The Only Winners in Wisconsin are the Packers

Thursday, March 10, AD 2011

Yesterday, the Republicans in Wisconsin edited the unions bill to make it non-fiscal, thus eliminating the Wisconsin procedural requirement that all senators be there. Thus, since there was quorum the bill in its new form was passed by the State Assembly and is expected to be approved by the Senate today.

It’s hard to fault the Republicans for ending this mess. It had to end, and if they weren’t going to abandon the bill it was best to figure out a way to get it passed and move on. That doesn’t change the fact that their bill is in clear violation of Catholic Social Teaching by stripping the workers of their right to unionize on benefits.

In the end, this episode underscores just how dysfunctional our democracy is. Democracy is based on different ideas interacting and challenging each other. Today however, ideas don’t mix; we are left with mindless slogans about empty ideas left to do battle not on the merit of the idea but rather the brute force of the quantity of supporters. In Wisconsin, the Democrats abandoned debate and vote in favor of grinding the process to a halt. The Republicans shattered the rights of workers in order to no longer discuss issues with the unions. Neither side showed any interest in a true debate or an attempt to compromise. In this case, we all lost.

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29 Responses to The Only Winners in Wisconsin are the Packers

  • Huh? How did taxpayers lose by this move? “We” did not all lose. The “we” who have had to actually weather our current economic collapse came up way ahead.

    Thank you, Governor Walker and Wisconsin Republicans.

  • Gee, and all along I though democracy was about majority rule. I guess it depends on whether your party is in power as to whether democracy works. When the Dems were in charge under Jim Doyle they rammed through a $2 billion tax hike in 24 hours with little debate. The Republicans were there, debated, voted and lost. Thus the will of the people is expressed through their representatives.

    Now that the GOP has the power and the Dems are in the minority and run away from 3 weeks to avoid their sworn duty, suddenly “we are lost.”
    Since when is collective bargaining “a right”? Clearly, not held by the vast majority of American workers. Thus, it necessarily is a privilege or an advantage won statutorily 50 years ago and now reversed — statutorily.

    The winners are the taxpayers, which pay the salaries of the government workers who contribute 95 to 100% to the Democrats, which are mere puppets of the unions.

    As for the notion that there was no time for debate on this issue, Walker campaigned on spending cuts, told the Dems well beforehand what was going to be in the bill, held 17 hours of hearings at which many testified, gave the Dems ample opportunity (3 weeks) to return to Madison to debate, offer amendments and, yes, negotiate. But, with their union paymasters calling the shots, the Fugitive Fourteen continue to enjoy their extended vacation largely at taxpayers’ expense while the rabble trashed the Capitol. Meanwhile, sheriff’s deputies from several counties hundreds of miles away were forced to go to Madison to keep the peace leaving their home counties vulnerable to crime.

    I am one Wisconsite who hopes Governor Walker busts every union down to its last member, including the vastly overpaid teachers who, for 8 months a year, teach little more than “conflict resolution,” “self-esteem”, and the proper use of condoms.

    There, I feel much better now.

  • That doesn’t change the fact that their bill is in clear violation of Catholic Social Teaching by stripping the workers of their right to unionize on benefits

    Did the Swiss Guards have a union at the time of Rerum Novarum?

  • That doesn’t change the fact that their bill is in clear violation of Catholic Social Teaching by stripping the workers of their right to unionize on benefits.

    Really? Is what happened really that and is it really a clear violation of CST? So CST is no longer really about human dignity and justice, but merely a collection of positive statements dogmatizing various societal structures and embracing of a “get whatever you can get for yourself” mentality without regard to justice, sustainability, or the common good?

    You realize that what the Church is backing is the right to associate and to use that association as leverage in the service of justice and human dignity, right? That doesn’t sanction the actions of every association, nor does it mean the association is in pursuit of justice. For example, the NEA is called a union and indeed functions as a bargaining unit. However, it doesn’t mean that they’re not essentially different from a large corporation – and one of the worst sorts. Is the NEA acting in justice when it supports abortion on demand, when it funds such programs, when it contributes to politicians that perpetuate such injustices? How about when “in service” of it’s members it lobbies to stifle the rights of parents to educate their children as they see fit? What about the horrible immoral “educational” programs and methods the NEA supports and executes? i.e. sex ed (especially to the very young), etc.?

    I agree that this Wisconsin thing was a circus and is likely a poor means and may prove to be a less than desirable outcome. Yet, there’s much more that can be questioned about some unions, how they exist, to what degree they serve justice in this day and in what sector of society. I have now found myself balking at almost claim someone makes structured as “clearly against CST”, “clearly the Catholic position”, “that’s not the Catholic way”, etc. Usually I find such statements to stem from a very narrow and simplistic understanding of the substance of Catholic teaching and it’s that simplicity that leads the person to make such a pronouncement so authoritatively. I’m not saying you’re doing that though, Michael. I find you to be very reasonable and thoughtful. I guess that was why I was a little surprised to see the statement I quoted.

  • That doesn’t change the fact that their bill is in clear violation of Catholic Social Teaching by stripping the workers of their right to unionize on benefits

    Workers of the World Unite!!!

  • Yeah, I’m not clear that this outcome is “clearly against Catholic Social Teaching.” The Wisconsin public workers are not being told that they can’t belong to a workers association, or even that they can’t collectively bargain, just that they range of what they can collectively bargain on is restricted to salary rather than benefits.

    So, for instance, if they believe that they’re unjustly being made to pay for too much of their health care, or made to contribute towards their retirements, they can demand more take-home pay to balance that.

    While one can take it from CST that workers should be able to collectively bargain for benefits, I don’t think that the only possible conclusion is that all workers or even all unions must have a binding agreement from their employers to negotiate over that particular aspect of compensation.

  • Everyone seems to be down on this article, especially with regard to CST.

    What strikes me most about the Wisconsin story is that it was actually about something. This wasn’t a matter of sloganeering; I think there was plenty of debate even if there was no compromise. I can’t fault the Republicans for sticking with the principles they campaigned on, nor can I fault the Democrats who used every rule of order to their advantage. I imagine that a compromise could have been worked out, but that’s easy to say from a distance.

  • How did taxpayers lose by this move?

    I’d love to hear how the taxpayers won by having a two or three week deadlock, the schools shut down for how many days, and by paying for security for all those protests.

    Yet, there’s much more that can be questioned about some unions, how they exist, to what degree they serve justice in this day and in what sector of society

    I would agree with that, particularly since I find teacher’s unions to be the most abhorrent of the lot. However, that doesn’t mean you eliminate the right to collective bargaining on benefits. I had no issue with anything else in the bill. I’ll need to go pull up the language from encyclicals, but workers do have a right to collectively bargain.

    The Wisconsin public workers are not being told that they can’t belong to a workers association, or even that they can’t collectively bargain, just that they range of what they can collectively bargain on is restricted to salary rather than benefits.

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think CST contain a limitation regarding wages. Furthermore, I think the distinction is tenuous; after all, benefits & wages are both compensation, albeit in different forms. I’m not sure what the meaningful distinction would be in regard to collective bargaining & the rights of workers.

    Workers of the World Unite!!!

    You got me. I’m a commie.

  • You got me. I’m a commie.

    No, you’re not a commie, you’re just making absolutist comments about Catholic Social Teaching and its applicability to this current situation. It doesn’t make you a red, it just makes you wrong.

  • “I could be wrong, but I don’t think CST contain a limitation regarding wages.”

    I think the limitation would be the common good. Now I think we’re free as Catholics to disagree with whether the current benefits enjoyed by the Wisconsin Teachers unions are in accord with the common good.

    Also, as you seem to know, please note which CST document states that the govt. must allow unions to negotiate benefits or they will be in violation of CST. I suspect you won’t. I suspect that as far as rights go, Union rights, like property rights, are not absolute and subject to limitation.

  • The compendium – – has some very good discussions on unions and their rights.

    Most importantly:

    305. The Magisterium recognizes the fundamental role played by labour unions, whose existence is connected with the right to form associations or unions to defend the vital interests of workers employed in the various professions. Unions “grew up from the struggle of the workers — workers in general but especially the industrial workers — to protect their just rights vis-à-vis the entrepreneurs and the owners of the means of production”.[667] Such organizations, while pursuing their specific purpose with regard to the common good, are a positive influence for social order and solidarity, and are therefore an indispensable element of social life. The recognition of workers’ rights has always been a difficult problem to resolve because this recognition takes place within complex historical and institutional processes, and still today it remains incomplete. This makes the practice of authentic solidarity among workers more fitting and necessary than ever.

    306. The Church’s social doctrine teaches that relations within the world of work must be marked by cooperation: hatred and attempts to eliminate the other are completely unacceptable. This is also the case because in every social system both “labour” and “capital” represent indispensable components of the process of production. In light of this understanding, the Church’s social doctrine “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”.[668] Properly speaking, unions are promoters of the struggle for social justice, for the rights of workers in their particular professions: “This struggle should be seen as a normal endeavour ‘for’ the just good … not a struggle ‘against’ others”.[669] Being first of all instruments of solidarity and justice, unions may not misuse the tools of contention; because of what they are called to do, they must overcome the temptation of believing that all workers should be union-members, they must be capable of self-regulation and be able to evaluate the consequences that their decisions will have on the common good.[670]

    307. Beyond their function of defending and vindicating, unions have the duty of acting as representatives working for “the proper arrangement of economic life” and of educating the social consciences of workers so that they will feel that they have an active role, according to their proper capacities and aptitudes, in the whole task of economic and social development and in the attainment of the universal common good.[671] Unions and other forms of labour associations are to work in cooperation with other social entities and are to take an interest in the management of public matters. Union organizations have the duty to exercise influence in the political arena, making it duly sensitive to labour problems and helping it to work so that workers’ rights are respected. Unions do not, however, have the character of “political parties” struggling for power, and they should not be forced to submit to the decisions of political parties nor be too closely linked to them. “In such a situation they easily lose contact with their specific role, which is to secure the just rights of workers within the framework of the common good of the whole of society; instead they become an instrument used for other purposes”.[672]

  • I think the people won!
    IF, you accept that “The People” are those who believe they are a part of the entire community of Wisconsin and want their government to treat all citizens as equally as possible regardless of their private affiliations. They also want the government to operate within a budget just as they must do in their own households and/or business. People are to be served by their elected leaders and officials in the capacity for which they chose to serve not to become puppets for union organizers and cheerleaders for mob rule. Those who chose the latter lost yesterday and hopefully will come to their senses enough to recognize an elitist ruling class is not going to work in America anymore.

  • Facts:
    1. The Wisconsin legislation did NOT outlaw or break-up unions.
    2. The legislation says nothing about how private sectors unions manage themselves.
    3. The public workers union still retain some collective bargaining rights.
    4. The public workers lost collective bargaining on benefits because local governments, which is where benefits packages are negotiated, need the power to enroll the works in more affordable programs, not like the high priced ones run by the union.

    Nowhere does Catholic Social Teaching say one group of people can strong arm another into handing over their money in the form of benefits. That’s called theft.

  • Michael,

    The issue of benefits is, I think, the hardest part of the bill to justify. Part of the problem has to do with the different nature of public sector unions vs. private sector ones. If a private employer says that he will negotiate will a union if they limit their discussions to wages, that would not seem to violate the workers’ right to organize. In the case of public sector employees, however, the employer is the state. So if the state does the same thing it looks more like a restriction on the right to collectively bargain.

  • The ongoing Wisconsin battle is merely another sign that an old era is dying. Public employee unions have succeeded in helping to push several states into de facto bankruptcy. This is a process that could not go on, and the governor of Wisconsin has just demonstrated that if a governor has the courage to do so, the power of the public employee unions can be shattered. Governors around the nation are paying close attention, and not just Republican governors.

  • Now I think we’re free as Catholics to disagree with whether the current benefits enjoyed by the Wisconsin Teachers unions are in accord with the common good.

    This is not the question at issue. I’ll freely grant that the teachers appear to be grossly overpaid with overly generous benefits. However, that doesn’t change the fact that workers have a right to collectively bargain and that right was limited by the Wisconsin legislature.

    Also, as you seem to know, please note which CST document states that the govt. must allow unions to negotiate benefits or they will be in violation of CST

    Done. Rerum Novarum, 49-57. Leo XIII details on what grounds government might interfere in the associations of workers, and none of those grounds appear to be present in this case. The burden shifts to you to show why this interference is justified.

    you’re just making absolutist comments about Catholic Social Teaching and its applicability to this current situation. It doesn’t make you a red, it just makes you wrong.

    I don’t know if its absolutist. Saving money is not a sufficient ground to justify interference with a union or collective bargaining. In this case, the right was infringed. Now, saving money would be a good grounds for entering into new negotiations with the union or setting some other kind of rule, but by preventing the bargaining Wisconsin went too far.

  • “Saving money is not a sufficient ground to justify interference with a union or collective bargaining.”

    Happens all the time in bankruptcy court for private enterprises, and that is just where states are headed, de facto if not de jure, if the cost of public employees cannot be gotten under control.

  • There’s a real question here as to whether or not public sector collective bargaining is even legitimate or supported by Catholic social teaching. The problem with the public sector is that is is negotiating not with management who has profit motives in mind, but with the people’s money. In other words, when the teacher’s union negotiates its salaries it is negotiating over the tax payer’s dollars.

    Besides, Catholic teaching on the dignity of the worker is always based on the dignity of the human person, and when the teacher’s union (I can only speak here in relationship to the teachers because I myself am one … I wouldn’t want to over generalize to other unions) decided to violate the dignity of the human person by promoting agendas that support abortion, homosexual unions, etc., thy lost the right to be “covered” under Catholic social teaching.

  • Michael,

    You’ve been called a Commie (Tito’s tongue in cheek) and an absolutist. I have to agree with the latter. “in clear violation of CST” – no, it is not clear at all. In fact, I would say it is clear support of it. Government employees are the people’s employees – they should be there to serve first, earn money second. That could be said about everyone else; however, in the private market, employees and the firms they work for have to compete in a voluntary environment. Government workers do not compete, they are paid with appropriated funds. No profits, no market pressures, corrections or accountability. When the economy pulls back, or a firm is uncompetitive, employees get laid off or the firm is bankrupt and they lose their jobs anyway. When tax revenue declines, states borrow or increase taxes – no one gets laid off. That job security, which I believe is now in jeopardy because of the debt, should make government jobs less remunerative that private jobs.

    The right to free association is not necessarily a right to collective bargaining; however, in the private market, unions may have their place and the government hasn’t a right to stop them. Government unions are grotesque.

    Additionally, you mentioned our democracy being dysfunctional. I don’t see how. Democracy, as a form of government as opposed to a governmental process is always dysfunctional because the demos in democracy are and always will be dysfunctional (sinful). What is dysfunctional is our Republic because it is functioning as a democracy.

    Without the enforcement of the 10th amendment, the repeal of the 17th and 26th amendments, elimination of the Federal Reserve and fiat currency, and restoration of a moral culture based on Judeo-Christian values we are doomed to live in a democracy, which will devolve into a mobocracy (usually accompanied by intermittent anarchy and civil war) and then a dictatorship or oligarchy and finally a totalitarian nightmare.

    So your absolutist comments may in fact lead you to become a Commie, sadly I don’t think that would be your intent or pleasure, but once the mob rules, you’d better join The Party or prepare for martyrdom.

  • However, that doesn’t change the fact that workers have a right to collectively bargain and that right was limited by the Wisconsin legislature.

    I don’t think they’re being denied a right to collectively bargain. Further, the term bargain implies an action done between two or more parties. It’s entirely reasonable for one of the parties to refuse to consider a particular demand (reasonable or not), just as it’s often likely one party may demand something that may or may not be reasonable.

    As others have noted, the public sector IS different than the private sector. That doesn’t mean workers in the public sector have no rights or shouldn’t have, but there are objectively different attributes and relationships that make it different. We live in a democratic republic. When public sector union representatives bargain on behalf of their members, they’re essentially bargaining with the representatives of the citizens (which oddly enough include the union members). The thing is quite troubling when you think about it. It really runs contrary to solidarity because it makes citizens adversaries of sorts. In order for those who have chosen a career of public service to increase their lot they must extract it from those whom they serve. It’s entirely conceivable at some point they will receive more than is just, causing injustice to those who are paying. I think we’re seeing that come to fruition.

  • “This is not the question at issue. I’ll freely grant that the teachers appear to be grossly overpaid with overly generous benefits. However, that doesn’t change the fact that workers have a right to collectively bargain and that right was limited by the Wisconsin legislature. ”

    But again collective bargaining is in regard to the common good. Like private propertly, collective bargaining is a right, but not an absolute right. And as you note teachers who are grossly overpaid and have overly generous benefits in an time when the state is millions in the whole, this right arguably can be limited.

    “Done. Rerum Novarum, 49-57.”

    Read it. No where does it say the state may not limit collective bargaining rights in regards to benefits. No where is that wording present. You may interpret it as so. But that is for you to argue. Others may in good faith disagree given the limits to the rights of collective bargaining and the need to consider the common god.

  • This is the stuff Catholic Social Teaching defends? Mmm, no.

    “Strange But True Provisions of Collective Bargaining”

    Congratulations to Wisconsin. Your governor did you a huge favor.

  • “In the end, we all lost.”

    I would have to agree with that. As important as these fiscal and politicial issues are, were they really worth all the hatred, insults, disruption, intimidation, and mistrust the bill and the protests against it generated?

    I agree that public employee unions have disproportionate clout (remember, I am a NON UNION public employee myself) and that they can’t go on forever demanding the kinds of benefits they have enjoyed. But, is it really wise or just for the GOP and fiscal conservatives to paint them as some kind of Marie Antoinette-like privileged class whom their own families, friends and neighbors should despise? Even the unionized ones aren’t all wealthy.

    Class warfare as a politicial strategy is doomed to fail, and cause more problems than it solves, no matter who starts it. Why not just emphasize that a sustainable government that doesn’t live beyond its means and doesn’t make promises it can’t keep is good for everyone?

    As C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape said, “Some ages are lukewarm and complacent, and it is our task to lull them yet faster asleep. Others, like the present, are unbalanced and prone to faction, and it is our job to inflame them.”

  • “were they really worth all the hatred, insults, disruption, intimidation, and mistrust the bill and the protests against it generated?”

    In my opinion yes. Few important things ever get done in the public sphere, especially against a powerful entrenched interest, without those examples of the Fallen state of Man being a part of the process. This type of return to fiscal sanity is going to happen either through the legislative process or by the states simply running out of the funds to pay public employees and to continue essential government services. I prefer the former to the latter.

  • As important as these fiscal and politicial issues are, were they really worth all the hatred, insults, disruption, intimidation, and mistrust the bill and the protests against it generated?

    Any real reform is going to cause disruption and turmoil. We want our leaders to to engage in substantive change without fretting over poll numbers and worrying that a certain segment of the population is going to demagogue the issue.

    Why not just emphasize that a sustainable government that doesn’t live beyond its means and doesn’t make promises it can’t keep is good for everyone?

    And Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans have been doing that. That they’ve been outshouted by individuals protesting on the Capitol steps and certain pundits is not their problem.

  • Don and Paul, perhaps you missed my point, or I didn’t state it clearly enough. Obviously “real reform” isn’t going to be accomplished without some resistance and some turmoil. But is it really necessary for either side to go out of its way to foment hatred and contempt between fellow citizens?

    I’m thinking more of the effect this issue seems to have had on individual citizens of Wisconsin and elsewhere, provoking them to disrupt friendships and family relationships, to threaten others with violence, and set extremely bad examples for the next generation. I’m thinking of the teachers who called in “sick,” the doctors who dispensed fraudulent sick notes, the police who neglected their duty to keep order and safety in the capitol building, the legislators who abandoned their posts, leftist protesters and bloggers who openly threatened violence to Walker and the GOP. Yes, that’s a lot of bad on the pro-union/leftist/Democrat side.

    But the GOP/conservative side has also made a critical mistake: implementing a strategy based on envy, on encouraging people to think that just because THEY no longer enjoy retirement security or the benefits of unionization in the private sector, the obvious solution is to stir up resentment of their “greedy” and “overpaid” neighbors, friends and families in the public sector who still do.

    With anger and pride reigning on one side and envy reigning on both sides, there’s a lot of potential for damage to real people who will have to live with themselves, others, and God long after this particular dispute is forgotten. That’s what I mean when I wonder if all this was “worth it”. The life of a state, nation, or union contract is a drop in the bucket compared to the lives of the individual souls involved.

  • “But is it really necessary for either side to go out of its way to foment hatred and contempt between fellow citizens?”

    It certainly isn’t necessary Elaine, but it certainly is human. I can recall no big political fight in my lifetime that did not have such aspects. I deplore it, but that does not alter my opinion that the fight over public employee unions is a necessary one and an inevitable one.

    “The life of a state, nation, or union contract is a drop in the bucket compared to the lives of the individual souls involved.”

    That of course is the path of the Amish down by Arcola and elsewhere in this country. Other than dropping out from society and fleeing to a monastery or a convent, I can’t think of any way to avoid being concerned with matters of public policy. We all have a duty to conduct ourselves in a Christian manner in political strife over the course of a nation, but I do not think that Christians are required to absent themselves from the public square simply because the positions they take will cause heated opposition.

    It also might be my Irish heritage. 🙂 The Irish are used to having heated political arguments without taking them too seriously! (Unless the English are involved!)

  • Donald, here’s a quote from St. Jerome that seems apt:

    “If an offense come out of of the truth, better it is that the offense come than that the truth be concealed.”

    By the way, this quote is used by Thomas Hardy in a preface to “Tess of the D’Urbervilles (A Pure Woman), which prompted an interesting exchange on TAC between us awhile back.

    Perhaps your somewhat dim view of Hardy would be ameliorated by reading (or re-reading?)) some of his works. He was conflicted about Christianity (as I am), which I so identify with him.

    Sorry to threadjack.

Rand Paul Gets It

Thursday, March 10, AD 2011

I have never been a fan of Ron Paul, to say the least, but I am rapidly becoming a fan of his son.

Yesterday the Senate in a 44-56 vote rejected the House proposal to cut 57 billion from the budget.  Then the Senate rejected a Democrat proposal to cut the budget by 5 billion dollars, 42 to 58. 

This year the federal budget deficit will be an estimated one and a half trillion dollars and that is probably on the low side.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky voted against both proposals because he believes that neither are serious attempts to come to grips with the sea of red ink which is threatening to destroy this nation’s future prosperity.  He is absolutely correct.

He has proposed 500 billion dollar cuts.  This would be a serious start, but would still leave a deficit this year of a trillion dollars.  Here, hattip to David Fredosso at the Washington Examiner,  are the details of his plan:

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16 Responses to Rand Paul Gets It

  • Even if adopted, that would leave a $1 trillion deficit. Even eliminating DoD will not balance the budget. You either have to acknowledge that the deficit will disappear on its own once economic growth is back in full swing or taxes have to rise.

    I’m all for cutting discretionary spending, though I’d do it more gradually when it involves middle-class jobs. And I’ve been a fan of Ron and Rand, though not a disciple. But Rand’s proposal is junk. Read the end where it sounds like he’s running out of steam. He literally makes up numbers. What the CBO traditionally does, he does and includes in the bill! Did this get vetted at all? It’s not legislation. It’s a blog post. And, he makes all these cuts to regulatory agencies without reducing their regulatory mandates. Cutting FDA funding doesn’t reduce regulation, it just creates delays increases the regulatory burden by increasing delays. He would eliminate the State Department’s International Commissions which would effectively withdraw the US from binding international treaties. He would also eliminate the Bureau of Indian Affairs which literally means anarchy on Indian territories. I don’t mean belt tightening. I mean there would be no cops or courts. Rand may argue that the Indians should be allowed to fail as nations. I think the least the government can do is ensure they have law and order.

  • He does not go far enough. Of course, principle and practical reality must be reconciled. The problem is that reality is uncomfortable and inconvenient.

    If these ‘programs’ are not cut now – they will self-destruct soon.

    Comparing where we are to some Utopian ideal is foolish. We have to take measures now in relation to reality. Within a short while, without course correction (drastic), we will experience hyper-inflation, the implosion of the dollar, world wide depression, civil unrest, supply shortages, massive unemployment and war, possibly civil war too. This is an extreme outcome, but it is inevitable – unless, we cut all spending that is not actually essential. This requires a true assessment of reality, as it is objectively, irrespective of the lack of desire by anyone to actually see it.

    Will there be some unpleasant consequences? Surely. Will some people become very uncomfortable in the short run? Without a doubt. Would we prefer to avoid this and ease into some kind of fiscally prudent reform? Of course, but that time has long past, at least 30 or 40 years ago. As bad as these short-term consequences will be, the consequences of soft measures, political ploys and other irresponsible measures will be far, far worse – probably the end of the United States as we know them.

    It is past time to act and the longer we actually wait, the more drastic the measures will have to be. If we wait too long, then nothing will stop the inevitable destruction.

    As for tax increases, those will only serve to hamper our economic growth – no matter whose taxes are increased. What we should do is reduce taxes slightly, cut spending dramatically and reduce or eliminate most ‘regulation’ – that is political interference in the economy, not authentic regulation that makes the market more free. We need to unleash the massive creative energy of the entrepreneurial American economy in order to grow our way out of this mess. Spending cuts alone won’t do it and tax increases and more debt will never do it.

    We also must have realistic expectations. Things will get much, much worse before they get better and it will take a long time, over a decade. If we think that these changes will yield immediate results, we will be disappointed, then we’ll become agitated and some will resort to plunder, group violence, lawlessness, anarchy. What else can you expect when we now have legalized political plunder as the order of the day. One group against the others, even those alive today against those near death and those not yet born (not only through euthanasia and abortion), but by putting future generations in so much debt that they will be born slaves. Slaves with no incentive to build civilization, merely work off the burden we have laid upon them. Of course, the massive size of the burden will lead to their deaths before it is ever retired.

    We must have a federal government that protects the national borders (all of them, land, air, water, virtual) and a strong military so that no one will take advantage of our internal weakness to attack us. Everyone, will have to let go of their favorite national issues and plunder of the treasury. Everything, save national defense, must become local. This will have many problems and will eventually need to be corrected – but we have no choice.

    The false prosperity of fiat debt renders this argument as cookoo and way out there, but it is not. Correct it now, or possibly never have a chance to correct it again.

    We need more Rand Pauls. Don, despite not being a fan of Ron Paul, we need him and more like him. He will never be president, and I don’t think he’s suited for it, but we need him to bring these issue to the table, issues politicians DO NOT want to discuss – but, they must be addressed. Within the form now, or through violence later. I prefer we keep the form, but time is short.

    It seems to me the only solution is to elect moral men of principle, or at least a suicide squad that has no future political aspirations. The crony culture we have now is nothing but protection of the status quo, which is essentially a socialist revolution that has occurred within the form. Unlike 1789, 1917, 1933 and 1934 in France, Russia, Germany and Spain our revolution occurred gradually and virtually unnoticed. The destructive effects are the same, the difference is we have allowed a back-build to be created and when these forces are unleashed rapidly the destruction will be far worse than anything the Jacobins, Marxian Leninists, Nazis and socialist/anarchists ever unleashed upon the world.

  • “You either have to acknowledge that the deficit will disappear on its own once economic growth is back in full swing or taxes have to rise.”

    Raising taxes to solve this problem is complete non-starter rr. You couldn’t raise them enough to accomplish the goal without killing the economy, not to mention the fact that since the Sixties increasing taxes have never been tied to reducing government spending. We have to radically change the nature of government in this country and our reliance upon it, and Paul Rand understands this. As I noted in my post however, those who pooh pooh this and prefer the status quo are those not dealing with reality. We are near the end of the era of government through endless borrowing. In the future we are going to have a much smaller and more affordable government, by force of our lack of resources if for no other reason.

  • Rand Paul destroys Energy bureaucrat Kathleen Hogan
    hes been on a roll

  • How did the US exist before the federal government spent $1.5 trillion more each year than it spent in 2008?

  • PS: What did we the people get for the $3 trillion in additional national debt?

    Was it $5 a gallon gasoline/home heating oil? Or, an 8.9% unemployment rate?

  • T. Shaw,

    1. As a Confederated Republic

    2. War, socialism, devalued dollar

    3. All lies – everything costs much more than that and when the paper bubble blows we’ll see the real prices, which none of us can afford. Unemployment is closer to 20%.

  • And, he makes all these cuts to regulatory agencies without reducing their regulatory mandates.

    RR is right. If you want to get serious about making these kinds of cuts, then attack the legislation that drives the spending. Instead of throwing out numbers, Paul should tell us which things he would have the Federal gov’t not do. The funny thing is, Americans say they want to control spending, but when asked if they want to do without the major drivers of the spending, they back off. Suddenly, the prospect of the FDA not inspecting food and the FAA not inspecting planes or licensing pilots doesn’t sound so appealing.

    In one section of his proposal, in the very same sentence, Paul claims he wants to cut the civilian defense workforce AND cut waste, fraud, and abuse. What exactly does he think those civilian workers are tasked to do? Then he proceeds to show a histogram showing the growth in the civilian defense workforce… all the while failing to show how military end strength has concurrently declined. The jobs that servicemembers used to do are being taken over by civilian workers.

    I have no problem with getting serious about cutting Federal spending, but I keep waiting for conservatives to understand what needs to change before that spending can decrease. (With due apologies to all that claim civilization as we know it is going to melt down, anyway, and force our hand. I’m leaving that off the table here.)

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  • Do the math.

    Think “aggregate demand” (AG), people. There are (rounded) 100,000,000 million households in the USA. In an alternative reality, the NEW, SPENT debt of $3,000,000,000,000 could have been paid pro-rata to each American family. COMMON GOOD/SOCIAL JUSTICE: The American family would have $30,000 to spend or invest – AG. Instead, each household NEWLY owes $30,000 more than it did before American became blessed with hope and change. Extra credit question: how does excessive debt affect AG?


    Your children and grandchildren will suffer for this.

    Corporate Financial Management 301: When revenue decreases (either from lower sales/lower taxes or higher expenses) the corporation needs to act to rectify the situation. If revenues (sales for businesses, taxes for government) can’t be increased, expenses (cost of goods sold, salaries, benefits, etc.) must (business MUST there is no money/state governments MUST: cannot print money) be cut.

    Anyhow, I wish I had time. Too busy making money for my family. Pull out the “budget. Get out one of them two-foot accounting (or excel) worksheet with at least 12 columns. List the revenues and expenditures from largest down. Start columns with 2007, leave two columns between each year: one for the $ change and one for the % change. Fill it in. Then look at each line item’s level change and trend. VOILA!

    Spending has to decline. This is like gravity. This is hard fact. This is unalterable by appeals to “common good” or “social justice” or “charity.” It is what it is.

    AGAIN: On what did Obama spend $3 trillion in additional national debt?

    Everyone write a letter to your congressman and two sentators asking . . .

    I’m think instead of giving your family $30,000, the zero paid his base $3,000,000,000,000.

    In any event, we are ruined.

  • “RR is right. If you want to get serious about making these kinds of cuts, then attack the legislation that drives the spending.”

    A true recipe for getting nothing done is getting lost in a legislative thicket. Take an axe to the funding first.

    “Suddenly, the prospect of the FDA not inspecting food and the FAA not inspecting planes or licensing pilots doesn’t sound so appealing.”

    This of course is the routine strategy trotted out by people who do not want any government expenditures. (I do not accuse you of being in this camp J. Christian.) I have no doubt that the essential functions of government could be performed quite nicely without the nation going bankrupt.

    “What exactly does he think those civilian workers are tasked to do?”

    Some of my active duty friends are often puzzled by that same question.

  • If I am not mistaken, the operating budgets of federal regulatory agencies in the fiscal year concluding in September amounted to about $65 bn, or less than 2% of all federal expenditures. (A similar sum was expended on the civil police and courts). That may be excessive, but you would have to have fairly granular knowledge of the operations of these agencies to know that. Regulatory agencies are just not a rich vein to mine for cuts.

  • I have no doubt that the essential functions of government could be performed quite nicely without the nation going bankrupt.

    But what are the essential functions? No one addresses the root cause of all this “overhead.” People don’t realize how many statutory requirements are out there that drive the workload of all of these contractors and staff. Simple example: Nunn-McCurdy. It’s there to catch cost overruns. Is the marginal benefit of the law greater than its marginal cost of enforcement? I don’t know. Repeal it and find out. What *doesn’t* work is to cut funding and leave things like Nunn-McCurdy in place. I don’t know about you, but passing lots of laws and not enforcing them seems like a waste of time. Delving into the legislative thicket would stop these round-and-round budget debates, because we could once and for all decide what it is we want the Federal government to do.

    Some of my active duty friends are often puzzled by that same question.

    Actually, it’s often the other way around. The military isn’t doing quality assurance on the products it buys, it’s the civilian workforce. Same with a bunch of other functions. I recently heard a contractor say, “We do all of the work for the military guys, they just take the credit.” I say, let the military do its core job and get out of the business of business. We could eliminate half of the uniformed “Chair Force” that way.

  • Regulatory agencies are just not a rich vein to mine for cuts.

    I would like to know what’s included in the definition of a “regulatory” agency. Is DoD? What those 700,000+ civilian workers are doing might not be strictly called regulatory/compliance work, but a lot of it is program analysis and management — which is an essential function of every agency but probably gets called “overhead” for the purposes of rhetoric.

    but you would have to have fairly granular knowledge of the operations of these agencies to know that

    Exactly. I think that’s what we need. I’m afraid that too many in the civil service are vested in the system, and too many outside it are too detached to care or try. Who is going to take that granular look at what every dept. and agency does, and decide what is truly “essential”? I wouldn’t make broad cuts and just hope that things will turn out okay… I would prefer a more directed approach.

  • I would like to know what’s included in the definition of a “regulatory” agency.

    An agency whose task is in whole or in part to enforce legislated constraints on the conduct of private parties or to collect taxes from them. Excluded from the definition would be agencies (uniformed or no) responsible for enforcing the federal penal code.

    Generally, the Appendix to the Budget of the United States Government indicates in its tables or in annotations and discussions thereto which funds are intended for the regulatory component of an agency’s function, so the spending of agencies which are service providers as well as regulators (e.g. the Federal Aviation Administration) can be parsed.

    It was a back of the envelope exercise on a rapid reading of the Appendix and my memory is not what it used to be, so I may have missed and forgotten some expenditure. The Environmental Protection Agency has a ten-figure budget the bulk of which is devoted to enforcement, but as a rule the budgets of individual agencies are quite modest. IIRC, the regulatory functions of FAA cost about about $1.7 bn. The Securities and Exchange Commission spent (in 2009/10) about $1.1 bn. These two are among the more richly endowed agencies.

    By way of contrast, the National Institutes of Health puked about $30 bn into the patronage of bio-medical research.

  • Rand Paul is proof that sometimes the apples fall far enough from the tree to not get contaminated.

Taps For The Last Doughboy

Thursday, March 10, AD 2011

It is hard to believe they all gone now, the millions of Americans who fought against the Kaiser in the American Expeditionary Force.  Frank Woodruff Buckles, 110, America’s last Doughboy, went to join his fellow soldiers on Sunday, February 17, 2011.  He lied about his age to enlist in the Army at age 16.  He served as an ambulance driver in England and France.  He left the Army in 1920, but that was not the end of his wartime adventures.  In World War 2 he endured three years as a guest of the Emperor, as a civilian POW in the Philippines.  God rest his soul.

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2 Responses to Taps For The Last Doughboy

  • RIP

    If you can find (my village Library doesn’t have one any more) a copy, I suggest reading The Doughboys by Lawrence Stallings. I see it on “Amazon” for about $50.

    And, Tears in the Dark is a personal account of the the Bataan Death March and POW camp/stravation/slave labor conditions in the Philippines in WWII. Then, they shipped to Japan some for worse.

    Greet them ever with grateful hearts.

    Even our younger WWII heroes are in their mid 80’s, now. All my WWII veteran relatives now have gone on to glory.

  • Both my grandfathers served in the military during WWI. They have both, of course, passed on to their rewards. My paternal grandfather (2-28-1899/1-10?-1998) was stationed in England. He served in the Canadian Army. And my maternal grandfather (1890-1954) served in the U.S. Army and saw combat.

    They were both immigrants. The former emigrated from England as a boy in 1910 or 1911. And the latter emigrated from Scotland just before the war I think. He was naturalized at Camp Lee in Virginia in 1918.

Let Us Not Mourn the Passing of These Texts

Wednesday, March 9, AD 2011

I don’t know how many people have been keeping up with the forthcoming changes to the Roman Missal.  This has been a particular passion/hobby of mine lately.  At my home site, I am doing a weekly column of pieces explaining the new translations.  Thus far, I have discussed all the changes to the people’s parts and this Monday I will begin taking up the priest’s parts, starting with Eucharistic Prayer I.  (For those interested, the entire collection can be found here.)

Today at Mass the need for a new translation became crystal clear.  What follows is a comparison of the two prayers from the Mass.  First, the Collect.  What we heard at Mass just hour ago was,

Lord protect us in our struggle against evil.

As we begin the discipline of Lent,

make this day holy by our self-denial.

Not bad … at least there is some discussion of self-denial and discipline.  But listen to the new translation:

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting

this campaign of Christian service,

so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils,

we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.

Holy fasting … campaign … battle against spiritual evils … armed with weapons of self-restraint.  That’s the kind of Lent I’m talking about!  However, what really got me going was the Prayer Over the Ashes.  Here is the current “translation”:

Dear friends in Christ, let us ask our Father

to bless these ashes which we will use

as the mark of our repentance.

Lord, bless the sinner who asks for your forgiveness

and bless all those who receive these ashes.

May they keep this lenten season

in preparation for the joy of Easter.

Before we get to the new translation, just for kicks, let’s look at the Latin:

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9 Responses to Let Us Not Mourn the Passing of These Texts

Ash Wednesday: God Wills It!

Wednesday, March 9, AD 2011

Lent is a time for confronting evil, especially the evil within us.  Today is Ash Wednesday.  The origins of the use of ashes on Ash Wednesday is lost in the mists of Church history.  The first pope to mention Ash Wednesday, although the custom was very old by his time, was Pope Urban II.  At the Council of Clermont in 1095, the same Council at which the Pope issued his world altering call for the First Crusade, the Council handed down this decree (among others):  10-11. No layman shall eat meat after the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday until Easter. No cleric shall eat meat from Quinquagesima Sunday until Easter.

That the first pope to mention Ash Wednesday was the same pope who launched the First Crusade is very appropriate.  Although even many Catholics may not realize this today, from first to last the Crusades were a penitential rite for the remission of sins.  One of the foremost modern historian of the Crusades, Thomas Madden, notes this:

During the past two decades, computer-assisted charter studies have demolished that contrivance. Scholars have discovered that crusading knights were generally wealthy men with plenty of their own land in Europe. Nevertheless, they willingly gave up everything to undertake the holy mission. Crusading was not cheap. Even wealthy lords could easily impoverish themselves and their families by joining a Crusade. They did so not because they expected material wealth (which many of them had already) but because they hoped to store up treasure where rust and moth could not corrupt. They were keenly aware of their sinfulness and eager to undertake the hardships of the Crusade as a penitential act of charity and love. Europe is littered with thousands of medieval charters attesting to these sentiments, charters in which these men still speak to us today if we will listen. Of course, they were not opposed to capturing booty if it could be had. But the truth is that the Crusades were notoriously bad for plunder. A few people got rich, but the vast majority returned with nothing.

Pope Urban II was clear on this point in calling for the first Crusades when he reminded the chivalry of Europe of their manifold sins and called them to repentance through the Crusade:

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6 Responses to Ash Wednesday: God Wills It!

  • Medieval penances included Crusades and pilgrimages. See St. Bernard de Clairvaux’ endorsement of the Knights Templars.

    Christendom suffered 400 years of Islamic invasions, massacres and rapines. Then in 1095, in defense of itself and of its “children,” Christendom launched the First Crusade.

    One cannot easily reconcile 21st century “human dignity/peace/justice/secularism” with 11th century Faith and piety.

  • Deus le volt

    Its interesting that you say the crowds shouted these words.

    Many commentators today claim that it was the Pope who uttered these words, and use that as one of the bases for attacking the Crusades – even many Catholics think this, and is now promoted by liberal teachers and scholars that the Crusades were an evil attack on ‘poor peaceful (gag) muslims’.

    I have even had to explain to people in our RCIA group – not just the candidates – how wrong this understanding is.

  • Popular ignorance of the Crusades Don is never to be underestimated. Most people are simply ignorant of the fact that Islam and Christianity had been at war for more than four centuries by the time of the First Crusade and that Islam was almost always the aggressor.

  • The Timeline
    630 Two years before Muhammad’s death of a fever, he launched the Tabuk Crusade, in which he led 30,000 jihadists against the Byzantine Christians.
    632-634 Caliph Abu Bakr reconquer sometimes conquer for the first time the polytheists of Arabia. The Arab polytheists had to convert to Islam or die.
    633 Khalid al-Walid, the Sword of Allah for his ferocity, conquers the city of Ullays along the Euphrates River (in today’s Iraq). Khalid captures and beheads so many that a nearby canal, into which the blood flowed, was called Blood Canal (Tabari 11:24 / 2034-35).
    634 At the Battle of Yarmuk in Syria the Muslim Crusaders defeat the Byzantines. .
    635 Muslim Crusaders besiege and conquer Damascus
    636 Muslim Crusaders defeat Byzantines decisively at Battle of Yarmuk.
    637 Muslim Crusaders conquer Iraq at the Battle of al-Qadisiyyah
    638 Muslim Crusaders conquer and annex Jerusalem, taking it from the Byzantines.
    638-650 Muslim Crusaders conquer Iran, except along Caspian Sea.
    639-642 Muslim Crusaders conquer Egypt.
    641 Muslim Crusaders control Syria and Palestine.
    643-707 Muslim Crusaders conquer North Africa.
    644-650 Muslim Crusaders conquer Cyprus, Tripoli in North Africa, and establish Islamic rule in Iran, Afghanistan, and Sind.
    673-678 Arabs besiege Constantinople, capital of Byzantine Empire
    691 Dome of the Rock is completed in Jerusalem, only six decades after Muhammad’s death.
    710-713 Muslim Crusaders conquer the lower Indus Valley.
    711-713 Muslim Crusaders conquer Spain and impose the kingdom of Andalus.
    732 The Muslim Crusaders stopped at the Battle of Poitiers; that is, Franks (France) halt Arab advance
    756 Foundation of Umayyid amirate in Cordova, Spain, setting up an independent kingdom from Abbasids
    785 Foundation of the Great Mosque of Cordova
    807 Caliph Harun al-Rashid orders the destruction of non-Muslim prayer houses and of the church of Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem
    809 Aghlabids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Sardinia, Italy
    813 Christians in Palestine are attacked; many flee the country
    831 Muslim Crusaders capture Palermo, Italy; raids in Southern Italy
    850 Caliph al-Matawakkil orders the destruction of non-Muslim houses of prayer
    837-901 Aghlabids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Sicily, raid Corsica, Italy, France
    909 Rise of the Fatimid Caliphate in Tunisia; these Muslim Crusaders occupy Sicily, Sardinia
    928-969 Byzantine military revival, they retake old territories, such as Cyprus (964) and Tarsus (969)
    937 The Ikhshid, a particularly harsh Muslim ruler, writes to Emperor Romanus, boasting of his control over the holy places
    937 The Church of the Resurrection (known as Church of Holy Sepulcher in Latin West) is burned down by Muslims; more churches in Jerusalem are attacked
    966 Anti-Christian riots in Jerusalem
    969 Fatimids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Egypt and found Cairo
    c. 970 Seljuks enter conquered Islamic territories from the East
    973 Israel and southern Syria are again conquered by the Fatimids
    1003 First persecutions by al-Hakim; the Church of St. Mark in Fustat, Egypt, is destroyed
    1009 Destruction of the Church of the Resurrection by al-Hakim (see 937)
    1012 Beginning of al-Hakim’s oppressive decrees against Jews and Christians
    1015 Earthquake in Palestine; the dome of the Dome of the Rock collapses
    1048 Reconstruction of the Church of the Resurrection completed
    1055 Confiscation of property of Church of the Resurrection
    1071 Battle of Manzikert, Seljuk Turks (Muslim Crusaders) defeat Byzantines and occupy much of Anatolia
    1071 Turks (Muslim Crusaders) invade Palestine
    1073 Conquest of Jerusalem by Turks (Muslim Crusaders)
    1075 Seljuks (Muslim Crusaders) capture Nicea (Iznik) and make it their capital in Anatolia
    1076 Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) (see 1050) conquer western Ghana
    1085 Toledo is taken back by Christian armies
    1086 Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) (see 1050) send help to Andalus, Battle of Zallaca
    1090-1091 Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) occupy all of Andalus except Saragossa and Balearic Islands
    1094 Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus I asks western Christendom for help against Seljuk invasions of his territory; Seljuks are Muslim Turkish family of eastern origins; see 970
    1095 Pope Urban II preaches first Crusade; they capture Jerusalem in 1099

    So it is only after four centuries of Islamic invasions Western Christendom launches its first Crusades.

  • “630 Two years before Muhammad’s death of a fever, he launched the Tabuk Crusade, in which he led 30,000 jihadists against the Byzantine Christians.” Muhammed did not launch a crusade, he launched a jihad.
    “634 At the Battle of Yarmuk in Syria the Muslim Crusaders defeat the Byzantines.” The jihadists are properly identified in the first sentence, then improperly identified as crusaders in the rest of the post. Otherwise a very good time line.

Religious Egalitarianism

Tuesday, March 8, AD 2011

The five minute window between approximately 5:16 and 5:21 p.m. is my least favorite time of the day.  Not only am I usually waiting for a bus that has about a 25% chance of showing up,  that’s when both the sports radio talk show that I listen to and the Michael Medved show hit commercial breaks.  This leaves me a few options: turn off the darned radio for a few minutes, see if one of the FM stations is playing a good song, or flip to Sean Hannity.  Perhaps out of some yearning to perform an daily act of penance I often choose option three.  (To understand why this is a quasi-penitential act for me, you can read my post about Hannity here.)  At least he usually has on a guest during this time slot who is both more informative and entertaining than he is – a low bar to be sure.

Today he had two guests, both Muslim.  One was a woman that I’ve heard on his show before.  I am not sure if she is currently a practicing Muslim, but she clearly thinks that it is in the thrall of radicals, and she makes this clear by practically shouting each word that she speaks.  The other gentleman was a “moderate” Muslim.  The few minutes of the exchange that I listened to largely consisted of the former insisting that the latter’s abhorrence of sharia law and radicalism was a minority viewpoint within Islam, and the latter insisting that he represented the majority viewpoint.  Neither really advanced any supporting evidence for either viewpoint save to just insist more fervently in their respective positions. Thrilling radio.

Before tuning out to return to the vitally important discussion of the NCAA tournament (perhaps an even stricter form of penance), the man said something that struck me as rather bizarre.  He stated that he did not think that any religion was any better than any other, and that to believe that one’s own religion was superior to other religions was a sign of arrogance.

Come again?

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11 Responses to Religious Egalitarianism

  • “after all, why hold to said faith if it isn’t the true one?”


  • Christ did not say I am one of the ways and one of the truths. Of course, for people who believe that religions are basically clubs with god-talk, I can understand how they view each of these clubs as equally valid. Those who view religion as the true reality underlying their existence, have a somewhat different view.

  • I caught that broadcast, too – my excuse is that my Mrs likes Sean Hannity…as she married me, maybe its just an affinity for Paddys. Anyways…

    That statement by the “moderate” Moslem jarred me, too, though a case can be made that any excuse for moderating the exceptional violence and barbarism of Islam is to be welcomed. But your point is well taken – why believe any religion unless you believe it to be the correct one? I have an absolute conviction that not only is Jesus Our Lord; the Christ, the Son of the Living God, but that His Church is headquartered in Rome and Benedict the XVI is the successor to the man Our Lord gave the keys to. I wouldn’t go in to a Moslem’s home and just shout this at him…but if asked, it is what I’ll answer…and, in truth, I should probably be a bit more forceful and proclaim it often among non-believers.

  • Yet more troubling is the message that Islam, in order to become less of a threat to the world, must relativize its claim to possess the truth. That plays directly into the hands of Muslim rigorists who pose as the defenders of the uncompromised and uncompromisible truth and who call for death to the infidels. If Islam is to become tolerant and respectful of other religions, it must be as the result of a development that comes from within the truth of Islam, not as a result of relativizing or abandoning that truth. Is Islam capable of such a religious development? Nobody knows. But, if the choice is between compromising Islamic truth or a war of civilizations, it is almost certain that the winner among Muslims will be the hard-core Islamism that [Bernard] Lewis rightly views as such a great threat.

    Christianity is more, not less, vibrantly Christian as a result of coming to understand more fully the mysterious and loving ways of God in His dealings also with non-Christians. Although the story of this development is complex, the important truth is that tolerance and mutual respect are religious, not secular, achievements. I will say it again: the reason we do not kill one another over our disagreements about the will of God is that we believe it is against the will of God to kill one another over our disagreements about the will of God. Christians have come to believe that. We must hope that more and more Muslims will come to believe that. That will not happen, however, if they are told that coming to believe that will make them less faithful Muslims.

    ~ Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus (First Things June/July 2003)

  • Christopher:

    Where precisely is there pressure put upon Muslims to “relatavize its claim to possess the truth”? I am assuming you are citing Fr. Neuhaus agreeably. Their claims, as well as the Christian claim, to truth is often challenged. It is the duty of both to answer those challenges. Christians, in large part, do. Whereas many traditional Muslims regard such challenges as a bigoted threat.

  • Blessed Nicholas Tavilich stated, “You Mohammedans . . . Your Koran is not God’s law nor is it revealed by Him. It is founded neither in the Old Testament nor in the New. Far from being a good thing, your law is utterly evil. In it are lies, foolish things, buffooneries, contradictions, and much that leads not to virtue and goodness but to evil and to all manner of vice.”

    “But the holy monk (St. George of San Saba) having declared that Mahomet was a disciple of the devil, and that his followers were in a state of perdition, he also was condemned (to martyrdom) with his companions.”

    Five disciples of St. Francis of Assisi, who when reproached by the followers of Koran for preaching against Mohammed, simply responded by saying “We have come to preach faith in Jesus Christ to you, that you will renounce Mohammad, that wicked slave of the devil, and obtain everlasting life like us.”

  • T. Shaw,

    You’re a bigot! 😉

  • I do a comedy bit with my friends about the Sean Hannity show, how he cites four facts per show:

    (first hour) One! Two! One and Two!
    (second hour) Three!! One and Three!! Two and Three!! One, Two, and Three!!
    (third hour) Four!!! One and Four!!! etc.

    As scary as extremist Islam can be, there’s something possibly more dangerous about moderate Islam. Moderate Islam has the potential to become the easiest religion in the world. There is one God, Muhammed is his prophet (even though what he said isn’t that important), try not to do bad stuff, or if you do, try not to do it again. That creed could produce a wussier religion than mainstream Protestantism ever could.

    Lazy, feel-good Christianity has to contend with two challenges: the Cross, and the Church. Protestantism steps around the authority of the Apostles, and avoids depictions of Christ crucified, but they still recognize the fact of Christ crucified. What would moderate Islam have to keep its followers on the straight and narrow?

    I think moderate Islam could sweep through the West in the same way that watered-down Buddhism has in the past 50 years, but in much greater numbers. We may be seeing the beginning of it in the fraternity that politically-liberal America feels with the Muslim third world.

  • Knight:

    Did you see my earlier comment, which was deleted?

    It explained the “situation” without spending 15,000 words worth of click-clacking.

    “Let not your hearts be troubled.”

    Mr. Zummo could “get it” from an immoderate mislum over allowing that comment.

    This was a republic, but they were unable to keep it.

  • This thread was not meant to be about Islam, but rather about how some people have a squishy view of religion. It just so happened that the individual who made the comment is Muslim. I have no quibble with discussing the errors of Islamic faith – this just isn’t the thread for it.

  • T. Shaw,

    I did not see an earlier post. My tongue in cheek comment was referencing the fact that I believe is the point of this thread. Noting the difference in faith, or anything else for that matter, is not an insult to anyone, although most people take it that way. To presume all religions are the same, is to negate the very idea of religion. If religion is understood as the justice we owe to God, then it can only be true if it is on His terms. Most of today’s religions, including most forms of Catholicism (as they are practiced) are more about us than Him.

    If we establish egalitarianism in regards to God, the only question is are we raising ourselves to God’s level or bringing Him down to ours? I suppose some simply think we should just become gods and then who would need the God hypothesis.

    God established a kingdom, it is necessarily hierarchical, which is over and against egalitarianism, except with respect to dignity.

    Paul, it is evident that this post is not about Islam per se; however, it is the most virile of opponents to the true faith, which creates an interesting point vis. this topic. Islam expresses no egalitarian equivalency with other faith. It is considered superior to the point of waging endless war (jihad) to make the world Dar al Islam. Yet our culture always tries to place Islam above all forms of Christianity. One has to wonder how secularists and sentimental Christians find it comfortable to revere an authoritarian religion like Islam merely because it is against the Truth.

Inequality, Heritability and the American Dream

Tuesday, March 8, AD 2011

Ever since people finished identifying “the American Dream” — the idea that in the US in particular and the New World in general somehow allowed people to escape the hidebound social structures of the Old World and better themselves via their own efforts — people have been worried that it is on the point of dying. Americans continue to show an an unusual degree of belief in the ability those who work hard to better themselves by their own efforts. For instance, in the 1999 International Social Survey, 61% of Americans agreed that “people get rewarded for their effort”, whereas only 41% of Japanese agreed, 33% of British and 23% of French. This belief has actually increased in recent decades. In 2005 the New York Times reported that while in 1983 only about 60% Americans agreed that “It is possible to start out poor, work hard and become rich” by 2005 nearly 80% of Americans agreed with that statement.

And yet, those who study inter-generational income mobility have been increasingly worried in recent decades that despite American’s belief that people can work hard and get ahead, that it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to actually achieve this in the US. In a lengthy report by the liberal think thank Center for American Progress, Tom Hertz of American university brings together a number of the recent studies on intergenerational income mobility in the US as compared to other countries, showing how people who are born into the lower income quartiles in the United States are less likely to reach the top levels of income than in other countries such as Germany, Sweden or Denmark.

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7 Responses to Inequality, Heritability and the American Dream

  • “This may reflect the effects of discrimination in the labor market, but may also result from factors such as the difference in the quality of schooling acquired by blacks and whites. Note also that while we have controlled for a long list of parental personality variables, we have not been able to
    control for that same list among the children. It is thus possible that given ostensibly comparable family backgrounds, African American and white children develop different attitudes towards economic success that are then reflected in their family incomes.”

    This seemed interesting given that mobility for Latinos was not significantly affected by their race. (It would also have been interesting if Asians were included.) One might hypothesize that schools are generally poor for Latinos as well as African-Americans. If that is the case, then increasing quality of education would not be as useful as improving “attitudes towards economic success.”

    This conclusion is supported by this which shows that increasing expenditure on schools does not necessarily improve outcome:

  • As it turns out, heritability of IQ can explain only about 5% of the correlation between parent/child income (in other words, controlling for heritability of IQ reduces the parent/child income correlation from .42 to .4). The reason for this is that while IQ does appear to be substantially heritable, the correlation between IQ and income is fairly weak (.27).

    Granted, IQ is only one trait which is both potentially heritable and correlated with income. Things like willingness to work hard, for example, may be partly heritable. However, these traits are presumably also present in other countries where the parent/child income correlation is a lot lower.

  • Blackadder,

    GNXP seems to be down at the moment, so I can’t follow your link, though I did find this someone interesting EconLog post linking to the same GeneExpression post:

    I don’t have a particular dog in the IQ fight — I have an inherent dislike for the IQ concept, have never had mine measured, etc. That said, it seems to me that we have a couple of pretty basic conceptual issues to sort out here:

    – People in the US tend to want to believe that “anyone” can succeed, and so that success correlates, to a great extent, with the extent to which people have striven to “get ahead”.

    – Additionally, people tend to want to believe that through some constellation of factors (genes, education, instilling “values”, etc.) they can prepare their children to have success equal to or greater than their own.

    Now, either one or both of these are totally false, or else one would expect, after a certain period, a country to become fairly “sorted” and to find that many people achieve success moderately similar to their parents — not necessarily because there are nefarious forces keeping their parents from succeeding, but because their parents success is a measure of their parents effort and their parents have been moderately successful in passing on the characteristics (whatever they are) that allowed their own success.

    Certainly, you’re right that the degree to which humans tend to inherit the characteristics of their parents is likely to be consistent across countries, and there is a good deal of variation across countries in regards to the degree to which parental income correlates with child income. However, that could potentially be the result either of the country being less sorted (and thus people’s parents abilities having less correlation to their incomes than is the case in the US) or to some difference in cultural attitudes and drives.

    The perception that success is primarily the result of chance is much more prevalent in some of those countries with lower correlations of parent to child income — and the lower correlation of parent to child income could, depending on what assumptions one makes about the heritability of whatever traits it is that result in success could in fact be the result of greater randomness rather than greater correlation of ability to reward.

  • As I think about it further, there are really three beliefs which, like many Americans and classical liberals, I find myself strongly attached to:

    1) People are all fairly equal — there is not some “peasant class” which is inherently fit only for inhabiting the bottom levels of society.
    2) Hard work, saving, etc. will result in “getting ahead”.
    3) By bringing your kids up right and teaching them well, you can make it pretty likely that they’ll all do as well or better than you.

    The thing is, these three beliefs are not really compatible. If it’s true that via effort and ability one can “get ahead”, and if by bringing your kids up well you can assure that most of them will do the same or better than you, then necessarily people are not all that equal (as shown by the fact that not everyone “gets ahead”.

    As a result, people necessarily end up de-emphasizing at least one of these three in order to try to make some sense of the thing. (Or else mindlessly asserting all three without thinking about the contradictions.)

  • Darwin, your three beliefs are logically incompatible only if you assume all parents are bringing up their children right and teaching them well, and that is demonstrably false. I am reasonably confident in the accuracy of your first belief as long as “fairly” is underscored. Most people with multiple children observe remarkable aptitude variances notwithstanding the same gene pool. The second is most certainly true as a generality. The last belief is problematic. Children of achievers seldom equal or surpass the achievements of their parents. There are several reasons for this, which are reasonably obvious upon modest reflection. Nonethless, like most Americans achievers share (or at least want to share) your last belief, but the odds are they will be disappointed even assuming sound child-rearing. But it is certainly true that good parenting produces better results than poor parenting, but that is a different point.

    In the end, the real debate is over the role of luck. Even assuming away dogmatic biological materialism, liberals tend to over-estimate its importance and conservatives tend to under-estimate it. It is a very important factor (indeed being born into a loving family and with a brain wired for aptitudes the market values is luck), but ordering a society around the assumption that luck is the dominant if not dispositive factor (which at bottom is what many liberals would like to do) is extremely pernicious in that it will fail to reward prudent behavior and punish imprudent behavior thereby making society much worse off for all.

  • I agree with your three points, Darwin. Point number 2 is the funny one. Some people will tend to balk at that statement, reading into it a cold and (dare I say) Calvinist worldview. As Mike pointed out nobody denies the presense and influence of “luck”, it’s a matter of to what degree it plays a part. Clearly people of our mind allow for good fortune and misfortune, but the exception prove the rule.

    As a test we can ask the question of the naysayers: how far do you suppose someone will get in life if they don’t work hard or make no effort to save or at least limit discretionary spending? The answer to me is self evident and I suppose it would have to be to them as well. I also think you can rework point 3 that way too. I doubt you would get many people to disagree with point 1, but unfortunately I think there are a number of people who subscribe to it in practice. Oddly enough they’re likely to be the same people who have no use for points 2 and 3.

  • Oops, that should be “people who don’t subscribe to it in practice”.

Tax and Spend Impasse

Tuesday, March 8, AD 2011

Reading a rather cursory opinion piece this morning (calling for federal spending to be decreased) it occurred to me that there’s an interesting symmetry to what the more aggressive advocates of tax increases and spending cuts suggest:

The most passionate tax increase advocates frame their calls for tax increases in terms of some prior level of taxation: “We should roll back all the Bush tax cuts and return to the tax rates people payed under Clinton. We all remember the ’90’s; the world didn’t end when the top marginal tax rate was 39.6%” or “By golly, we should go back to the tax tables that were in force under that ‘socialist’ Eisenhower. 91% top marginal rate. That’ll teach those corporate fat cats to vote themselves bonuses.”

Similarly, when passionate spending cutters explain their plans, they tend to phrase it in terms of rolling back to a previous level of spending: “These ‘draconian’ cuts in fact only represent a return to 2006 spending levels. Did we starve in the streets then? Did the world end?”

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7 Responses to Tax and Spend Impasse

  • The dilemma (or one of them) is that any plan to phase in spendings cuts or tax increases to lessen the shock is dependent upon our elected representatives actually abiding by the phase-in. Possible. But likely? Not when Democrats in the Senate are unable to find more than $10bn to cut in discretionary spending.

  • That’s the thing about government spending: every dollar goes into someone’s paycheck. (Some go into overseas paychecks, and that should stop, but that’s a tiny percentage of the whole and cutting it to zero wouldn’t change the problem.) Even the “waste and corruption” that they’re always promising to cut — every dollar of that goes to pay someone to be wasteful or corrupt. So every spending cut means someone somewhere takes home less money.

    But the debt-fueled money tree is running out, so now the battle will be over who takes home less. Government workers have made it clear that they don’t intend to share in the pain; and they write the rules, so it seems like a stacked deck. But they’re still outnumbered (barely) and the client class that they’ve teamed up with in the past may not sit quietly while its own benefits are cut to fund lavish pensions for others.

    It’s going to have to come from somewhere.

  • “Not when Democrats in the Senate are unable to find more than $10bn to cut in discretionary spending.”

    How can you say that. That is 0.28% of the 2011 budget. What are we going to do with only 99.72% of the budget? Imagine if I had to cut my personal spending that much.

  • Phillip,

    Every. Dollar. Is. Essential.

    Don’t you get it?


  • Hah, another conservative seeking to starve the poor, make homeless the widow, oppress the workers, etc. etc. etc. 🙂

  • That’s the thing about government spending: every dollar goes into someone’s paycheck.

    I suppose this is true in a certain sense, in that wherever money goes it arguably eventually ends up in someone’s paycheck, but it’s certainly not directly so.

    So, for instance, if the Feds did not subsidize sugar prices, it’s not necessarily the case that sugar farmers would end up out of work, they might simply raise prices, which would cascade through the economy, raise a lot of prices, result in some consumption re-adjustments, create a larger market for corn syrup, and mostly be absorbed without anyone in particular losing their jobs. More to the point, if jobs did get lost over it, it might be next to impossible to figure out who and how the chain of events had caused it.

    I don’t have the numbers handy, but to my understanding most federal money does not go directly to any particular federal worker’s salary.

  • It really doesn’t matter whether it’s direct or not. If the sugar farmer raises his prices because his subsidy got cut, that just means the dollar comes out of his customers’ pockets instead of his own. The point is, if the government stops spending on something, that’s money someone no longer gets. If it buys fewer fighter jets, that means fewer people get paid to build them. If it stops funding midnight basketball courts, someone no longer gets paid to build them.

    I also said “someone’s paycheck,” not “a federal worker’s paycheck.” The “client class” which will soon be in a conflict with the government worker class includes those sugar farmers, as well as SSI recipients, people who build munitions, etc. Whether they get a check directly from the US Treasury or not, they’re dependent to some extent on continued government spending, and they’ll vote (and perhaps assemble into angry mobs) accordingly.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’d cut federal spending to the bone, and in the long term we’d be better off. But it’s going to hurt in the short term, because we’ve become so dependent on it.

NPR: Your Tax Dollars at Work

Tuesday, March 8, AD 2011

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  The above video features the latest sting operation of James O’Keefe.  The President of  the NPR foundation meets with alleged members of an Islamic group dedictated to spreading Sharia, and the merriment begins!

The Daily Caller’s report focuses on the liberal hysteria aspect of the meeting:

In a new video released Tuesday morning by conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe, Schiller and Betsy Liley, NPR’s director of institutional giving, are seen meeting with two men who, unbeknownst to the NPR executives, are posing as members of a Muslim Brotherhood front group. The men, who identified themselves as Ibrahim Kasaam and Amir Malik from the fictitious Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC) Trust, met with Schiller and Liley at Café Milano, a well-known Georgetown restaurant, and explained their desire to give to $5 million to NPR because, “the Zionist coverage is quite substantial elsewhere.”

On the tapes, Schiller wastes little time before attacking conservatives. The Republican Party, Schiller says, has been “hijacked by this group.” The man posing as Malik finishes the sentence by adding, “the radical, racist, Islamaphobic, Tea Party people.” Schiller agrees and intensifies the criticism, saying that the Tea Party people aren’t “just Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic, I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”

Schiller goes on to describe liberals as more intelligent and informed than conservatives. “In my personal opinion, liberals today might be more educated, fair and balanced than conservatives,” he said.

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15 Responses to NPR: Your Tax Dollars at Work

  • My favorite line came from a commenter at Hot Air who noted that while Schiller claims liberals are oh so smarter than us po’, ing’nint rubes, he somehow couldn’t figure out how to use Google to research MEAC and alert himself that this was a scam.

  • But they “LIED” to those poor NPR folks !!!

  • The only Google results for MEAC prior to the filming of the video were of other people falling for it.

    Anyway, the video only reveals what everyone already knew. Kinda disappointed actually. No pimps?

  • But cutting NPR would be anti-life because NPR supports Barrack Obama and Obama is the most pro-life president ever.

  • Like others, I wasn’t surprised by these revelations. And when you get away from the news stuff, there are a number of excellent programs which are supported by NPR.

    Having said that… as much as I enjoy those programs, everything needs to be on the table right now. I wouldn’t have agreed with those who’ve called for defunding public broadcasting years ago, but today… there just isn’t the money.

  • Is that genius one of the NPR guys that we the people pay about $1 million per year?

    @ 9:45AM: “But they “LIED” to those poor NPR folks !!!”

    Therefore, you must (if you want them to think you are a “good” Catholic) end your opposition to NPR; embrace liberal socialism, abortion, gay privileges, immigration, return AZ and CA to Mexico, oppose the war on terror, help dismantle the evil, unjust private sector, hate America, . . . ; and write to your congressman telling him to give NPR $1 trillion of other people’s tax money; and for the rest of your life vote for Obama and all dems . . .

    I much prefer PBR.


  • Jay was being sarcastic T. Shaw.

  • Me too . . .

    BTW: PBR is . . . never mind.

  • I don’t know, some days CA seems more trouble than its worth. Maybe some deal that gives us a bit of Yucatan beach front property?

  • Dirty pool, I suppose, but now that it is out there the trustees of NPR cannot pretend what has been said has not been said. Which means issuing a pink slip.

  • Art, I read elsewhere that the guy is already leaving for the Aspen Institute.

  • Which means issuing a pink slip.

    Just in the past few days Schiller announced that he was leaving NPR for another gig, so at least NPR can make its bland statement about the comments being “inappropriate” without having to do the dirty work of firing him.

  • Or they can do the dirty work without any real cost to anyone, and appear principled in the process.

  • Vivian Schiller is a she.

  • Yes, but Vivian isn’t the one who was caught in the sting; Ron Schiller (no relation) is the guy who spoke the idiocy.

Multiculturalism Explained

Tuesday, March 8, AD 2011

You are on target Klavan on the Culture!  Knowledge of other cultures and their history is a great thing.  Multiculturalism, however, has become merely a mantra for those who wish to excuse bad behavior, here and abroad, if the malefactors can claim favored victim status bestowed by the forces of the Left.  Curiously, or pehaps not so curiously, it is usually embraced by political liberals, who are often notoriously intolerant towards domestic political opponents who have ideas that differ one iota from their own.

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5 Responses to Multiculturalism Explained

  • The British also wiped out the infamous Thug cult of heriditary murderers too. William Sleeman’s Thug or A Million Murders has the chilling and fascinating story of how one man with iron determination wiped out a intergenerational gang of cold blooded killers.

  • The video got one thing right about multiculturalism. “No one’s really crazy enough to believe it.” And nobody does. Multiculturalism as presented in the video is a caricature. No defender of multiculturalism, would defend female circumcision. In fact, they are usually less tolerant of non-conforming morals (as opposed to the amoral aspects of cultures). They don’t tolerate rural gun cultures, traditional gender roles, or discrimination against homosexuals.

    When critics talk about multiculturalism, they mean two things: Islam and ethnic diversity. Chinese immigrants don’t do suicide bombings. The threat of Islam as an invading culture is overblown to say the least. Their numbers in the West are just too miniscule and most of them are Westernized. The only way to reduce their influence any further would be to ban the religion. The rest of the criticism against multiculturalism isn’t about morals. It’s directed at Catholics and Eastern Orthodox of Mexican and Eastern European descent. Those who share the same morals. People don’t like foreigners taking jobs, buying out businesses, and talking in an incomprehensible language. It’s properly called xenophobia.

    I don’t know why we should look to Europe for guidance on how to order society. Europe is naturally more xenophobic since they were once comprised of homogeneous nations. They’re experiencing what the US went through a century ago. Back then, the KKK was a bulwark against multiculturalism. Around 1920 was America’s “multiculturalism has failed” moment. We eventually got over it. Europe should learn from the US.

  • “No defender of multiculturalism, would defend female circumcision.”

    Quite untrue RR.

    The moral nihilism at the core of the multicultural endeavor is not to be underestimated.

  • Now I get it.

    Mr. Dalton, I’ve seen on-line defenses of thugee. They were “practicing their religion serving Ma Cali.” And, English rule was far worse.

    The Raj also ended “suttee” the so-called religious custom where a dead man’s widow was emolated on the man’s funeral pyre. The Brit General, Napier, I think, was told that was the custom. His rejoinder, the Brits also have a custome. They hang men that burn to death women.

    And, the Conquistadores, the most vilest white men since Creation, ended human sacrifice and brought Christ to the Americas.

    I abruptly stopped making donations to a certain missionary order when its magazine editors apologized to native Americans for converting their ancestors from pagainism.

    I know. I’m a bad person . . .

  • The problem with multiculuralism is the multi part. it isn’t true. ‘Multiculturalism’ is properly understood as materialism/socialism. It is better defined by what it isn’t, rather than what it is. It is not Christian. Anything else goes. Too simplistic? Ask yourself what is ‘tolerated’ and what is not tolerated. Homosexualism, abortion, paganism, atheism, plural marriage, perverse sex, drugs, jihadism, etc. all tolerated. Traditional family, Christianity (especially that orthodox Catholic stuff), European culture (from before the Enlightenment) and all its offshoots – not tolerated.

    It seems pretty simple. Good things are bad and evil things are good. Never mind the objective definitions, I decide – it is the dictatorship of me, which becomes a Hobbesian war of all against all. Perhaps when he wrote that, he was not referring to the pre-historic natural state, but to the one we are building, or is that merely what’s left after we are done destroying? Hmm . . .

    What is real multiculuralism? The Catholic Church. Have you seen how many Rites there are? How many different people are in the One Body? Even women and foreigners, not to mention those in other dimensions like Saints and perhaps other species, angels. The Church is trans-dimensional multiculturalism – it trumps plain old one dimensional materialist multiculturalism.

43 Responses to Armchair Pro-Lifers

  • Paul, I greatly enjoyed the post. I would note that Erin Manning, a follower of His Sheaness :), took great umbrage at it:

  • Hits the nail squarely on the head.

    Probably the main reason that only the dead have seen the end of abortion, and we have serial Obama bloviations at so-called catholic institutions.

  • Typical rubbish from the sanctimonious navel gazers who are the very people Archbold is writing about. I suppose he hit just a little too close to home judging by the hyper-sensitive, meandering response she posted.

  • I’m sure Pat is just crushed that he’s lost her respect. Just absolutely crushed.

    “Thank you God that I am not like all the ‘liars’ like Lila Rose and all the ‘Republican shills’ like Pat Archbold.”

    All the while bearing false witness against Pat in her assessment of what he wrote.

  • I was expecting to feel like utter crud because my family doesn’t have enough resources to do as much for pro-life as I wish we could, we can’t go protest in front of abortion clinics, and that’s always how it goes… I was utterly shocked to see someone finally calling out the “pro-life defeatist” types.

    The responses are a little funny, though– personal attacks and mis-characterizations, by and large. It really must have stung.

  • Red Cardigan seems to sum up a lot of the more angry responses with her:

    Hear that, sidewalk counselors, crisis pregnancy volunteers, 40 Days for Life participants, Rosary for Life devotees, and anyone else who prays and works daily to end abortion in America? You’re not really pro-life unless you vote Republican; and if you hold your nose whilst doing so, you’re probably an evil fifth columnist who will be first on the waterboard when the revolution comes.

    But that seems to be pretty much the opposite of what Patrick is critiquing. Rather, he’s going after the people who sit on the sidelines and opine that they would be very, very enthusiastic to join in pro-life work and advocacy, but really the pro-lifers long ago all became GOP shills, and it’s just so icky to think about rubbing elbows with someone who might once have been in the same room as someone who held a sign showing an aborted baby.

  • Is it Pat’s usual humor that brings out this sort of response? I can’t put a finger on it, but most of his “friendly fire” attackers remind me of the blankers that gave give me so much work with my geek friends, especially the ones that were ‘raised Catholic.’

  • Excellent Paul, thanks for the link-

  • The “Republicans are the same as Dems” line is as much an ideology as any other. Not that one will be able to sway that crowd I suspect as when one wears the “I’m above the fray” line its hard to see the beam in your eye.

    I think reading Red’s post, her ideology is so intense I can’t even begin to mine its depths. It is summed up in this line:

    “Republicans favor preemptive war with any nation that has threateningly large amounts of oil…”

    Now for someone who claims that she is “Catholic. Period.” it would be nice to see the Church’s document that makes that statement. In the absence of one however, this seems not to be a “Catholic. Period.” position. This will not deter Red as her ideology is quite pervasive.

    Unfortunately the ones these ideologues ultimately help are those aborting babies.

  • This is a more authentically “Catholic” position. But it will likely offend the ideology of the ritually pure. From Archbishop Chaput:

    “Don’t get trapped by partisan politics. But also don’t undervalue the importance of politics.

    Politics is an arena where prolife action can have very practical results. Pope John Paul II said in his apostolic exhortation Christifideles laici, “The charges of careerism, idolatry of power, egoism and corruption that [are] directed at persons in government, parliaments [or] political parties,” are often unwarranted. So is “the common opinion that participating in politics is an absolute moral danger – [on the contrary, these things do not] in the least justify either skepticism or absence on the part of Christians in public life” (42). Or to put it another way: Public office and political activism are not just acceptable for Christians; they can also have real nobility when pursued in the service of truth.”

  • “Republicans favor preemptive war with any nation that has threateningly large amounts of oil”

    I must have missed our war with Saudi Arabia. I guess Ms. Manning must have missed Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and Saddam’s constant ignoring of the terms that ended that war.

  • Ah yes, the blood for oil meme. That’s a sure sign that the individual making the charge is clearly a foreign policy expert of the highest magnitude. I suppose that explains why we were able to secure all those long-term oil deals with Iraq once Saddam was overthrown.

    And by we, I of course mean China.

  • Hmmm… So Mark Shea, Robert George, and anyone else who thinks that lying is always immoral are all “armchair pro-lifers?”

  • “And by we, I of course mean China.”

    I always knew you were a commie. 🙂

  • JCS,

    The article was a lot more than just the Lila Rose controversy.

    I always knew you were a commie

    Darn. I thought I hid it so well.

  • “I always knew you were a commie”

    Nah, Paul’s a trilateralist. He brought the spare ribs to our most recent barbecue! 🙂

  • Thanks, all, esp. Mr. McClarey, for confirming my suspicion that the main target of Archbold’s piece was Mark Shea. Not that there was any real doubt, of course.

  • Thanks, all, esp. Mr. McClarey, for confirming my suspicion that the main target of Archbold’s piece was Mark Shea. Not that there was any real doubt, of course.

    Huh? If anything, it seemed that the consensus was primarily that seeing the post as primarily about Shea (or about the Lila Rose controversy) was something of a non sequitor.

  • How would Don know who the target of Pat’s post was, assuming he had a particular individual in mind?

    Must be that Vast Right-Wing Catholic Conspiracy?

  • “Thanks, all, esp. Mr. McClarey”

    Viewing this as a grand conspiracy against Shea is so much easier than dealing with the substance of the actual post by Pat Archbold, rather than the strawman article of your creation that you then responded to on your website, Ms. Manning.

  • Well, guys, the migraine I’ve had all day makes me disinclined to exchange witty repartee with you all–but if you want to see how I deal with the substance of Archbold’s piece, check out my fisk of it.

    Honestly, I should have done that in the first place. Will know better next time.

  • Judging from the comments now showing up on Pat’s post, I’d say the cult has been alerted.

  • Yes Erin – a blog post that decries an entire way of thinking is really a barely disguised critique of one B-level Catholic pseudo-celebrity/blogger.

  • From the comments at the article:
    We are comment 85 here and the only one who mentioned you was you.

    Kinda sums it up.

  • Ouch! My wife has had a migraine for 32-and-a-half years.

    In Christian charity, we must pray for conversions of sinners and tacit abortion supporters, e.g., these secularized peace and justice types who give priority to making this earthly life the “end all and be all.” For as long as they live, they may come to a better mind.

  • It seems as though the point of Mr. Archbold’s article was missed by Ms. Manning.

  • As always I believe it it best to steer a middle ground between being completely beholden to one political party, or one faction within it, and assuming that because they are right on abortion, they are infallibly right on all other issues — and taking the “pox on both their houses” approach.

    Obviously the Republican Party is not ideal on all issues, nor should one vote for a manifestly corrupt, untrustworthy, or incompetent candidate purely because they are a Republican or claim to be pro-life. I will vote for a Democrat if 1) they are pro-life and up against a pro-abort Republican or 2) they are running for a position where abortion is not an issue (e.g. sheriff) and their opponent has demonstrated unfitness for said office. I certainly do not subscribe to the notion that voting Democrat is always and everywhere a mortal sin.

    However, it seems pretty obvious to me that the Republican Party as a whole tends to be more morally acceptable than the Democratic Party. The Republican platform does NOT explicitly endorse torture or unjust war in the manner that the Democratic platform explicitly endorses abortion.

    And in defense of Erin here, I have to admit that at least parts of the article immediately made me think of Mark Shea, who seems to be the biggest promoter of the “I don’t vote for either the Evil Stupid Party or the Stupid Evil Party” approach. I have never agreed with him in that regard; he seems unable to tell the difference between actively cooperating with evil and doing the best we can with the imperfect choices available.

    Pro-lifers should not treat politics as a dirty business unworthy of serious participation or consideration; nor should we make it the prime focus of our concern. Voting is important but let’s not kid ourselves that ending abortion depends solely on electing the “right” people or getting the “right” judges appointed.

  • Anyone else notice a lack of responses that are Dem versions of Elaine’s at the post?

    If not for the beating-the-point-to-death aspect of Pat’s post being that it’s the highly annoying aspects of (since he and his supporters are so eager to claim it) the Shea side with no action to match.

    When someone says point-blank ‘These tactics are certainly debatable, but the debate on tactics is better left to those engaged in battle’ and folks instantly get defensive… heh. Like the famous misquote goes, the lady protests too much!

    Now, if that defensiveness is because they feel guilty (justly or no) about abandoning the unborn at some level in their minds, or if it’s because doing a veiled caricature of those they disagree with politically while accusing them of being do-nothing baby-murder-enablers is the sort of tactic they’d use themselves… why, theorizing on that motivation would be as uncharitable as insisting that someone was talking about you when they protest they were not and large swaths of neutral readers say it’s got nothing to do with you!

  • How angry some get when their ideology is questioned. I do find the offense taken to be something of a stretch. I mean, its not like there are no caricatures written by bloggers of their ideological bent. “Rubber hose right” “Debate Club at Auschwitz,” etc. So Mr. Archbold offers one, “Armchair Pro-lifers.” Would “Electronic prose pro-lifers” be better?

    Of course, that caricature would be accurate if they actually wrote about pro-life actions. But most seem to only do so when something comes up that seems to prove their ideological bent.

  • one B-level Catholic pseudo-celebrity/blogger.

    He is actually among the most prominent Catholic writers in the United States, not a B-level anything. He also seems to suffer from increasingly severe personality problems. One anxiety we should have is that with the implosion of Catholic education in this country, the men who could mediate well between scholarship and general audiences (Fulton Sheen, Ralph McInerney, Peter Kreeft, &c) will be succeeded by characters like Shea (though most such will not have those behavioral issues).

  • I was a tad harsher in my assessment that I really intended. What I meant was that he is not quite as prominent or well-known to the wider Catholic world as guys like Robert George and George Weigel, and they’re probably only known to a small subset of the Catholic population themselves. But that’s neither here nor there.

    Admittedly Shea’s name did pop in my mind when reading Patrick’s article, but it was only one of many. Being a regular reader of Creative Minority Report I have seen the attitude he is critiquing regularly show up in the comments section, though usually it’s one annoying commenter named “Anonymous” that causes most of the fuss.

  • You know, for all your poo-pooing of the “pox on both their houses” group, you are ignoring a rather significant fact. It was precisely this type of pox that shook the GOP up a bit this last election cycle. The Ron Paul revolution, and the Tea Party, both of which are “outsiders” to the mainstream GOP and drew much support from these poxers, forced the election of much better GOP candidates that we have seen in a long time.

    Also, there are no doubt arm-chair pro-lifers who deserve some criticism (I am no doubt one of them). But at the same time, he does tend to gloss over the moral issues involved in Lila’s actions (as much as I love to see PP go down in flames). I am far from a conclusion on the propriety or not of her actions, but I can appreciate that there is a legitimate reason for moral concern, for her sake, not PP’s.

  • There is no “Ron Paul Revolution”

  • He is actually among the most prominent Catholic writers in the United States, not a B-level anything. He also seems to suffer from increasingly severe personality problems.

    Thankfully, the thing that I think caused both– the internet– also means that one doesn’t even need a subscription to a Catholic paper to read good Catholic writers from all around the world, or beg your local library to get old books in, a lot of them are out there, in full, for free.

    c matt-
    Didn’t you hear? The TEA party had nothing to do with social conservatives. /sarc
    (Seriously, though, I saw the TEA party not as a pox on both their houses thing, but as a screw-you-if-you’re-just-saying-stuff thing, and did so effectively enough that those liberaltarians who hadn’t done anything before jumped to take credit; come to think of it, it was a rejection similar to the one Pat made….)

    There’s a world of difference between folks who are doing something being hassled by others who are doing something over style, and folks who are doing something being hassled by those who not only do nothing but actively disparage the notion of trying anything attacking the folks who are doing something on style.

  • Art-
    sure there is! They’ve sold a LOT of pre-printed “spraypaint” banners and posters! ;^p

  • I saw the TEA party not as a pox on both their houses thing, but as a screw-you-if-you’re-just-saying-stuff thing

    In a sense, this is how I read Pat’s article. And since the Dems have become something akin to a wholly-owned subsidiary of big abortion, I viewed the article as written to the squishy “pro-life” Republicans out there, basically telling them, “Look, buster. Your party is making strides in the pro-life cause. Put up or shut up.” Certain bloggers never came to mind, which is why Erin’s responses were puzzling to me.

  • “Put up or shut up” is only one step removed from the pox. And if you don’t follow through with the put up threat (that being, if you don’t put up, we will leave), the put-up is basically toothless. Enough voters moved from the “put up” to the “pox” position in 2008 (or at least the GOP so sensed) that it motivated the GOP. And even then, the GOP only capitulated in some districts and with much kicking and screaming from the national powers that be.

    Yes, at least they did move reluctantly, which is more than the Dems will ever do (at least for the forseeable future). But that put-up threat needs to remain, and to remain credible, for any further movement. And that means the “pox” needs to be an ever present reality. So, I think Pat was a bit off with his criticism of the “pox” people, because many of the good things the GOP is doing today are a result of the pox (or threat thereof).

    Politicians generally understand and respond to one thing – power. So put-up or shut-up needs to go both ways: the politicians need to act pro-life if they claim to be pro-life, but the voters need to drop their support when the pols fall through to stay as a credible threat of loss of power. I don’t see the “pox” vs “put-up” as too distant from each other, and I just didn’t think Pat’s a fair criticism of the poxers.

  • I don’t think the “pox” people were the ones actively engaged in moving the GOP forward. They have remained, by and large, on the sidelines caterwauling against both parties. I would agree that in a sense defeat in 2008 helped spur the GOP in a favorable direction, but as Foxfire notes, the most active calls for reform came with people disgusted by the GOP yet who had not completely abandoned it as the “pox” folks.

    And I’m not sure what happened was that the GOP “got it” all of a sudden as a result of people abandoning them in 2008, but rather a confluence of factors favorable to their electoral advancement occurred over the course of 2 years.

  • The “pox on both their houses” that Pat described had little to do with “put up or shut up”– he rather expressly pointed out that it had more to do with patting one’s own back over how lovely and pure you are than with a practical consideration like “I will note vote for you if you just talk a good fight.”

    On a practical level, having highly motivated people showing up saying “put up or shut up” is at LEAST three times as effective as the preemptive pox Pat mentioned: there’s nothing you can do to get the Poxers to care, they don’t have much effect vote-wise, and they don’t have much effect activism-wise; the put-ups, on the other hand, can be won, definitely WILL vote, and will either work for or against you. (Especially true currently– Obama supporting killing fully born babies wasn’t enough to make some of these folks stop supporting him, there’s no way they can be moved.)

  • Obama supporting killing fully born babies wasn’t enough to make some of these folks stop supporting him, there’s no way they can be moved

    Can’t refute the first part of your second paragraph. But the folks who voted for O were not poxers by definition, if those are who you refer to as “some of these folks.”

  • C Matt-
    Many is the poxer who “votes for the person.” (See also, the independents who somehow still vote more dem than registered dems.)

    Poxing the house somehow doesn’t actually translate into not voting for either, it just translates into an excuse to ignore the stated goals and records of the parties.

6 Responses to Henry V Times Four

  • “Once more into the breach, dear friends! Once more! Or, we’ll fill the hole with our English blood.”

    These are examples of the “classic” pre-battle pep talk. The lethal “Win one for the Gipper” speech.

    The English word “hub-bub” comes out of unjust confiscations, invasions and massacres the saxon committed in Ireland, especially in the reign of Elizabeth I.

    The foul villains and their mercenaries observed the Irish chieftains, minstrels and pipers harangue the clansmen. The Erse word for victory is “abou.” Often “abou”, or some other clan motto/slogan, would be chanted to arouse the blood lust necessary for (most) men to hack each other to pieces. Also see Wallace’s speech at the first big battle scene in “Braveheart.”

    O’Donnell abou!

  • Mr. McClarey,

    I’ve come to respect your knowledge of history and your insights. I just wanted to get your honest opinion on one issue. As I understand it, Catholic doctrine would say that wars of aggression are not justified (most of the time). Though I enjoy Shakespeare’s plays, it bothers me that Henry V was fighting a war of aggression – hence, an unjust war.

    From Henry V’s point of view, the war was about his (legitimate?) claim to the French throne. But from the point of view of the French peasantry, whichever dynasty sat on the French throne did not really make any difference in their lives. They were merely caught in the middle; the longer the war lasted, the greater the collateral damage to French civilians. Besides, Henry V already had the Kingdom of England. Hence, it was just pure greed driving Henry V to claim the French throne.

    I would appreciate your opinion on this.

  • Centinel thank you for very kind words and for inspiring a forthcoming post! The more I thought about your question the more complicated my answer became and only a post length reply, which I will attempt to do in the next week, will do it justice. The short answer is that Henry V, by the just war analysis of his day, had a defensible claim to be fighting a just war, while under the just war analysis of our day his war would be unjust. However, there is much more to say than that, and I will attempt to do this intriguing question justice in my forthcoming post.

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U.S. Anglican Ordinariate Update: Father Scott Hurd at Houston’s Our Lady of Walsingham

Sunday, March 6, AD 2011

Father Scott Hurd serves as the liaison with the USCCB for the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Cœtibus here in America.  He has been looking at the options available to all Anglican groups in establishing a U.S. Anglican Ordinariate.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops created an ad hoc committee led by Donald Cardinal Wuerl last September that was charged with assisting the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in implementing the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Cœtibus.

Today Father Hurd concelebrated Mass at Our Lady of Walsingham (OLW) Anglican Use Church as part of his visit to Houston.  After Mass there was a tiny reception outside the church which was followed by a short talk with a question and answer period for the parishioners of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Left to Right: Deacon James Barnett, Father Bruce Noble, Father James Moore, Father Scott Hurd, and Father James Ramsey before concelebrating Mass today.

Some major points that were learned today concerning the process as to where we are in possibly establishing a U.S. Anglican Ordinariate.  Please note that none of this official.:

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17 Responses to U.S. Anglican Ordinariate Update: Father Scott Hurd at Houston’s Our Lady of Walsingham

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  • Yeah, the Anglo-Lutheran thing sounded a bit too silly to be true…

  • I’ve been reading materials from Anglo-Lutheran bishops that say otherwise. Who do I trust, the people themselves, or the people writing about them?

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  • Hidden One,

    Because Father Scott Hurd is a representative for Cardinal Wuerl in the ad hoc committee seeking to establish an Anglican Ordinariate in the U.S.

    This ad hoc committee was established in coordination with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    All of this is official.

    What the Anglo-Lutheran bishops are saying are private matters that hold no official status within the church. They just got excited thinking one thing when in actuality it is nothing more than informal talks at best.

  • I don’t know much about the Anglo-Lutherans; however, I have seen the correspondence they have had with the CDF, and they did receive a letter from the Congregation, signed by the Secretary, Archbishop Ladaria, inviting them to contact Cardinal Wuerl. Whether the Anglo-Lutherans will have a place in the Ordinariate is, at this point, unknown; however, they did make a formal approach, and they received a formal answer with instructions about what they should do.

  • Father Phillips,

    That are the “informal” talks I was referencing to.

    What was speculated in the blogosphere was that they were officially accepted into talks of joining the Ordinariate, which is farthest from the truth.

    So says Father Scott Hurd who represents Cardinal Wuerl in the ad hoc committee created by the USCCB in implementing the apostolic constitution.

  • You’re absolutely correct, Tito. They are not part of the general conversations, nor will they have a part in the shaping of the Ordinariate. My only point was that they have been invited to make application through the Ordinariate.

    My reason for posting was that I didn’t want people to have the impression that this was something only in their imaginations. An approach was made, and a response came from the CDF, so in that sense it is “formal.”

  • Please people, let’s not get all nitpicky. Formal or informal, they seem to want to come home to Mother Church from their Lutheran tradition. Open arms should be extended. As was pointed out by their Archbishop I believe Lutherans have no distant liturgical tradition as the Anglicans do so perhaps special accommodation will be made for them through the Ordinariate or a separate way for Lutherans will be established. That’s up to the Holy Father and Rome.
    Being critical will only make them think they made an incorrect decision and drive them away.
    As has been noted, the Lutheran Churches like the Anglicans did a ‘liturgical revolution” following the Catholics and so the 3 liturgical uses became very similar for good or ill. The thing I noticed was that the Lutherans did it so much more beautifully than either the Episcopalians/Anglicans but especially the Catholics. They bring a gift of singing and chanting in English that cannot be matched by the Catholics at this time. For that reason alone they should be embraced.

  • Father Phillips,

    Sometimes when I’m blocking for Father Hurd, I bumped into you.

    I apologize if I came away a bit strong.

    Yes, there are talks.

    Just as there were talks in the past when Anglican groups approached the Holy See seeking some sort of corporate union.

    What the Anglo-Lutherans are doing is correct.

    We should pray for them so they too will find comfort in the See of Peter.

  • I scarcely felt the bump, Tito! 🙂

    I have no way of know who amongst the Anglo-Lutherans will be finding a place in the Ordinariate, but I’m happy to have them make their petition and then we’ll let the Holy Spirit make the decisions that need to made.

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  • I’ve visited O.L. of Walsingham in Houston before and found it to be wonderful. Beautiful church and chapel, lovely and welcoming people.

  • How can a Mass be concelebrated with and held in an unconsecrated chapel that until the Ordinarite is official are not in full communion with Rome?

  • @Charles. Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston *is* in full communion with Rome. It’s an Anglican Use parish of the Roman Catholic Church. (Anglican Use parishes have been in existence for over a quarter century; however, there are only a few of them.)

  • And for whatever reason, Texas seems to be their (Anglican Use-Catholics) center. I never thought of Texas as especially Episcopalian (nearly everyone you meet is Baptist/evangelical, Methodist, or Catholic), but I suppose what Episc. population we do have is relatively orthodox/conservative.

The Lion of Munster

Sunday, March 6, AD 2011

Neither praise nor threats will distance me from God.

Blessed Clemens von Galen

The Nazis hated and feared Clemens August Graf von Galen in life and no doubt they still hate and fear him, at least those now enjoying the amenities of some of the less fashionable pits of Hell.  Going into Lent, I am strongly encouraged by the story of Blessed von Galen.  I guess one could come up with a worse situation than being a Roman Catholic bishop in Nazi Germany in 1941, and confronting a merciless anti-Christian dictatorship that was diametrically opposed to the Truth of Christ, but that would certainly do for enough of a challenge for one lifetime for anyone.  (Hitler privately denounced Christianity as a Jewish superstition and looked forward after the War to “settling accounts”, as he put it, with Christianity in general and Roman Catholicism in particular.)

Priests who spoke out against the Third Reich were being rounded up and shipped off to concentration camps.  What was a bishop to do in the face of such massive evil?  Well, for the Bishop of Munster, Clemens von Galen, there could be only one answer.

A German Count, von Galen was from one of the oldest aristocratic families in Westphalia.  Always a German patriot, the political views of von Galen would have made my own conservatism seem a pale shade of pink in comparison.  Prior to becoming a bishop, he was sometimes criticized for a haughty attitude and being unbending.  He was chosen Bishop of Munster in 1933 only after other candidates, no doubt recognizing what a dangerous position it would be with the Nazis now in power, had turned it down.  I am certain  it did not hurt that he was an old friend of Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII.

Von Galen immediately demonstrated that he had not agreed to become Bishop of Munster in order to avoid danger.  He successfully led a fight against the Nazi attempt to take over Catholic schools, citing article 21 of the Concordat between the Vatican and Nazi Germany.  He then began a campaign, often using humor and ridicule, against the Aryan racial doctrines proposed by Alfred Rosenberg, chief Nazi race theorist, and a man even some high level Nazis thought was little better than a crank.  Von Galen argued that Christianity totally rejected racial differences as determining how groups should be treated, and that all men and women were children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ.  The Bishop spoke out against Nazi attacks on the “Jewish Old Testament” stating that Holy Writ was Holy Writ and that the Bible could not be altered to suit current prejudices.

In early 1937 he was summoned by Pope Pius XI to confer with him on an encyclical in German, highly unusual for an encyclical not to be written in Latin as the primary language, that the Pope was in the process of drafting.  The encyclical was the blistering Mit Brennender Sorge (With Burning Heart) that the Pope ordered be read out in every parish in Germany on Palm Sunday 1937.  A head long assault on almost every aspect of National Socialism, it may be read here.

The language in the encyclical was blunt, direct and no doubt benefited from von Galen’s input and his experience from the battles he was waging with the Nazis.

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13 Responses to The Lion of Munster

  • Thank you.

    Lion of Munster, pray for us timid mice.

  • Don’t you just love to read the Gospels and the inspiring lives of those who truly love the word of God and live by its message for humanity?

    These divinely ordained chapters captured God’s plan of redemption and allow us a deep insight into the spiritual life of “the people of god” and their interaction with the creator as Jesus moved among them gathering His “disciples” and establishing His “church” on earth.
    The painful history along with jubilant triumphs and hopeful anticipations of the people of the Old Testament are combined, enriched, and bought forth into the life and light of Jesus Christ in these revealing gospel narratives. These, along with the other books of the New Testament, literally gave us the building blocks for the foundation of our Christian faith. For his people the Creator’s true and loving nature along with our path to him is now clarified and openly revealed when with and by the Holy Spirit His “Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. We believe and accept Jesus as The truth, The light, and The way for man’s salvation and eternal life with our triune God.

  • ion of Munster, pray for us timid mice.

    I’ll say. Last week, at a department meeting, a co-worker (who falls into the bitter and hateful ex-Catholic category) made the ridiculous claim that there were ATM’s in Catholic churches and Catholics are required to withdraw and dump a certain amount into the collection plate. My other co-workers are mainly (non-practicing) Protestants and said “Oh, really? I didn’t know that.” I restrained myself from jumping up and shouting “That’s an idiotic lie!” I said, trying to sound as mild as possible, that I had been to many Catholic churches and had never, ever seen an ATM in one. She took great offense. “Are you saying I’m a liar?” “I am saying I have never seen what you say you have seen. Please let me know where you have seen an ATM in a Catholic church so I can notify the Archbishop. I’m positive he will be appalled by such a thing.”

    She started out by being huffy to me afterward , but I killed with kindness. The thing is, this stupid little incident bothers me greatly. It’s a burr under my saddle. And I think, good Lord, if this silly little confrontation bothers me so much, how would I fare in situations like Blessed von Galen or the martyrs faced. I fear that I am not very brave.

  • I am glad you spoke up against the lying bigot, Donna. Too many Catholics would have just sat there silently, and the laity, no less than the clergy, have a duty to defend the Church from calumnies.

    As for courage under persecution Donna, no one can truly predict how they would react. I think I would be afraid also, but I also think I would be ablaze with anger and contempt against the persecutors, and sooner or later I think that would cause me to speak out, hang the consequences.

  • I truly admire Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen. A true hero.

  • We need to remember that courage is not fearlessness; courage is doing what we ought despite being possessed by fear. It is perfectly normal to be afraid in confrontational situations – thank God for that. If we were simply absent fear, can you imagine what chaos we’d inflict on others.

    Sadly, the socialist impulse is rising, perhaps now more than ever, slowly, gradually, almost imperceptibly, which makes it more dangerous. We all need to pray for courage, for when socialism rises the Church is attacked.

    I look forward to these posts through Lent. Thank you.

    On into the desert. . .

  • What a man to glorify God! Thanks for this blog, and thanks to the National Catholic Register for pointing it out to me.

    God, please raise up more leaders for the world in the mold of this great LION of Munster. Lion of Judah, please hear us!

  • Thank you for your comment Liseux. Men and women like Blessed von Galen are torches God in His mercy send to us to light our way in a frequently dark world.

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Cultural Multiple Personality Disorder

Friday, March 4, AD 2011

Michael Potemera muses on the survival of two very different cultural institutions – Playboy and National Review:

I just caught the last couple of minutes of a cable-TV documentary about Playboy magazine, which featured a clip of Hugh Hefner opining about the huge cultural impact the magazine has had in its 50-plus years of existence. And it struck me as an illustration that, even in the realm of culture and ideas, it’s the supply side that makes the greatest difference. Two young men in the mid-1950s had vastly different ideas of what the American audience really wanted and needed, and ventured forth to create magazines that reflected these views. Hugh Hefner, convinced that America was too sexually conservative and really needed to let its hair down, founded Playboy in 1953. Bill Buckley, convinced that America was too politically liberal and needed to restore its older, small-r republican virtues that had been eroded in the Progressive and New Deal eras, founded National Review in 1955.

Now, think about how these ventures must have appeared at the time. Playboy was an outrage to conventional pieties about sexuality. National Review was an outrage to conventional pieties about politics. How much money would you have bet, at the time, that either one would survive for very long? “A dirty magazine? Won’t people be embarrassed to buy it?” “A magazine that’s to the right of Eisenhower and Nixon? Are there that many real fringies out there?” But the supply side takes a chance. And, quite amazingly, both ventures succeeded beyond imagining. Playboy bore fruit in the Sexual Revolution, which may already have reached its high point but shows little sign of receding. And from National Review emerged Reaganism, and conservatism as the broadly dominant system of political thought in recent years.

An extraordinarily prescient person, writing in the mid-1950s, might have predicted one of these triumphs. But anyone who predicted that both of the magazines, simultaneously, would have a massive, culturally transformative impact on our country, would have been dismissed as, at best, an extremely confused thinker.

But the truth is, we are a confusing country. We contain, in Walt Whitman’s sense, multitudes. Even as we prize national unity, we resist homogeneity; even as we embrace populist fads, we remain suspicious of conformism. It makes me wonder: Which two implausible — and apparently mutually contradictory — cultural ventures of our time will end up shaping the American life of the next half century?

Certainly fodder for further thought.  There is a superficial explanation to this seeming contradiction.  In a country that at the time both publications were launched numbered 200 million citizens, and where now north of 300 million live, it’s not unreasonable for disparate publications to attract very large audiences.  If you draw, say, 100,000 subscribers (and I have no idea if this is anywhere close to how many people subscribe to either publication, now or ever), that’s barely more than .o1% of the population.  So it’s easy to see why the same country can pack arena-sized mega Churches on Sunday while also making pornographic sites the biggest profit makers on the Internet.  To put it simply, there are a lot of people, and they’re going to like very different things.

But of course that really is Potomera’s main point.   We are a culture deeply divided, and that division seems to be getting more intense.  While the pron industry is doing quite well, conservative (traditional, Orthodox, whatever adjective you prefer) religious institutions are also faring quite well.  Gay marriage is gaining some traction while at the same time larger and larger families are filling the pews every Sunday.  Admittedly, there is some overlap as some of the commenters observe (not to mention that William F. Buckley wrote articles for Playboy at one time), but by and large we’re talking about – dare I say it? – two Americas.

In the comments section I wrote the following, and it’s hopefully worth repeating here.  One of the things to consider is the standing of both magazines within the movements that they helped launch. Playboy is considered tame nowadays, what, with the explosion of raunchier magazines like Hustler, and even more so with the easy availability of hard core pornography on the Web.

As for National Review, while there has been an explosion of other conservative magazines, institutions, and other media, NR remains one of the most influential journals of conservative opinion. Sure some might think it has gone “soft” in its own right (including yours truly, at least on occasion), but it is still no doubt more influential within its own sphere than Playboy is nowadays.

What that says about our society, and where it is trending, is perhaps more troublesome.

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6 Responses to Cultural Multiple Personality Disorder

  • Come again?

    Playboy in its day was a profitable commercial venture and its circulation was at its peak ca. 1971 around about 9,000,000. The circulation of the paper edition of National Review has scarcely exceeded 160,000 and it has ever been a philanthropic enterprise. Other than the New York Review of Books, magazines like National Review have not been commercially viable in forty years or some, and some have never been.

    I hate to break it to Mr. Lowry’s employees, but the Republican Party had within it a component given to vigorous opposition to the regnant liberalism of that age. Mr. Buckley was not the progenitor of that. Robert Taft was nearly the Republican nominee for President in 1952. I suspect you would also discover, were there any surviving survey research, that the liberal arts faculty of 1955 was far more variegated in its political profile than is the case today. Newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune continued to reflect in their coverage the priorities of their (commonly Republican) owners. Time-Life was not exactly a liberal concern. What William F. Buckley provided was a discussion forum for the general reader of a sort that had been present a generation earlier but had subsequently disappeared. What the nascent American Enterprise Institute provided was a mediator between academics and policy-makers.

  • “Newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune continued to reflect in their coverage the priorities of their (commonly Republican) owners. ”

    That may be true Art, but they endorsed Obama in 2008 and lost a huge chunk of their Downstate readership, including me.

    As to Taft, he had his points, but he was also illustrative of not only how impotent conservatism then was on the national scale, but even within the Republican party.

    Buckley in his salad days in the Fifties and Sixties was always more important than National Review, as he gave a young and articulate face to American conservatism that was badly needed.

  • The reach of National Review went well beyond its mere subscription numbers. Granted we sometimes tend to exaggerate the influence of this or that institution, but as Donald mentioned Mr. Buckley certainly was one of the key sparks of the conservative revival during the Cold War period. Also, a lot of magazines come and go, so the fact that NR has survived for nearly 60 years is a remarkable sign of vitality.

  • The reaction to National Review initially from a liberal journal was that America could use a good conservative magazine but that National Review wasn’t it. Liberals tend to be all in favor of conservatism, except for all and any current manifestations.

  • Potemra is making a point that can only be made in retrospect. Both magazines had a huge cultural impact that has little to do with their actual readership. Whether we liked it or not, both changed the world we lived in and that was true even for people who never read an issue of either. That’s a claim that neither Time nor Newsweek, both of which were vastly more successful in those years, can make.

    What I wonder is whether the two are nearly as contradictory as they seem. I don’t know if William f Buckley ever went to the Playboy mansion in the 1960s but it wouldn’t surprise to learn that he had. The two men had a lot in common.

  • The reach of National Review went well beyond its mere subscription numbers.

    Agreed. These publications are helpful, just as agencies like AEI are helpful.

    That may be true Art, but they endorsed Obama in 2008 and lost a huge chunk of their Downstate readership, including me.

    I was referring to the situation prior to 1955. What appears to have happened to metropolitan newspapers in the post-war period is that the lenses through which they viewed the world came to be ground and selected by their employees. One of the curios of the last two generations is that our political life came to reflect a social and cultural struggle between salaried employees who earn their living by manipulating words and images and salaried employees in just about every other trade, with wage-earners lining up on one side or another according to cultural affiliations.

    I think the same deal happened in academe. Tenure shifted the balance of power between the faculty and their superordinates and (like the newspaper owners) the trustees voluntarily ceded control with regard to all issues save budgetry and athletics. In 1940, the President of the College of William and Mary was a Southern Jeffersonian and the President of Colgate University was a trenchant opponent of the New Deal. You would be hard put (I am sure) to find anyone on the faculty of either institution who would hold to either view nowadays.

Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address: A Plea For Union

Friday, March 4, AD 2011

I doubt if there has ever been a bleaker inaugural of a President than that which awaited Abraham Lincoln on March 4, 1861.  Seven slave states of the deep South had already seceded from the Union, stretching from South Carolina to Texas.  Secession movements were active in every other slave state except for Delaware.  The nation was shattering in two, a process that James Buchanan had been impotent to stop.  North and South, all Americans now were eagerly wondering how the new President would address this overwhelming crisis.  Lincoln realized that this speech would be carefully read and he chose his words carefully as he set out the policy of his new administration:

Fellow-citizens of the United States:
In compliance with a custom as old as the government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly, and to take, in your presence, the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, to be taken by the President “before he enters on the execution of this office.”

I do not consider it necessary at present for me to discuss those matters of administration about which there is no special anxiety or excitement.

Lincoln gets right to the point.  The secession crisis was all anyone in the country was thinking about, and there was no use pretending otherwise.

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24 Responses to Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address: A Plea For Union

  • All true enough — good article.

    But you omit the 600 lb gorilla in the middle of the room, and that is, Southern Ultimatums.

    The Southern leaders in Montgomery — before the attack on Ft Sumter — issued Five Ultimatums. All five Ultimatums were about the same thing -the SPREAD of slavery.

    Newspapers in the South heralded the Five Ultimatums as “The True Issue”. New York papers reprinted the Ultimatums, and suggested Lincoln obey them, to avoid war. The South demanded them — or promised war.

    These were not suggestions — they were Ultimatums. They called them Ultimatums themelves, proundly and loudly. When LIncoln would not obey the Ultimatums, the South attacked.

    The First Ultimatum was that the US Congress must spread slavery into “the territories” — they meant Kansas. Kansas, of course, had just fought a four year war to keep slavery out. The people of Kansas had just voted 98% to 2% to ban slavery forever.

    Few places on earth were more anti slavery than Kansas — but the First Ultimatum was that Congress must force slavery in there. Kansas must “accept and respect slavery”.

    Gone was even the fig leaf of “state’s rights” — the Ultimatums were a naked assault on even the pretense of states rights. States nor Congress, nor the people in the territories and states, would have any right whatsoever to pass any of their own laws about blacks, or slavery, or civil rights for anyone with any “negro” in them.

    These Ultimatums were issued by the Southern leaders, proclaimed joyfully by Southern newspapers at the time. They were not some “historian” interpreting things 100 years later. These were the read deal headlines in Southern papers at the time.

    And these were not some last minute over exhuberance uttered in a fit of power or the passion of the moment. These were essentially the same demands made for decades. These were the demands made in 1820, that led to the so call “Compromise” — which was about as much a compromise as a 7-11 armed robbery.

    These were the same demands made in 1850, that resulted in that “Compromise”.

    Only here – in the Five Southern Ultimatums, the South had already seceded. The first thing the South did as a separate country was to demand the US spread slavery into the territories! And that the US not allow their own states to pass laws regarding events within their own borders. THis is an astonishingly complete repudiation of their so called regard for “states rights”. It was always about the spread of slavery.

    Somehow, in our histories and our text books, we have totally glossed over the overhwelmingly powerful demands by the Southern leaders — the spread of slavery. We think we have to say the South was protecting slavery. That was not even a real issue to them. The real issue was the spread of it.

    Sure — the rhetoric that the antebellum Southern newspapers used was geared to scare people that LIncoln was going to make “our children be with ni**ers” But that was clearly deceptive.

    When push came to shove, the South demanded one thing – -the SPREAD of slavery.

    As Toombs shouted to screaming crowds “EXPAND OR PERISH” He meant expand slavery. And everyone knew it. The governor of Florida declared quote clearly that “just stopping the spread of slavery is like burning us slowly to death” because of the hyper abundance of slaves.

    Let the South — speaking at the time – speak for itself. Their headlines, their speeches, their ultimatums. The SPREAD of slavery was their ultimatum, Later, after they lost, they changed their tune. But at the time, their own leaders, their own ultimatums, their own repeated demands, were for the SPREAD of slavery.

  • I am always amazed at Catholics who seem to revere Lincoln. The Southern states had no right to secede, but only because they were dragging millions of slaves with them, slaves they had no right to hold in any case, let alone force into a new nation. But the principle of the right to secede is inviolable for any society of free men. None of the original 13 colonies would ever have ratified he Constitution had they thought it would bind them forever. Lincoln was a tyrant who, by destroying the South in his great brotherly affection for the Union, destroyed the liberty of all Americans, and gave us the all-powerful federal government that we have today.

  • Just a thought on the results of the Civil War. The slaves were free. The Union was intact. The South was destroyed. The North was enriched.

  • Mark, this is Timothy. Timothy, this is Mark. Have at it.

  • “The South was destroyed. The North was enriched.”

    Too bad T. Shaw that the white Southerners who ran the South decided to secede in order to safe guard slavery. Would you agree with me that this was the biggest error in American history?

  • Timothy — maybe learn some real history.

    When the South seceded — Lincoln did nothing. Got that? Nothing.

    When the South issued five Ultimatums to spread slavery – Lincoln did nothing. Got that? Nothing.

    The South issued Ultimatums to spread slavery or face war. Lincoln did nothing.

    Only when the South attacked — did Lincoln do anything. What should he do?

    Remember, by the time the South attacked, they were a different country. They threatened the capital, they hung voters, they promised war if their Ultimatums were not met.

    Finally– only AFTER the South hung voters, only AFTER the South issued war ultimatums to spread slavery, only AFTER the SOuth attacked, only AFTER the South made good on their threats to attack, did Lincoln do anything.

    He did not to a thing when they seceded.

    If you think the South seceded – why not do it again? Attack 12 forts again, hang voters again, promise war if the North did not spread slavery for you again, claim God told you to spread slavery again, do all that again.

    Do that again if it was right. Go on.

    What was Lincoln supposed to do? Obey their demands to spread slavery? That was their ultimatum — the South issued Ultimatums for the North to spreadd slavery into Kansas. Did you know that?

    Was LIncoln supposed to obey? That was the only way to avoid war – and they said so. The South said so.

    So learn what happened – learn the Southern Ultimatums, learn what actually happened. Learn about their hanging voters, learn about their insane attacks, learn about their threatening the capital.

    If you like that – go for it. Get another Civil War started. Do that all again.
    Tell everyone God told you to spread slavery — like the SOuth did — and go for it. Good idea.

  • The South did in no way secede to protect slavery.

    They seceded — and then attacked – to spread slavery. And they said so.

    Over – and over, and over and over. That is what their headlines screamed as ” THE TRUE ISSUE”

    The TRUE issue — according to Southern newspapers, and Southern Ultimatums, and Southern speeches, and Southern actions, was the SPREAD of slavery. Not the protection of it, but the SPREAD of it.

  • Several years ago — actually, it was around the time of the first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace — there was a conversation at my blog about the secession, and whether or not there is a right to it. I’d never really thought about that theoretical question before — in the context of our Civil War, it seemed obvious that the South was in the wrong, as is being argued here (and I still see that as true).

    But to the question of the right of secession… I’d be curious to hear thoughts from the commenters here. If a state chooses to join the union, can it never leave? If it can’t, why not? If it can, on what grounds and in what scenarios?

    Any thoughts?

  • Mark, try reading my post again. I specifically denied that the South had the right to secede BECAUSE it was a society based on slavery. I said a society of FREE men has an inviolable right to determine its own political destiny, including the right to secede, just as the thirteen colonies chose to do from England. How many wars has America fought (especially recently) to guarantee this right to other peoples, a right we ourselves no longer possess, thanks to Lincoln. What I find so appalling about Lincoln is his absolute hypocrisy on matters of race. He is the perfect modern politician. Ruthless and amoral.

  • ” . . . the biggest error in American history.”

    Surely, BIG MISTAKE for the South. The “business model” was doomed, anyhow. For decades at the South’s expense, the North’s industrialization was advanced: tariffs. The North the BIGGEST WINNER in American History. The South was destroyed and never recovered. The North was enriched.

    Biggest error in American history was made in November 2008.

  • BTW: that ultimatum was a tactic. It cut the ties. It communicated that there would be no compromise.

    That ultimatum’s purpose may have been same as Cortez’ when he burnt the ships off Mexico. There would be no retreat. Do or die.

  • “The South was destroyed and never recovered.”

    Actually it has recovered quite nicely and it was never destroyed. The South’s economic development was retarded quite a bit post Civil War because of poor race relations between white and black, and the treatment of blacks as fifth class citizens throughout almost all of the old Confederacy from the close of Reconstruction until the rise of the modern Civil Rights movement in the Forties, Fifties and Sixties of the last century. The invention of economic air conditioning post World War II helped also.

    Prior to the Civil War, far sighted Southerners contended that the reliance on the South of slavery and cotton was an economic dead end and that the South needed to industrialize and which is what happened after the Civil War albeit at a much slower pace than in the North. The South would have enjoyed prosperity much sooner if the speech by Booker T. Washington linked below had been heeded:

  • Timothy — if you call that secession, do it again.

    If you think hanging voters, like the South did, was secession, do it again.

    If you think attacking the US after your ultimatums to spread slavery was secession — do it again.

    If you think threatening the US Capital, after you threaten them to spread slavery for you — do it again.

    What part of this do you not understand? The South was taken over by very totalitarian violent lunatics. Men who tortured women and children. Men who said God told them to enslave millions. Men who promised war if the North did not spread slavery for them.

    What part of this do you not grasp? Imagine if Mexico today issued war ultimatums — that we must spread slavery for Mexico’s amusement. Can’t imagine that?

    Well that is what the CSA did. They promised war if the US did not spread slavery — and LIncoln still did nothing.

    Only when this illegal, violent, religious bunch of lunatics attacked, did LIncoln do anything.

    Your problem is, you don’t know real history. You only know the politically correct nonsense they teach in schools. No where are we taught about Lee torturing young women, for example. No where are we taught that the South issued war ultimatums that the NORTH must spread slavery for their amusement.

    Since you have no understanding of what went on, you should do that first.

    Find out about the following/

    1) Southern Ultimatums that promised war if the North did not spread slavery for the South.

    2) The violent suppression of free speech for 40 years– including torturing preachers for speaking against slavery.

    3) The violent suppression of religion, including torturing preachers for speaking against slavery.

    If you see the Southern governmeents as rational and legally installed, then you simply don’t know history. Southern opposition was violently suppressed — did you know that? Did you know, yes or no, that pastors where tortured for preaching things the Southern “government” did not like?

    Really — did you know that? No, you did not.

    Did you know that if a person just said he was against slavery, he could be tried, and subjected to AT LEAST being deported — and at most, being tortured, That is just for SAYING what they believed.

    Since you have no idea of what really went on — first go learn the truth.

    Hiton Helper, the famous Southern writer, said that if the South had allowed real elections, slave owners would have been kicked out of power. But there were no real elections. THe only elections allowed in the South were “Saddam Hussen” type elections.

    Did you know that? DId you know free speech was stopped from 1820’s on?
    Did you know there where no real elections? You can’t have real elections if you are tortured for speaking out on the issues.

    YOu have a lot to learn about history. I suggest you start reading.

    Where did I get this information? Not from text books. I got it from the South – bragging about it. I got it from Lee’s own papers, from Southern newspapers, from Southern documents, at the time. Not some drivel they made up later.

    Read the real evidence — what the Southern leaders, and books, and newspapers, and documents, said at the time. It’s clear you have no idea.

    Here is a good place to start.

  • Mark, you seem to have a little trouble reading yourself. Try reading my posts again, and you will find no defense of the South. You insist on seeing the world in terms of black and white: “Lee was a bastard, so Lincoln must be a saint.” Trying to create heroes out of Civil War characters is a sketchy proposition. Lincoln was just as much a racist as anyone else in America. True, he modified his views (somewhat) over time, but he fought the Civil War over power, pure and simple. And he wasn’t going to permit any law – free speech or habeas corpus – or any Constitution, or any court, to interfere with his prosecution of the war. If you revere Lincoln, how can you possibly object to any of the characters currently running the country?

  • I mean: it doesn’t matter what he said. Judge Lincoln by his deeds.

    September 1862, the CSA invaded the USA. That was 22 months after it seceded and after naval blockades and after umpty-ump unconstitutional invasions by hundreds of thousands of federal mercenaries. Lincoln did not abide by the Constitution, i.e., did not federalize the militias because . . . The militias of the Southern states (Democracy, anyone? Consent of the governed, anybody?) would not come out.


    No state would have been forced to allow slaves, but no state would be forced to ban slavery.

    You cannot make up stuff.

    As in: provide names (dates and places) of preachers that were tortured for inciting massacres of Southern women and children.

    Did you ever read the violent tracts of abiltionists? Did you ever hear of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry Armory? Did you ever hear of “Bloody Kansas”? Did you ever hear of Nat Turner?

  • “Lincoln did not abide by the Constitution, i.e., did not federalize the militias because . . . The militias of the Southern states (Democracy, anyone? Consent of the governed, anybody?) would not come out.”

    Lincoln used the same system that had been used in all of America’s wars up to his time. The states provided regiments and batteries that were placed into Federal service. By the end of the war white regiments were raised in each of the states of the Confederacy except South Carolina.

    “September 1862, the CSA invaded the USA. That was 22 months after it seceded and after naval blockades and after umpty-ump unconstitutional invasions by hundreds of thousands of federal mercenaries.”

    Give me a break! $14.00 bucks a month to risk their lives. Some mercenaries! Most of the troops were there out of pure patriotism. As for invasions T. Shaw, the whole point of the War from the Union perspective is that it was one country. Additionally, I doubt if almost all black southerners viewed it as an invasion, or the approximately 100,000 white southerners from Confederate states who fought for the Union and their families.

    “No state would have been forced to allow slaves, but no state would be forced to ban slavery.”

    Actually the right to keep slaves was enshrined in the Confederate Constitution. Theoretically a Confederate state could have banned slavery, but the ban would have been useless since the Confederate constitution guaranteed protection to slave holders in owning slavers.

    “Did you ever hear of “Bloody Kansas”?”

    Yes, and it gained that name due to the attempt by slave holders to impose slavery in an area completely unsuited to it. Cotton plantations were never going to rise on the Kansas plains.

  • Mac,

    Lighten up.

    I think the operative just war principle is that the war should not result in worse (greater) evil than the causes of the war. You and Lincoln believed it (preserving the US and freeing the blacks) was worth mass murder and destruction. I am not convinced. Thank God I didn’t have to decide.

    It took 148 years, Obama eclipsed Lincoln as worst prez out of IL.

  • I would appreciate it T. Shaw if you could refrain from attempting to tie Obama and Lincoln together. After the election of Obama his sychophantic followers attempted to do so, and I can think of no two Presidents more dissimilar than Lincoln and the empty suit who currently pretends to lead the nation.

    The Civil War involved death in combat T. Shaw, and both sides were willing to undergo the scourge of war rather than to retreat from their goals. I am very glad that the nation was preserved and that the slaves were freed. 620,000 war dead was a terrible price to pay, but far worse would have been a divided nation and the continuation of millions of Americans living their lives as property.

  • Mr. McClarey,

    Please don’t be too hasty. Just because slavery is evil, does not mean 280,000 Southerners deserved to die.

    (1) Both St. Peter and St. Paul admonished slaves to obey their masters. See I Peter 2:18, Ephesians 6:5. St. Paul did request Philemon to free his slave Philemon, but voluntarily.

    (2) 90% of the soldiers who fought and died for the Confederacy owned zero slaves.

    (3) Pope Pius IX recognized Jefferson Davis as President of the CSA. Of course we Catholics are not obligated to support every political position taken by every Pope. But if the Confederacy garnered the Pope’s support, that means something at least.

    (4) After World War II, the USA helped Germany and Japan rebuild. After the War between the States, where was the Marshall Plan for South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Mississippi, etc.?

    I’m not trying to change your mind. But I earnestly beg you to see things from a different point of view.

  • Just because slavery is evil, does not mean 280,000 Southerners deserved to die.

    Where in this post is such a statement even made? This is not about whether people “deserved to die,” but whether southern secession merited Lincoln’s response.

    (1) Both St. Peter and St. Paul admonished slaves to obey their masters. See I Peter 2:18, Ephesians 6:5. St. Paul did request Philemon to free his slave Philemon, but voluntarily.

    You have got to be kidding me. At least most of the neo-Confederates who argue about the righteousness of the southern cause at least go through the motions of saying that slavery is evil. I salute you for being the first to use the canned responses of slavery defenders circa 1855. It’s nice to sit here in modern day America behind the comfort of your computer screen writing abstract justifications for slaves to be docile to their masters, but I suggest such sweet-sounding bromides might not have soothed the slave woman whose children had been ripped away from her so that they could be sold elsewhere.

    After the War between the States, where was the Marshall Plan for South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Mississippi, etc.?

    It is true that the north bungled Reconstruction efforts – and I would argue that it is principally because Lincoln had been assassinated and the Union lacked a strong leader to bridge the differences between the extreme wings of his party. But remember that it was the South that told the North to take a hike and end Reconstruction efforts.

    But I earnestly beg you to see things from a different point of view.

    I love comments like this, as though Donald and those who don’t believe in the cause of the Confederacy are just ignorant rubes who haven’t explored the issue from every angle. Can’t speak for Donald, but I have seen the War from different points of view, and I still think the Confederacy was wrong.

  • First of all, Lincoln did nothing until the South gave Ultimatums to spread slavery — and then attacked.

    If you don’t know that, you don’t know the basic history of the South.

    Oh, you didn’t know the South demanded the SPREAD of slavery — against, against, against, the will of the WHITE people? Well welcome to real history 101.

    Go see the SOUTH’s own Ultimatums. Their OWN ultimatums, not mine, theirs. Go see the Southern headlines saying what the TRUE ISSUE was. Not my headlines, the SOUTH’S headlines.

    The TRUE ISSUE — in big headlines– in SOuthern papers, showing the SOUTHERN ultimatums to spread slavery into Kansas.

    Gee, I wonder why the South has hid this — and everything like it?

    Go see what the South has been hiding for 150 years. Learn some truth.

    The truth matters – ask Jesus.

  • Just because slavery is evil — Lincoln could not obey Southern demands to spread it for them.

    Did you know the Southern leaders demanded Lincoln and the North spread slavery FOR the South? Oh, you didn’t read the Richmond papers bragging about these demands?

    Oh, your “history” books forgot to tell you this?

    Maybe it’s the same “history book” that forgot to tell you about the many many horrible and profoundly embarrassing things about the South.

    Keep in mind, Lincoln didn’t do anything when the South seceded. He didn’t do anything when the South issued really goofy war ultimatums that the North must spread slavery for the South.

    He only did anything when the South attacked AFTER he refused to obey their insane demands.

    I suggest you learn real history, the very history the South has hid from, and hoped no one would notice.

  • I see above a DEFENSE of slavery!

    Amazing! First of all, the biblical defense of slavery by the South was vile and corrupt.

    But if you believe we are supposed to have slaves — why don’t you volunteer?

    Did you notice after the Civil War, the Southern white folks didn’t volunteer to become slaves? Oh, their leaders sure believed in slavery, yes sir.
    But by their own logic and scriptures, they should have been slaves after they lost the war! They should have been forced to work under a whip, and their children sold, and they have all freedoms taken.

    After all, didn’t their bible say slavery was of God? Didn’t they defend slavery and try to spread it? Well, if it was such a great enterprise, why not enslave them? They lost. Slaves in biblical times were often people from the losing side in a war.

    So when did slavery go from God given gift — to something they sould not submit to? Exactly when they qualified to BE slaves!

    Funny how that works.

    And if you believe so strongly in slavery – go do it again! See how it works. You must feel terrible not enslaving others — it’s ordained of God you say! So go get some slaves! Or be a slave!

    See how that works for ya. Tell me when you are gonna enslave folks, I want to see it. Or tell me when you are going to be enslaved by others. I want to see that too.

    If you are gonna talk the talk about how great slavery is -walk the walk.

  • Paul Zummo and Mark:

    I was thinking more along the lines of Brazil. Brazil ended slavery in 1888. it took them a long time, but at least they did it peacefully.

Our Lady of Good Help

Thursday, March 3, AD 2011

A reenactment of Our Lady's apparition to Adele Brise in 1859

About three months ago a groundbreaking development with significant nationwide implications occurred in Wisconsin.

No, I’m not talking about the showdown between Gov. Scott Walker and public employee unions, nor even about the Green Bay Packers winning the Super Bowl.

I am referring to the Dec. 8, 2010, declaration by Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay that an apparition of the Virgin Mary to Belgian immigrant Adele Brise in 1859 was “worthy of belief” and of veneration by the faithful.

The declaration makes the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wis., the first — and to date only — site in the United States of an approved Marian apparition. The site is only the second in North America (besides Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City) to be so designated. More background on the apparitions and on the visionary herself can be found here at the shrine’s website.

As fellow TAC blogger Dave Hartline has noted, approved Marian apparitions tend to coincide to some extent with events that can be described as trials or upheavals in the immediate region, or on a national or worldwide scale. Notable examples include Fatima, which occurred just as the Communist Russian Revolution took place in 1917; the apparitions at Kibeho, Rwanda in 1981, which foretold the Rwandan genocide; and Our Lady of Zeitoun (Egypt) in 1968, occurring shortly after Egypt’s defeat in the Six Day War.

Did the pattern hold true in this case? It would appear so. First, the apparitions themselves occurred as the nation was sliding rapidly toward the Civil War. The apparition on Oct. 9, 1859, occurred only one week before abolitionist John Brown’s famous raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia — an event which convinced many Americans that civil war could no longer be avoided.

Second, and much closer to home, was the devastating forest fire that ravaged Peshtigo, Wis. and surrounding areas 12 years later — almost to the day — in 1871. The Peshtigo fire killed between 1,200 and 2,500 people — up to 10 times as many as the much more famous Great Chicago Fire which broke out the same night. The shrine which Adele and her family had built to Our Lady was in the path of the flames, but was spared after residents gathered there to pray.

With all that in mind, I can’t help but suspect an element of Divine Providence in the timing of the shrine’s approval. When Mary originally appeared, it was to a struggling frontier people, lacking proper formation in their faith, facing the upheavals of nature and of imminent civil war.

Now, just as another wrenching cultural battle breaks out in the Badger State itself, the Church grants Her blessing to this apparition, and makes her a patroness that can be claimed by all Americans. Perhaps her intercession could help us through the moral and social wilderness in which we find ourselves today?


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8 Responses to Our Lady of Good Help

  • We Are Not Alone

    History and Scripture caught a short glimpse of her when she came to deliver the Redeemer to us. Now she is ready, even at the door of our hearts awaiting her son’s triumphant return to assist our Lord in the harvest of men. She has been quietly but effectively preparing the faithful by spiritual visions and appearances all over the world, mostly to the poor and holy souls or little children, imploring them to pray for peace and live lives worthy of the promises of Christ through repentance and sacrifice seeking to bring as many to her Divine Son as possible. Soon all the world will acknowledge her presence as God’s will unfolds before us. We must prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming and painful though merciful judgment upon the world by devout prayer, frequent confession, daily mass if possible, and many rosaries. Our Holy Mother has repeated this constantly in her many apparitions and messages over the years. We need to appreciate her place and participation in God’s eternal plan like the servants at the wedding feast.
    The gospels reveal Mary’s compassion and intersession at the marriage feast in Cana for the host and their guests on such a joyous celebration. She quite obviously knew her son’s capabilities at this time and also the love they jointly shared for all God’s people. Without hesitation she went to her son as the great intercessor that she is for mankind and stated simply “They have no wine,” giving Him, the one she knew to be the “son of the most high” an opportunity to reveal Himself and save the situation. Not yet ready to identify Himself in public but desiring to satisfy His mother’s wishes, He lovingly surrendered and asked “What would YOU have me do?” She, knowing her place in God’s redemptive plan as well as her motherly pride in her son, turned to the servants and told them to “Do what ever HE tells you.” This exchange and the efforts of the “servants”, marking His first miracle, was a foreshadowing of the situation today as we await Christ’s return for His “coming out” eternal wedding with His church. Likewise, through our priest and the Eucharist we, as transformed repentant sinners, can enjoy the “good wine” of salvation and eternal union with Him which began as the life giving water of our baptism.
    The stain of Satan’s deceitful plan on mankind in the garden by using “the woman” is about to have a full measure of justice returned upon its author and those who have joined him. We are about to witness the testimony of God when He told the deceiver “she will crush your head with her heel”.
    Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, asks that we close our eyes and ears to the lure of Satan’s call and learn from her, the mother of mercy and love of the Father for his children, and “do what ever” Christ has told us. No, we are definitely not alone nor on our own as we go out to gather in Christ’s sheep for Him. We need to realize the spiritual plurality we possess at all times. We have Christ the living truth of the gospels, the Holy Spirit as sent by our Lord, and also His blessed mother whose ultimate destiny was foretold by our loving Father. We must “Fear not for I am with you always, even until the end of this world”.

  • That’s a very interesting insight, about Our Lady appearing at the time of great national upheavals. I might add that the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico in 1531 came just as the Protestant movement in Europe began to gain ground, with many Catholics being converted to Protestant beliefs.
    The apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe led to the conversion of millions of Mexicans, almost overnight. It was if Our Lady was opening the door to millions of more Catholics to make up for what was lost in Europe at the same time.
    For more information on the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, to go

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  • Note to commenters: Please DO NOT promote any ongoing or unapproved apparitions, locutions, or visionaries in your comments. This is not meant as a personal judgment on any commenter or on any revelation. I merely want to stay on the topic of apparitions which HAVE received Church approval and not get off into a debate about the veracity of others. Thank you!

  • Well, it depends on where the line is drawn between North and South America. If it is the border between Panama and Colombia, then, this is not only the 2nd approved site in North America. Just as an example, Costa Rica’s Patroness is Our Lady of the Angels, who appeared in 1635. In 1862, the Pope granted a plenary indulgence to those who visited the site.
    At any rate, it’s very exciting to have a site in the US!

  • Melissa, thanks for the info regarding Costa Rica. By the common definition of “North America” that apparition would count as having taken place on our continent also.

  • With pleasure, Elaine! I have been there several times as I have family in CR. There is a plaque in the Basilica from the original proclamation, but I can’t find it referenced on the internet and can’t remember exactly the year. I wouldn’t be surprised to find other apparition sites in Central America either.