The Catholic Response to the Death of a Murderer

Sunday, May 1, AD 2011

An already busy weekend concluded with the surprise announcement by President Obama that Osama Bin Laden had been killed on Sunday morning, May 1 by a team of American forces in a compound in Pakistan.

There’s a lot to be digested, and a lot of questions for what this means for an already uncertain future in the Middle East. However, as the crowds pour into Lafayette Square with jubilation, it is important to remember how this day began. It began as Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter, which this year saw the beatification of John Paul II, an event which marked the holiness of the man. One cannot think about the holiness of John Paul II without recalling his powerful forgiveness of his would-be assassin. For Catholics, this day began as a testament to the powerful force of God’s love and mercy.

So it should it end the same way. Bin laden did much evil. He killed scores of innocents, contributed to the starts of several wars, and used religion to create a culture of hatred. For Americans, we watched as our brothers and sisters were killed, wounded, or separated from their families. If anyone deserved to be riddled with American bullets, it was he.

But “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” has no “but” clauses. The culture of life that John Paul II spoke from womb to tomb; the dignity and beauty of God-given human life is not diminished by one’s sins. God’s mercy and love has no exceptions; as Christians our mercy and love are to have no exceptions.

Simply put, God loved Osama Bin Laden and extended His mercy to him. It is our duty as Christians, as witnesses to the love of God to extend our forgiveness to Bin Laden and pray that he accepted that mercy and that we will be with us in paradise. The celebration around his death ought to make all Christians uneasy; even more so the many declarations that they hope Osama is burning in hell.

This is a difficult teaching to be sure, especially for those who lost a loved one due to Bin Laden. But the Church has never claimed that its teachings were easy. Instead, it has offered the grace and sacraments to live it out, as well as pointed to the examples of extraordinary human beings who lived it out. Today, the Church named a man blessed who knew deeply about the costs of love and forgiveness. So Blessed John Paul II, pray for us. Pray that our country can use this moment to emerge more unified. Pray for the world that we may escape an era of fear and hatred and violence. Pray for us that in this time, we can follow your example and use this moment to witness to the love & mercy poured out by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

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91 Responses to The Catholic Response to the Death of a Murderer

  • Michael
    I don’t see things that way. Bin Laden was killed with one shot while shooting at what he knew was either Pakistan military or ours. Ergo he was shooting at government forces. His only chance of making Purgatory is if God knew him to have a high functional insanity whereby he could function daily but was controlled by subconscious forces to do material evil without formal guilt. That is why we can’t judge him. But he was not repentant if he was firing at estblished forces. Judas according to Christ, Augustine, and Chrysostom but not our last two Popes…..is in hell right now. We don’t need an encyclical because we have inerrant scripture.
    Don’t worry. Those in hell had to reject much love from God to even get there.
    The New Testament says: ” If the just man will scarcely be saved, where will the impious and the sinner appear?”. That’s the Holy Spirit. You are correct though that outside Judas and other Bible figures, we do not know who is in hell because Trent said one could only know by revelation.

  • I’m not sure why you think Osama was killed by a single shot, but your theory assumes he committed mortal sin and was killed instantly. I hope that when he was shot there was enough time, perhaps even a split second, that the outpouring of infinite love & grace of our God touched his heart and that, like the thief on the cross, Osama stole eternity.

    If he never repented, then I shudder to think of his fate.

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  • While it is certainly sinful to wish ill for someone, it is a good thing to rejoice at justice. Sort of like being happy about the victory at Lepanto, or thankful that the Turks were turned back at Vienna, and the Jihad stopped at Tours. That’s not a bad thing. It should be tempered, obviously, by a hope that their souls were somehow saved.

  • This is a wonderful response – beautiful in its wording and challenging in its content. I must admit, as an American Catholic, I am struggling with my own personal reaction. On one hand, I did not lose any loved ones on September 11th, so I have a great deal of difficulty even feeling like I have a right to ask for Osama’s forgiveness. To do so, on some level, feels like it would be an insult to all those who did lose loved ones on that day or in any of his orchestrated attacks. But, on the other hand, I do believe that God extends His mercy to all, and as Jesus told St. Faustina, “Let the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy (Diary of St. Faustina, 1146).”

    All I know is this – the moment Osama Bin Laden died, my family was united, praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy on the Feast of Divine Mercy for dying sinners, especially those most in need of our Lord’s mercy. The thought is heart shattering for me. I do not believe in coincidence when it comes to how God deals out mercy. Let us pray that people around the world, especially those most wronged by Osama Bin Laden, will be given the grace to find closure and peace in the human justice dealt today and, perhaps in God’s time, the grace to forgive him according to the Divine Mercy our Lord extended to Osama Bin Laden on the cross.

    Blessed Pope John Paul II, pray for us!

  • Single shot to the head after he was given the chance to surrender.

  • I never rejoice with the dead of anybody, and less when the person is killed, even when the person is a killer, himself. The Pasion of Our Lord, the Redemption, was for him too. God have mercy on his soul.

  • Sic transit gloria mundi.

    Osama had his day of infamy. As the Bard tells us, the evil that men do lives after them, and so it is with bin Laden. I cannot imagine there was much good to be interred with his bones.

    This man has been the rallying cry for much atrocity, pain and death in this world – I cannot imaging many mourning his passing, except perhaps those distorted and overtaken with his teaching.

    It is a good thing he is dead. It is not a good thing that there is a very strong case that he is eternally damned – God made all of us for Him and it is a cause for great sorrow when one separates himself from God by his own doing.

    Now we should prepare ouselves for the onslaught of hundreds who would step up to take his place.

  • Well said Don. I am saving some prayer time for those today and in the coming weeks who will inevitably be slain by adherents of the religion of peace in revenge for the fact that bin Laden has received long delayed justice.

  • “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” – Mark Twain

  • And, the Yanks and Mets won!

    Good thing: He will not be responsible for the murder of one more innocent civilian. Two: possibly this will reduce the massacre artists’ effectiveness. Three: it may demoralize mass murderers.

    Genesis: “Who spills man’s blood, by man shall his blood be spilled. For man was made in the Image of God.”

    “He who has no sword, sell his mantle and buy a sword.” Jesus

    Why would anyone ever attempt to live a good life if everyone will be saved no matter what evil they did?

  • I see nothing wrong with celebrating a military victory in a just war, which is what this is. Osama had the chance to live by surrendering. He chose not to. His soul is in God’s hands, and I trust that He will do with it what is both just and merciful. This will not dampen my celebrating. Our soldiers have accomplished a great feat, and an enemy has been vanquished.

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  • This triumph of justice deserves to be celebrated.

  • This is written with the heart of the Church, our Savior Jesus Christ.

    You are a good man, Michael Denton.

  • I don’t normally take joy in anyone’s death, but Bin Laden got what he deserved. Although I do not believe in an afterlife, if there is a hell, then Osama will get a presidential suite along with Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao and Mussolini and Tojo.

  • In Lawrence of Arabia, Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif) sees the glow of heavy shelling across the desert. He says to Lawrence (Peter O’Toole), “God help the men that lie under that.” Lawrence says, “They are Turks” (i.e. the enemy). Ali continues to watch, and listen to the distant pounding of the guns, and says again, “God help them.”

    We can be happy for military victories but there is a difference between being thankful (and I’d say we should lean towards the thankful, rather than the joyful) for defeating a ruthless enemy, and saying things like “I hope you have fun in hell,” as a few had on their facebook pages. I am sad that anyone has to die in war, and I pray that it may not be so. From a military and intelligence standpoint, I’m impressed with this achievement–but I am never happy that someone was killed and I only hope capturing him was impossible.

    Thanks Michael for this piece.

  • Amen, Michael.

  • Why would anyone ever attempt to live a good life if everyone will be saved no matter what evil they did?

    I don’t see anyone saying OBL is saved despite his evil. Mr. Denton is simply pointing out that one can (should?) hope OBL availed himself of God’s grace which is made available to all. Whether he took advantage of that or not is between him and God.

    I don’t know if “celebrate” is the right attitude, but I think we can be thankful to some extent justice (at least to the extent it can be delivered by fallible human means) has been served.

  • You have got to be kidding me. An incredibly evil man was killed during a Just War. God certainly loved him, but he didn’t love God, which is why he ended up the way he did.

    This “mixed-emotions” response from the members of a Church that every October 7th celebrates a battle in which thousands of our enemies were killed is preposterous.

    St. Pius V, pray for us!

  • It’s oddly hard for me to have any strong feelings one way or the other on this one.

    I’m not really putting much energy in working up feelings of tenderness for Bin Ladin, since I think doing so would be more an exercise in show than anything else. (It meant something for John Paul II to forgive his assassin, it would be self indulgent for me to go around telling people that I forgave John Paul II’s assassin.) And though Bin Ladin can at a human level be a subject for human pity, so are lots of other people rather more worthy of consideration.

    That said, this is, sadly, probably not the military victory that Hitler’s suicide in the bunker was. Being the sort of movement that it is, I’m not sure how much of a handicap losing Bin Ladin is to Al Qaeda. I hope I’m wrong about that, but I fear it’s more a symbolic victory than a productive one.

    No cheers or tears for me.

  • Excellent column. I concur with Michael’s comments. In no way can we as believers wish damnation upon anyone no matter how evil their actions.

  • A brilliant, brave and theologically on target article…Thank you!! At times like this it is not easy to follow the guidelines our Catholic faith provides us. But it is in times like this that we can exercise our true faith and be an example to a terribly violent world.

  • “That said, this is, sadly, probably not the military victory that Hitler’s suicide in the bunker was. Being the sort of movement that it is, I’m not sure how much of a handicap losing Bin Ladin is to Al Qaeda. I hope I’m wrong about that, but I fear it’s more a symbolic victory than a productive one.”

    I suspect that is true. Al Qaeda has become decentralized and can act independently through a multitude of cells.

    A man who did great evil is now answerable to God. I pray for his soul. I give thanks that at least Osama’s involvement in evil has come to an end.

  • While most everyone’s celebrating, chances are this will only fuel more terrorist attacks and a new “bin Laden” will emerge to carry on jihad. I hope I’m wrong but wouldn’t be surprised if major retaliation in the form of mass murder doesn’t occur soon, possibly in America.

  • chances are this will only fuel more terrorist attacks and a new “bin Laden” will emerge to carry on jihad. I hope I’m wrong but wouldn’t be surprised if major retaliation in the form of mass murder doesn’t occur soon, possibly in America.

    You mean they have been saving their ammo for 10 years for a retaliatory demonstration shot?

  • All I’m saying is that the other shoe has yet to drop.

  • All I’m saying is that the other shoe has yet to drop.

    If al Qaeda has a shoe they can drop on us, I suppose they will, but I think we tend to overestimate their ability to suddenly achieve anything over here in the US by getting really mad these days.

  • Hello Michael,
    THANK YOU for posting “The Catholic Response to the Death of a Murderer “! It took courage and it is obvious that you are a Man of God..of faith! When I read the paper this morning, I wondered how many Catholics and other Christians would read the news of Osama’s death. You are so very right…as disciples of Christ..we must live the Message of Divine Mercy!
    The Dairy of St. Faustina says that the Lord calls upon the soul at the time of his/her death. Thank you for your act of faith and charity!
    I heard about your blog on “Women of Grace” EWTN program today, May 2nd. Will also like to share it on our TV/Radio weekly program in South Texas – “Catholicism Live!” on Catholic Television of San Antonio and Guadalupe Radio – grnonline.com.

  • Thank you for this column. It struck me when I heard the news that it was also Divine Mercy Sunday. I prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet for Osama bin Laden and his friends as soon as I heard of his death. I hope he will be forgiven by God if not by his fellow human beings.

  • Of course, Atla, bin Laden, Hitler, Muhammed, Pol Pot, Lenin, Mao, Ho, Che, et al could be in Heaven.

    But, not so much anyone that disagrees with you.

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  • I hope that Bin Ladin repented. If not there is nothing that we can do for him.

  • If Hitler is in heaven, the God really needs to review his Plan.

  • I will merely quote what Mrs Zummo said above, because I concur with it entirely:

    “I see nothing wrong with celebrating a military victory in a just war, which is what this is. Osama had the chance to live by surrendering. He chose not to. His soul is in God’s hands, and I trust that He will do with it what is both just and merciful. This will not dampen my celebrating. Our soldiers have accomplished a great feat, and an enemy has been vanquished.”

  • I’m glad the bastard is gone and it’s a feel-good day, I suppose. Never saw so much celebration of death. Now Obama is going to cash in politically by visiting Ground Zero on Thursday, and do his George Bush megaphone shtick. 9/11 is the new Pearl Harbor promised by the neo-cons needed to revive American patriotism and military spending. It’s working just great. Geniuses.

  • Neocons had nothing to do with 9-11 Joe and the man who had everything to do with it has been judged by God. It is a very good day.

  • Don, read “The New American Century” — the pre-9/11 blueprint that said that only “a new Pearl Harbor” would revive military spending, etc. Of course, I know you are skeptical of conspiracy theories and don’t need to see Obama’s birth certificate, Osama’s body, nor the wounds in Jesus’ side to believe. Some of us, however, prefer a bit more proof.

    Doubting Joe

  • Joe Green, what we need proof of is the ridiculous scenario you’re implying.

  • Joe, go here to their website:

    http://www.newamericancentury.org/defensenationalsecurity.htm

    They were a public thinktank and you can read their publications on line. The suggestion that they had any involvement with 9-11 is bizarre, if that is the point you were trying to make.

  • Francis and Don: I’ve spent my life asking questions and, more importantly, questioning answers. I often do not accept things at face value. 40 years of journalism has given me a sense of objectivity that I find is missing from most people. More than most I know that the press separates the wheat from the chaff and prints the chaff.

  • Joe, Buddy!

    Do you “Swear there ain’t no Heaven, and pray there ain’t no Hell”?

    Er, are you a truther?

    Are you a journalist? I used to give interviews about “stuff” with which I was involved. None of them ever got it even close. I now see the reports misstated each week. I used to think it was simple dishonesty. Now, I’m moving towards arrogance and its sister, Stupidity.

    That would explain a great deal.

    MarkD: I am saddened you aren’t in Heaven, yet.

  • I’m just happy that the Loyal Order of Water Buffalos haven’t been called out.

    I may have said too much.

    Oh well.

  • Don, sorry to threadjack but was wondering whether you saw Andersonville directed by John Frankenheimer and what you thought of it.

  • Joe:

    As a soon to be journalist, your cynicism is extremely disheartening. Asking questions is great. Being a negative person really isn’t.

    This post really explains how we should view this event. It won’t be easy for anyone, but celebrating death is the last thing we should be doing right now – especially when have such a great opportunity for reconciliation and closure.

  • I think Joe brings up a very important point. Ever since I heard that Osama was killed (again, I thought he was already dead) I became more and more concerned that no one is asking any hard questions. This is too politically opportunistic for Obama. I am not saying that Osama wasn’t killed yesterday, but there is no proof and a great deal of questions that are not being asked and not being answered.

    Why was there a crowd of college kids mimicking a Tea Party to laud Obama as Bush III BEFORE the announcement was made? Why didn’t the secret service, the Marines and Capitol Police treat these people the way they treat everyone else including grandma in the same place? I live in enemy-occupied Northern Virginia, so i get into DC quite often; you can’t as much as sneeze in front of the White House without being questioned, especially if you are singing the anthem or displaying the colors. No one was molested and they were behaving like barbarians. Isn’t anyone else finding this odd? Why isn’t anyone wondering what that luatic Geraldo was doing in the middle of the crowd as a cheerleader? He is always ready to spit vitriol toward any Tea Party event or cheer anyone questioning the authority of the Church, why not these loons? I guess Fox thinks this is too good to pass up for their ‘conservative’ audience. No one is asking hard questions that celebrating the death of a bad guy who was impotent as a threat before he was killed. Al Qu’ida is still around. The Middle-east is more of a mess than ever. Jihadists are more ready than ever to strike. We will see a strike and the War on Terror will escalate and we will be pleased to become less free out out of fear.

    Additionally, did you notice that Obama’s focus-group studies had him correct his speech – He said our nation is under God – he has omitted that on numerous occasions recently. I would like to hope he had a conversion, but I doubt it. He also stuttered and stammered and usually he is so ‘eloquent’ and ‘articulate’. it seems he DOES have a conscience and it creates a tell in his speech when he disturbs it. He was lying – as usual.

    Before anyone jumps on me as a conspiracy nut job, I am not saying Osama was not killed yesterday; I am merely saying that we, at least our ‘free press’ should be asking harder questions. Would CNN and MSNBC and the NYT be as soft on Bush if he had declared that he killed Osama in October 2004? I just want more investigation – where’s the body?

  • Rose, life hardens some, softens others. In my case, cynicism has overtaken skepticism, I admit. The ideals of youth often are lost in old age. I wish you every success in your chosen field.

  • Knight, good to know I’m not alone in my skepticism of buying the White House line and media propaganda.

  • Joe, Buddy!

    Do you “Swear there ain’t no Heaven, and pray there ain’t no Hell”?

    Er, are you a truther?

    Are you a journalist? I used to give interviews about “stuff” with which I was involved. None of them ever got it even close. I now see the reports misstated each week. I used to think it was simple dishonesty. Now, I’m moving towards arrogance and its sister, Stupidity.

    That would explain a great deal.

    MarkD: I am saddened you aren’t in Heaven, yet.
    ===========================================
    T. Shaw: A lie goes around the world in a minute while truth hasn’t even gotten off the starting line. As I write this, Obama is milking Osama’s death for at least the third time publicly, using a Medal of Honor presentation to 2 Korean War vets posthumously to blow his horn — unseemly to say the least — then getting a standing O at a congressional dinner by boasting about the assassination.

  • I don’t know quote how this post became a conspiracy theory thread. I don’t think its plausible that Obama waited to kill Osama till this very minute, b/c that story makes no sense. However, I am slightly distrustful of the White House accounts of the raids, as it seems they’re trying to hide the fact that this was a kill mission and that whether or not bin Laden was unarmed or the Seals had an opportunity to capture him the only goal was to kill Bin Laden. But we shall have to see as more information becomes available; I hope that the killing was done justly.

  • I think they went in to take him out. Capture would not have meant closure.

  • I don’t think this has become a ‘conspiracy’ thread. I and, I think Joe Green, are simply asking questions. I am not saying he wasn’t killed yesterday, I am also not sure he didn’t die several years ago. The fact is our reaction to this event has a moral dimension and although our reaction to it is not necessarily predicated on this being a true story or mass propaganda it has some relevance. Worrying if this was a just kill or not would be silly if this is merely a tool of mass psychology. I just find it odd that we seem to be more concerned with vengeance cloaked as justice that we aren’t asking the hard questions. Obama has a history of deceit and only seems to have any ‘principles’ when it comes to defending the legal right to kill babies. Am I a conspiracy nut for not trusting him? I don’t think so. I want proof of death and I want to know why this has happened, why now and why in the way it did. Those are fair questions.

    If I had to lean one way or the other, I don’t think we killed him yesterday – I think he was already dead and now that we have more dragons in the middle-east the Osama bogey man has lost his use as tool of mass psychology. All the monsters abroad are permitted to ‘threaten’ us so long as it serves the money and power hungry political class, as soon as they are crossed, bye, bye. Either way, I want the truth and I intend to make my moral decisions based on that knowledge.

    Either way, I find the jubilation distasteful. I am glad that, for whatever reason, Osama is no longer a threat, that is something to be thankful for. Jubilant, not so much. I felt the same way when they hung Saddam. He certainly had more time to repent. I was sad that he had made himself into such a monster and I was glad that he was not able to do anymore harm. i thanked God for ending his terror. But, when I saw the Iraqi’s cheering, it made me sick. The guy lost his life, perhaps forever – that is never cause for joy; it can be just, but not joyful.

  • “Would CNN and MSNBC and the NYT be as soft on Bush if he had declared that he killed Osama in October 2004? ”

    But it’s not October 2004 -or October 2012. Look, while I am no fan of Obama’s, if he cynically planned this to boost his chances of reelection, his timing is way off. Yes, some on the left are crowing that this makes him a shoo-in for a second term, but they are as wrong as – well, as they usually are. Bush I had a 90% approval rating after the first Gulf War. And yet, 2 years later an previously unknown Southern governor was taking the oath of office. The economy of 1992 was peaches and cream compared to what we are going through now.

    I am glad justice was done and Osama will kill no more. I am willing to give Obama credit, but I also give credit to Dubya and, above all, to the brave men and women in our military. I also know that Osama’s death will not make a trip to the gas station or the grocery store less painful for already hard-pressed Americans nor will it create jobs or make socialized medicine more popular. Baring some unforeseen event (which of course can always occur), I am willing to wager that the 2012 election will be largely about domestic issues – and the Prez is not doing too well in that department.

  • Oh and Mark D, when last I heard from you, you were singing the praises of the wonderfully idealistic candidate from the wonderfully idealistic city of Chicago. If I recall correctly you maintained that Mr. Obama would end the dastardly Bush-Cheney wars, close Gitmo and lo, there would be peace on earth and lollipops would drop from the heavens. Instead Gitmo is still open, we’ve opened up a third front and Palestinians are rioting on the West Bank, so chagrined they are over the death of their hero, the mass murderer of thousands.

    Things aren’t quite working out the way you predicted, eh, Mr. D?

  • Michael Denton said, “I hope the killing was done justly.” I am sure that it was done as justly as what Jael wife of Heber did to Sisera who was persecuting the children of Israel in Judges chapter 4 (albeit that God allowed this because of rebellion – I see lots of parallels here). Verse 21 says, “Jael wife of Heber took a tent peg and hammer, tiptoed toward him, and drove the tent peg through his temple and all the way into the ground. He convulsed and died.” And perhaps it was done as justly as when God sent to she-bears after the youths who taunted Elisha for being bald in 2nd Kings 2nd Kings 2:23-25.

    God does the same thing in the same way every time because He always does it right.

  • Oh, and one last thing – the US military has sent a mass murderer to God’s Judgment Seat, having first given him a chance to surrender, but he refused. And those with him used a woman as a shield, the news reports. So now they stand before the Almighty.

  • “I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

  • I deleted your last comment Joe. I enjoy a good rant more than the next man I think, but this is Michael’s thread and your lengthy rant would have taken it in any number of directions other than the topic of the thread, with the remainder of the thread being taken up in a back and forth between you and those responding to your rant. I would urge everyone to stay focused on the topic raised by Michael in his post.

  • Mea culpa.

  • My thoughts in short, if I may:

    1) Forgiveness doesn’t mean to allow one to escape punishment. Blessed Pius IX sent more than 200 people to the scaffold. Fortunately, he didn’t do third-rate Christianity. Osama got what he deserved, less than he deserved.

    2) I agree that it is not right to wish hell to anyone. I do not wish hell even to Stalin or Pol Pot. Still, one is allowed by his religion to make an educated guess, and I think that in this case the educated guess contains a terrible warning.

    3) I am all in favour of forgiving OBL after he has got his two bullets in the head. “Forgiving” doesn’t mean that he was right, but the we do not wish him more punishment the one God in his justice will consider adequate for him.

    4) I have prayed for him, after some effort (and have blogged about it). I can’t reproach those to whom this would smack of goodism or hypocrisy. That the man is in hell is objectively so probable, that one is justified if he doesn’t feel like praying for him.

    5) It is right to jubilate and be merry (and I am going to blog on this, too). He was a military target and his demise is the equivalent of military victories of the past. Provided one doesn’t pollute his joy with hatred, I think it is perfectly fine to rejoice.

    6) Allow me, as a European, to express my warmest thanks to – and admiration for – the only Country which still has the guts to pay the price – in money, and in lives – to defend our liberty.

    You should be very proud of being Americans.

    Mundabor

    Mundabor

  • Michael, thank you for this Christian view. It is so hard for us to understand our call, and it is exactly in these difficult moments that we must continue to witness to Christ and make him present. I have been quite uneasy at the celebration – and while it is REALLY difficult we must pray for our enemies.

    The celebrations where people were chanting USA as if it was an Olympic event demonstrated to me something very sad about our country. This was not the end of WWII, it was the death of a man. Perhaps necessary, even good, but that is not something of sport.

    To me it spoke of how Bin Laden’s hate has infected others. While understandable, it is difinitely not Christian.

  • I always get uneasy when people who are ostensibly American citizens don’t want to take any pride in their country or its armed forces when these forces send a vicious murderer (who was given the chance to surrender and refused) to the Almighty for final judgment. However…………that being said, Obama’s sanctification of the murder of the unborn is very bit as evil as Osama’s terrorism. If one doesn’t feel pride in America because of our own evil against the unborn, then I can understand that. But some previous comments seem to be more of a sympathy party for the wicked than a remorse for the sexual immorality and infanticide of the unborn that this country commits within its own borders on a daily basis, all of which makes the Presidential announcer of Osama’s death the biggest hypocrite of all.

    I suggest we repent and get holy before what happened to Osama happens to us. We don’t have hate of Osama infecting us as much as we have sin (idolatry, adultery, fornication, homosexual sodomy, murder, thievery, etc.) infecting us regardless of Osama bin Laden. If he was evil, then what are we?

  • Now we’re hearing Osama wasn’t armed, was using a cane, had kidney disease and didn’t use a human shield. Stay tuned for more updates on our never-ending wall-to-wall coverage of the death of the “world’s most dangerous terrorist.”

    Meanwhile, let’s hear from Joseph Goebbels:

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

  • Joe,

    Do you have web links to reputable web sites substantiating your assertions? No news report I have seen too date has made the claims you have made. Furthermore, being a liar, “Joseph Goebbels” would lie as much for the conspiracy theorist who believes everything that is truly American is damned as he would lie for an American propagandist who believes that everything isn’t American is damned. The key word here is “lie.”

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  • Hmmm….One’s definition of a “teputable web site” would depend on whether the views and opinions expressed therein comfort with one’s own, wouldn’t it? I confess to swimming against the tide, Paul, and for that I am willing to suffer the strong currents I encounter. Each of us is free to believe or disbelieve that which we perceive to be the truth of matters.

    More to your point, as I am not sure to what “claims” you are referring to inasmuch as I have made many, I am unable to respond in the particular.

    As for Goebbels and his ilk, I believe it’s not unreasonable to think that we have much to learn from history’s errors, although so far mankind as shown little ability to grasp such lessons.

    One can always hope.

  • Joe,

    I’m actually not interested in opinion, just the facts. What substantiation is there for the assertion that Osama, 54 years of age, was walking with a cane and had kidney disease? Are their photographs of him with a cane? Are their medical reports of some kind concerning his kidney disease? Or is all this just another claim made in the swarm of confusion over this event and its aftermath?

    BTW, history indicates Hitler had some form neurological disease that caused uncontrollable shaking on one side of his body, and had other afflictions as well. None of that stopped him from his evil. Furthermore, just because someone is physically sick doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t reap what he has sown.

    I wouldn’t be quick too damn all that is American with the exception that I noted in a previous comment.

  • Paul, the Osama info was a “crawler” on Fox News an hour ago. Is that “reputable” enough for you? Other corporateland state-owned media, including CNN and AP, have reported that no human shield was used despite first reports. So, from the first bulletins of the Seals facing a blaze of gunfire from bin Laden, we now are being told that he was defenseless and lame. Perhaps then, as the story and legend unfold, it would do well to wait until all the “facts” are in.

    “History indicates”? I’d need better sourcing than that. But conceding the point, if a neurological disease could be classified as a mental disorder than perhaps Hitler, with a good lawyer, might have made a decent defense on insanity grounds and would have wound up with a lesser sentence than a firing squad. (grist for a novelist)

  • Joe Green,
    Your self-righteous posturing as a martyr for truth is plain silly. I think I’m paraphrasing Chesterton when I say that one effect of unbelief is not that the unbeliever believes in nothing but that he’ll believe anything.

  • Francis, I take vast comfort in the fact that I am virtually alone in my position. I thanks whatever gods that be that we are on opposite sides.

  • Joe, what if Francis has chosen God’s side? Where does your statement then leave you? I am not accusing you or judging you, but your remark indicates atheism or at least agnosticism: “whatever gods there may be”. There is only ONE God – Yahweh – and His Son Yeshua gave His life so that you and I may be free of sin (which really is the ONLY freedom that ultimately counts). If you don’t believe that, then I do NOT rejoice that we are on opposite sides of the fence. Rather, I would grieve for you (if I understand you correctly). How could I NOT want Heaven for everyone? Even you (bad choice of words I suppose)? But that requires repentance (which evidence indicates Osama did not possess, but we don’t know for 100% certainty, just a 99% likelihood).

    And no, I do NOT presume to suppose I am on the fast track to Heaven. Personally, I’ll be happy to make it to a 1000 years in Purgatory because I know what I deserve, but mercy is not getting what you do deserve. OK, enough of a divergence. I suppose this is off topic. Sorry.

  • Oh! Oh! Is the catholic Liberal Intelligentsia coalescing in outrage over the murder of Usma bin Laden? Seems not so much coagulating goes on over 45,000,000 abortions.

    Furthermore, Obama made three major speech trumpeting this war crime and unlawful invasion/violation of Pakistani National Sovereignty.

    Meanwhile, I’m writing an endorsement for his nomination for a second nobel peace prize.

    hahahahahahahaha . . .

  • You guys are something else if not entertaining. I give up. At this point, I concede everything. You are all right and I am all wrong. It is my sincere hope that this will gladden your day and end any further discourse in this thread.

  • Joe, we’re not the ones who are supposed to be recognized as right. Rather, Jesus is right. Concede nothing to us. Concede everything to Him.

  • I’d take that under advisement.

  • Mundabor wrote:

    “Allow me, as a European, to express my warmest thanks to – and admiration for – the only Country which still has the guts to pay the price – in money, and in lives – to defend our liberty.
    You should be very proud of being Americans.”

    Thank you for your kind words.

  • I’m appalled that some of you are praying for this man’s soul, as if he deserves the benefit of the doubt of damnation. Man up, my friends, and put your money where your mouth is – ask your priest to offer a Mass for Osama bin Laden. When he laughs you out of the church, I hope you realize that you’re not responding to this like the Church should.

    God’s mercy is endless and all things are possible with God. However, that mercy has to be responded to in order for someone to be saved. We cannot place any individual in hell, but we have a duty to act decently. Placing Osama bin Laden in the same camp as a dead, misguided, anti-Catholic family member is very indecent.

  • To the poster who mentioned our rejoicing (without prayers for dead Turkish invaders, I might add) over Lepanto – Thank you. You couldn’t be more on target.

  • God’s mercy is endless and all things are possible with God. However, that mercy has to be responded to in order for someone to be saved. We cannot place any individual in hell, but we have a duty to act decently. Placing Osama bin Laden in the same camp as a dead, misguided, anti-Catholic family member is very indecent.

    This makes no sense to me. You have the same evidence of repentance for Bin Laden as you have for a family member. Why is indecent then? We hope all people, even the disgusting ones, accepted God at the end. That’s not the same as saying they are just as likely as Osama. I would say it unlikely that Osama did whereas most people we know are more likely to have done so.

    I don’t think that’s indecent; I think it’s hopeful & realistic.

  • It now looks like Osama wasn’t involved in a firefight. Was it still a just action if it were an execution? Even if Osama could’ve been taken alive safely?

  • Assuming that the SEALs were engaged in a fire fight with anyone in the compound, bin Laden as the presumed commander would have been a target on sight unless he immediately announced his surrender. This of course leaves aside a consideration that I am sure would have been in the minds of the SEALs: is bin Laden wearing a suicide belt rigged with explosives, a trick engaged in by so many of his minions in the past. This was far from a normal military operation against a conventional foe.

  • The Commander in Chief has ordered a standing kill order on Osama, so whether armed or not, the kill was justified.

  • Let’s talk hypothetically then.
    Bin Laden is in his compound alone. He’s naked with nothing in his hands.
    Would killing him still be justified?

  • The proper authority, George W. Bush, as Commander in Chief, gave a justified standing kill order for a mass murderer that attacked innocent lives in a cowardly act. To my knowledge his successor did not rescind that order. Any member of the US military is justified in carrying out that order irrespective of the conditions at the time.

    Bin Laden could have turned himself in anytime in the last nine years and then we would have been under obligation to take him into custody alive.

  • “He’s naked with nothing in his hands.
    Would killing him still be justified?”

    Yes, so we wouldn’t have to look at his ugly butt.

  • I’m impressed with the professionalism and training of the SEALS. I could not have hit anything while laughing my head off.

    Does anyone know what were Obama’s last words?

  • T. Shaw:
    Wednesday, May 4, 2011 A.D. at 11:18am

    I’m impressed with the professionalism and training of the SEALS. I could not have hit anything while laughing my head off.

    Does anyone know what were Obama’s last words?
    ===================================
    Possibilities:

    “Ever hear of knocking?”
    “Please!!! My real name is Moses Goldstein!”
    “If you’re the police, where are your badges?”
    “I was just gonna make some espresso.”
    “Virgins, here I come!!”

  • GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations’ top human rights official called on the United States Tuesday to give the U.N. details about Osama bin Laden’s killing and said that all counter-terrorism operations must respect international law.
    […]
    “This was a complex operation and it would be helpful if we knew the precise facts surrounding his killing. The United Nations has consistently emphasized that all counter-terrorism acts must respect international law,” Pillay said in a statement issued in response to a Reuters request.

    Here is one response that says it all:

    http://i52.tinypic.com/2wmkjgo.jpg

  • Perhaps the administration should’ve simply said, “Bin Laden was killed in a firefight. These are are the details we’ll give.”

    But I suppose the media and the public are too curious for that to be sufficient.

  • I don’t have a problem with OBL being in heaven some day with me (assuming I make it) because I trust not only in our loving God’s mercy but also his justice.

Obama’s Fool: Bart Stupak

Thursday, March 31, AD 2011

It seems that Bart Stupak has done another interview with a version of events about how last year’s Obamacare debate really went down. Of course, Morning’s Minion has done a piece explaining the virtues of this stalwart pro-life defender.

I’m one of the few people here who would have voted for the healthcare bill before the Hyde language was omitted, I thought it would be interesting to look at Stupak’s claims. Most of the stuff if how poor Stupak has to deal with angry people and how Obama really can be trusted on abortion. This isn’t really terribly interesting (except if the bishops really do view Obama as the most pro-abortion president ever, as this would cause much grief to many on the left), though I find it amusing that Stupak takes this position as Obama appears to be willing to shut down the federal government to preserve funding for Planned Parenthood. No word yet if Stupak trusts Obama to keep America out of messy and poorly thought-out wars.

What is interesting is that Stupak claims that really the Republicans are to blame for the lack of protection against abortion spending in the bill:

Was it unpleasant talking to Rahm? Everybody thinks he’s just a screamer and shouter and would just wave his fists around–

No, Rahm doesn’t scream and shout at me, ’cause he knows better. I’ll just tell him to go to Hell and move on. No, no. rahm and I had a couple of good conversations. The executive order came up in the conversations we had a few weeks before it ever came.

But, to be honest with you, I’d been working with some of the Senate Republicans on trying to find some way to do a technical corrections bill. And actually, truth be known, the Republican leadership in the Senate pulled the rug out on me on that on Thursday night, the Thursday before that Monday [when the final vote occurred]. Most people don’t realize that.

Anyways, long story short, I always thought we would have some statutory language. It wasn’t until Thursday before the vote that when the Republican leadership on the Senate side said no go … and the reason was that it would pass.

Health care would have passed the Senate with Hyde language?

Yeah. It would fly though the Senate. So they weren’t interested in getting health care passed, they were interested in killing it. So every suggestion, every legislative proposal I had–and I knew I had to get to 60 votes in the Senate–I was led to believe up to that point in time they’d work with me. And they pulled the rug out that Thursday before. Remember, they went home that Thursday night, or that Friday night there. They weren’t around that weekend when we voted on the health care bill.

It’s helpful here to remember the situation. The House & Senate must pass identical bills. Any alterations to the Senate bill would have sent the bill back to the Senate. The Senate’s bill lacked the statutory language of the Hyde amendment, and therefore if the House had insisted the whole bill would go back to the Senate. At that point, the Democrats’ majority had been reduced to 59 as Scott Brown was elected from Mass. and promised to vote with the rest of the party to filibuster the bill.

What makes Stupak’s latest version of the events surrounding Obamacare so implausible is the idea that with the Hyde amendment language, the Senate would magically have 60 votes. What vote? The Republicans in the Senate had all voted against the Senate bill and Brown was elected in part b/c of his opposition. Even if Brown was amiable to the language, the Hyde bill would not make a difference to him, as he’s not exactly a pro-life politician. The only Republican for whom this language made a difference was Rep. Joseph Cao-but Cao was in the House, not the Senate.

Yet Stupak is here claiming that the GOP stopped working on the Hyde language b/c the language would help it get the 60 votes in the Senate. But what Republican would have switched his vote just b/c of the abortion language? As Minion points out ad nauseum, most Republicans were against healthcare reform in itself, not only because of abortion. Other than Cao, the conflicted congressmen were all Democrats.

Now, perhaps the GOP didn’t want the Hyde language b/c that made Obamacare more likely to pass the House, but that’s not Stupak’s claim. Nor is he saying his technical corrections bill would fly through the Senate. He specifically claims Obamacare would have flown through the Senate with the Stupak language.

To be blunt, I’m not sure if Stupak is delusional or dishonest here. I imagine a little bit of both, but this is yet another version of Stupak’s story that doesn’t quite mesh with the plain reality that was before him. The best scenario is that he expected the GOP to work with him to get the corrections bill through that included the statutory language, but I don’t know why he would think that. The GOP may have been willing to do so if abortion was the only thing on the plate, but the GOP wanted to defeat Obamacare. There were other things that had to be in that technical corrections bill for the bill to be passed, and the GOP was not interested in having those pass that would pave the way for Obamacare.

In the end, the GOP is not responsible for Stupak’s language not being in the bill. It’s Pelosi’s, Nelson’s, and Obama’s. I am perfectly willing to concede that the GOP could have bent over backward to change the language by giving up the fight against Obamacare in order to provide better protection against abortion funding, but even had they done so, the language would not have changed. Pelosi and Obama didn’t want that language changed and weren’t going to let the bill come before the House in any other form. In the end, Stupak’s choice was still the same: to stand strong against Obamacare’s lax protections against abortion funding or provide Obama political cover. Stupak chose the latter.

So since we honor April’s Fools tomorrow, today we should honor Obama’s Fool: Bart Stupak.

UPDATE after the break

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9 Responses to Obama’s Fool: Bart Stupak

  • I’d vote for mendacious rather than delusional. On November 7, 2009, the House Gop, all but one, voted for the Stupak amendment realizing that made it plain that Obamacare would pass in the House, which it did. The House Gop made a statement at the time realizing that is what was likely to happen, but they did it anyway because they believed that the Stupak amendment was that important:

    “House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN) issued the following statement in support of an amendment offered by Representatives Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Joseph Pitts (R-PA) that would prohibit federal funding of abortions under the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) health care plan: “We believe in the sanctity of life, and the Stupak-Pitts Amendment addresses a moral issue of the utmost concern. It will limit abortion in the United States. Because of this, while we strongly and deeply oppose the underlying bill, we decided to stand with Life and support Stupak-Pitts.

    “The danger of this bill passing without critical pro-life language was too great a risk to do otherwise. Indeed, a number of Democrat supporters of Stupak-Pitts had privately indicated to many of our colleagues that all they needed for “cover” was a vote, and they would support final passage even if the amendment failed.

    “To be clear, the Stupak-Pitts Amendment’s passage is the right thing to do. We believe you just don’t play politics with life.

    “When this bill is conferenced with the Senate, the pro-life majority in the House of Representatives must ensure that this important amendment is in the final legislation. If it does not, this same strong majority must defeat the bill.”

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/11/08/pro-life-republicans/

    The problem for the Democrats on final passage, is that they could not get enough votes to pass Obamacare with the Stupak language in it. Their fanatical pro-aborts had been promised that the Stupak language would be removed.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14y61p7CH8s

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/170547.php

    Stupak understands this of course, but he is neither man enough, nor honest enough, to admit the simple truth: he caved under pressure and abandoned his pro-life principles. It truly is as simple as that.

  • Imagine there’s no liberal
    It’s easy if you try
    No Washington below us
    Above us only God
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in faith

    Imagine there’s no progressive
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to tax or spend for
    And no abortion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in virtue

    You may say that I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will be free

    Imagine no class hatred
    I wonder if you can
    No need for envy or wrath
    A brotherhood of free men
    Imagine all the free men
    Producing so much wealth

    You may say that I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And America again will be free

  • You would have been better off leaving out the comment about the Planned Parenthood Amendment, another example of pro-lifers being played for fools by their partisan leadership.

    The Conservatives were free to craft their amendment however they wanted. They could have pulled the language from the MCP to prohbit any group that offers abortions from bidding on government grants (though I’m sure the GOP would make sure it did not include defense contracts by military contractors who include abortion in the health care coverage, remembering the Republican cardinal rule that a baby is less dead when aborted by the private sector). It could have barred grant applications by any group found to have [insert any of PP’s crimes or misdeeds].

    Instead they decided not to be serious and in a way that would never withstand legal challenge by just naming a particular group — no different as if some stupid Democrat annoyed at GE because of their zero tax payments put in an amendment to bar Genreal Electric by name from any new government contracts.

    Please let me know when the conservatives grow up and decide to put forward serious proposals.

  • Just like clockwork. And as I predicted:

    “Let’s see the allegedly “pro-life” Catholic progressives try to justify this one. Of course, they’ll find SOME way to defend their Dear Leader and lay the blame at the feet of pro-lifers and/or the GOP. They ALWAYS do.”

    Pathetic, if nevertheless quite predictable.

  • While the gullability argument has some traction, it’s still a bit of a head-scratcher. It ultimately boils down to an argument something like this from the Democrat-leaning opponent of abortion:

    “We’re better because we *know* our leadership is evil and has bad intent with respect to restrictions on abortion, but you guys are just suckers who take half-measures.”

    I don’t know that sneering at someone who takes the occasional crumb from the table–a partial birth abortion ban here, a Mexico City policy there–is speaking from a plane of moral authority. Especially when you do so in between barks of “Thank you, sir, may I have another?” to the Pelosi/Capps wing of the Democrats.

  • Instead they decided not to be serious and in a way that would never withstand legal challenge by just naming a particular group

    Huh? Congress has discretion over its purse; if it finds that x group is using its money in ways it does not desire, it can cease funding that group. It would withstand legal challenge.

    But moreover, the GOP is worse than the Dems b/c while the Dems want to fund PP, the GOP aren’t serious about defunding it? That’s a bizarre argument.

  • Huh? Congress has discretion over its purse; if it finds that x group is using its money in ways it does not desire, it can cease funding that group. It would withstand legal challenge.

    No, it would not and there are ample legal precedents to show that. Foremost, the Courts consider naming a particular organization (rather than setting criteria fro disbarment) as prohibited under Article I (no bill of attainder). The GOP tried this on ACORN and got shot down in the Courts. In fact in the entire history of the United States, not once have the Courts allowed Congress to ban one specific organizaton from the ability to compete for government grants or contracts.

    But moreover, the GOP is worse than the Dems b/c while the Dems want to fund PP, the GOP aren’t serious about defunding it? That’s a bizarre argument.

    I didn’t say that. The GOP had unilateral control as to how they wrote their amendment. Rather than be effective, they decided to be polemetical.

  • the Courts allowed Congress to ban one specific organizaton from the ability to compete for government grants or contracts.

    Which would be great if that’s what was happening. This isn’t a government contract; it’s a subsidy which comes under Congress’s discretion under the commerce clause among others. Unless there’s a contract I’m unaware of, Congress is fine.

    Moreover, I found only that a federal district judge found the ACORN actions unconstitutional. If that’s it, you need to check your “ample precedent” definition. I mean, a Court of Appeals case would have been nice.

  • This isn’t a government contract; it’s a subsidy which comes under Congress’s discretion under the commerce clause among others. Unless there’s a contract I’m unaware of, Congress is fine.

    You’re mistaken. The Pence Amendment would bar PP from applying for grants under Title X.

    http://www.hhs.gov/opa/grants/index.html

    http://www.hhs.gov/opa/familyplanning/grantees/index.html

Libya and Just War

Tuesday, March 22, AD 2011

President Obama, winner of the Nobel peace prize, has thrust the United States into yet another war. I know from facebook and twitter that many of Obama’s liberal supporters are shocked and upset with the decision. It really shouldn’t surprise anyone. As I noted out in the run-up to the election, Obama never was a peace candidate, much less a proponent of just war theory. Instead he uses roughly the same calculus for war as Bush did, though as Douthat points out he uses a more multilateral approach once he’s made that calculus. Obama’s position as a peace candidate was grounded more in not being a Republican than being a believer in peace, and it is the fault of those advocates for peace that they didn’t do the basic research to see that truth. I am curious to see if this has changed the minds of many of the more “liberal” Catholics who voted for Obama, but I have not seen anything from them yet.

Since most of our attention was on Japan, I think most Catholics and Americans are still feeling a little whiplashed by the quickness. It’s so difficult to determine whether this action was just b/c there is so much confusion and secrecy both about our true intents towards Libya as well as the actual situation in Libya. The Vatican hasn’t been able to offer much guidance either. It is true that Pope Benedict’s neutral statements are far less condemnatory (if they are condemnatory at all) than JPII’s during the buildup to Iraq, but the key word there is “buildup.” There was very little buildup, and very little opportunity for debate and dialogue before the war was begun. It is true that the Vatican is more comfortable with a multilateral, UN-endorsed war than a unilateral war but it is not certain whether the Vatican approves.

So we’ll need to rely on the sources of just war doctrine ourselves to determine whether this was a just war. I confess that I don’t feel comfortable enough with the facts of Libya to say for certain, but I find it very unlikely that this is a just war. Don did a post a few days ago with different just war standards, and just for the sake of brevity let’s assume that there are two different approaches to just war: the Thomistic approach and the current approach.

Under the Thomistic approach, there are 3 requirements in the Second Part of the Second part, Question 40: (1) that the war be declared by a legitimate sovereign; (2) that there be a just cause; and (3) there must be an intention of advancement of good. Catechism 2309 has a more detailed description (I would argue that they simply explain further what Aquinas is saying rather than raising the requirements, but that may be an argument for a different time) in which the aggressor nation (i.e. the one to be attacked) must be inflicting lasting, grave, and certain damage, all other means must be exhausted, there must serious prospects of success, and the use of arms must not produce greater evils than the evils sought to be prevented. Let’s look at the Libya situation in detail

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69 Responses to Libya and Just War

  • Actually, we’re going for–ta da!–regime change!

    http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/151191-white-house-suggests-regime-change-is-goal-of-libya-mission

    This time for sure, Bullwinkle.

  • “… he uses a more multilateral approach …”

    By multilateral, I’m assuming you’re not including Congressional consultation.

    Not only that, Bush waited months before attacking Iraq, trying to build support both at home and abroad for a coalition to oust Saddam. If I’m not mistaken, he actually had more countries involved in that effort than are currently involved in the efforts to oust Ghadaffi.

    Our Nobel laureate’s rush to war makes W look downright deliberate.

  • That said, I don’t believe either the justification for attacking Iraq or the justification for attacking Libya met the just war prerequisites.

  • You indicated in your essay that the UN is a legitimate sovereign. The UN is sovereign of nothing. It is a conglomeration of loosely affiliated nations. It has no sovereign (nope, the UN Secretary General doesn’t count, nor does the UN Security Council). I fear a world in which a non-sovereign body like the UN can declare war.

    As for Obama, up to the 2008 election he said that the US President doesn’t have the ability to wage war without going to Congress and getting its consent first. Well, he didn’t get Comngress’ concurrence for this attack.

    This is all so simple to see: under the liberal Democrats (who are in a state of confusion over Obama’s decision for war) we are on the path to a world-wide UN-sponsored dictatorship, and under the Republicans we are on the path to a unilateral Empire. What exactly is the difference?

    Jesus’ Kingdom isn’t of this world and this mess will only be straightened out when He returns to Earth. I WANT Him to return – and soon. Don’t you? I place no hope in the machinations of man, UN, US, or otherwise. My hope is in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead, never to die again.

  • I believe it’s a stretch (at best) to frame this as a just war.

  • Well, nothing really passes the just war test, does it? I’ll come out and say it: just war doctrine bothers me. Is it “unjust” to oppose an aggressive tyrant because you don’t have (and couldn’t possibly ever have) a legitimate sovereign to declare your opposition? And exactly how good do the opposition’s chances of success have to be before it becomes “just?”

    Is a different calculus applied to Libyan opposition and American involvement? If so, why?

    Although I have no horse in the Libyan race (which is why I think it’s prudentially very ill advised to take sides in this case), I don’t see how the Libyan rebels are waging an “unjust” war when it was the result of Qaddafi’s aggression against his own people. Pacifist leanings aside, if you fight back against a thug and bully, how is your action unjust? And if someone decides to help you in that fight, how could that assistance be unjust?

    Fighting back against dictators like Saddam and Qaddafi who have no problem using violence against their own people doesn’t seem like an injustice to me. Prudentially, it might not make sense to join that fight, but that’s a different question. If it’s not “just” to defend one’s self and one’s family against murderers, then I don’t know what to make of just war doctrine.

  • I will weep no tears if the butcher of Lockerbie finally meets justice.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan_Am_Flight_103

    It says something very bad about our time that a murderous psychopath like Gaddafi has been in power for four decades.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muammar_Gaddafi

  • Applying the intention category in a modern setting is tricky because there are a lot of actors involved and the intentions and objectives of the action probably vary a great deal from person to person. For example, there is one group among the supporters who seem to view this solely as a humanitarian exercise. Gaddafi was getting ready to slaughter a bunch of civilians and see the no fly zone as a means of preventing that rather than as a means of aiding the rebels or removing Gaddafi. There is also a group, however, for whom removing Gaddafi is the real goal.

    I suspect that there are also a lot of people who want to see Gaddafi gone but who don’t want the West to be seen as having removed him. When it looked like the rebels were going to win on their own, this group opposed involvement, but once it became clear that the rebels were going to lose unless Gaddafi’s air power was taken away, they flipped and supported intervention under the guise of purely humanitarian concerns. My guess is that Obama and Secretary Clinton fall into this camp.

  • It might also be worth asking what exactly we know about the various rebel groups that are fighting Gaddafi. When the question was raised on one of the Sunday shows, Wolfowitz said that it didn’t matter who the rebels were exactly because nothing could be worse than Gaddafi, which is very very not true.

  • Not only the intention category, but also the probability of success. There might be a low probability of strategic success (e.g., regime change), but a very high probability of tactical success (e.g., stopping this tank from shelling my neighborhood). I suppose it’s called just *war* theory and not just *battle* theory, but wars are fought at the tactical level. To the Libyan rebel trying to repel that tank, the chances of strategic success aren’t foremost in mind. Which is why it seems so hard to apply a one-size-fits-all just/unjust label to a conflict like this.

  • “Wolfowitz said that it didn’t matter who the rebels were exactly because nothing could be worse than Gaddafi, which is very very not true.”

    Someone could conceivably be worse than Gaddafi, but that seems to me be a poor argument for not taking fairly minimal steps to help escort him off the stage of history. Gaddafi has been a menace not only to his own people luckless enough to live under his rule, but to all the people who have died due to his support for terrorist actions abroad. Getting rid of him is an exercise in international hygiene. Obama and I stand shoulder to shoulder on this. (One can contact me for signed copies of that last statement at a minimal fee. :)) We stand shoulder to shoulder of course until Obama changes his mind on the policy.

  • By multilateral, I’m assuming you’re not including Congressional consultation.

    Yeah, no one seems to do that nowadays. Its true Congressional consultation is a very good thing, but alas a lost art.

    The UN is sovereign of nothing.

    I misstated my position then; the Vatican sees the UN as a legitimate authority (though not sovereign) to arbitrate international conflicts, particularly the decision to go to war. Thus the Vatican wants countries to discuss their issues before the UN before going to war, in part b/c it ensures that there is more dialogue & negotiation before the last resort is used.

    Fighting back against dictators like Saddam and Qaddafi who have no problem using violence against their own people doesn’t seem like an injustice to me. Prudentially, it might not make sense to join that fight, but that’s a different question.

    Aquinas puts it in that the offense against the people needs to be pretty bad and that the revolution won’t cause more harm. I don’t want to pass judgment on the rebels b/c I don’t know what Qaddafi was doing at the time, but it is a high burden. It can however be met and I think if I was being attacked, I would fight back.

    I will weep no tears if the butcher of Lockerbie finally meets justice.

    No question he’s a bad person. No question we should have done more earlier. But being a tyrant doesn’t automatically justify war (not saying you’re saying that), as the civilians are going to be harmed as well.

    Applying the intention category in a modern setting is tricky because there are a lot of actors involved and the intentions and objectives of the action probably vary a great deal from person to person.

    I agree. I imagine the intention is more applicable on a personal level. So I imagine the soldier who goes to Iraq to help them rebuild is different from the politician seeking to improve his legacy or secure oil or any other possible nefarious motives.

    When the question was raised on one of the Sunday shows, Wolfowitz said that it didn’t matter who the rebels were exactly because nothing could be worse than Gaddafi, which is very very not true.

    I completely agree, which is why a better plan was needed. We may be creating a worse monster.

  • Someone could conceivably be worse than Gaddafi, but that seems to me be a poor argument for not taking fairly minimal steps to help escort him off the stage of history.

    It was this line of reasoning that brought the Bolsheviks to power. Not only is something worse than Gaddafi conceivable, statistically speaking it is likely.

  • As usual, this all Ronald Reagan’s fault.

    He missed…

  • Many bloggers have addressed the common and faulty argument that opposing one tyrant means having to oppose all tyrants using the same methods, probability of success be damned.

    As for the last resort requirement, I can’t imagine a situation where dialog would make Qaddafi step down or the rebels to give up that demand and I don’t think there’s anyone who’d disagree.

    Primavera, you don’t need a legitimate sovereign but a legitimate authority and the Holy Father considers the UN a legitimate authority.

  • “It was this line of reasoning that brought the Bolsheviks to power. Not only is something worse than Gaddafi conceivable, statistically speaking it is likely.”

    Rubbish. What brought the Bolsheviks to power was a building revolutionary crisis in tsarist Russia for decades, Russian military failure in WW I, that poor doomed Nicholas II couldn’t lead a dog with a leash and that Kerensky was much better at making speeches than running a revolutionary regime. As for the statistical argument, I assume that you just tossed that in as a throw away line since I very much doubt that any such statistical studies relating to the aftermaths of the downfall of tyrants exist. I can think of several examples off the top of my head to the contrary, including Hitler, Mussolini, the Japanese militarists, Saddam, Ceausescu in Rumania, Franco, albeit he was “toppled” only by the Grim Reaper, etc. Contrary examples can be summoned up, but to assume that a worse tyrant will replace a toppled one is a mere recipe never to take action even against the most odious of tyrants, since one can never predict what the future will bring with certainty.

  • Actually of course the Western Allied forces, including the US, did, in a haphazard fashion sponsor efforts by the White Russian forces to topple the Bolsheviks after they seized power in November 1917 in the following Russian Civil War. Would that they had succeeded in introducing Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin to the ashheap of history.

  • RR,

    Did the Pope confide in you as to what he considers legitimate authority? By e-mail or phone?

    😉

    Perhaps he did, perhaps he didn’t. Nevertheless, whatever the case may be, the UN is NOT a legitimate authroity over sovereign nations. Never has been. But if the Obamanation of Desolation has his way, it will become the ONLY authority.

  • With all respect to the Pope, the UN has all the moral authority of a Chicago ward boss caught with his hand in the till.

  • Don. . . the man who has never met a war that is not just or he has not loved. Using your rational we should be bombing half the world to be sanitizing it of tyrants. It is far better that innocent civilians should die as collateral damage a result of our humanitarian air attacks and sanctions than should die at the hands of their own leaders.

    “It was this line of reasoning that brought the Bolsheviks to power. Not only is something worse than Gaddafi conceivable, statistically speaking it is likely.”

    Ok, then lets look at the rational for WWI we fought the tyrant Kaiser resulting in the rise of Hitler . . . we fought the tyrant Hitler resulting in the the Soviet enslavement of Eastern Europe. . . we fought the Japanese in China resulting in its turn over to Mao . . . we backed rebels in Afghanistan to weaken the USSR resulting in the Taliban . . . and on and on and on and on.

  • Primavera, the pope, then cardinal, confided in the press. http://www.zenit.org/article-5398?l=english

  • In all this discussion, how many people think that Joshua’s war against the people in Canaan was just, i.e., when God told him to slay every man, woman and child? How many think that the war which Kings Saul and David waged against the Philistines was just? How many think that the war which the Maccabbean brothers waged against the Seleucid Empire was just?

    War is hell. If you’re not there to ruthlessly, quickly and completely defeat the enemy, then get the heck out. I have grave misgivings over this war in Libya. But what do I know? I am a nuclear engineer (not a good thing to admit to after the events at Fukushima Daiichi), not a theologian, or a sociologist, or a psychologist.

    And yes, I would love it if we got out of the UN and told that band of thieves and murderers to leave NYC. But then again, we’d half to evacuate much of the remaining part of NYC since they too are thieves and murderers of the same sort. Can’t we just cut Manhattan off and tow it out to the middle of the Atlantic?

    😉

  • RR,

    The text on the web page does not state, “I, Pope Benedict XVI, consider the UN a legitimate authority.” However, it’s entirely likely that he does. With all due respect, in this matter he is not infallible. The UN has no legitimacy. Just look at the madness of the world. No one really listens to (much less obeys) the UN except for the Obamanation of Desolation, and perhaps France, Germany and a few other Western European nations. In this matter, what you state as the Pope’s position is a feeling generally shared by those of Western Europe who continue in their sad slide into abject secularism and atheism.

  • Ok, then lets look at the rational for WWI we fought the tyrant Kaiser resulting in the rise of Hitler . . . we fought the tyrant Hitler resulting in the the Soviet enslavement of Eastern Europe. . . we fought the Japanese in China resulting in its turn over to Mao . . . we backed rebels in Afghanistan to weaken the USSR resulting in the Taliban . . . and on and on and on and on.

    Not saying reason and prudence should go out the window, but this list is a bit misconceived. Let’s try it this way.

    Ok, then lets look at the rational for WWI we fought the tyrant Kaiser resulting in the end of what was at the time the great (and senseless!) bloodbath known…we fought the tyrant Hitler resulting in the liberation of Western Europe, stopping the slaughter of millions of innocent peoples of various ethnic and political groups, as well as stabilizing the continent…we fought the Japanese in China resulting in the halt of a bloody and barbaric empire and the liberation of millions…we backed rebels in Afghanistan to weaken the USSR which worked and is in part responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Empire which was responsible for the death and enslavement of countless millions as well as many wars . . . and on and on and on and on.

    In each of the above cases the outcome was a good that was intended and was satisfied. True, there is always more to do afterward and while you may find me praising FDR for his war effort, you’ll find equal scorn for his selling out Eastern Europe. Ditto Truman abandoning free China, Bush I not finishing the job in Iraq, etc.

  • Getting rid of him (Gadafi) is an exercise in international hygiene.”

    😆 guffaw. 🙂

    Its time for Gadafi to go, and the reports I am hearing is that now he is randomly shelling civilians in the rebel held towns. So the sooner he is out the better. The reports also say that the UK is leading the action with the US providing most of the firepower, along with France, so that’s to a degree keeping Uncle Sam off the hook politically in the international sense.
    Get rid of him and see what happens – there are a lot of other Arab countries in the region with the same agenda, so maybe its their time.

    I wish the Brits had been as equally keen to put a bullet in Mugabe’s head a few years ago – he’s another despot that needs to go – he has turned the food-basket of southern Africa into a desert.

  • to assume that a worse tyrant will replace a toppled one is a mere recipe never to take action even against the most odious of tyrants

    I never said we should assume this, just that we should not assume the contrary. Yes, you can cite examples where the violent overthrow of a government has improved things. But you can cite many more examples where it has made things worse. France in 1789, Russia in 1917, China in 1949, Cuba in 1959, Iraq and Vietnam in 1963, Iran and Nicaragua in 1979, Rhodesia in 1980. I could go on, but you get the idea.

    Personally I do not have a strong opinion about the wisdom of the Libya action. It might be that given the circumstances this is the best course of action. What I find distressing, however, is how many people simply dismiss the question of what replaces Gaddafi as if it isn’t worth considering. That does not fill me with confidence that their conclusion he should be removed is justified.

  • “Don. . . the man who has never met a war that is not just or he has not loved. Using your rational we should be bombing half the world to be sanitizing it of tyrants.”

    Ah, Marv Wood, the man who does not know what the phrase”you are banned from this site” means apparently. I’ll leave your comment up Marv since this is Michael’s thread. For those who haven’t been around Saint Blogs as long as I have, Marv doesn’t believe we should have fought againt the Third Reich and has a real bee in his bonnet about Israel and Jews.

    RL has dealt with your feeble red herring Marv. My reasons for supporting toppling Gaddafi are because his people are already in revolt against him, giving him some belated justice this side of the grave and hopefully stopping him from adding much more to his tally of slain innocents.

  • “France in 1789, Russia in 1917, China in 1949, Cuba in 1959, Iraq and Vietnam in 1963, Iran and Nicaragua in 1979, Rhodesia in 1980. I could go on, but you get the idea.”

    France in 1789-mixed. The Revolutionary regime was bad. I find it hard to see how Napoleon was a worse tyrant than Louis XIV for example.

    Russia 1917-The Kerensky regime, the February Revolution, was better than that of Nicholas II. The seizure of power by the Bolsheviks in 1917 is actually an argument I think in favor of international action against tyrants.

    China 1949-Once again, wouldn’t that be an argument in favor of international action against a tyrant, Mao, after his seizure of power?

    Cuba 1959-Ah the dictator who got his job courtesy, in part, of some bad reporting by the New York Times. Once again a good argument for international action. Something that Kennedy should have contemplated prior to the Bay of Pigs in 61.

    Iraq? I am not sure what you are referring to, unless you are talking about the coup that brought the Baath party to power: that occurred in 1968. Arif who took power in 1963 with some Baathist support, quickly turned on the Baathists and locked up Saddam until Saddam escaped from prison in 1967. (Too bad he didn’t execute him.) Arif I think was an improvement on Qasim who he overthrew in 63. Saddam would prove to be far worse than Arif.

    Vietnam-1963-Nah, I don’t think Thieu was any worse than Diem. They were both plaster saints compared to Ho. I also think that it is a canard that that event had any long lasting impact on how the Vietnam War played out.

    Iran-1979-Ah the poor Shah trying to rely on limp reed Carter. The Shah was a tyrant and Khomeini and his successors have been worse.

    Nicaragua-1979-Actually I think the Nicaraguans are better off today than they were under Somoza, even with Danny Ortega back in power. With intervention by Reagan and the contras against the Sandinistas compelling them to hold a free election that they lost in 1989, and which led to the democratization of Nicaragua, on the whole I think the process was ultimately beneficial for the Nicaraguan people rather than a few more decades under the latest scion of clan Somoza.

    Rhodesia-1980-One man, one vote, one time. Yep Mugabe turned out to be a worse tyrant than Ian Smith ever was. I do not think however that negates the essential justice of blacks fighting to have votes and legal rights in their own country.

  • The world is certainly well rid of Gaddafi. It’s unfortunate it didn’t happen when Reagan bombed the joint back in the 1980’s. I am uneasy though, about the lack of a game plan.

    Doesn’t France get much of its oil from Libya? I search in vain for indignant leftist protesters marching and holding “No Blood for Oil” signs outside of French embassies. It’s fine for the French to act in their own self-interest, but dreadful when we Yanks do it. To some, apparently, French approval of and participation in a particular action is akin to some sort of moral Michelin star.

    Let’s see, according to Marv, no war has ever solved the world’s problems on a permanent basis so therefore we should never fight wars. There is only one way the world’s problems will be solved on a permanent basis and it’s called The Second Coming. I don’t think that means we should give the world’s monsters carte blanche to do what they will until Christ appears again.

  • Looking at just one aspect of the Just War doctrine. The war is lawful in International Law. At least for countries that have signed the treaty establishing the UN.

    Prior to the UN a country had to meet the Just War Doctrine to lawfully go to war, though that was sometimes honored only in the sophistries presented in argument. Since then it is governed by Chapter VII of the UN charter. While the the article 51 of that chapter allows countries to go to war in self-defense that is not the main part of the chapter. If the Security Council determines by 10 votes no vetos that a “threat to peace” exits it may order enforcement actions including going to war. All members are supposed to support it according to their means. The counties providing the 10 votes no vetoes can base their votes on any criteria they want. I assume that the drafters of the Charter assumed they would use the JWD but with so few members of the council being Western and even the Western countries governed by seculars politicians I see little room for confidence that this is the case.

    The Security Council has voted literally 10 votes no veto’s that there is a threat to international peace and a enforcement action is needed. Just what is that threat. One possibility. The coalition would go to war without it.

    Whether or not it meets the Just War standards – The war is legal in International Law.

    This is not to say that Kaddafi is not a first class tyrant and Libya and the world would be just as well off without him, we cannot forget the larger issues in discussing the question.

  • This war presents a view of an aspect of the Just War doctrine that is often overlooked.

    There is a tension between the requirement that there be reasonable possibility of success and a resonble possibility the godd accomplished will be greater than the harm caused.

    Many of the prewar calls for a no fly zone seemed to assume a minimal action shooting down military aircraft flying where we don’t want them to fly. A course of action with abput zero probability of success in this situration no matter what the objectives are. The coalition has adopted a much more aggressive means to establish a no fly zone, one that has a chance of success or contributing to a success depending on what the objectives are. A consideration of a reasonable possibility of success pretty much precludes a the minimal force alternative. And is likely to result in the least casualties all around in the long run.

    But it involve a more harmful course of action than many of it’s advocates thought was acceptable.

    A point to keep in mind for future discussions on the JWD.

  • I wish the Brits had been as equally keen to put a bullet in Mugabe’s head a few years ago – he’s another despot that needs to go – he has turned the food-basket of southern Africa into a desert.

    “Many that live deserve death. Many that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.

  • “This war was declared by a legitimate sovereign, either by Obama or by the United Nations.”

    We have a government of separated powers, or in this case, power – the national sovereignty is shared by the President, Congress, and the Judiciary. Pres. Obama cannot commit troops to war without consulting Congress and obtaining a declaration of war.

    As Justice Jackson noted in Youngstown Sheet and Tube v. Sawyer, 343 U. S. 579 (1952):

    “When the President acts pursuant to an express or implied authorization of Congress, his authority is at its maximum, for it includes all that he possesses in his own right plus all that Congress can delegate. In these circumstances, and in these only, may he be said (for what it may be worth) to personify the federal sovereignty. If his act is held unconstitutional under these circumstances, it usually means that the Federal Government, as an undivided whole, lacks power.” – Id. at 635-637.

    Even without direct authorization of war, the President has not even a Congressional resolution to stand on in this case. I do not think he can be considered a legitimate sovereign for the purposes of a just war analysis.

  • ““Many that live deserve death. Many that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

    Nor even us simpler Hobbits.

  • Government without justice is organized brigandage.

  • One of the great things about Tolkien is that one can find a quotation to suit almost any point of view. I agree with Don the Kiwi in regard to Mugabe who has turned Zimbabwe into a starving police state. I hope that eventually someone will rise up in Zimbabwe and apply the sentiment behind these Tolkien words to a cornered Mugabe:

    ‘We will have peace,’ said Théoden at last thickly and with an effort. Several of the Riders cried out gladly. Théoden held up his hand. ‘Yes, we will have peace,’ he said, now in a clear voice, ‘we will have peace, when you and all your works have perished – and the works of your dark master to whom you would deliver us. You are a liar. Saruman, and a corrupter of men’s hearts. You hold out your hand to me, and I perceive only a finger of the claw of Mordor. Cruel and cold! Even if your war on me was just as it was not, for were you ten times as wise you would have no right to rule me and mine for your own profit as you desired – even so, what will you say of your torches in Westfold and the children that lie dead there? And they hewed Háma’s body before the gates of the Hornburg, after he was dead. When you hang from a gibbet at your window for the sport of your own crows, I will have peace with you and Orthanc. So much for the House of Eorl. A lesser son of great sires am I, but I do not need to lick your fingers. Turn elsewhither. But I fear your voice has lost its charm.’

  • So said Theoden, king of Rohan. But his sword did not strike down Saruman; instead Saruman was allowed to leave.

  • Yes the Ents allow him to leave Orthanc. He then goes to the Shire and sets up a police state under the name of Sharkey. Bad call on the part of the Ents I would say. Better if Theoden had hanged him on a gibbet. Never send a tree to do a king’s job.

  • I never read Tolkein, but what an odd thing to say: “Never send a tree to do a king’s job,” for it was on a tree that our King was hung.

  • paul

    In “Lord of the Rings” the Ents are trees or tree like creatures. They have very laisse faire attatude to other creatures. Exile when most would call for a more serious punishment would be their way. Just don’t get them angry.

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  • “Never send a tree to do a king’s job.”

    Nor a Wood? 😉

  • Ok, then lets look at the rational for WWI we fought the tyrant Kaiser resulting in the rise of Hitler . . . we fought the tyrant Hitler resulting in the the Soviet enslavement of Eastern Europe. . . we fought the Japanese in China resulting in its turn over to Mao . . . we backed rebels in Afghanistan to weaken the USSR resulting in the Taliban . . . and on and on and on and on.

    It does not seem to occur to you that priority in time in an element of causality. It is not causality itself. It also does not seem to have occurred to you to tease out the counter-factual scenarios and ask which ones contemporary policy-makers might be expected to select.

    3.

  • I know from facebook and twitter that many of Obama’s liberal supporters are shocked and upset with the decision.

    I’m not.

    It really shouldn’t surprise anyone. As I noted out in the run-up to the election, Obama never was a peace candidate,

    True. I understood that at the time I voted for him and appreciated that fact.

    I am curious to see if this has changed the minds of many of the more “liberal” Catholics who voted for Obama, but I have not seen anything from them yet.

    Here it is now. I approve of the NATO action in Libya and the US involvement. To me, it seems consistent with the thinking of Barack Obama as I understood him at the time I voted for him.

  • Well, nothing really passes the just war test, does it? I’ll come out and say it: just war doctrine bothers me.

    Well, as with many other things, it’s not a clear “you must do this” kind of thing. Whether something passes the just war test has a great deal to do with the inputs one selects, and the selection of inputs depends a great deal on one’s point of view about human existence, violence, how the world works, etc.

    As a result, though who tend to frown on war generally find that virtually no war passes the just war test. And those who are more likely to have a “War never solved anything except slavery, nazism, etc.” are likely to find that a great many interventions pass the just war test.

    In many ways, it seems to provide a structure for argument rather than an answer.

  • Just war theory is actually simple if you ask the question – Who is fighting defensively? If you follow the news closely, it is evident that in Libya, one side is the aggressor and the other side is merely defending itself.

  • OK. Who is fighting defensively?

  • Just war theory is actually simple if you ask the question – Who is fighting defensively? If you follow the news closely, it is evident that in Libya, one side is the aggressor and the other side is merely defending itself.

    Who is fighting defensively overall, or who is fighting defensively at the moment? Near the beginning of the conflict in Libya, Gaddafi was on the defensive, now the rebels are on the defensive.

    Is Gaddafi in a just position because he held power when this started, or are the rebels defending themselves against the injustice of Gaddafi’s tyranny?

    I’m not clear that even your “simple” answer is going to solve many disputes that have real people on both sides.

  • Don, the colonel is no better or worse than any other dictator with blood on his hands. Why, after 40+ years, is must he suddenly “go,” when he has been so long tolerated? Just because the “rebels,” or should we say “rabble” are restless, does that mean we need to take up their “cause”? Why does the U.S. tolerate outlaw regimes in Korea, Iran, half of Latin America, and other countries that are un- or anti-democratic? Could it be the oil?

    If armed sedition arose in America, would not the National Guard be called our to quell the disturbances by whatever means necessary? How is what Ghadaffi doing any different than any other regime that wants to stay in power?

    Finally, why is it our business to interfere in the affairs of sovereign nation? To become involved in Libya’s civil war is no more justified than our sticking our beaks into Iraq and Afghanistan — unless, of course, there’s oil, natural gas and pipelines at stake — worth hundreds of billions to the Exxons of the world.

    “You think you die for your country when you’re actually dying for some industrialist,” one observer once said.

  • I agree with T. Shaw and will add that those who call themselves Catholic and support the Obamanation of Desolation are Catholic in name only. Whatever manner of rationalism and excuses, sophistry and obfuscation one uses, that godless reprobate sitting in the Oval Office is a baby murderer and a sanctifier of homosexual filth. Now that hardly means while I utterly loathe and despise liberalism, progressivism and Democracy (two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner, in this case the body of an unborn baby), I am enthused with the Republicans. Jesus’ Kingdom is NOT of this world.

    The children of Israel had this same problem back in 1st Samuel chapter 8. They wanted to have a king like the other nations around them, and we wanted a President like the weak-kneed, yellow-bellied, cowardly Europeans. And we got a special kind of coward – one who hesitates to give murderous thugs like Khaddafy what they clearly deserve, but unhestitatingly murders the most innocent and vulnerable members of humanity. Now that’s a real bully of the worst sort.

    I expect nothing good to come out of this action against Libya. The allies are falling apart. Germany has just abandon NATO in the Mediterranean over this. For so long we (i.e., America) have acted as the world’s policeman, and whether that’s right or wrong, the bully in the Oval Office simply isn’t up to the task at hand. Why? Because he is a godless liberal, progressive Democrat (again, not that Republicans are much better, but 1 plus 0 is still 1).

    BTW, no one has answered me: Was it a just war that Joshua waged against the pagans in the land of Canaan as God ordered him to? Was it a just war that Kings Saul and David waged against the Philistines? Was it a just war that the Maccabbean brothers waged against the Seleucid overlords? Were they justified in making a treaty with Sparta and Rome against the Syrians?

    War is hell and no Democrat is up to the task – they would rather murder the unborn (again, Republicans aren’t much better – didn’t I say that a few times already?).

  • tell me again what is the difference between Jihad and your ‘just war’?
    i do not support Gaddaffi but find it a Hypocrisy to approve of an act by usa and when muslims defend their countries it is an act of terrorism

  • Why does the U.S. tolerate outlaw regimes in Korea, Iran, half of Latin America, and other countries that are un- or anti-democratic? Could it be the oil?

    1. With the exception of Cuba, all governments in the western hemisphere are superintended by their elected officials and have been since 1990 or earlier.

    2. Ditto South Korea (since 1987).

    3. In each case, the decision to intervene is going to be influenced by questions of marginal benefit, opportunity, and constraints borne of the quantum of men and materiel involved and reasons of state.

    a. The Far East (especially N. Korea) is within the Chinese sphere of influence. Deference to their preferences is required.

    b. Clocking Iran is a large undertaking, intrudes on Russian and Chinese interests, and precludes a policy of waiting for internal political conflict to do its work. There is an organized and vigorous opposition to the Establishment in Iran. Not so elsewhere in enemy territory.

    Don, the colonel is no better or worse than any other dictator with blood on his hands.

    Oh yes he is.

  • “Don, the colonel is no better or worse than any other dictator with blood on his hands.”

    Disagree Joe. Lockerbie should put him in a class all his own for all Americans. Additionally, Gaddafi has spent his career inflicting violence not only on his own downtrodden people, but around the globe.

    “Why, after 40+ years, is must he suddenly “go,” when he has been so long tolerated?”

    Because he is now an easy target of opportunity since his own people are in rebellion.

    “Why does the U.S. tolerate outlaw regimes in Korea, Iran, half of Latin America, and other countries that are un- or anti-democratic? Could it be the oil?”

    North Korea because we do not want to ignite a Second Korean War, although one fine day I think North Korea will succeed in doing that.

    Iran-because the cost to take out the mullahs would be too high and we are unwilling to do that except as a last resort in the face of a nuclear armed Iran.

    Latin America-Unless a country south of the border is playing footsie with an adversary of the US, the US has been fairly hands off since Johnson’s intervention in the Dominican Republic in 1965.

    “Finally, why is it our business to interfere in the affairs of sovereign nation? To become involved in Libya’s civil war is no more justified than our sticking our beaks into Iraq and Afghanistan — unless, of course, there’s oil, natural gas and pipelines at stake — worth hundreds of billions to the Exxons of the world. ”

    In my mind we do so when it is morally right and it accords with US interest to do so. Afghanistan had served as a refuge for the terrorists who assailed us on 9-11. Saddam had done his best to take over much of the oil vital to us. In each case both had odious oppressive regimes. In the case of Libya I defy anyone to say with a straight face that the Libyan people wouldn’t be better with him gone or that it would not be a good thing from the US standpoint for the butcher of Lockerbie to receive justice.

    ““You think you die for your country when you’re actually dying for some industrialist,” one observer once said.”

    That was Marine Corp General Smedley Butler Joe, and you and I had a long combox discussion about him in which I explained why I found his arguments less than compelling.

  • Art…Unconvincing rebuttals. “There is organized and vigorous opposition to the Establishment…” a comment that could be made about America. Does this mean revolution is coming (again)?

    As for your assertion that Ghadafi is “worse,” facts and figures would be in order. Do we decide this by body count? Do we get into a tit-for-tat with Bush Jr. and Sr., with the lethal effects of their “shock and awe”? Does the U.S. expertise and capability in killing wholesale compare with the “terrorist” incompetence in killing retail?

    Further, notice how the narrative has been spun. The state-controlled media, clearly in the thrall of Obama with some likely on CIA payroll, categorizes the opposition to Ghadafi as “rebels,” “freedom fighters” and “pro-democracy forces” whereas elsewhere, i.e. Iraq and Afghanistan, et. al, (when they are not on “our side,”) they are labeled “terrorists,” “insurgents,” or “radical extremists.”

  • Thanks for helping this half-black manchild ruin my country.

    You’re welcome. It’s comments like that which are sure to help the President be re-elected.

  • It is quite likely that the failed performance of the Obamanation of Desolation will open the eyes of the American people and result in his eviction from the White House in 2012. One may hope and pray. But given that 50% of the Catholics in this country are totally and completely enamored with the false gospel of social justice, the common good and peace at any price instead of the Gospel of conversion and repentance, then his re-election is a possibility. Sadly, these so-called Catholics never learned the lesson in John chapter 6 of the people who followed Jesus around the lake after the feeding of the crowd with the loaves and fishes. They asked Him where he went and He responded that it wasn’t because of the signs they saw that they followed him, but because their bellies were filled. He then admonished them to seek the Bread of Eternal Life. Note that outside of the 5000 and the 4000 He did NOT feed them bread again. Today’s modern Catholics who have been done educated into imbecility are just like that same crowd. Thus we have the man of wickedness in the Oval Office promising bread and delivering up dead babies.

    I don’t expect a Republican to be much better, but 1 + 0 = 1, and Sarah Palin is infinitely preferrable to the little anti-christ who defers to Europe and the UN for his decision on ridding the world of a ruthless dictator while he himself legitimatizes the ruthless dismemberment and death of the unborn. Great going, liberal Catholics. What happened to the children of Israel under the Assyrians and Babylonians will be like a walk in the park compared to what we deserve for our godless sexual promiscuity and our murderous ways.

  • Okay, this is getting deeply silly, guys.

    Intervening in Libya may or may not fit the definition of a just war (I’m not sure I have a fully settled opinion on it, though I’m not going to go out of my way to decry Gaddafi having a bad day) and the mission may or may not be thought out in a strategically sound fashion, but apocalyptic rants are not in order.

    [nor are odd racist comments like the one I just had to put on moderation]

  • I concur with what Darwin just said, especially in regard to racist comments. The American Catholic is not going to tolerate that.

  • “Obama and I stand shoulder to shoulder on this. (One can contact me for signed copies of that last statement at a minimal fee. ) We stand shoulder to shoulder of course until Obama changes his mind on the policy.”

    Problem is Don, Obama has stated that removing Gaddaffi is NOT his objective.

  • Darwin and Don,

    Thank you. I am being totally sincere in saying that it is often difficult for liberals to know what is mainstream conservative thinking and what is outside the bounds. As much as certain statements can be entertaining for us, I would rather be told that they are not representative of conservativism and be expected to accept that.

    When other liberals have referenced such comments, either innocently or knowing that they are unfair representations of conservative thought, my apologies. You do your best to educate me and I will do my best the discipline those on my side (including myself).

  • I still wonder about the question posed by Joe Green at 11:54 am: “why is it our business to interfere in the affairs of [a] sovereign nation?”

    I mean, as a matter of principle, is the government of one country responsible for protecting the people of another country from aggression? Is there any magisterial document on this?

    In the Summa IIaIIae.40.1, St. Thomas says, “as the care of the common weal is committed to those who are in authority, it is their business to watch over the common weal of the city, kingdom or province subject to them. And just as it is lawful for them to have recourse to the sword in defending that common weal against internal disturbances, when they punish evil-doers…so too, it is their business to have recourse to the sword of war in defending the common weal against external enemies.” (newadvent.org)

    I note that St. Thomas speaks of a sovereign waging war on behalf of the city, kingdom, or province subject to it; should a sovereign wage war on behalf of a people *not* subject to it?

    I’d say that a sovereign should definitely go to war not only on behalf of his own people but also on behalf of an ally; but is there any definition of “ally” by which the Libyan rebels would be considered our allies?

  • Kurt, There won’t be anything left in 2012.

  • Darwin:
    The side that targets civilians – that is the aggressor.

    Jonathan:
    Technically, they are not our allies, but based on the knowledge we have right now, they are (apparently) the lesser of two evils.

  • Further, notice how the narrative has been spun. The state-controlled media, clearly in the thrall of Obama with some likely on CIA payroll, categorizes the opposition to Ghadafi as “rebels,”

    You need to lay off the Bircher Kool-Aid, Joe.

    Mr. McClarey has elaborated quite adequately on some of my points. If you find that ‘unconvincing’, you will just have to specify how.

    Strange as it may seem to you, multiple vectors are present in influencing decision-making in international politics.

    With regard to Col. Qadafi’s peculiarities: his regime is not the abbatoir that was Ba’athist Iraq. It has been, however, abnormally repressive. Freedom House has, over a period of 37 years, given it either the lowest possible marks or the next lowest in the realms of civil liberties and political rights. It invested in research in weapons of mass destruction, apropos of ambitions few countries of its size have. It financed, trained and harbored international brigands in expression of atavisms which are fairly atypical as well. It is a weirdly revanchist and oddly ambitious regime. It is also oddly durable. Hasn’t been a chance like this to get rid of him in 40-odd years.

  • In the NY Times article written by the four journalists held captive in Libya, the Qaddafi loyalists seemed perplexed that the United States would side against them because, in their view, the opposition is a bunch of upstart Islamists and al Qaeda affiliates. Which goes to show, I think, that there are probably more demons than angels in this thing.

  • Art, I have no wish to disabuse you of your notions nor to spar further on this subject other than to reject your characterization of my drinking habits. I assure you that my objectivity has been long in development and whatever opinions I express are subject to revision when new facts justify an alteration. In this matter, however, such new light has yet to be provided.

  • G.W. Bush had a coalition of twice as many countries before going into iraq. The U.S. also waited almost a year and went through 16 UN resolutions and Saddam still would not let inspectors in. This “war” decision took one weekend.

  • To my mind, the overwhelming reason not to be sanguine about the outcome of the present US adventure in Libya, is that at least since 1991 all of its interventions in the Muslim world has resulted in the strenthening of the worst elements among the Muslims. This misadventure will prove no different. Saner voices (Diana West, Sultan Knish…) have already pointed that (Qu)(K)(G)addafi is at war with substantially the same elements who have been sending suicide bombers that target US forces in Iraq. The fate of the Iraqi Christians, and the inevitable return to power of the Pakistan backed Taliban has cured me of any lingering faith in the credibility of US intentions and abilities.

  • I would second the comment about the opposition being “islamists”. There is a recent report by a counter-terrorism center at Westpoint that found that the very region of libya that the revolution is based out of and which the US is supporting sent per capita more jihadists to iraq to fight american forces than any other country on earth. the overthrow of Gaddafi is likely just to be the opening of pandora’s box.

How Obama Spends His Time

Wednesday, March 16, AD 2011

This is a time with many crisis. A President has to chose where to put his efforts carefully. He could focus on the civil war in Libya. He could look towards Bahrain and the battles there. He could drum up relief for Japan in the wake of the tsunami. He could look to help Japan fix its nuclear reactor and ensure that such danger cannot be repeated here. He could work to reduce gas prices. He could create jobs. He could negotiate to ensure the government doesn’t shutdown due to a lack of a budget.

With all of these options, what is our fearless leader doing? He’s clowning around with ESPN discussing his “barack-etology” and why he thinks Kansas will win it all.

How insensitive and ridiculous is this? Even if you were in the throes of the Obamessiah movement in 2008, how is this justifiable? Look, I’m a huge sports fan. I understand the need for Obama to not spend every second on the presidency and take some time for sports. I don’t even mind that he spends time to fill out a bracket if he did it privately.

But to do this so publicly just sends all the wrong messages, both to those at home and abroad.

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5 Responses to How Obama Spends His Time

  • Maybe he could next, a la Hoover, serve his dog sushi.

  • He may have nothing of his own to contribute to the resolution of any of these problems and have entered a phase where he functions as an instrument of factions of his subordinates. He may also tend by default to obstruct and sabotage the works of the more public-spirited amongst them. There is precedent for this.

  • Actually, I think having no president is preferable to the way Obama has thus far attempted to lead the nation. I encourage him to pursue his interest in sports, smoking away from the stern gaze of his “She Who Must Be Obeyed”, ditto sneaking greasy snack food, lining up a good ghost writer for his memoirs and generally preparing for his next career which will be world-class-celebrity for life, anything but attempting to be a real, as opposed to a figurehead, president.

  • …or he could just golfing again.

  • Consider that “Charlie Sheen” is the No. 1 on the “most searched” list on Google these days and that college hoops are not far behind. War, pestilence, devastation, inflation, revolutions, despair, anxiety, fear fill the air, but bread and circuses, as they did 2,000 years ago, represent vox populi.

March Madness is Just Madness

Tuesday, March 15, AD 2011

I’ve become the sports guy here at TAC, so I figured I should say something about the impending college basketball tournament for the national championship, affectionately known as March Madness. While I enjoy the annual ritual of filling out a bracket and watching as my predictive skills are demonstrably obliterated, I’ve never fully bought in to the Madness. To me, March Madness is the dumbest way to determine the national champion in college sports.

And yes, I think it’s dumber than the BCS. By far. Basketball is not a single-elimination sport. If the teams are evenly matched, or even kinda close, the game comes down to the execution of a single minute. While that’s very exciting, it’s not a great indicator of overall strength. It’s like shootouts in hockey or soccer. They’re exciting and fun to watch, but it’s not the sport. You can be good at hockey without being good at shootouts. The skills are different. Similarly, the skills needed to win over  season of basketball can’t be summarized in a single elimination tournament.

This is why we see all these upsets and Cinderellas. George Mason was never the 4th best team in the country, but they made it to the Final Four b/c on a neutral court, if you play decently you have a chance to win it at the end. It’s ridiculous for teams in the Big East to slog through a rough conference schedule only to be plopped on neutral court with a team from Colonial conference in a single elimination. You’ll note that the NBA has best out of 7 series for a reason; namely that any team can beat another team on one night, but it’s harder to beat them 4 out of 7 times unless you are the truly superior team. So if we’re looking to discover the best team in college basketball, the Madness is not the way to do it.

What makes this more frustrating is that there is a more sensible way to conduct the tournament. College baseball uses a regional system. All the conference winners still get to go in a 64 team field. However, the 64 teams are divided into 16 regionals, with the #1 seed in each regional hosting their regional. This rewards teams for success in the regular season (unlike the Madness, where Ohio St. has the toughest regional with no reward). In the regional, there are 4 teams each and they play double elimination. The winner of the regional then faces another regional winner (hosted by one of the two) in a separate double elimination (ie. regional winner 1 must beat regional winner 2 twice, even if regional winner 2 lost once in the regional). They then move on to the College World Series in Omaha, where there are two more regional like rounds, and then the final is another double elimination.

Not only does this best represent baseball by forcing teams to have the depth to withstand double elimination tournaments, it rewards good teams. Moreover, it allows smaller teams to have more games (instead of just getting offered up as a sacrifice to Duke). There’s no reason basketball can’t do this; in fact, it would expand the games available to sell to TV networks.

So enjoy the madness, but just remember that the madness isn’t necessary. There’s a way already out there that’s a lot more sensible that crowns the best team in the sport, not just a buzzer beater.

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14 Responses to March Madness is Just Madness

  • Michael

    while I know this will never happen and it will probably only get worse when it comes to college basketball like more then 68 like we have now. This idea sounds like an amazing Idea. I think we get a more deserving champion if we have a double elimination tournament, while a team like butler or george mason could make some noise in the tournament it would be becuase they actually had a good team not becuase they just got hot at the right time and things fell their way. Only if you had some say in how they made this tournament. But March Madness is fun but could probably be alot more fun then it is.

  • I’m not a big fan of “March Madness”, but my biggest beef is the automatic qualifying of the winners of conference tournaments. Talk about making the regular season completely irrelevant. And it totally screws over bubble teams when a barely above (or even below) .500 team gets hot in its conference tournament and then gets an automatic bid.

    And then there’s the prevalence of gambling associated with the NCAA Tournament. Granted, there’s gambling taking place in all sports, but it is particularly accentuated in the NCAA Tournament when even people who don’t usually gamble on sports are filling out brackets to enter in their office pools and the like. And then, when the brackets get blown up by a couple of Cinderella teams, everyone suddenly loses interest. George Mason and Butler were great stories, but the ratings for those Final Fours were among the lowest in history because people stopped watching once their “bracketology” went kaput. In other words, people weren’t interested in the play on the court as much as they were interested in how THEY were doing with their brackets. Casual observers who really don’t care about the sport itself.

    Which brings me back to my only real sporting passion: college football. I oppose a playoff primarily because it detracts from the traditions of the sport and makes the regular season less important. It also seems that the main people pushing for a college football playoff are media types and gamblers – people who have a financial stake in seeing the bowl system go away and a playoff take its place, but who, arguably, don’t really care about the sport itself and its traditions.

  • my biggest beef is the automatic qualifying of the winners of conference tournaments.

    Yeah, that’s all about money. Conferences could be easily represented by the regular season conference winners; instead, we have these tournaments so that the regular season is only about getting a good seed and watching the Duke/UNC games.

    And it totally screws over bubble teams when a barely above (or even below) .500 team gets hot in its conference tournament and then gets an automatic bid.

    Speaking of screwing over bubble teams, is someone from your alma mater just messing with Virginia Tech? 😉

    And then, when the brackets get blown up by a couple of Cinderella teams, everyone suddenly loses interest. George Mason and Butler were great stories, but the ratings for those Final Fours were among the lowest in history because people stopped watching once their “bracketology” went kaput.

    That’s definitely true. People care so much the first few days b/c you’re still in it. After that, you have to be sold on a connection to the school or a love for the game. That’s really hard to get outside the Duke/UNC, as most of the schools now have these one and done freshmen mercenaries who are on their way to the pros next year. In short, there’s not the built up love for a player or loyalty to the school and its traditions that really form the basis of college football (as well the regional rivalries renewed once a year, making it more potent).

  • I forgot to note this in the post, but Fresno St.’s title a few years ago shows that this format doesn’t kill Cinderellas either. Fresno St. was a 4 seed in their region, which is about the equivalent of a 13 seed in the bracket or lower. No team seeded 13 or lower has ever made the Elite 8 in basketball, much less winning the title.

  • I’ve never fully understood all the machinations that make the seeding what it is. Some, I totally understand. Others leave me confused and surprised. For instance a little bit out of the Big XII: Certainly Texas and Kansas were deserving of high seeds. They had good seasons and have very talented teams. TAMU gets the nod at a 7 seed, yet K-State gets a 5? Seriously? The Aggies finished ahead of the Wildcats, and more importantly beat them head-to-head. And what’s this about Colorado not making the tourney? They beat K-State three times. THREE TIMES.

    I’d love to see the tourney change, but I have no clue as to how. Your suggestions, Mike, are worth exploring.

  • The seeding is truly bizarre. I remember a few years ago when LSU had a pretty good year but got rewarded with an 8 seed, thus getting Butler in Rd. 1 and then UNC in Rd. 2.

  • I heard on ESPN that they base the seedings on potential tournament matchups more than they do on the quality of the team being seeded. If one seeding is likely to avoid a 1st or 2nd round matchup that the NCAA would like to see happen later, then that is how they will seed the teams, even if it means an inferior team gets a better seeding than a team with a better record or who has beaten that team head-to-head.

    You know, because tournaments avoid all that unfairness that is rampant in how Division 1 college football does its bowl picks.

    😉

  • And then there’s the prevalence of gambling associated with the NCAA Tournament.

    I heard on the radio today that over $1B (that’s ‘B’ as in Billion) will be gambled on the March Madness this year – and that’s not counting the legal gambling. I will try to find the quote later, but right now, I have to fill out my bracket…j/k!!

  • Are we turning into Puritans? I thought gambling, like alcohol, is a perfectly moral activity if undertaken within appropriate constraints. I enjoy the bracketology and the challenge of besting my colleagues (I often do) and my wife (less luck there — but she cheats by reading the sports section cover to cover every day). We can all agree that participants in the games themeselves should not bet on them, but I seriously doubt that this problem is all that prevalent; and I’m confident that outlawing office bracket pools would not curtail whatever of it does go on. I will fill out my bracket tonight over a bourbon (and cigar, weather permitting), and no amount of fundie-Catholic handwringing is going to stop me or make me feel guilty about any of it.

    And for the record, there are no small teams (well, maybe short teams), just small schools — and Duke is one of them.

  • I agree with all of the comments above.

    I just wanted to jump *kind of* off topic; but Michael brought up college baseball, so here it is:

    Geaux Tigers! LSU – a dynasty if there ever was one – beat Cal St.-Fullerton over the weekend. Did I say “beat”? I meant SWEPT!! And, they’re 15-1 now.

    Geaux Tigers!

    (Back to the regularly scheduled programming.)

  • I’m not interested in outlawing gambling. Not sure what about my comment gave that impression.

    The point I was making is that people whose only interest in the sport is how THEY are doing in their brackets aren’t always the best fans or have the best interest of the sport at heart.

  • I see what you’re saying, Jay. Me, OTH, I could sit and watch each game and thoroughly enjoy it (except if the Aggies lost). I could enjoy a stomping a la UNLV v. Duke from 1990 (I think). I could enjoy seeing one of the “Fab 5” draw a technical foul in a close game for calling a timeout when the Wolverines were out of them. I could watch Christian Laetner hit a buzzer beater from the top of the key. I love the game, and sadly it seems many more folks don’t share that same love.

  • Fair enough, Jay. I should have read your comment more closely. Sorry. That said, in my experience I do not think the office pools dilute the number of true fans even if they create some fans whose interest is limited to the pool — but I don’t think those fans have a pernicious effect on the game.

  • The problem with the analogy to college baseball, is that baseball is a much worse sport to decide in single-elimination than basketball. The better team is much more likely to win a single basketball game than a single baseball game. So the double-elimination format of the College World Series only begins to make up the difference.

    Also, all this talk about Cinderellas like George Mason is a little overblown. This does not happen every year. Was it that they were an 11 seed? Well they are only the second 11 seed to make the Final Four; a 10 seed has never made it; and only one 9 seed. Is it that they come from a mid-major conference? What is wrong with that? The Colonial was better than the SEC West this year.

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 – http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html#The%20importance%20of%20unions – 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.

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  • “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”
    http://walker.wi.gov/journal_media_detail.asp?locid=177&prid=5676

    Congratulations to Wisconsin. Your governor did you a huge favor.
    http://www.tobytoons.com/td/cartoon/20110310/i-got-turnip-blood-man.html

  • “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.

Snyder v. Phelps

Wednesday, March 2, AD 2011

This morning the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case of Snyder v. Phelps. The case involved the Westboro Church, which is infamous for its protests at military funerals. The media publicizes the anti-homosexuality aspect of their protests, but the Church chose the Snyders also because his family was Catholic and his parents divorced and they view the Church as a monstrosity that encourages idolatry.

The Court’s 8-1 decision with the lone dissent by Alito sided with the Westboro church in a limited opinion. Although the case might have some interesting effects for First Amendment law in general (the protection of the 1st against suits of intentional infliction of emotional distress even when directed at a private figure if the speech is directed at matters of public concern if I read it right), it questionable whether this is the last word. The Court did not have the opportunity to consider whether laws restricting the time, place, and manner of protests surrounding either military funerals particularly or funerals more broadly are constitutional. Legislatures seem keen to pass such laws, and in fact in Maryland such a law was passed after the Snyder funeral.

Discerning where the Court will go is difficult. I suspect such laws will be upheld. The majority seemed particularly concerned that juries would be unable to fairly determine whether conduct was outrageous in tort cases (like infliction of emotional distress), but this concern would not be applicable if there was a truly content-neutral regulations about the manner of protesting around funerals. Of course, the Court would be rightfully concerned whether such regulations were in fact truly content-neutral but I think a legislature could make a strong argument if the statute is written well enough. Moreover, Alito’s well-reasoned dissent provides the strong emotional basis for such laws: namely, families at funerals are innocent parties who are particularly emotional vulnerable, and the protestors are exploiting their grief to get air time in a most callous and unchristian way.

So like many times when the Court hands down a ruling, the verdict is that very little has been settled and more decisions are to be expected.

 

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33 Responses to Snyder v. Phelps

  • Alito was correct in his dissent. The idea that these ghouls have a first amendment right to protest at private funerals is risible, and this decision is an indication of just how bizarre and byzantine our first amendment jurisprudence has become over the years.

    “The real significance of these new laws is not that they obviate the need for IIED (Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress) protection. Rather, their enactment dramatically illustrates the fundamental point that funerals are unique events at which special protection against emotional assaults is in order. At funerals, the emotional well-being of bereaved relatives is particularly vulnerable. See National Archives and Records Admin. v. Favish , 541 U. S. 157, 168 (2004) . Exploitation of a funeral for the purpose of attracting public attention “intrud[es] upon their … grief,” ibid. , and may permanently stain their memories of the final moments before a loved one is laid to rest. Allowing family members to have a few hours of peace without harassment does not undermine public debate. I would therefore hold that, in this setting, the First Amendment permits a private figure to recover for the intentional infliction of emotional distress caused by speech on a matter of private concern.”

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/09-751.ZD.html

  • The idea that these ghouls have a first amendment right to protest at private funerals is risible, and this decision is an indication of just how bizarre and byzantine our first amendment jurisprudence has become over the years.

    I think this may have had a different outcome if they go into the cemetery or if Synder sees the words on the signs. As it was, they were on a public sidewalk more visible to the media than to the family. We’ll have to see how future litigation pans out, but I imagine one good thing coming from this decision is that the reduction of IIED in light of speech of public concern may provide greater protection for Christians who charitably wish to discuss the issue of homosexuality. That is, gay rights groups will have less grounds to file tort suits (if any grounds remain after today) for IIED against Christians simply b/c they are offended by the Christian’s moral teachings.

  • I have to side with the majority on this, despite my disdain for Westboro gang. I have no trust in the civil authorities to determine accurately what constitutes hateful or emotionally distressing speech. I can unhesitatingly say that the Westboro ghoulishness qualifies, but others, in particular those in power, may unhesitatingly say that public speech expressing Catholic moral teaching also qualifies. At the end of the day, the definition of hateful or emotionally distressing speech is dictated by those in power.

  • As I understand the 1st amendment, it was given so controversial political, social and religious could be discussed without the government breathing down your back, arresting you or censoring you in any way, shape, or form. Phelps and his band of ghouls have that right to make their displeasure about nearly everything known to the public at large. They can post on their blog, they can fax or e-mail, they can put up a video on the net, but what they want to do should have never been a free speach issue. This is simply a band of heartless creeps inflicting pain and misery upon families morning a lost loved one. The government was not trying to dictate what the Westboro Wackos could say about an issue: the families just wanted to be left alone during the funeral and the burial. Why the morons on the bench couldn’t see that is beyond me. can some one please explain this to me?

  • A couple things are little discussed about Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka.

    1. This church founded by Fred Phelps is essentially an extended family. I understand that there are maybe two or three dozen members in all, mostly relatives and shirt-tail relations.

    2. Fred Phelps and his daughter (Maggie?) are both attorneys. Fred is disbarred but not Maggie, to the best of my recollection.

    So while it is true to say that Westboro Baptist Church represents some of the worst to be found among Christians, it is also true that they represent some of the worst to be found among attorneys. Kansans long ago gave up on these folks.

  • Michael I am glad you hit this part of the opinion because I don’t think it is getting the attention deserved.

    This Court no doubt is strong on the 1st amendment. However it appears to me that the Court is already to again get into these “Free Speech areas” and approve them with some gusto. It seems they approve since that is what in part saved the Westboro people in a way. A free Speech Zone that was out of sight and out of mind. Perhaps that is good in this case. But I am seeing these Free Speech zones at such things as political conventions in about the same remote locations.

    What comes up next to mind is the Pro-life movement. Unlike the Phelps, who I suspected has changed no one minds at one of their protest, we have lots of stories of women that decided NOT to abort because of the actions of pro-lifers that were much more present.

    I think the Court got this one right in a close case and the case is SO SO narrow here that it appears they might have punted on some things. But these time and space stuff is interesting.

    Also note there are signs in the opinion that they might be looking at internet issues next

  • Stephen ,

    It is not so much the GOVT the Court is looking at. It is looking at a specific tort or on this case torts. This has been a big area of 1st amendment law because of the concerns that States very well could help control the content of speech through tort law.

    Intentional Infliction of Emotional abuses statutes for instance can often be abused

  • Jh:

    Two cases on point that you mention. There’s a second circuit (I think) case of Bl(A)ck Tea Society v. City of Boston involving a free speech zone created far enough away that people coming to the 2004 Demo. Natl. Convention maybe could see them as they were bussed in. The zone was under train tracks and surrounded by fencing and barbed wire. The zone was upheld due to security concerns.

    The other case is cited in Snyder is Madsen v. Women’s Health Center, 512 us 753 (1994), in which the US Supreme Court upheld a Colorado regulation limiting protests in front of abortion facilities (or all medical facilities; don’t remember how specific the statute was) to being 50 feet from the entrance & not approaching women in order to protect women in a particularly emotionally vulnerable state from being traumatized. So the pro-life movement has already been denied a free speech right via statute, though I don’t know if tort action against pro-lifers has been upheld. My guess is that the principles behind Madsen would justify a statute creating a bubble for families at funerals.

  • There are many who’d say that pro-lifer protesters with their signs depicting aborted fetuses caused them emotional distress. I don’t see how you can ban Westboro at funerals without also banning pro-life protesters at abortion clinics.

  • Are lies protected under the First Amendment?

    Signs saying “God hates dead soldiers” are lies. God is all good and He cannot hate. That is a sin.

    RR: I’m no lawyer. I believe truth is an absolute defense. Pictures of aborted fetuses are factual truth.

    Just as in NYC and Chicago, local constabularies ought to the rats and later drop the charges.

    Examples:
    June 10, 2009: A New York City law that will go into effect in July could make it easier for antiabortion-rights protesters to be arrested for restricting access to abortion clinics or harassing people trying to enter the facilities, the New York Times reports.

    August 2010: The city of Chicago has dropped its case against a man who was charged with disorderly conduct for praying the Rosary outside an abortion clinic. A clerk at the Cook County Court confirmed Wednesday that the case against Joe Holland — a 25-year-old graduate …

  • “I don’t see how you can ban Westboro at funerals without also banning pro-life protesters at abortion clinics.”

    I think the distinction is easy to make: an abortion clinic is a business open to anyone plunking down the blood money for the contract killing. A funeral is a private ceremony for friends and loved ones of the deceased. No one has a “right” to attend a private funeral. The abortion clinic is open to the public.

  • No one has a “right” to attend a private funeral. The abortion clinic is open to the public.

    Yes, but Westboro wasn’t at the funeral. They were on a sidewalk on the way between the church and cemetery. That sidewalk is open to the public. This case is different if they barged into the funeral service, but they smartly stayed in a clear traditional public forum.

  • “This case is different if they barged into the funeral service, but they smartly stayed in a clear traditional public forum.”

    In order to protest a completely private ceremony, to make the whole affair as much of a circus as they could, and to shout vile insults at the deceased and the family of the deceased. This is quite different from an abortion clinic open to the public and where some great issue of public policy is being addressed. In the case of the Westboro ghouls we have fiends so desperate for publicity that they are willing to inflict unimaginable pain on private individuals at a funeral. This would never have been tolerated by the Founding Fathers, and up till the Sixties the idea that this type of vile abusive behavior would be considered speech protected by the First Amendment would have been regarded as laughable by any court considering it. We have lost the common sense in the law to distinguish between vile conduct and speech, and this is merely another example of a culture that has badly lost its way.

  • Donald, I know you’re right, but please give us some examples that make plain that this kind of vile conduct wouldn’t been tolarated by the law.

  • On my way to court Stephen and I’ll reply in more detail later. For now take a look at the line of Fighting Words cases:

    http://www.freedomforum.org/templates/document.asp?documentid=13718

  • Don, abortions are performed in private too. The clinic is open to the public in the same way that a church is.

  • “Don, abortions are performed in private too.”

    Apples and rock salt to funerals RR. Funerals, unless a cremation is involved, have an open air component at a cemetery. The abortionists, no matter how depraved they are, do not perform the abortions outside of the clinic, and protestors at abortion clinics, unless they wish to be arrested for trespass, do not enter the clinic. The Westboro ghouls rely upon the open air nature of funerals to do maximum harm to the mourners.

    Ultimately I am afraid their despicable behavior will be answered with violence. One of the main reason why we have laws is to uphold the public peace by allowing wrongs to be redressed by the legal system. The Supreme Court has basically neutralized the only thing that could stop Westboro from utilizing private pain for publicity purposes. Sooner or later some mourner at a funeral will answer with violence this verbal spit in the face to his loved one by these maniacs.

  • Don:

    That’s a hostile audience analysis, not a fighting words analysis. That’s a tougher burden to meet. And I don’t think Westboro has free reign to protest; I think Legislatures will rightfully prohibit these kinds of things from happening near funerals (or at least near enough to prevent violence and the type of media coverage that Westboro so dearly lusts for) using content-neutral time, place, and manner restrictions regarding protests at funerals.

  • Don, so it all rests on whether there was a cremation involved?

  • The two usually meld into each other Michael. When you scream out that someone’s son who is being buried is burning in Hell you have both fighting words and a hostile audience. In regard to keeping the Ghouls away from the funeral, that does absolutely nothing to address the fact that they have turned a private ceremony to mourn the loss of a loved one into a circus.

    “[I]t is well understood that the right of free speech is not absolute at all times and under all circumstances. There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which has never been thought to raise any constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or “fighting” words–those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”

    Justice Murphy in Chaplinsky

    If the Westboro Ghouls had carried through with their threat to protest at the funeral of nine year old Christina Green, I think they would have finally reaped the violence their behavior has been begging for.

    I expect now that these idiots will have copycats following in their footsteps thanks to the Supreme Court decision.

    I think the best commentary on this decision was delivered by the Plainiff in the case:

    “My first thought was that eight justices didn’t have the common sense that God gave a goat.”

    That this behavior is tolerated in our country is ample indication that we can no longer distinguish between liberty and license.

  • It’s important to remember that the protests in question took place several blocks away from the funeral service, where they could neither be seen nor heard by the attendees. Indeed, if you look at the Plaintiff’s complaint, a big part of his claim for emotional distress is based on his reading about the funeral protest after the fact on the Phelps’ website.

    The issue isn’t whether you can disrupt a funeral service.

  • “Don, so it all rests on whether there was a cremation involved?”

    It rests on the fact that open air private funerals are routinely protested by the Westboro Ghouls in order to inflict maximum emotional harm on the mourners in order to reap maximum publicity. Funerals have to be performed outside for a burial at a grave. That is completely different from your examples of abortion protestors where the abortions take place inside the abortuary away from the protestors. No such refuge is available for the mourners at the grave site.

    The Wikipedia article on the Westboro Ghouls is especially good. Apparently violence has already broken out at one of their protests:

    “During a picket in Seaford, Delaware on May 21, 2006, a mob broke through police lines and tried to assault WBC members who fled into a police van. Some of the mob then began banging on the van attempting to get inside. Two windows of the van were shattered before the van could get away. Five people face criminal charges.” I expect more of this to happen. When the law allows this type of completely outrageous behavior to go on, sooner or later there will be a violent reaction to it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church

  • Here is a link to the complaint filed by Mr. Snyder:

    http://www.matthewsnyder.org/Complaint.pdf

    The actions of the Westboro Ghouls had nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with simple raw hate. They simply picked out a family and dumped raw verbal sewarge on them in order to further their publicity campaign, which did not stop with the protests at the funeral. That private indivuals, not in public life, have no remedy now, courtesy of the Supreme Court, to this type of deranged assault shows how lunatic the world is becoming.

  • “Indeed, if you look at the Plaintiff’s complaint, a big part of his claim for emotional distress is based on his reading about the funeral protest after the fact on the Phelps’ website.”

    Yep, the Westboro Ghouls were so proud of their despicable protest at the funeral of Snyders son, that they made a web video of it and posted it on their website. Oh, and they don’t stop there. The targets of the Westboro protests are often deluged by anonymous hatemail after the funerals.

  • The actions of the Westboro Ghouls had nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with simple raw hate. They simply picked out a family and dumped raw verbal sewarge on them in order to further their publicity campaign, which did not stop with the protests at the funeral.

    Maybe so, but do you trust the government (an ever-changing body) to make the distinction between the two accurately? The difference may be clear to you, but will it always be clear to those empowered to differentiate?

  • I always trust the people and elections Kyle in this country more than I do the courts. I am all too familiar with how cavalierly the US Supreme Court has “amended” the Constitution beyond recognition. In this case the Court in effect found that a private family subject to the most villianous libel and slander of themselves and their dead son imaginable had no rememedy under law for the damage they had suffered. I think such an outcome is not required by the Constitution, is bad as a matter of public policy and morally stinks literally to High Heaven.

    Justice Alito summed it up well at the close of his dissent:

    “Respondents’ outrageous conduct caused petitioner great injury, and the Court now compounds that injury by depriving petitioner of a judgment that acknowledges the wrong he suffered.

    In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated, it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims like petitioner. I therefore respectfully dissent.”

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/09-751.ZD.html

  • Donald,

    I’m not sure I understand your position. You believe that the government should be able to ban criticism of dead solders because why? Because it’s hateful? Don’t you see the problem with that line of thinking?

  • Clearly you do not understand my position BA. I believe it is constitutional for states to allow suits for intentional infliction of emotional distress when private individuals are subject to the type of behavior engaged in by the Westboro ghouls against the Snyder family. The idea that this type of speech in this context is protected by the Constitution I find risible. Do you see the problem for society when this type of behavior, assaults in public upon the character and reputation of private individuals by a deranged hate group, have no legal remedy?

    The fact that we existed as a free society for the vast majority of our history without any hint that this type of behavior could not provoke legal action by the aggrieved parties indicates to me that we are not discussing in this case essential liberty, but rather another example of the seeming inability of many individuals today, on and off courts, to distinguish between liberty and license.

  • Don, thanks for the link to that article. It confirmed what i already knew in my heart about this stuff. BTW, if violence is inflicted on Fred Pukes and his ghouls, let’s hope the inflicters separate the unfortunate children from the adults when it happens. I’d hate to see innocent children be hurt by the enraged counter-protesters like Westboro has hrt them.

  • I believe it is constitutional for states to allow suits for intentional infliction of emotional distress when private individuals are subject to the type of behavior engaged in by the Westboro ghouls against the Snyder family.

    I understand that. What I don’t see is what the principled basis for your conclusion might be. Is the idea that this case should be sui generis?

  • “What I don’t see is what the principled basis for your conclusion might be. Is the idea that this case should be sui generis?”

    No, although certainly their behavior is an extreme case. I think the law should afford a remedy to private individuals who are subject to this type of vile behavior in public. Society is diminished when we tolerate the type of behavior that the Westboro Ghouls engage in. Of course in the broad span of American history my view would not be unusual. The reaction of the Founding Fathers to the Westboro Ghouls would probably be unprintable with the Ghouls being lucky to get off with a weekend in the stocks being pelted with rotten vegetables. We excuse extremely bad behavior in public today on the grounds of personal freedom when, at bottom, it is simply an unwillingess, or perhaps in some cases an inability, to draw elementary distinctions which our ancestors made with ease. The idea that if the Westboro Ghouls have to pay a multi-million dollar verdict for their outrageous conduct that liberty of speech is in anyway in jeopardy I find ludicrous.

  • I think the law should afford a remedy to private individuals who are subject to this type of vile behavior in public.

    What type of vile behavior?

    The reaction of the Founding Fathers to the Westboro Ghouls would probably be unprintable

    Given the attitudes towards homosexuality that the Founding Fathers held, their reaction might well be unprintable, though perhaps not for the reasons you suggest.

  • “What type of vile behavior?”

    Protesting at a complete stranger’s funeral and holding up signs saying that he is in Hell, and attacking the religion of the deceased, Catholicism, constitutes as vile behavior in my book.

    Making a video of the demonstration and posting it on your website constitutes as vile behavior in my book.

    Attacking the parents of the deceased on your website constitutes as vile behavior in my book.

    http://www.matthewsnyder.org/Complaint.pdf

    As for your implication that the Founding Fathers would have an ounce of sympathy for the Westboro Ghouls, due to the opposition of the Founding Fathers to “buggery” as they might have bluntly phrased it, or the “crime that dare not speak its name” as they might have more genteely called it, I will put that down as a bizarre attempt at making a joke on your part. The Founding Fathers were able to make elementary distinctions between some group legitimately discussing a public issue, and a hate filled cult that attacks innocent people at their most vulnerable. The Founding Fathers had that cardinal virtue called common sense, something sorely lacking in the modern world.

The Academy Awards and Deception

Tuesday, March 1, AD 2011

I had hoped to be able to write a post discussing the merits of most of the movies up for “Best Picture” before this Sunday, but my 3 month old made going to a movie in theaters most difficult. While I saw Inception, Toy Story 3, The Social Network, and even Winter’s Bone, I didn’t think I could write something without seeing King’s Speech or True Grit, both of which I am very eager to see.

Nevertheless, I was amused to see that after Colin Firth won the award for Best Actor that facebook lit up with a few statuses from female friends that were very pleased that “Mr. Darcy” won. If you don’t know, Firth played Mr. Darcy in the epic BBC adaption of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. This ignorance would also require that you are a) male and b) have never been in a relationship with a female.

I thought this was interesting that people immediately associate Firth with his fictional character. I’ve one the same thing myself. For example, when in Saving Private Ryan the (spoiler alert I suppose) fake Saving Private Ryan is revealed, I exclaimed “oh wow! That’s Capt. Reynolds!” referring to Nathan Fillion’s role as Capt. Mal Reynolds in “Firefly.”

I bring this up because while all of us if pressed would acknowledge that Firth is not really Mr. Darcy and that Fillion is not really Capt. Reynolds, I think there is a level at which we truly believe that these people are the characters they play. This is a remarkable accomplishment. Even though we know that they’re not, even though we know the actors are trying to deceive us, we are in some sense deceived. We don’t act out against it; instead we celebrate the accomplishments. Those who fail to deceive us either through unconvincing performances or trite dialogue are regarded as terrible actors.

This is important because when acting was used as a counter-example in the Lila Rose undercover debate, I thought it was mischaracterized. Before you leave, don’t fear-this is not another Lila Rose debate post.

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20 Responses to The Academy Awards and Deception

  • I don’t buy it. Deception requires, at a minimum, deception, i.e., expressing a falsehood with the intent that it be understood as truth. Fictional stories aren’t intended to be understood as factually true. Lila Rose’s statements to PP were intended to be understood as factually true. It doesn’t help to say that it reveals an underlying truth. We aren’t consequentialists.

  • BTW, I think the best movie of the year was Inception but it’s not the kind of movie that wins best picture. King’s Speech was okay. I really think it won because Hollywood is a sucker for British accents. Seriously, how does the King’s Speech beat Inception for best original screenplay? True Grit was my second favorite movie of the year. Hailee Steinfeld should’ve won best supporting actress. I think the Academy just thought she was too young. I hear the book is even more full of religious dialog. It’s on my reading list. Social Network and Winter’s Bone were okay. I don’t understand the hype. The Fighter was mediocre but Christian Bale’s jaw-dropping performance makes it worth watching. Most of the nominees for best documentary were left-leaning trash as usual. Waiting for Superman didn’t even get nominated.

  • My point was not that fiction (or movies) are examples of deception but that in great literature (and opera and movies) the use of an effective disguise (a kind of deception) is often portrayed as virtuous and treated as virtuous by everyone who reflects on the work at hand, whether their name be Kreeft, Shea or Eden. If using an effective duisguise to ferret out the truth is “intrinsically evil” there would not be such a universally positive response to it when it is portrayed fictionally. It is the universality of that response that I find informative. It reveals a bit of what we know in our human hearts to be true (natural law).

    I do not offer this as my main proof, but as supporting evidence for the virtue of Lila Rose’s stings.

  • Yeah, the case for deception here is pretty weak. People might refer to Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy because they know that he played that role, but they don’t actually think that he *is* Mr. Darcy.

  • As an aside, if you want a coherent argument for why what Live Action did was sinful, it isn’t really hard to come by. The Catechism says that lying by its nature is to be condemned. It further defines a lie as speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving. What Live Action did meets this definition. Therefore it was sinful.

    I can understand how someone could find this argument unpersuasive. But incoherent? I don’t think so.

  • BA:

    The argument becomes incoherent when they try to distinguish what Liveaction did from what police do. Mark Shea argues that “it’s ok b/c it’s the government and they have that authority” which makes no sense at all.

    As far as Mr. Darcy, on a subconscious level I think they do. Furthermore, the historical inaccuracies are believed on a conscious level. So I think there is deception here.

    RR:

    You’ve assumed the conclusion. Liveaction arguably did not intend their statements to be factually true, as they planned to reveal their true identity at the conclusion of the sting. This to me is part of what distinguishes Liveaction, undercover videos, practical jokes (like Candid Camera), and acting: at the end, the truth is revealed and reality set forth. Why that matters is something I can’t philosophically elaborate on other than it would to me affect the intention. That is, the intention ultimately is not to mislead but to truthfully inform (this is also why I think the hiding the Nazis example is a different animal, b/c the intention there really is to lie and mislead the Nazis permanently).

  • The argument becomes incoherent when they try to distinguish what Liveaction did from what police do. Mark Shea argues that “it’s ok b/c it’s the government and they have that authority” which makes no sense at all.

    I haven’t followed what Shea has said on the subject, but it sounds like your problem is not with his argument that what Live Action did is sinful, but with an argument that what the police do isn’t.

    As far as Mr. Darcy, on a subconscious level I think they do.

    Not sure if I disagree with this, as I don’t entirely understand the claim. I’m pretty sure, though, that the Live Action folks were trying to deceive people on more than just a subconscious level.

    Furthermore, the historical inaccuracies are believed on a conscious level. So I think there is deception here.

    If a person were to intentionally make a work of fiction with the purpose of misleading viewers about various historical facts, then that would count as lying. You could make the case, for example, that some of the stuff in the Da Vinci Code falls into this category. To do that, though, there would have to be some specific claim made that the statements in the film were historically accurate. Otherwise, the general presumption is that statements made in a work of fiction are, well, fiction.

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  • My gut is that Tolkien’s approach is wiser in that actors, writers, and such who use “deception” are not truly deceiving, as their goal is not to mislead but to reveal to people a truth. Thus the intent of lying is not there (which is why I think Lila Rose is ok; her intent I think was to reveal to PP the truth of their actions, not to mislead people about her identity as an underage girl. I pass no judgment on whether it was a prudent approach).

    If there is “deception” in fiction, it is deception that the audience is in on, so it doesn’t really work as an analogy for understanding the deception of Live Action. As for intent, the Live Action actors did intend to mislead the employees of Planned Parenthood. That their misleading was a means to an end (revealing the ills of PP) doesn’t make the misleading any less intentional.

  • Kyle:

    Does consent to a evil make the evil not an evil? If the audience agrees to be deceived, they’re still being deceived. As I state in my post, the audience is still at some level being deceived, either subconsciously (believer the actor is actually the character) or consciously (believing that some things depicted actually occurred).

    As for applying this to Lilarose, is a temporary misleading the same as a regular misleading? I mean, when someone plays a prank like Candid Camera on a person, they do in fact intend to mislead someone-but only temporarily. At the end, the truth is revealed. That to me makes a difference, but I’d like some thoughts on it.

  • to Kyle

    It isn’t fiction per se in which we find the parallel. It is our reaction to a fictional character using a disguise that I am driving at. We accept it. we condone it, we even admire it. Any normal reader does.

    To Michael: it isn’t the reader who is deceived, it is the other characters in the story. And yes, I to have come to the conclusion that the intent to lead into error is what differentiates a lie from virtuous deception which has the intent to lead into truth (as in a sting operation).

  • Consent to an evil doesn’t make an evil not an evil, but I fail to see how the performances of actors (not including Keanu Reeves) in a movie could be called evil. They’re pretending to be someone they are not, but the audience knows that they are pretending (or at least should know). There’s no false knowledge being given because it’s understood that the performers are acting. Such audience understanding doesn’t exist in a sting operation, so the acting here is different.

    As for harmless deceptions such as pranks (some) or surprise parties, it is precisely the lack of harm that saves these deceptions from being considered evil. We begin to question a prank when it actually causes harm. If it’s harmless, then no one really worries about it. The question, then, is whether the deceptions of Live Action caused harm. Were they of the harmless sort, like a good prank, or did they bring about harmful consequences?

  • As for harmless deceptions such as pranks (some) or surprise parties, it is precisely the lack of harm that saves these deceptions from being considered evil.

    My understanding was that the Liveaction videos did harm b/c they made people more suspicious i.e. that people were less trusting after having been duped. That harm is just as present in pranks, as people are being duped as well. So any prank based on a deception is, as I understand the argument, harmful. But perhaps there is another harm you see?

  • To Michael

    In this instance you are no longer talking about “intrinsically evil.”

    Yours is a completely consequentialist approach, you ask not about the wrongness of the action itself but only try to weigh the effects, counting up the pros and cons.

    tom in ohio

  • Yours is a completely consequentialist approach, you ask not about the wrongness of the action itself but only try to weigh the effects, counting up the pros and cons.

    No. The Catechism is clear. Lying as a sin requires intent to mislead. I am questioning whether one has the intent to mislead if that intent is only to mislead for a period of time and if that intent is affected by the ultimate intent (ie either to have humor and fun in a practical joke or to reveal a greater truth as is used by Liveaction, undercover stings, and artists). This is why I am purposely not using the “hiding Jews” example as I think that is more clearly an example of lying than what I wish to discuss. I am open to being shown to be wrong, but i am trying to comprehend exactly how stringent this requirement is and what affects that should have on Catholic life.

  • Michael,
    I agree with you in that a temporary deception is not the same as a permanent deception. At the very least, the object of the act is not the same as the object of a lie. Hence, it is a mistake to simply assume that temporary deceptions are intrinsically evil “lies”.

  • One can distinguish pranks from Lila-Rose-type deception. A prank really intends no harm. Lila Rose intends to harm (PP and the employee being taped) in order to help the pro-life cause. It’d be different if Lila Rose worked for PP and was taping employees in order to educate them on what not to do.

  • Argh. I shouldn’t have mentioned LilaRose at all. The point of my post (i.e the necessary deceptions in art) has been lost. Alas.

    A prank really intends no harm.

    Not if you take the position that all deception leads to mistrust and therefore damages relationships, which is precisely the position taken by Shea & Co. Otherwise, what is the harm Lila Rose is doing to PP? Encouraging people to not fund PP’s support of sexual abuse of minors is not a harm, even if PP doesn’t like it.

    Furthermore, to an extent Lila Rose is trying to educate them on what not do, though from a different vantage than one who worked for PP. In that sense what Lila Rose is precisely the tactic undertaken by the prophet on 2 Samuel 12:1-12 in order to mislead David into realizing his sinful nature.

  • A prank that damages relationships has crossed the line, no?

  • Of course if one of the parties in the relationship is engaged in killing relationships, does it matter? I throw this out just to be ornery.

26 Responses to Finding Truth in Nate’s Post

  • Spiderman is right. We do have a greater responsibility because of our greater power and that applies to Catholics in America all the more. May God have mercy on us.

    There is a problem with this kind of statement though. I am not criticizing you for stating it, I am merely trying to urge caution – probably for my own thoughts more than yours. How do we define America? Is America our general government? Is it our state governments? Our communities? The Christian faithful in American? The secular progressives? Our trans-national financial elite? John Edwards, poor mess that he is, may have been on to something. He talked of two Americas. Perhaps there are more than two.

    Some of us are on the front lines trying to make a difference in light of the fullness of truth. I think this blog does a fine job of that, so does LiveAction and 40 Days for Life. Many of us are more protestant than Protestants. Way too many of us are more secular than some secular progressives. It is very dangerous to indict an entire country based on the perverse actions of some, numerous as they may be. Especially a country as plural as we are. Can we blame all the Russians, or even the majority of them, for the Soviet threat? From one perspective, yes. And we can blame all Americans for the scourge of abortion, for we have allowed it to happen for my entire lifetime and contributed to its evil with our sins. However, sinners we are and sinners we shall remain until we are perfected by the One Who is like us in everything but sin. The question is can you truly blame repentant sinners for the sins of those who wield power and abuse it without remorse or repentance?

    On balance, the dream that is America, is a force for good in the world. Numerous evils have been destroyed because of us and practically no one else. Most of the evils we do are actually initiated by the parasitic infiltration of our once Republic. The numerous people who have had conversions to Christianity in general and our Holy Church in particular, the Tea Parties, even an apostate like Glenn Beck (although his anti-Catholic bigotry is on the increase – pray for the lost brother) are screaming for us to turn back to God.

    I don’t think the issue is that America is too powerful, the issue, as you brought up, is subsidiarity as embodied in our foundation in federalism. America needs to be more powerful, much more powerful, yet that power has to be restrained by the Constitution and the separation of powers, especially between the general government and the states and commonwealths.

    We also have to firmly establish that the principles of this country are Christian – whether intended or not. The reason 1776 was not 1789 is the Christian character of the majority of people who came to these shores. Sadly since the Christian principles this country was established upon are Protestant and had a strong Masonic influence, they are prone to decay at a faster rate than if the principles were articulated from a Catholic perspective. We had our chance several decades ago and we became protestants instead.

    The powerbrokers and transnational financiers are bringing about a new world order through chaos in the Middle East, economic collapse in the West and the rising Communist threat from the East. We do have a responsibility to check that and overwhelm it with power – yet that power can only come from one nation under God.

    Good post.

  • Nate ought to write about why he hates his country.

  • America has often tried to use its power to bring that evil into other places of the world.

    How so?

    We can see this too in the Middle East; America’s efforts to secure our oil supply and secure Israel has caused tremendous trouble in Egypt and elsewhere.

    Care to elaborate?

  • Art Deco,

    What is meant by, “secure Israel” is “why don’t we stop supporting the Jewish democracy and just cut a deal with the barbarians who wish to kill her?”. Its easier that way – always and ever it is easier to find flaws in a fellow democracy than to confront the tyrants out to kill the democracy. What is most absurd about such a view – especially for an American – is that THERE IS NO WAY TO KNOW if support for Israel inflames actual Moslems in the Middle East against us. Its not like they have free elections there where someone running on a “kill the Jews” platform bests the “why don’t we build up our own nation?” platform. The only place we’ve had a semblance of such in the area are Iraq and Afghanistan…and I note that anti-Israel actions appear low on the priority list.

  • The thought that America is a force for evil in the world – let alone the main or even one of the main – is absurd. But for America, no civilization would exist in this Year of Our Lord, 2011. It would all have been destroyed – by some form of hateful, anti-human, anti-Christian ideology which grew out of the intellectual swamp called the “enlightenment”. Gravely flawed as are all human institutions, the United States is not only the most powerful nation in human history, but by far the very best.

  • Mark, I agree, we are the very best when compared to all others; however, we are to aspire to more and the fact is that we are sliding toward more and more evil. We must turn this tide and it is up to the Christian faithful to do it.

    As for why Moslems hate Israel. Why not? Moslems, at least those who are committed (large numbers of Moslems are secularists), must fight and die to subjugate Dar Al Harb (the House of War) to Dar Al Islam (the House of Peace). That means that anything which is not entirely under Moslem law (and the particular brand of the victor – Salafi, Khomeini, whatever) the Moslem is obligated to wage war. Israel is convenient, America is the most powerful; however, the disdain would continue anyway.

    Israel has committed atrocities against the indigenous (1940s) population of Palestine; nevertheless, the Palestinians faced worse from Moslem regimes. If we were to solve the problem in the Holy Land and have peace between the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and Israel, Moslems would still hate Israel and America. It will not end, it will not stop until the Moslems are dead or, preferably, converted through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother Mary.

  • Suggesting that a people or their countries are a force for good or for evil is problematic from the starting gate. The generalization that is required makes it an absurd argument.

    Was Rome a force for good or for evil? I suppose that depends at least on who you are and when you lived. Looking back, we can glory in her art, architecture, laws, etc. We can also pull out Christian martyrdom, the destruction of the Temple, slavery, and the leveling of Carthage to make a founded charge that Rome was utterly contemptible.

    We can go through that exercise for each of the predecessors of our culture and, at each juncture, be spot on with more than adequate evidence to illustrate our points. But, what is the point of the exercise?

    I suggest that the entire discussion comes from the mistaken belief that there is such a thing as “human progress” – to my mind, an absurd belief not founded on experience at all. In comparison to ancestors our lives are longer, healthier, and less given to the vagaries that plagued every generation before us. We are also isolated, self-absorbed, ever more alienated from nature and God, and encumbered with worries that drive more of us insane than ever. Are we “better” off? Are we “worse” off? How do we even analyze that?

    Scripture and Catholic teaching concentrate on our individual relationship to the world and people around us. It is only these relationships that we are responsible for. Do we pass by the hungry and the cold with downcast eyes and hands in pockets? If so, WE pay the consequence, not some amorphous “society” or “nation.” So it is with all sin.

    I don’t believe that America is blessed or cursed by our individual behavior. That is a Westboro Baptist absurdity. I DO, however, believe that God and Satan use the world and all of its institutions as they will. Where America does good, God’s hand is sovereign, where it does ill, He permits Satan to corrupt.

    I don’t have any idea why this is so but I am pretty sure that America’s manifest blessings are not given on my account any more than my legion of faults appear on yours.

  • Art:

    America has often tried to use its power to bring that evil into other places of the world.

    How so?

    Well, when we’ve funded abortions and contraception overseas, particularly in developing areas like Africa.

    Am Knight:
    How do we define America? Is America our general government? Is it our state governments? Our communities? The Christian faithful in American? The secular progressives? Our trans-national financial elite? John Edwards, poor mess that he is, may have been on to something. He talked of two Americas. Perhaps there are more than two.

    You make a good point, one which I think shows how hard it would be for us to determine whether “America” does more good than ill.

    I used America in its broadest sense, to include not just the government but its businesses and its citizens. So just voting the right way isn’t enough; a change in culture that affects all areas of life.

    Mark Noonan:
    But for America, no civilization would exist in this Year of Our Lord, 2011. It would all have been destroyed – by some form of hateful, anti-human, anti-Christian ideology which grew out of the intellectual swamp called the “enlightenment”. Gravely flawed as are all human institutions, the United States is not only the most powerful nation in human history, but by far the very best.

    It’s true that the United States did a lot of work to help prevent the world from being overrun from Communists or Nazis. But “by far the very best?” As with Nate’s claim, I think arguing the US is the very worst or the very best is useless. How to compare America’s slavery & abortion to the crimes of other nations.

  • We have used our power in such-and-such a way; and we know what happened as a result.

    Question: What would have happened, had we done otherwise?

    Can you answer that question? I’m not sure I can. And a far smarter and wiser man than I (C.S.Lewis) once put it into the mouth of his fictional avatar of Christ (Aslan) to say that “No one is ever told what would have happened.”

    Has the U.S. been a net force for evil? I suppose one would have to examine all the wars, all the economic output, all the diplomatic actions, all the disaster-rescue operations, all the private charitable contributions, all the production of movies (good, bad, tasteful, pornographic), all the medicines, all the timewasters…all of it, and ask in each case, what alternative action did we almost take?

    Then I suppose we could assign a net evil-or-good score (say, on a range from negative 10 to positive 10) to the action we took, and to the alternative action we would otherwise have taken, and subtract the road not taken from the road taken, and total up all the scores, and say: This is how good (or evil) America has been.

    A pointless exercise, I suspect.

    Better to note, in a more general way, the areas in which we usually stumble and try to avoid them in the future.

    And of course it might be good to remember not to be too wound up in America, for all her momentary importance. For in a choice between making America saintlier, and making you saintlier, it’s objectively more useful to make you saintlier.

    Does that seem shocking? Well, keep in mind I don’t mean by that that you shouldn’t be a good citizen, with all that entails. So no one is saying you can’t work on both America and your soul.

    But here are my reasons for saying that in the event of an either/or choice, you should prioritize the sanctification of your soul: First, it’s entirely within your power (with God’s help) and your responsibility to work for the sanctification of your soul; whereas political activism may not be your calling, and for most of us, nobody ever listens. (Really, why am I bothering to type this note? Habit, I suppose.)

    But second (and far more important) America is profoundly temporary. We will all outlive her. After all, in a few hundred years, will America still be here? Maybe, maybe not; but in a few thousand, I guarantee she won’t. In ten thousand? Please. In a few billion years? Not even the sun will be what it was. And that’s all assuming the Lord doesn’t come back this time tomorrow.

    But you? You’ll still be around, for good, or for ill. Every Christian ought to give a thought to who he plans to invite to his forty millionth birthday bash, and whether there is a patron saint of party favors. He also has to give a thought to whether he, himself, will make it to his forty millionth birthday party, or whether he’ll be in less comfortable environs.

    Yes, the investment in sanctification here and now is a good investment. Next to that, America is a passing fancy. It’s a saintly thing to work for good, so work for the betterment of America when the opportunity arises. But do so for Christ’s sake, not America’s. That’s the work made of gold and precious jewels (1 Cor 3). America, in the final analysis, may be so much straw.

  • “It is a serious thing to live in a world of possible gods and goddesses, to realize that the dullest person you meet may one day be something which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship; or else a horror and a corruption which you meet now only in a nightmare. All day long we are helping each other to one or the other of these two destinations. There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations, these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we work with, play with, marry, snub, or exploit: immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” — C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”

  • Well, when we’ve funded abortions and contraception overseas, particularly in developing areas like Africa.

    Intermittently, mostly through donations to United Nations agencies. Regrettable, but a very small part of the United States Government’s activities, and an exceedingly small part of the troubles that Africa faces.

    You still have not explained what ‘tremendous trouble’ in Egypt or any other place is a result of American foreign policy in the Near East.

  • “How so?

    Well, when we’ve funded abortions and contraception overseas, particularly in developing areas like Africa.”

    This is of course true. Though other countries on their own and through the UN also promote this. If I recall correctly, the American Mexico City Policy sought to prevent funding for abortion overseas. This policy was initiated by Reagan, stopped by Clinton, reinitiated by Bush and stopped again by Obama. (Notice a pattern?)

    There is no societal evil of course. Evils in society are the sum of individual sin. As noted above, we need to change culture. But that change, as others have noted, needs to come through our personal conversion at every level. Thus moral businesses will grow as will moral hospitals, moral courts etc.

    This will happen with politics also. When there are moral politicians, there will be moral policies. Until then we will have support for abortion overseas when the one individual who can overturn policies like the Mexico City Policy in office does not act morally in this regard. That individual is the President. And the President now is Obama. Thus, at least in regard to this specific policy, Obama is perhaps the greatest force for evil. At least this specific evil. He and those who have enabled him to be so.

  • Technically, it was not Spider-man, but his Uncle Ben.

  • American Knight,

    My assertion is that we don’t really know what the average Abdul on the street really thinks about such things – hey, maybe 90% of Moslems are raving Jew haters who will endure all manner of oppression and death just to kill an Israeli; but you and I don’t know that. No one does. Only when a Moslem nation has a free and fair vote can we get an indication of Moslem desires. From what we can see, we have the anomaly of Gaza, and the rest of the free votes (or, at least, quasi-free votes) showing that Moslems are, well, people…while some lip service might be given to anti-Israeli sentiment, the primary concerns are jobs, schools, health care…that sort of thing. And I bet a re-vote in Gaza – if it could be fairly done – would result in Hamas being ejected from power (seems to me that they were put in to power mostly on the strength of their not being in power at the time). “Kill ’em all” isn’t a good campaign slogan.

    As for conversion – ultimately, that is what it will take to establish peace and justice everywhere.

  • Michael,

    We expended 600,000 lives paying for our sin of slavery – I think that if the shedding of blood is necessary for the remission of sin, then we’re no longer bound by that one.

    All human societies will have failings – America is no different from any other nation in this regard. But America could have subjugated the whole world in 1945 – there was no one to stop us. But, we didn’t. No one can compel the United States to come to the aid of another nation. But when disaster strikes it isn’t even a debate here – the President is ardently backed by his fellow Americans is expending whatever is necessary to aid the suffering. The graves of America’s war dead are spread over the globe – not one of them died to enrich himself, but in order to help others, often those who didn’t even share his nationality.

    There has never been anything quite like the United States. We have fallen low in some areas – ending abortion is key to the long term health of our nation. It would be better if American Catholicism became more ardent (dare I say it, more militant?); it would be best if we Catholics would not just man the ramparts of civilization, but would march out to conquer the citadels of the foe. We can always be more wise, more generous, more patient…but we’re still the best.

  • Mark,

    The false god of Democracy is the folly of fools. Democracies will always become some form of tyranny. This is why the Founding Fathers gave us a Republic that uses democratic processes and not an outright Democracy, more properly called a Mob-ocracy. Open elections amongst a people that are not predisposed to a democratic process is just as dangerous but the danger is manifest sooner.

    Egypt has no legal protection for freedom of religion and does not forbid a Mosque-ocracy (some erroneously refer to this as theocracy, but that simply means a government by God, which is always a good thing). The current agitation is designed to create a Hegelian choice that leads to nothing good either way. We are forced to choose a secular autocrat or a degenerate Islamist state. This is a false choice. Egypt needs time, with a tethered Mubarack at the helm to develop laws that prevent an Islamic takeover and eliminate the structure for a dictator. The preferable choice for Arab, Persian, Turkish and Moslem dominated lands is a parliamentary monarchy for a generation or two and then a move to some form of Republic. Without a fundamental reform of Moslem ideology these nations will always tend to conquest and empire because that is the only way Mohammad was able to spread his cult.

    If we have free elections and wait to see what happens, as you suggest, what we’ll find is that we blew an opportunity to help subjugated minorities like women, Coptic Christians (mostly Orthodox, some Catholic) and others from having their rights protected because Islamists or Socialists will rule Egypt. Socialists will always collapse because of the unworkability of that fallacy, Moslems will endure because of the twisted theological power of their fascist/socialist imperial/conquest impulse.

    Islam is a religion of power, conquest, plunder, unchecked passion and Empire. Waiting to see if that is true or not as akin to choosing to murder someone just to see if they’ll actually die. Somethings are evident before they are actualized. A Moslem/socialist autocracy/oligarchy is inevitable in an Egypt with open democracy. The price of waiting to see what happens will be the slaughter of a large percentage of 15 million Christians.

  • American Knight,

    Well, of course our system of government is best – a blend of monarchy, oligarchy and democracy with a series of strong, sovereign States to act as a check upon the central power…pity we’ve strayed so far from that. But, still, in the end the only way to ascertain if a government has the consent of the governed is to poll the voters at regular intervals.

    But, still, I don’t believe that for the most part people will consciously choose evil in a democratic process. Give Joe Moslem his choice and my bet – which may be proved wrong, of course – is that he’ll choose to live and build rather than kill and destroy.

  • Give Joe Moslem his choice and my bet – which may be proved wrong, of course – is that he’ll choose to live and build rather than kill and destroy.

    As a rule, people’s expressed preferences in voting are congruent with maintaining certain minima for a constitutional state. The exceptions are often political-sociological perfect storms: brief periods where abusive populist movements carry the day (Germany in 1929-33, Czechoslovakia in 1945-48) under conditions of abnormal stress. Regrettably, the Arab world and adjacent loci in the Near East and Central Asia are the vast exception. The disastrous attempt at constructing a liberal democratic order in Algeria in 1988-91 should be kept in mind. I would give it a fifty-fifty shot in Egypt as regards the possibilities of parliamentary government in the first instance. Even if constitutionalist parties carry the day, you still have the entropic tendencies which infect elected administrations in the third world and result in a lapse into military government or some other sort of authoritarian order (or a lapse into insurgency or civil war).

  • Mark,

    Please don’t take this is as a personal insult. Your attitude seems naive at best and stinks of Dhimmitude. Perhaps you don’t know too many Moslems or Arabs, Turks, Persians and others infected by Mohammad’s disease. Maybe they are merely lying to you because they think you are a stupid, duped Westerner (a very common attitude). Either way, the sad fact is that the Mohammaden cult has infected most of the Middle-East and many in the West too. Islam as a twisted ideology, it is very worldly couched in poorly copied Judeo-Christian and Zoroastrian imagery and it is totally imperial and legalizes plunder, rape and all manner of other ills.

    Good people indoctrinated in this ideology will vote for autocracy almost every time you give them ‘free’ elections. Save for perhaps Lebanon, but then again, it is the only Middle-Eastern nation with nearly half Christian population.

  • American Knight, electoral institutions in Morocco, Senegal, Malaysia, and Turkey (among other places) have bumped and ground along for decades.

  • I am not saying that freedom and democratic processes cannot work in the Middle-East. It is natural for humans to seek freedom. The matter is the structures of freedom don’t exist because there are too many interested parties in keep in the status quo. They may want to fight each other for that control, but they certainly don’t want people to have it. The best way to keep people down is to cage them in a prison of the mind. Islam was designed to do that and it is effective. It takes a generation or two that learns the ways of self-determination (vis. political and civil rights) for democratic processes to actually work. Most of the Middle-Eastern people’s don’t have that yet. A constitutional or parliamentary monarchy with the help of free people from the West is the best transitional structure to facilitate a democratic process. Removal of one authoritarian for another or an Islamist despotism is only going to perpetuate the cycle of imprisonment. For some in the world with the lust for power in their hearts, that is the most profitable method.

  • American Knight,

    I have known a few Moslems over the years – work with one to this day, as it turns out. I don’t know how fully devout he is, but he does keep the fasts…and considers his homeland, Pakistan, to be absolutely bonkers…but also certain that the ultimate source of the trouble is India stirring up hatreds and rivalries. I’ve known several Iranians over the years and when you seek out definitions of the words “lady” and “gentleman”, you can’t go far wrong by just pointing to an Iranian. A bit of the plight of Christians in Moslem lands has been brought home to me by striking up a friendship with a West Bank Catholic (immigrated to the US, now a citizen). There is a dislike for Israel in him (though not a hatred; certainly no desire to see harm done to Jews) and a sympathy for the Moslem Palestinian point of view (but not blinded to the rank corruption and cruelty in some of the Moslem leadership). The main thing I take away from such associations is that they are just people.

    Naturally, it would be better if they were Catholic people. One of the worst things which ever happened to the world was the failure of the Crusades. Additionally, it is getting pretty conclusive by now that no Christian (or, indeed, non-Moslem) can trust himself to Moslem rule. In light of this, my favored policy would be to set up Christian States (or, at least, internally self-governing enclaves) where ever sufficient Christians live in Moslem lands. Mohammed’s heresy is poisonous and we should seek means to undermine it and eventually do away with it…but, meantime, my view is that we’re more likely to get a reasonable Islam out of votes than we will out of tyrants.

    This is not to say that the people won’t vote for tyrants who will then go to war against all that isn’t Islam…but I doubt it would happen much, or at all. People – even Moslem people who have been hoodwinked by Islam – don’t really want to die in endless war.

  • Mark you and I agree on far more than we differ, so for fun, let’s just focus on where we differ 🙂 Unstructured democratic elections in Moslem lands will lead to Marxism, jihadism or a sick totalitarian blend of both. Following that will always be war.

    People who happen to be only culturally Moslem aren’t really Moslems. That does not mean they cannot be devout worshipers of God, as they understand Him, it means that they have not adopted the Code of Mohammad, just the minimal piety. I think this is where the hope for Moslem dominated lands is. Unlike Christianity the Moslems were not given the deposit of faith, essentially, Islam suffered from the Protestant heresy with the death of Mohammad. Islam would have died in the Arabian desert if not for the Code of Mohammad, jihadism. As an imperial force of plunder and conquest, along with the legitimation of twisted human passions led the charge for the conquest of Christian lands by Moslems. Belloc states that the corruption of the Christian Roman Empires led to the appeal of Islam, which liberated the slave, the debtor and the taxpayer if they converted to Islam. We face a similar situation today thanks to the corruption fostered by our fiat money schemes and the general lack of religion among our youth.

    I agree with you that pious Moslems who do not follow the Code of Mohammad would not choose to die in endless wars, but many, far more than most of us think are not pious Moslems. Many Moslems are jihadists and an overwhelming number are young men indoctrinated into jihadism through coercive measures including homosexualism and materialism. In some respects a large army of jihadists is the new Hitler youth. Perverted through homosexualism, releasing the basest human passions making them dangerous killing machines. Rather than the supremacy of the Aryan race, they seek the supremacy of Islam (although the inherent racism leads to hatred for Jews and blacks – in Arabic called a’abeed, which means slave – and strife amongst the Turks, Arabs and Persians as well as other minorities).

    Nazism was not resisted adequately by moderate Germans and jihadism is not being resisted by ‘moderate’ (more appropriately secular) Moslems. Jihadism is a force that needs to be defeated based on its intrinsic evil, met on the battlefield of ideas and the field of war – this is not avoidable. This is not the first time God has allowed the rise of Islam to chastise an apostate Christendom (Western Civilization), we have met God’s challenge before and we can meet it again, but only with Catholic Heroes leading the charge. It is time for saints to rise up and that requires humility and pious obedience. It is time to pray.

    Coming from the Middle-East and having Moslems and secularists in my extended family I can assure you that the committed will lie to you, the lukewarm will be swayed by pride to support the jihadi line and the cowardly will bow to the power of Islam. Either you are with the devil, a Dhimmi or stand against evil – those are the choices. It is in the honestly pious that we can find an ally and they are not as vocal as the jihadis, nor as powerful in mass propaganda as the oil regime autocrats or the Marxists. The battle for the Middle of the Earth is the clash of civilizations and the only way we can liberate the poor people of the Arab, Persian, Turkish and Moslem lands is through military confrontation of the jihadi threat and delivering the ideals of Western democratic processes and witnessing to the truth of the Liberator of the Oppressed – Jesus the Christ.

    Of course, we must remember that evangelizing in Moslem lands carries the penalty of death as does conversion away from Islam. We are at war, some of us just don’t know it . . . yet.

  • AK,

    Before we can mount a Crusade we’ll have to re-convert our own civilization – meanwhile, its a matter of what, practically, is best for American interests. Backing tyrants doesn’t work – we’re about to have one heck of a mess in Egypt and a mess which will be exacerbated for us by the fact that in the Egyptian mind we’re tied to the old regime while the Moslem Brotherhood (falsely) represents an improvement. Had we always stood aloof from the Nasser/Sadat/Mubarak regime, we wouldn’t have that particular problem…and our efforts to convert the Moslems of Egypt to at least a semblance of decency would be more fruitful.

    We have two wars to deal with – the current one with Islam (or, at least, a section thereof) and the coming war with China (while nothing is certain, any reading of history prepares the mind for the fact that once the militarists are in the saddle, they’ll attack). The war with China is the more immediately threatening, while the Islamist threat is more fundamental and long term. My view is that our policy towards Islam must be that of trying to settle them down, lest we get stuck with a two-theater war once China moves. How to settle them down is the tricky business – if we still lived in Christendom, it would be easier…but as we live at the tail end of a post-Christian world, it is hard to get people to understand the nature of the threat.

    And, so, we’ll just have to weave our way through…though we can take our opportunities as they come. For instance, the next time Hezbollah opens up on northern Israel, we can intervene as “peacekeepers” with the actual goal of forcing Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon and setting up a refuge for the Lebanese Christians…we can also work towards at least an autonomous Assyria in Iraq and some sort of internal self rule for the Copts in Egypt. Meanwhile, a judicious application of American power and bribes can help us to neutralize the Islamists, at least to the point where those who seek to directly attack us have less opportunity for recruitment, training and action.

    Ultimately we cannot hope to fight of Islam until we provide a better alternative – a Christian West which will be every bit as moral as desired without all the barbarism and secret depravity exhibited in Islam.

  • Mark,

    I totally agree, although, I think we are already in a two theater war. We are engaged in a soft-war with jihadism (much softer since Jan 2007, and especially Jan 2009) and an economic war with the Communist/Capitalist Chinese. I think this is WWIV (the so-called Cold War being WWIII) and it has already begun and it will take place in the Middle-East – that’s where the oil is and that is the land mass division between the ‘free’ West and the ‘communist’ East (although sometimes I can’t tell the difference).

    We have to employ all methods and I agree that cleaning up our own house is priority one. However, before we launch a Crusade, I am not sure we could do such a thing with our increasing irreligiousity, we MUST defeat the jihadi’s militarily, while we undermine them ideologically. To undermine them, we have to reChristianize the West as a moral alternative to Islam and support and inspire the non-Marxist prodemocratic forces in the Middle-East (women, Christians and other minorities like Kurds and Druse).

    In a conventional war with China – we lose. In a nuclear conflict with China – everyone loses. The Bible doesn’t seem to point to China as the outside enemy, it seems to point North to Gog from Magog and have you noticed how quiet Putin as been through all the recent Middle-East action? I know we can’t know the future, but it is eerie.

What Would Bush Have Done?

Wednesday, February 2, AD 2011

As I watched the situation in Egypt descend into chaos and violence, I started to think about how Bush would have handled these situations. Bush’s foreign policy was predicated upon a belief that America had a duty to spread democracy. I wonder if Bush would have been more quick than the Obama administration to side with the protesters. Although I appreciate that the US has a very delicate situation here, I wonder if now we’ve acted too late and not presented the positive pro-democracy face we could have to the people of the Middle East.

I also wonder if we need to reevaluate our appraisal of Bush. After all, Bush was mocked for believing that bringing democracy to Iraq would help spark the fire of democracy in the Middle East. While I still think the Iraq war did not meet the requirements of a just war, it is hard today to say that Bush was completely wrong. We’ve already seen Iran’s people rise up (though they failed) and today we see the people of Yemen, Egypt, and Jordan protesting. I don’t know if they’ll be successful, and I don’t know how much our presence in Iraq has helped or hurt democracy in the Middle East.

But it does seem clear that the Middle East is seeking more and more to be democratic and that the United States may need to rethink its strategy and partners not only to improve its image in the area, but more importantly help the Arab people secure a free and democratic government.

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7 Responses to What Would Bush Have Done?

  • I don’t know what Bush would’ve done but I don’t think this improves his legacy. The Iraq War is even less connected to these protests than Obama’s Cairo speech.

  • I’m not really sure if this is attributable to the Bush Doctrine, though I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility out of hand. The difficulty is that what we’re witnessing in Egypt could blow up into something much worse than what we currently have in place, which just goes to show the folly of promoting democracy for democracy’s sake (which I’m not really sure was Bush’s platform, exactly). Considering the extent of the Muslim Brotherhood’s violent ideology, it’s eminently possible that what emerges in Egypt will make the theocracy in Iran look like a girl scout troupe. On the other hand, considering the relatively educated population of Egypt, the end result could be a democracy that eclipses what we have in Iraq. Ultimately I think we wind up with one of those two extremes.

  • I’m not sure how differently Bush would’ve acted, Michael… he valued (and values) loyalty and placed significant worth in relationship with allies… I can’t think of an instance wherein he publicly supported an uprising like this in an allied country.

  • Ultimately I think we wind up with one of those two extremes.

    Is the current government of Algeria one of those two extremes?

  • Bush is history.

    Key question: What will obama do?

    One, thing: Obie did nothing for Iranain democracy demonstrators. Let’s see what happems here and now.

  • Looks and smells a lot like Iran ’79 to me.

  • Yes, remember our efforts to prompt democratic reforms in the epicenter of radical Islamist ideology, Saudi Arabia, failed miserably….

Obamacare Ruled Unconstitutional

Monday, January 31, AD 2011

In the second ruling of its kind, a Florida judge has found the provision mandating individual health insurance to be unconstitutional. Even more interesting to me is that the judge found that the provision was inseparable from the rest of the bill, so that the whole bill is unconstitutional.

The first part may not be that important, as the Supreme Court will have the final say. However, it will be interesting to see what happens with the separability issue. I wonder if Obama will be encouraged by this ruling to start working with Republicans to put many of the positive/popular aspects of the plan (like not denying people with pre-existing conditions) into law such that they are not dependent on the individual mandate. If not, Obama is risking his legacy on getting a majority of Supreme Court justices to believe that’s it ok for the government to mandate people buy something with no way to opt out. That seems to me to be a very dangerous gamble, and considering the political capital Obama’s used on this reform, it would be wise for him to try to preserve what he can and keep as little in the hands of the judiciary as possible.

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7 Responses to Obamacare Ruled Unconstitutional

  • I can’t see Kennedy ruling it unconstitutional.

    The only ideas even floating around for covering those with pre-existing conditions without a mandate is to penalize people who put off buying insurance. So instead of penalizing them now as ObamaCare does, they are penalized when they eventually purchase insurance. I find that even worse than a mandate. If you fail to purchase insurance now (which is the problem we’re trying to solve in the first place), you’re discouraged from purchasing it later.

    If you want to cover those with pre-existing conditions, the only options are a mandate or subsidizing them. The latter would involve a lot of central planning as the government would have to determine how much to subsidize whom for which pre-existing conditions and then investigate for fraud.

  • “Even more interesting to me is that the judge found that the provision was inseparable from the rest of the bill, so that the whole bill is unconstitutional.”

    ObamaCare was so rushed and poorly crafted that they did not insert the standard severability clause. I really don’t see this surviving before the Supreme Court as presently constituted.

    The Supreme Court should be rendering its decision before the Presidential election. I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama is praying that the Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare. If the Court does, many liberals would go absolutely berserk and drive up the intensity factor for Obama. On the other hand, if the Court upholds ObamaCare, every Republican, conservative and Tea Party member will be pulling out all the stops to make this term Obama’s first and last.

  • Here is a link to the decision.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3174287/Opinion%20-%202.pdf

    I love this magnificent passage:

    “It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting — as was done in the Act — that compelling the actual transaction is itself “commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce” [see Act § 1501(a)(1)], it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted. It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place. If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be “difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power” [Lopez, supra, 514 U.S. at 564], and we would have a Constitution in name only. Surely this is not what the Founding Fathers could have intended.”

  • There are no redeeming or positive aspects to Obamacare. The pre-existing condition prohibition is likely the costliest and most unsustainable provision in the entire monstrosity.

  • I really don’t see this surviving before the Supreme Court as presently constituted.

    Doesn’t it (once again) come down to whether Justice Kennedy gets up on the left or right side of the bed that day?

  • I can see Kennedy upholding the constitutionality of the mandate. I can see Kennedy finding it unconstitutional. I can also see Kennedy strumming “Sunshine of Your Love” on a sitar.

    Kennedy’s like that.

  • The best part of the decision was footnote 30.

State of the Union Immediate Reaction

Tuesday, January 25, AD 2011

The president has just wrapped up his speech. Some quick thoughts:

  • I think it was better to not have everyone sit according to party.
  • I know we had this emphasis on a “new kind” of SOTU. I’m not buying it. To be sure, it had a theme which was good. But in the end, just “we can do it! Remember after Sputnik!” isn’t much of a theme, leaving us left with what the SOTU always is: a bunch of presidential policy proposals, or as Chief Justice Roberts put it, a political pep rally.
  • Very glad he addressed the BP oil spill. Oh wait…
  • He talked about the old world where hard work kept your job but that that world is gone. Could we at least give a thought to figuring out if we can restore that world before we forsake it? Or are we doomed to Wal-Marts?
  • I want to know how he’s going to simplify the tax code and the federal government. Good ideas, but the devil is in the details.
  • Not subsidizing oil companies is probably a long over-due reform, but good luck getting it through, especially since Obama has been so unreasonable with the drilling moratorium
  • Everyone should have the opportunity to go to school, but does giving everyone a degree mean automatic economic success? Shouldn’t we be looking instead to figuring out how to make four-year institutions more effective and less costly?
  • On illegal immigration, I had hoped to hear more than just how illegals who get an education ought to be allowed a path for citizenship. I suppose with the climate no more can be said, which is very sad in itself.
  • Why didn’t we spend all this money on the infrastructure 2 years ago when we needed immediate jobs? Now we have debt and no infrastructure; we’ve missed our opportunity and with the deficit I’m suspicious of too many infrastructure building programs.
  • I don’t think Obama has a clue how to rein in the deficit. He gave some good ideas, but not nearly enough to convince me he can get it done.
  • If someone could ban the cheap shots to random Americans stuck in the Chamber for those brief snap-shots, I would vote for them regardless of what they do.

Those are my thoughts at the moment. What do you think?

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22 Responses to State of the Union Immediate Reaction

  • “Investment” sounds great, but of course, it’s a (not so secret) codeword for federal spending, and the federal government doesn’t exactly have “extra” money to spend.

    A speech devoted to the need for fiscal discipline with tons of specifics would’ve been nice. And he could’ve used Ryan’s Roadmap for political cover… *that* would’ve been working together in a substantive manner.

  • I’ve realized that in this era of the 24-hour news cycle and high-quality wonky blogging, the State of the Union doesn’t tell us much anymore.

    And you’d think that after all these years the opposition would settle on a proven format for the rebuttal. Way too close to the camera this time. Can’t they just put him behind a desk like a news anchor or pundit?

  • Bachmann’s presentation was much better but at least on CNN she didn’t look into the camera. It was far too accusatory. She blamed Obama for the spike in unemployment.

  • “but does giving everyone a degree mean automatic economic success?”

    Obviously no. Also your choice of words is correct. Academic standards are so debased, and grade inflation so widespread, it is astonishing to me how many undergraduates still manage to flunk out. What is going on in most undergraduate programs at most colleges and universities may be called many things, but education is rarely among them.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2009/0324/p09s02-coop.html

  • Lets’ go (like Will Rogers would say) to the record.

    What has he done?

    What is with this man, and his adamant attachment to failure?

    That’s why 24/7 they need to libel and slander Sarah and Glenn Beck.

    Mac, You’re right. “College” is a four-year party. What used to be the “gentleman’s C” is now B. As long as they pay the tuition . . .

    It’s again snowing in NYC. I blame Bush for not supporting global warming.

  • Did he mention the 50 million killed by abortions, which he supports? Didn’t watch any of it, but I’d guess not.

  • Remember this Far Side cartoon – http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_d2Yl-2L653o/RjLHhJAZcrI/AAAAAAAAAD0/Ge79MPZhf4Q/s1600-h/larson_what_dogs_hear.jpg ?

    I felt a little like that last night, only with less understood. I think that is one of the first times (being 34) I have heard the SoTU address and the majority of it consisted of dollar signs flying out of the President’s mouth in the form of all the wonderful things government can do.

    It was a stunning combination of sounding centrist and placating while at the same time taking its cues from the most progressive themes available. “Let’s expand government, and let’s do it together, so we can all have power and money.”

  • Watched the speech on and off last night. Obama’s speech was boring. It consisted of the “same old, same old” rhetoric. Obama’s words and actions haven’t matched up the past two years so I am positive that his actions and words aren’t going to match up in the future either.

  • T. Shaw,

    Actually Global Warming has caused your snow. Global Warming causes everything:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/4436934/Snow-is-consistent-with-global-warming-say-scientists.html

  • I didn’t watch the speech, but Donald is right on the money about education. What we need to do is restore the quality and reputation of a high-school education. It used to be that a diploma was proof that you could read, write, calculate, and think well enough to be a productive worker and citizen. Today, you need a college degree to prove it, and we’re headed toward needing a Master’s degree for it. Making higher education more affordable isn’t much of a solution; making public secondary education more complete is.

  • Starbucks already has enough people with BA degrees working there.

    Allow the business environment to be conducive to growth, jobs will come, and incentives will be there to become educated as appropriate.

    Reduce the “cost of doing business”, e.g., go to loser pay product liability law suits, reform worker’s comp, put common sense into the EPA and OSHA, allow aggressive write-offs for new capital equipment, do not tax repatriated earnings, reduce the cost of providing insurance by pushing for a greater use of PA’s and nurse practitioners and reduce need for “defensive” medicine, and get the point across that free trade can only exist when there is freedom for all participants in the value chain–i.e., if the workers are not free to associate or to organize it is not free trade and should be heavily tariffed. Problem is, this is more about what government does not do, not about what it does, so don’t expect it to happen for another couple of years.

  • Actually, the largest costs in business that the government can impact are compliance with various regulatory schemes, from taxation to environmental to health code/labor regs, etc.

  • This was even more of a waste of time than usual. Unsurprising. Is there anyone left who thinks Barack Obama is likely to have an original thought about anything? A few quick things:

    He already promised to simplify government and cut waste and corruption in his campaign. He doesn’t have any more idea how to do that now than he did in his first year. (To be fair, neither does anyone else in D.C.) Nor does he have any clue how to lower the deficit, because that requires making government less involved in people’s lives, which isn’t in his vocabulary. So those are especially empty platitudes. It’s a wonder he can say them with a straight face.

    There are already numerous paths to American citizenship. They just have to be followed legally. Saying that we have to provide a path for illegal aliens is like saying if I go steal a case of beer from the liquor store, the government should provide a path for me to become the beer’s rightful owner.

    Apparently we’re just not going to have manufacturing jobs anymore. We’re all supposed to follow his lead by getting high-falutin’ degrees and then work in government or quasi-governmental fields like health care.

    Which is why he (like Bush) thinks everyone needs a four-year degree (at least). Most people should probably get a two-year degree or one-year certficate at a trade school or community college, which would prepare them for perfectly good middle class careers as things like plumbers and electricians. In fact, if the grade schools and high schools did anything useful, most people could apprentice at the age of 16 and be useful members of society by 18, like my grandparents were. But we can’t have anyone getting his hands dirty. We’re all white-collar now.

    We did spend a pile of money on infrastructure already; I remember all the signs saying, “This highway project is funded by the American Renewal Act,” or whatever fancy name they gave the stimulus bill. Problem is, when government “creates” jobs by spending money, the jobs stop when the spending stops. They aren’t like private sector jobs that can sustain themselves. So if that’s the only way we know how to create jobs and build things, it’s going to require endless stimulus spending.

  • State of the Union: Stuck on Stupid.

    I do not need to see his birth certificate.

    I do not want to look over his college transcripts.

    I do not care to peruse his medical records.

    What I truly must know is “When did Michelle stop beating him?”

  • Mr. Morgan,

    You wrote:

    “Reduce the “cost of doing business”, e.g., go to loser pay product liability law suits, reform worker’s comp, put common sense into the EPA and OSHA, allow aggressive write-offs for new capital equipment, do not tax repatriated earnings, reduce the cost of providing insurance by pushing for a greater use of PA’s and nurse practitioners and reduce need for “defensive” medicine, and get the point across that free trade can only exist when there is freedom for all participants in the value chain–i.e., if the workers are not free to associate or to organize it is not free trade and should be heavily tariffed.”

    I entirely agree with the analysis but think you left out the “elephant” in that the inability to hire, fire, promote, and retire under current discrimination law is making business in America very unproductive indeed. All large organizations suffer under draconian regulatory and absurd liability regimes that make it virtually impossible to hire those who demonstrate competence, seek out and promote the stars in an organization, and terminate the employment of the unproductive before they are able to demoralize and destroy.

    Connecting this thought to American competitiveness as the President did last night, it strikes me that stifling the creativity and ambition of our best and brightest under the guise of providing for “fairness” in the labor market makes it virtually impossible for even mid-sized organizations to compete with competing companies overseas. I conclude that America’s successful war against discrimination has utterly outlived its usefullness and serves now only to empower our competitors.

  • G-Veg – I see that problem as being closely tied to grade inflation and poor academic standards. Every employer has to be able to support his hiring and firing decisions in court if/when called upon to do so. You can’t hire by gut feeling or based on a good interview any more, because those aren’t quantifiable in front of a jury. So businesses try to filter out the low end of applicants by using unnecessarily high academic criteria.

    That means everyone needs a college degree. That means college standards have to drop. That means high schools can get away with turning out students with even less learning, as long as their grades are high. It’s a vicious circle.

  • Pinky,

    I do not disagree with your analysis insomuch as it seems to be an important facet to the problem. However, I think we let the law off the hook on this one. To cite an example,

    We had a woman working for us who came on board when she was a Junior in high school. She worked part-time through her Junior and Senior years. When she started college, she began to work full-time for us as a clerk.

    She made it clear that she wanted a career-track job with us and she knew everything about the organization. Indeed, she was one of our brightest and most ambitious employees. Unfortunately, we could offer her absolutely nothing because everthing had to go through Human Resources, meaning that she had to apply on the national job announcement, take a test to show her eligibility, then be selected for an interview by a remote pannel that received only a score of eligibility rather than a copy of her resume.

    She took a job with another organization.

    We lost a great employee because we couldn’t manage HR.

    My sister is a mid-level manager in an entirely different organization and tells similar tales. My brother is a hospital administrator and has even worse tales to tell because he has three unions representing his employees.

    Undoubtably, this is a “vicious circle,” but I see it as one of regulation and civil suits driving HR to employ more and more “blind” regimes for managing employees, which then drives the legal environment even further afield from experience and reason. Where does it end? When no work is performed here.

  • G-Veg – Believe me, I didn’t mean to leave the law (or the lawyers) off the hook. The whole thing is too big to fathom. We’ve built an entire industry of non-productive behavior. In fact, there’s more revenue to be made in obstructing output than in producing, which means the best minds are going to be rewarded most by becoming plaintiffs. I just don’t think that people have considered how the legal / HR /insurance problems relate to the academic problems.

  • A few people have mentioned the HR nightmare of hiring people, and they are right. A few years ago a local business closed and a lot of people were out of work. I suggested an idea for a business (one that would have a pretty good captive market) to a local man of means and he replied that to get into that line of work he’d have to automate as much as possible, last thing he wanted to do was to hire a bunch of people–each hire is a potential time bomb.

    Last place I worked people would claim an injury (back hurts, mainly), and it would go to trial. The company Dr said no disability, the workers’ comp lawyer would say 20% disability and the judge would split the difference and the worker would walk out with $50,000 and go right back to his old job. Workers’ comp was supposed to be no-fault insurance to cover future lost wages, fine. But these guys were not losing wages. Just keep saying your back hurts and eventually someone will hand you a check for $50,000–it is a wonder everyone does not do it. Plant ultimately moved to a different state with a different set of laws.

    Worked at a place before that where people would beg for jobs, and then when fired for lack of attendance and poor job performance they’d swear that they’d have us shut down. Some of them, you just knew that they were sizing the place up, looking for a way to have a suit filed. There were high school graduates and even people with a year of college who could not add or subtract simple fractions or read a tape measure. My grandfather only finished the 8th grade and had a career as a sheet metal layout man–using geometry to do things like make square to round offset transitions out of plate steel for gigantic duct work for ore refineries. He died last month at 91 years old, and he was still (last fall) working off and on because no one else in a fifty mile radius could figure out how to solve the hard problems. A company he retired from in the 1980’s sent flowers to the funeral. How did an 8th grade education in the 1930’s come to beat out contemporary high school and even college? He did not just know fractions, he knew geometry and trigonometry and esoteric ways of applying them to solve complex three dimensional problems. Of course, his math teachers back then were not interested in self esteem or excitement, they were interested in imparting essential skills.

    Certainly government is part of the problem, but ultimately it is a problem of morality. Laziness, fraud, and trying to get something for nothing: the new American way.

    Is it any wonder executives just want to sub it all out to China at a fixed price rather than wait for what comes out of the HR freak show tent next?

  • “An inevitable consequence of capitalist enterprise is the creation of bourgeois youth demanding university education and employment in a bureaucracy”.

    There are, I think, four bureaucracies: government, academe, the Church, business.

  • US News and World Report

    Was President Obama’s State of the Union speech a success?

    1. 24.96% Yes
    2. 75.04% No

    There is yet hope. Three of four of us know this nobody is with an adamant attachment to failure.

  • I don’t think Obama has a clue how to rein in the deficit. He gave some good ideas, but not nearly enough to convince me he can get it done.

    That’s always been the question about this fella. Does he know anything except how to run his mouth?

Is Mr. Smith in the Tea Party?

Thursday, January 20, AD 2011

Now that college football season is over, Tito is going to make me write real posts again.

There was an interesting post a few days back from Stanley Fish comparing Palin’s vision of American to Frank Capra’s, particularly as embodied in his classic film (and my favorite movie) Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The movie *spoiler alert* involves an young idealistic Boy Scout leader who is nominated to the Senate because the powers that be, including a sitting Senator and a large businessman, believe he can be easily manipulated to serve their interests. Mr. Smith stumbles into the corruption and attempts to expose him. His enemies mount a successful smear campaign for them, causing Mr. Smith to have to filibuster both to save his seat in the Senate and to expose the corruption. This is where Fish (who also mentions some other Capra works) comes in:

In each of these films the forces of statism, corporatism and mercantilism are routed by the spontaneous uprising of ordinary men who defeat the sophisticated machinations of their opponents by declaring, living and fighting for a simple basic creed of individualism, self-help, independence and freedom.

Does that sound familiar? It should. It describes what we have come to know as the Tea Party, which famously has no leaders, no organization, no official platform, no funds from the public trough. Although she only mentions the Tea Party briefly in her book, Palin is busily elaborating its principles, first in the lengthy discussion of Capra’s Jefferson Smith and then, at the end of the same chapter, in an equally lengthy discussion of Martin Luther King. These two men (one fictional, one real) are brought together when Palin says that King’s dream of an America that lived out “the true meaning of its creed” would be, if it were realized, “the fulfillment of America’s exceptional destiny.” A belief in that destiny and that exceptionalism is, she concludes, “a belief Senator Jefferson Smith would have agreed with.” (In the spirit of full disclosure, I myself became a believer in American exceptionalism the first time I visited Europe, in 1966.)

Exceptionalism can mean either that America is different in some important respect or that, in its difference, America is superior. Palin clearly means the latter:

I think however that the idea which Fish ascribes to Palin, namely that Mr. Smith stands for a lot of ideas of the tea party, is wrong.

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14 Responses to Is Mr. Smith in the Tea Party?

  • The only tea-party organization with which I am involved is the First Coast Tea Party (FCTP) in Jacksonville, Florida. I’m a somewhat inactive member. My opinion of the FCTP is that it has unabashedly kept social issues and Christianity in the picture. Just to mention one example, at a FCTP rally on April 15, 2010 at the Jacksonville Landings, Star Parker was the keynote speaker and testified to the saving power of Christ in her life and her use of the Bible for guidance; and she stated her opposition to abortion and the slavery of the nanny state. At least one FCTP leader also referred to her Christian beliefs and the need to put God first, as I recall. And we sang Glory Glory Alleluia!

    PS: If readers haven’t heard of Star Parker, I suggest they go to her website. http://www.urbancure.org

  • Good analysis, although I think it applies to only certain libertarian segments of the tea party movement, and not to the movement as a whole or to some of its most high profile “leaders” (for lack of a better word, as I see the tea party movement as essentially grassroots and somewhat leaderless).

    For example, I doubt very seriously that Palin is interested in divorcing the American experiment from Christian virtue (and, in fact, it is because of her putting her pro-life ideals into action that I believe she is most vilified). Another tea party favorite, Jim Demint, has even expressed on at least two occasions that, without Judeo-Christian virtue, conservatism in general, and the tea party movement, in particular, is unworkable:

    http://proecclesia.blogspot.com/2010/10/for-all-you-atheist-libertarian-types.html

    http://proecclesia.blogspot.com/2010/11/jim-demint-you-cant-be-fiscal.html

  • Did I do or say something to be put on comment moderation? Or is it the fact that I include a couple of links in my previous comment that has me on moderation?

  • Actually there is evidence in the film A Wonderful Life that George Bailey would be prime tea party material:

    He is a sharp business man: Often overlooked is a scene in the film where a rent collector for Potter tells him that Bailey is cutting into Potter’s business by financing the building of low cost houses that are of better quality than what Potter is renting out. The rent collector, played by a wonderful character actor who died just in the past few years, tells Potter that in a few years if this keeps up he will be asking Bailey for a job.

    He recognizes that his father, a wonderful man in many ways, was no business man.

    Potter’s path to development was a dead end with the town literally going to pot. Bailey’s business acumen, sans government involvement except for the nuisance bank regulators, was ensuring a brighter and more prosperous future for everyone.

    Bailey wanted to be an engineer and not tied down: an independent man who would build great structures. Bailey becomes a family man, but he is still creating a great structure: a more prosperous and happier Bedford Falls. He is doing it, no one else, as his absence in the alternate reality shown by the angel Clarence makes clear.

    I will draft a post for tomorrow demonstrating why Senator Jefferson Smith, if he were alive today, would be a leader in the Tea Party Movement.

  • Akismet will sometime get cranky Jay and hold a comment with links for moderation or toss it into the spam file. Only the gremlins of the internet know why. I approved your comment.

  • The difficulty in analyzing the tea party movement is that it is a generic description of a grassroots movement involving disparate individuals. Even the term tea party “leaders” is misleading because it signifies a a rather amorphous group of people. And to go along with what Jay said, most of the tea partiers are indeed socially conservative and make no attempt to divorce social issues from our discussion. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I believe that polls indicate that self-identified tea partiers are even more socially conservative than the GOP in general.

  • Akismet will sometime get cranky Jay and hold a comment with links for moderation or toss it into the spam file. Only the gremlins of the internet know why. I approved your comment.

    Does Akismet filter out hate speech? Jay did say “Palin”. Hopefully by me putting it in scare quotes it will pass this comment.

    😉

  • …but I believe that polls indicate that self-identified tea partiers are even more socially conservative than the GOP in general.

    I would agree with that. Evidenced by the utter contempt from the left and the left-leaning/establishment type GOP leaders and talking heads.

  • Jay,

    I think Akismet will filter a post with more than one link. At least that’s been my experience.

    Michael,

    There’s always this:

    “Now that the midterm congressional elections are over and a sizable number of conservatives—including Tea Party members—have won office based on promises to slash federal spending and shrink the government, you might think that economic issues have trumped social-cultural issues in the public mind. You might also think that that the highly charged culture wars that have raged for decades over abortion and same-sex marriage have finally been replaced by battles over government size, effectiveness, and spending.

    Not so fast. While it is true that economic issues top the public agenda—how could they not with unemployment stuck at 9.6 percent—it is also true that every Tea Party candidate, including self-proclaimed libertarians, ran on pro-life platforms.”

    I suspect as others have pointed out, that there is a mix in the Tea Party. But I don’t think it holds that social issues have been cut out.

    BTW. I will be in Baton Rouge for business. Perhaps we can get together for an Abita. What’s your email.

  • It’s true that pinning the Tea Party on anything is difficult because it is so amorphous. I do think it’s true that members of the Tea Party are more socially conservative than the regular GOP. However, I think the strategy of downplaying the social issues is not one confined to the particularities of this economic crisis. Instead, my understanding has been that it’s more of a Reaganesque Big Tent strategy: although many disagree with us on social issues, more agree with us on economic issues and so let’s hide the social issues part or make it irrelevant to our actual governance or campaigns. I’m thinking particularly of Gov. Mitch Daniels here who seems to view the social or religious issues as nuisances to his real and far more important mission of economic responsibility.

  • I will politely abstain from commenting about George Bailey.

    It’s been a long time since I saw Mr. Smith. What I remember most about it was the commentary about the influence of the press. The MSM was the mouthpiece of the corrupt political system, and deliberately deceived the people. I think a lot of Tea Partiers would see similarities with today’s reality.

  • Don’t restrain yourself Pinky. When I read this comment by you about Bailey last December I laughed until I feared I could not stop:

    “Boo hoo, George. My dad never gave me a bank, and if he did I wouldn’t have run it into the ground. Ungrateful jerk. Clarence was lying to you – the world doesn’t revolve around you, George. Your wife could have done better.

    Sorry that slipped out.” 🙂

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  • Don – Nice to be remembered. I’ll say this: George Bailey opted for a nice, private-sector bailout, exemplifying the principle of subsidiarity.

Cotton Bowl Discussion

Thursday, January 6, AD 2011

Since this site has so many fans of the Texas A&M Aggies and the LSU Tigers on it, I figued it’d be fun to have a chat about their upcoming game. To get stuff started, MJ (Aggie fan & alum) and I (LSU fan & alum-not sure if anyone noticed I’m an LSU fan) exchanged 5 questions about the upcoming game. Go beyond the jump to see the discussion and be sure to comment & trash talk (in a Christian charitable way, of course) in the combox!

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14 Responses to Cotton Bowl Discussion

  • Oh, and the “Cotton Bowl” ? How can you call it the “Cotton Bowl” if it’s not at the actual … you know … COTTON BOWL ?

    It’s a travesty that the Cotton Bowl committee threw tradition under the bus and that the game is no longer an afternoon game on New Year’s Day in Fair Park, but is a prime time game being played a week after most of the country stopped giving a crap in Jerry’s monstrosity.

  • WHOOP!

    With regard to Jerrod Johnson’s tendency to turn the ball over this season, I think it had more to do with arm strength after his surgery during the off season. Certainly expectations were high, but I think they play second fiddle to his shoulder.

    Excited to watch the game. Should be good.

  • With regard to Jerrod Johnson’s tendency to turn the ball over this season, I think it had more to do with arm strength after his surgery during the off season. Certainly expectations were high, but I think they play second fiddle to his shoulder.

    Good point. That problem should be fixed by the NFL Combine, where I suspect Johnson will wow a number of scouts (assuming he goes). With Luck out of the 2011 Draft, Johnson might have some luck.

  • When Johnson was still playing this season, you could really see the toll that surgery took on his arm; wounded ducks were par for his course. My sister’s an aggie so I’ll be cheering for the team in maroon.

  • “The Aggies enter the Cotton Bowl as the hottest Big-12 team”

    When Texas has a bad season, isn’t this kind of like a tallest midget award?

  • When Texas has a bad season, isn’t this kind of like a tallest midget award?

    You mean the Texas team that A&M beat three times in their last five meetings?

  • When Texas has a bad season, isn’t this kind of like a tallest midget award?

    Only if you wear orange-colored glasses… Out here in the real world, giants fall and new ones take their place. It’s happened before and will happen again.

  • I might add… does some one have bowl-envy? 😉

  • Ryan Tannehill is 5-0 since taking over as Texas A&M’s starting quarterback. The last Aggies quarterback to win his first five games was Bucky Richardson, whose streak included the 1988 Cotton Bowl.

  • Well, at least I got A&M’s score correct.

  • I wondered whether LSU’s offense would be able to sustain the momentum it had since the 3rd quarter of the Alabama game. Jefferson has really grown a lot, and while he seems to start games off rough often, if he calms down he can really move the LSU offense. To be sure, we prefer to run it but LSU is never going to be a passing-based offense anyway. I’ll be interested to see if JJ can keep his job with Mettenberger coming to Baton Rouge.

    Anyway, this is a great win for LSU to get a great boost of confidence going into next year. The Aggies played well, particularly when they came out passing, but in the end our defense was just too strong to not shut down the Aggies.

    Oh, and I believe this officially clinches me as winner of the TAC Bowl Pick’em! Woohoo! Time to switch gears and hope the Saints keep up the good football mojo in Louisiana! GEAUX TIGERS AND WHO DAT!

  • GEAUX TIGERS!

    Michael, Congratulations on winning TAC Bowl Pick’em.

    Chalk me up as one of those who would prefer to see Miles go to Michigan. However, I know that I don’t have a rational reason for it. His teams win. Period. I’ve also bemoaned Jordan Jefferson all through the season – though with better reason.

    Having said that, I must congratulate Miles and JJ. Both did a very good job against the Aggies. That was a great game – both in planning and execution.

    At this point, Mettenberger will have a lot to live up to if he wants to displace JJ as starting QB. Jefferson knows the offense and will have a lot of rightly-deserved confidence going into the Spring.

    With the level of talent coming back for LSU, they’ve got to be a Top 5 team.

  • Glad to see A&M maintaining their pristine bowl record.

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Bowl Pick’Em Update

Friday, December 31, AD 2010

As we head into the New Year’s Bowls, I thought you’d like an update on how our pick’em contest is progressing.

Green is for a correct guess, red for a wrong one. Bold is for games in which there was disagreement.

You’ll notice a most amusing trend: on the ones in which our contestants were unanimous, we’ve been mostly unanimously wrong! Only our picks of Boise St. & Oklahoma St. have survived! I am most glad that Jay saved LSU from that category by picking the Aggies!

Everyone is very much still alive, as Jay & I are tied with 9 point, Jagneaux has 8, and dave and opinionated Catholic are  not too far behind at 7.

As for the bowls themselves, they’ve been quite entertaining. Unless of course, you’re a Tennessee fan in which case you probably ought to accept that in the year 2010 our Lord decided that he hated Tennessee Volunteer football. You may have similar feelings if you hate the “No-Fun-League” penalty on Kansas State that cost them the game.

So while you reflect on 2010, continue to enjoy the bowls & the contest! And go Carolina Panthers!

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3 Responses to Bowl Pick’Em Update

  • I’ve got to give it to the Sunbelt Conference: It has performed much better than I expected. Although I’m confident that Miami (OH) will still win, I wonder now about my pick against Middle Tennessee State.

    (BTW, that game should be in bold, too; Opinionated Catholic picked MTSU. Thanks for keeping track of the bowls for us.)

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!

  • Jay,

    2-for-4 today! Great job!

    I, on the other hand, went 0-for-4. 🙁

    Meanwhile, I hope that Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina are not setting the standard for SEC teams this bowl season. Hopefully, ‘Bama, Florida, and Miss. State will set things right.

  • It’s up to Ohio State to spare the Big 10 from total humiliation. Bucky should have beaten TCU easily, but was poorly prepared and play-calling was atrocious. Put the loss on the coaches. Give credit to TCU, which probably would put up a good fight against either Auburn or Oregon but still lose. All in all, bowl games this year were yawners and in many cases mismatches.

Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Monday, December 20, AD 2010

I am a big supporter of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). Unfortunately, the policy the Senate repealed on Saturday wasn’t the policy I wanted to see repealed.

To be sure, DADT as applied to gays in the military was eventually going to be repealed, even if it was a prudent attempt to prevent relationships within a unit that could endanger lives. I’ll let the military people decide about that. But we should understand what DADT really banned: it banned gays from openly discussing their homosexuality in the military.

So now that homosexuals have won the right to discuss their homosexuality, I wonder if they will be willing to repeal the social policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that is currently applied to Christians who want to discuss their Christianity.

How many times have Christians been told that their religion needs to be kept to themselves? I’m not merely talking about the political sphere here, though to be sure that applies. I’m also talking about every other area: social media, work, art, etc. Even in sermons, priests and preachers are criticized if the homily is too controversial or too Christians. Faith can only be discussed among small groups of like-minded believers in whispers as if the Church was an underground resistance movement. If the faith is to be brought to a broader audience, Christians have been reduced to trying to sneak their faith “through the gate” as CS Lewis described.

If religion is going to cease to be something people just do in the privacy of their homes & churches on Sunday and become a real and revitalizing part of American life, then the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy as applied to Christians has to be done away. After all, if homosexuals (as they argued) cannot truly be themselves unless they can openly discuss their sexuality, why do we have the idea that Christians can be (and indeed must be) Christians while not openly discussing their faith?

Sadly, I imagine the forces behind Saturday’s repeal are among the most avid advocates of the DADT policy as applied to Christians.

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7 Responses to Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

  • The liberal progressives who “aggressively” sought the repeal of DADT for military personnel now have the right to include those same liberated soldiers in their infamous rants and wailings on how inherently evil the armed protectors of our “freedoms” are. Some liberation, some progress, some “rights” victory for our troops who have volunteered to provide cover for malcontents and the right to be legally and verbally assaulted by their comrades with a different “lifestyle”. The slope gets slippery with each concession to political correctness.

  • It seems as if the regime does not approve the Church’s teachings on faith and morals.

    Thanks for voting in the tyrants.

  • Societies have their ethic and their manners and orthodoxies. I would seriously doubt that a society where free discussion of the moral codes of the Church or the (non-decadent) protestant congregations was undertaken would be one where free discussion of (one’s own) sexual perversion was undertaken, or would be one for very long. There are stable equilibria and inchoate situations or unstable equilibria.

    Consider the following hypothesis: the homosexual population forms a sort of dyad with various sectors: the helping professions and the eductional apparat and the newsroom and the chatterati, and the dyad has as its bond a mutual exchange of ego satisfactions. (See Thomas Sowell’s Vision of the Anointed on the function of ‘mascot groups’). This sort of exchange has nothing to do with comity or liberality.

    Now consider these remarks from Prof. Jeremy Waldron (in an essay titled, “Secularism and the Limits of Community”):

    I wonder, though, how typical this is. When I read the Catholic
    case against gay marriage, for example, I am not convinced by it; but I
    find there is very little Leviticus-quoting or invocation of papal
    authority. What I read are elaborate tissues of argument and reason,
    open to disputation and vulnerable in the usual way to quibble, rejoinder,
    and refutation. Certainly the arguments have an infuriating quality –
    they read, as Richard Posner once said of John Finnis’s writings, as
    though they had been translated out of medieval Latin. But actually
    what’s infuriating about people like Finnis is not any adamantine
    fundamentalism but their determination to actually argue on matters that
    many secular liberals think should be beyond argument, matters that we
    think should be determined by shared sentiment or conviction. My
    experience is that many who are convinced of the gay rights position are
    upset more by the fact that their argumentative religious opponents
    refuse to take the liberal position for granted than they are by the more
    peremptory tactics of the “bible-bashers.”

    Again, orthodoxies.

    Appended to this is the aggression of the gay press and gay lobby, which is fairly blatant and given a free pass by the liberal establishment.

    We can either deal with it or deal with dhimmi status.

  • Another step to normalize homosexual behavior. Such efforts contradict human nature and natural law. As a priest I knew once said, “God forgives everything, men some things and nature nothing.” We’ll see how nature ultimately reacts.

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  • Re “So now that homosexuals have won the right to discuss their homosexuality, I wonder if they will be willing to repeal the social policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that is currently applied to Christians who want to discuss their Christianity.”, the argument is murky: is the target the military? (if so, its disingenuous since Christians discuss their Christianity all the time in the military.)

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