatic choice to believe in the existence only of what is physically measurable, but I’m unclear why that should be considered an obvious or even necessarily rational choice.

  • They’re still better off trying to make artificial intelligence because it will be the will and intellect of man essentially presupposing decision questions and programming in the appropriate answers. If they ported the brain of a man into a computer, the computer would fail miserably, but would have the benefit of proving the effect of the will.

    Here’s what would happen, a robot run on a ported human brain would not have the will to help keep it in check. Let’s say the robot is set off to engineer a hybrid melon that is larger, sweeter, and juicier. The robot will start comparing known melon varieties and then naturally, because it has the mind of a man, start thinking of boobs. There will be no will to consider social norms or inter-human consequences and then divert the attention to the task at hand. The robot will then head off to grope the nearest woman and won’t stop until someone pulls the plug.

  • Doubt it? Then address how a harmless discussion about artificial intelligence led to mentioning boobs?


  • So in all those Star Trek episodes where Kirk had to make an evil super-computer blow up by telling it something like, “Everything I tell you is a lie,” the easier approach would have been to send Uhura into flash the computer?

  • “…the easier approach would have been to send Uhura into flash the computer?”

    Gives a new meaning to flash drive.

  • I think a computer with a ported human brain would still have a self-preservation instinct.

  • The funny thing is, I already know what would happen when the copy failed; it would be decided that the computer wasn’t set up right, or didn’t account for interactions properly, or other hardware failure.

    Failure is always a hardware problem, not a theory problem.

  • How’s this for an analogy: you walk down a beach with a metal detector. You find nothing but metal. You conclude that there’s nothing buried in the sand but metal, and since you’ve swept it already, there’s nothing left buried in the sand.

  • If it was possible, then the real question is will this human-computer hybrid have the same mental defects that humans do? If so, what will an interconnected, pervasive, system-wide binary intelligence with feelings of envy, greed, lust and pride do?

    Will it be SkyNet, or will it be the Borg?

    Either way, nothing good can come from it. One has to wonder why Bill Gates has been hiring biologists at an alarming rate? What is he really up to? With his intellectual inheritance of population control and eugenics – it could go either way – wipe people out, or assimilate them. Hmm . . . it is much more pleasant to think about a different kind of boob than Bill Gates.

  • AK – You raise a good point: why would anyone want to recreate the human brain, if not for its will? To a materialist, the human brain is only a thinking machine, and a screwy one at that. So why enshrine it? Why limit a computer to the confines of human thought?

  • Initially I thought that speeding up the computerized brain would be a benefit but trying to make it do things that the biological brain wouldn’t, might drive it crazy.

  • Pinky,

    If you are a materialist, then you necessarily live in fear of being wiped out of existence as if you never existed in the first place, since material existence is all that there is. Liberated from the oppressive commandments of an imaginary god, all ten of those pesky thou shat nots, then you are free to do all that is within your evolutionary impulses and technological know-how.

    What could be better than ‘living’ on forever, so you can become god, yourself? Since your thoughts and superiority are naturally selected by chance, then you MUST exercise this superior power, before another intelligent monkey figures it out and uses it against you.

    This brain download thingy will make the one who controls it, the god of the machine that is our paltry meaningless existence. Boy, I wish I’d spent more time studying computer science, now I’ll never get to be god.

  • Darwin — in either case, the question is whether the material, directly observable object is all there is, or whether there could be something beyond that.

Seymour Hersch Channels Dan Brown

Wednesday, January 19, AD 2011


Hattip to Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal.  Seymour Hersch, part time left wing loon and full time writer at the New Yorker, critiques US policy in the Middle East and blames us papists:

In a speech billed as a discussion of the Bush and Obama eras, New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh delivered a rambling, conspiracy-laden diatribe here Monday expressing his disappointment with President Barack Obama and his dissatisfaction with the direction of U.S. foreign policy.

“Just when we needed an angry black man,” he began, his arm perched jauntily on the podium, “we didn’t get one.”

It quickly went downhill from there.

Hersh, whose exposés of gross abuses by members of the U.S. military in Vietnam and Iraq have earned him worldwide fame and high journalistic honors, said he was writing a book on what he called the “Cheney-Bush years” and saw little difference between that period and the Obama administration.

He said that he was keeping a “checklist” of aggressive U.S. policies that remained in place, including torture and “rendition” of terrorist suspects to allied countries, which he alleged was ongoing.

He also charged that U.S. foreign policy had been hijacked by a cabal of neoconservative “crusaders” in the former vice president’s office and now in the special operations community.

“What I’m really talking about is how eight or nine neoconservative, radicals if you will, overthrew the American government. Took it over,” he said of his forthcoming book. “It’s not only that the neocons took it over but how easily they did it — how Congress disappeared, how the press became part of it, how the public acquiesced.”

Hersh then brought up the widespread looting that took place in Baghdad after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. “In the Cheney shop, the attitude was, ‘What’s this? What are they all worried about, the politicians and the press, they’re all worried about some looting? … Don’t they get it? We’re gonna change mosques into cathedrals. And when we get all the oil, nobody’s gonna give a damn.'”

“That’s the attitude,” he continued. “We’re gonna change mosques into cathedrals. That’s an attitude that pervades, I’m here to say, a large percentage of the Joint Special Operations Command.”

He then alleged that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed JSOC before briefly becoming the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and his successor, Vice Adm. William McRaven, as well as many within JSOC, “are all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta.”

Hersh may have been referring to the Sovereign Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic organization commited to “defence of the Faith and assistance to the poor and the suffering,” according to its website.

“Many of them are members of Opus Dei,” Hersh continued. “They do see what they’re doing — and this is not an atypical attitude among some military — it’s a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They’re protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function.”

“They have little insignias, these coins they pass among each other, which are crusader coins,” he continued. “They have insignia that reflect the whole notion that this is a culture war. … Right now, there’s a tremendous, tremendous amount of anti-Muslim feeling in the military community.””

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47 Responses to Seymour Hersch Channels Dan Brown

  • Any proof given?

    When intelligent (READ: conservative or tea party) people are involved the morons lose: they do not have ANY evidence. As in names, dates, places, numbers, inventories of loot, . . .

    OTOH, You got to give the devil his due. Obama has ended “enhanced interrogation” and replaced with assassinations by unmanned aerial drones. A stopped clock is correct twice a day.

    Anyway, this is extremely dangerous. There are thousands of drug-deranged, totally vicious liberal losers that are (truth) so moronic as to believe this stuff.

    Worse: they’ll blame Sarah (Palin 2012!!!) the next time her Church burns down. And, Rush Limbaugh for the next assassination (by a drug-crazed liberal loser) of a GOP-appointed Justice about to rule on the (genuflect!) Obama agenda.

    Suppose you were an idiot. And, suppose you were a liberal. But, I repeat myself.

  • First, I am serving in Afghanistan and Stash did not give me crusader coin, “whats up with that”.

    Second, Mr Hersch was once the press secretary to presedential candidate Eugene McCarthy, ’nuff said”. Extreme Liberal.

    What is it with these old reporters/columnists (Helen Thomas) who just keep their opinions to themselves.

  • God keep you and protect you stan and thank you for your service to our country. If you do get some of those crusader coins, save one for me!

  • Afghani”stan”

    God Bless you.

    Our son was there in 2009. He is set to go again in March.

    Keep alert. Stay safe.

    We love you. You wonderful guys are in our prayers morning and night.

  • Hersch clearly got carried away by pointing fingers at just about everyone, but he wasn’t far wrong about the crooked Cheney bunch who made hundreds of millions of dollars in blood money off the Iraq slaughter through Halliburton, et al. One wonders why Cheney would consider a heart transplant when it doesn’t appear he has one.

    Read “The New American Century,” hatched by the neocons about 10 years ago that said “absent a Pearl Harbor,” it would be difficult to revive defense spending. They got their wish with 9/11 and, no, I am not a conspiracy theorist, just stating a fact that gave the shot in the arm the sagging military-industrial complex needed.

  • Careful Joe.

    “Blood money” is awful close to “blood libel.” As we know from Palin’s use of that term, it is anti-semitic. Your use of the term can equally be considered anti-semitic especially in conjunction with your use of the word “slaughter.” Add to this that Cheney is from Wyoming which is next to Idaho which has a large number of extreme rightists, then you are clearly invoking violence.

  • Phil, I’ll take your comments as tongue-in-cheek, but if not then I’ll be careful and watch my back.

  • Joe,

    I’m controlling your dream reality as I write. You will not be able to watch your back. 😉

  • Second, Mr Hersch was once the press secretary to presedential candidate Eugene McCarthy, ’nuff said”. Extreme Liberal.

    Hersch was let go by the McCarthy campaign. Hersch contended that McCarthy took no interest in race relations and so he (Hersch) had to leave in conscience. Martin Peretz, then employed by the campaign, said that Hersch was lying and that he departed the campaign because McCarthy did not think that Hersch as his press secretary was charged with policy-making duties.

    Sen. McCarthy might be criticized for ineffectuality (with regard to the slide of the Democratic Party into the status of cat’s paw of the Planned Parenthood Federation) but was a detatched and ironic mainline Democrat, not an extremist. Hersch’s sensibility bears no resemblance to McCarthy’s and the two manifested little in common in the years after 1968.

  • but he wasn’t far wrong about the crooked Cheney bunch who made hundreds of millions of dollars in blood money off the Iraq slaughter through Halliburton, et al.

    1. Richard Cheney worked for Halliburton for all of four years.

    2. Who is ‘the Cheney bunch’?

    3. Why is their compensation as a government contractor ‘blood money’?

  • 1. “For all of four years”…resigned to avoid “conflict of interest” when he became VP. Meanwhile, racked up $30 million (known) net worth.
    2. ‘Cheney Bunch’ includes the following: Elliott Abrams Gary Bauer William J. Bennett Jeb Bush Dick Cheney Eliot A. Cohen Midge Decter Paula Dobriansky Steve Forbes Aaron Friedberg Francis Fukuyama Frank Gaffney Fred C. Ikle Donald Kagan Zalmay Khalilzad I. Lewis Libby Norman Podhoretz Dan Quayle Peter W. Rodman Stephen P. Rosen Henry S. Rowen Donald Rumsfeld Vin Weber George Weigel Paul Wolfowitz.
    3. Because they make it by killing innocents and then get no-bid awards to rebuild what they destroyed.

  • Never new Halliburton killed people. I thought they were into oil rigging.

  • As someone wise once said, “You think you die for your country, but you actually die for some industrialist.”

  • Just because some wackjobs buy into every conspiracy doesn’t mean there aren’t any conspiracies. Human history is full of them, chiefly one of the close followers of a certain Jewish Rabi we are all familiar with who conspired with the Sanhedrin to have Him killed. It is illogical to be Catholic and not believe in the existence of human conspirators – the Church, as promised by her Founder, is the object of many evil conspiracies and will always be. Somehow, I don’t think that space aliens have anything to do with that though 🙂

    When we give up our analysis due to the false left-right paradigm, we miss much.

    Sometimes conspiracies are made of convenient enemies who happen to have aligned interests at the time, sometimes it is because some people are just opportunists and sometimes it is an actual conspiracy in order to achieve an evil end.

    I was not against the Iraq war, at the time, partly because there was evidence, at the time, of the presence and willingness to use WMD, after all, Rumsfeld and Cheney sold them to Saddam to use against Iran in the 80s. What I think is a conspiracy is the fact that we are still there – it does not take this long for the finest military the world has ever seen to effect regime change and destroy an opposition army. It is silly to engage in guerrilla warfare in a foreign country. So why are we still there? Could it be part of a Persian flanking maneuver? Could it be very profitable for some people? Could it be that a state of war will always allow the welfare-warfare corporatist state to expand and work its way toward absolutism?

    It seems to be yes, on all fronts – that is a conspiracy.

    Notwithstanding the inane anti-Catholicism, do any of you really disbelieve that the enemies of the Church have entered the Church? Have you seen the damage done to Her? Sure, Holy Mother Church will be here until the end of time, but we have no guarantee that it will be anything more than a small remnant of saints. Of course, these saints can change the world.

    The problem is labels – it is not a right-wing, or a left-wing conspiracy, it is the result of Libido Dominandi, the Lust for Power driven by pride, sin and disobedience and in many cases humans who are in full cooperation with the demonic. Neocons are corporatist statists, modern liberals are corporatist statists and they exist in both parties (if there are in fact two parties) and they have been running this country into the ground. A great Republic like ours does not get brought down except from the inside, and that is a conspiracy.

    The days of this conspiracy are coming to an end – either the fulfillment of the conspiracy will occur soon and we will all be slaves, or, as I think will occur, we will thwart and destroy the conspiracy – for now anyway. Remember, the chief conspirator never sleeps and is always on the prowl to devour souls.

  • I am willing to bet that less than one percent of the people who ascribe dark motives to Haliburton have no clue what it does or what its operations in the Middle East are comprised of.

    As for conspiracy mongering in general, it’s a counter-productive activity. Instead of focusing on the content of the policy disagreement, conspiracy mongers prefer to see evil intent behind said policy. This of course only perpetuates the status quo. After all, if all the bad things the government does are due to the fact that most are slaves to some ill-defined corporate entity, then really there’s not much we can do to change things. In other words, its an excuse for dropping out of politics altogether. In other, other words, it sanctions laziness.

  • Joe and Ak, loosen up the tinfoil hats. The idea that the Iraq war was fought to further corporate interests is as risible as the lunacy Hersch is peddling.

  • Paul, My point re Halliburton can best be summed up by this definition by Ambrose Bierce:

    ‘Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.’

  • Of course that idea has a long pedigree. Isolationists in the thirties were peddling the idea that sinister arms merchants were behind World War I, the so-called merchants of death. It was all rot, without a shred of evidence to support it, but a lot of people bought into it, with Congressional hearings held in regard to it. It gave a strong impetus to the isolationist movement in this country, and helped ensure that the US entered World War II badly unprepared.

  • Donald, I find your rejoinder close to ad hominem, which is out of character for one who purports to conduct a fair and open forum. Beneath the “tinfoil hat” you assert I wear, there lies a brain that attempts to do some critical thinking. There is ample evidence to suggest that Halliburton and other war contractors benefited enormously by the Iraq war. But in the spirit of civility sought by our President, I hereby will refrain from casting any aspersions on a corporation or those associated with it.

  • And Joe is no closer to providing an actual description of what Haliburton does, how it influenced policy, or how it has blood on its hands. More vague insinuations about a shadowy corporation. Nothing of substance.

  • I have a strong antipathy to conspiracy theories Joe. Throughout history belief in such theories, almost always unfounded, has wreaked much havoc.

  • Paul,

    Acknowledging a conspiracy does not make one politically lazy. In some cases it can inspire political action. If the conspiracy does exist, and we know that conspiracies do exist and you ignore it, then your political action will probably be rendered inert.

    I think one can take conspiracy too far, in the sense that everything is so secret that anything is possible – this of course, can only occur from a materialist perspective. With eyes of faith we know, not only do conspiracies exist, but that we can’t and don’t need to know everything about them because we trust in Divine Providence. Materialists are fools, and sadly, some are Christian, as if God did not know that the Enemy was tempting Adam and Eve in the garden.

    If we look at the evidence and employ some critical thinking and understand a little about power and human nature – then the conspiracies are fairly obvious. There is a money-power conspiracy in nearly every government and almost always and everywhere. The power of government is too tempting for sinners. If not for conspiracies and government abuse, why would the Founding Fathers have conspired to commit treason by rebelling against the Crown and then drafting Articles of Confederation to ensure that the same conspiracy did not befall them again?

    Don, I only wear the tinfoil hat to keep my hair out of my eyes, everyone knows that aluminum does nothing against Death Rays and H.A.A.R.P bombardments from Alaska.

    Don, where did I say that the second Iraq war was fought ONLY for corporate interests? I suppose you think the hack Eisenhower was wrong about the military-industrial complex too. I think Iraq was a legitimate war, given the circumstances at the time. I think we should have gone in with more force and wrapped it up much sooner and been far more concerned about liberating Muslims to allow them to kill Christians, intentionally or unintentionally (and no for this I don’t blame Bush – but those left-wing neocons). Nevertheless, a perpetual state of war is in no way in the best interest of a Republic – this is the action of Empire and an Empire abroad is always despotic at home.

    Don, There is no question that J.P Morgan and the mercantilist-Anglophile elite pushed us into WWI, what was the American interest in that mess, other than to bring about Wilson’s League of Nations to rule and order the world according to the scientific-technocrats superior ideas of social engineering and eradicate the true enemy, the Popish Church. Versailles guaranteed that we’d have to go back and fight Hitler, so long as we don’t damage any of the I.G. Farben/Rockefeller buildings of course.

    Don, throwing around a word like isolationist detracts from the validity that most of the wars we have been driven into and the perpetual state of undeclared war since WWII and Korea are NOT within the interests of the USA. Surely, we can agree on that.

  • Don,

    Did the Jacobins hatch a conspiracy? Was the havoc that ensued because of the Jacobins, or those who tried to fight the conspiracy?

  • Paul, Donald, et al…To document the vast array of facts regarding Halliburton and other war profiteers going back decades would not only take up too much bandwidth but also challenge the ‘conventional’ wisdom found hereabouts and subject me to further verbal assault. Though I have donned my flame-retardant suit, I nonetheless find the heat uncomfortable and wish to retain good relations with all those on TAC, which otherwise brooks dissent on a variety of topics.

  • Coincidence?

    Company Name Profits BEFORE WWI Profits by the end of WWI

    DuPont (Gunpowder) $ 6,000,000 $ 58.000,000
    Bethlehem Steel $ 6,000,000 $ 49,000,000
    United States Steel $ 105,000,000 $ 240,000,000
    Anaconda $ 10,000,000 $ 34,000,000
    Utah Copper $ 5,000,000 $ 21,000,000
    Central Leather Company $ 3,500,000 $ 15,000,000
    International Nickel Company $ 4,000,000 $ 73,000,000
    American Sugar Refining Company $ 2,000,000 $ 6,000,000

    Source: “War is a Racket”

  • Joe,

    I am not challenging your premise, because I suspect, to a large part we agree; however, correlation does not prove causation. Furthermore, not all war is a racket. Just wars are a necessary part of human life and history. Profits earned during a just war are not necessarily unjust and not necessarily part of a racket or conspiracy.

    Of course, humans without informed moral consciences, will prefer to have business guaranteed than compete in a market and war tends to move a populace to rally for support because the fear becomes existential.

    For example, we are at war with Muslim terrorists; however, this war is ill defined as the War on Terror, as if we can eradicate terror. In fact, this is a war OF terror and it is being fought against us. Does that mean that Muslim terrorists are not dangerous and that we should not deal with them, even if that means invading a host or supporting country – of course not. We have every right and in many cases duty to prosecute military action against them; however, that isn’t what we are doing most of the time. It seems the answer to being attacked by Al Qua’ida is to pass the Patriot Act. I thought it would have been better to just kill Osama, like when Clinton and Berger had the opportunity – I wonder why they didn’t squeeze the trigger.

    Oceana needs be at war with EastAsia or EuraAsia at all times to keep the citizens of Oceana under control.

  • AK, as defined by Augustine and Aquinas, perhaps the last “just war” was World War II. That profits inevitably flow from war is indisputable, but I’d agree that correlation is at times nebulous. Ike’s famous 1961 speech (delivered 50 years ago almost to the day) on the military industrial complex is worth re-reading.

    As for perpetual war for perpetual peace, Orwell sums up Oceania thusly:

    The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living. Ever since the end of the nineteenth century, the problem of what to do with the surplus of consumption goods has been latent in industrial society. At present, when few human beings even have enough to eat, this problem is obviously not urgent, and it might not have become so, even if no artificial processes of destruction had been at work.

  • Donald, 2 Medals of Honor, a long and distinguished military career, I’d say he has some cred. Or don’t you believe that contemporary witness is best in recording history. Were this not so, Matthew, Mark, Luke & John could be readily dismissed and yet we Christians rely on them (and Paul) for much of what we believe.

  • Actually Joe, contemporary accounts indicate a wide spread belief that Butler fabricated the whole thing. Butler was passed over as Commandant of the Marine Corp in 1931 because he publicly accused Mussolini in a speech of having run over a child. He never got over it and he ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1932 as a Republican. He then turned hard left, attacking capitalism and the military as being gangsters for the capitalists. That is what makes his entire idea of a fascist plot against FDR so laughable. By 1934 he was known as an ardent supporter of FDR and yet shadowy plutocrats wanted him to command a coup against Roosevelt? FDR obviously thought it was rubbish as there were no criminal prosecutions by the Feds of anyone named by Butler. Butler was a very brave man as attested by his two medals of honor. He was also a fabulist, to put it politely, of the first order.

  • Re: Halliburton… I think people are just peeved at them because the French company Schlumberger didn’t get the contract. BooHoo. 😉

  • To document the vast array of facts regarding Halliburton and other war profiteers going back decades would not only take up too much bandwidth but also challenge the ‘conventional’ wisdom found hereabouts and subject me to further verbal assault.

    This is a very long way of saying you don’t have anything substantial to back up your allegations. Color me surprised.

  • Donald, no doubt he had his critics. Who doesn’t? Still, I would take his views with more than a grain.

    Tex: Your francophobia is showing. : )

  • Paul, the evidence is substantial, compelling fact-checkable and easily accessible to any objective investigator. That’s the short of it.

  • Finally (I promise), I hate to resort to a cliche, but connect the dots.

  • Joe, in part that is a kitchen sink list of professors, politicians, and wonks who have had, at one time or another since 1969, some sort of employment in the foreign policy apparat. However, you have also leavened it with a miscellany of others you appear not to care for, including a history professor at Yale, a theologian at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a publisher of business and travel magazines, and a retired editor at Basic Books. Several of these people held appointive positions contemporary with Cheney’s in the Ford Administration (in which Cheney was Rumsfeld’s subordinate, not the other way around), the 1st Bush Administration, and the 2d Bush Administration. Few other than Lewis Libby might be called Cheney proteges. His association with most, however, is limited to being a registered Republican with some entree into certain circles.

    Because they make it by killing innocents

    Who? where?

  • Art, They are ALL signatories to the 1997 New American Century think thank document (since disbanded), which posits:
    * we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;
    * we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;
    * we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad; [and]
    * we need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.

    Interpreted by some, this is but another blank check for militarism and imperialism.

  • Right Joe. The truth is out there.

  • I’m reminded of an old Jewish joke: a Jewish immigrant visits a deli and horrifies his friends by pulling out a notorious anti-Semitic rag to read while he’s eating his lox and bagel. “Abie, how can you read such a disgusting paper!,” they exclaim. ” It’s full of lies!”

    Abie replies, “When I read the Yiddish papers, all the stories are sad ones about pogroms and persecutions of Jews. When I read this one, it goes on about how our bankers run the whole world and how all Jews are smart and rich. This one makes me feel much better!”

    Similiarly, it’s a bit more fun to fantasize about the fabulous Knights of Malta, the ever-mysterious Opus Dei and crusader coins than it is for me to read the letter I just got from Archbishop Listecki regarding our Chapter 11 reorganization. Hey, Opus Dei, send a few crusader coins our way!

    But then I remember that there are people in the world who both take Hersh’s ridiculous theories to heart and are in a position to hurt Catholics and other Christians living in Muslim countries. Then Hersh’s absurdities aren’t so amusing.

  • Although it was founded by the Alsatian brothers, Schlumberger, since the 1940s the company has had its headquarters in Houston Texas USA.

  • Conspiracies a absolutely do exist. FDR once said: “If something happens in Washington, you can bet it was planned. Does that mean all conspiracy theories are true? Of course, not, but a few things that were once “conspiracy theories” but later turned out to be conspiracy fact: 1) banker’s plotted to seized the White House and overthrow Roosevelt (true: check out Semedley Butler and find the Congresssional Hearings classified until the mid 1980s, 2) the Contra-Cocaine affaire, 3) MKultra (yes, the CIA contracted prolific research on mind control), 4) FDR knew about the Pearl Harbor attack (last evidence to prove that came in in the last two years), 5) American bankers did business with the Nazis AFTER World War II had started (recent declassification of Justice Department documents have proved this true), 6) filibusters were an organized effort to create a “greater South” directed by a Secret Society called the Golden Circle (true, despite the fact National Treasure II tried to “fictionalize” much of this story. That’s only a half dozen of “loon” conspiracy theories that have been proved to be real plots or events.

    Now, is Hersch right on his charges? I have no idea, but try checking out the unit patches and symbols used by various departments of the military (you can start with the School of the Americas) and you do see over and over that the symbol includes symbols of Knights of Pythagoras, Knights of Columbus, the ubiquitous “all seeing eye” (NASA has a bunch of these on recent military missions, etc.. It is intriguing that these are chosen so often. Does each one have a link to a secret society or conspiracy thereof. No doubt the answer would be no, but are some quite possibly linked to a conspiracy or cabal within the military? Dismissing the idea out of hand is just intellectually lazy and possibly dangerous. Of all the real secret societies and plots that have ever existed, well over half have been associated the military, mercenaries, or some other paramilitary organization. What kind of hubris does it take to believe that we’re beyond all that in an era where “secrecy” is increasingly cloaking every thing the military and Homeland Security is involved in?

    Doubt Hersch? Sure. Dismiss him? I don’t think we should.

  • Blake Hounshell has a follow up today. We can diss Hersh as a loon but this is truly sad:

    “More than a few readers, including Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, complained that I hadn’t rebutted Hersh’s arguments… I imagine that when most reasonable people read the transcript — I don’t have a video, unfortunately — they will see what I’m talking about… I thought it was self-evident that several points Hersh made were off-base and conspiratorial, but perhaps it’s worth spelling things out for everyone.”

  • “There’s a lot more, but you get the idea. So I’m going to go out on a limb here and just say it: Odds are good that JSOC is not being overrun by Catholic fanatics.”

    That is sad RR. Apparently for some people no mad rantings are too bizarre to believe if Catholics can be painted as villains.

  • “1) banker’s plotted to seized the White House and overthrow Roosevelt (true: check out Semedley Butler and find the Congresssional Hearings classified until the mid 1980s”

    No, actually the evidence was that Smedley Butler was a fabulist in regard to his statements about this conspiracy, as demonstated by FDR’s Justice Department making no attempt to indict anyone name by Butler.

    “2) the Contra-Cocaine affaire-”

    The Reagan administration admitted at the time that some of the Contras had engaged in cocaine dealing to support their operations.

    “3. MKultra (yes, the CIA contracted prolific research on mind control),”

    The CIA wasted a fair amount of money in the fifties and sixties on mind control, telekinesis, mind reading, ESP and other nutty dead ends. MK Ultra has become a source of endless loony conspiracy theories as a google search will reveal.

    “4) FDR knew about the Pearl Harbor attack (last evidence to prove that came in in the last two years)”

    That is complete and total bunk.

    5) American bankers did business with the Nazis AFTER World War II had started (recent declassification of Justice Department documents have proved this true).

    Almost complete bunk. American banks and companies had ties with German companies and banks. The idea that this constituted doing business with the Nazis is a staple of conspiracy theories on the far left and far right, usually involving Prescott Bush. Go to the link below to separate fact from fancy:

    “6) filibusters were an organized effort to create a “greater South” directed by a Secret Society called the Golden Circle”

    The Knights of the Golden Circle was a remarkably ineffective Southern “secret” organization that was well known throughout the North during the Civil War.

    “Dismissing the idea out of hand is just intellectually lazy and possibly dangerous.”

    No, believing in conspiracy theories without solid evidence is intellectually lazy and almost always dangerous for societies if enough people begin to believe in them.

  • Re FDR, Donald, a lot of smoke if no fire:

  • No smoke and no fire Joe. Gordon Prange, a historian who clearly despised FDR, in his definitive Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History demolished the argument that FDR knew in advance of Pearl Harbor.

An Honest Woman of the Left

Wednesday, January 19, AD 2011

Last week RFK, Jr, attempted to tie in the slaying of John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963 with the Giffords shooting:

“Jack had received myriad warnings against visiting the right-wing Texas city. Indeed, there had been a sense of foreboding even within our family as he and Aunt Jackie prepared for the trip. Jack made an unscheduled trip to Cape Cod to say goodbye to my ailing grandfather. The night before the trip, Mummy found Jack distant and brooding at a dinner for the Supreme Court Justices. He was very fond of Mummy, but for the first time ever, he looked right through her.

Jack’s death forced a national bout of self-examination. In 1964, Americans repudiated the forces of right-wing hatred and violence with an historic landslide in the presidential election between LBJ and Goldwater. For a while, the advocates of right-wing extremism receded from the public forum. Now they have returned with a vengeance — to the broadcast media and to prominent positions in the political landscape.”


RFK, Jr missed a little point in his tirade of course.  Right wing opposition to JFK, in Dallas or elsewhere, had nothing to do with the fact that JFK was murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald, a Communist, a former Marine who attempted to defect to the Soviet Union.  This omission is noted by Violet Socks in a brilliant post that may be read here at her blog Reclusive Leftist.  Here is a portion of what she writes:

But the essay is missing a sentence. I was so sure the sentence had to be there that I read the entire piece three times, and then started doing page searches to find the missing words. Surely the sentence was there and I was just somehow not seeing it. It’s the sentence that goes something like, “Ironically, despite the atmosphere in Dallas, it turned out that Uncle Jack’s assassin was a misguided pro-Castro Marxist.” Because that, of course, is what actually happened. That was the great irony of the JFK assassination. Dallas was infested with wingnuts (though they weren’t called wingnuts back then), and at first everybody thought that’s who killed the president. But lo and behold, it was just Lee Oswald, delusional Communist blowhard. As Jackie Kennedy remarked bitterly, JFK didn’t even have the “satisfaction” of dying for his liberal ideals; instead his assassin was just a “silly little Communist.”

She ties this in with the Giffords shootings:

Nor can you even say that the anti-JFK stuff in Dallas gave Oswald the idea of killing the president. He’d already tried to shoot General Walker back in April. In October 1963 he watched We Were Strangers, a film about political assassination, and according to Marina was very excited by it. There’s also good reason to believe he’d seen Suddenly and The Manchurian Candidate, both films about shooting a U.S. president—and both starring Frank Sinatra, weirdly enough. (Wait, is Frank implicated?)

If you want to make the case that violent political rhetoric in general begets real violence, then make that case. Don’t fudge the data and don’t cherry pick your facts. Don’t talk ominously about right-wing vitriol and look meaningfully over at Dallas 1963, or at Tuscon 2011. Unless, of course, you want to argue that right-wing rhetoric is dangerous because it drives leftists and schizophrenics to murder, but somehow I don’t think that’s the goal.

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2 Responses to An Honest Woman of the Left

6 Responses to Global Warming Hysteria Explained

  • Classic !! 😆

  • But, is that “civility”?

    Hello, Don!!

    We/NYC have rain, ice and snow this AM. About time to walk to the LIRR Sta. and try not to crash land on that superannuated keyster.

    How are things in Paradise?

  • Hi T. Shaw.
    The last 2 days have seen 2 tropical cyclones – one that devastated Queensland last week, and one that delivered a lot of rain to New South Wales combine in the Tasman and give us a bit of a serve, but they have been much reduced in strength. So misty rain yesterday, dveloping into strong winds and rain yesterday evening and through the night, but the clouds have gone early this morning and we have another great day – a bit muggy though 24 deg.C forecaste.
    Off to Mass at Mt. Maunganui 🙂
    ( ANTHROPOGENIC Global Warming – Pah ! )

  • “May the Divine Assistance remain with us, always.”

  • I don’t know, man…I was a GW skeptic before GW skepticism was cool, but how is debating a cartoon character that much more intellectually rigorous than what GW believers do? I’m starting to get a bad feeling about “fisking” in general. Sorry to be a downer.

  • I on the other hand love fisking Pinky. However, this was not a fisk. Rather it was an attempt to demonstrate the comedic elements in the global warming debate, and I think the creator of the video succeeded in doing so. I think it also illustrates how much of the debate really has very little to do with science, and quite a bit to do with politics.

The Hero and the Priest

Monday, January 17, AD 2011



Andre Cailloux was born a slave in Louisiana.  He lived his entire life in and around New Orleans.  In 1846 his petition for manumission, with the support of his owner, was granted by an all white police jury in New Orleans.   The next year he married a former slave, Felicie, with whom he had four children during the course of their marriage, and set up a cigar making business in the Crescent City.  He soon became recognized as a leader in the free black community of New Orleans.  Cailloux, a firm son of the Church, learned to read with the help of teachers at the Institute Catholique.  Through his own efforts he became an educated man, fluent in both English and French. 

At the beginning of the Civil War Cailloux became a Lieutenant in the 1rst Louisiana Native Guard, a Confederate black militia unit made up of free blacks to defend New Orleans.  After the first battle of Manassas, the 1rst Louisiana Native Guard volunteered to guard Union prisoners.  The offer was declined with thanks by the Confederate government.  No effort was made by the Confederate government to supply uniforms or weapons for the unit, and the men supplied themselves out of their own resources.  (It should be noted that many white Confederate and Union units  were in the same boat at the beginning of the War, as the number of volunteers vastly exceeded the ability of the governments to provide for them.)  The 1rst Louisiana Native Guards did participate in two grand reviews in New Orleans with other Confederate units. 

After the Confederate Congress passed a conscription act in 1862 making all whites of military age subject to a draft, the white officers in the 1rst Louisiana Native Guards were transferred to other duties and the regiment was disbanded on February 15, 1862.  Needless to say, the Confederacy missed a golden opportunity at the beginning of the War of enlisting free blacks.  Blacks given any encouragement at all to enlist in the Confederate Army, especially with a promise of eventual emancipation for all blacks, might have helped alter the outcome of the War.  Of course if the Confederate leaders had been willing to entertain such ideas at the beginning of the War, neither secession nor the War would have occurred.

After the capture of New Orleans by the Union, Major General Benjamin Butler decided to reconstitute the 1rst Lousiana Native Guard as a Union regiment.  Cailloux rejoined the regiment and was made Captain of Company E.  The black population of New Orleans responded enthusiastically to Butler’s initiative, and the Native Guard soon grew to three regiments. 

In December 1862 Butler was replaced by Major General Nathaniel P. Banks.  A former governor of Massachusetts, Banks was one of the worst Union generals of the war ( I believe the man he replaced, Benjamin Butler, deserves the chief position as most incompetent Union general.)  Forces under his command were so regularly beaten by the Confederates, that they nicknamed him “Commissary” Banks, since they would seize Union supply trains after they whipped his forces.  Banks replaced the black officers in the second Native Guard regiment with white officers, as it was the usual Union policy not to commission blacks.  However, the black officers in the first and third Native Guards remained in their positions.

The regiment was utilized for fatigue and guard details until it entered combat in the siege of Port Hudson, a Confederate fortified position north of Baton Rouge which the Union needed to seize as part of the campaign to bring the Mississippi under Union control.  On May 27, 1863 Banks, who commanded the Union army besieging Port Hudson, ordered assaults on the Confederate fortifications.  The 1rst and 3rd Louisiana Native Guards participated in these attacks.  The Union troops fought heroically, but Banks, with his customary lack of even elementary military skill, failed to coordinate the attacks, and the Confederates beat back the assaults with relative ease.  Captain Andre Cailloux, heroically leading his men, was killed.

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9 Responses to The Hero and the Priest

  • Thank you very much for posting this article. I love this blog, particularly for articles like this. I teach American History at a public high school, and your historical articles help me be a better teacher.

    May God continue to bless you.

  • Thank you Nicholas. I love history and I am always delighted when I can help spread an appreciation for it. God bless your teaching.

  • Nice Post. However Port Hudson is not located in North Louisiana. It is just North of Baton Rouge.

  • Thanks for the correction jh and I have amended the article accordingly. Heaven knows why I made that error. I can only assume that I was subconsciously thinking of Banks’ Red River campaign in 1864.

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  • Thank you sir,

    I too love history, especially this period of our checkered and beautiful past as Americans, of course, it is probable that you and I would have found ourselves on opposite sides of the battle had we lived back then. Nevertheless, if we cannot learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. Articles like this are so necessary for us to increase our knowledge and ability to think critically, always searching for truth in the imperfect actions of man. Sadly, just about everyone under the age of 35 has never had an exposure to anything like this and are trapped as ideological slaves in an invisible prison that they call freedom. INGSOC is here.

  • A former slave was asked why more blacks did not accept the offer of manumission for enlisting in one army or the other.
    He replied “Did you ever see two dogs fight over a bone?”.
    “Yes” came the answer.
    “Did you ever see the bone fight?”.

  • I have heard that quotation before and it has always struck me as ahistorical. The Union had no trouble recruiting blacks, and if freedom from slavery isn’t something worth fighting for, I have a hard time beyond self defense or defense of loved ones visualizing what would be worth fighting for. I think most blacks at the time agreed with this quotation:

    “Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.”

    Frederick Douglass

Joseph H. Rainey-First Black Congressman

Monday, January 17, AD 2011


The first black Congressman elected and seated in the House of Representatives was Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina.  Born to slaves on June 31, 1832 in Georgetown, South Carolina, he became a free man soon after his birth, thanks to his father, Edward Rainey, a successful and industrious barber who purchased his family’s freedom.  He followed his father in the barber trade, until the beginning of the Civil War.  Drafted as a laborer, he worked on fortifications and blockade runners.  Escaping with his wife, they spent the rest of the war in Bermuda where Rainey resumed his trade as a barber.  After the war he returned to South Carolina and became active in Republican party politics.  Well read and intelligent, Rainey quickly made his mark.  In 1868 he was elected as a delegate to the South Carolina constitutional convention.  In 1870 he won election to the state senate of South Carolina and then, winning a special election to fill a vacancy, he was elected to Congress and would serve there until March of 1879, making him the longest serving black congressman until William Dawson of Illinois eclipsed his record in the 1950s. 

In Congress Rainey fought for civil rights for blacks and against the ultimately successful effort in the South to effectively disenfranchise blacks.  He brought to his efforts a keen wit and eloquence as can be seen in this speech which he delivered after disparaging remarks were made about blacks in the South Carolina legislature by Democrat Representative Samuel Cox of New York in 1871:

The remarks made by the gentleman from New York in relation to the colored people of South Carolina escaped my hearing, as I was in the rear of the Hall when they were made, and I did not know that any utterance of that kind had emanated from him. I have always entertained a high regard for the gentleman from New York, because I believed him to be a useful member of the House. He is a gentleman of talent and of fine education, and I have thought heretofore that he would certainly be charitable toward a race of people who have never enjoyed the same advantages that he has. If the colored people of South Carolina had been accorded the same advantages—if they had had the same wealth and surroundings which the gentleman from New York has had, they would have shown to this nation that their color was no obstacle to their holding positions of trust, political or otherwise. Not having had these advantages, we cannot at the present time compete with the favored race of this country; but perhaps if our lives are spared, and if the gentleman from New York and other gentlemen on that side of the House will only accord to us right and justice, we shall show to them that we can be useful, intelligent citizens of this country. But if they will continue to proscribe us, if they will continue to cultivate prejudice against us; if they will continue to decry the Negro and crush him under foot, then you cannot expect the Negro to rise while the Democrats are trampling upon him and his rights. We ask you, sir, to do by the Negro as you ought to do by him in justice.

If the Democrats are such staunch friends of the Negro, why is it that when propositions are offered here and elsewhere looking to the elevation of the colored race, and the extension of right and justice to them, do the Democrats array themselves in unbroken phalanx, and vote against every such measure? You, gentlemen of that side of the House, have voted against all the recent amendments of the Constitution, and the laws enforcing the same. Why did you do it? I answer, because those measures had a tendency to give to the poor Negro his just rights, and because they proposed to knock off his shackles and give him freedom of speech, freedom of action, and the opportunity of education, that he might elevate himself to the dignity of manhood.

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3 Responses to Joseph H. Rainey-First Black Congressman

  • “…do the Democrats array themselves in unbroken phalanx, and vote against every such measure?”

    “…but I will tell the gentleman that we are republicans by instinct, and we will be Republicans so long as God will allow our proper senses to hold sway over us.”

    Ah! Such militaristic imagery is clearly an incitement to violence. By a self-proclaimed Republican and against Democrats nonetheless. Will the hate of the right never cease?

  • The bloodthirsty democrat party continues as sworn ally of the devil. “And, unsurprisingly the hate goes on.” hat tip: Joe Green

  • T. Shaw you are so correct about the evils of the Democratic Party (not necessarily of individual Democrats). Of course, we can’t fail to point out that the less-evil party of the Republicans is still evil.

    When our choices are bad and less-bad, where is the good?

Susannah York of ‘A Man For All Seasons’, Requiescat In Pace

Sunday, January 16, AD 2011

Susannah York succumbed to cancer this past Friday at the age of 72.

She is best remembered for portraying Saint Thomas More‘s daughter, Margaret More, in what is arguably the greatest Catholic film of all time, A Man For All Seasons.

She was very beautiful and enchanting and her role as Margaret More captured the essences of an integrated Catholic life that is an excellent example for laypeople everywhere today.

The following clip is that of the King paying his Lord Chancellor, Saint Thomas More, a visit on his estate.  The King encounters More’s family and is introduced to More’s daughter, Margaret, at the :45 mark of the clip.  They engage in conversation at the 1:32 mark of the clip.  The entire 10 minutes should be viewed to really enjoy her performance and appreciate the film itself:

Here is the trailer to that magnificent Catholic film, A Man For All Seasons:

Post script:  I was unable to find out if Susannah York was a Catholic or not, but her portrayal of Margaret More is a fine example of living a Catholic life.

Cross-posted at Gulf Coast Catholic.

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8 Responses to Susannah York of ‘A Man For All Seasons’, Requiescat In Pace

“Settle for Nothing Less.” (Walker Percy)

Sunday, January 16, AD 2011

Q: What kind of Catholic are you?
A: Bad.
Q: No, I mean are you liberal or conservative?
A: I no longer know what those words mean.
Q: Are you a dogmatic Catholic or an open-minded Catholic?
A: I don’t know what that means, either. Do you mean I believe the dogma that the Catholic Church proposes for belief?
Q: Yes.
A: Yes.
Q: How is such a belief possible in this day and age?
A: What else is there?
Q: What do you mean, what else is there? There is humanism, atheism, agnosticism, Marxism, behavioralism, materialism, Buddhism, Muhammadanism, Sufism, astrology, occultism, theosophy.
A: That’s what I mean.
Q: To say nothing of Judaism or Protestantism.
A: Well, I would include them along with the Catholic Church in the whole peculiar Jewish-Christian thing.
Q: I don’t understand. Would you exclude, for example, scientific humanism as a rational and honorable alternative?
A: Yes.
Q: Why?
A: It’s not good enough.
Q: Why not?
A: This life is too much trouble, far too strange, to arrive at the end of it and then to be asked what you make of it and have to answer, “Scientific humanism.” That won’t do. A poor show. Life is a mystery, love is a delight. Therefore I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and the infinite delight, i.e., God. In fact, I demand it. I refuse to settle for anything less.

Conversations with Walker Percy (1985)

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2 Responses to “Settle for Nothing Less.” (Walker Percy)

Father John B. Bannon: Confederate Chaplain and Diplomat

Sunday, January 16, AD 2011


There were a great many brave men during the Civil War, but I think it is a safe wager that none were braver than Father John B. Bannon.  Born on January 29, 1829 in Dublin, Ireland, after he was ordained a priest he was sent in 1853 to Missouri to minister to the large Irish population in Saint Louis.  In 1858 he was appointed pastor of St. John’s parish on the west side of the city.  Always energetic and determined, he was instrumental in the construction Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist church.  Out of his hectic schedule he somehow found time to become a chaplain in the Missouri Volunteer Militia and became friends with many soldiers who, unbeknownst to them all, would soon be called on for something other than peaceful militia drills.  In November 1860 he marched with the Washington Blues under the command of Captain Joseph Kelly to defend the state from Jayhawkers from “Bleeding Kansas”.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, most of the Saint Louis Irish were strongly Confederate in their sympathies and Father Bannon was of their number.  The Irish viewed the conflict in light of their experiences in Ireland with the English invaders, with the Southerners in the role of the Irish and the Northerners as the English.   Confederate militia gathered at Camp Jackson after the firing on Fort Sumter, and Father Bannon went there as chaplain of the Washington Blues.  Camp Jackson eventually surrendered to Union forces, and Father Bannon was held in Union custody until May 11, 1861.  He resumed his parish duties, although he made no secret from the pulpit where his personal sympathies lay.  Targeted for arrest by the Union military in Saint Louis, on December 15, 1861, he slipped out of the back door of his rectory, in disguise and wearing a fake beard,  as Union troops entered the front door. 

He made his way to Springfield, Missouri where Confederate forces were gathering, and enlisted in the Patriot Army of Missouri under the colorful General Sterling Price, who would say after the War that Father Bannon was the greatest soldier he ever met.

He became a chaplain in the First Missouri Confederate Brigade, and would serve in that capacity until the unit surrendered at Vicksburg on July 4, 1863.  He quickly became a legend not only in his brigade, but in the entire army to which it was attached and an inspiration to the soldiers, Catholic and Protestant alike.  At the three day battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, March 6-8, 1862, he disobeyed orders for chaplains to remain in the rear and joined the soldiers on the firing line, giving human assistance to the wounded, and divine assistance for those beyond human aid.  For Catholic soldiers he would give them the Last Rites, and Protestant soldiers, if they wished, he would baptize.

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3 Responses to Father John B. Bannon: Confederate Chaplain and Diplomat

Lincoln and the Blood Libel of 1860

Saturday, January 15, AD 2011



This has been going around the internet.  I am regretful that I did not recall this section first of Lincoln’s famous Cooper Union Address on February 27, 1860:

I would say to them:–You consider yourselves a reasonable and a just people; and I consider that in the general qualities of reason and justice you are not inferior to any other people. Still, when you speak of us Republicans, you do so only to denounce us as reptiles, or, at the best, as no better than outlaws. You will grant a hearing to pirates or murderers, but nothing like it to “Black Republicans.” In all your contentions with one another, each of you deems an unconditional condemnation of “Black Republicanism” as the first thing to be attended to. Indeed, such condemnation of us seems to be an indispensable prerequisite–license, so to speak–among you to be admitted or permitted to speak at all. Now, can you, or not, be prevailed upon to pause and to consider whether this is quite just to us, or even to yourselves? Bring forward your charges and specifications, and then be patient long enough to hear us deny or justify.

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6 Responses to Lincoln and the Blood Libel of 1860

  • On Friday, a Quinnipiac poll reported that 85% of respondents do not believe “overheated” GOP/tea party rhetoric were responsible for the assassination of GOP-appointed, Federal Justice John M. Roll.

    “Saturday’s shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in which six people were killed, could not have been prevented, 40 percent of American voters say in a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Another 23 percent blame the mental health system, while 15 percent say it was due to heated political rhetoric and 9 percent attribute the tragedy to lax gun control.

    “American voters say 52 – 41 percent that “heated political rhetoric drives unstable people to commit violence,” the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Liberals rather than conservatives are more responsible for such rhetoric, voters say 36 – 32 percent. ”

    The lisping, lying liberal forces of evil are losing. Don’t let up.

    In liberal guerrilla war, truth is the first casualty. Ooops! That as violent rhetoric.

  • Thanks for sharing this Don. The more things change, the more they stay the same!

  • “You need not be told that persisting in a charge which one does not know to be true, is simply malicious slander.”

    Well put, Abe.

  • Thou shalt not bear false witness.

    Can anyone name one of the Ten Commandments that, each and every day, those people do not trample?

  • For overheated rhetoric, you should listen to one New York City Black radio station. No need to go to church to hear Jonathan Wright’s denunciations.

Yeah, Truth Is Definitely Stranger Than Fiction

Saturday, January 15, AD 2011

One of the Giffords shooting victims, James Eric Fuller, joined in with the attempt of the Left to blame the Giffords shooting on conservatives:  “It looks like Palin, Beck, Sharron Angle and the rest got their first target,” Eric Fuller, a former campaigner for Ariz. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, told Democracy Now. “Their wish for Second Amendment activism has been fulfilled.”

Today Mr. Fuller was arrested for making a death threat: 

Toward the end of the town hall meeting Saturday morning, one of the shooting victims, J. Eric Fuller, took exception to comments by two of the speakers: Ariz. state Rep. Terri Proud, a Dist. 26 Republican, and Tucson Tea Party spokesman Trent Humphries.

According to sheriff’s deputies at the scene, Fuller took a photo of Humphries and said, “You’re Dead.”

Deputies immediately escorted Fuller from the room.

Pima County Sheriff’s spokesman Jason Ogan said later Saturday that Fuller has been charged with threats and intimidation and he also will be charged with disorderly conduct.

Among the dignitaries at the town hall taping were Mayor Bob Walkup, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva and former Congressman Jim Kolbe.

All this is somewhat explicable when one reads up a bit more about Mr. Fuller.  Go here to do so.

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10 Responses to Yeah, Truth Is Definitely Stranger Than Fiction

  • Even left-wing ditzes, like Loughner, know better than to try shoot up a GOP event. We can defend ourselves.

    Stick with murdering unborn babes, courageous ones.

  • Krugman and Olbermann need to take responsibility for this.

  • I don’t want to detract from this tragedy, but may I mention an off-topic subject.
    Our friends in Australia are suffering from the worst floods in living memory. Fully one third of Queensland – a huge area – is seriously affected. Brisbane in cleaning up after the floods peaked Thursday, and though not quite as bad as the floods of 1974 are the worst there since, I think, 1889 in its scale. The town of Grantham in the Lockyer Valley just west of Brisbane has been wiped off the map.
    New South Wales has alson been deluged, and Victoria has just faced its worst flooding, again in living memory.
    Remember our Aussies brothers & sisters in your prayers, as I’m sure we all are for those killed in Tucson.
    Thanks and God bless.

  • Prayers for the Aussies Don! I’ve been following the floods down there and some of the scenes have been just devastating.

  • How about this sick fool takes responsibility for himself?

  • Mr Fuller, look at the swinging watch. Listen to my voice. “I will not make inane comments about politics. I will not blame conservative individuals for mass murders. I will re-enlist so I can serve my country with a right attitude. I will blame the leftists and liberals who are really responsible for the moral and spiritual decay of this great nation….

  • The utter lack of coherence is striking!!! It isn’t rambling such as I run into from those living on the streets who have mental health issues. Here, there is a repetition of a central thesis – unconstitutionality of government actions to limit free speech, leading to genocide and his eventual homelessness – to each and every thought that seems to occur to him. E.g. He receives a “B” in a course he is calling “free speech” and this is implicit of a conspiracy to restrict his free speech and leads to his being “homeless.” I assume that, by “genocide,” he is suggesting that the community college is “murdering” the spirit of his generation.

    It is fascinating. It is frightening.

  • And unsurprisingly the hate goes on.

  • His tone almost suggests that he knows he’s making no sense to anyone. I don’t know if anyone else saw the interview with his high school girlfriend, but she said she thought it was likely he was faking the insanity. Granted, it’s been a few years since they were close and Loughner could’ve snapped in the interim, but it certainly gives one pause.

The Vacant Chair

Saturday, January 15, AD 2011

Something for the weekend.  The incomparable Kathy Mattea singing the Civil War song The Vacant Chair.  Originally written in 1862 to commemorate Second Lieutenant John William Grout, 15th Massachusetts, who was killed at age eighteen at Ball’s Bluff, one of the early battles of the War, it proved immensely popular North and South as the nation eventually mourned approximately 620,000 vacant chairs.

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6 Responses to The Vacant Chair

Buying A Car To Save Money

Friday, January 14, AD 2011

Cars that get over 40 miles per gallon in fuel efficiency are, reportedly, becoming all the rage, with more models from American and foreign car makers being introduced at the latest Detroit Auto Show.

So I got curious, having just started a 18-mile-each-way commute, what exactly are the savings one can achieve by buying a more fuel efficient car? I assumed a situation faily like mine: My car is paid for and costs me only minimal maintenance to keep up (a 14-year-old Toyota Camry) and a 20 mile each way commute.

Say you’re considering buying a new car which gets 40mpg for $20,000. That seems moderately standard for these cars. Assume a 40 mile daily round trip commute, and an additional 40 miles of weekend or additional driving. Assuming a current care actual efficiency of 20mpg. Assume the price of gas goes up to $4/gal. How long would it take for you to make up the cost of that new car in fuel savings?

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11 Responses to Buying A Car To Save Money

  • I also performed this calculation before I purchased my new car 5 years ago. I found that is was the same way. I didn’t really have a choice with my car at the time expiring at a quickening pace. Needless to say this calculation did figure into my purchase but was low on the priority list.

  • This applies to the environmental impact as well. Getting rid of an older, less efficient, car by replacing it with a newer one ignores the mountain of ore and coke, thousands of gallons of water, bauxite, thousands of Kwh of electricity, crude oil, etc., required to make the iron, smelt the aluminum, refine the plastics, etc., that go into that more efficient car.

    If anyone wants to conserve nature they’d do well to focus on durability and longevity as well as, or even more than, energy efficiency. Would be interested in this sort of an analysis regarding energy efficient light bulbs.

  • I agree that in general, it makes little sense to buy a new car just to improve your gas mileage… except maybe perhaps if you currently drive an original Hummer or other similar vehicle that barely gets double digit gas mileage.

    That being said, I would point out that the analysis is flawed in a couple of ways. The most basic flaw is that it assumes you would keep the Camry for another 16 years. Now, assuming you have owned the Camry since it was new, and that your driving habits have remained constant (probably a big if), your Camry should already have about 175,000 miles on it. By the end of 16 years it will have about 375,000 miles on it. Now toyota makes a decent car and engine, but after a car already hase 175,000 miles on it, you can be sure that some of the maintence over the next 200,000 is going to be more than minimal. If the alternator and fuel pump haven’t been replaced already, they will be soon, likewise you can expect at least one new or rebuilt transmission and maybe even need a rebuilt engine after say 250,000 miles. So, in order to keep the Camry running for another 16 years, I would expect that you will need to put at least $5,000 to $6,000 into it above and beyond basic maintenance (i.e., oil, tires, brakes). Of course on the bright side, a 14 year old Camry is going to loose a lot less value over the next 16 years than a new car will loose in its first two :).

    In any case, unless you are the sort to run a car completely into the ground (and you might be), the better analysis will be to look at how much longer you are likely to keep the car and balance those costs against buying X years early. In practice this means it probably never makes sense to trade in early just to get better gas mileage. In fact, it might well make sense to wait say two years when many of these 40 mpg cars will be hitting used car lots costing 40% less than the new cars of today :).

  • Bruce Williams, the talk radio finance advice guy (sort of an early Dave Ramsey, if I recall correctly), once said that you’ll never again own a car as cheap as the one you have right now, or words to that effect. In other words, buying a different car will almost always cost more in the long run, even if your current car needs a fair amount of work. There are cases where a car is really shot, of course, but they’re rarer than people think. The person who says a newer car will save in the long run on gas mileage or repairs is usually just kidding himself.

    That becomes even more true as licensing fees climb. I bought my current car for $150, and then immediately more than doubled the cost when I went to pay the state of Illinois for the privilege of owning it.

  • I’d be happy to get the tranny fixed on my 1996 Dodge van with 240,000 miles.

  • Aaron (and Bruce Williams) is right. There is nothing wrong with replacing a current car with a new one, but it usually cannot be justified on purely financial grounds. The notion that one should “trade in” a car after three or four years in order to save money on repair and maintenance expenses is really a myth, yet one believed and practiced by many Americans including many Americans who are otherwise financially savvy.

  • “you’ll never again own a car as cheap as the one you have right now”

    That is even more true since “Cash for Clunkers” took a lot of still-serviceable older cars off the market, thereby driving up the price of used cars and making them less viable as an alternative to buying a new car.

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  • All true as to milage. However, an older car with mechanical “issues” can rapidly become a money pit. My first car out of law school was a cherry red Thunder Bird with 37,000 miles on it, sold to me by a sweet little old lady who I suspect now probably rolled back the odometer. It was a superb vehicle until it hit “77,000” miles in early 1985 and then I had unending trouble with it, and easily pumped $3,000 into it in nine months, after having several different mechanics work on it. After it collapsed for a fourth time, and I was told it would cost another $1800.00 to get it back on the road, I sold it to a secretary’s husband for parts for $250.00. Since then I have never purchased a used vehicle, and I rarely keep a car much beyond 100k. With two vehicles for the family, I can normally get 8 years out of each car.

  • It seems that this shows that it’s silly to change a perfectly good car for a new car just for the fuel savings, and perhaps even for the additional repairs. What I’m not clear on is whether or not if you’re buying a new car anyway (old one too expensive to keep up, etc.) if it is worth it to invest the money into purchasing a car with better fuel efficiency.

  • Michael,

    I think the trick would probably to be compare the cost of the two cars you’re considering and figure out how long it would take up to make up the difference between the two (assuming the more efficient one is more expensive) via gas saving.

    For example, you might be deciding between buying a 2005 Civic which gets around 28mpg and a 2010 Civic which gets 40mpg. The cost difference might be about 10,000. You could plug those figures, and the respective fuel efficiencies, into the equation and come up with the break even point it.

    I was showing that given my commute and my current car, I’d save about $25/wk if I bought one of the new, highly fuel efficient cars that’s coming out. (Obviously, with a hybrid the savings might edge up to $30+.)

    That would be worth getting if you’re buying a new car anyway, but it’s not necessarily worth paying more than about $8k more for unless you have a much longer commute, are betting gas will get very expensive, or have a strong moral feeling that you need to conserve fuel regardless of cost.

A Matter of Perspective

Friday, January 14, AD 2011

So what right-wing columnist said this:

All this fuss about civility . . . is an attempt to bully critics into unilaterally disarming – into being demure and respectful to the president.

Actually, it was Paul Krugman, quoted in a Stephen Miller article titled “Anger Mismanagement,” published in the Wall Street Journal on March 19, 2004.

Hey, at least this can be one time where I totally agree with Paul Krugman.  Oddly enough, apparently I am in fuller accord with Paul Krugman than . . . Paul Krugman.

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12 Responses to A Matter of Perspective

  • “… apparently I am in fuller accord with Paul Krugman than . . . Paul Krugman.”

    It wouldn’t be the first time, and no doubt won’t be the last. Every time that guy says or writes something it blatantly contradicts something he said or wrote 3 years ago. He’s a partisan fraud.

  • The entire relevant quote:

    All this fuss about civility, then, is an attempt to bully critics into unilaterally disarming — into being demure and respectful of the president, even while his campaign chairman declares that the 2004 election will be a choice ”between victory in Iraq and insecurity in America.”

    And even aside from the double standard, how important is civility? I’m all for good manners, but this isn’t a dinner party. The opposing sides in our national debate are far apart on fundamental issues, from fiscal and environmental policies to national security and civil liberties. It’s the duty of pundits and politicians to make those differences clear, not to play them down for fear that someone will be offended.

    Paul Krugman, The Uncivil War, NY Times, Nov. 25, 2003.

  • The fuller quote is even better – and I don’t mean that sarcastically. I wonder if Krugman even remembers writing that – or was that before his wife started writing his op-eds?

  • “It’s the duty of pundits and politicians to make those differences clear, not to play them down for fear that someone will be offended.”

    Well good thing the left will stop demonizing Palin and others for remarks that are only intended to make those differences clear.

  • or was that before his wife started writing his op-eds?

    If you compare the product of his first decade or so writing for general audiences with that of his second decade, you would have to conclude that the change in authorship occurred somewhere around 2000 or 2001.

  • Krugman’s wife/ghost writer, Robin Wells, sounds like a real piece of work:

    “On the rare occasion when they disagree about something, she will be the one urging him to be more outraged or recalcitrant. She pushed him to denounce the filibuster. She wanted him to be more stubborn in holding out for the public option in the health-care bill.”

    Here is her advice to Obama in 2009:

    “In the end, for better or for worse, whether he likes it or not, Obama is joined in a battle against the forces of anger, hate and grievance. A choice not to engage them on a moral level is an abdication. They will not go away, and they will stalk him the rest of his presidency unless he faces them and conquers them. President Obama, you need to go down into your soul and find those keys.”

    Translation: You just don’t hate those wingnuts enough!

    Married to a bitter left-wing shrew. For the first time in my life I actually feel sympathy for Krugman!

  • That’s right on the money. It’s really been frustrating to watch conservatives (even Pat Buchanan) giving Obama credit for doing exactly what Krugman says here. It’s all about the timeline:

    * Crazy guy in Arizona shoots some people.
    * Left-wing politicians and media have a field day, slandering everyone on the right for basically putting the gun in his hand and the idea in his head, hoping for a repeat of the political advantage they got from doing the same thing after the OK City bombings, only this time they’re even nastier about it.
    * Their leader sits quietly by the sidelines.
    * After a few days, word starts to get out that the guy actually had none of the conservative connections that were reported, and may have been fairly left-wing if anything, but was mostly just nuts.
    * Some die-hards like the New York Times keep pushing the party line, but you can see it starting to crack, and a backlash is building against the outrageousness of the lies and slander.
    * The leader of the culprits now comes out and gives a “let’s all rise above this speech,” where he implies that we all need to settle down and stop placing blame.

    Well, if we were all placing blame, that’d be fair, but it was only his own people who were doing that, and he didn’t have a problem with it until it wasn’t working very well anymore. That’s not statesmanship; that’s quitting while you’re ahead.

  • That article is disconcerting for what it recounts, but it appears to be true that his wife’s influence has been decisive. I would think a 47 year old man employed as a professor in social research would have acquired a fairly stable worldview, not to mention some sense of the frailty of others and himself. I guess not.

  • Mac, Maybe her father owns a liquor store, or she has a bass boat . . . Every dark cloud has a silver lining.

  • It would have to be either a very big bass boat or a huge liquor store indeed T. Shaw.

  • [SIGH]

    I feel his pain.

    She’ll be in a real snit when she sees this. Quinnipiac poll: About 15% of Americans believe that heated rhetoric had anything to do with the shootings Saturday by an addled brained leftish pothead that killed a GOP Federal Justice and five innocent people in Tucson.

2 Responses to Life Imitates Art

The President’s Speech

Thursday, January 13, AD 2011

I did not watch President Obama’s speech last night, nor any of the memorial service turned pep rally, but I have read the transcript.  After reading through it I have to concur with the majority sentiment that this was a very good if not excellent speech. In fact this is perhaps the best one the President has given, granted that is a pretty low bar.  President Obama’s speeches can most charitably be described as vague, but this one contained a very clear message and was very appropriate for the occasion.  I was struck in particular by this passage:

You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations, to try to impose some order on the chaos, and make sense out of that which seems senseless.  Already we’ve seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health systems. And much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.

But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized  at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do  it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.

Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, ‘when I looked for light, then came darkness.’ Bad things happen, and we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.

For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped these shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.

Naturally there’s been some blowback by some conservatives horrified at the notion that anything President Obama has done or said could ever garner praise by fellow conservatives.  For example, just read the comments to any number of blog postings on the Corner last night.  Almost all of the NRO contributors praised the speech, drawing the ire of a large band of followers (though not all, certainly).  I’m not really sure what more the President could have said.  If there’s any criticism due this speech it is that it does seem a bit over-long.  It’s almost like one of those homilies where it feels like the Priest is vamping in order to hit some pre-conceived notion of how long the talk should be.  But it is foolish to have  expected the President to have delivered a full-blown attack on leftists who engaged in any “blood libel.”  The tenor of his remarks were certainly appropriate for the occasion.

I don’t think that President Obama’s political career is suddenly going to be rejuvenated because some right-wing pundits like one speech that he gave.  If this wasn’t your cup of tea, fine.  I’ve found myself disliking many an Obama oration that others have drooled over, so opinions may vary.  But to me this was a speech well worth the praise it has received.

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25 Responses to The President’s Speech

  • It was a good speech, spoiled by the “Let’s Make a Deal” audience reaction, whooping it up, hooting, whistling when solemnity was called for — totally inappropriate at a memorial but symptomatic of today’s youth which has little respect for tradition.

    Obama struck the right tone, but could have done without the Indian guy at the beginning who hogged 20 minutes of face time for one of those interminable blessings that came right out of a Hollywood script.

    While deserving of recognition, the wild adulation over Daniel Hernandez was way over the top.

    As political theater, it succeeded, and Obama probably will get a nice bounce in the ratings. Other than that, I don’t think it will change the discourse one iota.

  • No problem with the speech, but shouldn’t we expect more decorum and reflection from a memorial service? It came close to being turned into political theater. He could have given the speech any time, but a memorial should be lead by priests or ministers, with the President, if he attends, sitting respectfully in the audience. Ideally it should be private. He did talk about the victims a bit, but it never should have been about anyone else in the first place. As it was they were relegated to being little more than a prop.

  • “..but shouldn’t we expect more decorum and reflection from a memorial service? It came close to being turned into political theater.”

    Perhaps not as bad but nonetheless in the mold of Wellstone’s send off.

  • Too late to say you’re sorry. He should have told his Obama-worshipping imbeciles to STFU on SATURDAY.

    That was nothimng other than a pep rally/stump speech.

    Did he pray for the reprose of the soul of the GOP Judge assassinated by his dope-addled, left wing lunatic who “brought a gun” to “punish his enemies”?

    They booed the GOP governor (probable she’s next on the liberal hit list) and Obama lied about “she opened her eyes.”

    It is part of all liberals’ natures not to let any crisis or tragedy go to waste . . .

  • I only read the excerpt you cited. I thought it was excellent. As far as those on the right who may refuse to acknowledge any good from the President, we shouldn’t get too worked up about it, but still take the high ground and try leading by example. There are always going to factions within factions that are so blinded by their own biases that the only reality to them is their bias. They no longer stand for good that led them to their position, they end up standing up only for their position. Reality and any sense of good be damned. I think you see a far larger portion of the left affected by it, but there is clearly a significant portion of the right too.

  • Assuming yesterday was a statistically average day: In the time it took President Obama to make nice with his base, 86 (rounded) unborn babies were (Constitutional right) killed. Some seem to think the most abortion-promoting regime leader this side of Red China is “good” because he can lead a campaign rally.

  • Again I didn’t see the event, and from the reports it sounds pretty bad. But to what degree, if any, does President Obama bare any responsibility for that? Did his office plan the event, or was he simply an invited participant? He may not have been fully aware of what was going to play out.

  • Did he pray for the reprose of the soul of the GOP Judge assassinated by his dope-addled, left wing lunatic who “brought a gun” to “punish his enemies”?

    Judge Roll was the first of the slain that he singled out.

  • Made no mention of who was responsible for the event. Apparently the U of A planned it. My point was the gaudiness of it all. This captures my opinion:

  • I too thought the pep rally atmosphere was odd at first but as his speech progressed into a message of hope it became appropriate.

    Judging by the fact that his speech went way over schedule, he may not have been expecting interrupting applause.

  • Anybody know where to find a video of the Mass that Palin refers to?

  • “The tenor of his remarks were certainly appropriate for the occasion.”

    Sure. I expected nothing less, to be honest. Obama knows how to be appropriate, and his failure to join in on the blame game will probably make leftists as angry as the rightists who wanted him to denounce it.

  • “Expand our moral imaginations”? Are you kidding me? I think it better if we “diminish the diminutiveness of our fears”.

  • I concur: good speech, but it was a very improper tone for a ‘memorial.’ For instance, when the native American opener announced that he was Mexican on one side of his family there was loud cheering…

  • The speech was fine. The “memorial” felt like a pep rally. The “medicine man”, he is Carlos Gonzalez an associate professor of clinical medicine and an MD at the University of Arizona, with the eagle feather at the beginning giving a native blessing was surreal beyond belief.

  • Why not get Bishop Kicanas of Tucson for opening benediction? It’s not as if he’s busy running the USCCB. Both Judge Roll and Christina Green were Catholic, afterall, and none of the victims were Indians.

    Insane academic bias.

  • I don’t read the Corner, but the sensible criticism I’ve seen elsewhere hasn’t been for the speech itself, but for the circumstances surrounding it. As T. Shaw points out, if you’re going to give a “let’s all pull together and not place blame” speech, you do that as soon as the blaming starts. The president can get TV time anytime he wants; he didn’t have to wait for this. He kept mum for days while his minions in the press did a hatchet job on everything in sight that looked or smelled conservative, and now that they’ve all shouted themselves hoarse and been discredited anyway, he gets credit for calling for moderation (implying in the process that this was a problem of general “polarization,” and not entirely a one-sided attack)? Please.

    If he’d given the same speech right away — and called out some of the worst offenders in the process — that would have shown some real statesmanship. No, we shouldn’t expect that, because he’s not a statesman; he’s an orator and politico. He routinely uses “enemies” language in reference to conservatives because that’s what he believes. He’d never put Doing The Right Thing ahead of Gaining Political Advantage From The Situation. The Right Thing can wait until the political advantage has dried up.

    So, he did the right thing in the end, like a boy who gets caught hitting his sister but refuses to apologize until he’s had to go to bed without dessert for a few days and starts to realize maybe this isn’t working out that great after all, so he works up some sincerity and gets it over with. Maybe better than nothing, but not much. Do you give the boy a cookie?

  • I didn’t watch the memorial (not getting TV and all) but reading the speech it looks like it was exactly the right tone. Good to see Obama taking the high road.

  • Just saying . . . for five days . . .

    HE PREFERRED THEY TALKED 24/5 ABOUT THE WEREWOLF OF WASSALLA: They weren’t talking about gasoline/home heating oil prices rise (cap and trade would have made long term prices worse); Joblessness increases; wholesale food prices climb.

    “Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance rose by 35,000 last week to 445,000 (last week was also revised up by 1,000, so one could see it as a 36,000 increase). This was much worse than the expected level of 415,000.”

    “The number of Americans filing unemployment claims unexpectedly rose last week, the Labor Department said early Thursday.”

    The proportion of employed Americans is 64.3%, lowest since . . . Hey, reduce the denominator make it better.

    How’s that collective planning working out, Sparkie?

    No!! Wait!!!!

    Catho-tax-funder-abortion-promoter Sibelius’ own Kansas just became the 26th US state suing over ObamaCare.

    I would apologize to suffering Americans.

  • Someone wrote an effective speech that is overdue and Obama delivered it inappropriately in an inappropriate venue several days after he should have. This pagan pep rally billed as a memorial was not only in poor taste, but indicates the high level of irreverence and indifferentism that we engage in as a culture. Additionally, the comaprisons to Clinton’s post OK speech and Bush’s post 9/11 speech is specious – this was a crime committed by a mentally unstable, possibly possessed murderer – OK bombing and 9/11 were acts of terrorism. We are making a national tragedy out of a local crime becuase this is nothing other than propaganda and political theatre.

    As T. Shaw pointed out, Obama is still the single most prominent non-Chinese murderer in the world – who cares if a he delivered a ‘good’ speech? I doubt it matters to God. If not for all the Holy Sacrifices offered everyday and the predominantly Catholic pro-life movement His Wrath would have ended us long before the AZ murderer got off the first shot.

    Charity cannot be given in a compartmentalized manner. Kudos for a mediocre speech DO NOT trump the Charity we owe millions of murdered babies.

  • Better late than never, I say. He said what needed to be said, it’s on the record, and the public will move on to other concerns eventually.

  • Yes, the public will move on, people will congratulate Obama for posing as the peacemaker after doing nothing to call his attack dogs to heel, and the next time the left wants to slander the opposition over some tragedy, they’ll know they can get away with it again as long as their leader follows it with a non-apologetic call for reconciliation. Great.

  • Should we expect Presidents to make speeches when things like this happen?

    It sounds like a good speech.

  • It was a good speech. It was also the classic good cop/bad cop ploy with the left media playing bad cop and the O riding in as the good cop.

7 Responses to Giant Crabs: Just What the Economy Needs!

  • The big question is how much for one of those crab legs? Probably in the thousands.

  • I am praying they will genetically engineer gianter naugas. Then, the price of naugahyde would be more affordable.


  • What ? Giant Crabs ??

    That’ll send the STD clinics into a tailspin. 😉

  • Don,

    That was wrong. Just wrong. 🙂

  • Here’s a much older (1997) story from the Onion about the fading prospects for peace in the Middle West:,484/

    “In a follow-up to Monday’s attack, the Iowa-based group FIB is stepping up demands that Illinois withdraw all shoppers from the occupied Plaza Strip Mall.

    “Unless Illinois pulls out of the Plaza Strip, the violence will only escalate,” a press statement from the militant group read. “Illinoisans have shopped in the Plaza Strip territory for dozens of years, attracted to the lower sales tax here in Iowa. Meanwhile, they have driven countless Iowans from their rightful shopping grounds with their loud, rude, pushy, obnoxious ways. From now on, Illinoisans are not permitted in the Plaza Strip.”

    FIB is also demanding that control of disputed Mississippi River border settlements revert to the ethnic Scandinavians who occupy them, claiming squatters’ rights.

    Reacting angrily to the demands, (then-Illinois Gov.-elect George) Ryan renewed his hardline stance against tourism.

    “Our people have been subjected to increasingly hostile assaults from our neighbors to the west,” Ryan said. “They come into our territory with their minivans and portable barbecue grills and leave a trail of trash in their wake. For too long, we have placated these belligerent foreigners, offering them reduced admissions to our waterparks and ‘kids stay free’ deals at our hotels. From this day forward, the state of Illinois will not negotiate with tourists.”

  • The last line is priceless Elaine! Although often in dubious taste, I love the Onion!

  • And now we face the gravest threat yet to Midwest peace…. a Bears-Packers showdown for the NFC title!