It’s On: Jefferson v. Adams!

Wednesday, February 23, AD 2011

One of the more interesting aspects of the conflict between Jefferson and Adams is how little difference it made in the long run in American history, except, perhaps, for an early establishment of the two party tradition.  For all Jefferson’s partiality to France, when he was in office he steered a strictly neutral course.  The economic development of the country was little changed by the switch in parties in power.  The battles over internal developments that marked the conflicts between Democrats and Whigs, were matters for a later time when expansion and technological progress brought them to the fore.  The Alien and Sedition Acts which loom large in the below video:

involved less of principle and more of politics.  Jefferson, for example, was in favor of prosecutions of federalists under state sedition laws in states which his followers controlled. 

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5 Responses to It’s On: Jefferson v. Adams!

  • I found the way the movie portrayed the correspondance of Jefferson and Adams in their later years to be a moving portrayal.

  • Jefferson did not have sexual relations, or children with his slave, Sally Hemmings, so the jungle fever comment, in is very bad taste.

  • and the DNA link, is with the descendents of one of Hemmings children, not all of them. the DNA just proves that A Jefferson fathered that child, not Thomas Jefferson. THe birth of that child took place, when Thomas Jefferson was already old and sick, it has been said that it is more likely that Jefferson’s younger brother fathered that child.

  • Either Jefferson or one of his male relatives did father the children of Sally Hemmings. Certainly at the time his political enemies accused him of it. I am agnostic on the subject, although such liasons between male masters and female slaves were far from uncommon in the ante bellum South. As Mary Chesnut wife of a US Senator from South Carolina, prior to the Civil War, wrote in her diary:

    “This is only what I see: like the patriarchs of old, our men live all in one house with their wives & their concubines, & the Mulattos one sees in every family exactly resemble the white children-& every lady tells you who is the father of all the Mulatto children in everybody’s household, but those in her own, she seems to think drop from the clouds or pretends so to think-. “

  • Just to echo what Don said, we simply do not know and probably can never know whether or not Thomas Jefferson fathered children with Sally Hemmings. The circumstantial evidence suggests he could have, and the DNA evidence proves it’s either him or his cousin. Anybody who argues definitively in either direction simply lacks evidence to support their argument.

40 Responses to Wisconsin Public Unions Defy The People’s Will

  • I’m very skeptical that they receive more than $44K in benefits.

  • I am ashamed that a site claiming to be Catholic would engage in such blatant misdirection. The average teacher’s salary in Wisconsin is not $100K. The article cited correctly states that total compensation, which includes, pension, salary, health benefits and probably other benefits, is over $100K. The average teacher makes $56K.

    Yes, the correct information is in the article cited, but the statement made in the post is wrong as stated and requires the reader to follow up to get the truth. A Catholic web site should put a higher standard on truth.

    In general, I am more often than not discouraged by the fact that American Catholic in general seems to be more interested in blogging about economically conservative (even though faithful (not cafeteria) catholics in the USA can disagree on those ideas) topics and even football than they are about issues of real substance to American Catholics.

    RR: With respect to the $44K in benefits, I can easily believe that figure. The cost of health insurance, particularly the relatively generous health plans state workers get, will probably top $15K per year for a family plan. In similar fashion, a generous pension that kicks in at 55 means the average teacher will be collecting their pension for almost as long as they actually spent working (Figure someone who makes it to 55 has better than even odds of making it to 80). Add other benefits like life insurance, sick pay, vacation pay (Though most teachers only get a few days of that per year), disability coverage, etc. and I can well see the figure hitting $44K.

  • MarylandBill,

    I would imagine that the mistake you point out is the result of mis-reading rather than malice. Assuming the contrary does not appear to get anyone anywhere.

    That said, most people prefer not to have to accept salary or benefit cuts. I don’t see the teachers are necessarily a “selfish bunch” for trying to keep their total compensation package the same as it is now. However, given that the public probably does not want to increase taxes further, they’re clearly going to have to end up accepting some sort of cuts, whether it’s some teachers getting laid off or all taking a benefit decrease.

    That, or the cuts get pushed off onto some other budget item and teacher compensation remains the same while some other program gets cut.

  • Bill, if the State Gov’t didn’t pay for those items for the teachers, they’d need to pay the teachers more money so that they could afford those items. It’s not so much a “blatant misdirection” as a “understanding finances differently than you” type of thing.

    I also believe you, Bill, are missing out on a lot of posts if you think that these guys only post about football and economics.

  • Bill,

    Total compensation equates to everything the teachers receive.

    It’s interesting how you read into what I typed as malice.

    RR,

    100% of what you say is untrue.

    See, if I wanted to, I can make stuff up like you.

  • My wife worked for the diocese as a school teacher. Made 29K after being a teacher for 12 years. Health and dental benefits were minimal and required a huge contribution. NO retirement benefits. Also no union allowed. If it was social justice for the Church…

  • Phillip,

    Your wife will be rewarded in Heaven. She is an excellent example of selflessness and self-giving.

    Wisconsin teachers are the diametric opposite.

  • I wonder if vacation time is included as part of the benefits calculation. If so, then it’s easy to see how the average teacher would be getting more than $44k in benefits.

  • Tito,

    I’d tell her that but she might use it the next time she wants that trip to Florida. 🙂

    I like Jonah Goldberg’s take:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-goldberg-wisconsin-20110222,0,4678423.column

  • You can’t include unpaid vacation as part of total monetary compensation. If we did that, the unemployed are very well off.

    One of the biggest benefits of the union busting bill, IMO, is that it allows collective bargaining only for wages. That should result in less non-wage compensation. We’ll get a better idea of the total compensation.

    Tito, what did I make up?

  • Fire them all. Replace them with non-union teachers. Charge them with fraud and derilection of duty. Suspend the licenses of the doctors who gave them fake excuse slips. Use the videos and pictures as evidence. This must not be allowed to prevail.

  • RR,

    I don’t think I understand your point, or I think you may just be missing Tito’s (and mine) about teacher pay (and no, not maliciously):

    Let’s say a public school teacher works 200 days/year (including school-year holidays off and summer vacations)–I don’t know if that figure is too high, but let’s just use it for comparison’s sake. Then let’s take a private-sector employee who works 260 days/year (with the usual holidays off and two weeks paid vacation). if Jane teacher makes $56K in salary for those 200 days, while Joan private-sector employee makes $60K/year for her 260 days of work, then who gets the better salary, annual work time considered? That’s why many economic writers, when discussing salaries for teachers and professors, will perform a simple equivalency calculation to those in the private sector who receive far less time off. It doesn’t matter if one considers the summer vacation of teachers “paid time off” or “unpaid time off” if their salaries for their actual work time are considerably higher than those for the equivalent work time of private-sector employees.

    To all of the above, the usual caveats apply: no, not all teachers are so well-compensated, nor are all private employees badly compensated. And yes, for now I am a professor, although at a Catholic college whose pay rates for professors are 40% below the state average for public-college professors here in Texas. I only wish I made $56K/year plus generous benefits!

  • Some more perspective on public unions’ power. Again, contrary to CST? Probably.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703293204576105760131773034.html?mod=djemEditorialPage_h

  • You can’t include unpaid vacation as part of total monetary compensation.

    I don’t know whether summer vacation is included in the benefits calculation. But it seems reasonable to do something to take account of the fact that a teacher’s yearly salary represents pay for nine months work, as opposed to twelve months for most everyone else.

  • BA,

    I’m sure someone will rebut that it’s not a 9-month job, that there are many unpaid hours that go into teaching. Maybe so, but I think the unpaid hours vary by the commitment of the individual teacher. I think it’s entirely possible to do the bare minimum and keep the job.

  • From “On Human Work” regarding unions.

    “20. Importance of Unions

    All these rights, together with the need for the workers themselves to secure them, give rise to yet another right: the right of association, that is to form associations for the purpose of defending the vital interests of those employed in the various professions. These associations are called labour or trade unions. The vital interests of the workers are to a certain extent common for all of them; at the same time however each type of work, each profession, has its own specific character which should find a particular reflection in these organizations.

    In a sense, unions go back to the mediaeval guilds of artisans, insofar as those organizations brought together people belonging to the same craft and thus on the basis of their work. However, unions differ from the guilds on this essential point: the modern unions grew up from the struggle of the workers-workers in general but especially the industrial workers-to protect their just rights vis-a-vis the entrepreneurs and the owners of the means of production. Their task is to defend the existential interests of workers in all sectors in which their rights are concerned. The experience of history teaches that organizations of this type are an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrialized societies. Obviously, this does not mean that only industrial workers can set up associations of this type. Representatives of every profession can use them to ensure their own rights. Thus there are unions of agricultural workers and of white-collar workers; there are also employers’ associations. All, as has been said above, are further divided into groups or subgroups according to particular professional specializations.

    Catholic social teaching does not hold that unions are no more than a reflection of the “class” structure of society and that they are a mouthpiece for a class struggle which inevitably governs social life. They are indeed a mouthpiece for the struggle for social justice, for the just rights of working people in accordance with their individual professions. However, this struggle should be seen as a normal endeavour “for” the just good: in the present case, for the good which corresponds to the needs and merits of working people associated by profession; but it is not a struggle “against” others. Even if in controversial questions the struggle takes on a character of opposition towards others, this is because it aims at the good of social justice, not for the sake of “struggle” or in order to eliminate the opponent. It is characteristic of work that it first and foremost unites people. In this consists its social power: the power to build a community. In the final analysis, both those who work and those who manage the means of production or who own them must in some way be united in this community. In the light of this fundamental structure of all work-in the light of the fact that, in the final analysis, labour and capital are indispensable components of the process of production in any social system-it is clear that, even if it is because of their work needs that people unite to secure their rights, their union remains a constructive factor of social order and solidarity, and it is impossible to ignore it.

    Just efforts to secure the rights of workers who are united by the same profession should always take into account the limitations imposed by the general economic situation of the country. Union demands cannot be turned into a kind of group or class “egoism”, although they can and should also aim at correcting-with a view to the common good of the whole of society- everything defective in the system of ownership of the means of production or in the way these are managed. Social and socioeconomic life is certainly like a system of “connected vessels”, and every social activity directed towards safeguarding the rights of particular groups should adapt itself to this system.

    In this sense, union activity undoubtedly enters the field of politics, understood as prudent concern for the common good. However, the role of unions is not to “play politics” in the sense that the expression is commonly understood today. Unions do not have the character of political parties struggling for power; they should not be subjected to the decision of political parties or have too close links with them. In fact, in such a situation they easily lose contact with their specific role, which is to secure the just rights of workers within the £ramework of the common good of the whole of society; instead they become an instrument used for other purposes.

    Speaking of the protection of the just rights of workers according to their individual professions, we must of course always keep in mind that which determines the subjective character of work in each profession, but at the same time, indeed before all else, we must keep in mind that which conditions the specific dignity of the subject of the work. The activity of union organizations opens up many possibilities in this respect, including their efforts to instruct and educate the workers and to foster their selfeducation. Praise is due to the work of the schools, what are known as workers’ or people’s universities and the training programmes and courses which have developed and are still developing this field of activity. It is always to be hoped that, thanks to the work of their unions, workers will not only have more, but above all be more: in other words, that they will realize their humanity more fully in every respect.

    One method used by unions in pursuing the just rights of their members is the strike or work stoppage, as a kind of ultimatum to the competent bodies, especially the employers. This method is recognized by Catholic social teaching as legitimate in the proper conditions and within just limits. In this connection workers should be assured the right to strike, without being subjected to personal penal sanctions for taking part in a strike. While admitting that it is a legitimate means, we must at the same time emphasize that a strike remains, in a sense, an extreme means. It must not be abused; it must not be abused especially for “political” purposes. Furthermore it must never be forgotten that, when essential community services are in question, they must in every case be ensured, if necessary by means of appropriate legislation. Abuse of the strike weapon can lead to the paralysis of the whole of socioeconomic life, and this is contrary to the requirements of the common good of society, which also corresponds to the properly understood nature of work itself. “

  • My skepticism is directed only at the $100K+ figure. Maybe public school teachers are very well compensated per hour of work but that doesn’t mean you can extrapolate from high hourly income to high annual income.

  • I know where my sentiments lie on this issue. But with regard to the cartoon, why shouldn’t the state senators take every procedural step for their cause, even including “quorum-busting”?

  • Here are my emotions on the issue: I hated school and I hate taxes.

    Some times the achievements of government programs do not justify the expenses.

    Pinky: One, two can play that game; Two, elections and the consent of the governed matter. Pinkoes term that “dictatorship of the majority.”

  • In Milwaukee, the average TOTAL COMPENSATION package tops $100k.
    http://maciverinstitute.com/2010/03/average-mps-teacher-compensation-tops-100kyear/

    I’m sure someone will rebut that it’s not a 9-month job, that there are many unpaid hours that go into teaching.
    Sounds like a salaried position. This sort of thing abounds outside the realm of education. It’s not unique (and I don’t think you were asserting so) to teachers.

    My gut feeling is that teachers in WI don’t realize how well they have it comparatively. I see that in my own job (unionized engineers). Those that have not worked elsewhere don’t seem to realize that their benefits package is better than most.

  • Big Tex,

    No kidding. Their benefits package is better because they’re unionized. Don’t worry, though. Soon we’ll all be scraping by on $40,000, paying the majority of taxes, and our health costs will rise and rise. Fun times ahead!

    And then the richest 1% might get to own 30% of all actual wealth in the country!!

  • Actually WJ public employee unions did well because they hired their bosses through massive political donations and providing bodies for campaigns. Then the bosses paid back the unions through lucrative benefits packages and salaries, with the tab picked up by the taxpayers. It was a sweet deal for all concerned, except for the taxpayers. Now the money has run out and the public employee unions will soon be one with amalgamated buggy whip manufacturers. Of course, any members of the public employee unions who do not like the new economic reality are free to join the rest of us in the private sector!

  • Here is a link to a list of top political donors 1989-2010. It is astonishing that the Republicans are competitive politically in this country with the way the Democrats dominate big money donors, mostly, but not exclusively, labor unions, with most corporate donors giving similar amounts to Democrats and Republicans.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php

  • RR,

    “Total compensation” reflects the amount of money it takes to employ someone – and as these are government employees, that is how much of the taxpayer’s money it takes to keep one teacher on the job for a year: $100,000.00. It doesn’t mean the teacher takes all that home, but it is the total cost. The average total compensation of a private sector worker in the United States is about 40% less – it is absurd that any public sector worker should, on average, have a higher total compensation than the taxpayers who pay the bills.

    More important than the benefit package – that issue the Democrats are willing to surrender on – is the fact that Walker and the GOP are going for the liberal jugular – if unions cannot negotiate back room deals with politicians bought via campaign contributions, then the whole liberal power structure collapses. There is no public constituency for Big Government other than public sector unions…no one who will go to the mat for spending increases on other people. While a majority might, in theory, be in favor of, say, spending more money on government education, hardly anyone who doesn’t have a kid in school or employment with government will bestir themselves to ensure that such spending happens. So, too, with spending on the EPA, the Department of Energy, Commerce, etc…only those who are directly concerned with the government actions will organize and agitate for increased spending…taking the unions out of the equation means that there simply won’t be the “oomph” behind such efforts necessary…and that means that small government people will gain the whip hand in debates.

    This action, whether it was intended or not, is a new, American liberation…freeing us from the baleful and destructive hand of Big Government…and the unions who depend upon it know it, and will fight it tooth and nail with their Big Government allies among the Democrat and RINO parts of the Ruling Class.

  • Noonan, I’m aware what “total compensation” is, though some others seem to be confused. I’d love to see proof of this $100K figure. It’s possible but an average of $44K in benefits seems high so I’d like to see proof.

  • I really don’t know who to believe when it comes to the degree of public support, or opposition for Walker. On the one hand I can see where these protests and the Democratic legislators are doing more harm than good for their cause. On the other hand, there are still plenty of people out there who see unions as their best or last line of defense against the extinction of the middle class. I agree that the disproportionate power of public employee unions needs to be curbed, but Walker is taking a huge gamble here. He may succeed in breaking the union stranglehold on government, but it could still prove to be a Pyrrhic victory that costs the GOP far more goodwill than it gains.

  • there are still plenty of people out there who see unions as their best or last line of defense against the extinction of the middle class.

    Business proprietors are never union members and salaried employees very seldom are outside the public sector. How does one suppose that union membership will prevent the ‘extinction’ of a social stratum they never included? Given that only about 15% of wage earners in the private sector are members of unions, it is difficult to see how more than incremental modifications in income distribution are effected by union contracts.

    Unions in our time are first and foremost a crooked lobby for the interest of public employees as public employees.

  • RR,

    People in the video within this link (http://maciverinstitute.com/2010/03/average-mps-teacher-compensation-tops-100kyear/) plainly state it. They appear to be school board members of some government functionary… and not some sort of budget cutting crusader.

  • Perhaps I’m the only one who sees Americans protesting–expressing their concerns and making demands of their government–as a wonderful thing. It is a reminder that this country was founded on the principles of a representative government, so for Americans to finally stand up for their needs and make their voice heard speaks volumes about the system that we have inherited. I don’t care if it’s people protesting their second amendment right or their right to collective bargaining–it is indeed that something to embrace as citizens.

    That being said, I’m not a teacher nor a resident of Wisconsin, so for me to say that these teachers have enough money and have no reason to protest, would be overreaching. We have to be careful when we say to people “you have enough benefits–enough money to live on.” Last time I checked, that is what Hugo Chávez does all the time to our middle class back in Venezuela.

  • It took at lot of clicking through links but I think I got to the bottom of it. The $44K in benefits is arrived at by dividing total expenditure on benefits (including Social Security and Medicare) by the number of active teachers. It includes benefits for current retirees. It doesn’t include unfunded obligations. So there’s significant over and under inclusion. I couldn’t find which predominates.

  • Perhaps I’m the only one who sees Americans protesting–expressing their concerns and making demands of their government–as a wonderful thing.

    You mean the Tea Party? 🙂

  • “Last time I checked, that is what Hugo Chávez does all the time to our middle class back in Venezuela.”

    And what the teachers union is trying to do to the middle class in Wisconsin.

  • Actually, the claim that a group of people have enough money so we can tax them is quite a leftist thing.

  • Perhaps I’m the only one who sees Americans protesting–expressing their concerns and making demands of their government–as a wonderful thing.

    You’re not the only one.

    I think it’s great that what is happening in Wisconsin (just as long as it isn’t violent).

    What I don’t sympathize with is that, with benefits included, these teachers make on average $100,000/year, more than most Americans take in.

  • “How does one suppose that union membership will prevent the ‘extinction’ of a social stratum they never included? Given that only about 15% of wage earners in the private sector are members of unions..”

    I find it hard to believe that union membership “never included” the middle class. Union membership peaked at about 35 percent of the U.S. workforce during the postwar industrial boom of the late ’40s and early ’50s. I would guess that a lot of them were, or became, middle class, if you define middle class as being able to buy a home and at least one vehicle, being able to purchase TV sets and most major appliances, take vacations, etc. They couldn’t all have been dirt poor or filthy rich.

    According to Wikipedia, from 1953 to the late 1980s union membership in construction fell from 84% to 22%, manufacturing from 42% to 25%, mining from 65% to 15%, and transportation from 80% to 37%.

    The question is, was this decline in union membership seen as a good thing or a bad thing by the workers themselves? Is it something that workers were by and large happy to see — were they eager to rid themselves of oppressive union bosses — or is it merely something they have learned to live with as a result of globalization, NAFTA, and other forces beyond their control, but would prefer had not happened? How many people blame union greed for driving manufacturing and other industries out of their states or overseas, vs. how many blame corporate greed? And how many blame both?

    My guess is that among those who think unions, while prone to abuses, are basically a good thing; who attribute the relative prosperity of the WWII and Baby Boom generations to unionism; and who wish they could still enjoy the benefits of union membership, are not going to be easily convinced that public employee unions are THE enemy.

    Yes, they will grouse about public employees being overpaid, lazy, and leeching off the taxpayers, and they will agree that concessions need to be made. But when push comes to shove, if they are forced to choose sides, they will side with the unions. And I suspect that certain elements of the GOP may have seriously underestimated how much residual goodwill remains toward the labor movement, and how much the public regards corporate greed (accurately or not), not union greed, as the real enemy of prosperity.

    That is why I believe that the best approach to this issue is NOT to unnecessarily stir up class warfare and pit public employees against private ones but to emphasize that it is in EVERYONE’s interest, no matter who they work for, to have a government that lives within its means and does not make promises that can’t be kept.

    Speaking of which, I predict (you heard it here first) that regardless of the outcome in Wisconsin, Ohio, et. al., the next big battle over public employee benefits may be between competing factions of Democrats, right here in Illinois. Our Democratic governor recently proposed a budget that leaves public employee unions pretty much untouched — in fact ADDS more employees in some areas like prisons — but makes drastic cuts in many human service programs, in Medicaid payments to hospitals and nursing homes, etc. And this is even AFTER approving the infamous tax increase.

    Just wait till those factions start fighting over the crumbs of the budget. If every vendor, service provider, doctor, pharmacist, nursing home, etc. who had ever been stiffed by the State of Illinois decided to stage their own protest march on Springfield, it would probably dwarf the one in Madison!

  • Check out this statement by Bp. Robert Morlino of Madison concerning the labor situation:

    http://www.madisoncatholicherald.org/bishopscolumns/2083-20110224-column.html

    This is linked to also over at Fr. Z’s blog. (The note about the statement only being intended for distribution within the diocese doesn’t mean no one else is supposed to read it; it means that it is particularly addressed to Catholics of that diocese.)

  • Mr Talbot’s comments are ludicrous. Pope Pius the Tenth and Cardinal Mannig of England two of the most faithful resolute Catholics in many years SUPPORTED unions throughout their lives. It is sad so many arrogant Republicans from the General Jaruselski wing of the GOP such as Pence of Indiana, the fool govenor of Wisconsin and the late Ronald Reagan who had so much to say about Lech Walensa’s struggle to win benefits, bargaining rights, union reps. and wages are so much like General Jaruselski (Red Poland) when it comes to workers in this country. The Governor of Wisconsin is the height of Arrogance like Gen Jaruselski when he tries to use fiscal problems in Wisconsin to treat workers like the way Lech Walenska and the Solidarity union workers were treated by Red Poland., Pius the tenth and cardinal Manning fought their whole conservative lives against this while remaining true to the morals and faith of Catholicism. Manning (English Cardinal and Pope Pius the tenth urged people to form unions. ALL benefits such as the minimum wage, 40 hour work week, defined benefits pension, sick leave were given to workers by unions forcing bosses and their shills in the government(Poland, Wisconsin-USa etc.) to give this to all USA Americans and the Polish workers after Years of oppositions to every single one of these. Non union workers often almost NEVER have a 40 hour work week, pensions ,either Defined benefit or IRA, any kind of sick leave whatsoever, let alone senority or job security. Sad to say Mr. talbot is a sorry excuse for a Catholic and like the arrogant sorry excuse for a Wisconsin govenor never read the Catholic faith conservatives like Cardinal Manning and Pope Pius the tenth,& JP the second teaching- urgeing and supporting of Catholic to join unions. This is also why the very conservative pro life John Paul the second, openly and in monetary-secret terms supported Lech Walensa in Poland trying to achieve in Poland what the unions are defending against Jaruselski’s govenor clone in Wisconsin. Manning(Cardinal) and two Popes ,Pius the tenth and JP-2nd knew and preached that without unions collective barginning for wages-benfits you have Red, China, Poland etc. and NOT a free let alone a Christian Catholic society. Shame on Mr. Talbot for claiming his anti union jargon is even remotely Catholic, Cardinal Manning, and Pope John the second and Pius the tenth said and believed otherwise. Sincerely.Ed ,Pro Life, Pro family-Pro union for everybody from Poland to Wisconsin

  • It was Pope JP the second that should be the pope in my last paragraph of a previous post , Sincerely, Ed M. waterbury, Ct.

  • if you define middle class as being able to buy a home and at least one vehicle, being able to purchase TV sets and most major appliances, take vacations, etc. They couldn’t all have been dirt poor or filthy rich.

    I would not define ‘middle-class’ that way.

    About 65% of the population lives in owner-occupied housing. This figure has changed little in the last several decades. About 85% of the adult population own motor vehicles. Many of the remainder are college students and old folks who are unsafe behind the wheel. Television sets were (by 1970) found in 96% of American homes. Most of the remainder were accounted for by country people out of range of broadcast signals and by members of the intelligentsia. I doubt there are too many people younger than the two of us who remember apartments with shared kitchens. The last time I was in one was around about 1974.

    The foregoing improvements in consumption are attributable to improvements in productivity. Very little can be attributed to the re-distribution (from the salaried ranks to wage-earners and between strata of wage-earners) that accompanies the formation of labor cartels. The per capita income of the United States has trebled during the post war period. That is not going to magically evaporate if the extant unions are re-chartered as benevolent associations for the purchase of insurance and the provision of portable pensions.

    As for the ‘dirt poor’, a comfortable majority of the 20% or so whose personal income from other than public benefits lies below a statutory baseline are so because they are alienated from the workforce for a variety of reasons (age, disability, or learned helplessness). Unions are no help to them. As for the ‘filthy rich’, people with sufficient assets to live in modest comfort from a private income amount to about 4% of the population. Somehow, I do not see the strata which comprehend 3/4ths of the popuation evaporating and being redistributed to these other strata because the labor cartels which organize 15% of the workforce are dissolved.

“Carlos” (2010)

Tuesday, February 22, AD 2011

Carlos, the film, chronicles the life, and often-bungled operations, of infamous Venezualan terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez, aka. ‘Carlos the Jackal’ in service to various Marxist and Islamicist fronts (bankrolled by Syria, Libya and oh, yes — Iraq).

For one so fervently committed to “anti-imperialism”, the end of the Cold War must have been quite disillusioning. The toppling of the Berlin Wall and unification of Germany, the downfall of the Soviet Union, the implosion of the Socialist bloc, the mass revolt sweeping across Europe — the culmination of these events left the once proud, once feared, once notorious “Carlos the Jackal” a relic of ages past, now bereft of support and shelter. You almost feel sorry for the guy:

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7 Responses to “Carlos” (2010)

  • Zizek is popular amongst a certain subset of pomo theologians… I’ve never read him… what’s the attraction?

  • Chris — I wouldn’t know. I figured I’d pick up a book at some point to find out (see First Things‘ Joe Carter: “My Zizek Problem”) . . . inasmuch as he the subject of many a post on Vox Nova you could inquire over there. =)

  • You got me interested in renting this movie now, thanks!

    (I’m a movie buff, my vice–that and chocolate)

  • Thanks, Tito. Fair warning: there are a few incidents of brief frontal (male) nudity. Perhaps this is natural for French films? In the beginning, just after committing a terrorist act, Carlos is portrayed admiring himself in a mirror. As the years go by there are similar shots, perhaps to illustrate his age and physical decomposition. Carlos the man contrasted to Carlos the charismatic legend. Some sexual promiscuity (he is a lady’s man, after all) but not as bad as, say, The Tudors.

    Have you seen Munich?

  • I find it quite sad that anyone claiming to be a Catholic theologian would have anything but contempt and condemnation for a Marxist reprobate like Zizek.

    Want to know “what’s wrong with the Church these days?” Start there.

  • The Tudors.

    It’s sad that historic-era miniseries have to be saturated with graphic sex scenes such as Rome and Spartacus.

    Thanks for the warning, I’ll be gazing away eating my delicious Buncha Crunch during those scenes.

  • Yes I’ve seen Munich and I enjoyed and appreciated the film very much.

    I didn’t appreciate Spielberg’s attempt to make a moral equivalency between what the Mossad was doing to the assassins to the executing of innocent Israeli’s by said assassin’s.

    I have it in my Netflix queue!

Lincoln on Washington

Tuesday, February 22, AD 2011

Most lists of great American presidents have two names at the top:  George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  There is some debate as to which should be first.  If it were possible to ask Lincoln his opinion, I have little doubt how he would respond based upon the closing of a speech that he gave to the Washington Temperance Society in Springfield, Illinois on February 22, 1842:

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4 Responses to Lincoln on Washington

  • Interesting speech. Am I imagining things, or is it the Gettysburg Address?

  • No Pinky it is a fairly obscure speech that Lincoln gave to the Washington Temperance Society on February 22, 1842. The quoted section is at the tail end of the speech. Linked below is the entire speech:

    http://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/lincoln-and-demon-rum/

  • What I mean is that in that last paragraph you have the same structure as the Gettysburg Address.

    This is the one hundred and tenth anniversary of the birth-day of Washington. (four score and seven) We are met to celebrate this day. (we are met on a great battlefield) Washington is the mightiest name of earth — long since mightiest in the cause of civil liberty; still mightiest in moral reformation. On that name, an eulogy is expected. (fitting and proper) It cannot be. (but in a larger sense) To add brightness to the sun, or glory to the name of Washington, is alike impossible. (far above our poor power to add or detract) Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name, and in its naked deathless splendor, leave it shining on. (it is for us rather to be dedicated)

  • Brilliant Pinky! I hadn’t seen that at all!

Prayers for Christchurch, New Zealand

Tuesday, February 22, AD 2011

Christchurch was rocked yesterday by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake.  There have been fatalaties and substantial damage was done to that lovely city.

Christchurch residents were going about their daily business when a violent 6.3 earthquake shook their city on Tuesday 22nd February. The earthquake happened at lunchtime and by 10pm that night the death toll was confirmed at 65. Mayor Bob Parker has warned people that this figure will undoubtedly rise. Approximately 120 people have been pulled from the rubble and it is estimated that another 100 are still trapped.

Bob Parker has appealed to the public to conserve water. The earthquake has caused extensive damage to the waterways and sewerage system that were already crippled by the 4th September quake. At this time, water is only being pumped to the northwest of Christchurch and this is not at full strength. People have been asked not to shower or flush toilets unnecessarily. All drinking water must be boiled.

It is estimated that 80% of Christchurch has no power after the earthquake damaged electrical substations. Power and gas to the city centre have been cut to the CBD but in spite of this, a couple of fires have broken out.

I know readers of The American Catholic will be besieging Heaven with prayers for our brothers and sisters in Christchurch, as well as making contributions to the relief funds I am sure will be set up. 

An update from longtime commenter Don the Kiwi:

Even though this quake at 6.3 was not as strong as the last one in September last year which was 7.1, the epicentre was much closer to the city – only 10 kilometers as opposed to 40 km., and was much shallower – only 5 km. as opposed to 20. So the effect has much much stronger and more devestating. Most of the older building in the city have been flattened or damaged beyond repair, as many modern buildings have also. Many building which had been weakened from the last quake but still habitable, have now been totalled. The Christchurch Cathedral – Anglican – has lost its Gothic spire, and much of the building, although still standing, is considered a right-off.


The Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is of Byzantine style, but I have not heard how it has fared this time. I will e-mail my friend Steve Sparrow in Chch to get an update.

 

I also have 2 friends from Tauranga down there – they are building contractors, and have been down there for some months doing damage assessments on mainly residential homes. In the last quake, 90,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Now there are a few more. I heard of one person who just moved back into his renovated home 48 hour before this second quake – this time, he needs a new house.

 

I have e-mailed Don with a message from my friend in Chch – he is okay, but our Basilica appears to be history, along with the Anglican cathedral.

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10 Responses to Prayers for Christchurch, New Zealand

  • Just heard on the radio that the (Catholic?) Cathedral also came down is now a heap of rubble.

    I’ll look online for more information.

  • Both the Anglican and Catholic cathedrals have been damaged, not destroyed.

    But still a sad even all the way around.

    http://australiaincognita.blogspot.com/2011/02/another-earthquake-please-pray-for.html

    Dear Padre Pio please intercede for the safety of those that survived and for those that have perished.

  • Has anyone heard anything from frequent commenter Don the Kiwi since the quake? If my memory serves me, he’s from ChristChurch, or at least that metro area of the South Island! Prayers for you and your countrymen down under, Don! Let us know that you are well and how things are on-site!

    P.S. I spent almost a month in New Zealand back in 2007, and it’s by far the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited, apart from the U.S., which is its equal!

  • I won’t rest easy Kevin until we hear from Don. I pray that he is all right. He lives on the North Island in Tauranga. Christchurch is of course on the South Island.

  • Thanks for this post Don.
    I was going to e-mail you yesterday evening, but had to go out to a family bar bq, as my sister-in -law is returning to Argentina on Friday – my brother will follow in a couple of months. Also I had to go to Taupo first thing this morning, so was pleasantly surprised to see your post just now when I got home.

    Thank you Kevin in Texas.
    No, I’m not from Christchuch – about 600 mile away, and in the North Island – my home town is Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty. I have a couple of friends in Chch, and an elderly cousin. I will contact one of them to see how they are faring.

    Even though this quake at 6.3 was not as strong as the last one in September last year which was 7.1, the epicentre was much closer to the city – only 10 kilometers as opposed to 40 km., and was much shallower – only 5 km. as opposed to 20. So the effect has much much stronger and more devestating. Most of the older building in the city have been flattened or damaged beyond repair, as many modern buildings have also. Many building which had been weakened from the last quake but still habitable, have now been totalled. The Christchurch Cathedral – Anglican – has lost its Gothic spire, and much of the building, although still standing, is considered a right-off.
    The Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is of Byzantine style, but I have not heard how it has fared this time. I will e-mail my friend Steve Sparrow in Chch to get an update.

    I also have 2 friends from Tauranga down there – they are building contractors, and have been down there for some months doing damage assessments on mainly residential homes. In the last quake, 90,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Now there are a few more. I heard of one person who just moved back into his renovated home 48 hour before this second quake – this time, he needs a new house.

    Thanks for your prayers and good wishes. I’ll get back later.

  • Hi Don.

    I see we cross -posted. I’ll be checking the news shortly to get an update.
    BTW, I was considering going down to Chch to be an assessor, because they are earning very big bucks. But, to my wife’s displeasure, I decided to stay home; but I haven’t heard how my friends working there are either. I hope they weren’t crawling around under a houe, or inspecting a roof from the inside when the quake struck.

    I’ll find out this evening.

  • Great to hear from you Don! Thank you for the update!

  • Thanks for writing in, Don! Glad you and yours are well, and continued prayers for your countrymen down south. It’s amazing how much destruction a 7.1 quake can wreak on a city if its epicenter is close enough to it. Now I do recall that you were from up north way–near Paterson North, correct?

  • Hi Kevin in Texas.
    Palmerston North is about 400 km.(250 miles) south of where I am – still in the North Island but close to Wellington. Check your atlas. 😉

    I have e-mailed Don with a message from my friend in Chch – he is okay, but our Basilica appears to be history, along with the Anglican cathedral.

    The vieao linked shows a beatiful old anglican church, and one of the many beautilful old homes around Chch. The suburb of Brighton where it shows flooding is close to the coast and low lying – much of the flooding would have been liquefaction.

    The city is still experiencing severe aftershocks, and the bigest highest hotel in Chch has suffered structural damage, and will probably colapse bringing with it other nearby buildings. the CTV building near to it has had major collapse, and it is feared that many of the 300 people who work there have been killed.

    My friends who are doing assessment there are safe. One was actually inside a house inspecting a chimney, but the chimney stayed upright – he is pretty shaken though.

    Many countries are providing help. The Aussies landed a specialist team at first light this morning. The Americnas and British are sending specialist teams, as are one of our Arab trading partners, along with others in the Pacific rim. The response has been amazing.

    Even though Chch is our second largest city, there are only about 400,000 inhabitant population – one advantage in a situation like this I guess. Still, the human tragedy is not diminished by numbers. There are trajic as well as heroic stories coming out of this event as I type.

    Your prayers are appreciated. God bless you all.

  • Hi Don,

    Once again, glad to hear you and yours are safe and sound, but sad to see the increasing number of casualties there over the past two days. Prayers to you all, as always!

    Now I remember the reason for my geographical confusion about your location, Don–a while back here, you and I discussed the various NZ bishops and their levels of orthodoxy. You had mentioned the Bishop of Palmerston North specifically, so I must have associated you with living there, for some reason. Not sure how I ever associated you w/ Christchurch, but let’s chalk it up to genuine concern for a Catholic brother during a natural disaster in your part of the world! 🙂

Bernard Nathanson: Requiescant in Pace

Monday, February 21, AD 2011

One of the great strengths of the pro-life cause is its ability to make converts among its adversaries.  Bernard Nathanson was a prime example.  An obstetrician\gynecologist, Dr. Nathanson became an abortionist out of ideological committment to what he perceived as a necessary element in the liberation of women.  During his career as an abortionist, he took the lives of 75,000 unborn children.  One of them was his own child:   “In the mid-sixties I impregnated a woman… and I not only demanded that she terminate the pregnancy… but also coolly informed her that since I was one of the most skilled practitioners of the art, I myself would do the abortion. And I did.”  He was a founding member of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws. 

Unlike most of his colleagues in the abortion trade, Nathanson was not a marginally skilled doctor.  He was highly trained and kept up with medical developments.  When ultrasound came along in the seventies he began to use it and quickly reconized its worth in pre-natal examinations.  It also revealed to him something he had done his best to ignore:  the humanity of the unborn.

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Washington’s Second Inaugural Address

Monday, February 21, AD 2011

“Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion.” Pope Leo XIII

The video above from the magnificent John Adams series depicts the first inaugural of George Washington.  Washington for me is the standard by which all our other presidents are judged.  Without him of course, in all likelihood, there would be no United States as the American Revolution would have been lost without him to lead the starving, ragged Continentals to an against the odds victory.  In turbulent times he then led the nation for the first eight years under the new Constitution, setting the nation firmly on a course of prosperity, growth and expanding liberty.  A statesman like Washington comes to a people once every few centuries if they are fortunate, and we had him precisely when we needed a leader of his calibre most.

Would that our other presidents, with the exception of Lincoln, had possessed half of his ability to lead and his wisdom to chart a sound course.  I also wish that our other presidents had one of his minor traits:  brevity.  Here is his second inaugural address in its entirety:

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  • After Washington had won the war for Independence, King George III asked American artist Benjamin West what Washington planned to do. West said, “They say he will return to his farm.”

    King George said, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”

    Washington returned to his farm.

    “First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

    Our office was in the Wall street area from 2009 to 2010. I often walked by Federal Hall and the grand statue of the Father of Our Country.

Despicable

Sunday, February 20, AD 2011

 

Hattip to John at Powerline.  Anthony Maschek, pictured above with his fiancee, is a freshman at Columbia.  He decided to speak at a public meeting at Columbia University on bringing back ROTC to Columbia.  He spoke in favor of bringing back ROTC.  During his speech he was booed and laughed at by other students and taunted with cries of “Racist” which in libspeak I guess means now speaking in favor of ROTC.

Before he entered college, Mr. Maschek was an Army Staff Sergeant serving in Iraq.  He was seriously wounded, suffering 11 gunshot wounds.  He spent two years in a hospital recovering.  Those who jeered at Mr. Maschek, an American hero, are the living embodiment of something written long ago:

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  • Thanks for sharing that. How sad it is. In an ideal world, one we won’t see this side of Judgment, there would be no need for soldiers. We don’t live in that world. We live in the valley of tears and although our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities of this present darkness; sometimes those invisible forces employ flesh and blood in their prowling to ruin souls and that often demands a violent response. In peace we must prepare for war, not as in jingoism, but in preparation for the inevitable.

    Those who jeer at the fine men and women who defend us are deplorable. I disagree with many of the missions (adventures) we have sent our military on, especially since the Korean War. I also dislike the bungling of the prosecution of those ‘wars’, which often only benefit those who finance wars; however, none of that is a reflection on why the men and women we send into battle do what they do.

    We should either keep our mouths shut, or thank them for their sacrifice. Additionally, for those who aren’t or haven’t served in our armed forces, please know that the families and friends of our fine soldiers, sailors, marines and yes, airmen too, sacrifice a great deal as well.

  • Thank you very much for your service Anthony Maschek. To hell with those who booed him, spoiled little brats.

  • My son would know what to do. He would (as Mr. Maschek) quietly shake his head and contemplate the price for “free speech.”

    Me: I don’t think so.

    “Greet them ever with grateful hearts.”

  • AK, I agree with you. I don’t like some of the misadventures our military has been sent to, but to jeer at our men in uniform, such as Sgt Maschek, is wrong. What if we need our armed services for a legitmate threat? Can a demoralized army fight as well as one that is booed and hissed? I don’t even have to answer that one!

  • I was young once, but never this stupid and never this mean. My children are more naive than I was (the result of comfortable affluence), but they are well-grounded enough to know how much they have yet to learn and experience. I can forgive naivity, but meanness grounded in unearned self-righteousness not so much. Their behavior is evil.

  • Did this article portray an example of how thoughtful people who don’t suipport the war support the troops? I did not think so either.

  • As a former Marine and veteran of the first Gulf War, I would like to thank Staff Sergeant Maschek for his service. I would also like to thank him for his courage in standing up in front of a roomful of people that he no doubt knew held views that were in strong opposition to his own. Never lose that courage Staff Sergeant, it will serve you well.

Well, I Certainly Think This Example of Lying is Immoral!

Sunday, February 20, AD 2011

The Catholic blogosphere has been debating the morality of the Lila Rose sting operation against Worse Than Murder, Inc. a\k\a Planned Parenthood, with a diverse crop of conclusions ranging from Mark Shea and our own Joe Hargrave who are opposed to this as an example of lying to be condemned, to Dr. Peter Kreeft and myself who find absolutely nothing wrong with it.  This of course obscures the fact that most Catholics understand that deceit in most circumstances is to be condemned.

Now, in one of those examples of synchronicity regarding events which help establish to me that God has an infinite sense of humor, we have an example of lying that I think all Catholics would condemn.  Teachers have taken the lead in the protests against the public employees union legislation proposed by Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.  Thousands of teachers have called in sick to attend the rallies.  Doctors, as shown in the video above, have been passing out certificates to teachers, falsely indicating that they have examined the recipient of the certificate and that the teacher is ill.  To me lying to save innocent human life is one thing, lying to allow an employee to avoid work is quite another, even if one might be sympathetic to the employee on political grounds.

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18 Responses to Well, I Certainly Think This Example of Lying is Immoral!

  • Yes, exactly.

    I am sure that Mark Shea and the girls at Vox Nova who worked themselves up into enough lather to clean a battlefield tank with their 5,000 word posts on Lila Rose will rush to condemn this act of clear medical fraud by Wisconsin liberals.

  • I dunno — are those fellow really physicians, or are they SEIU hands who have stolen some white coats from their employers?

    Of your logic and kindness do remember that only 15 states permit teachers to bargain collectively.

    As for me, I am definitely for that famous “poor ol’ workin’ man” (when he’s working), and opposed to unions period. It will be a cold day in Buna, Texas when I walk out on my students.

  • Donald,

    Yes, if the protesters are not sick, getting sick notes like that are wrong. They should just protest without trying to get such notes. And just as I have said that Lila Rose can be doing good and still sinning at the same time, the same would apply here.

    And I’ve said this long before the current debate came up:

    http://vox-nova.com/2009/07/01/so-one-can-commit-intrinsic-evils-in-war/

  • Well, that horrible leaching-off-the-mainstream-media blogosphere seems to be the only place where they tried to get some evidence– Gateway Pundit has video and links to copies of the notes.

    It appears they have license numbers, so it’s fraud either way– misrepresentation as a medical doctor, or aiding in work-fraud.

  • It’s a never ending debate if Jerome and Aquinas were at odds about dissimulation:

    Jerome, in his commentary on Galatians 2:11, “The example of Jehu, king of Israel, who slew the priest of Baal, pretending that he desired to worship idols, should teach us that dissimulation is useful and sometimes to be employed”.

    Aquinas counters in the ST:
    There is no need to excuse Jehu’s dissimulation from sin or lie, because he was a wicked man, since he departed not from the idolatry of Jeroboam (2 Kings 10:29-31).

    But Aquinas allowed ambush in war and ambush is dissimulation…..you by omission are not announcing your whereabouts in order that you can attack from those whereabouts. You have lied about the safety of the location thru omission.

    Jerome wins.
    Judith is the more outstanding example. In chapter 12 of that book she lies repeatedly to Holofernes til she gets the opportunity to behead him in his tent in defense of her people who Holofernes intended to slaughter. What example is better vis a vis abortion and in Judith 16:5, Scripture praises her: ” But the Lord Almighty thwarted them, by a woman’s hand He confounded them.”

  • Don, you linked to Opus! Oh what memories. Funny how some things are forgotten. I don’t consider myself a comic strip type person, but there were two strips I enjoyed. I liked Bloom County though didn’t really lose any sleep when it was stopped. The other is what I would consider probably the best/funniest/most consistent humor ever published, The Far Side. The loss of that still stings. Fortunately, it was so good you can read the collection books and still get great laughs. 🙂

  • RL I loved Bloom County and I think Opus and his misadventures in life were screamingly funny. I read the strip at the time and I have collections of most of them. I like my comedy topical and take no prisoners on all sides and Bloom County had those qualities in abundance.

  • Frequent commenter DonnaV has an interesting report at Ace of Spades reguarding citizen reaction to the union protests behind the Cheddar Curtain.

    “Today after work, I went grocery shopping and ran a few other errands near a busy intersection in Shorewood WI. Shorewood is a well-to-do, lily white and generally very liberal suburb of Milwaukee.
    There was a small band of high school students, in obviously high spirits because of their extra long weekend, jumping around and waving signs saying “Support Worker Rights.” They were accompanied by a few older people, teachers I assume, holding similar signs.

    This is what struck me: it was rush hour, plenty of cars were going past and during the course of 15 or 20 minutes or so, I didn’t hear one single honk of support from any passing cars. This is a ‘burb where there is no shortage of Volvos with Obama/Biden and “Co-Exist” bumper stickers. I remember the anti-war rallies during the Bush years. The honks and cheers of support and encouragement the “Bush = Hitler” protesters got were constant. “Walker = Hitler” doesn’t seem to be going over nearly as well.The silence of the rush hour crowd was very noticable.

    I don’t blame the kids for being clueless because they are kids, but their elders are another matter. Did any of those bozos pause to consider that even a wussy Volvo-driving Obama voter, driving home after a long, hard work week, might have glanced at those signs and thought “Worker rights? Hey, I’m a worker too – been busting my butt all week. Had to scramble to find sitters for the kids today and it made me late for work. Nobody will stand on the corner waving signs if I get laid off, or take a pay cut. Screw these people.”

    Some otherwise pretty apolitical friends were furious at having to take two days off to watch their kids. They’ve become big Scott Walker fans. Keep making friends and influencing people, lefties, it’s working so well!

    Really, if pro-union protesters can’t attract a bunch of cheering, honking libtard supporters in libtard Shorewood of all places, you know Walker’s winning this one.”
    http://minx.cc/?post=312277

  • “This is a ‘burb where there is no shortage of Volvos with Obama/Biden and “Co-Exist” bumper stickers.”

    LOL. I think I’m the one of few conservative Volvo drivers out there. I have a ‘GoArmy.com’ bumper sticker….

  • “…Lila Rose can be doing good and still sinning at the same time, the same would apply here.”

    Or the union can be acting contra the common good and lying to help accomplish it.

  • I say fire them all Monday. Hire new, pass a law to never allow union representation for state workers of any kind. I have not only NO sympathy for the union thugs, but antipathy and animosity. Maybe they would appreciate their jobs more if they were able to taste the “benefits” of left-wing economics the way the construction industry has had to. Screw them.

  • Is “Abortion is health care” an statement wherein lying is immoral?

    Meanwhile, the Obama regime is quietly removing legal safeguards protecting Catholic health care workers from committing “health care” acts they undertstand to be murder.

    In accordance with today’s Gospel, I’m loving liberals (America’s/my worst enemies) and praying for the (Fatima) conversion of Obama.

  • I think Kreeft’s article won me over. But I’m not sure how to reconcile what he says with the Catechism.

    Is it double effect?

  • Those who lie to save innocent lives or avert imminent, great evil, I am guessing that in MOST cases, they are simply doing the best they can and not acting out of malice. Whether they are subjectively guilty of sin would be questionable. We can debate the morality of lying to save lives all we want, but who among us really knows what he or she would do in a life or death situation. We are, after all, all sinners in need of God’s mercy.

    It’s one thing to cut some slack to people who commit a sinful act out of desperation or out of ignorance of any alternative; it’s another thing entirely to decide that such acts are good or justified as a matter of policy, or in response to far lesser evils.

  • In reference to the Catechism Zach, what I would like to know is why 2483 was modified in 1997:

    “To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead into error someone who has the right to know the truth.”

    This sentence will be modified to read:

    To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error.”

    That is a fairly major change. Was the catechism in error in 1994 with the original language or was it in error in 1997? Catechisms not infrequently have fairly significant changes along the edges of Church teaching as new ones come out and old ones gather dust on shelves. How they are constructed and why would be fascinating to learn. However, the laity usually are not privy to the internal debates that go on behind the scenes in regard to the precise language used in catechisms of the Church.

  • Then of course we have 2488:

    “2488 The right to the communication of the truth is not unconditional. Everyone must conform his life to the Gospel precept of fraternal love. This requires us in concrete situations to judge whether or not it is appropriate to reveal the truth to someone who asks for it.”

    I think 2488 is simple to reconcile with original 2483, harder to do with modified 2483. The fraternal love aspect of 2488 is significant I think. What if fraternal love requires deception? I can think of many instances where that would come into play. Additionally we have the additional factor of coercion of the will. Is someone entitled to the truth who literally puts a gun to your head in order to harm third parties? This robs you of your ability to simply refuse to answer and walk away. What then? This was of course precisely the dilemma facing the Church during World War II in its efforts to protect Jews and other innocent victims of the Nazis.

  • 2488 is underlined by 2489:

    “2489 Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication. The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a discreet language. The duty to avoid scandal often commands strict discretion. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it.”

    Note the “good and safety of others.” If our right to remain silent is taken away by force majeure, and this right is essential for the “good and safety of others”, what then?

    Then we have 2491:

    “2491 Professional secrets – for example, those of political office holders, soldiers, physicians, and lawyers – or confidential information given under the seal of secrecy must be kept, save in exceptional cases where keeping the secret is bound to cause very grave harm to the one who confided it, to the one who received it or to a third party, and where the very grave harm can be avoided only by divulging the truth. Even if not confided under the seal of secrecy, private information prejudicial to another is not to be divulged without a grave and proportionate reason.”

    Of course in regard to soldiers, which I assume is shorthand for the military, elaborate deception schemes are usually engaged in to protect military movements, etc.

  • In reference to the Catechism Zach, what I would like to know is why 2483 was modified in 1997

    There is a law professor at Notre Dame, Bob Blakey, who spends the first class of every year trying to see what horrible things he can get his students to agree to do to further the greater good (he starts with white lies, then gradually works his way up to having people boil infants alive). When the original Catechism came out, Bob Blakey noted the “right to the truth” restriction, and cited it against a student who was arguing lying was always wrong. As it happened, one of the other students in the class was the daughter of the philosopher and theologian John Finnis. She told her Dad, who informed the Vatican that the phrasing of section 2483 was contrary to more than 1500 years of Church teaching on the matter, and so it was altered.

    This is according to Prof. Blakey.

Citizen Genet: The Undiplomatic Diplomat

Sunday, February 20, AD 2011

The French Revolution was an early foreign policy crisis for the Washington administration.  Jefferson and his followers were enthralled by the French Revolution, viewing it as the culmination of what they had started in the American Revolution.  Federalists, including Washington, were appalled by the atrocities committed by the French revolutionaries.  More than that, Washington feared that America, due to the enthusiasm of many Americans for the French Revolution, was at risk of being drawn into a war against Great Britain on the side of France.

In the Spring of 1793 Edmond-Charles Genet arrived in America.  The ambassador of the French revolutionary regime, he insisted on being known as Citizen Genet rather than Ambassador Genet.  Genet’s mission to America was to enlist American privateers to wage war upon the British.  President Washington quickly told him that this was in violation of American neutrality and denounced all attempts by Genet to drag America into the war between Britain and France.  Genet’s attempts to ignore Washington alarmed Jefferson, who, as Secretary of State, had a meeting with Genet that degenerated into a screaming match.  Washington was furious at the behavior of Genet.

The American government formally requested his recall.  Genet received a letter of rebuke from his government:

“Dazzled by a false popularity you have estranged the only man who should be the spokesman for you of the American people. It is not through the effervescence of an indiscreet zeal that one may succeed with a cold and calculating people.”

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The Battle of Wisconsin, Part II: Abp. Listecki Weighs In

Saturday, February 19, AD 2011

In response to continuing protests against (and some in favor of) Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to severely restrict public employee bargaining rights, Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee issued the following  statement on Feb. 16:

The Church is well aware that difficult economic times call for hard choices and financial responsibility to further the common good.  Our own dioceses and parishes have not been immune to the effects of the current economic difficulties.  But hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers.  As Pope Benedict wrote in his 2009 encyclical, Caritas in veritate:

Governments, for reasons of economic utility, often limit the freedom or the negotiating capacity of labor unions.  Hence traditional networks of solidarity have more and more obstacles to overcome.  The repeated calls issued within the Church’s social doctrine, beginning with Rerum Novarum [60], for the promotion of workers’ associations that can defend their rights must therefore be honored today even more than in the past, as a prompt and far-sighted response to the urgent need for new forms of cooperation at the international level, as well as the local level. [#25]

It does not follow from this that every claim made by workers or their representatives is valid.  Every union, like every other economic actor, is called to work for the common good, to make sacrifices when required, and to adjust to new economic realities.

However, it is equally a mistake to marginalize or dismiss unions as impediments to economic growth.  As Pope John Paul II wrote in 1981, “[a] union remains a constructive factor of social order and solidarity, and it is impossible to ignore it.”  (Laborem exercens #20, emphasis in original)

It is especially in times of crisis that “new forms of cooperation” and open communication become essential.  We request that lawmakers carefully consider the implications of this proposal and evaluate it in terms of its impact on the common good.  We also appeal to everyone –lawmakers, citizens, workers, and labor unions – to move beyond divisive words and actions and work together, so that Wisconsin can recover in a humane way from the current fiscal crisis.

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16 Responses to The Battle of Wisconsin, Part II: Abp. Listecki Weighs In

  • I’m surprised at the extent the arguments of the contributors at Catholic Vote are taken seriously in this case. Archbishop Listecki’s statements was released specifically in the context of Governor Walker’s attempt to bust the public employee unions that didn’t endorse his bid for governor. This wasn’t a May Day statement. This wasn’t an idle musing. What Catholic Vote has attempted to do is strip Listecki’s statement of its context to make exactly the opposite point of what he was making. Listecki is clearly answering in the affirmative on the rights of public workers to organize.

  • Although the Church has been supportive of unions in theory since the papacy of Leo XIII, in practice the Church has been rather hostile to unions when the Church is the employer. Here is a link to an article on the Church and teacher labor unions in this country in 1976. The report has a strong pro-union bias, but the history it relates is accurate enough. Things tend to look different when one is the employer.

    http://fct153.org/About%20Us/first%20Isenberg.pdf

    The bishop’s statement seems anodyne enough, that I would find it hard to think of anyone who could not endorse it. That is the strength and weakness of reasonable statements, and this one is very reasonable.

  • Listecki’s statement doesn’t take a position on the bill one way or the other.

  • But hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers. … However, it is equally a mistake to marginalize or dismiss unions as impediments to economic growth.
    I’m not seeing any ambiguity there especially given the specific context in which this statement was made.

  • On the other hand:

    “It does not follow from this that every claim made by workers or their representatives is valid. Every union, like every other economic actor, is called to work for the common good, to make sacrifices when required, and to adjust to new economic realities.”

  • You seem to be confusing hands. Collective bargaining being a right and making reasonable demands while bargaining are the same side of a single argument.

  • There are occasions, doubtless, when it is fitting that the law should intervene to prevent certain associations, as when men join together for purposes which are evidently bad, unlawful, or dangerous to the State. In such cases, public authority may justly forbid the formation of such associations, and may dissolve them if they already exist. But every precaution should be taken not to violate the rights of individuals and not to impose unreasonable regulations under pretense of public benefit. For laws only bind when they are in accordance with right reason, and, hence, with the eternal law of God.

    Rerum Novarum 52

  • I’m not saying public employee unions ought to all be abolished immediately — even if they never “should have” existed in the first place. As I said in another post, it took 50 years for public unions to get to this point, we can’t expect to undo it all in 5 days or even 5 months. Nor should we get too carried away with the “all unions are evil and must be destroyed” theme being pushed by some (not all) conservatives.

    What I am saying is that it isn’t necessarily heretical or contrary to Catholic teaching to believe that Catholic social doctrine may not apply the same way to public employee unions as to private employee unions.

  • I am not in a position to judge the facts. So, I will refrain from detraction against anybody.

    Gov. Walker may be trying to balance the state budget; or he may busting public employee unions and denying them the right to collective bargaining because they supported his opponent who I BET promised them free access to the state treasury.

    Let’s take a look at the facts. How novel!

    From Instapundit and John Fund in today’s WSJ:

    “Labor historian Fred Siegel offers further reasons why unions are manning the barricades. Mr. Walker would require that public-employee unions be recertified annually by a majority vote of all their members, not merely by a majority of those that choose to cast ballots. In addition, he would end the government’s practice of automatically deducting union dues from employee paychecks. For Wisconsin teachers, union dues total between $700 and $1,000 a year.

    Fund: “’Ending dues deductions breaks the political cycle in which government collects dues, gives them to the unions, who then use the dues to back their favorite candidates and also lobby for bigger government and more pay and benefits,” Mr. Siegel told me. After New York City’s Transport Workers Union lost the right to automatic dues collection in 2007 following an illegal strike, its income fell by more than 35% as many members stopped ponying up.'”

  • “After New York City’s Transport Workers Union lost the right to automatic dues collection in 2007 following an illegal strike, its income fell by more than 35% as many members stopped ponying up.’”

    So perhaps they didn’t want to be members. So is being coerced to join a union against CST. I suspect yes.

  • MZ,

    The statement isn’t pro-Walker, clearly. But all he says is that people should consider the bill’s implications and the common good. Compare that with, say, the USCCB’s statements on OmbaaCare. Bishops are capable of saying outright that a bill should be rejected when they want to. That this wasn’t done here is telling.

  • Well, if anyone is interested in what I think, here it is:

    Leo XIII was talking about organizations that look absolutely nothing like the left-wing, pro-abortion, communist-ridden, Mafia-infested rackets that call themselves labor unions today.

    “57. To sum up, then, We may lay it down as a general and lasting law that working men’s associations should be so organized and governed as to furnish the best and most suitable means for attaining what is aimed at, that is to say, for helping each individual member to better his condition to the utmost in body, soul, and property. It is clear that they must pay special and chief attention to the duties of religion and morality, and that social betterment should have this chiefly in view; otherwise they would lose wholly their special character, and end by becoming little better than those societies which take no account whatever of religion. What advantage can it be to a working man to obtain by means of a society material well-being, if he endangers his soul for lack of spiritual food? “What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?”(39)This, as our Lord teaches, is the mark or character that distinguishes the Christian from the heathen. “After all these things do the heathen seek . . . Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His justice: and all these things shall be added unto you.”(40) [NOTE Leo’s total rejection of materialism, which is what every modern left-wing union is entirely about – J.H.] Let our associations, then, look first and before all things to God; let religious instruction have therein the foremost place, each one being carefully taught what is his duty to God, what he has to believe, what to hope for, and how he is to work out his salvation; and let all be warned and strengthened with special care against wrong principles and false teaching. Let the working man be urged and led to the worship of God, to the earnest practice of religion, and, among other things, to the keeping holy of Sundays and holy days. Let him learn to reverence and love holy Church, the common Mother of us all; and hence to obey the precepts of the Church, and to frequent the sacraments, since they are the means ordained by God for obtaining forgiveness of sin and for leading a holy life.”

    I mean, today’s unions couldn’t be further from this. And I think that means that they really have no inherent right to exist, public or private. Not only do these modern unions pay no attention to religion, which would be bad enough, but they positively work against it. They support every left-wing cause, including abortion, they totally oppose home-schooling and work against it (totally violating basic Church teaching on the absolute right of parents to educate their children), and they are overrun with the sort of revolutionary troublemakers that Leo XIII denounces in the same encyclical.

    So who can make a serious case for any union like that?

  • I agree with everyone who feels that public employee unions should not exist at all. The fact that they do exist is disturbing to me. Unions are supposed to protect people from greedy corporations, but public employees work for us, the voters and the taxpayers. They are public servants, but they act like whiny brats instead.

    What if we let the military unionize and allow them to turn into spoiled brats like the teachers unions. Whos gonna tell them that theres no more money?? Next thing you know we have a coup or civil war. This isn’t Glenn beck crazy talk either.

    The communist movement has always been strong in the US, because of all the wealth and greed. Its seat of power is university campuses and things like public employee unions.

  • I think Joe has hit the nail on the head. The unions that we have here in the US look NOTHING like the unions of old or what I believe the Popes were writing about. They are godless (except for whining about “social justice” which is code for government programs), corrupt, greedy and actually do a disservice to the people they pretend to represent. I can think of no better example than the NEA which portends to be “for the children”, but in reality are all about foisting their liberal economic and educational agenda down America’s throat. Check out the pay and benefits for the school administrators in WI.

    Wisconsin public school employee pay for the 2009-2010 school year

    http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/dataondemand/33534649.html?appSession=921282396628347

    I also agree with “Cupofwrath” above regarding public sector unions (with the exception of fire & police) I don’t think they should exist. I am retired military and suffered through the Carter years. Inflation was running at 20% and we were getting COLA raises of 3%. We had no union – our elected representatives were (and remain) our spokesmen. If you didn’t like it you had two choices – lump it or get out and seek other work. At the time I was about 1/3rd the way towards eligibility for retirement so I had a hard decision to make. I actually started filling out the paperwork for an early release and started looking for jobs in the civilian sector. Reagan announced his candidacy and I decided to wait it out. I was glad I did.

    As far as the private sector goes I like the idea of worker ownership as opposed to unions (distributism) but that will have to develop on a case by case basis as more and more business owners learn about it and embrace it. I do NOT think the wealth should be forcefully redistributed which is what many accuse of distributism. The best example I can give of how this would take place is the story of Jack Stack and the company SRC which has been covered by PBS. They bought a failing division of International Harvester which was going to be closed to save their own jobs and turned it into a successful employee owned company that has not only thrived but spun off several other successful companies – most are managed by former hourly employees.

    Making Use of Employees’ Talents

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/businessdesk/2010/04/making-use-of-employees-talent.html

    The Bishops words are spot on:

    “It is especially in times of crisis that “new forms of cooperation” and open communication become essential. We request that lawmakers carefully consider the implications of this proposal and evaluate it in terms of its impact on the common good. We also appeal to everyone –lawmakers, citizens, workers, and labor unions – to move beyond divisive words and actions and work together, so that Wisconsin can recover in a humane way from the current fiscal crisis.”

    He provided the “what” – and “why” – it’s up to the workers and taxpayers & their representatives to figure out “how” to solve this mess. Right now it’s a circus.

  • CST also teaches against Unions protecting their privileges and acting against the common good. Its fair to ask if teacher unions, especially now in Wisconsin, are doing this.

  • Unions are supposed to be a negative check against excessive greed for private corporations as opposed to legitimate profit-seeking as a return on deployed capital and compensation for risk. Unions are not supposed to be designed to be a benefit for the members over and against the genuine corporate mission of providing goods and/or services to the consumer, while fairly compensating the factors of production at all levels (labor, management, investor alike).

    Since the government employees are charged with a corporate mission of serving the common good through government who are they organizing against? Government does not seek profit, unless fraud is involved, in which case it is an issue of the justice of the courts and law enforcement, which does not involve unions (labor). Government does not risk capital, it appropriates capital in order to foster a regular market, courts and the general benefit of all citizens of the jurisdiction. Such ‘services’ are limited in nature such as police, fire, courts, emergency, care for the genuinely disadvantaged (mentally and physically handicapped in certain circumstances to be determined by the representatives of the people), etc.

    People who choose to offer themselves in such service for the common good deserve a fair compensation; however, remuneration is not supposed to be the principle motive of people that provide services for the benefit of all and in such a manner that no one has a choice as to whether to acquire or pay for the service. One hopes to never need the direct service of the police or firemen, yet we all have to pay for it because anyone of us could need their help at any time. Private services are paid for directly and one can choose to acquire such services or not. It is beneficial to have a personal trainer, but it is not a common good, so the free market provides it for those who desire it and the consumer pays for it directly.

    The issue in WI is about teachers and education is a common good; however, it is one that is being provided privately and more cost-effectively and with better results than the government schools. Private police and fire have proven to be a disaster in the past and are never likely to work in the future. Yet, one can choose to supplement them with alarm monitoring companies, private security, fire prevention tools, private detectives, etc. It seems that the teachers in WI are seeking to secure privileges at the expense of all the citizens of WI with no regard for their principle duty as educators of children. Since the poor quality of government eduction can be had at higher quality privately and for less cost, it seems that this particular union is about using the force of government not for the common good, but rather to secure the privileges of small minority of so-called teachers.

    This is evident by their tactics and outside agitators including union interests, the presidents campaign arm, lying physicians providing legitimacy for an illegitimate strike, etc. As these teachers scream that they are doing it for the children they are using the children, literally by dragging them to the ‘protest’. What does this cost the common good of WI, when parents who expected their children to be at school have to take off from work or pay for other arrangements? What is this doing to the general economy of WI? Is it fair or even legal for the representatives of the people to flee to another state, not doing their jobs for the common good of WI?

    All that is being asked of these teachers is to add 5.6% to their own savings and pay a little over 12% toward their medical insurance all the while the state of WI is out of money!!!!! How is this an unreasonable request? In what way does CST endorse this self-aggrandizement?

    All the teachers should be fired for this illegal and selfish activity. there are over 15 million Americans without jobs. Could these unemployed become teachers? Can an out of work engineer teach math or physics, can a chemist without a job teach chemistry or ‘earth science’? Can an unemployed poet teach English (Ok, maybe that is a stretch but you get the idea)?

    We can twist and turn CST to mean anything we want, but these ‘protesters’ aren’t engaged in anything just by any stretch of the imagination. I think Walker hasn’t gone far enough and he should be lauded for his restraint.

Charlemagne

Saturday, February 19, AD 2011

 

Something for the weekend.  Charlemagne by the endlessly talented folks at music for history lovers, sung to the tune of Call Me by Blondie.

Charles the Great.  He found the crown of the Roman emperors lying in the gutter of time, and by his efforts, against the odds, restored, in alliance with the popes, a Western Empire.  Charlemagne laid the foundation that allowed Catholic Europe to survive the siege by Islam and to ultimately defeat the Vikings through conversion.  In his reign Western Europe began waking from the long night described by Chesterton:

For the end of the world was long ago,
When the ends of the world waxed free,
When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves,
And the sun drowned in the sea.

When Caesar’s sun fell out of the sky
And whoso hearkened right
Could only hear the plunging
Of the nations in the night.

When the ends of the earth came marching in
To torch and cresset gleam.
And the roads of the world that lead to Rome
Were filled with faces that moved like foam,
Like faces in a dream.

And men rode out of the eastern lands,
Broad river and burning plain;
Trees that are Titan flowers to see,
And tiger skies, striped horribly,
With tints of tropic rain.

Where Ind’s enamelled peaks arise
Around that inmost one,
Where ancient eagles on its brink,
Vast as archangels, gather and drink
The sacrament of the sun.

And men brake out of the northern lands,
Enormous lands alone,
Where a spell is laid upon life and lust
And the rain is changed to a silver dust
And the sea to a great green stone.

And a Shape that moveth murkily
In mirrors of ice and night,
Hath blanched with fear all beasts and birds,
As death and a shock of evil words
Blast a man’s hair with white.

And the cry of the palms and the purple moons,
Or the cry of the frost and foam,
Swept ever around an inmost place,
And the din of distant race on race
Cried and replied round Rome.

And there was death on the Emperor
And night upon the Pope:

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1988: Best Year Ever!

Friday, February 18, AD 2011

Advisory Warning: The video is rated R for skimpy clothing and suggestive sexual behavior.  Youth should receive permission from their mother or father to view this video.

I’m a sucker for anything ’80s as you can tell, but you have to admit that it was pretty tamed back then compared to today.  You could say that the 1980s today is what the 1950s were back then, but much more fun!

Take Me Home Tonight is a movie in in the summer of 1988 as it winds down.  Three friends on the verge of adulthood attend an out-of-control party in celebration of their last night of unbridled youth. Starring Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler and Teresa Palmer.  Take Me Home Tonight is a raunchy, romantic and ultimately touching blast from the past set to an awesome soundtrack of timeless rock and hip-hop hits.

Raunchy is an understatement.

Nonetheless I probably wouldn’t let anyone under the age of 17 watch it.

Here’s the trailer.

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13 Responses to 1988: Best Year Ever!

  • Tito,

    The 80s were totally awesome, I mean radical, or tubular; however, comparing them to the 1950s, even in relation to today’s cultural breakdown may be an overstatement. I think the cultural chasm brought about in the 60s and 70s is way too vast. Although, all those hippies began to assert their influence when one of them became president in 1992 and now a generation later the kids are more screwed up than ever. I did not know that oral was not considered sex – it sure was in the 80s. The culture is getting worse by the minute, but I think it changed in cataclysmic and dramatic ways from the mid 60s through the 70s – ah, and then it was morning again in America.

    Man, I really miss my flux capacitor. 🙂

  • This is complete nonsense. Everyone knows that 1986 is the best year of the 80s.

  • AK,

    1992 was the end of Morning in America.

    I still believe the 80s were the best decade of the century.

    How many music videos can you name from the 1920s?

  • Tito,

    I am not so sure about 1992. I think that Morning ended in 1989 when Mr. New World Order, read my lips, thousand points of light took over the White House, but 1993 was especially bad, of course, 2009 was the worst.

    I can’t recall any Big Band videos from the 20s, of course, that was before my time. There is no question that the 80s were the best decade. The music, even the bad music was more or less happy. Today it is either a bubble gum product, a prostitute product or just a bunch of whiny wussies that can’t play instruments. It is all Owen Wilson music, kinda makes you wanna cut your wrists 🙁 What’s with this Beiber kid, I don’t get it.

    Heck, even Madonna Louise wasn’t that bad back then.

    In the words of Patrick Bateman: Do you like Hewy Louis and the News?

    And Jeff Spicolli: No shirt, No shoes, No dice! Hey, where’d you get this jacket?

  • I agree with Paul that 1986 was the best year of the ’80s, although for different reasons.

    Jay
    Van High School
    Class of ’86

  • I am very grateful to have come of age in the 80’s. It was a great time – comparatively speaking (vs 60s, 70’s, 90’s). It was the end of the cesspool era that began when the Boomers came of age yet before the Boomers’ kids turn.

    It was indeed like a new dawn. People were bathing again, the fashions (while still laughable like all viewed post-mortom) were clean looking and pointed forward – even the torn clothing of the dance crowd wasn’t ragged, it was like precision cuts for effect. 🙂

    Ronald Reagan was president and he was largely just a common man doing good things and inspiring.

    The great rock bands from the 60’s and 70’s were still doing great things, even if pop music still sucked as it changed (though I have a lot more tolerance for some of the pop now than I did then).

    This new pope, John Paul II, was a story in himself. 🙂

    The cool new technologies were ramping up and they too pointed forward.

    We witnessed the death throes of the Evil Empire.

    The primary bad cultural things were hookups were just as much or more prevalent than in the 70’s (until AIDS came on the scene) and drug use was technically growing. Wasn’t uncommon for people in bars to be doing coke out in the open.

  • No way, y’all. 1985 was THE best year of the 80’s. You know why? I was in 2nd grade and received my First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. Yeah, man, ’85 was awesome.

  • “I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back any more –the feeling that I could last for ever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men; the deceitful feeling that lures us on to joys, to perils, to love, to vain effort –to death; the triumphant conviction of strength, the heat of life in the handful of dust, the glow in the heart that with every year grows dim, grows cold, grows small, and expires –and expires, too soon, too soon –before life itself.” Joseph Conrad, “Youth”

    Tex: For me, that is 1957.

    Read more: http://quotationsbook.com/quote/42931/#ixzz1EMtLydZN
    on Quotations Book

  • The late 70s and early 80s weren’t all that wonderful in terms of world events or popular culture — remember “America Held Hostage,” the Marines killed in Lebanon, the recession of 1981-82 (it hit particularly hard in Central Illinois with a prolonged strike at Caterpillar, plus other industries closing), DC-10s falling out of the sky, the Soviet misadventure in Afghanistan, Iran-Contra, the rise of AIDS, MTV, Madonna, New Coke, linebacker-size shoulder pads for women…. you get the picture.

    For me personally, however, it was a great time simply because that is the era when I was going to high school and college. No matter what is happening in the world when you are in your late teens and early 20s, you usually remember it fondly for the rest of your life simply because you were young and relatively carefree then.

  • I was home schooled in the late 80’s; don’t remember much of popular culture; parents raised us without a television. . . . however, I do recognize that rocker doing the cover of ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’. He was the only computer programmer I know who quit his day job to become a rock star and actually succeeded.

    Never in my wildest dreams would I expect to encounter him on American Catholic. Small world. Thank you, Tito, for throwing me for a loop. =)

  • Christopher,

    You were raised better than I was… homeschooled and no tv, much better than being exposed to the banality of a worldly culture.

  • I kind of want to see that movie.

    And what is it with Topher Grace and making tv and movies about past decades?

  • Should I be proud or embarrassed that I could name every one of the references in the first video?

    The hard thing about making a movie about the 80s is that so many great 80s movies were already made . . . in the 80s. And John Cusack is too old now. Topher Grace looks like he might fill those shoes pretty well, but I wonder if they’ll be able to get the innocence (at least by today’s standards) of that era right.

This Issue’s A Bust

Friday, February 18, AD 2011

Once in a while the political news circuit gets stuck on a topic so amazingly trivial and foolish that the spectacle of such a large tempest raging in such a small teapot makes it hard to look away. This week, the leading ladies of the right and left have decided to fight it out over breastfeeding.

I picked this for obvious reasons, but the parent in me says “No diaper and white dress: Watch Out!”

How, you might ask, could something like breastfeeding become a hot political issue? It seems that as part of her Let’s Move program to reduce childhood obesity, Michelle Obama has decided to promote breastfeeding. A nurse-in at the White House? No, that might actually be interesting. Rather, the proposal is for the IRS to grant a tax deduction for breast pumps and other nursing supplies.

Seeing a chance to turn a phrase, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin have weighed in, saying that getting the government involved in breastfeeding is the ultimate in “nanny state” politics. And this has given political commentators on the left the chance to weigh in with “Palin attacks breastfeeding” and “Bachmann says government has no business telling women what choices to make about their bodies” type headlines.

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22 Responses to This Issue’s A Bust

  • Its stupid stuff like this, I think, that keeps many people in the center from embracing the Republican Party. I agree with you that the suggested tax deduction is almost a meaningless gesture… at least it was prior to Palin and Bachmann chiming in.

    They might have a point if the government was proposing a consumption tax on formula, but the government has long used tax deductions to provide an incentive towards particular behavior. Whether we should or not is a question we can debate, but I don’t see Palin complaining about how the government is interfering in where we choose to live by giving us a Mortgage Tax Break or Bachmann complaining that the government is trying to tell us who to give money to with the Charitable giving tax break.

    In any case, for many Americans, stuff like this makes them look petty. To a certain extent, I think the Republican party is starting to make the same mistakes Democrats made after the 2008 election. My take on the 2010 election like the 2008 election before it is that the side that won succeeded not because they had convinced most Americans that they were right, rather they convinced most Americans that they were simply less wrong than the side in power. The Republicans might not get hammered by this in 2012 since Democrats still control the Senate and the White House, but if Palin and Bachmann keep opening their mouths like this they might hurt the chances of the Republicans from gaining the White House.

  • This tells me that Palin and Bachmann are merely being partisan and contrarian.

  • “This Issue’s a Bust”

    Bad Darwin. Bad, bad Darwin. 🙂

  • There’s already a huge economic incentive for breastfeeding. You don’t have to spend $100 to $200 a month on formula.

    I picked this for obvious reasons, but the parent in me says “No diaper and white dress: Watch Out!”

    Obvious reason being boobs no doubt.

  • There’s already a huge economic incentive for breastfeeding. You don’t have to spend $100 to $200 a month on formula.

    No kidding…

  • Nah, I’m not touching this one with a 10 inch milk bottle.

  • GROAN:
    I’m so upset. I could give that kid a bust in the mouth.
    GROAN

  • As a non-libertarian and non right-liberal, meaning the valuing of virtue and societal posterity as greater than abstracted “freedom” and “liberty”, I have no theoretical problem whatever with government promoting breast-feeding. I hope they do. (Just as I hope they get rid of the carb-heavy food pyramid.)

    Good for the First Lady.

  • Its stupid stuff like this, I think, that keeps many people in the center from embracing the Republican Party. I agree with you that the suggested tax deduction is almost a meaningless gesture…

    You mean it is trivial for Gov. Palin to comment on the issues but not trivial for people to make the issue decisive in determining their party affiliations?

  • As a non-libertarian and non right-liberal, meaning the valuing of virtue and societal posterity as greater than abstracted “freedom” and “liberty”, I have no theoretical problem whatever with government promoting breast-feeding. I hope they do.

    I don’t have a principled problem with promotion of breast feeding — and I suppose arguably it is the job of first ladies to immerse themselves in earnest and harmless concerns with great fanfare — I just think that the likely benefit of a tax deduction for this is going to be trivial at best. (The working class women who could most use a hand in this regard probably won’t benefit at all, since if you make under 40k and have one or more kids you generally don’t end up paying any taxes anyway.)

    I suppose one could say that Palin and Bachmann are marginally more at fault in that they’re supposed to concern themselves with substantive issues while the first lady is supposed to focus on fluff and the IRS is supposed to focus on minutae — but the fact that this is being blown into a “is the GOP against motherhood?” circus strikes me as deeply silly all around.

  • Oh, no doubt Bachmann and Palin are going to be unfairly beaten about for this, although the fact they never turn down a tv appearance has somthing to do with that.

    As for the trivial benefits of a tax deduction – probably. Economic incentives don’t matter nearly as much as economist types think they do for our tribal and social status seeking species – the whole reason we finally have behavioral economics.

  • Here, Michelle Antoinette is on to something.

    First, this is typical Obama-worshipping media bias.

    Check out the Misery Index as it rises going forward. Obama-regime-generated inflation added to perennial high unemployment will force mothers to breast feed because (assuming their husbands are not unionized, government millionaires) they will be unable to afford formula or milk. The first lady is correct about breast feeding but gives the wrong reason.

  • Initial unemployment claims unexpectedly rose 25,000 from last week to 411,000.

    That is just the 11,000th reason the Obama-worshipping media need to constantly talk about Palin.

  • I suppose arguably it is the job of first ladies to immerse themselves in earnest and harmless concerns with great fanfare

    Mrs. Truman spent much of her time in Missouri.

    Among Mrs. Obama’s problems are that she quit practicing law in 1993 and there are only so many jobs for professional diversicrats at greater Washington’s hospitals.

  • You don’t actually need a breast pump to breast feed. Most babies can feed directly. You only need the pump if mommy is going to leave baby regularly. Typically it means mommy is going to work. So it is not about encouraging breast feeding but encouraging breast-feeding mothers to work. If the government want to help it should enable moms to stay home longer. Most women will breast feed if they have the chance to focus on baby in those first few months.

  • You only need the pump if mommy is going to leave baby regularly. Typically it means mommy is going to work. So it is not about encouraging breast feeding but encouraging breast-feeding mothers to work.

    Agreed. My wife has breastfed all five of our kids, and we’ve never owned a pump. My bias is very much towards mothers staying home — at least while their kids are young enough to nurse.

    Though to be fair, I think it’s more that these folks are assuming that all moms will work and hoping that they won’t forgo breastfeeding even though they’re working. Thus the equipment.

  • Ok, I feel I sort of have standing to address this issue. I tried to breastfeed my one and only child, and could not manage more than a few drops here and there, despite repeated attempts at pumping and other measures. I’m not sure why exactly. My mom told me she tried and failed at breastfeeding also so perhaps it’s inherited. So, as natural as it is, there are women who just can’t do it — whether it’s a psychological thing or a hormonal thing or what.

    I have no objection with promoting breastfeeding in general and I agree it is healthier — that’s why I tried so hard to do it myself. But all the tax deductions in the world probably wouldn’t have helped me and it probably won’t make a whole lot of difference to other women either.

  • If the federal government will be granting tax deductions for breast-feeding, they may as well pay people to have children. I don’t think that’s what the Founding Fathers meant to do when they signed the Constitution.

  • Darn. All the good puns have been taken – been milked dry.

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  • “The parent in me says, ‘No diaper and white dress: watch out!”

    That’s for sure. She might as well be tempting fate as much as she would be if, for instance, she washed her car before planning a picnic or outdoor wedding (thereby insuring that it will rain).

  • I miss Laura Bush. She kept a simple, low profile encouraging children to read. Every time I turn around M.O. is telling me what to eat and to move it! Its an ironic choice for a first lady agenda given M.O.’s physical stature and eating habits as reported by the MSM.

    Our family has had a vegetable garden for years, eats very healthily and is involved in a plethora of activities to keep us fit. We’re Republicans, we figured these things out on our own, but I guess some people need to be told what to do.

    As a mother I wold say as far as breast feeding is concerned – do what is right for you. The decision to breast feed MUST be made at the individual level. Bachmann and Palin are right, it’s not the government’s business. But again, I guess some people need to be told what to do.

Lying About the Historical Record

Friday, February 18, AD 2011

 

I would note that none of the following comments are directed at my blogging colleague Joe Hargrave for whom I have the greatest respect.  Joe is a first rate writer and an original thinker.  He and I disagree about the morality of lying under all circumstances, but that is not the issue that is being addressed in this post.

A controversy has arisen regarding the morality of the Lila Rose and Live Action brilliant sting operations against Planned Parenthood with some Catholic bloggers condemning these operations citing Catholic teaching against lying.  I disagree with them and believe that the sting operations are completely compatible with Church teaching and praxis, however that is not the issue I am concerned about in regard to this post.

A side controversy has developed recently regarding Pius XII since many people, including myself, have raised deceptions countenanced by Pius XII in World War II to save Jewish lives as an example where the Vicar of Christ approved lies in an attempt to save the lives of the innocent.  Now the proper response to this fact of history to those who hold that the Church teaches that all lies are immoral is to deal with it honestly.  One could argue that the actions of a Pope do not alter Church teaching.  That of course is a hard argument to make to a Catholic audience.  The easier, albeit dishonest path, is to attempt to pretend that what occurred simply did not occur.  The attempt to do that is beginning currently.

In a post at the Paulist site Busted Halo, Dawn Eden and William Doino, Jr., who has written in defense of Pius XII and who really should know better,  cites a biography of Pope John XXIII written by Peter and Margaret Hebblethwaithe for the contention that when  Pope John XXIII was papal nuncio in Turkey during World War II he did not, as popularly thought, issue fake baptismal certificates for Jews.  Go here to read the post and go here to read the passage in the book.

This passage in the post by Mr. Doino deserves careful reading:

Others have argued that the Church would sanction, or did sanction, lying to Nazis who sought to find and kill Jews. But this claim too has no foundation in the Catechism’s teachings, neither is it true of the actions of the Church during World War II — which did save hundreds of thousands of Jews , but not through faking baptismal certificates, as has been claimed.

This passage, to be blunt, is a masterpiece of deception.  Note how it shifts the general argument from whether the Church did sanction lying, to “refuting” the statement by claiming that the Church did not fake baptismal certificates.  The faking baptismal certifcates is further narrowed down to the single case of Archbishop Roncalli.  Bravo!  I make my living by engaging in litigation and I have rarely seen a better example of the art of seeming to refute an argument while in actuality not doing so.

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21 Responses to Lying About the Historical Record

  • Thanks for the reminder of the Polish Angel Stacy. Another member of the exclusive group I call “Con Artists for God”:

    “Irena Sendler, who wore a star armband as a sign of her solidarity to Jews, began smuggling children out in an ambulance. She recruited at least one person from each of the ten centers of the Social Welfare Department. With their help, she issued hundreds of false documents with forged signatures. Irena Sendler successfully smuggled almost 2,500 Jewish children to safety and gave them temporary new identities.

    Some children were taken out in gunnysacks or body bags. Some were buried inside loads of goods. A mechanic took a baby out in his toolbox. Some kids were carried out in potato sacks, others were placed in coffins, some entered a church in the Ghetto which had two entrances. One entrance opened into the Ghetto, the other opened into the Aryan side of Warsaw. They entered the church as Jews and exited as Christians. “`Can you guarantee they will live?'” Irena later recalled the distraught parents asking. But she could only guarantee they would die if they stayed. “In my dreams,” she said, “I still hear the cries when they left their parents.”

    Irena Sendler accomplished her incredible deeds with the active assistance of the church. “I sent most of the children to religious establishments,” she recalled. “I knew I could count on the Sisters.” Irena also had a remarkable record of cooperation when placing the youngsters: “No one ever refused to take a child from me,” she said. The children were given false identities and placed in homes, orphanages and convents. Irena Sendler carefully noted, in coded form, the childrens original names and their new identities. She kept the only record of their true identities in jars buried beneath an apple tree in a neighbor’s back yard, across the street from German barracks, hoping she could someday dig up the jars, locate the children and inform them of their past.”

    I have written about her at the link below:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/09/13/irena-sendler/

    People like her make you proud to be human.

  • I agree. There’s one thing to say that what clerics did to protect Jews(deliberately deceive/lie) was wrong. Nothing wrong in saying that clerics (even Popes) sin. Its another to say they didn’t when they did. That’s perhaps not a lie if they truly believe that no false documents etc. were provided. But at least by some sources, it is in fact true that deceptions were carried out.

    Also agree about Irena Sendler. Great woman who was a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Of course the true liar Al Gore won.

  • Mr. McClarey, please corrrect your assertion that BustedHalo is “my site.” It is run by the Paulists. Prior to my recent article, I last contributed to it one year ago.

    Thank you for calling attention to William Doino’s and my article. Mr. Doino is currently writing an op-ed, for which he has consulted Msgr. Peter Gumpel S.J. of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which refutes the claims you cite that the Holy See authorized or in any way condoned lying in its efforts to save Jews and others during the Second World War. Until that article appears, I would refer you to Mark Shea’s blog entry today, which addresses the “false baptismal certificate” canard.

  • O sage moral theologians,

    “Evil is as evil does.”

    Here is a rhetorical question. Does refusal (actually paying $$$ millions in legal fees not to) to provide medical records, college transcripts, or original birth certificate render President Obama a liar?

    I want to know what he is hiding. I could not care less where he was born.

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  • “Thank you for calling attention to William Doino’s and my article. Mr. Doino is currently writing an op-ed, for which he has consulted Msgr. Peter Gumpel S.J. of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which refutes the claims you cite that the Holy See authorized or in any way condoned lying in its efforts to save Jews and others during the Second World War. Until that article appears, I would refer you to Mark Shea’s blog entry today, which addresses the “false baptismal certificate” canard.”

    He can consult with the Archangel Gabriel Ms. Eden and it will not change the historical facts. Why you and Mr. Doino are contorting yourselves into pretzels to deny the historical record is beyond me.

  • A small example of a deception used against the Nazis that Pius XII certainly knew about:

    “In his memoirs, the then Chief Rabbi Zolli of Rome writes that he was sent to the Vatican, where arrangements had already been made to receive him as an ‘engineer’ called to survey a construction problem so that the Gestapo on watch at the Vatican would not bar his entry. He was met by the Vatican treasurer and secretary of state, who told him that the Holy Father himself had given orders for the deficit to be filled with gold vessels taken from the Treasury.” In Joseph Lichten’s monograph defending Pius XII. This was in regard to the incident in which the Gestapo caused the Jews of Rome to post a ransom in gold.

  • The Raol Wallenberg Center believes that ”baptism of convenience” certificates were issued by Roncalli. Don’t know what these are and if they constitute true lies.

  • Just to retract one thing regarding my earlier post–my choice of the word “canard” was unfortunate and inflammatory, as it implies a deliberate choice to mislead. Mr. McClarey, I am not in any way suggesting you are deliberately publishing misleading facts. William’s and my point is that the Holy See’s work to save Jews and others during the Second World War did not include lying, and that the specific claim of faking baptismal certificates has been proven untrue. I recommend that you and others interested in the topic read Mr. Doino’s article when it appears.

  • May one presume that all those who are so certain about the sinfulness of the sting action at Planned Unparenthood will appear at the time of judgement; along with those who are certain of their knowledge that false baptismal certificates were not provided to Jews.

    Much as I am no fan of the current condition of the Society of Jesus, the actions of their members during the Elizabethan persecution, as well as the discussions of the 17th Century Fr. Escobar [whom Pascal erroneously attacked] should weigh heavily in this discussion. Plain common sense, and the common opinion of mankind, is also on the side of the perps, teste GKC.

  • More on Archbishop Roncalli and the baptismal certificates from the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation:

    “2) The Saving of Jews Through Baptismal Certificates
    According to historian, Peter Hebblethwaite, author of the book, ”John XXIII, Pope of the Council”, 1985, the idea of trying to save Jews through baptismal certificates was conceived by Nuncio Roncalli and it was Archbishop Rotta who applied it.

    a) Ted Szulc, in ”The Secret Alliance: The Extraordinary Story of the Rescue of the Jews Since World War II”, Pan, London 1991, pg. 54, affirms that ”in the few months since Hirschman’s meeting with the Apostolic Delegate, thousands of Jews were baptized in the anti-aerial shelters of Budapest and therefore saved from death.”

    b) Arthur Morse in ”While Six Million Died” makes a reference to the issuance of thousands of baptismal certificates that helped save the lives of thousands of Hungarian Jews.

    c) Historian, Giancarlo Zizola, author of ”L’utopia di Papa Giovanni”, Cittadella, Assissi, 1973, pg. 109, estimates that the baptismal certificates saved the lives of some 24,000 Jews. The information is attributed to Monsignor Loris F. Capovilla, Monsignor Roncalli’s Secretary in Venice and later in Rome.”

    http://www.raoulwallenberg.net/roncalli/research/report-n1/

  • “I used the phrase valid and otherwise regarding the official papers Father Weber’s organization procured for Jews. The cloak-and-dagger story of the false documents supplied to Jews by the Church all over Europe and the Near East is not yet fully known; nor, if it were, could it be told, for there are countless numbers of Jews whose peaceful enjoyment of their new citizenship today still depends on the apparent validity of these papers. The Vatican both initiated and lent its support to a remarkable variety of secret manufacturing enterprises — like that of Father Marie-Benoit in France and later in Italy — as well as exerted pressure on Allied and neutral governments to grant entry or at least transit to Jews in danger of their lives. Jewish refugees in France holding Paraguayan passports in 1943 and 1944 approached the Vatican for help, fearing that recognition of their papers would be withdrawn by that South American government; through the apostolic delegate in Paraguay, the Pope obtained assurances that the passports would continue to be valid. The Vatican interceded with the Germans to allow Jews in Bergen Belsen who held South American passports to receive packages of food and clothing. Endless other examples could be cited, but perhaps the most extraordinary part of this particular rescue mission is what Ira Hirschmann has called Operation Baptism.

    Archbishop Cassulo’s 1941 protest in Romania was in answer to a state ruling that a change of religious status by a Jew did not alter his legal status as a member of that persecuted “race”. For the authorities had become suspicious, as did those in the Balkans, Hungary, and elsewhere later, of the number of Jewish “converts” to Catholicism. Until such a ruling was made in a Nazi-controlled country, however, a Jew who could prove himself a member of the Catholic Church could usually use the evidence of that membership-a baptismal certificate as a safe-conduct paper to leave the country. No records have been published regarding who conceived the idea or how it was implemented, but the existence of the false baptismal certificates, and they number in the thousands, is a fact. It is also a fact that the Vatican was well aware of the plan, and that members of resistance groups, apostolic nuncios, nuns, representatives of Jewish aid groups based in the Allied countries, and untold numbers of ordinary citizens risked their welfare if not their lives to promote the ingenious scheme. By mid-1944, when only the Jews of Budapest had been temporarily spared in blood-soaked Hungary, another beloved Catholic figure had thrown his weight to the wheel, increasing the distribution of the baptismal certificates many times over; this was Pius XII’s close friend and successor, Archbishop Roncalli, the late Pope John XXIII.”

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/piusdef2.html

  • According to Dawn Eden,

    Others have argued that the Church would sanction, or did sanction, lying to Nazis who sought to find and kill Jews. But this claim too has no foundation in the Catechism’s teachings…

    I think that these people are out of their minds. Plain and simple. Nothing more can be said.

  • I wrote something on this as the first entry in my new blog. It has elicited some intersting responses. Check it out

    http://meaningfulconversation.blogspot.com/

    tom in ohio

  • Once again we see the irritating Catholic nitpickers cast aspertions on the good faith of others who try to do some good. These people are better off starting a commune of their own. I simply cannot understand how these people expect a Catholic hiding a Jew to answer to the Gestapo. Perhaps if they were in warime Europe they would have exposed the Jew, instead of heaven forbid, besmirch their precious souls. It is for fools like these, that Jesus gave the saying “the Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath”.

  • Well said Ivan. People who make the type of argument that Mr. Doino and Ms. Eden make depict Pius XII as an idiot or a monster. “Well, I’ll order that Jews be hidden in churches, monasteries and convents, but of course if the Nazis inquire they must not be lied to!” Fortunately Pius XII was neither as the historical record clearly shows. Making an argument that is unsupported by the historical record is a truly foolish thing to do in the age of the internet.

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  • Anyone have a copy of a “fake” baptismal cert. issued by anyone during WW2? Are you all so quick to believe that Pius XII and Bishop Roncalli would lie about baptism?

    The “fake” baptism story has more to it. First – many Jews were actually baptised validly. Many accepted baptism out of fear and hence were considered conditionally baptised. Many allowed themselves to be “conditionally baptised” because they may or may not have accepted Christ but they certainly wanted to get away from the Nazis. To non-Catholic writers this is called “fake” but we ought not make the same mistake.

  • Mother Matylda Getter, Mother Superior of the Family of Mary in Poland, routinely issued fake baptismal certificates to Jewish kids during the war to save their lives.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=Ik_6WgPPxsoC&pg=PA120&lpg=PA120&dq=fake+baptismal+certificates+jews&source=bl&ots=4rCihb_KjN&sig=6qdnPbapz9cGtjkK-Dtw98KuGzU&hl=en&ei=V_diTabHFoP_8AaV1vCuDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=fake%20baptismal%20certificates%20jews&f=false

    The issuance of fake baptismal certificates by the Church was not a rare event during the War, however it was only one element of a massive deception campaign engaged in by the Church to save innocent lives.

  • Dawn Eden wrote:

    “the specific claim of faking baptismal certificates has been proven untrue”

    This overstates the case. All Doino says is that the claim remains (in his opinion) unconfirmed. That is not the same as proving something is false–particularly when so many people have testified to having issued or received false or temporary baptismal certificates.

    If your strongest source is Hebblethwaite, an open dissenter to Catholic teaching, then I’d say your case is not very strong at all. Mgr. Gumpel is going to know better–but then again, Sr. Margherita Marchione, also involved in Pius XII’s canonization process, has claimed the opposite–that he did indeed sanction the issuing of false baptismal certificates.

The Battle of Wisconsin

Friday, February 18, AD 2011

Last November the people of Wisconsin went to the polls and elected Republican Scott Walker governor and gave the Republicans a majority in both chambers of the state legislature.  Scott Walker, mirabile dictu, is actually delivering on what he promised to do in the campaign:

The proposal marks a dramatic shift for Wisconsin, which passed a comprehensive collective bargaining law in 1959 and was the birthplace of the national union representing all non-federal public employees.

In addition to eliminating collective-bargaining rights, the legislation also would make public workers pay half the costs of their pensions and at least 12.6 percent of their health care coverage — increases Walker calls “modest” compared with those in the private sector.

Republican leaders said they expected Wisconsin residents would be pleased with the savings the bill would achieve — $30 million by July 1 and $300 million over the next two years to address a $3.6 billion budget shortfall.

“I think the taxpayers will support this idea,” Fitzgerald said.

Wisconsin has long been a bastion for workers’ rights. But when voters elected Walker, an outspoken conservative, along with GOP majorities in both legislative chambers, it set the stage for a dramatic reversal of the state’s labor history.

Under Walker’s plan, state employees’ share of pension and health care costs would go up by an average of 8 percent.

Unions still could represent workers, but could not seek pay increases above those pegged to the Consumer Price Index unless approved by a public referendum. Unions also could not force employees to pay dues and would have to hold annual votes to stay organized.

In exchange for bearing more costs and losing bargaining leverage, public employees were promised no furloughs or layoffs. Walker has threatened to order layoffs of up to 6,000 state workers if the measure does not pass.

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18 Responses to The Battle of Wisconsin

  • “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war . . . ”

    Love the new slogan: “WTF.”

  • You took the words right out of my mouth there Don! More later.

  • The really sad thing for me is that the “protesters” have enlisted students and their own kids in their tantrum of greed. What are those kids being taught in school and at home?

    This whole thing is sickening just like the NFL players using collective bargaining for their millions.

    I am reminded of the comments of Gov Christie in N.J. to a teacher who was protesting cuts. His advice was if the job was not to her liking she should search for another.

    Is it at all surprising that Pres.Obama is supporting the Unions? These public employees unions and other unions are a major factor in his election as many members vote mindlessly based on union propaganda.

  • I live in Madison, and it is chaos here. What’s interesting is that amongst my friends and acquaintances, the battle lines are not drawn by party or ideology, but strictly on union membership.

    I’ve seen solidly Catholic, pro-life, tea-partying friends posting pictures of Scott Walker with a Hitler mustache. I’m completely disgusted.

    The public schools are all closed due to a Wildcat Strike. The Capitol has been trashed.

    I’m sick over this.

  • I am not surprised that the Union members are upset at this. There are some aspects of what is suggested that trouble me. Note, I fully agree that many states have to cut spending, in some cases dramatically, but there are certain approaches that seem less than appropriate. In any case, in no particular order, here are my objections.

    1. Forcing Unions to vote every year to stay organized? No private company would be allowed to impose such a term on its union employees; it would be considered Union busting.

    2. Limiting pay raises to the consumer price index without a referendum? I can certainly see suggesting pay cuts, or staff cuts to help balance the budget. But frankly, if the state is limited to consumer price index for raises, they might have a hard time attracting and retaining good employees in a number of important areas. Lets remember, in lean times, the government is probably not going to give them those pay raises, but how will they make up the difference when good times return? More importantly, what happens during periods when wages in the private sector start increasing faster than the CPI does? And Referendums? Has Wisconsin learned nothing from California?

    3. How is this actually shrinking government? It might shrink government costs, but it essentially promises to keep everyone in government employed?

    Ultimately, this seems less like an attempt to shrink the government and more like an attempt to bust unions. Further, while I might agree that there are too many state employees, many of them make considerably less by choosing their particular professions than someone with a similar level of Education could in the private sector. My wife was a teacher before she became a stay at home Mom. Her Salary was only 3/5’s what mine was despite the fact that she had a Master’s Degree and I only have a Bachelor’s. Is there inefficiency in government? Yep, is there waste? Are there people who are sitting on their buts not doing a whole lot? Absolutely. But the key is to shrink the government and get rid of the waste, not punish the effective police officers, firemen and teachers who are effective.

  • “2. Limiting pay raises to the consumer price index without a referendum? I can certainly see suggesting pay cuts, or staff cuts to help balance the budget. But frankly, if the state is limited to consumer price index for raises, they might have a hard time attracting and retaining good employees…”

    Last time I had a pay raise due to CPI was when I was in the military. Since that time, the only time I’ve gotten a pay raise is when I changed jobs.

  • Ultimately, this seems less like an attempt to shrink the government and more like an attempt to bust unions.

    What’s the downside?

    My wife was a teacher before she became a stay at home Mom. Her Salary was only 3/5?s what mine was despite the fact that she had a Master’s Degree and I only have a Bachelor’s.

    Sorry she got gypped.

  • Steve, earlier this week about 4,000 Illinois teachers descended on our capital to protest legislation infringing on their rights. However, you didn’t hear about it on the national news. Also, I live in Springfield and work across the street from the capitol, and can verify that the protest was entirely peaceful and orderly. There was nowdisruption whatsoever of state government, and the protestors left the Capitol grounds just as they found them.

    Surprised? I’m not, because the teachers in question were actually homeschooling parents protesting a bill that would have forced them to register with the State Board of Education. They got what they wanted (at least for now) without having to call in Jesse Jackson, the DNC, or anyone else.

  • In theory, although often not in practice, unions can be a benefit to the employees and a check against those who seek profits at any expense. What would have happened in Poland without the unions to stand against the Communists and the martial law? I am a little confused though, aren’t unions for government employees essential engaged in collective bargaining against the people they allege to be serving? We are not shareholders, we are citizens. Last I checked government was not designed or intended to be a profitable (financially) enterprise and judging from their fiscal state they wouldn’t know how to make a profit anyway, they are practically all broke.

    It seems that forces are aligned to pit those who ‘serve’ the public against the public. This is not only sad, it is disgusting. When the government is broke all citizens are affected, so shouldn’t those who work for the government share some of the same pain as the rest of us? Or, are these people a special class? For all government employees on this site, I am not directing this at you, this is in regard to those who find government work a reward for themselves and not an act of service, paid or not.

  • Steve

    If the mere thought or mention of having the union fat cats, who collect billions from the working class to see that they can forever seat the right people in Washington who will perpetuate their desire to leverage local and state governments and control public workers through premium salary and benefit plans unavailable to most private sector workers, cut some slack for the good of all the people in Wisconsin and not have the state go bankrupt causes them to act like enslaved Egyptian rioters it should give you an indication of just out of control their lust for power has become.

  • A few further thoughts/ramblings:

    I don’t think it was necessary or prudent for EITHER side to escalate this dispute to this level.

    The unions, of course, should not have gone nuclear over pension and health insurance concessions that while significant, are not out of line with what employees of other states have been asked to do. (Illinois state employees like myself already pay as much or more toward their own pensions and health insurance than Wisconsin state employees are being asked to do.) I don’t blame them for not LIKING it — no one, regardless of whom they work for, wants to suddenly be forced to cough up hundreds or thousands of dollars more every month — but it is fiscal reality that has to be faced.

    That said…. I also believe Walker may have overreached by going beyond the financial concessions to actually imposing limits on collective bargaining itself. He might as well have waved a red flag in front of a herd of raging bulls or tossed gasoline on a fire that, up to that point, could have been contained with minimal damage.

    Adding further fuel to the flames was the manner in which Walker announced last week that he was calling up the National Guard. The intent, apparently, was to have Guard members ready to FILL IN for prison guards or other public safety personnel who might walk off their jobs. However, it has widely been interpreted as a threat to use force against the workers themselves — and Walker has not, in my opinion, done enough to dispel that notion. Among people of a certain age it conjures up images of Chicago in 1968, Kent State, et. al. Most people don’t remember that era very fondly, if they remember it at all (Walker himself, at age 43, wouldn’t) but in the People’s Republic of Madison, there may still be some who do.

    I agree with the general goal among fiscal conservatives of putting the brakes on out of control public sector unions. But it took more than 50 years for public union power to reach this point, and it is just not realistic to attempt to undo most of all of that in just a few days or weeks. I fear that Walker AND the union leaders are engaging in grandstanding for a national audience at the expense of Wisconsin citizens, and at the risk of igniting a culture war not seen since the Vietnam Era. (Walker’s recent attempts to poach businesses from Illinois, despite the fact that Illinois’ new tax rates are still LOWER than Wisconsin’s, reinforces this notion for me.)

    Now on the other side of the pond, in Michigan, we have another new GOP governor, Rick Snyder, also attempting to get significant concessions from public unions — but doing so through the existing negotiation process, respecting the bargaining rights already in place. Snyder seems to be doing only what is necessary and NOT going out of his way to treat the unions as enemies to be destroyed at all costs. (Yes, the unions are starting to raise heck there but that may be more of a reaction to what’s happening in Wisconsin than anything else.) Even Chris Christie in New Jersey hasn’t, to date, ticked off unions to the extent Walker has. We’ll see whose approach works best in the long run.

    Finally, Knight’s comments about the role of unions in society are right on the mark. There’s a reason why unions exist, and why the Church from the time of Leo XIII defended their right to exist — in the PRIVATE sector. Those who work for a private employer accountable to no one but himself or to the shareholders may need recourse to a union; those who work for a democratically elected government accountable to voters and taxpayers, not so much.

    You all may be aware that Abp. Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee issued a statement regarding the situation and the Church’s teaching on unions. I may have more on that later today if someone else here doesn’t beat me to the punch 🙂

  • The unions didn’t go nuclear over pension and fringe benefits.

    From AFSCME

    We have said all along that we are willing to sit down with the Governor to address our budget challenges. Let me be even more clear today: We are prepared to implement the financial concessions proposed to help bring our state’s budget into balance, but we will not be denied our God?given right to join a real union.

    For us, public service isn’t about money. No one ever said “I want to be a nurse to get rich.” Or “I want to be a teacher so I can buy a huge house on the lake.” Being a public employee is about sacrificing to help improve the lives of our friends, family and neighbors.

    We will meet the Governor half way. But we will not ? I repeat we will NOT ? be denied our rights to collectively bargain. We will not under any circumstances give up our freedom to join a real union.

    Our voice has been heard in every corner of this nation. And it will continue to be heard until the Governor sits down with us with the true interests of the state and the rights of its citizens at heart.

    Hopefully this will put an end to Walker’s false flag operation, but I’m doubtful.

  • Well if you can’t trust Afscme….well, actually you can’t trust Afscme. I have absolutely no doubt however that the powers that be at the helm of the public employee unions would be willing to throw their members under the bus on salary and fringe benefits as long as they can get rid of two key provisions: annual elections to stay recognized as the union and the right of the unions to grab the dues of members through payroll deduction. Why is this? Because public employee unions, like most unions, are intensely unpopular with a signifcant fraction of the workers who are required to belong to them. Given an annual free choice, and the ability of each worker to decide whether to fork over their dues money, public employee unions would quickly go the way of the Dodo. Public employee unions in modern times have never relied upon the fervor of their members, rather they have always relied on coercion of their members courtesy of the State. If that is gone, the bottom falls out for them, and the union bosses realize that.

  • Leaders that can manipulate and turn a normal god fearing working man or woman into regulated union robots who on command become enraged leaving their jobs and forming what some might call a pre-lynching mob simply by a plea to have some economic equity between themselves and non-union workers for the sake of all have to at least be willing to negotiate without creating havoc across the state. We pray this situation can soon return to some degree of civility that the president most recently has called for.

  • “the unions didn’t go nuclear over pension and fringe benefits”

    Which is exactly my point. If Walker had stuck to those issues and not gone for th jugular, so to speak, we would not be seeing all this chaos.

  • Pingback: Well, I Certainly Think This Example of Lying is Immoral! | The American Catholic
  • “Given an annual free choice, and the ability of each worker to decide whether to fork over their dues money, public employee unions would quickly go the way of the Dodo. Public employee unions in modern times have never relied upon the fervor of their members, rather they have always relied on coercion of their members courtesy of the State. If that is gone, the bottom falls out for them, and the union bosses realize that.” Substitute “sovereign state” for “worker”, “political” for “public employee”, “federal government” for “the State” and “federal bureaucrats” for “union bosses” and you will have the logical meaning of the United States Constitution until 150 years ago.

  • For “logical” substitute “Confederate” and for ” until 150 years ago” substitute “until Appomattox”.

The Horse Soldiers

Thursday, February 17, AD 2011

In 1959 John Ford and John Wayne, in the last of their “cavalry collaborations”, made The Horse Soldiers, a film based on Harold Sinclair’s novel of the same name published in 1956, which is a wonderful fictionalized account of Grierson’s Raid.

Perhaps the most daring and successful Union cavaly raid of the war, Colonel Benjamin Grierson, a former music teacher and band leader from Jacksonville, Illinois, who, after being bitten by a horse at a young age, hated horses, led from April 17-May 2, 1863 1700 Illinois and Iowa troopers through 600 miles of Confederate territory from southern Tennessee to the Union held Baton Rouge in Louisiana.  Grierson and his men ripped up railroads, burned Confederate supplies and tied down many times their number of Confederate troops and succeeded in giving Grant a valuable diversion as he began his movement against Vicksburg.

The video at the beginning of the post shows an interview done of Harold Sinclair during the making of the film.  Go here to read a note by Sinclair at the beginning of his novel in which he describes the liberties taken in the novel from the historical events.

John Wayne gives a fine, if surly, performance as Colonel Marlowe, the leader of the Union cavalry brigade.  William Holden as a Union surgeon serves as a foil for Wayne.  Constance Towers, as a captured Southern belle, supplies the obligatory Hollywood love interest.

Overall the film isn’t a bad treatment of the raid, and the period.  I especially appreciated two scenes.  John Wayne refers to his pre-war activities as “Before this present insanity” and Constance Towers gives the following impassioned speech:

Well, you Yankees and your holy principle about savin’ the Union. You’re plunderin’ pirates that’s what. Well, you think there’s no Confederate army where you’re goin’. You think our boys are asleep down here. Well, they’ll catch up to you and they’ll cut you to pieces you, you nameless, fatherless scum. I wish I could be there to see it.

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6 Responses to The Horse Soldiers

  • Good flick!

    Most memorable scene (for me) was the military school cadets attacking the cavalry. The march up, the “Bonny Blue Flag”, the mother pulling her son out of the line, the charge, . . . The cav humanely withdrawing.

    Today, the cavalry (not tanks) squadrons (battalions), troops (companies) are serving in Afghan and Iraq. The platoon consists of four armed Hmvees: two with .50 cal.; one with auto grenade launcher; and one with a TOW missile. The troops are MOS “cavalry scout.” The officers infantry or armor. My son served with a cav platoon in Afghan.

    Greet them ever with grateful hearts.

    Our Lady of Victory, pray fro us.

  • My little brother T.Shaw led a cav platoon in Germany in the early eighties. He always told me that you haven’t lived until you are charging down an ink black trail in a tank in the Black Forest at midnight while attempting to read a map and take a compass heading!

  • Love this movie, Donald! Can’t say enough about it. My favorite part is when they’re hiding from the Confederates who are singing the “Bonnie Blue Flag.” I have no idea how many times I’ve seen it.

  • That is a fantastic scene Pat. I loved the scene also where Strother Martin and Denver Pyle are portraying two Confederate deserters. Their interaction with John Wayne was classic comedy.

  • I have never seen this film, but it sounds very interesting.

    OT, but I feel the need to apologize to Donald and any other AC Flatlanders. Illinois already has more than enough spineless, craven Dem politicians. You certainly don’t need our spineless, craven ones.

    Here’s my video contribution for the evening, inspired by the brave souls who courageously ran south rather than vote on the state budget:

  • Bravo Donna! You anticipate my post for tomorrow! I found it hilarious that the Democrat Wisconsin senators ran to Rockford, the most dismal town in Illinois not named East Saint Louis!