Monthly Archives: September 2012
For only $25.00 you too can have from the official Obama campaign store a portrait of Fearless Leader with his campaign slogan Forward! Sheesh! If the Obama campaign must steal a Nazi slogan, the least they could do is come up with an updated version of the old Hitler Jugend Vorwarts! Vorwarts!
Hattip to Neo-neo Con who suggested the connection to me with this post. Dostoevsky in his The Brothers Karamazov has a striking tale of the Grand Inquisitor. In that tale Christ comes back to earth in Sixteenth Century Seville and is arrested by the Inquisition. The Grand Inquisitor explains to Christ why He is going to be burned the next day. At first glance this all appears to be a fairly psychotic anti-Catholic diatribe, but I think it aptly describes not the Church, but modern socialism. We see it most clearly in this passage:
“‘Receiving bread from us, they will see clearly that we take the bread made by their hands from them, to give it to them, without any miracle. They will see that we do not change the stones to bread, but in truth they will be more thankful for taking it from our hands than for the bread itself! For they will remember only too well that in old days, without our help, even the bread they made turned to stones in their hands, while since they have come back to us, the very stones have turned to bread in their hands. Too, too well will they know the value of complete submission! And until men know that, they will be unhappy. Who is most to blame for their not knowing it?-speak! Who scattered the flock and sent it astray on unknown paths? But the flock will come together again and will submit once more, and then it will be once for all. Then we shall give them the quiet humble happiness of weak creatures such as they are by nature. Oh, we shall persuade them at last not to be proud, for Thou didst lift them up and thereby taught them to be proud. We shall show them that they are weak, that they are only pitiful children, but that childlike happiness is the sweetest of all. They will become timid and will look to us and huddle close to us in fear, as chicks to the hen. They will marvel at us and will be awe-stricken before us, and will be proud at our being so powerful and clever that we have been able to subdue such a turbulent flock of thousands of millions. They will tremble impotently before our wrath, their minds will grow fearful, they will be quick to shed tears like women and children, but they will be just as ready at a sign from us to pass to laughter and rejoicing, to happy mirth and childish song. Yes, we shall set them to work, but in their leisure hours we shall make their life-like a child’s game, with children’s songs and innocent dance. Oh, we shall allow them even sin, they are weak and helpless, and they will love us like children because we allow them to sin. We shall tell them that every sin will be expiated, if it is done with our permission, that we allow them to sin because we love them, and the punishment for these sins we take upon ourselves. And we shall take it upon ourselves, and they will adore us as their saviours who have taken on themselves their sins before God. And they will have no secrets from us. We shall allow or forbid them to live with their wives and mistresses, to have or not to have children according to whether they have been obedient or disobedient- and they will submit to us gladly and cheerfully. The most painful secrets of their conscience, all, all they will bring to us, and we shall have an answer for all. And they will be glad to believe our answer, for it will save them from the great anxiety and terrible agony they endure at present in making a free decision for themselves. And all will be happy, all the millions of creatures except the hundred thousand who rule over them. For only we, we who guard the mystery, shall be unhappy. There will be thousands of millions of happy babes, and a hundred thousand sufferers who have taken upon themselves the curse of the knowledge of good and evil. Peacefully they will die, peacefully they will expire in Thy name, and beyond the grave they will find nothing but death. But we shall keep the secret, and for their happiness we shall allure them with the reward of heaven and eternity. Though if there were anything in the other world, it certainly would not be for such as they.” Continue reading
By now, most are aware that the State of Delaware has passed a piece of child welfare legislation that, in effect, criminalizes the act of spanking a child. The language is subtle, but is general enough to be disastrous for a parents’ right to raise and discipline their children. The key passage in question is actually a definition:
“Physical injury” to a child shall mean any impairment of physical condition or pain.
The synopsis provided by the legislature near the bottom of the bill reads:
This bill establishes the offense of Child Abuse. These new statutes combine current statutes and redefine physical injury and serious physical injury to reflect the medical realities of pain and impairment suffered by children. A new section provides special protection to infants, toddlers and children who have disabilities. The statute also expands the state of mind necessary for certain offenses against children allowing for more effective prosecution of parents who subject their children to abuse by others and fail to protect their children. The bill also re-numbers the definitional section making clear that the definitions apply to all crimes in the subchapter.
What are the implications of beating one’s children? Well, that depends on their age. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association:
Under the new law, a parent causing “physical injury” (e.g., pain) to a child under age 18 would be guilty of a class A misdemeanor and subject to one year in prison. A parent causing pain to a child who was 3 years of age or younger would be guilty of a class G felony and subject to two years in prison.
Of course many a blogger will be up in arms, and rightfully so, over the passage of this bill. I will let those who have more of a aptitude for jurisprudence to dismantle the constitutionality of the legislation. Actually, I would love for someone skilled in this area to address the possibility of “pain” eventually being interpreted in a general enough manner to include psychological pain, something we often deal with in the fight against abortion and clauses to include “the health of the mother.”
For my own part, I have only two things to offer.
First, this language is so ridiculous as to be entirely unenforcible. Any time I cause my children pain I am guilt of a class A misdemeanor? Do you have any idea how many times I violate this statue during a sixty-minute Mass? A pinch here, a squeeze there, and yes, even the occasional smack upside the head. In the course of a single Mass, under Delaware State Law, I could probably be issued somewhere between three years and three centuries of prison time depending on the weekend and sitting arrangement of my six kids. And it gets worse for my three-year-old, in which the misdemeanor is elevated to a felony. Good Lord, I wouldn’t stand a chance! The weekend when I found the little booger dropping my keys behind the radiator, squeezing an entire bottle of hand sanitizer on his sister’s school work, microwaving his plastic blocks, and standing on the sink so her could see in the mirror … let’s just say that I wouldn’t get out of prison until somewhere between hell freezing over and the day the Browns win a Super Bowl.
Second, I thought the dialog with my nine-year-old daughter was entertaining:
Daughter: What are you guys taking about?
Dad: The State of Delaware has passed a law saying that parents can’t spank their kids.
Daughter: That’s silly.
Daughter: Parents need to spank so their kids will behave.
Dad: What do you think will happen if parents can’t spank their kids?
Daughter: The kids will probably end up voting for Obama.
Something for the weekend. Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland. Composed seventy years ago, it was Copland’s reaction to the US entering World War II. Watching the video above, a salute to the soldiers of World War II, brought back memories from 36 years ago for me.
Back in the summer of 1976 I was on vacation between my freshman and sophomore years at the University of Illinois. My father ran the steel shears at a truck body plant in Paris, Illinois. They were hiring summer help and I got a job working on the factory floor. Although I liked the idea of earning money, I was less than enthused by the job. The factory floor was not air-conditioned, and the summer was hot. Additionally I had never worked in a factory before, had no experience with heavy machinery and did not know what to expect.
I was placed under the supervision of a regular worker at the plant. He looked like he was a thousand years old to me at the time, but I realize now that he was younger than than I am now at age 55. I would assist him at a press in which we would manhandle heavy sheets of steel and use the press to bend them into various shapes. Before we began he pointed to a little box and said that if I lost a finger or a part of a finger as a result of the press, I should toss it in the box and proceed with the job. Thus I was introduced to his macabre sense of humor.
I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but he was engaged in a rough and ready form of instruction. He had to take a completely green kid, and teach me various tasks, all the while keeping up with the jobs the press was assigned. He did it pretty skillfully, and I learned. I never got to like the job, but I learned how to do it. I also learned to grudgingly respect my mentor. He obviously wasn’t well read, but he was handy with machinery, and under his tutelage I learned how to operate the press without losing one of my digits, or costing him one of his. He kept me out of trouble at the factory, and included me in his conversations with his fellow veteran workers. All in all I probably learned more that summer of future value for me in life, than I learned from any of my courses in college.
One day during the half hour we had for lunch, I asked him if he had served in World War II. I was in Army ROTC at the University, and I had a keen interest in military history. He told me that he had been an infantryman in the Army and that he had participated in Operation Torch. Continue reading
Jimmy Carter’s pollster Pat Caddell calls out the Mainstream Media covering up the Obama administration’s lies on Libya as a fundamental threat to American Democracy:
PAT CADDELL: Thank you. Glad to be with you. This could take a long time, but we don’t have that, so let me just get right to this. I think we’re at the most dangerous time in our political history in terms of the balance of power in the role that the media plays in whether or not we maintain a free democracy or not. You know, when I first started in politics – and for a long time before that – everyone on both sides, Democrats and Republicans, despised the press commonly, because they were SOBs to everybody. Which is exactly what they should be. They were unrelenting. Whatever the biases were, they were essentially equal-opportunity people. That changed in 1980. There’s a lot of reasons for it. It changed—an important point in the Dukakis-Bush election, when the press literally was trying to get Dukakis elected by ignoring what was happening in Massachusetts, with a candidate who was running on the platform of “He will do for America what he did for Massachusetts”—while they were on the verge of bankruptcy.
Also the change from evening news emphasis to morning news by the networks is another factor that’s been pointed out to me. Most recently, what I call the nepotism that exists, where people get jobs—they’re married to people who are in the administration, or in politics, whatever. But the overwhelming bias has become very real and very dangerous. We have a First Amendment for one reason. We have a First Amendment not because the Founding Fathers liked the press—they hated the press—but they believed, as [Thomas] Jefferson said, that in order to have a free country, in order to be a free people, we needed a free press. That was the job—so there was an implicit bargain in the First Amendment, the press being the only institution, at that time, which was in our process of which there was no checks and balances. We designed a constitutional system with many checks and balances. The one that had no checks and balances was the press, and that was done under an implicit understanding that, somehow, the press would protect the people from the government and the power by telling—somehow allowing—people to have the truth. That is being abrogated as we speak, and has been for some time. It is now creating the danger that I spoke to.
This morning, just this morning, Gallup released their latest poll on the trust, how much trust—the Congressman [Lamar Smith] made reference to an earlier poll—when it comes to reporting the news accurately, fairly, and fully, and it’s the highest in history. For the first time, 60% of the people said they had “Not very much” or “None at all.” Of course there was a partisan break: There were 40% who believed it did, Democrats, 58% believed that it was fair and accurate, Republicans were 26%, Independents were 31%. So there is this contempt for the media – or this belief—and there are many other polls that show it as well. I want to just use a few examples, because I think we crossed the line the last few weeks that is terrifying. Continue reading
Hey Mitt, perhaps your ad men might want to take a look at the ads put out by my personal hero Allen West. One of two black Republican Congressmen, he was redistricted into a much less Republican district and was thought to be easy pickings for his Democrat opponent. Instead, West is clobbering Patrick Murphy, and is now leading by eleven points. How did he do it? Because he knows what he believes in and he fights for his beliefs. Conviction and honest emotion go a long way in politics, along with a verbal hard right to the kidneys every now and then:
Yesterday The Motley Monk wrote and excellent article informing us about the National Catholic Bioethics Center’s (NCBC) advice, “Dropping All Insurance Coverage…” Speaking as a concerned Catholic, mother and citizen, I would love to see a lot more discussions like this about our options. Catholics have an opportunity, possibly, to lead the way in our nation.
Some commenters suggested an “offer and ignore” approach, and I’ve noticed some other Catholics talking about that approach as well, though only in early stages. More on that toward the end. It’s something dear hubby and I have discussed extensively in the kitchen. Our motivation? We have a large, young family, and since he’s made his career in the insurance business, he’s aware of better possible options. Admittedly, it’s the auto insurance business, but the fundamental purpose of insurance is still the same. A conscientious insurance businessman seeks to:
1) Offer a product that truly adds value to the customer’s life.
2) Build a business that employs people oriented around that principle too.
As a quick aside, the people who see insurance as some big, greedy, capitalist monster have to base that premise (in this country anyway) on the assumption that customers are unable to chose wisely when it comes to the planning of their family’s future. The Trasancos family, obviously, rejects that premise. We don’t need the government to tell us what is good for us. Thank you, but no thanks, Obama et al.
As another quicker aside, it is common knowledge in the insurance industry that the more government regulation there is in any state, the more costs increase in a general linear fashion. Some regulation is necessary. Too much regulation only employs government workers and adds cost to customers. If oppressive regulation is enforced at the federal level, the government is basically ruling us and treating us like idiots.
Consider this question. Feedback or input, including correction, is welcome. It’s a good conversation to have.
How much do you already pay for health insurance? If you get health insurance through your employer (the situation for many Americans), you most likely pay more than you realize for it. Why? Most employee benefit plans pay 75-80% of the cost of coverage, and the employee pays the rest.
From day one the Obama administration knew that the Libyan attack on our Benghazi consulate and the murder of our ambassador was an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist attack that had nothing to do with the Mohammed video.
U.S. intelligence officials knew within 24 hours of the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that it was a terrorist attack and suspected Al Qaeda-tied elements were involved, sources told Fox News — though it took the administration a week to acknowledge it.
The account conflicts with claims on the Sunday after the attack by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice that the administration believed the strike was a “spontaneous” event triggered by protests in Egypt over an anti-Islam film.
Two senior U.S. officials said the Obama administration internally labeled the attack terrorism from the first day in order to unlock and mobilize certain resources to respond, and that officials were looking for one specific suspect.
In spite of that, President Obama and members of his administration for days afterwards pretended that the attack was in reaction to the video. Go here to read a first-rate time line put together by the Washington Post blog. Why the lie? Several reasons.
1. Osama dead and General Motors alive- One of the few foreign policies successes of the Obama administration was the killing of bin Laden. A successful al-Qaeda attack on the anniversary of 9-11 undercut this in a huge way.
2. Now we have to do something?- In the midst of the Presidential campaign the last thing Obama wanted was to admit that this was a terrorist attack. Such an admission would require that he take action. In fact Obama has done precious little in the aftermath attack. More than two weeks after the attack, the FBI still has not examined the attack site at Benghazi.
3. Appeasement –The Mohammed video bogeyman allowed Obama to do what his preferred policy is to the jihadists: pretend that if we bend over backwards not to offend Muslims, everything will be sweetness and love between Islam and the West. Continue reading
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Springfield, Illinois diocese minces no words as to what is at stake in this election:
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
Much attention was given at the Democratic National Convention held recently in Charlotte, N.C., to the fact that all references to God had been purged from the draft version of the party platform. After outcries of protest from outside as well as within the Democratic Party, the sentence with the same reference to God used in 2008 was restored to read, “We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.”
Before anyone relaxes and concludes that all is well now that the Democratic Party Platform contains a single passing reference to God, the way that this was done should give us pause. Convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa had to call for the voice vote three times because each time the sound level for the “ayes” and the “nays” sounded about even, far short of the two-thirds necessary according to convention rules to amend the platform. That did not stop the convention chairman from declaring, “The ayes have it!”
What is troubling about that is the blatant disregard for the rules and for the apparent wishes of about half the delegates. The reference to God is back in the platform apparently because President Obama wanted it back in. That may be fine for now, but if a future president wants references to God taken out, apparently that can be done regardless of the wishes of the delegates if that is what The Leader wants. That does not bode well for democracy in the Democratic Party.
Even more troubling is that this whole discussion about God in the platform is a distraction from more disturbing matters that have been included in the platform. In 1992 Presidential candidate Bill Clinton famously said that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” That was the party’s official position until 2008. Apparently “rare” is so last century that it had to be dropped, because now the Democratic Party Platform says that abortion should be “safe and legal.” Moreover the Democratic Party Platform supports the right to abortion “regardless of the ability to pay.” Well, there are only three ways for that to happen: either taxpayers will be required to fund abortion, or insurance companies will be required to pay for them (as they are now required to pay for contraception), or hospitals will be forced to perform them for free.
Moreover, the Democratic Party Platform also supports same-sex marriage, recognizes that “gay rights are human rights,” and calls for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law signed by President Clinton in 1996 that defined marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman.
Now, why am I mentioning these matters in the Democratic Party Platform? There are many positive and beneficial planks in the Democratic Party Platform, but I am pointing out those that explicitly endorse intrinsic evils. My job is not to tell you for whom you should vote. But I do have a duty to speak out on moral issues. I would be abdicating this duty if I remained silent out of fear of sounding “political” and didn’t say anything about the morality of these issues. People of faith object to these platform positions that promote serious sins. I know that the Democratic Party’s official “unequivocal” support for abortion is deeply troubling to pro-life Democrats.
So what about the Republicans? I have read the Republican Party Platform and there is nothing in it that supports or promotes an intrinsic evil or a serious sin. The Republican Party Platform does say that courts “should have the option of imposing the death penalty in capital murder cases.” But the Catechism of the Catholic Church says (in paragraph 2267), “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm — without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself — the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”
One might argue for different methods in the platform to address the needs of the poor, to feed the hungry and to solve the challenges of immigration, but these are prudential judgments about the most effective means of achieving morally desirable ends, not intrinsic evils.
Certainly there are “pro-choice” Republicans who support abortion rights and “Log Cabin Republicans” who promote same-sex marriage, and they are equally as wrong as their Democratic counterparts. But these positions do not have the official support of their party.
Again, I am not telling you which party or which candidates to vote for or against, but I am saying that you need to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.
I pray that God will give you the wisdom and guidance to make the morally right choices.
May God give us this grace. Amen. Continue reading
The Romney and Obama campaigns have released two talking head ads. Obama’s ad consists of a laundry list of things he wants to do, which begs the question why he didn’t do any of them in his first term. Two things struck me about the ad. First, where Obama says we should take the savings from not being in Afghanistan and use that money to pay down the national debt and for “nation building”, shudder, here at home. The mendacity of this is truly startling since with a trillion-dollar deficit Obama knows that there is no money other than borrowed money that will be freed up by no more involvement in Afghanistan. The statement screams the complete contempt that Obama has for the intelligence of most of his supporters. Second, the sinister phrase “economic patriotism”. It brings to mind the Democrat dream tax return. Question One: “How much income did you make last year? Insert answer in blank and send a check for that sum made payable to the United States Treasury.” Continue reading
Founded in 1972, the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) “pledges its fidelity to the magisterial teaching of the Church and to the bishops who provide leadership and pastoral guidance to clergy and laity on complex bioethical issues.”
NCBC recently has published a detailed analysis which concludes that it would be immoral for a Catholic who owns a private business to purchase health insurance for his or her workers under Obamacare. The conclusion is terse: “Dropping all coverage appears to be the most morally sound approach.”
Assessing all of the options available, the NCBC also calls for action, including suing the Obama administration: “We support and encourage the many lawsuits challenging this injustice and expect them to be successful before the Supreme Court.”
The NCBC’s excellent analysis raises some politically difficult choices for faithful Catholic business owners. If they choose to drop insurance coverage, it is likely their employees will be forced by circumstances—fully intended by those who crafted Obamacare—into healthcare plans offering medical services that are contrary to Church teaching. While those employees would not be forced to avail themselves of those morally objectionable services, the simple fact remains that those services would be funded by taxpayer money, meaning in this instance the taxes paid by those businesses owned and operated by faithful Catholics.
Is this not an infringement on religious liberty?
To read the NCBC analysis, click on the following link:
Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. Orders for durable goods dropped a calamitous 13.2% in August, the worst decrease since 2009.
New orders for manufactured durable goods in August decreased $30.1 billion or 13.2 percent to $198.5 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This decrease, down following three consecutive monthly increases, was the largest decrease since January 2009 and followed a 3.3 percent July increase. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 1.6 percent. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 12.4 percent. Transportation equipment, down following four consecutive monthly increases, had the largest decrease, $27.8 billion or 34.9 percent to $51.9 billion. Continue reading
Karl Rove, a hero to much of the Right and a demon figure of the Left. Frankly I have never been that impressed by Rove. In 2000 he almost threw away a race that Bush was winning going away due to his inability to have Bush admit early in the campaign that he had once been arrested for drunk driving. He should have told Bush, or more likely Mrs. Bush, that everything tends to come out in a presidential campaign. Instead a Democrat political operative springs this the weekend before the election and converts an easy Bush win into a national ordeal. In 2004 a fairly lackadaisical Bush campaign struggled to defeat John Kerry, a weak candidate who should have been little challenge.
Having said that, Rove in the video above does an excellent job demonstrating why most presidential horserace polls, with their fixation on the 2008 electorate are, to be blunt, crap.
Michael Barone, who I have always regarded as the best political prognosticator, yesterday on the Hugh Hewitt show talked about problems with the current batch of polls: Continue reading
Eric Posner, a University of Chicago law professor, and son of Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, one of President Reagan’s less wise judicial appointments, writing in Slate thinks that perhaps it is time that Americans stop making a fetish of freedom of speech as embodied in the First Amendment. Christopher Johnson, a Protestant who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have designated him Defender of the Faith, gives Posner a fisking to remember:
University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner thinks that this country really needs to dial down its obsession with free speech:
The universal response in the United States to the uproar over the anti-Muslim video is that the Muslim world will just have to get used to freedom of expression. President Obama said so himself in a speech at the United Nations today, which included both a strong defense of the First Amendment and (“in the alternative,” as lawyers say) and a plea that the United States is helpless anyway when it comes to controlling information. In a world linked by YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, countless videos attacking people’s religions, produced by provocateurs, rabble-rousers, and lunatics, will spread to every corner of the world, as fast as the Internet can blast them, and beyond the power of governments to stop them. Muslims need to grow a thick skin, the thinking goes, as believers in the West have done over the centuries. Perhaps they will even learn what it means to live in a free society, and adopt something like the First Amendment in their own countries.
Maybe that’s right. But actually, America needs to get with the international program.
But there is another possible response. This is that Americans need to learn that the rest of the world—and not just Muslims—see no sense in the First Amendment. Even other Western nations take a more circumspect position on freedom of expression than we do, realizing that often free speech must yield to other values and the need for order. Our own history suggests that they might have a point.
Look at it this way. At least the trains will run on time and everyone will be able to read the “No Food Today” signs. Posner points out that it was the left which first turned the First Amendment into an weapon.
The First Amendment earned its sacred status only in the 1960s, and then only among liberals and the left, who cheered when the courts ruled that government could not suppress the speech of dissenters, critics, scandalous artistic types, and even pornographers. Conservatives objected that these rulings helped America’s enemies while undermining public order and morality at home, but their complaints fell on deaf ears.
Shogi, the Japanese version of chess, has a unique characteristic. Because of the way the pieces are shaped, no piece is ever completely out of the game. Any of your pieces that I happen to take can be turned around and employed by my army.
A totem that is sacred to one religion can become an object of devotion in another, even as the two theologies vest it with different meanings. That is what happened with the First Amendment. In the last few decades, conservatives have discovered in its uncompromising text— “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech”—support for their own causes. These include unregulated campaign speech, unregulated commercial speech, and limited government. Most of all, conservatives have invoked the First Amendment to oppose efforts to make everyone, in universities and elsewhere, speak “civilly” about women and minorities. I’m talking of course about the “political correctness” movement beginning in the 1980s, which often merged into attempts to enforce a leftist position on race relations and gender politics.
Posner wants Americans to remember two things. The First Amendment is strictly an American idea whose inspiration is not shared by anybody else in the world and which cannot force people stop thinking bad thoughts.
We have to remember that our First Amendment values are not universal; they emerged contingently from our own political history, a set of cobbled-together compromises among political and ideological factions responding to localized events. As often happens, what starts out as a grudging political settlement has become, when challenged from abroad, a dogmatic principle to be imposed universally. Suddenly, the disparagement of other people and their beliefs is not an unfortunate fact but a positive good. It contributes to the “marketplace of ideas,” as though we would seriously admit that Nazis or terrorist fanatics might turn out to be right after all. Salman Rushdie recently claimed that bad ideas, “like vampires … die in the sunlight” rather than persist in a glamorized underground existence. But bad ideas never die: They are zombies, not vampires. Bad ideas like fascism, Communism, and white supremacy have roamed the countryside of many an open society.
In the past, American “values” have made this country look bad to the rest of the world.
Americans have not always been so paralyzed by constitutional symbolism. During the Cold War, the U.S. foreign policy establishment urged civil rights reform in order to counter Soviet propagandists’ gleeful reports that Americans fire-hosed black protesters and state police arrested African diplomats who violated Jim Crow laws. Rather than tell the rest of the world to respect states’ rights—an ideal as sacred in its day as free speech is now—the national government assured foreigners that it sought to correct a serious but deeply entrenched problem. It is useful if discomfiting to consider that many people around the world may see America’s official indifference to Muslim (or any religious) sensibilities as similar to its indifference to racial discrimination before the civil rights era.
It says in another part of the First Amendment that the US government is supposed to be indifferent to the sensibilities of all religions. That’s what we were always told whenever some governmental entity allowed the display of the Cross or the Ten Commandments anyway. So it’s unclear why the United States government should care one way or the other about the feelings of Muslims.
But according to Eric Posner, they apparently should care deeply whenever Islamic feelings are hurt. Not only that, this American law professor thinks that the fact that Washington was unable to legally force Google to take that film down is a scandal.
The final irony is that while the White House did no more than timidly plead with Google to check if the anti-Muslim video violates its policies (appeasement! shout the critics), Google itself approached the controversy in the spirit of prudence. The company declined to remove the video from YouTube because the video did not attack a group (Muslims) but only attacked a religion (Islam). Yet it also cut off access to the video in countries such as Libya and Egypt where it caused violence or violated domestic law. This may have been a sensible middle ground, or perhaps Google should have done more. What is peculiar it that while reasonable people can disagree about whether a government should be able to curtail speech in order to safeguard its relations with foreign countries, the Google compromise is not one that the U.S. government could have directed. That’s because the First Amendment protects verbal attacks on groups as well as speech that causes violence (except direct incitement: the old cry of “Fire!” in a crowded theater). And so combining the liberal view that government should not interfere with political discourse, and the conservative view that government should not interfere with commerce, we end up with the bizarre principle that U.S. foreign policy interests cannot justify any restrictions on speech whatsoever. Instead, only the profit-maximizing interests of a private American corporation can. Try explaining that to the protesters in Cairo or Islamabad.
I’ve got a better idea, Professor. Try explaining to the protestors in Cairo and Islamabad that ANYTHING that happens inside this country is none of their damned business.
The mendacity and dishonesty of this piece is easily ascertained by asking yourself a simple question. If some form of artistic expression had insulted Jesus or villified Christianity, would Posner still have written it?
If some museum displays an egregiously blasphemous painting of Jesus or Mary, if a particularly blasphemous movie was made, if another TV show or play debuted which ridiculed Christians or if Bill Maher opened his pie hole, would Posner think it regrettable that the US government was unable to legally prevent these things from happening?
Of course he wouldn’t. The question wouldn’t even come up. And the reason why the question wouldn’t come up is simple. Christians don’t kill people and destroy property when they are insulted and villified or their Lord is blasphemed.
A faculty sinecure at the University of Chicago Law School would seem to suggest a certain level of intelligence. So it’s hard for me to figure out why Eric Posner thinks that restricting American rights simply to avoid offending Muslims is a good idea. Continue reading
One of the more annoying memes I am often confronted with is the automatic assumption that libertarians must be for “gay marriage.”I can understand why some people automatically assume such things in good faith, but I can also tell when the leftist media is attempting to exploit an apparent rift between libertarians and conservatives on the right. Whenever I read somewhere that there may be tension between different wings of the American right on an issue such as “gay marriage”, it is almost never a conservative or a libertarian writing it.
Is it consistent with libertarianism to be an uncritical and loud advocate of “gay marriage”? In my view, the answer is no. In fact, it is more consistent with libertarianism, at least in the current political climate and given the way the issue is currently framed, to be opposed to the “marriage equality” movement. The word “equality” ought to be the first indication to a libertarian that something may be amiss, since egalitarian movements are often statist, sometimes outright totalitarian movements that seek to achieve an ideal of equality by sheer force. Communism is the most obvious example, but what feminist and certain racial groups have achieved on college campuses is only a microcosm of what they would like to see in society at large: free speech utterly silenced, opposing views ostracized, careers denied or ruined over the utterance of a heterodox opinion (just view the archives of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for countless examples). To some extent this already does happen in society at large, but only selectively – for now.
Feeling a little bit poorer? Well, a lot of our fellow Americans are. Last month median household income dropped 1.1%, an ominous sign that the Obama Riches to Rags policies are continuing to have an impact:
In another sign that the economic recovery under President Obama is not producing gains for average Americans, median household incomes fell 1.1% in August to $50,678, according to a report released Tuesday by Sentier Research.
Since the economic recovery started in June 2009, household incomes are down 5.7%, the Sentier data show, and they are down more than 8% since Obama took office.
“Even though we are technically in an economic recovery, real median annual household income is having a difficult time maintaining its present level, much less recovering,” said Sentier co-founder and former Census Bureau official Gordon Green.
Earlier this month, the Census Bureau released its annual report showing that the number of people in poverty was nearly 3 million higher in 2011 than in 2009, an increase of 6%. Continue reading
Joao Baptista DeValles was born in 1879 in Saint Miquel in the Azores. At the age of 2 his family moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts. His first name anglicized to John, he quickly proved himself a brilliant student, eventually being fluent in six languages. Ordained a priest in 1906 he served at Falls River at Espirito Santo Church, founding the first Portuguese language parochial school in the United States while he was there. He later served at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in New Bedford and was pastor at Saint John the Baptist Church, also in New Bedford.
After the entry of the US into World War I, he joined the Army as a chaplain, serving with the 104th regiment, a Massachusetts National Guard outfit, part of the Yankee (26th) Division, made up of National Guard units from New England. The Yankee Division arrived in France in September 1917, the second American division to arrive “Over There”.
The 104th was a hard fighting outfit, serving in all of the major campaigns of the American Expeditionary Force. For heroic fighting at Bois Brule in April, 1918 the French government awarded the regiment a collective Croix de Guerre, an unprecedented honor for an American military unit. There were quite a few very brave men in the 104th, and among the bravest of the brave was Chaplain DeValles. For his heroism in rescuing wounded, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest decoration for valor in the United States Army. Here is the text of the citation:
104th Infantry Regiment, 26th Division, A.E.F. Date of Action: April 10 – 13, 1918 Citation: The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to John B. De Valles, Chaplain, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Apremont, Toul sector, France, April 10 to 13, 1918. Chaplain De Valles repeatedly exposed himself to heavy artillery and machine-gun fire in order to assist in the removal of the wounded from exposed points in advance of the lines. He worked for long periods of time with stretcher bearers in carrying wounded men to safety. Chaplain De Valles previously rendered gallant service in the Chemin des Dames sector, March 11, 1918, by remaining with a group of wounded during a heavy enemy bombardment. General Orders No. No. 35, W.D., 1920 Continue reading