22 Weeks

Thursday, January 22, AD 2009

I haven’t seen 22 weeks yet, but I’m going to, and I think all pro-lifers should.  It brings home the ugly reality of abortion and the bitter grief and despair that inexorably, in this world or the next, each abortion brings.  Here is a review.  May God forgive us all for this great evil that flourishes in our land and in our world.  Abortion is the ultimate taking of the gracious gift of life, and spitting in the face of He who granted it.   Humanity has the capacity for so much good, and this great evil drags us down lower, much lower, than the innocent beasts.  I pray that I will live to see the day when abortion will be viewed with the same horror that we now view slavery.

4 Responses to 22 Weeks

  • Which I strongly believe will emerge some time in the next 18 to 24 months. One of those totally unseen developments that happen in life. In fact, most traumas in life that way. But will be our non-violent equivalent of 9/11. Besides, the abort industry is yet another set of executives from failing enterprises with hat in hand on Capitol Hill. At one with Citi, GM, big cities, state governments lugging humongous bureaucracies. With more and more Baby Boomer women reaching menopause. We are not Europe. We do not, will not bury our horrid memories of these operations. Watch the women’s magazines on supermarket racks devoted to home, family, health, etc. for the What Have I Done articles. The speed to which La Popessa Oprah The Great, Pontiff of Popular Culture, gives to victims of botched abortions or their kith and kin. Or more distorted interpretations of their horrors by say Maury Povich- fine fella, worked with him here in Philly. But mark my words dear brethren it will come with all deliberate speed. Pretty much how good Pope Paul saw it two generations ago in writing Humanae Vitae. In concert with smart young prelate who 10 years later changed name to Johannes Paulus Two. The Church may or may not get credit for calling out these abominations. Matters little. Only to be ready when Rachel bewails her children.

  • I was privileges to see the premiere of “22 Weeks at the Union Station theater on January 21st, while accompanying a group of 12 homeschooled teenagers to the March for Life. One of our number, Miss Devanie Cooper, is an 19-year-old leader in teh pro-life movement; she received notice from one of her many contacts in the pro-life community that Norma McCorvey (“Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade fame) was attending a viewing of the film, but wanted to meet briefly with us. As we concluded our meeting, Alejandro Monteverde, the *director* of the film, came by, and convinced us to spend the 28 minutes it would take to screen the film even though we were on the way to the vigil Mass for Life at the National Basilica.

    Staying was the best decision we could have made. It’s a disturbing film; but it’s disturbing in a way that people *ought* to be disturbed. when the theater went dark at the end of the film, I could hear a woman behind me somewhere in the theater quietly sobbing; after the film, Alejandro brought up the actress who played the main character…AND the woman on whose story the film was based! Their witness was incredible!

    Yep, please support this film. Buy a copy to screen at your church. Set up viewings in your community. Alejandro even offered to work with large enough groups to personally attend, if the funds could be raised to get them there. It is WAY past time to get the truth into the light about how our abortion industry mistreats women.

  • Deacon Chip and Gerard,

    Thank you for those excellent comments. You both have persuaded me to go and view this film.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • the vatican has to be careful about what Mr. Obama is doing. too much government is not good. he already the o.k. to use tax money to be used for family planning and to pass out codoms through out the world.the church could promote more morality and spirituality. everything will fall in place. have faith in God. catherine

I Win

Thursday, January 22, AD 2009

Let’s sit down and play a game. I’m sure some of you are familiar with it, but for those who are not, the game may need a little description. First, the game is entitled “I win.” No, no, come back, it is a fun game, I promise! Here’s the rules: I win. No matter what you do, I win. If you follow the rules, I win. If you don’t follow the rules, then you have forfeited, and I win. Pretty simple, right?

4 Responses to I Win

5 Responses to The Presidential Pledge

  • “No Comment”

  • “I pledge to be a servant to (President Barack) Obama…”

    I could write a whole post on the eeriness of a growing cult of worship of our new president. It seems it took the election of President Obama to make these people be “nice to others” and “change” their lives.

    All I needed was our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Sad.

  • The excellent Iowahawk has also updated “The Idiossey” to include the vanquishing of Obamacle’s enemies “Crustius” and “Palina, huntress of Wasilla” and the Inauguration:

    http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/dburge/2009/01/22/the-idiossey/

    The guy is brilliant.

  • Thank you Donna! I hope Iowahawk is cashing in on his writing skill in real life. He truly is one of the wittiest writers I can think of currently, on or off the net.

  • A cross-section:

    …by supporting..our local food bank –Check
    …to be a great mother –Been trying for 20+ years, still at it.
    …to consider myself an American –Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I’m first-gen on one side, BTW.
    …to find a service project –Check. Check. Check. Check…
    …to never give anyone the finger while driving –Who do you think I am?
    …to always find the humor in everything –Sat through this, didn’t I?
    …to meet my neighbors…be of service to them –Check. What, they don’t do that in Hollyweird?
    …to reduce my use of plastic –Done it for years, not to mention recycling.
    …to no longer use plastic bags –Had the reusables in service since the late ’80’s.
    …to flush only after… –TMI, Jason.
    …to turn the lights off –Been doing that since about the age of ten.
    …to not use as much gas –Can’t afford the hybrid, but my car gets 30+/gal
    …to be a servant to our president –Are you out of your mind? Who do you think is paying his salary?

    Are we supposed to assume that it is only because their golden boy is in office that these wonders may now be attempted? What have they been doing for the past eight years, polluting the earth and pushing old ladies out of the way?

2 Responses to When He's Right, He's Right

Bush: Nixon or Truman?

Wednesday, January 21, AD 2009

One hears rather often that George W. Bush has ended his presidency with record low approval ratings. Some articles I’ve read have said (apparently incorrectly) that they are the lowest ever.

pres_approval_history

The above was sent to me yesterday, and it provides an interesting comparison. Two presidents left office with approvals as low as Bush’s: Truman, who faced a struggling post-war economy and a increasingly difficult situation in the Korean War; and Nixon, who was in the middle of being impeached when he resigned.

History has been far kinder to Truman, overall, than Nixon. Indeed, I suspect that few people know that Truman ended his presidency as unpopular as Nixon and Bush. Certainly, I hadn’t realized it. It remains to be seen whether, in 50 years time, Bush will be seen as more like the former or the latter.

24 Responses to Bush: Nixon or Truman?

  • It might be instructive to line these numbers up with congressional approval ratings, which have been generally about 1/2 George Bush’s since shortly before the Democrats took over.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Approval ratings at the time one leaves office are a poor indicator of what one’s historical legacy will be. It’s too early to make any definitive judgments about our most recent presidents, but I’ll venture a guess as to one of them.

    Bill Clinton left office with the highest approval ratings ever recorded. Yet, this time last year, he was being treated as the enemy by the very people who were most supportive of him when he was in office – African-Americans and left-leaning pundits. How many times in 2008 did we hear people lamenting that they wished Bill Clinton would just go away.

    In 50 years, what will Bill Clinton be remembered for? What were the “big” things that he accomplished for which history marks presidential greatness? The economy? I doubt it. That may help keep one’s approval numbers high, but it’s not the kind of stuff history is made of. I can’t name one other president not named Herbert Hoover or FDR who is remembered for the economy.

  • Good point, Jay.

    I think the reason Truman is remembered as a mixed-to-good president is because it’s recognized that he strove with big problems and got a certain number of them right. Nixon isn’t remembered very positively because he didn’t have any big historic successes, and he went out in disgrace.

    In that sense, I’d say that how Bush is remembered will have a lot to do with what the historical legacy of the events he was involved with were. Primarily — if Iraq and Afghanistan somehow settle out to islands of liberal democracy in the Middle East, and that has good effects in the long run, I would imagine that Bush will be remembered well. If not, then probably he won’t be remembered much, well or badly.

  • can’t name one other president not named Herbert Hoover or FDR who is remembered for the economy.

    In a sense I think Reagan is as well. Surely the Cold War stuff and battling the Soviets is a big part of his legacy, but a lot of people also remember the roaring 80s and tie that in with Reagan. The economy is not the first thing I think about regarding Reagan, but I would guess that’s a big component of his legacy.

  • The economic stuff during the 80s isn’t enough to mark Reagan as a “great” president. Coupled with things such as the Cold War victory, it merely “pads” his legacy.

    But even then, the economy in the 80s was a mixed bag both at the beginning of the decade and by the end of the decade, and I bet people remember the 80s as much for the movie Wall Street as they do for the role Pres. Reagan played in bringing about sustained economic growth.

    My point is that unless your name is Herbert Hoover or FDR, the economy, alone, is not enough to build a historical legacy for good or ill.

  • “Nixon isn’t remembered very positively because he didn’t have any big historic successes …”

    Well, he does get credit from historians for going to China. It’s even become a figure of speech.

  • “My point is that unless your name is Herbert Hoover or FDR, the economy, alone, is not enough to build a historical legacy for good or ill…”

    And, potentially, Obama….

  • While FDR is remembered for ending the Great Depression, in fact, he did more to prolong it than any other factor.

    Thomas Woods a Catholic historian has studied this in detail.

    the lesson is that how presidents are remembered does not necessarily reflect reality.

    Matt

  • “And, potentially, Obama….”

    I believe we’d have to have a crash of epic proportions … another Great Depression, if you will … for that to happen. It might, but short of that, presidents just aren’t remembered for economic successes or failures.

    President Obama’s place in history is already secured by virtue of being the first black president. The economy isn’t going to make or break that legacy. Regardless of what he does – barring an epic failure (and maybe even despite such), he’ll likely forever be rated by historians as among the top 10 presidents in U.S. history.

  • I think Bush will likely be most remembered by his “Bush-isms” – simply put, all the silly things he’s said over the past 8 years. Cobble that together with the war in Iraq and possibly 9/11. The economy? I seriously doubt anyone will remember Bush for that…

  • Additionally, you have to be a bit careful about who you are talking about when referring to how someone is going to be regarded in history – are you referring to how history buffs and historians will regard him, or how the general population will remember him?

  • Ho hum. So much has happened in the War On Terror that neither GWB nor his top aides may yap about in their lifetimes. Heavy deep cover stuff involving branches of armed forces not made public. Wait about 50 years. Hear that sound of silence? No car bombs going off in U.S. downtown areas on regular basis. No hostage dramas consuming cable teevee nets- now that Official Obama Worship is declining, back to missing Caucasian women and children as their obsessives. Thank You, Mr. Bush and Company.

  • A large part of how Bush will be remembered is how Obama does. One large attack on a continental US target by terrorists during the Obama administration and public attitudes toward Bush will change overnight. Additionally if future historians credit Bush with initiating policies that lead to the ultimate defeat of the Islamic jihadists, then his stock will rise just as Harry Truman received credit long after he left office for initiating policies which helped ultimately to win the cold war. It will also depend on whether academia continues to be largely dominated by the Left or if future historians are a more ideologically diverse bunch than the current servants of Cleo.

  • The Truman comparison is apt. Truman was also a war criminal. See Anscomsbe, Elizabeth.

  • Morning’s Minion,

    and yet his unpopularity was in no way related to what you consider a war crime, which the vast majority still support to this day as justified. I don’t think that’s the point of this post anyway.

    Matt

  • “Truman was also a war criminal.”

    I think he was hero who saved millions of lives including one of my uncles who was scheduled to participate as a marine in the invasion of Japan. Of course I can understand how people can have different opinions on the matter. What I can’t understand is how someone who can have so much concern about civilian casualties at Hiroshima and Nagasaki could vote for a pro-abort like Obama. I doubt that the late Elizabeth Anscombe, who got arrested late in life in an Operation Rescue style sit-in against abortion in England, could understand that either. If Harry Truman is a war criminal for civilian deaths at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, what sort of criminal does that make our newly elected President who conducts a never-ending fight to keep the ongoing slaughter of the innocents a constitutional right?

  • Under Truman, the Marshall Plan was implemented and Europe, a smoking ruin of a continent in ’45, was rebuilt. Of course, that left the post-war generation of Europeans, raised in peace and prosperity, with the means and lesiure time to denounce American imperialism and capitalism. Gratitude is the most transient of human emotions.

  • Donald,

    Given that Anscombe was probably the greatest Catholic philsopher of the 20th century, I’m sure she “understood” the issues perfectly. Anscombe had the virtue of consistency, sadly lacking among many American Catholics today– she was indeed arrested for protesting abortion, and she also had a champagne party to celebrate Humanae Vitae in 1968– but she also denounced Truman as a war criminal in the most strudent terms. By the way, she invented the term “consequentialism”, and this was picked up and condemned explicitly by John Paul many years later in Veritatis Splendour. I would hope that a Catholic blog understands that evil cannot be condoned, no matter what good might come of it.

  • Thank you for your information Tony, all of which I was already aware of. Now, once again, if President Truman is to be considered a war criminal for Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the killing of noncombatants , what sort of criminal is President Obama, who you supported in the last election, for his unwavering devotion to abortion, including the disguised infanticide which occurs in partial birth abortion?

  • evil cannot be condoned, no matter what good might come of it.

    Neither can you condone pro-choice policies just because you might get universal health care out of the deal. Wait a minute, you do just that.

  • I think it would be more useful to discuss the morality of Hiroshima without bringing every conversation back to tu quoque comments about the election.

  • Although, I probably should add that the morality of Truman’s actions wasn’t really the original subject of the thread either.

  • John Henry, I respectfully disagree. Whenever anyone starts tossing around the term “war criminal” then I want to understand if they are consistent in the application of the term “criminal”, or if the term is simply used as a pejorative. If Hiroshima and Nagasaki are to be condemned for the taking of innocent human life, then one can only imagine the magnitude of evil in the taking of 44,000,000 innocent lives in this country since Roe, and what term should be applied to politicians who support abortion as a constitutional right.

  • Well, does bringing up abortion help define the term ‘war criminal’? I agree that there are many suggestive analogies between war and abortion, but they are separate things. I would not classify an abortionist as a ‘war criminal’.

Wyoming News: Mission Abort and Sin Tax Errors

Wednesday, January 21, AD 2009

At the advent of a presidency that has been accused of being the most pro-choice in history, there’s some good news.

Wyoming is now considering jumping on the bandwagon of trying to make abortions more difficult. There are currently three bills before the legislature dealing with the topic of abortion. The first, and one that draws all manner of painful cries from NARAL and other pro-choice organizations, is the requirement that any pregnant woman seeking an abortion must have an ultrasound performed. The complaints here focus on the lack of equipment in some regions of the state, supposedly barring some women from being able to undergo the procedure. To this, I have to roll my eyes. There are people in Wyoming who have to drive two or three hours to reach a grocery store. You have to spend at least an hour on the road to go from one significant town to the next. I think travelling to Casper or Cheyenne or one of our other “large” towns for such an “important” procedure shouldn’t be beyond most Wyomingites’ ability. Of course, the real point is that if a woman sees her baby in the ultrasound, she’ll be smitten with a bout of guilt and won’t be able to go through with it. There’s a reason why we have the phrase “Out of sight, out of mind.”

5 Responses to Wyoming News: Mission Abort and Sin Tax Errors

  • Regarding the ultrasound procedure: Who is afraid of science now?

    Maybe the next pro-life demonstration can include big paper-mache ultrasound machines to mock the science-fearing pro-aborts.

  • Ryan,

    pregnant woman seeking an abortion must have an ultrasound performed

    It is my experience involved with the pro-life crisis pregnancy movement, that all pregnant women have ultrasounds before having an abortion committed. This is so that the abortuary can determine how much to charge for murdering the child, the older the child the more it will cost. In fact we routinely find that they often exaggerate the age when the client can afford the higher cost. The problem is, it’s an absolute policy that they do not show the ultrasound to the mother, as it is very likely to change her mind. That is the incredible success with our ultrasound programs (80%+).

    So, not only, as daledog points out, are they anti-science, they are in fact anti-woman, and anti-“informed choice”… they are just… pro-abortion.

    On the sin taxes, in principle it is not the government’s place to baby us. However, given that the taxpayer’s bear a significant health-care cost burden due to such ills, and, given that taxes must be collected, I am not that uncomfortable with a disproportionate, but not prohibitive tax on things that are universally bad for us. I don’t know if this case is excessive or not, if it is then the actual amount of tax collected will drop do to people choosing other vices, or via the blackmarket… either case defeats the purpose of the disproportionate tax. I think it’s naive to think that the response would be actual reduced consumption any meaningful sense.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • I think it’s naive to think that the response would be actual reduced consumption any meaningful sense.

    I guess that depends on what “meaningful” is. I did a little hunting around to see if sin taxes are effective at all, and they do make a notable difference. But then, statistically significant (i.e. outside the margin of error) does not necessarily mean a big difference, either, and it was hard to pin anyone down on actual numbers (which is a reason for my ambivalence on the issue).

  • Ryan,

    i guess it’s possible they make a difference, but I think that’s a diminishing return, as the tax becomes oppressive, then the black market takes over and they become widely available without paying it at all. There is of course, many bad effects from this black market.

    Again, if we are to be taxed at all, let it be on vices (tobacco, gambling, speeding, etc.) more than on good behavior, such as, oh, being financially responsible and productive.

    Matt

  • When society as a whole becomes so decadent and corrupt, the government can either sit back and let its people self-destruct (all the while subsidizing that destruction through tax-payer-backed medical procedures), or it can act, like a stern mother with her willful children, to curb the excesses of the populace.

    Third option: don’t do tax-payer-backed medical procedures.

    I’m really uncomfortable with the gov’t setting sin taxes, possibly because of the ease they can be turned on any easy target.
    (side note: so, where’s the sin tax on condoms? ^.^)

Empire, What's it Good For?

Wednesday, January 21, AD 2009

A follow up to Darwin’s post.   I do not think that the United States is an empire, at least in the manner of past empires, and I do not wish to reopen that debate here.  I am more intrigued by the question of whether an empire has to be evil by definition.  I think it is an undeniable fact of history that, as is the case with all forms of human government, there have been evil empires, the Third Reich and Stalin’s Soviet Union top that list, mostly good empires, the British Empire I think is the prime example, and mixed empires, the Roman and the Spanish empires come to mind.  Even a mostly good empire can be hard to live under, as the Founding Fathers and my Irish ancestors would attest, and even an evil empire will have its adherents.  Like any human institution an empire has to be judged on its record.  The best empires I think are those which bring peace and allow for trade and the exchange of ideas among different peoples.  The wisest empires understand that no human institution can last forever and help to prepare by their actions their peoples for the day when the empire will be one with Nineveh and Tyre.

18 Responses to Empire, What's it Good For?

  • “. . .mostly good empires, the British Empire I think is the prime example,”

    Then Washington, Jefferson, Adams, et al, must have been the equivalent of ungrateful Iraqi of their day, seeking to throw off the light handed and beneficent yoke of such a great and magnificent country. They were such ingrates.

    Didn’t they realize as Big Government Conservatives and Liberals do now that all the benefits of being a member of such a great empire do not come with out a cost. What are the loss of a few liberties and taxes in order to further the aims of such a great empire?

    Many of today’s present international conflicts and problems are the remnant of past colonial rule – good or bad. Different tribes of people being forced to live together with boundaries of artificially contrived countries mapped by former colonial rulers/imperial powers. Tyrannical nationalist rulers being able to prop themselves up by tapping into their peoples’ resentment of past colonial rule and continued internal intervention by world powers.

    Your video and comments imply that the material improvements provided by an empire can justify their existance and any downside to their heavyhandedness. . . . my, such a “Catholic” viewpoint.

  • “my, such a “Catholic” viewpoint.”

    Take it up in the next world with the various Catholic Emperors and Empresses you will meet there. All forms of government can be good or bad depending upon how they perform. I am a firm believer in representative republics myself, but I understand that they can be bad just as they can be good. The same thing goes for empires.

  • Was there an actual argument put forward in any of jpf’s rant?

    I would suggest that jpf read a biography of Adams, Hamilton, or really any of the Founding Fathers who continued to express admiration for the British Empire, even after we declared and won our independence. I’m sure one his buddies at the Jon Birch society should have a copy.

  • Does an empire necessarily equate with evil? I think the question there goes beyond just looking at what good the empire could possibly do, or whether or not the rulers of the empire reigned benevolently. I think there’s also a historical situation that judges the goodness of empire. In that, I’m referring to rise in modern times of the notion of the nation-state, and also the modern technology that has allowed us to harvest far more resources than ever before, to make more efficient use of those resources, and to enable huge populations in such a small space.

    If we talk about an historic need for empires, we have to examine empires in terms the internal pressure to expand and the external pressures to halt or stagnate. In olden times, the way to acquire more resources was to expand the borders of the realm. But while that brought in more food and iron and whatnot, it also meant more land to govern and more people to feed, which had a tendency to entail further need to expand. However, if the empire ever reached a point where it stopped expanding and started stagnating, the empire entered into a decline. But then, if the empire grew too large, it became hard to manage, with rebellions cropping up in the fringe territories, and conquerors able to strike on so many fronts that the standing armies could barely fight them all off.

    I think historically, empires were what provided people with the opportunity to thrive and grow culturally. So historically, empires I think were generally good things (or maybe the least worst of all options).

    Nowadays, of course, the quest for more resources comes through economic and not military might (in general). Boundaries are essentially set; nations are more or less fixed in place, the idea of national sovereignty reigns so supreme that it is hard to think of things being any other way. The idea of conquering neighboring territories for access to their resources has become anathema (think the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait). I guess that’s a long winded way of saying we live in different times.

    In these times, the classic idea of empire has fallen away and has been replaced with spheres of influences, alliances, trade agreements. The true empires, it can be argued, are the multinational corporations, which run into many ethical considerations such as using lax labor laws in one country to produce merchandise at a low cost in order to sell in a country with much stricter labor laws.

    So in my mind, the classic notion of empire is essentially an evil today, but due to the changed circumstances. In the past, I believe they were more or less a decent option, given the choices (and perhaps modern prejudices that man back then was so much more barbaric than today, which I know is false).

  • I think the difficulty with empires is not necessarily with their maintenance, but with their creation. Taking over a foreign nation with the intent of possessing it without justification beyond expanding your own territory is the key problem. Now it may have been moral, perhaps in the case of the Holy Roman Empire where the expansion was, and presuming this to be true, based on the desire to spread stability and allow Christianity to flourish. Having inherited an existing empire, dismantlement is likely to cause more harm than good, and thus the moral action is to seek to maintain stability and expand justice within the realm.

    Matt

  • I am not sure that Indians (from India) would consider the British Empire as “good”. What did Gandhi fight for?
    As a French-Canadian Catholic, I have reservations about the “goodness” of the British Empire. The first thing they tried to do, after the conquest, was to turn us into Protestants. And the “Deportation of the Acadians” would not qualify as an act of goodness. I remember the remark made to me by an Englishman as he showed on a map what had been the British Empire: “What a bunch of thieves we were!”
    Elise B.

  • “I am not sure that Indians (from India) would consider the British Empire as “good”. What did Gandhi fight for?”

    For an India ruled by Indians, which he got courtesy of the British Raj destroying the Moghul Empire and the petty principalities into which India had been divided. Without the British India would still be a geographic expression rather than a country. I would also add that Gandhi was lucky he was dealing with the British. One can imagine how Hitler or Stalin would have dealt with him.

    “As a French-Canadian Catholic, I have reservations about the “goodness” of the British Empire. The first thing they tried to do, after the conquest, was to turn us into Protestants.”

    Actually didn’t the Quebec Act of 1774 guarantee freedom of religion to the inhabitants of Quebec?

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

    As for the expulsion of the Acadians, didn’t it occur because the Acadians refused to take an oath of allegiance to the British crown?

    “I remember the remark made to me by an Englishman as he showed on a map what had been the British Empire: “What a bunch of thieves we were!””

    No doubt a sentiment shared about the French canadians by the Iroquois.

  • Donald,

    Actually didn’t the Quebec Act of 1774 guarantee freedom of religion to the inhabitants of Quebec?

    the Canadian Constitution to this day guarantees freedom of discrimination against English speakers in Quebec… I, as a Western Canadian would not really consider the Quebecois to put upon, at least these days. Sadly the Catholic Church in that province is in ruins as well, and that has more to do with the Spirit of Vatican II than protestant oppression.

    Matt

  • I deleted your last rant jpf. Find another venue to vent your bile.

  • guarantees freedom of discrimination against English speakers in Quebec

    Just to avoid confusion I am in fact describing the right of Quebec to discriminate AGAINST English speakers.

    Matt

  • The wisest empires understand that no human institution can last forever and help to prepare by their actions their peoples for the day when the empire will be one with Nineveh and Tyre.

    Which empire ever did that?

  • Britain with the parliamentary institutions it brought to every colony in the Empire. Canada, for example, where you currently reside, achieved dominion status in 1867, followed by a host of other nations over the next century. India, another example, pursuant to the Government of India Act of 1909, began the first steps towards self-rule which culminated in 1948. The British Empire is dead and buried, but the form of government it installed still thrives in many nations.

  • When, though, did they acknowledge publicly that they would not last forever?

  • I’d have to look it up, but I seem to recall several statements by British politicians during and after the Great War to the effect that by fighting the war Britain had effectively chosen to give up its empire. (I imagine Donald knows what I’m thinking of — he’s handy with a quote.)

    And the political choices made by the Brits, as cited by Donald, certainly seem to have constituting a putting things in order so that their fading into history as an empire (pretty much complete by 1950) would cause the minimum in pain and chaos.

    Compared to, say, the death throws of the Spanish empire, I’d say the Brits pretty clearly laid the ground work for a peaceful transition to the post-British Empire world.

  • Recessional
    by Rudyard Kipling

    1897

    God of our fathers, known of old,
    Lord of our far-flung battle-line,
    Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
    Dominion over palm and pine—
    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

    The tumult and the shouting dies;
    The Captains and the Kings depart:
    Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
    An humble and a contrite heart.
    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

    Far-called, our navies melt away;
    On dune and headland sinks the fire:
    Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
    Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
    Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

    If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
    Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
    Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
    Or lesser breeds without the Law—
    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

    For heathen heart that puts her trust
    In reeking tube and iron shard,
    All valiant dust that builds on dust,
    And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,
    For frantic boast and foolish word—
    Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!

    It is always a good day when I get to quote Kipling!

    The British were always divided about their empire with the “little englanders” opposed to the imperialists. Kipling was of course an arch imperialist, but at the time his poem Recessional written for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee set tongues wagging with its theme of Imperial decline. Far sighted English statesmen realized the empire was in a downward spiral economically as early as the last Gladstone administration in the 1890s. WWI bankrupted England and predictions of the doom of the Empire became commonplace even as it attained its greatest geographic extent. A good book on the subject is Piers Brendon’s The Decline and Fall of the British Empire.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/oct/21/historybooks.features

  • When do all of you empire-watchers think the united states will acknowledge its imperial decline and cooperate with it in an act of imperial kenosis?

  • Contra Paul Kennedy I do not think the United States is in decline, imperial or otherwise. The US learned long ago that the cost of holding territories under direct control far outweights the benefits.

  • I love reading articles on the British Empire. As an Englishman, I’m intrigued by how members of former dominions/colonies view Britain.
    I think that, generally the British Empire was a good thing. With hindsight, of course bad things did happen. The Slave Trade always stands out. But it should not be forgotten that Britain was not the only country exploiting this shameful resource. Many other nations are also not without guilt. Britain was simply the leading player at the time. Britain at least led the way in aboloshing the trade in 1807 ,when in the 1960s many Black people in the Southern States of the US (the greatest democracy on the planet) were still being cruelly persecuted.
    Spreading enlightenment and freedom of speech and thought can hardly be criticised. That is what the British Empire, I believe generally brought.
    To be honest, I think that Empire in principle isn’t a bad thing at all – if done democratically.
    An integrated world, politically and economically would be a much safer/fairer place, with a more objective distribution of resources. This would help defeat poverty, and fuse together common principles of what is just and is what isn’t.
    The European Union, the United States, and the Commonwealth of Nations all share in a belief in fairness and peace.
    I think that in 100 years time, Empire generally will be looked upon more favourably.
    With a bit of luck, as the world gets smaller politically and economically, a democratic UN will be granted more power to forge unity amongst all nations. The subsequent collective of states, united as one power under the UN flag, would serve the world of the 22nd Century much more efficiently and effectively than the current patchwork of nation states that have been in existence for centuries.
    That’s just my opinion.
    I found an interesting article by someone from West Africa on this subject that you may wish to read:

    http://knol.google.com/k/the-british-empire-good-or-bad-for-9-year-olds#

Pope Benedict XVI congratulates President Barack Obama; Cardinal George proposes "an agenda for dialogue and action"

Tuesday, January 20, AD 2009

Text of Pope Benedict XVI’s telegram to the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama:

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
Washington, D.C.

On the occasion of your inauguration as the Forty-fourth president of the United States of America I offer cordial good wishes, together with the assurance of my prayers that the Almighty God will grant you unfailing wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high responsibilities.

2 Responses to Pope Benedict XVI congratulates President Barack Obama; Cardinal George proposes "an agenda for dialogue and action"

Racism at the Inauguration?

Tuesday, January 20, AD 2009

I greatly appreciated Pastor Rick Warren’s invocation | Video:

… Help us, oh God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race, or religion, or blood, but to our commitment to freedom, and justice for all.

When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us.

And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes — even when we differ. …

On the other hand, is it making too much to note that Rev. Joseph Lowery’s Benediction (Video), in its general indictment (even perhaps in jest) of the white man, closed somewhat on a sour note — as well as contrasting with Obama’s message of racial unity?

71 Responses to Racism at the Inauguration?

  • I heard this on the radio and it felt like someone kicked me in the stomach. Yet another reminder that a lot of folks don’t want racism or the perception of it to end. It is too much of a useful tool to be wielded against white people.

  • when yellow will be mellow.

    Wha…?!?

    Dude, I’m not remotely Asian and I find that pretty offensive. Whether they’re being compared to one of the vilest soft drinks in the world, or blamed for doing shocking things like doing well in school, working hard and staying married — it’s pretty appalling either way.

    Perhaps just as well I was busy all day and simply read Obama’s address and skipped all the TV and radio coverage.

  • Nothing like a bunch of bitter white men sitting around looking for a derogatory angle on the day…

  • Did everyone forget that Obama is biracial? Good for us, we’re colorblind enough to elect a man of color. I grant him that many people see “black” when they see a biracial person, and I will have to prepare my adoped sons for this reality. But, also remember that Obama grew up in two cultures, and let’s reflect on which side of his family did “what was right”. Hint: it was not his black Muslim father who abandoned him as an infant, left the continent, and took up new wives…

    To his credit, I have not heard Obama himself dwelling on these racial issues. He seems perfectly comfortable with both cultures and willing to “move on” (ahem) with his life. But he has associated with people that seem to still be really hung up on it. Was this really the best they could get for the big historical inuaguration day?

  • Why is the left so angry still? They got their man elected… Nothing but nastiness from most lefties on this blog… Everyone else is being quite respectful towards the new president despite our differences, something the left never offered to George Bush FROM DAY ONE. Why?

    Matt

  • The prayer ends with: “Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.”

    It should be pretty simple.

    BTW, Lowery was shot with fire hoses , bitten and beaten in his time.

    Too bad for some he has these memories of his own and others inhumane treatment in America’s history, due to his color and hi shunger for justice’s sake…

    I know, all should have been colorblind, including Afican Americans, since the end of the Civil War. Nothing to get hung up over…really…

  • Matt,

    Could it be that he has not the elected president in 2000?

  • What the hell is “racist” about Lowery’s benediction? You have not made the case, Blosser.

  • Michael, thank you for the formality, but feel free to call me Christopher. Noting your outrage as expressed at Vox Nova, I’ve attempted to clarify my initial impressions.

    I freely concede that I may be wrong in my evaluation of Lowrey’s comments.

  • Of course Lowery’s benediction was racist. Those who argue otherwise are simply in denial of what he said. Imagine if a white pastor had chanted similar doggerel in a prayer where blacks were asked to do what is right.

    He is also a hard core leftist of long standing.

    http://www.theird.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=884&srcid=884
    Here is a quote from him about abortion:

    “We need to be discerning about the major issues. Abortion — that’s a minor issue. I’m all for life, but I’m also for freedom of choice. We can’t be the judge of what a woman does with her body. We have too many distractions.”

  • BTW, Lowery was shot with fire hoses , bitten and beaten in his time.

    Too bad for some he has these memories of his own and others inhumane treatment in America’s history, due to his color and hi shunger for justice’s sake…

    True, and he should be respected for that as one who fought the good fight. But the fact that someone has suffered great injustice does not necessarily mean that he is free of unpleasant traits. Indeed, it’s one of the tragedies of sin that those who are sinned against often twisted by the cruelty which is inflicted upon them.

    I’m pretty sure, Mark, that you wouldn’t make the claim that because Jews suffered in the holocaust, they couldn’t possibly be racist in their actions towards any other group. By the same token, the fact that Rev. Lowery suffered during the civil rights movement does not mean that his rhyming skin color litney wasn’t racist.

    Frankly, I don’t even care about the “when the white man will embrace what is right” slap — that kind of thing is pretty much contentless ritual for those who make their livings of race this day and it doesn’t offend me. But the use of:

    when brown can stick around. … when yellow will be mellow. … when the red man can get ahead, man;

    All of which lines drew laughs from the audience, strikes me as a needless invocation of racial stereotypes for no good purpose.

    Do I think it’s a big deal? No. But so long as we’re talking about it, I think it’s a pretty poor thing to trot out at a historic event, and an example of how many of those who talk the most about race don’t really have any interest in moving on from it.

  • “Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.”

  • Rev. Lowery has history of occasionally veering off the road into a ditch. Maybe from all those years of being hosed and bitten by German Shepherds. Or maybe he’s just grumpy. Speaking of which- didn’t Joe and Jill look positively smashing? Now Joe can be sent on ‘fact-finding missions’ while Jill can read to grade school kids. Which is as much as we’ll get from those two for at least the next four years.

  • Look up the literaty device called “signifying”, used by African Americans in their history.

    This will explain much about Lowery’s remarks. also, notice his tone.

    I think Gates wrote an essay on the topic.

  • Darwin,
    This kind of stereotyping’s been around for an awfully long time. Check out this little bit of possibly relevant historical trivia mi marido had stashed in the back of his mind.

  • Actually, Lowery’s rhyme was based on an old blues song by Big Bill Bloozy: “Black, Brown, and White.” See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZLw5ahxm-Q
    Of course, the song was missing the part about yellow people being “mellow.”

  • Thank you Cminor! I thought I had heard what he said before and now I know why. My parents had that album and I listened to it a few times decades ago.

  • I made this comment, but it fell into a black hole: Lowery’s rhyme (absent the “mellow yellow” and “red get ahead” parts) came from an older source: A 1951 blues song called “Black, Brown and White” by Big Bill Broonzy. Google it and you’ll find it on Youtube.

  • I guess I have four thoughts:

    1) This is not a big deal.

    2) The remarks were racially divisive.

    3) The remarks were more excusable (and maybe entirely excusable) based on the age and life experiences of the speaker. He was in his mid-40’s before schools were really desegregated in the South.

    4) There is nothing wrong with noticing they were racially divisive in a blog post; but, once noted, there are better things to talk about going forward.

  • I guess we can excuse Rev. Lowrey for clouded judgment… however, don’t think for a moment that every word of every speech wasn’t vetted by President Obama and/or his staff.

    This has been his “modus operandi” from the beginning, he is all things to all people.

  • Pingback: Now this, this is a benediction. « flying.farther
  • So the excuses made for this character is (1) he’s old, (2) he was mistreated decades ago, (3) the crap at the end of his prayer was from an old song, etc.

    Here are the answers

    (1) If he is too old to give a simple blessing at the end of a ceremony without being offensive then choose someone else.
    (2) If he is too bitter about the past to be cheerful about the present then get someone else.
    (3) Who cares what the origin of the doggerel was?

    Bottom line those who chose this guy knew about his issues and certainly saw advance copies of his material. His behavior at the funeral for Mrs. King should have been enough to convince people he was not an appropriate choice.

  • John Henry,

    I agree with all your points except # 3.

    As an “alleged” Christian, Rev. Lowery apparently hasn’t found peace of the loving embrace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Hence why is he still bitter?

    I don’t recall St. Thomas More ‘complaining’ about anti-Catholic prejudices when he was about to be executed. Rev. Lowery was saying the BENEDICTION for the first president of ‘color’ in the United States of America.

    So I give no excuse for Rev. Lowery’s bitterness one iota. Christopher has an excellent point to show the lack of Christian forgiveness in Rev. Lowery’s ‘benediction’. Rev. Lowery is just as bad as Jeremiah Wright, the difference is he isn’t as profane as Mr. Wright.

    Bigotry knows no color, it works both ways.

  • By the way, this is a little presumptive of me to say, but Mark and Michael, why is that I’m African American and not making a big deal about this and the two of you are? I’m not saying there is nothing of concern here, but that this blog is being attacked as “racist” and “nationalistic” and the like is really difficult considering I write on this blog…nor does is it really indicative as to why you visit here so often if it’s really that terrible.

    Additionally, if people cease to exercise the virtue of charity when they speak to you, perhaps it would not hurt — though it is admittedly very difficult — to exercise the virtue anyway and ask to return the debate to the issue at hand instead of ad hominem attacks. This just as much goes to anyone that has made such statements toward the both of you. I don’t believe in double standards. But let’s not make them and don’t live up to them. It really bothers me the way that lately there has not been much Christian charity while we’re all claiming God and righteousness to be on our side. Just a thought.

  • S.B.,
    Thanx for the link. I had a feeling that that bit of doggerel had roots older than Frye’s Nixon impersonations but wasn’t sure there was an extant record. BTW, I’ve found to my embarassment that comments with links don’t always post right away here, but do eventually post.

  • OK, maybe the comparison to Wright was a bit much. I’ll take that one back.

    Personally, I don’t feel offended by the benediction since I wasn’t that interested to begin with. If anything what may concern me is the lack of a vetting process that Obama’s handlers have for allowing something like that comment to pass by.

  • Eric — Michael I. fancies that he speaks for all African Americans, nay, all people of color in the world. How he knows so much about them, coming from almost all-white West Virginia and going to school in Canada, is something of a mystery, although not as mysterious as the notion that all “brown” people (as Michael calls them) think alike in the first place. Thus, if anyone says anything that Michael disagrees with and it has anything to do with a non-white person, Michael jumps up and yells about racism.

    He did this on a Vox Nova comment thread in a much more egregious way: He had said that Third World capitalist factories should be replaced by worker-built communal factories. I made the obvious rejoinder that if worker-built factories were all that realistic, we should be seeing more of such factories already, and that the fact that such factories are rare is a sign that Third World people tend to lack the capital and training to just set up a new factory (just as I’d have no idea how to do so, let alone the funds). Michael said that this was a “racist” comment, for reasons that only he could imagine (he certainly couldn’t explain himself or offer any attempt at an argument).

  • Michael Iafrate

    Michael Iafrate — I apologize for the subject line if that’s what caused your frustrations. If you’ll note, there was a subject mark appended, as I intended to phrase it as a question:

    is it making too much to note that Rev. Joseph Lowery’s Benediction (Video), in its general indictment (even perhaps in jest) of the white man, closed somewhat on a sour note — as well as contrasting with Obama’s message of racial unity?

    Perhaps a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to that question would have sufficed. Nonetheless, I attempted to post the clarification of my thoughts to your own post at Vox Nova, but was unsuccessful.

    Perhaps I’m banned? If not, kindly approve as I think my clarification will assist in the discussion.

    Too all others

    Thank you for your contributions, especially as to the origins of the rhyme that Lowery recited.

    I stand by my observation that Obama’s criticism of Reverend Wright could equally be applied to Reverend Lowrey: the recitation of such a rhyme seemed static, as if no progress had been made.

    Consequently, the interjection of a racially-divisive verse into a benediction stood, for me, in sharp contrast to the notable efforts of both Pastor Rick Warren and President Obama himself to transcend the issue.

    But to concur with John Henry — “There is nothing wrong with noticing they were racially divisive in a blog post; but, once noted, there are better things to talk about going forward.”

    Suffice to say I don’t plan on pressing the issue in future posts.

  • Tito,

    If anything what may concern me is the lack of a vetting process that Obama’s handlers have for allowing something like that comment to pass by.

    No question that Obama’s handlers vetted and approved this text. This is a nod to one of his constituencies that may have felt left out of his speech, part of his approach of being all things to all people.

    SB,

    incivility is the typical behavior over at that blog. As we speak they’re copying posts from here and discussing them without the respect of a link.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Eric – I would be interested in hearing your thoughts regarding Christopher Blosser’s suggestion that Lowery’s benediction (taking into consideration his and John Henry’s attempt at damage control) *may have been* “racist.”

    Michael I. fancies that he speaks for all African Americans, nay, all people of color in the world. How he knows so much about them, coming from almost all-white West Virginia and going to school in Canada, is something of a mystery…

    1) I don’t speak for African Americans. But I certainly will voice my opinion and stand up for black preachers from the charge of “racism” in cases like these.

    2) West Virginia is pretty white. My experience there has given me a lot to reflect on when it comes to racism. I often know racism when I see it. West Virginia certainly isn’t all white. Unsure about your reference to Canada. I live in one of the most diverse cities on the planet.

    hus, if anyone says anything that Michael disagrees with and it has anything to do with a non-white person, Michael jumps up and yells about racism.

    He did this on a Vox Nova comment thread in a much more egregious way: He had said that Third World capitalist factories should be replaced by worker-built communal factories. I made the obvious rejoinder that if worker-built factories were all that realistic, we should be seeing more of such factories already, and that the fact that such factories are rare is a sign that Third World people tend to lack the capital and training to just set up a new factory (just as I’d have no idea how to do so, let alone the funds). Michael said that this was a “racist” comment, for reasons that only he could imagine (he certainly couldn’t explain himself or offer any attempt at an argument).

    S.B. clearly has his own dream-land revisionist reconstructions of our past “conversations.” I refuse to spend the time “explaining myself” in light of what he claims that I said.

  • Michael,

    I’m perfectly willing to concede that

    1) the remarks themselves were racially divisive and ill-timed (in the context of the inauguration itself as well as the celebration of Martin Luther King).

    2) enlightened as to the historical origins of the lyrics and given the fact that Rev. Lowery himself hails from the era of segregation, he may not have a racist intent in making the statement.

    That said, being a working man, I haven’t found time to speak to 800 Canadians about the inauguration and benediction, and am a bit clueless as to the precise meaning of the “yellow/mellow” line.

    Perhaps you can clarify that for me?

  • Post-racial – yeah right.

    I thought the yellow part was the worst. Does he want all Asians to be singing Donavan’s “They call me mellow yellow.”

    Pres Obama laughing during it was pretty sad also.

  • Hey Jeff, why don’t you put up your jester hat for the WordPress thumbnails?!

    Just being selfish so the A.C. “Recent Comments” column looks more colorful.

  • You couldn’t even pretend to explain yourself at the time either . . . . so it goes with you: irascible and inflammatory language without any capacity or ability to come up with an explanation.

  • I refuse to spend the time “explaining myself” in….

    broken record from this guy.

  • I’m perfectly willing to concede that

    1) the remarks themselves were racially divisive and ill-timed (in the context of the inauguration itself as well as the celebration of Martin Luther King).

    The remarks were not divisive, but drew attention to already existing division. They were not “ill-timed.” What better context than the inauguration and the wake of MLK Day than to remind ourselves of how far we have to go? Why is that threatening to you? Why does it threaten you to acknowledge that racism still plagues the united states? Why is it EVER “inappropriate” to talk about it? That is the language of racism and colonization: to tell persons to talk only at “appropriate” times.

    2) enlightened as to the historical origins of the lyrics and given the fact that Rev. Lowery himself hails from the era of segregation, he may not have a racist intent in making the statement.

    News flash! American Catholic blogger believes Rev. Lowery might now have had “racist intent” in his benediction! What a relief.

    That said, being a working man, I haven’t found time to speak to 800 Canadians about the inauguration and benediction,

    Perhaps you missed it when I said I was at work and that was how I was able to talk to so many Canadians about the inauguration.

    …and am a bit clueless as to the precise meaning of the “yellow/mellow” line. Perhaps you can clarify that for me?

    I explained it over at VN. Doesn’t take many brain cells to figure it out.

    You couldn’t even pretend to explain yourself at the time either . . . . so it goes with you: irascible and inflammatory language without any capacity or ability to come up with an explanation

    Well, sorry, but it’s tough to keep up with you. I have trouble explaining “myself” when your version of our conversation keeps changing to suit your present needs.

  • Anyone who’s not convinced that Michael I. is lying about our past exchange can check here and here. Sound like “racist” comments to anyone?

  • I have trouble explaining “myself” when your version of our conversation keeps changing to suit your present needs.

    Liar.

  • Michael & Stuart,

    I don’t think we need to start dredging through past fights on the thread. I know from personal experience that past insults continue to rankle, but carrying paper only makes these things worse.

  • “but carrying paper only makes these things worse.”

    Amen!

  • [ED: Actually, I was serious that the paper carrying had to stop. Getting one last dig in, even if in the form of saying you don’t like carrying paper, doesn’t work.]

  • The remarks were not divisive, but drew attention to already existing division. They were not “ill-timed.” What better context than the inauguration and the wake of MLK Day than to remind ourselves of how far we have to go? Why is that threatening to you? Why does it threaten you to acknowledge that racism still plagues the united states?

    I can understand how you thought of the prayer as simply “reminding ourselves of how far we have to go”, perhaps enhanced by the fact that you seem to especially appreciate a “prophetic voice” approach which involves denouncing people rudely in order to shock them into reforming themselves.

    However, I think it’s important that you understand that for many (especially for many in their 20s and 30s) this kind of harping about the “the black man” and “the brown man” and “the yellow man” and “the red man” is not a discussion of the status quo as they know it, but a harping back to a past they don’t even remember.

    One may certainly understand that Lowery had no racist intent, while at the same time recognizing that in this day and age making jokes about “the yellow man” and “the red man” is totally unacceptable in polite society, and for most younger people who mostly know people who are half-this and half-that, the whole racial bucketing method implicit in that rhyme itself seems racist.

  • … and for most younger people who mostly know people who are half-this and half-that …

    You mean like our President?

  • Christopher B.,

    I don’t think the title of your posting is misguided or wrong. That “?” says it all, questioning if there was or not.

    My two cents worth.

  • One may certainly understand that Lowery had no racist intent, while at the same time recognizing that in this day and age making jokes about “the yellow man” and “the red man” is totally unacceptable in polite society, and for most younger people who mostly know people who are half-this and half-that, the whole racial bucketing method implicit in that rhyme itself seems racist.

    Well, you seem to have a different reason for opposing his prayer. Christopher was personally offended that [gasp!] he “insult” white people.

    However, I think it’s important that you understand that for many (especially for many in their 20s and 30s) this kind of harping about the “the black man” and “the brown man” and “the yellow man” and “the red man” is not a discussion of the status quo as they know it, but a harping back to a past they don’t even remember.

    If they think it’s a matter of the past, then they are blind.

  • Michael,

    No, I think DarwinCatholic and I are pretty much agreed. Of course the “and when white will embrace what is right” kind of grabbed me, implying as it does that “the white man” is still putting down the red man, the yellow man, the brown man, etc., and I have a low tolerance for racist stereotypes and such blanket generalizations.

    But ultimately — yes, it’s a rather dated piece of verse, and one of my points was that we should emulate Martin Luther King in relinquishing ourselves of such blinders.

  • If they think it’s a matter of the past, then they are blind.

    Racism as a whole is not a matter of the past, but I think that if you think people are constantly going around calling Asians “yellow” and American Indians “red”, then I think you either are wrong or move in far more nasty circles than I do.

    While there are still racial problems in our country, using racial stereotypes and slurs has become nearly totally unacceptable in all parts of society that I’ve run into — including even the West Virginia call center I worked in a number of years ago. And those stereotypes that remain are generally ones which (mostly regrettably to my mind) have become acceptable to the extent that some people with media voices are proud of them.

    In that sense: Yes, talking about “the red man” and “the red man” does sound like a throwback to a age most of us have quite happily left behind.

  • In that sense: Yes, talking about “the red man” and “the red man” does sound like a throwback to a age most of us have quite happily left behind.

    Blosser blogged about the offense he took to the “general indictment…of the white man,” not about his concern about the use of terms like “yellow” and “red man.”

    Neither of you seem to get the obvious point that words mean different things depending on who is using them.

  • Michael,

    See above.

    Now, about those 800 Canadians …

  • I’ve spent some time thinking on this issue and talking with a few other people, and I’ve come to this conclusion. Lowery’s intent may have been good, and may have been free of any sort of racism, but his choice of words were poor. Why? In a way, it makes me think of stories about family feuds, in which they spend a whole generation bickering bitterly, until finally they get together, have a “Come to Jesus” talk, and then sit all together around the dinner table for the first time in years, just to have Grandma Anna remind everyone what John did to Billy ten years ago, and have the whole feud flare up again.

    Call me naive if you want, but I want us to work towards and have a colorblind society, a society where skin color warrants as much comment as hair color or eye color. I want a society where we never find it okay for one person to say or do something, but not okay for another simply due to skin color. And this flows both ways. Now, can we be blind to all differences? No, we can’t. Of course we can’t. Because differences do matter. But differences matter when they’re at the level culture and philosophy and theology, not at a superficial level of pigments.

    ..when white will embrace what is right… I was born in 1981. At that point in time, we’d emerged from the civil rights movements victorious, with essentially only mop-up details to worry about. As a child, I was informed in school of the terrible things done to blacks–slavery, segregation, racism, and so on–and was commanded not to be racist. And yet, as we continue on, and we listen to people who continually decry the evils of the white man, we who were born after the war had been won are left angry and confused. We have done no evil ourselves. We’re fair minded and more than willing to get along with people of any skin color. True, there are some that are born into extremely racist families that cling to notions of white superiority, but when we’re judged by groups like that, where does that put us? If the existence of bigots is an indictment of any entire group of people, is that not in itself racist?

    Moreover, what are we supposed to do? The history of slavery and racism exists. There’s no denying that. But are the melanin deficient supposed to atone for that sin forever? Was slavery and racism a new original sin to be handed down, generation after generation, to anyone born with white skin? At times it seems to be, and needing a new infinite atonement that no number of mortal men could ever make themselves.

    And here, at the inauguration, when most of us would like to say “Whew. Now race shouldn’t matter any more!”, we have this. It’s a quirky benediction playing off of an outdated set of lyrics, and seemingly harmless in itself. But it is in odd juxtaposition with the hope that we can finally set the difference of skin-color aside. It isn’t a diatribe of hate, like we’ve come to expect from some preachers; instead, it was a single discordant note in the symphony, something slightly out of place, but distinct enough to draw attention. For some of us, it has become imperative to examine why we found it discordant, and to that end, we have this open forum for discussion.

  • …just to have Grandma Anna remind everyone what John did to Billy ten years ago, and have the whole feud flare up again.

    Lowery was not digging up the past. He was referring to the continued existence of racism (in a personal and in a structural/societal sense).

    And here, at the inauguration, when most of us would like to say “Whew. Now race shouldn’t matter any more!”, we have this.

    I think you should ask yourself why you want to say “Whew” after Obama’s inauguration. Sure, in a sense we’d like to think race “shouldn’t matter” anymore, but we know it still does. That’s what Lowery was getting at. Anyone who thinks that the election of a black president simply changes everything or verifies changes that supposedly have occurred is dreaming.

    For some of us, it has become imperative to examine why we found it discordant, and to that end, we have this open forum for discussion.

    I think the ones who found it “discordant” are white americans who were simply offended at the thought that they still have a lot of work to do, personally and in society.

    Why do you think most people did not take offense to it? Those who were offended seem to be in the minority. When I tell people here in Canada (people of “various” “races”) about the claim that Lowery’s prayer was “racist” or “divisive” or even “inappropriate” or “discordant” the simply can’t believe it. They often laugh.

  • I think you should ask yourself why you want to say “Whew” after Obama’s inauguration.

    Mainly because I, like others, view the presidency as the last pinnacle of achievement, the last bar to be broken in the whole color scheme. There may be others. I’m sure you’ll argue there are. The work is not done, true, but as I said, it is mainly clean-up detail. A few small groups of hatred will always persist, but by in large, by the next generation, most of the remaining population that holds that black people are inferior will have died out.

    I think the ones who found it “discordant” are white americans who were simply offended at the thought that they still have a lot of work to do, personally and in society.

    I think those white Americans feel that there’s something wrong in saying that they’re the only ones who have work to do. Personally, I’ll admit that I have to work each and every day to find love for all those around me (especially those who don’t signal when they change lanes). But I still have to ask: as a whole, what more is to be done? What work needs to be started that isn’t already in progress? If you want to cite poor, black ghettos as an example, then I’ll point out that it isn’t that we don’t want to fix that problem, or that we want black people to live in that condition. Rather, we disagree on how best to fix the problem. Furthermore, even doing everything right won’t life all the poor out of poverty (something someone–I think he was kinda important–said about the poor always being with us).

    Why do you think most people did not take offense to it?

    I suppose your perception on “most” and “minority” and “who is offended” really depends upon the setting you’re in. Amazingly enough, “most” people I’m around feel that there was some divisive quality to it. Surprisingly enough, when I change setting to on campus interest groups, that “most” changes to people who feel there was nothing wrong with the statement. When I go searching around the net, I find mixed reactions wherever I go, all across the spectrum. And I suspect that many notice a discord and decide it isn’t worth thinking about twice, because criticizing a black man is politically incorrect, and the furor making such a criticism brings isn’t worth the effort.

  • Mainly because I, like others, view the presidency as the last pinnacle of achievement, the last bar to be broken in the whole color scheme. There may be others. I’m sure you’ll argue there are.

    Some of us view the presidency as so abstracted from real life that its connection with real life on the ground is complex and ambiguous at best. I do not consider the presidency as the “pinnacle of achievement” in any sense. Many people are much too concerned about their real lives than to spend too much time living vicariously through the president’s achievements.

    The work is not done, true, but as I said, it is mainly clean-up detail. A few small groups of hatred will always persist, but by in large, by the next generation, most of the remaining population that holds that black people are inferior will have died out.

    You are thinking of racism merely in terms of personal attitudes, not in terms of structural social inequalities which continue to exist no matter who the president is.

    You are also thinking only in terms of African-American experience and then making claims about how racism barely exists anymore. You have yet to consider the experience of Arab Americans or Latino/as, for example. The racism involving Arab Americans, for example, is alive and well. The often parroted claim that “now anyone can become president” is laughable once one tries to imagine the possibility of an Iranian American running for president. In short, we ain’t there yet. And we ain’t there yet because “white” still hasn’t learned to “do what’s right.”

    Furthermore, even doing everything right won’t life all the poor out of poverty (something someone–I think he was kinda important–said about the poor always being with us).

    1) Can we please agree not to use this scripture passage to continually justify the existence of poverty?

    2) Well, here you’re going from talking about poverty along racial lines to talking about poverty in the abstract. Surely Jesus did not mean that poverty which is connected to race will “always be with us.”

  • When I tell people here in Canada (people of “various” “races”) about the claim that Lowery’s prayer was “racist” or “divisive” or even “inappropriate” or “discordant” the simply can’t believe it. They often laugh.

    And here Michael I. has managed to invent a new logical fallacy. This is a rare achievement. Its name is: argumentum ad Canadiam. It refers to an argument of the following form: “I asked a few random Canadians in my social circle, and they agreed with me; therefore, I’m right.”

  • S.B. – I am merely sharing what others think of americans like you. Since you are so concerned with extending beyond one’s social circle, perhaps you could consider the views of those outside of your own for once.

  • You’re not sharing what “others think” — you’re purportedly sharing what a carefully selected group of people think. Which proves nothing.

  • So, if I am to understand correctly. Any disproportionate rate of success/failure/affluence/poverty/intelligence/literacy/health/crime/athleticism/single-parenthood/illegitimacy/substance abuse…. etc. etc. among different races must be attributed to racism on the part of whites, either now or in the past, and that such racism imputes guilt on the part of all whites in the country where it exists, or the whole world perhaps? Are Canadian born whites where slavery never existed, guilty of the racism of the southern slaveholders? Are the descendants of Union veterans of the Civil War guilty of the slavery that they fought to destroy? What if they paid the ultimate price? What if they just fought bravely or were wounded? Does it matter if they harbored interior racism or not?

    I reject this notion entirely, along with the notion that one’s present and future is in some way dictated by maltreatment of one’s ancestors. If this were the case then the Irish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Catholics… etc would all have a basis for claiming disadvantaged status because all of our predecessor suffered discrimination at the hands of the WASP’s who dominated the US from it’s inception. Scots and Irish would also have claims against the British descendants of those evil English who oppressed and dispossessed our ancestors.

    Frankly, what I see is the subtle racism of low expectations. Our ancestors pulled themselves up despite ongoing discrimination, and I believe that African-Americans can pull themselves up out of historic discrimination without constant coddling from the government. This coddling has been well demonstrated to actually maintain the cycle of dependancy much longer than it naturally would have.

    The single-most important measure of success and predictor of success in most any endeavor is families. The black family of the 20’s was sadly much more intact than it is now. This is shown in virtually any study that has ever been performed. Intact families lead to vastly higher rates of success for parents and children in every field of endeavor.

    We need to talk about families, families, families and that applies to every race and creed.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Matt,

    I don’t see any contradiction between emphasizing the importance of the family, and acknowledging that historical mistreatment of African-Americans in our country has had any number of terrible effects, many of which persist to the present day. Both are causes, and I think the latter has had a significant impact on the former.

  • John Henry,

    I don’t see any contradiction between emphasizing the importance of the family, and acknowledging that historical mistreatment of African-Americans in our country has had any number of terrible effects

    I agree, and I think it’s absolutely critical that we study and our children be educated on the roots of racism and slavery, the civil war, the abuse of immigrants of all races, the internment of the Japanese-Americans, the use of the nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the holocaust of World War II, and the holocaust of abortion.

    many of which persist to the present day. Both are causes, and I think the latter has had a significant impact on the former.

    Blaming these historical events for anyone’s current circumstances (other than the still living victims of them) is the problem. I think that the government coddling which occurred after the civil rights era has caused far more harm to the black family than Jim Crow ever did. So, yes, there is a contradiction.

    I’d like to point out that far more African’s have immigrated voluntarily to the US than were EVER brought here as slaves… that’s an important fact.

  • An interesting study is the Harlem Renaissance, a period of black social, cultural and economic ascendancy in 1920’s New York. What turned this Harlem into the disaster zone that it had become by the 70’s? It’s decline started with 1935 and 1943 riots…

  • It’s decline started with the Graet Depression…

  • I’d like to point out that far more African’s have immigrated voluntarily to the US than were EVER brought here as slaves… that’s an important fact.

    Why is it an “important” fact? What ends are you supporting with that fact?

  • Blaming these historical events for anyone’s current circumstances (other than the still living victims of them) is the problem.

    I think I disagree. Many African-American children born in a slum in DC or Baltimore are still suffering from the effects of slavery, segregation, etc.. Furthermore, being born in this environment places significant constraints on an individual’s ability to make good choices. Now, I think that professional grievance profiteers like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton do a great disservice to the truth in many cases (and to the African-American community) by doing shake-down routines on businesses based on past grievances. But the only reason those tactics are effective is because of the devastating effects that slavery, segregation, and racism have had on much (but not all) of the African-American community.

    I think that the government coddling which occurred after the civil rights era has caused far more harm to the black family than Jim Crow ever did. So, yes, there is a contradiction.

    I think ‘coddling’ is a very offensive way to describe government assistance that provides food and shelter to our poorest citizens, many of whom are African-American. Granted, some of these programs were set up in ways that incentivized single parenthood, and this was problematic. But such programs are not ‘coddling,’ nor are they limited to African-Americans.

    I’d like to point out that far more African’s have immigrated voluntarily to the US than were EVER brought here as slaves… that’s an important fact.

    I don’t really see why. It’s not like African-American immigrants were exempted from segregation or miscegenation laws or racism or even terribly designed welfare programs. The prolonged systematic attempts to ensure African-Americans were excluded from economic, social, and political opportunity had negative effects regardless of whether the individuals in question were descendants of slaves.

  • John Henry,

    I think I disagree. Many African-American children born in a slum in DC or Baltimore are still suffering from the effects of slavery, segregation, etc.. Furthermore, being born in this environment places significant constraints on an individual’s ability to make good choices. Now, I think that professional grievance profiteers like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton do a great disservice to the truth in many cases (and to the African-American community) by doing shake-down routines on businesses based on past grievances. But the only reason those tactics are effective is because of the devastating effects that slavery, segregation, and racism have had on much (but not all) of the African-American community.

    Sorry, no victimhood status is justified for the descendants of victims, otherwise all of us Scots would be in the same situation… we are not, and the only way the African-American community will EVER escape their situation is by doing what many of them are… getting over it and moving ahead.

    I find the underlined statement, while well meaning, to be offensive. If you used that to describe me because of a situation my parents went through, I would consider it an insult.

    I think ‘coddling’ is a very offensive way to describe government assistance that provides food and shelter to our poorest citizens, many of whom are African-American. Granted, some of these programs were set up in ways that incentivized single parenthood, and this was problematic. But such programs are not ‘coddling,’ nor are they limited to African-Americans.

    Sorry you find it offensive, I don’t see how you’ve suggested that it’s untrue. Can you recommend a better alternative to describe it?

    By the way, I don’t think it’s coddling for an individual or charitable organization to extend a hand and help a man to fish, or to feed him, or clothe him. That’s Christian charity… when the government does it, it’s an entitlement… coddling.

    Matt: I’d like to point out that far more African’s have immigrated voluntarily to the US than were EVER brought here as slaves… that’s an important fact.

    John Henry:
    I don’t really see why. It’s not like African-American immigrants were exempted from segregation or miscegenation laws or racism or even terribly designed welfare programs. The prolonged systematic attempts to ensure African-Americans were excluded from economic, social, and political opportunity had negative effects regardless of whether the individuals in question were descendants of slaves.

    You don’t see why Africans would come here in DROVES? Or you don’t see why that’s important? The standard of living for the poorest of our poor (excluding the homeless, largely suffering from mental illness) is like comfortable middle class in most Africans countries, and without the fear of being hacked to death with a machete. Regardless of health insurance they receive world class medical care, and their children receive pretty decent education, not world class, but far superior to Africa.

    Why is this important? Because it demonstrates that Africans recognize that this is the BEST place on earth for those of black descent to live, and they are thankful for the opportunity to pursue the happiness guaranteed by the US Constitution. As soon as the entitlement mentality is abandoned, that constituency will begin to enjoy the fruits of their labors as ALL of the disadvantaged classes before them have (Irish, Italians, Catholics, Immigrants in general, etc).

    If ancestral oppression is such a large factor in success, why is it that the children of illegal immigrants do better than the African-American community? As I said before, the problem of the African-American community is with a broken family structure. That family structure was in better shape 80 years ago, before the welfare state ruined it.

    Mark,

    while the Great Depression depressed economic success throughout the United States, the real turning point for the Harlem Renaissance was the riots of 1935 and 1943, which turned away the more affluent from patronizing the borough, and triggering the departure of those with the means to do so. As a result, Harlem did not enjoy the recovery of the late 40’s and on into the 50’s. In the 60’s and 70’s more racial turmoil and the welfare state left Harlem a disaster area. Things have been turning around though, I wonder if this is related to the welfare reforms pushed through by Republicans in the 1990’s?

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Matt,

    Where do you get your history?

  • Mark,

    where do you get yours?

  • Mark,

    here’s a source for you:
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/forum/february98/harlem5.html

    Don’t you think that the looting and burning of 600 business in your neighborhood would start it down the road to destitution?

    Matt

  • Matt,

    I was not trying to be derogatory. It is just that I never saw the narrative put together in the manner as yours is.

  • Mark,

    apologies then.

    Matt

25 Responses to Congratulations to President Barack Obama

  • Oy. The inaugural address reminded me it is going to be a long four (or eight) years. But it is probably political speech-making in general I dislike more than anything in particular about this one, which was well delivered.

  • Very respectful post!

  • Look at it this way: starting today reality sets in.

    And besides… being in the opposition is always fun!

  • Yes Anthony. Here’s to questioning authority!

    Cheers

  • Is the picture now bigger or has he already grown in office?

  • Phillip,

    With apologies to John Henry, I clean up the posts that everyone posts. Meaning fixing fonts, paragraphs, but not the content. So I thought to get a better pic of President Obama.

  • “Here’s to questioning authority!”

    It is my understanding that dissent is no longer the highest form of patriotism. 😉

  • John Henry,

    It is my understanding that dissent is no longer the highest form of patriotism. 😉

    I heard that too!

    Matt

  • “It is my understanding that dissent is no longer the highest form of patriotism.”

    Bummer dude! I guess I’ll have to inhale now.

  • Actually I liked much of the inaugural speech and I will do a post on it in the future. Portions of it could have been written by Ronald Reagan. I fear for the worst from this administration, but I certainly wish President Obama well in protecting this country from foreign foes, solving the financial crisis, and ending, as he promised to do, government programs that are not necessary. As for the rest, we shall see.

  • Portions of it could have been written by Ronald Reagan.

    Yep, like the “We will not apologize for our way of life” part!

  • I think Douthat basically captures my vague unease with the speech, although I’ll admit it had some nice moments…

    The speech, I thought, was a sometimes-dissonant, sometimes-successful attempt to marry expansiveness and sobriety. The language of realism was woven throughout – “our collective failure to make hard choices … the time has come to set aside childish things …the challenges we face … will not be met easily or in a short span of time” – and there was, as Maggie Gallagher put it, an “old-school Protestant” element to much of Obama’s rhetoric, from the calls to duty and responsibility, to the promise to marry “hope and virtue,” to the praise for the work ethic and criticisms of ” those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.” But time and again, Obama pivoted from this theme to the sort of begin-the-world-anew rhetoric that we’ve come to expect from all our presidents, liberal and conservative alike – promising that hard choices are really false choices, that pragmatism can overcome partisanship, that there’s no technological hurdle that Science can’t leap, and that all those nameless “cynics” who worry about hubris, overreach and decline don’t understand that in the brave new age of Obama, their pessimistic instincts “no longer apply.” His description of our straits was sometimes Carteresque, in other words – but his prognosis tilted, inevitably, toward a liberal version of Morning in America.

  • Although I did not vote for him, I wish President Obama the best. He has pleasantly surprised me in some areas and although I am worried, I am also cautiously optimistic.

    And now that we are the loyal opposition, may we criticise Obama when he merits criticism and praise him when he does something praiseworthy, without sinking to the ugly and hate-filled depths Bush’s detractors sank to over the past 8 years. Now they are called upon to behave like adults for a change; we shall see how it goes.

  • Perhaps I’m a bit too prickly, but I thought I discerned some backhanded slaps at his predecessor which I considered unseemly. And if I were an Obama advisor, I would recommend not inviting Rev. Lowry back for any more public addresses.

  • And if I were an Obama advisor, I would recommend not inviting Rev. Lowry back for any more public addresses.

    Why? Too much authentic Christianity for you?

  • Right . . . Michael’s command of the New Testament is such that he probably really does think there’s a verse commanding “yellow” people to be “mellow.”

  • Hey Michael,

    Is this authentically Christian?

    http://lifenews.com/nat4763.html

  • Hey Phillip – What the hell does Obama’s abortion policy have to do with Lowery’s speech?

  • Hey Michael,

    It has to do with the question of what is authentically Christian. What the hell do you think?

  • Though I’d rather take a bit of non-Christian racism than a lot of non-Christian abortion of babies.

    [Ed. Note: Please keep on topic. The point of the thread was to offer sincere congratulations to President Obama. I don’t mind occasional digressions, but his position on abortion does not need thorough treatment here.]

  • Good enough. I apologize. I assure you I offer my congratulations to Mr. Obama. Have prayed quite thoroughly and yesterday attended Mass with him as my intention. Just responding to a digression.

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8 Responses to Adama v. Adama

  • I still prefer the little-known Battlestar Galactica of the 1940’s and 1950’s. I think it’s available on DVD, if you’re interested.

  • Thanks for the comments and link to the amusing remarks by Dirk Benedict. As a member of the (original 1977) Star Wars generation, Galactica was a favorite show! But your comments prompt me to a related subject. You mention that the current iteration, like many shows since the 1990s, features soft-porn. Without wanting to appear sanctimonious or guilt-free, how do you justify watching it? Is it for the entertainment value? If so, what makes you (or me) different in that respect from any non-Catholic? It’s just that I think Catholics have fought shy of this issue in the last forty years. There used to standards for entertainment based on the catechism. As far as I still know I have no good reason to watch simulated sex or erotic content. Those things in some way or other fall under the 9th commandment. Granted there are shades of grey. And one could talk of subtle distinctions in mature entertainment before the 60s, but things are so in your face now, that those arguments no longer apply in many cases. I throw this out there for the sake of debate. Ultimately there must be an objective standard. As Catholics we object to porn, hard or soft, in our popular culture. How do we counter it? Do we allow ourselves to participate in it just because we like James Bond movies, etc.? What makes our stance any different from that of some antinomian “Christianinty” that has emasculated our religion and rendered us impotent in the face of neo-paganism. Again no judgementalism here but I’d like some answers. Thanks!

  • The only thing I would take exception to is the “sour grapes” comment. It skews where the article is coming from – using the new show *only* as a jumping off point for the state of television (and society) as a whole. The whole “career peak” thing comes from the fact that he chose parenthood (gasp!) over acting, something to be applauded and which is too often overlooked.

  • “How do you justify watching it? Is it for the entertainment value?”

    In the same way that I justify reading the Satyricon by Petronious, to learn. I find the soft porn moments intensely annoying and not at all erotic, just as I find the ultra violence more sickening than exciting. The problem that has developed in our society is that many aspects of the culture are of questionable morality or intensely immoral. To avoid it entirely on tv, in movies, the internet, in books, etc, would be to adopt an amish way of life as it comes to the culture. I do not criticize Christians who adopt that approach, but it is not the path I have chosen. When I find some aspect of the culture that I believe has something to teach me, I decide whether the good that I am exposing myself to, justifies the intermingled bad. It’s hard to draw lines, and I wish our culture was not such an open sewer, but it is the interaction I have chosen with our culture for the present.

  • Thanks for taking the time to reply. I didn’t want to be overly contentious, but I’m not sure it’s the answer I’m looking for. Whether your approach works for you or not remains subjective and some might say indistinguishable from the mainstream view (“don’t look at it if you don’t like it”). It’s not “Amish” to say that what passes for entertainment now would have been totally inadmissible to the clergy and most laypeople fifty years ago. We had moral continuity for centuries and now it’s gone. Can definitions really change that much? Granted there are grey areas and room for prudential decisions. (Let’s avoid “puritanism” as a red herring.) But as I think you admit, there are excesses which no one should realistically be expected to grapple with. The problem is that today’s immorality is the rule and less easily avoided than an obscure piece of literature (e.g. Petronius) was in the past. If the standards have fallen then presumably we need to restore them rather than acquiesce to evil in the interests of aesthetic urbanity. On the other hand, if it means that we have to view lingerie displays and groping for the sake of some pulp sci fi show… well, that’s a bid of a hard sell for me, I admit! All said in charity.

  • “Whether your approach works for you or not remains subjective and some might say indistinguishable from the mainstream view (”don’t look at it if you don’t like it”). ”

    The truly foolish might say that.

    “Can definitions really change that much?”

    The definitions haven’t changed at all, but the people have. Where there was moral consensus, we now have moral anarchy. When I first started my legal career, I was shocked by how many marriages were ending in divorce. Now I am shocked by how many couples have several children, are now breaking up, and have never been married at all. I am also seeing more parternity cases where not even a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship had been established, but rather a few incidents of “hooking up” resulted in a child.

    “If the standards have fallen then presumably we need to restore them”

    Agreed. I am all ears as to how you think we can go about doing that. In the past such alterations in public taste have usually been acomplished through censorship, either voluntary such as the Catholic League of Decency, or through government action. Of course these attempts to enforce standards of decency in public entertainment were effective because there was broad public agreement as to what the standards should be, and an entertainment company that crossed the line would pay a price with the general public. Regrettably such a consensus as to standards in entertainment clearly no longer exist. Now, any attempt at censorship, leaving aside all the current legal difficulties that would entail, would probably simply increase the money that the “banned” show would bring in. Not to mention that the internet means that any censorship regime would probably make no sense anyway since even totalitarian states like the PRC have great difficulty controlling the internet. So the censorship route is out the window.

    The best alternative I can think of is for Christians to produce entertainment that does reflect Christian values and is entertaining. Too often what passes for Christian entertainment one would be hard pressed to get people to watch even if they were paid. The vast success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Passion of the Christ, and, to a lesser extent, the two Narnia films, does indicate that there is a strong market for well made and performed Christian entertainment. We are aided also by the fact that most of the entertainment that does not present Christian values is often pretty poorly made and acted, this is not the case with the current Battlestar Galactica, and so Christian entertainment in order to beat out the competition, does not always have to be a masterpiece, but merely professional in both the peformances and the production. One reason the culture is such a sewer is that Christians have not been active enough in providing alternatives, and this is a portion of the problem that can be addressed successfully if there is enough will, time and money. In my experience Christians who wish to reform the culture usually have the will and time, but money often is the sticking point.

  • “It’s not “Amish” to say that what passes for entertainment now would have been totally inadmissible to the clergy and most laypeople fifty years ago. We had moral continuity for centuries and now it’s gone.”

    From where I sit -and given the general direction of this reply- Matt is seeing things fairly clearly. Well spoken.

    My best friend is a nominal Catholic (his mother practiced, he never did) and seemingly obsessed with “BG 2.0”. As I liked the original as a child I thought I’d give the new series a chance, and joined my friend to watch up to the second season, but I won’t watch beyond that point. Among other issues I have with the new series there’s simply too much moral relativism, too much violence, and too much sexuality on display for me to find much redeeming about its story arc. Naturally, my friend thinks I’m taking my moral objections too seriously while I on the other hand wonder how any practicing Catholic could do anything else!

    As opposed to the original series “2.0” is nothing I’d show my fiancee, much less any children we might one day have.

    Still, I will thank you for this humorous and thought-provoking entry!

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22 Responses to Dear Mr. Obama

Douglass on Lincoln

Monday, January 19, AD 2009

frederick-douglass

Part of my continuing series on Lincoln leading up to his 200th birthday.  I thought on the observation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, it would be appropriate to take a look at remarks about Lincoln made by the foremost black American of his day Frederick Douglass.  These were made on April 14, 1876, at the unveiling of the Freedmen’s Memorial to Abraham Lincoln at Lincoln Park in Washington DC  An analysis by me will follow the remarks.

4 Responses to Douglass on Lincoln

  • I lived 3 blocks away from Lincoln Park in the late ’80’s-early ’90’s, walked our dog there every day, saw the Memorial a thousand times – and this is the first time I’ve come across Douglass’s fine address.

    Thank you for posting this, Donald (and also thank you for the book tips in the other thread.)

  • Thank you Donna. I have read quite a bit about Lincoln and I have always been surprised at how little has been written about the speech of Douglass. I think the speech has some interesting insights into Lincoln and also provides a response to modern day critics who attempt to downplay the importance of Lincoln in regard to emancipation. I also like the understanding that Douglass displays for the limitations imposed on a head of state in our republic by public opinion, something that critics of presidents frequently overlook.

  • Another interesting Douglas (one s) with regards to Lincoln is Stephen. Lifelong political opponents, I think Stephen Douglas provides a model for how opposition leaders should act in a time of war. It is truly a shame that he died so young and so soon after the war commenced.

  • Douglas, whatever else could be said about him, was a patriot.

Win

Sunday, January 18, AD 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles will be playing for a spot in the Super Bowl today. Being a life-long Eagles fan I have to admit that I am biased, but I believe this could finally be theiryear to win it all. With all due respect to the Arizona Cardinals, the Eagles should destroy them and have the game wrapped up by the 4th quarter. 

The song is “Gonna Fly Now”, the theme from (the) Rocky movie franchise.  Composed by Bill Conti with lyrics by Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins.  Appropriately set in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.

If the Eagles don’t win, it was a very thrilling and exciting ride this season!

8 Responses to Win

  • I won’t blame you if you quietly delete this post, Tito. It’s been a rough first half.

  • I hope you didn’t put much money on the game.

  • It was fun from the beginning of the second half through midway the 4th quarter.

    John Henry,

    If I was near a computer I would have been tempted.

    In the end it’s only a game. But oh what a glorious 3rd quarter it was!

    Good luck to the Cardinals in the Super Bowl!

  • Somewhat subdued as to the collapse of the Iggles in University of e-learning Dome. Like the secondary players watching helplessly as Larry Fitzgerald blew past them for three TDs. Like a total Cardinal D trapping, spinning, dumping Donovan McNabb too many times. Like Andy Reid reverting back to his pass-happy playcalling- uh, Andy, Carell Buckhalter is always good for two to three tough yards. Funny how Cards coach Ken Wisenhunt has similar habit- uh, Ken, you have Edgerrin James on your roster, use him once or twice. Am loathe to predict less than Lombardi Trophy for this miracle Cardinals team. But watching that Pittsburgh Steelers state of art defense inflicted on Baltimore Ravens was an examination of Hard Truths About Football. Steelers in 10 to bring trophy back to PA. And prayers for the healing of Ravens’ Willis McGahee following that collision with Steelers’ Ryan Clark, possibly the hardest these football watching eyes have ever seen. As for Iggles- oh well fun while it lasted.

  • PITTSBURGH!

  • I don’t have a dog in this game, but I’ll be rooting for the team that most of my friends will be rooting for. So far it looks like Pittsburgh!

  • I usually root for Pittsburgh as a secondary team, because it’s the only major city besides DC that I have lived near and the Redskins have been bad for a while.

    But the Cardinals have only won one championship in 110 years as a franchise, and that was sixty years ago. The Redskins went to more championships in five years during the 80’s, than the Cardinals have in 110 years. Mercy compels me to root for the underdog.

Congress And The Inauguration

Sunday, January 18, AD 2009

Courtesy of the most reliable source for news on the net, the Onion.  You know, the odd thing is that I have seen stranger Congressional hearings.  It is hard to satirize Congress.  Rather like attempting to satirize chaos.  An institution has to have some standards before satire is effective.

One Response to Congress And The Inauguration

  • A while back, Tom Wolfe stated that satirizing aspects of modern American life became next to impossible during the later half of the 20th century. No matter what a satirist dreams up these days, he is bound to find himself one-upped by reality.

66 Responses to Farewell (and thanks) to President George W. Bush

  • ” I should like to thank him for his unapologetic confession of Christian faith, and for his testimony to the importance that prayer plays in his life. And I should like to thank him for not giving a hoot about the mockery that such a witness draws from a secularized mass media, from American high culture, from cranks like Michael Moore, and from Euro-secularist snobs who spent eight years sneering at the evangelical cowboy in the White House while their continent was dying from spiritual boredom.”

    Amen!

  • Amen. I suspect a lot of people will miss him when he’s gone. A big key word in his 200 campaign was “dignity”, and he and Laura have certainly lived up to that promise. I pray that Obama’s inevitable “Lewinski moment” will happen in the first term so that people return to their sense and kick him out in 2012. (I’m not implying that his big(gest) blunder will be a sexual sin, but there is bound to be some major mistake that will reveal his weakness and ineptitude.)

  • “2000 campaign”, I meant.

    Also, I shouldn’t say that I pray for Obama to fail and be shamed and ruined. First I pray for his conversion. But I also do hope that if he proves to be as unqualified as I think he is, that he’ll only get one term.

  • While Bush certainly made mistakes (the bailouts steamed me), I believe history will be much kinder to him than his current critics are. If Iraq becomes a stable functioning democracy – it’s too early to tell at this point -the anti-war left will be seen by future generations in the same light as we view the Copperheads of Lincoln’s day. Of course, they realize that too, which is why they have done everything in their power to bring about our failure there.

    I don’t regret having voted for Bush in ’00 and ’04. Despite the mistakes he made, he has far more integrity and class than most of his critics.

  • His departing speech and particularly the declaration of a national right to life day were fantastic. I wish he had not had so many of the management and public relations errors that caused his popularity to drop so low, I suspect history will judge him more objectively than the latest polls.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Yeah…Katrina was definitely just a p.r. and management error, as was Iraq, torture, Valerie Plame, Gitmo., WMDs, ‘Mission Accomplished, the DOJ scandal, the suspension of habeas corpus…

  • Mark,

    Katrina – pr mostly. The dikes collapsed because the corrupt Louisiana (principally democrat) leadership didn’t use the federally allocated funds to maintain them, but for other politically and personally motivated projects. The evacuation didn’t take place because the democrat mayor and governor failed to act. As Bush pointed out nearly 30,000 were rescued by FEDERAL assets, only after the democrat governor finally agreed to federal intervention. And finally, can you really blame Bush for New Orleans being the greatest festering stinkhole of the entitlement constituency in the country?

    Iraq – bad management mostly, but PR too (mission accomplished banner), probably Rumsfield is the main culprit, things were later sorted out under Gates using General Petraeus brilliant strategy.

    torture, – no torture occurred under the approval of the administration, but enhanced interrogation techniques approved by the leaders of both parties in congress resulted in saving countless American, Iraqi, Afghan and other lives here and abroad.

    Valerie Plame, – pr, this was a nothing issue, her exposure by a Richard Armitage (not particularly close to Bush or Cheney) while despicable was not even a crime.

    Gitmo., – non-issue, it’s really much nicer than an Afghan or Iraqi prison, they eat better than most US prisoners.

    WMDs, – in Syria. Actually over 800 chemical weapons were found in Iraq, just not the major programs that were expected by THE WHOLE WORLD.

    ‘Mission Accomplished, – pr. Actually the banner was not erected by the president or his staff, but understandably exuberant navy personnel

    the DOJ scandal, – huh?

    the suspension of habeas corpus… – non-issue, terrorists should not be protected by laws designed for domestic criminals. In any event the terrorists are treated quite nicely relative to their acts.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Matt you are an utterly sick human being.

  • Matt,

    The sad thing is, as with many writers here, you are not even getting paid to push such ideologically-drenched nonsense.

  • Catholic Anarchist why don’t you attempt to respond to Matt’s arguments rather than engaging in a feeble insult? This blog is for debate on ideas and not for back and forth flaming which is monotonous and boring.

  • Same thing for you Mr. DeFrancisis. Debate the ideas or find other venues to vent.

  • I can’t say I’m a fan after 8 years, and while I’m dreading the Obama Administration I feel a certain sense of freedom defending conservative/classically liberal ideas now with Bush out of office.

    The subject of abortion is the one area I was pleased and content with Bush, though to this day I still think the courts can be stripped of authority on the issue.

    – Two unjust and undeclared wars and a failure to capture Osama Bin Laden. Inexcusable. War should have been formally declared upon Al-Queda, making it the first formal declaration since WWII. It would have set the mission and defined victory, but unfortunately we had (and still have) a cowardly Congress and an authoritarian view of the presidency.

    – A failure to turn the world’s good will after 9/11 into workable solutions with Iran and Middle East. Iran, having two nuclear neighbors could have become an ally as oppose to a source of continued antagonism.

    -Torture (or ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’), wire tapping and the suspension of habeas corpus… once again a failure to recognize the long term repercussions of these acts in favor of short term successes.

    – The Bailouts. Whats the point of having free market principles if you don’t actually follow them? Bush and the Republicans revealed through bailing out Fannie and Freddie, the banks, the auto industry, etc. that their economic philosophies were merely tools to differentiate themselves to voters. It was a marketing tool to be chucked whenever the going got tough in order to look as if they were ‘acting’ to solve the problem. In good time, we will feel the effects of their inflationary acts, which Obama will only make worse exponentially. I can’t say with confidence the dollar will be around in 20 years.

    So while I have an appreciation for Bush’s handling of abortion and his warm welcoming to Catholics, I can’t in good conscience also consider his time in office as successful or even a good example of a moral use for executive power.

  • Don – Matt did not make an argument.

  • Calling a person who defends Gitmo and torture a “sick human being” is an ontological statement, not an “insult.”

  • Donald,

    You choose to allow such stinkwater at your site, which is indicative of the level of all Matt’s posts:

    “And finally, can you really blame Bush for New Orleans being the greatest festering stinkhole of the entitlement constituency in the country?”

    I am sorry if I cannot restrain myself and call it for what it is.

  • Anthony,

    Iran, having two nuclear neighbors could have become an ally as oppose to a source of continued antagonism.

    Iran? When I was in 3rd grade the current president of that rogue nation invaded sovereign US territory of the embassy, and took American citizens hostage. It’s animosity towards the US doesn’t originate with George Bush, it’s ruling ideology clearly precludes it from becoming an ally.

    Some of your other points make sense, especially with regard to the bailout… I might add the amnesty bill.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Thank God. Goodbye George W. Bush. I will hardly miss him. One horror out of office, a new one in.

    – Eric from Washington D.C.

  • Matt,

    Well some would argue that Iran’s taking of the hostages was long overdue ‘blowback’ for the U.S’s interventions of the 1950s. I can’t comment further than that, because…well I wasn’t even alive then.

    My comment was made more in terms of a missed opportunity. In the days after 9/11 the world was shocked, including Iran- which at the time had a slightly more moderate head if I recall. That could have been exploited. It was an opportunity for diplomacy, not bullying. Thats my point.

  • I think Mark and Michael I. were a little intemperate. But, seriously, Don, did you read Matt’s list of defenses? Do you think this type of partisan nonsense lends itself to discussion:

    no torture occurred under the approval of the administration, but enhanced interrogation techniques…resulted in saving countless…lives…

    Iraq – bad management mostly, but PR too (mission accomplished banner), probably Rumsfield is the main culprit, things were later sorted out under Gates using General Petraeus brilliant strategy.

    They might as well debate Ann Coulter.

  • Anthony,

    Regardless of any “provocations” of the embassy hostage taking, it still stands that hatred for America by the Iranian government started with the takeover by radical Islam of the once pro-western nation. If you examine the ruling ideology of the Mullah’s who are the real power in Iran, that is islamic-fascism, and a belief in the return of the 13th Imam brought about by global conflict, they may be contained but they can’t be an ally. Don’t forget about their long history of supporting terrorist organizations Hezbelloh and Hamas et al. Remember the Beirut barracks bombing?

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • John Henry,

    So you’re saying it’s ok to denigrate a poster if you agree with their position, but if you don’t then you call on them to stop? That’s my only history with you, is ignoring personal attacks by others against me, and then asking me to stop responding? You need to learn a thing or two.

    Matt

  • ‘the suspension of habeas corpus… – non-issue, terrorists should not be protected by laws designed for domestic criminals. In any event the terrorists are treated quite nicely relative to their acts.’

    news flash, matt. we have not nearly established that all in this legal category were indeed terrorists. and SC thought otherwise.

    “Gitmo., – non-issue, it’s really much nicer than an Afghan or Iraqi prison, they eat better than most US prisoners.”

    stunning callousness. what else can i say? if i were with your degree of dullness to basic human rights, i’d wish a relative of yours was declared an enemy combatant…

    “Valerie Plame, – pr, this was a nothing issue, her exposure by a Richard Armitage (not particularly close to Bush or Cheney) while despicable was not even a crime.”

    no. the Republican special prosecutor ended by saying there is a cloud over the head of Dick Cheney, because of Libby’s perjury and obstruction of justice. let’s see if Bush outright pardons him, after having already commuted his sentence.

    “Iraq – bad management mostly, but PR too (mission accomplished banner), probably Rumsfield is the main culprit, things were later sorted out under Gates using General Petraeus brilliant strategy.”

    no. unjust war from the start, as Mother Church says, and a disaster for international diplomacy and human life/dignity. and only has inflamed more the situation with Iran.

    “Katrina.”

    the last part of your comment showed how you really do not respect all of God’s children, you dememted and racist man.

    “DOJ scandal ?”

    read the newspaper.

  • “So you’re saying it’s ok to denigrate a poster if you agree with their position, but if you don’t then you call on them to stop? That’s my only history with you, is ignoring personal attacks by others against me, and then asking me to stop responding? You need to learn a thing or two.”

    Matt – I am probably in agreement with you more than ‘them’ on issues. In this forum, you are probably going to be defended more than they, so in this case I defended them. I apologize if you feel that I have been unfair. I was very offended by your aggressiveness and general tone of incivility towards Eric in several other threads, and that probably prompted my response here. In any case, I’ll refrain from attempting to referee this particular thread, as Donald and Chris are more than capable of doing so.

  • partisan nonsense

    dememted and racist

    These are accurate comments.

  • I think Mark and Michael I. were a little intemperate.

    Gee, you think.

    Matt you are an utterly sick human being.

    dememted [sic] and racist man

    Yes, certainly anyone who thinks that new Orleans might just be a tad corrupt deserves such denigration.

    I think Matt overdid his defense of George Bush, but nothing he wrote justified that.

    But I guess if Mark and Michael cease writing here, the comboxes would be a little less interesting.

  • “The dikes collapsed because the corrupt Louisiana (principally democrat) leadership didn’t use the federally allocated funds to maintain them, but for other politically and personally motivated projects.”

    Now you are just making things up. The federal monies were not sufficiently there…

    “Yes, certainly anyone who thinks that new Orleans might just be a tad corrupt deserves such denigration. ”

    Matt said for more than that, and you (should) know it.

    Do pro-life people really hang out here? And you wonder why your cause has been so ineffective.

  • Matt,

    Despite the snideness (with which I disagree), I think Matt has raised some legitimate points:

    Yes, many of the errors made in the conduct of the Iraq war can be attributed to those who did the original planning (chiefly Rumsfeld). Some of these wrong decisions were documented quite well in Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq.

    Matt also notes that “no torture occurred under the approval of the administration, but enhanced interrogation techniques approved by the leaders of both parties in congress” — it is a valid point that practically every technique was done with bi-partisan knowledge from the senior members of Congress. As the Washington Post reports:

    “In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.”

    ( Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002 December 9, 2007).

    It would be unfair, then, for critics to single out the President / VP for their approval of these techniques without indicting those who were also privy to them.

    Curiously, Matt’s defense of Abu Ghraib stands (reminiscent of Rush Limbaugh) stands in sharp contrast to President Bush himself, who condemned it as “a shameful moment when we saw on our TV screens that soldiers took it upon themselves to humiliate Iraqi prisoners — because it doesn’t reflect the nature of the American people, or the nature of the men and women in our uniform.”

    Katrina received 78 percent more in welfare than the national average — in The Unlearned Lesson of Katerina, Robert Tracinski makes a case that “the disaster in New Orleans was caused, not by too little welfare spending, but by too much. Four decades of dependence on government left people without the resources–economic, intellectual, or moral–to plan ahead and provide for themselves in an emergency.” (Lest we put the blame squarely on federal negligence, see Facts Drown In Press Coverage [of Katrina] Investor’s Daily August 29, 2006).

    Matt — You raise some good points, but it would bolster your case to provide more substantial arguments. The brevity and snideness of your replies make it all to easy to dismiss them as ‘partisan nonsense.’

    Michael I. and Mark DeFrancisis — no doubt you would take offense if anybody dismissed your remarks out of hand and resorted to cheap insults; you should hold yourselves to the same standard of decency.

    Everybody: by all means disagree with each other, but please engage each other like adults and conduct yourself with civility.

  • Christopher,

    Curiously, Matt’s defense of Abu Ghraib stands (reminiscent of Rush Limbaugh) stands in sharp contrast to President Bush himself, who condemned it as “a shameful moment when we saw on our TV screens that soldiers took it upon themselves to humiliate Iraqi prisoners — because it doesn’t reflect the nature of the American people, or the nature of the men and women in our uniform.”

    With regard to the Abu Ghraib case where American soldiers humiliated themselves and Iraqi prisoners I wholeheartedly agree with you and President Bush. That is not the same scenario at Guantanamo Bay, where, while certainly periodic excesses occured, as they do in all incarceration systems, there was no widespread abuse (except of the truth by liberals parroting the Michael Moore talking points).

    You raise some good points, but it would bolster your case to provide more substantial arguments. The brevity and snideness of your replies make it all to easy to dismiss them as ‘partisan nonsense.’

    A fair point, but when I get a broadside of one word liberal talking points, such as “justice department scandal”, it’s hard to even know precisely the basis for criticism let alone a well thought out response for each one.

    Thanks for illuminating some of my responses with cold hard facts, I probably should have made more substantive responses as you did.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • ps. to clarify my huh, on DOJ scandal, I was trying to figure out if this is the case where a substantial portion of the US attorneys were dismissed by Bush after several years under him when he became dissatisfied with their priorities, in contrast with Bill Clinton who had not spent a single night in the White House when he dismissed all of them.

    How long do you think Bush’s appointees will last under the One? Aside from Fitzgerald who has made himself bulletproof.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Everybody: by all means disagree with each other, but please engage each other like adults and conduct yourself with civility.

    I never have and never will take this blog seriously enough.

  • I never have and never will take this blog seriously enough.

    Michael,

    I will keep this in mind as I respond to your self-admitted trolling in the future.

  • Calling a person who defends Gitmo and torture a “sick human being” is an ontological statement, not an “insult.”

    Really? Please explain, how that is an ontological statement.

  • “Everybody: by all means disagree with each other, but please engage each other like adults and conduct yourself with civility.”

    Bravo!

  • I will keep this in mind as I respond to your self-admitted trolling in the future.

    Do so. And I will similarly keep in mind your ongoing association with this disgusting, racist, nationalist blog when you post elsewhere.

    Really? Please explain, how that is an ontological statement.

    Torture is intrinsically evil.

  • Michael,

    Torture is intrinsically evil.

    While that may be your personal opinion, and it is not without some support, it is not in any sense definitive, I am free to disagree with your conclusion in good conscience. Secondly, the very definition of torture is at question as well, and there is certainly no magisterial authority which definitively declares the practice of waterboarding (as authorized by Pres. Bush) is torture as such.

    Even if waterboarding is torture, this particular application (to extract information in order to prevent further acts of terrorism) is not listed in the catechism or any other authoritative document:

    CCC 2297:
    Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.

    Since the catechism qualifies it’s condemnation of torture, it seems that you are stretching to insist that it is “intrinsically evil”, and anyone who dissents from this position is a “sick human being”.

    As offensive as some of these interrogation methods may be, bear in mind that the Church does permit the state incredible leeway to defend itself against unjust aggressors. The use of blades, bullets, and bombs can cause incredibly horrific suffering, grotesque wounds, and ultimately death. These weapons can be used legitimately against enemy soldiers who bear no moral culpability for their own actions. The Church teaches that these same weapons, subject to the principles of double effect, can be used even where innocent civilians would be injured or killed.

    Fr. Brian Harrison, professor at the Pontifical University of Puerto Rico as published an excellent and detailed article regarding this question in the Roman Forum.

    Part I
    Part II

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Matt – The Church teaches that torture is intrinsically evil. Authoritative Church teaching exists outside of your Catechism. You should explore a little bit.

  • Michael,

    can you respond to the arguments I made, or no? It might help you to explore a bit, perhaps give Fr. Harrison’s article a read.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Matt,

    Are you a seminarian? Just wondering…

  • Which argument? The “it doesn’t say that in the catechism” bit that you said. Do you consider that an “argument”?

  • Michael,

    “or any other authoritative document”

  • So Michael, does that mean that every person who says anything in support of abortion rights, like say Pres. – elect Obama, is a “sick human being”? Because what you are saying here is that it is an “ontological statement” to call someone a “sick human being” simply because they say something that could be interpreted as support of an intrinsic evil. Your lack of charity towards those you disagree with politically will win no converts. Perhaps you should spend less time talking ontology and more time reading about the virtues we are expected, as Catholics, to be developing in our personal lives in order to grow in holiness and reach our home in heaven.

  • Matt – You (wrongly) will dismiss any document I produce as “non-authoritative,” so what is the point?

    Jessie – I wish for one minute that you people could consider the willful murder of human beings without always needing to compare those deaths with the murder of the unborn. It shows that you really refuse to take them seriously as human persons, and use them merely as comparison points for your own pet issues. But do I think “every” person who says “anything” about abortion rights is a sick human being? Probably not every person, but certainly many of them are. I would want to look at specific cases and arguments. Just as I would not say “every” person who says “anything” positive about the united states, its imperialistic tendencies, its warmaking practices, etc is a sick person. What I have done is to look at Matt’s particular “arguments” (er, statements really — they ain’t arguments) which intentionally refuse to take seriously non-american human lives and to — rightly, I think — call him a sick person.

  • I wish for one minute that you people

    t shows that you really refuse to take them seriously as human persons

    Indeed.

  • With the way certain people write here, I think Michael I. is being merely frank.

  • “you people”?

    Who you calling “you people”?

    Huhhh.

  • [Deleted due to inflammatory remarks]

  • Tito – Don’t worry. You are most certainly included when I refer to “you people.”

  • Michael I,

    In light of your blatantly false witness regarding my concern for “non-Americans” it might be pertinent for me to point out that I am in fact a Canadian, as is my whole family, except for my wife.

  • “Now you are just making things up. The federal monies were not sufficiently there…”

    Speaking as a Louisiana Resident it appears to me Bush is still fairly popular here which shows what many people thought about putting Katrina on all his shoulders. In the end if it happend under Clinton (which he cam eclose to doing but for a last minute turn and a Republican Governor at the time it would have been the same thing.

    Blame where there is blame goes out into a thousand different election including the American people that are ingnoring the root problem. I hoe and pray those lessons are recalled but I am doubtful

  • Matt,

    I thought Father Harrisons article was pretty good and pretty straightforward. I think he did a good job of stating what is up to legitmate debate

  • Michael I.,

    It was a movie reference to Tropic Thunder (a joke).

    Hope your New Year is going awesome for you!

  • In light of your blatantly false witness regarding my concern for “non-Americans” it might be pertinent for me to point out that I am in fact a Canadian, as is my whole family, except for my wife.

    It really makes no difference. Sounds like you must have a fascinating story, then, if you have the death-dealing politics that you do. I’ve lived in Canada for a while now and believe it or not there are Canadians who have embraced the idealized image of america and buy into american exceptionalism. So what’s your story, and how did you come to accept the americanist gospel? Are you a dual citizen? Live in america? Working toward your u.s. baptism? Or have you already been baptized and confirmed?

  • It was a movie reference to Tropic Thunder (a joke).

    Not familiar with the reference.

    Hope your New Year is going awesome for you!

    It’s going totally awesome, thank you. I hope you’re having a bitchin’ new year yourself.

  • Michael,

    I trust you have renounced your US citizenship to cleanse yourself of the taint? Oh, and don’t forget Canada has cooperated with the “evil” empire for decades in many of the actions you decry:

    Here‘s a link for details of the process.

    Good luck with that.

  • Matt – I’m well aware of that, and have blogged about it.

    [Edited due to inflammatory remarks]

  • Michael,

    don’t just blog about it, do it, do it, do it.

  • I’m not sure it does much good to point this out, but all you’re succeeding in doing at this point, Michael, is making yourself and your beliefs looks silly and aggressively unattractive. If that’s not your primary aim at the moment, you might want to consider changing tactics or just give it a rest for a while.

  • I must not have been clear enough for you. I don’t intend to become Canadian, nor do I intend to remain in Canada. I have blogged about Canada’s sometimes cooperation with the u.s.

  • Brendan – I’m sorry you think that my belief in the absolute evil of torture is “silly.”

  • Michael:

    So how’s that doctorate coming? Getting a lot of work done?

  • Michael,

    Your incivility is silly; not your beliefs.

  • Your incivility is silly; not your beliefs.

    Sounds like there is a difference of opinion among you.

    So how’s that doctorate coming? Getting a lot of work done?

    I’m on track. Thanks for asking!

  • Michael,

    I said that your behavior was making your beliefs look silly, not that your beliefs were silly.

    I don’t think that your belief in the absolute evil of torture is silly, but your behavior is certainly going a ways towards making it look like it is silly people who adhere to that view — which does the truth a disservice.

  • I would like to thank this tremendously prolife president for his good humor.

    Defending the execution of Carla Faye Tucker with an hilarious impression.

    Or the great humor he showed at White House Press dinners. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKX6luiMINQ

    Don’t worry guys you will be getting at least 4 more years of the same. Look at who BO has appointed thus far nothing but people who were war hawks and who were advocates of and voted for the Patriot Act, FISA, the Iraq fiasco. Yes, if you liked the destruction of the constitution and individual liberty that took place during the Clinton and Bush years then you will love Obama. If you liked the intrnational interventions and wars that took place during the Clinton and Bush years you will love Obama.

    The more things “Change” the more things stay the same.

  • hmmm….

    Freed by U.S., Saudi Becomes a Qaeda Chief

    it would seem we aren’t being overly diligent about keeping terrorists locked up after all…

Abraham Lincoln-A Tribute

Saturday, January 17, AD 2009

Something for the weekend.  As we approach the 200th birthday of the Great Emancipator on February 12, 2009, I intend to be submitting various posts regarding Lincoln.  The above tribute is to the tune of Ashokan Farewell, a modern composition now forever linked with the Civil War due to its use in Ken Burn’s Civil War.  I think Lincoln would have found the music moving.  He also would have found the use of his image howlingly funny.  Lincoln considered himself ugly, as did most of his contemporaries, and I can imagine him saying that although the tribute was well intended that it should focus instead on those he regarded as the true heroes of the war:  the common Union soldiers and sailors.

51 Responses to Abraham Lincoln-A Tribute

  • Thanks Paul. Actually Lincoln didn’t think much of his first name either. A sure sign that someone didn’t know Lincoln was if he referred to him as “Abe” which Lincoln especially detested. His male friends, as was the custom among men of his time, referred to him as Lincoln if they were on close terms with him and Mr. Lincoln if they were not. Interestingly enough, Mary Todd Lincoln usually referred to him as “Mr. Lincoln” or Father. He invariably referred to her as Mother.

  • Thanks Donald. I’m going to enjoy these writeups, I’m sure. I was going to do something similar, but I’ll probably save it for the 12th. In preparation for the big day I’m re-reading Sandburg’s biography, a collection on Lincoln’s writings, and pretty much anything else I can get my hands on.

    Now how cool would it be if baby Zummo arrives on Lincoln’s 200th? I’m not calling him Abe if it’s a boy, though.

  • What of Thomas Di Lorenzo’s two books on Lincoln? Di Lorenzo argues that Lincoln’s underlying goals – despite his rhetoric – were those of a well-paid lawyer [there’s an oxymoron] defending business interests – particularly those of the railroads. He seems to make a good case.

  • Actually Di Lorenzo makes a terrible case.

    Here is one of many good critiques of his work that can be found on-line:

    http://www.claremont.org/publications/crb/id.736/article_detail.asp

    Di Lorenzo is a polemicist and a rotten historian to put it bluntly.

  • A good site analyzing DiLorenzo’s Real Lincoln:

    http://hidhist.wordpress.com/lincoln/thomas-j-dilorenzos-the-real-lincoln-a-rebuttal/

    Lincoln is the most studied President in American history. Our wealth of knowledge about him is vast. DiLorenzo is a libertarian crank who is clearly unfamiliar with most of the scholarship on Lincoln, and uses him simply as a platform to expound his political beliefs. He can hold any political tenents he wishes, but his mangling of history is unforgivable, at least to someone like me who cherishes accurate history.

  • It’s amazing that every single person who has a negative view of Lincoln immediately cites DiLorenzo. You would think that if the case against Lincoln were stronger, his critics would be able to find someone else – anyone else – to cite as a critical source. I think Donald’s sources adequately explain why DiLorenzo is crap.

    To the people who keep using DiLorenzo as a sledgehammer, I would simply retort that I also have a real good book written by some dude named Dan Brown that has some interesting insight into Catholic history.

  • I read the Sandburg biography many years ago. Can anyone point me to an excellent recent one? There is an embarrassment of riches where Lincoln is concerned – so much has been written about him that it is difficult for an interested person who is not a Civil War buff to pick and choose among them.

    I am currently reading a book about another great president and war leader -“Washington’s Crossing” by David Hackett Fischer (I strongly recommend anything written by Fischer). The admiration I had already for Washington has increased tenfold.

  • Donna, the best one volume recent bio of Lincoln in my opinion is With Malice Toward None by Stephen B. Oates. I would also put in a plug for an oldie but a goodie, John Brown’s Body by Stephen Vincent Benet, an epic poem on the Civil War that has been called the American Iliad, which has first rate sections on Lincoln that capture the man well. Shelby Foote’s three volume history on the Civil War also has excellent passages that bring Lincoln to life with a skill that only a master novelist like Foote could muster.

    As to the Father of our Country, he is the greatest man in secular history in my estimation. I think Freeman’s multivolume bio of him remains the best.

  • Im one of those guys whose opinion of Lincoln has taken major hits in the last few years. After all, we were all raised to believe he was by far the greatest of presidents! Yeah, I was a Ron Paul supporter… I guess that makes me a ‘crank’.

    The fact is Lincoln transformed what the Union meant. It went from a voluntary and free association between states, to a union kept together by the force and will of a centralized authority with its own interests.

    People love to quote Jefferson to brandish their love of liberty, but the fact is this is Lincoln’s land more than any president before or since him. He opened the door to using some mystical idea of “union” as the justification for an American brand of unquestionable executive power and disregard for our social contract – the Constitution.

    There were many possible outcomes to the tragic divisions between North and South. War and the damage it did to our culture and our liberty, did not have to be one of them.

    As to the comments about DiLorenzo and others less than thrilled with Lincoln – I find their analysis of the Lincoln Administration and its consequences to be much more intellectually robust and relevant to our current predicaments and political philosophies than the sentimental authority worship of Lincoln’s admirers.

    Even some of those admirers will admit that Lincoln was a dictator. They just think he was a ‘good dictator’. Its unfortunate that not enough people recognize (or even care) how contrary to the American conception of liberty that is.

    Lincoln is the patron saint of both modern political parties more so than FDR or Reagan, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.

  • “Yeah, I was a Ron Paul supporter… I guess that makes me a ‘crank’.”

    No, but it does mean that you supported a crank.

    http://michellemalkin.com/2007/05/19/trutheriness-and-ron-paul/

    “It went from a voluntary and free association between states, to a union kept together by the force and will of a centralized authority with its own interests.”

    Untrue. Sentiment in favor of keeping the Union together by force long pre-dated Lincoln.

    “The Constitution… forms a government not a league… To say that any State may at pleasure secede from the Union is to say that the United States is not a nation.” President Andrew Jackson. During the Nullification Crisis of 1832 Jackson proclaimed that he would march into South Carolina with an army if it seceded and hang every secessionist he could get his hands on.

    In February of 1850 President Zachary Taylor at a stormy conference with Southern Leaders advised them that if they attempted to secede he would personally lead the army against them and hang every one of them taken in rebellion.

    Lincoln’s attitude towards secession was precisely the same as those two presidents from the South.

    “As to the comments about DiLorenzo and others less than thrilled with Lincoln – I find their analysis of the Lincoln Administration and its consequences to be much more intellectually robust and relevant to our current predicaments and political philosophies than the sentimental authority worship of Lincoln’s admirers.”

    Then you need to read more. Dilorenzo is bone ignorant about Lincoln, the events that led up to the Civil War and the Civil War. He is truly a blind guide.

    “War and the damage it did to our culture and our liberty, did not have to be one of them.”

    Sure it did if we were not to be a pack of squabbling mini-Republics, easy pickings for foreign aggressors. Thank God the Union army and navy prevented that from happening.

    “Even some of those admirers will admit that Lincoln was a dictator.”

    Name one. Lincoln was elected by popular vote twice, once in the midst of one of the greatest civil wars in history. It is nonsense to say that Lincoln was a dictator.

  • I sat in Barnes and Noble tonight reading one of DiLorenzo’s little pamphlets, and I actually felt bad for the guy. I guess he had a weekend to himself and he figured he’d write some kind of book about Lincoln, and ran out of material after about page ten, and then he had to start vamping. If I had attempted to write something as shoddy as that my advisor would have probably given up on me after the first draft.

    Listen, I am someone who is not exactly above writing negatively of American heroes. Thomas Jefferson is essentially the villain of my dissertation. But sometimes the consensus is right, and those who attempt revisionist history are wrong. And even if you are wrong, it would be nice to attempt something that actually had things like sources. You know, because then it wouldn’t make you out to look like some kind of joke.

  • “Untrue. Sentiment in favor of keeping the Union together by force long pre-dated Lincoln.”

    Sure it did. By people who admired and dreamed of grand central authority, but couldn’t bear to recognize its temptations towards tyranny- namely on the backs of those not politically connected or in the pockets of monied interests.

    The Constitution would not have been ratified had it been understood as Lincoln knew it. There’s a reason those Bill of Rights exist, and the south clearly understood itself to have a moral right to succeed if it so chose. The Constitution is silent on the issue. Its irrelevant what various people thought, because its right there in front of you in black and white. The Constitution was written in plain speak so that all could read it and understand. It does not require mystics in black robes or in white houses to tell us what it means.

    If you don’t like that, then change the document.

    “Even some of those admirers will admit that Lincoln was a dictator.”

    “Name one. Lincoln was elected by popular vote twice, once in the midst of one of the greatest civil wars in history. It is nonsense to say that Lincoln was a dictator.”

    James G. Randall I think referred to him as a ‘benevolent dictator’. Michael Lind I think goes as far to admit that Lincoln’s example in following the Constitution set a bad precedent.

    In terms of Lincoln’s popular election…errr. aren’t there all sorts of irregular voting stories, particularly in New York, where he only won by less than 1%? Oh, and its a little disingenuous to claim that his political victories were something to be proud of, considering half the United States no longer saw itself in the union all the while he’s invading and destroying said half.

    Love Lincoln and his use of power all you want, I just don’t think its wise to deny the reality and consequences of his decisions.

  • Ever wish you could go back and spell ‘succeed’ , ‘secede’? Dang it! 🙂

  • Secede is a cumbersome word Anthony. I continually have difficulty with it since my brain wishes to spell it seceed. The Civil War spellings were all over the map so I take some small comfort in that.

    “By people who admired and dreamed of grand central authority, but couldn’t bear to recognize its temptations towards tyranny- namely on the backs of those not politically connected or in the pockets of monied interests.”

    Andrew Jackson in favor of the monied interests? Please! The man who destroyed the National Bank? No Anthony what we had at that time was a simple difference of opinion between those who wished to preserve the Union and those who wished to break it up, those who understood that the United States was one nation and those who thought that it was merely a breakable alliance. The Constitution was silent on the issue, as was the Confederate Constitution ironically enough, and the great question was answered on the battlefields of the Civil War.

    As to the right of secession, this from James Madison in 1833 who had a bit of knowledge about the Constitution:

    “The conduct of S. Carolina has called forth not only the question of nullification, but the more formidable one of secession. It is asked whether a State by resuming the sovereign form in which it entered the Union, may not of right withdraw from it at will. As this is a simple question whether a State, more than an individual, has a right to violate its engagements, it would seem that it might be safely left to answer itself. But the countenance given to the claim shows that it cannot be so lightly dismissed. The natural feelings which laudably attach the people composing a State, to its authority and importance, are at present too much excited by the unnatural feelings, with which they have been inspired agst their brethren of other States, not to expose them, to the danger of being misled into erroneous views of the nature of the Union and the interest they have in it. One thing at least seems to be too clear to be questioned, that whilst a State remains within the Union it cannot withdraw its citizens from the operation of the Constitution & laws of the Union. In the event of an actual secession without the Consent of the Co States, the course to be pursued by these involves questions painful in the discussion of them. God grant that the menacing appearances, which obtruded it may not be followed by positive occurrences requiring the more painful task of deciding them?”

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/James_Madison,_Letter_to_William_Rives

    I also find this statement on secession by Robert E. Lee compelling:

    “Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of out Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It was intended for “perpetual union” so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by a revolution, or the consent of all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession, Anarchy would have been established, and not a government, by Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and the other patriots of the Revolution.”

    Robert E. Lee, from a letter written to his son, January 23, 1861

    “In terms of Lincoln’s popular election…errr. aren’t there all sorts of irregular voting stories, particularly in New York, where he only won by less than 1%?”

    Actually in 1860 Lincoln won New York by over 50,000 votes out of some 640,000 and some odd cast:

    http://www.etymonline.com/cw/1860.htm

    In 1864 Lincoln won New York by 0.92% but even if New York and its 33 electoral votes had been won by McClellan it wouldn’t have made any difference. Only 117 electoral votes were needed to win. Even if the states of the Confederacy had been included and given to McClellan it wouldn’t have made any difference. Without New York Lincoln still would have had more than the 152 electoral votes needed to win if the Confederate states were included in the electoral totals.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1864

  • Donna, I forgot to mention in my earlier post Vindicating Lincoln, a superb new book that came out last year which does a superb job of defending Lincoln from his detractors.

    http://www.amazon.com/Vindicating-Lincoln-Defending-Politics-President/dp/0742559726/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1232281887&sr=8-1

  • The flood of books about Lincoln continues unabated. Here are thumbnail reviews of just a few of the recent books published about the sixteenth president.

    http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6581809.html

  • The Constitution is silent on the issue. Its irrelevant what various people thought, because its right there in front of you in black and white. The Constitution was written in plain speak so that all could read it and understand. It does not require mystics in black robes or in white houses to tell us what it means.

    On the one hand the Constitution is silent on the issue of secession, on the other it’s plainly in favor of it? But it’s irrelevant anyway? Whuh?

    Donald’s citation on Madison is on the money. Unlike Thomas Jefferson, Madison was actually at the constitutional convention, and was one of the prime architects of the document. He completely opposed both secession and nullification, two tools trotted out at various times by both the north and south.

    A further problem with the confederate cause is that even if one admits the right of revolution, where exactly is the long train of abuses that would have justified it in the southern case. Every single development during the 1850s favored the south. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the harsher fugitive slave acts, and the Dred Scott decision all worked out in the South’s favor. I’m not even including the Lecompton Constitution in there, although I think you can throw that on the fire.

    The south seceded when something finally didn’t go there way, at that was the election of an anti-slavery Republican who nonetheless had no intention of interfering with slavery had the confederate states not seceded. Which is another problem with DiLorenzo’s theory. He spends a lot of time proving that Lincoln was not an abolitionist, which is one of the few things he gets right, but he ignores the fact that this actually hurts his case. If Lincoln had no intention of interfering with slavery – and he didn’t – why did the southern states so hastily secede. How can you prove a long train of abuses against a tyrant when he hasn’t even done anything to prove his tyranny?

  • Curious that so much scholarly opinion is given to rhetorical comments [“polemicist, rotten historian” etc etc].
    It does seem clear that Lincoln wished that “the Negro problem” would go away [to Liberia, or somewhere].
    Of greater interest, it seems to me, is the claim that he acted as a lawyer, chiefly in the interests of such capitalist enterprises as the railrods. And that he was for high tariffs to protect industrial companies.

    I am perplexed by the statement that he issued a warrant for the arrest of Roger Taney. I though warrants could only be issued by judges.

    And what of the complaints that he arrested some who opposed him, closed down newspapers, and the like.

    He seems not to have been upset by total war, such as that waged by Grant and Sherman.

  • Curious that so much scholarly opinion is given to rhetorical comments

    We’re merely noting the inadequacy of a couple of the “scholars” cited as experts on Lincoln’s supposed

    It does seem clear that Lincoln wished that “the Negro problem” would go away [to Liberia, or somewhere].

    This was an idea that he had thrown out there – and it was one tossed around by earlier American statesman – but one which he had abandoned well before he was assassinated. By the time the war was winding down, Lincoln was committed to granting civil rights to free slaves. In fact his last public speech made reference to this fact, and that just helped to further antagonize John Wilkes Booth. So yes, Lincoln once thought about sending freed slaves to Liberia, but no, this was not the policy he was pursuing at the conclusion of the war.

    I am perplexed by the statement that he issued a warrant for the arrest of Roger Taney.

    There is no evidence that Lincoln actually did this.

    And what of the complaints that he arrested some who opposed him, closed down newspapers, and the like.

    America was engaged in a civil war. Considering that fact, Lincoln was actually rather lax in prosecuting people for speaking out against the government. He tended to show leniency towards people brought up on such charges, but it is true that he suspended habeas corpus – and Congress later backed him up on this decision.

    He seems not to have been upset by total war, such as that waged by Grant and Sherman.

    The confederacy seemed not to have been upset about instigating a needless war based upon absolutely no justification. That Lincoln’s generals did everything in their power to bring the war to a close is to their credit, not discredit.

  • end of the first sentence above should read “supposed faults.”

  • “On the one hand the Constitution is silent on the issue of secession, on the other it’s plainly in favor of it? But it’s irrelevant anyway? Whuh?”

    If its silent the right can be understood to fall to the states via the 10th amendment. If the Constitution was permanently binding, don’t you think that would be a point the framers would insist upon being actually in the document? Or maybe creating an amendment about?

    Again, quoting the opinions of others, whether Lee or Madison or whomever does not change the fact that to this day the Constitution makes no statement for or against secession.

    Frankly it would seem to me the threat of secession should always be present as a hard check against an overstepping Federal government – which we now have in spades.

    Winning a war doesn’t settle the intellectual question, it just means you won a war. Might does not make right. The Southern states, despite their deep and obvious faults, did have a natural right to their own self determination, in the same way the United States did from Britain.

    Was it a rebellion/revolution? Yes, but I would reiterate that it did not have to turn so tragically violent.

    Had the south been allowed to peacefully secede, who knows what steps could have also been taken towards a peaceful reconciliation? Who knows what could have been done to peacefully abolish slavery? Or bring the south further into the industrial revolution? Or avoid the Spanish-American war?

    It might be pointless to consider these things past, but it ought to give us strong pause when considering the ever increasing amount of moral, political and financial issues that currently divide the nation. It certainly seems difficult to imagine these problems reaching genuine resolution in D.C.

    (Note to Don: my reference to monied interests was more with Hamilton’s intellectual children in mind. I’m aware of Jackson’s opposition to the bank, and agree with his ending the bank’s charter. I’d like to see the same happen to the Fed. Fat chance, though.)

  • “He seems not to have been upset by total war, such as that waged by Grant and Sherman.”

    Total war? There were no mass executions of the Southern population, no liquidation of the Southern leadership class. Crimes committed against Southerners such as rape or murder were rigorously prosecuted by the Union army, as the Union soldiers executed for those offenses could attest. Sherman’s “bummers” on the march to the sea did destroy private property and were guilty of a fair amount of looting, but I do not recall any Union commander demanding ransom of a city and then burning it when the ransom was not paid as Conderate commanders did to Chambersburg Pennsylvania on July 30, 1864. I also do not recall Union commanders detaining free blacks and selling them into slavery, something that Confederate armies did routinely when they encountered blacks in Union territory. I will not spend time to detail the many depredations of Quantrill’s Raiders. If someone is going to condemn the Union for waging Total War, there is a counter-argument as to the Confederates.

    Of course all of this is so beside the point. The big lesson for this nation from our bloody Civil War is that we are one nation. The Union soldier, the Confederate soldier, the enslaved black field hand: all one nation. When I read Civil War history I read it as the history of my nation and my fellow Americans, whether I am reading about the Union, the Confederacy or the enslaved blacks. We paid a terrible price to learn the great truth that we are one people, and it should never be forgotten.

  • If its silent the right can be understood to fall to the states via the 10th amendment.

    Complete and utter balderdash.

    We have to consider the context of the Constitution. It was established in order to strengthen the federal government (a fact often under-appreciated by conservatives). The Framers were vexed by the complete inability of the Articles of Confederation to achieve much of anything. The new Constitution was designed to give the federal government greater powers – though also to narrowly tailor said powers (a fact completely unappreciated by liberals). It would have made no sense to grant a right of secession given that context.

    Again, quoting the opinions of others, whether Lee or Madison or whomever does not change the fact that to this day the Constitution makes no statement for or against secession.

    So now the thoughts of the people who actually framed the document are irrelevant?

    Winning a war doesn’t settle the intellectual question, it just means you won a war. Might does not make right.

    No, but having the Constitution on your side does. Again, you provided absolutely no justification for the confederacy’s rebellion – no long train of abuses that justified secession. What exactly would have been the grand compromise that would have kept the south in the Union absent the war? Considering that the Confederate states largely seceded before Lincoln even took office, I’m not exactly sure what he was supposed to have done, other than not take office. Considering the fact that southern Democrats split off from the main party after Douglas was nominated in 1860, I’m not exactly sure who they would have accepted.

    So pardon me if thinking that not liking the results of a single presidential election are not sufficient justification for secession. Otherwise, I guess Texas and several sister states can start making their exits from the Union right now.

  • “If its silent the right can be understood to fall to the states via the 10th amendment.”

    No, the right would have to exist in the first place for it to come under the 10th amendment. The 10th amendment cannot be used to create a right to secede ex nihilo. Every part of the constitution presumes that it will be a perpetual charter. Article I section 10 has this striking provision: “Section 10. No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation;”. If a state could withdraw from the Union why have them specifically banned from entering into any treaty, alliance or confederation? Section 10 further bans the states from ” enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.” Once again if the constitution presupposed a right to secession why ban the states from entering into compacts or agreements with other states? The Constitution has several such provisions which make no sense if a right to secede is presupposed. Of course this all comes down to the fundamental question of what happened when the Constition was adopted. Was a new nation created or was a mere temporary alliance entered into? This was the question decided by the Civil War.

  • This was the question decided by the Civil War.

    Okay, you’re explanation was much better than mine, but I just want you to clarify this sentence. Are you saying that the war settled what was a disputed question, or it just demonstrated what was basically an essential truth of our national existence?

  • Ugh, that’s your explanation. I hate doing that.

  • Both Cranky. The question was clearly disputed by a majority of whites in the seceding states at the time of the Civil War, although it is interesting how slender that majority was in certain states, for example Tennessee and Virginia. Once these states withdrew, or rather attempted to withdraw, from the Union, all the legal arguments in the world were not going to bring them back. That required a massive military effort and an appalling death toll. That the Union was willing to pay that price established that we had indeed created a nation under the Constitution and not a mere temporary alliance. In theory I think we had a nation prior to the Civil War, but the Civil War proved that we also had a nation in fact. If the Civil War had went the other way, the theory would have been tried and found wanting.

    I greatly appreciate your able assist in this thread, just as I also appreciate Anthony’s opposing view and that of Mr. Austin. It has been a lively, and civil, debate. Just what I like to see on this blog.

  • Ditto, Donald. I appreciate Anthony and others’ feedback. I love this stuff.

  • The 10th Amendment expressly gives rights not delegated to the United States to either the individual states, or the individual.

    Thats what it says, in plain speak. Its really that simple. End of story.

    So yes, it IS irrelevant what those framers thought beyond what actually ended up in the contract the states signed up for, particularly when you have a statement so unambiguous as the 10th amendment. Thoughts and opinions made after the fact are just that- thoughts and opinions.

    Under that understanding… would the south require grievances against the north? They certainly didn’t like the political winds the country was taking. And, like their Revolution-era counterparts, did have issue with the tariffs on cotton exports, pushing upwards the cost of goods. Did not the tariff’s place undue taxation upon the south to the benefit of the north’s political classes?

    Indeed while Lincoln was at first ambivalent on the issue of slavery, he was insistent on collecting tariffs.

    The south, like the 13 colonies, no longer desired to be dominated by the coercive central power of the United States. The north, conversely, would not have justification because they were attempting to IMPOSE their domination which by that point was officially rejected by the south. And thanks to ‘total war’ and their arbitrary conception of political ‘union’, impose their domination they did.

    I never said a compromise could have been reached – just a reconciliation. A peaceful separation would not have eliminated the undoubtedly close trade relationship would have had. Over time slavery in the south, like the rest of the world, would have been done away with; if not for moral reasons then for industrial ones. With these issues fading away over time, it would not have been surprising to see the two sides reunite willingly.

    The slaughter of the Civil War simply did not have to happen.

  • “If a state could withdraw from the Union why have them specifically banned from entering into any treaty, alliance or confederation? ”

    Was not one major reason for the federal government’s creation specifically for diplomatic relationships with foreign powers? What about that suddenly eliminates the right/possibility for a self-determined state to dissolve political union with the U.S. and then establish relationships with other nations?

    You’re making a presumption that is simply not answered in the text of the Constitution. The states willingly entered into a contract whose provisions delegated the job of foreign diplomacy to a central authority. Turning that into a backdoor way of negating an unmentioned right to secession makes no sense.

    The United States was, and ought to be, a perpetually voluntary union of willing states, not a geographical space with 50 meaningless borders chained together by force and coercion.

  • “The 10th Amendment expressly gives rights not delegated to the United States to either the individual states, or the individual.

    Thats what it says, in plain speak. Its really that simple. End of story.”

    The right to secede had to exist first Anthony. The 10th Amendment could not create such a right. It created no new rights. End of story.

    “Indeed while Lincoln was at first ambivalent on the issue of slavery, he was insistent on collecting tariffs.”

    Actually Anthony that is the most laughable part of DiLorenzo’s argument: that the war was fought so Lincoln could collect tariffs. Lincoln was in favor of compensated emancipation, something that the South rejected. Either compensated emancipation or the cost of the war far dwarfed the revenue received from the tariffs.

    ” The south, like the 13 colonies, no longer desired to be dominated by the coercive central power of the United States.”

    In other words they lost an election and they wanted to destroy the nation as a result. How long do you think it would have been, if the South had prevailed in the Civil War, before disgruntled states in the Confederacy would have sought a similar remedy when they were on the losing end of a hotly contested national election over some major question of the day? Once allow secession as a remedy, it will not be used only once. That no democracy or republic can long endure if portions may withdraw at will is self-evident.

    “Over time slavery in the south, like the rest of the world, would have been done away with; if not for moral reasons then for industrial ones.”

    Indeed? The Southern leadership showed no such inclination. Here is Alexander Stephens vice president of the Confederacy:

    “But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other —though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution—African slavery as it exists amongst us—the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.”

    Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind—from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics. Their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just—but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails. I recollect once of having heard a gentleman from one of the northern States, of great power and ability, announce in the House of Representatives, with imposing effect, that we of the South would be compelled, ultimately, to yield upon this subject of slavery, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics, as it was in physics or mechanics. That the principle would ultimately prevail. That we, in maintaining slavery as it exists with us, were warring against a principle, a principle founded in nature, the principle of the equality of men. The reply I made to him was, that upon his own grounds, we should, ultimately, succeed, and that he and his associates, in this crusade against our institutions, would ultimately fail. The truth announced, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics as it was in physics and mechanics, I admitted; but told him that it was he, and those acting with him, who were warring against a principle. They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal.”

    The idea that the South would have peacefully abolished slavery flies in the face of the statements of almost all of the leaders of the South at the time of the Civil War. The treatment of blacks as fifth class citizens in much of the South after reconstruction, a state of affairs that endured shamefully for almost a century, belies any inclination towards emancipation without outside interference.

    “The slaughter of the Civil War simply did not have to happen.”

    Yes if either the Union was to be preserved or the slaves were to be freed. A terrible price was paid to accomplish these goals, but it was well worth paying.

  • “The right to secede had to exist first Anthony. The 10th Amendment could not create such a right. It created no new rights. End of story.”

    Says who? You’re trying to say that an amendment specifically dealing with powers not mentioned in the Constitution must first have those powers mentioned in the Consitution? Wha-?

    The right to self determination (and logically, secession) does exist. It exists naturally. As natural as living, being a free human person and pursuing happiness. It would be contrary to any sincere belief in human liberty to require something as mediocre as a political entity to recognize something that simply is.

    “Actually Anthony that is the most laughable part of DiLorenzo’s argument: that the war was fought so Lincoln could collect tariffs. Lincoln was in favor of compensated emancipation, something that the South rejected. Either compensated emancipation or the cost of the war far dwarfed the revenue received from the tariffs.”

    Two points. One, is it wrong to consider the economic contributions to the conflict between north and south? Slavery was an immoral institution. It was also an economic one. Its not surprising that matters of tariffs and taxation would be of great concern both to the southern states and Lincoln’s central government.

    Regarding compensated emancipation. This certainly would have been a moral way out of the Civil War, especially considering other parts of the world did it. Heck, I’m all for it. But, how genuinely did Lincoln pursue this course? The idea only got as far as border states (like Delaware), and didn’t he toy with it around 1861-1862 when the war was a.) already in full swing and b.) going badly for the Union? Seems more like a tactic for war, than a grand vision. Plus, weren’t ex-slaves to be deported in the proposal? What a great ‘solution’ for all parties.

    “Room in South America for colonization, can be obtained cheaply, and in abundance; and when numbers shall be large enough to be company and encouragement for one another, the freed people will not be so reluctant to go.”

    Lincoln’s words to the border states. Awesome.

    If Lincoln were the masterful leader we are supposed to believe he is, why did he not insist on this course of action and use his considerable political skills ( manipulating, etc.) to persuade?

    And yes, slavery in the south likely would have gone away in time, persistent racism on the part of the Confederate leadership (who I believe added slavery to their Constitution. See, nobody gets away scott-free). Why you ask? Because the rest of the entire world did it. Are we really to believe that there would have been zero pressure from other countries to do away with it? Zero pressure from their trading partners? Or that rising levels of production would have made it cheaper to simply not own slaves? That the south would have gloried in being the single abysmal slave-holding nation in the world? Or that, heaven forbid, the racism would have naturally subsided as opposed to the resentment generated by a humiliating military defeat?

    We’ll never know, because force was chosen. Emancipation cost over 600,000 American lives. What an undeniable horror that should never be glossed over by artful historical narratives.

  • “Says who? You’re trying to say that an amendment specifically dealing with powers not mentioned in the Constitution must first have those powers mentioned in the Consitution? Wha-?”

    No Anthony, what I am saying is that the 10th Amendment created no new rights by its very text. It was a statement that the states and the people retained the rights they had unless delegated to Congress. You are attempting to bootstrap this into a creation of a right of secession which it did not. The 10th Amendment presents an additional obstacle to you. If the people had a right to secession, which people? The people of the state or states attempting to secede, or to all of the American people to say yay or nay to secession? If to the states, each individual state or to all the states of the Union to say yay or nay to secession?

    “The right to self determination (and logically, secession) does exist. It exists naturally.”

    Completely untrue as any study of human history will establish beyond question. There is nothing natural about free institutions. They have been established at great cost in human blood and are maintained in the same coin. Your belief would lead to chaos in any free state after any hotly contested election where great issues are at stake. Actually taken to its logical extreme it is the philosophy of the head cases who occasionally show up in court and announce they have seceded from the Union and are not subject to “mere code law”.

    “Why you ask? Because the rest of the entire world did it.”

    Actually the rest of the world did not. Slavery persisted in the Arab world until it was driven under ground by the European powers before and after World War I. In the Soviet Union, the Third Reich and Imperial Japan slavery was practised on an unprecedented scale and probably still would be but for the defeat of the Axis in World War II and the victory of the US in the Cold War. Slavery still exists under another name in Chinese labor camps where the inmates are state slaves in all but name. Slavery is an institution that existed throughout all of human history, and I would wager that the World will never see the complete end of it. The idea that there was anything inevitable about the end of slavery in a victorious Confederacy is merely wishful speculation on your part. The defeat of the Confederacy was a major nail in the coffin of slavery in the Western world. A Confederate victory might have given slavery a new lease on life. Fortunately we will never know.

  • “No Anthony, what I am saying is that the 10th Amendment created no new rights by its very text.”

    Don’t agree.

    Obviously the text does not specify or call out the ‘right’… but it does deal with things unsaid, and together with the 9th amendment acknowledges the existence of ‘other’ rights and powers that by their absence in the document are reserved for the states and the people. The state need only declare it, as the southern states did.

    I do believe that the principles of liberty upon which the revolution rested are indeed natural. That does not mean they are never fought for or that they come at no cost. If liberty is not man’s natural right or his natural state, then is tyranny and subjection? That to me is the actual distortion of our lives and societies.

    Your observation regarding chaos is interesting. I’m not convinced man needs the ‘state’; certainly not in the way Lincoln saw it – complete with monolithic entities, quasi-religious reverence and headed by some mysterious power that gets to interpret our rights and liberties as they see fit. It undercuts, corrupts and waters down any adherence to private property rights, sound money, etc.

    Without this form of ‘state’ I’m also not convinced ‘chaos’ would result as you say. Human beings are naturally organizing and naturally cooperative for each others benefit in all areas requisite for their prosperity. Why is it so difficult to allow these things to develop naturally without creating unproductive and parasitic bodies (central government) that try to organize our society according to its interests, sometimes hundreds if not thousands of miles away? So yeah, I’m a bit open-minded towards what’s sometimes referred to as anarcho-capitalsim. Do I think it will ever happen? Not really. People tend to talk about liberty, but rarely do they seem to believe it can work.

    “Actually the rest of the world did not.”

    Yes, yes forms of slavery exist even today. But within the 19th century both the British and Spanish empires (who exported it to the Americas) ended the practice. So we’re talking Argentina, Colombia, Chile, all of Central America, Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay, the French and Danish colonies, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. All peacefully.

    You’re in essence arguing that ending slavery in the United States (and by extension the western world) required war and all its horrors; that there was no smarter way to navigate the times which did not involve human slaughter. That seems more like emotional sentiment than reality to me.

    I simply don’t believe that the Civil War is some kind of divine tragic event that could not have been avoided. Instead, like nearly all wars it was the result of hubris, political blunders or just plain stupidity. I look at these events and have a difficult time finding things to admire.

  • ” The state need only declare it, as the southern states did.”

    Untrue Anthony. They would have the burden of proof in establishing that such a right existed.

    I find Lincoln’s arguments on the subject in his war address to Congress on July 4, 1861 compelling:

    “It might seem at first thought to be of little difference whether the present movement at the South be called “secession” or “rebellion.” The movers, however, well understand the difference. At the beginning they knew they could never raise their treason to any respectable magnitude by any name which implies violation of law. They know their people possessed as much of moral sense, as much of devotion to law and order, and as much pride in and reverence for the history and Government of their common country as any other civilized and patriotic people. They knew they could make no advancement directly in the teeth of these strong and noble sentiments. Accordingly they commenced by an insidious debauching of the public mind. They invented an ingenious sophism, which, if conceded, was followed by perfectly logical steps through all the incidents to the complete destruction of the Union. The sophism itself is, that any State of the Union may, consistently with the national Constitution, and therefore lawfully and peacefully, withdraw from the Union without the consent of the Union or of any other State. The little disguise that the supposed right is to be exercised only for just cause, themselves to be the sole judge of its justice, is too thin to merit any notice.

    With rebellion thus sugar coated, they have been drugging the public mind of their section for more than thirty years, and until at length they have brought many good men to a willingness to take up arms against the Government the day after some assemblage of men have enacted the farcical pretense of taking their State out of the Union, who could have been brought to no such thing the day before.

    This sophism derives much, perhaps the whole, of its currency from the assumption that there is some omnipotent and sacred supremacy pertaining to a State — to each State of out Federal Union. Our States have neither more nor less power than that reserved to them in the Union by the Constitution — no one of them ever having been a State out of the Union. The original ones passed into the Union even before they cast off their British colonial dependence, and the new ones each came into the Union from a condition of dependence, excepting Texas; and even Texas in its temporary independence was never designated a State. The new ones only took the designation of States on coming into the Union, while that name was first adopted for the old ones in and by the Declaration of Independence. Therein the “United Colonies” were declared to be “free and independent States;” but even then the object plainly was not to declare their independence of one another or of the Union, but directly the contrary, as their mutual pledge and their mutual action before, at the time, and afterward, abundantly show. The express plighting of faith by each and all of the original thirteen in the Articles of Confederation, two years later, that the Union shall be perpetual is most conclusive. Having never been States, either in substance or in name, outside of the Union, whence this magical omnipotence of “State rights,” asserting a claim of power to lawfully destroy the Union itself? Much is said about the “sovereignty” of the States, but the word even is not in the national Constitution, nor, as is believed, in any of the State constitutions. What is a “sovereignty” in the political sense of the term? Would it be far wrong to define it “a political community without a political superior?” Tested by this, no one of our States, except Texas, ever was a sovereignty; and even Texas gave up the character on coming into the Union, by which act she acknowledged the Constitution of the United States and the laws and treaties of the United States made in pursuance of the Constitution to be for her the supreme law of the land. The States have their status in the Union, and they have no other legal status. If they break from this they can only do so against law and by revolution. The Union, and not themselves separately, procured their independence and their liberty. By conquest or purchase the Union gave each of them whatever of independence and liberty it has. The Union is older than any of the States, and in fact it created them as States. Originally some dependent colonies made the Union, and in turn the Union threw off their old dependence for them and made them States, such as they are. Not one of them ever had a State constitution independent of the Union. Of course it is not forgotten that all the new States framed their constitutions before they entered the Union, nevertheless dependent upon and preparatory to coming into the Union.”

    http://facweb.furman.edu/~benson/docs/lincoln.htm

    “I’m not convinced man needs the ’state’;”

    There we have a clear philosophical difference between us. I think overweening government is clearly a problem, but men, not being angels as the Founding Fathers dryly observed, need government. Representing hundreds of clients accused of felonies over the years, I know quite well what many men and women are capable of when left to their own devices. I actually have some sympathy for libertarian utopias which have been conjured up in science fiction I have read. I agree with you that their being realized outside of the pages of fiction are unlikely.

    “You’re in essence arguing that ending slavery in the United States (and by extension the western world) required war and all its horrors; that there was no smarter way to navigate the times which did not involve human slaughter.”

    There is always a smarter way Anthony and you have no quarrel with me on that score. However whether such a way was possible has to be determined by a close examination of the historical record and weighing the likelihood of what would have occurred if a different path were taken. I find the whole idea of counter-factual history fascinating, as long as we distinguish between the likely and the fanciful alternates of the historical path we actually trod.

    ” I look at these events and have a difficult time finding things to admire.”

    The Civil War was a great tragedy Anthony but I find much to admire in it. I admire the Unionists for fighting successfully to preserve the Union. I admire the Confederates for fighting valiantly against impossible odds for their homes and a way of life that was precious to them. I admire the slaves for their role in achieving the freedom that was their denied birthright as our fellow Americans. I admire the nation as a whole for going through such a terrible trial without giving birth to such animosities that there would still be constant turmoil, hatred and blood today. Many nations, perhaps most, that go through such a bloodletting as our country went through in the 1860s engender a legacy of hate that remains a permanent part of their national character. Through the grace of God and the good sense of many Americans, north and south, black and white, we did not.

  • “Untrue Anthony. They would have the burden of proof in establishing that such a right existed.”

    [Lincoln:] “Of course it is not forgotten that all the new States framed their constitutions before they entered the Union, nevertheless dependent upon and preparatory to coming into the Union.”

    ****

    And there lay the entire problem I have with the argument, which is entirely based on reading between the lines and toying with historical context, as opposed to simply reading the plain language of the document itself.

    The states declared their existence prior to the creation of the Union, then consented to the creation of the federal government.

    Additionally, the federal government itself treated the states as foreign entities until they consented to the Constitution. Both Rhode Island and North Carolina didn’t consent to the document until after Washington was installed in office!

    It would be unfair to each generation that came afterwards, to burden them not only with the document itself, but a host of un-ratified opinion and ‘spirit’ meant to be taken as true meaning. You only need look at what that same attitude has done to the Constitution in other areas.

    It terms of burden of proof, did the founders have to prove that they required air to breathe in order to have access to a right to life? The south determined that political independence was required to obtain access to their natural right of liberty, a right expressly and implicitly recognized by the founding documents.

    I agree that the question that dogged the union up to the Civil War is settled. But it was settled by force of might and will, not by force of argument or truth. While there is no detailed mechanism or procedure for secession, we still have the Constitution’s silence and the principles of liberty that brought about the revolution.

    ****

    “I actually have some sympathy for libertarian utopias which have been conjured up in science fiction I have read.”

    ****

    The thing is I think its more utopian to believe things are better, or ‘fixed’, under the shadow of a federal government. Would a stateless world give us a utopia? No, far from it. But it would allow us to create a moral one based upon contract. Like I said before, human beings naturally organize. Not having a state does not eliminate the creation of contracts and private organizations dedicated to people’s physical protection or settling disputes. The state has its own interests, namely increasing its power, influence and control of resources.

    This brings to mind the question of what a ‘more perfect union’ even means. Its been taken my most I think to mean a strengthening of the legal bonds between us. But whose to say stronger is ‘more perfect’, to say nothing of being moral? Why are not weaker bonds a step towards bettering our union? We should be answering these questions with a mind towards our principles of life, liberty and property/happiness, not in favor of our political desires or ambitions.

  • “as opposed to simply reading the plain language of the document itself.”

    The meaning of a document is usually plain Anthony to the person reading it. The problem is that the plain meaning of a document often tends to differ from person to person. The truth of course is that the Constitution, including the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, is utterly silent as to any right to secession, so reference is automatically made to outside sources to determine what this silence means in reference to secession.

    In regard to Lincoln his contention is that the states did not declare their independence separately but as a Union, as is clearly indicated in the Declaration of Independence. The Union existed from the inception of the Country and predated the Constitution. If the founders intended that a right to secede from the Union under the new Constitution, wouldn’t they have specified the right in the actual text?

    Lincoln’s statement is persuasive to me also on the strange desire on the part of secessionists to exalt one level of government, the states, over the Union. Why? Well obviously because they could not persuade a majority of the citizens of the Union that they, and the states they controlled, should be allowed to withdraw from the Union. This is especially strange since all but the 13 original colonies are clearly creatures of the Union, created by the Federal government pursuant to the powers granted by the Constitution. How these creatures of the Federal government had any right to secession has always been a weakness in the secessionist argument, and Lincoln put his finger on that weakness.

    “It would be unfair to each generation that came afterwards, to burden them not only with the document itself, but a host of un-ratified opinion and ’spirit’ meant to be taken as true meaning.”

    Sola Constitution Anthony works as poorly as Sola Scriptura. Both end in chaos because people simply do not agree on “the plain meaning of the text” when great issues are involved and/or the text itself is ambiguous, or does not clearly deal with an issue that arises.

    “No, far from it. But it would allow us to create a moral one based upon contract.”

    What happens when one party claims the contract is breached? Who would enforce the contract? What if a decision regarding a breach is rendered by a third party and the party held to be in breach refuses to be bound the decision? A regime of contracts always needs a governmental authority to enforce the terms of the contract.

    “Why are not weaker bonds a step towards bettering our union?”

    Articles of Confederation. Been there, done that. Didn’t work.

  • Anthony,

    “Why are not weaker bonds a step towards bettering our union?”

    To a limited extent, I think that may be the case. Many current problems stem from domination of the states by the federal government. This was significantly enhanced by the 17th amendment which took the power of controlling the senate away from the states, and the 16th amendment which gave the federal government enormous sources of revenue. This combination allowed the feds to invade state areas of authority without restriction by the senate. The states generally could opt out of these “offerings” but the citizens would still be taxed to provide for all of the other states. Restoring the balance of power to some extent would allow states to be diverse and give citizens options. If you don’t like the environment in your state, move to one which is more to your liking. At the same time, this mobility would force states to adopt the best practices or become depopulated.

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • “The Union existed from the inception of the Country and predated the Constitution. If the founders intended that a right to secede from the Union under the new Constitution, wouldn’t they have specified the right in the actual text?”

    Conversely why did they not comment at all? Obviously the question would have arisen, and the threat of break-off was always present. If the concept of Union was to be understood as permanently binding, then why not give us SOME kind of starting place, up or down, on the matter? Why leave it to be inferred or left to court cases as opposed to a clarifying amendment?

    Lets also not forget that the phrase “United States” was originally understood as plural. Its only now, post-Civil War that a new common, singular understanding came into use.

    To say that the road to union only goes one way and not the other is still a valid question. All parts of the U.S., north and south have played with the idea over time. Would it not be easy to understand that the Constitution is silent because those entering the contract wanted that possible power reserved to their local governments?

    “Sola Constitution Anthony works as poorly as Sola Scriptura.”

    Hmmmm…but Scripture and the Constitution are not the same thing. Scripture, taken as a whole body is not limited to contracts (though it contains ‘covenants’) the Constitution on the other hand, is nothing more than a contract. It’s not built to make any kind of expression other than being a document of willing and ratified consent.

    “A regime of contracts always needs a governmental authority to enforce the terms of the contract.”

    How so? Thats a genuine question I have. What role does government play that cannot be played by private entity? Or even in a competitive market? Why can’t dispute-settling or other forms of ‘justice’ be handled entirely in private?

    And if we agreed that government is necessary, or simply preferred for this role… whose to say it must be federalized? Why not try to keep it as local as possible, even in the extreme? I would think the whole of the nation would benefit from conflicts, even grave ones, being as geographically contained as possible.

    “Articles of Confederation. Been there, done that. Didn’t work.”

    Well, I’m not going to defend the Articles, simply because of my own ignorance of them. Though I do occasionally come across people who like to discuss the Articles.

    To say it simply ‘didn’t work’ begs the philosophical question. Some saw it ‘not working’ as a good thing. Why not create a government that has immense difficulty taking action as a way to preserve liberty? The trend now seems to be more and more in favor of dictatorial executives complimented by a willing Congress with little to no responsibility.

  • The discussion has certainly wandered all over the place.
    That about whether the states preceded the union seems to me obvious from the fact that they were generally treated separately by Britain.
    It is certainly true that the Articles were not effective. The question is whether the Union [as created by the Constitution] was much better. [I note an occasional inclination to confuse the Declaration with the Constitution].
    Another question is simply whether the War was worth the result. The conditions of service in the Union army were not particularly democratic; O.W. Holmes could, in disgust, buy his way out of service. This, it seems to me, explains his cynical attitude towards law and the Constitution [It is what I say it is”].
    As to the status of blacks in the Union after the War, one aspect of the subject is covered in horrifying detail in SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME. One recalls that it was only Truman who integrated the armed forces by presidential fiat. There is much truth in the anecdote that after the Civil War, when one black [negro, colored] was asked why the blacks did not quickly join the Union army to gain freedom, he replied “Did you ever see two dogs fight over a bone? Did you ever see the bone fight?”.
    One aspect not touched upon is Lincoln’s work for the railroads. This is mentioned by Mr. DiLorenzo. Merely to call him names is not an adequate response.

  • “What role does government play that cannot be played by private entity? Or even in a competitive market? Why can’t dispute-settling or other forms of ‘justice’ be handled entirely in private?”

    Because a private entity cannot utilize force to enforce its judgments. If you are ever involved in a lawsuit against a party and obtain a judgment you will quickly learn how difficult it is to enforce the judgment even with the full power of government behind it. Of course this does not even touch on the necessity of government to enforce criminal law or to provide for a military so good libertarians may blog in safety.

    “It’s not built to make any kind of expression other than being a document of willing and ratified consent.”

    The Constitution must be interpreted as any other document is. The phrase “the document speaks for itself” is usually uttered in court by parties just before they go at it hammer and tongs to convince a judge that their interpretation of a passage in a document is the correct one.

    “Conversely why did they not comment at all?”
    Because they understood that no government will provide for its dissolution. The Constitution indicates how states may enter the Union. It speaks not a word about how a state may leave the Union. I find that compelling.

    “Some saw it ‘not working’ as a good thing.”

    Very few. Even most of the anti-federalists who opposed the Constitution admitted that the Articles produced a completely ineffectual federal government.

  • “That about whether the states preceded the union seems to me obvious from the fact that they were generally treated separately by Britain.”

    Colonies existed prior to the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration transformed them into states composing the United States of America. The Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary War was negotiated between the United States and Great Britain not between Great Britain and the 13 individual states.

    “One aspect not touched upon is Lincoln’s work for the railroads.”

    Yes. The Illinois Central Railroad. In his most important railroad case, he won a property tax case for them in McLean County which is the county to the southwest of my home county here in Illinois. Lincoln had to sue the railroad in order to collect his fee. Lincoln in his legal career argued cases both for railroads and for people suing railroads. Contra Mr. DiLorenza, Mr. Lincoln’s railroad representation had no impact on his conduct of the Civil War other than perhaps sharpening his appreciation of the importance of railroads for conducting military operations.

    “O.W. Holmes could, in disgust, buy his way out of service.”

    What in the world are you talking about? In the Union, as in the Confederacy, rich men could avoid service by hiring substitutes, which I agree was bad policy. However Holmes served for three years as a combat officer, almost dying of his wounds at Antietam, rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and only went home after his three year term of enlistment expired in 1864. He did not buy his way out of the Army, and was always proud of his military service.

    “As to the status of blacks in the Union after the War, one aspect of the subject is covered in horrifying detail in SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME.”

    Blacks were treated shamefully after the Civil War, but they were infinitely better off as free men than as chattel, as I am sure you would agree if you had ever been a slave.

    Blacks did quickly join the Union army once they were allowed to. 186,000 served and not a one was conscripted: they were all volunteers. Except for limitations placed on the number of black troops to be enlisted, the Union could have raised many more.

  • “Because a private entity cannot utilize force to enforce its judgments.”

    Says who? I never said anything about getting rid of ‘force’. We have all sorts of private security forces that in essence protect property, investigate problems and enforce the policies of their employer. Your argument in essence is “Hey, enforcing justice is hard work!”. Well, I’m certainly not arguing with that!

    “Of course this does not even touch on the necessity of government to enforce criminal law or to provide for a military so good libertarians may blog in safety.”

    Aww now c’mon. Leaning libertarian doesn’t make one ‘weak’ or limp-wristed. The physical protection of liberty is essential to any free country. But, my issue is with the conduct of that protection. Today it easily slips into militarism pointed in the direction of political interests. Thats hardly a just use of force, to say nothing of how its deployment was intended to occur under the Constitution.

    To bring it back to Lincoln – he opened the door for all of this crap with this political maneuvering and war conduct. What we are dealing with now are the predictable consequences.

    You’re not making any compelling argument for Lincoln’s greatness, only that he made long-winded justifications for a political union superior to all other concerns.

  • You’re not making any compelling argument for Lincoln’s greatness,

    Thus far you have made no compelling arguments at all that Lincoln was a tyrant – which is your original supposition. You have failed in any of your comments to address the inadequacy of the confederacy’s cause, in particular the lack of a “long train of abuses” that would have justified rebellion. You have made many “long-winded” “arguments” about the ninth and tenth amendments, none of which have demonstrated that secession is in fact constitutional.

  • “We have all sorts of private security forces that in essence protect property, investigate problems and enforce the policies of their employer.”

    Nope they perform their functions under law. They would have no authority to perform anything against the will of anyone, as numerous successful lawsuits against many rent-a-cop outfits attest. The idea that they could take the place of government is risible.

    “The physical protection of liberty is essential to any free country.”

    And that requires government. Even the militia of the eighteenth century were a product of the civil authority. Libertarianism always breaks down when a few seconds thought is given to enforcement of criminal law and defense. Private associations can’t carry out those functions.

    “To bring it back to Lincoln – he opened the door for all of this crap with this political maneuvering and war conduct. ”

    Nope. The secessionists of the South panicked after losing one election and gambled that Lincoln and the rest of the Union would prefer to let them go rather than respond to their firing on Fort Sumter. They gambled poorly.

    “You’re not making any compelling argument for Lincoln’s greatness”

    Yes I am Anthony. The preservation of the Union and the ending of slavery were vastly important accomplishments for the United States and accomplished with great skill by Lincoln. That you do not agree diminishes not a whit the greatness of Abraham Lincoln.

  • “Thus far you have made no compelling arguments at all that Lincoln was a tyrant – which is your original supposition.”

    “The preservation of the Union and the ending of slavery were vastly important accomplishments for the United States and accomplished with great skill by Lincoln. ”

    Lincoln’s brand of tyranny lay in his insistence upon a superior union and a total disregard of the Constitution throughout the war. His allowing ‘total war’, his nationalization of the money supply, his efforts in censorship, suspension of habeas corpus and confiscation of property are closer to the characteristics of a tyrant than a defender of freedom. His own views on race and rhetorical willingness to retain the institution of slavery to preserve union, reveal him to be much more a product of his time than a man worthy of the ages. His disingenuous and arbitrary reading of the Constitution’s spirit as opposed to its letter reveal an agenda to preserve a political system rather human liberty. All of these would seem to me gashes against his presidency.

    “Yes I am Anthony.”

    Er… and where would that be? Against what truth? What philosophy or criteria are we using?

    You both Don, you seem to like central government. Of course you like Lincoln! If you, like myself and Mr. DiLorenzo, are deeply skeptical of central government’s virtues, then is it really surprising that we would look upon Lincoln with less than admiration?

    People tend to see greatness in figures who find ways to impose their will over others and actually get away with it. Its admiration and worship of power wrapped in poetry, bloated self righteousness and at times force of arms, nothing more. Liberty and independence be damned in the face of strength of force and authority.

    The near Lincoln-worship in the country says more about our view of power, victory and success than it does about our concern for freedom and liberty.

    We now live our lives with a dominant federal government feeding off the labor of its citizens and smaller states all thanks in one way or another to Lincoln’s actions. Sure, the union was preserved and slavery was finally, yet violently, abolished. But was that worth over half a million lives, massive economic set backs and a set of new precedents that completely reversed much of our understanding of national self? Was this indeed the moral means to a moral end?

    I’m unsure of the answer… but I know that Lincoln admirers, civil war buffs and lovers of power don’t hesitate to say yes, and I find that a bit unnerving on a purely human level. I guess our history does begin in 1865 as opposed to 1776.

    At this point I’m going to exit the debate, as I’ve been in enough internet flame wars to know they can go on perpetually. You’re more than welcome to the final word. I’ve enjoyed reading the disagreeing posts and do think both of you brought up many good and interesting points, even the ones I heartily disagree with.

    Perhaps we will find ourselves on the same side of a debate some other time. We are Catholic after all!

  • “Lincoln’s brand of tyranny lay in his insistence upon a superior union and a total disregard of the Constitution throughout the war.”
    That charge is often hurled by Lincoln detractors Anthony, but it simply isn’t true. Everything that Lincoln did he received Congressional authorization to do, either before of after the fact. The Thirteenth Amendment was passed abolishing slavery. The courts continued to function during his term and he was scrupulous in obeying their judgments. The people of course gave their verdict on Lincoln in 1864. Lincoln honored the Constitution and he was not going to allow the Union it oversaw to be destroyed. That he was successful is what truly irks most of his critics.

    ” you seem to like central government”

    Actually my political philosophy, that of a conservative republican, emphasizes the role of the states in our federal union. However, I do love the Union and I honor Mr. Lincoln for leading the successful fight to preserve it. Latter-day critics who paint Lincoln as some sort of early version of FDR are as wrong-headed as their historical analysis is poor. The expansion of the size of the federal government was purely a function of the war and faded away after the war was won and the Union preserved.

    “But was that worth over half a million lives, massive economic set backs and a set of new precedents that completely reversed much of our understanding of national self?”

    Worth half a million lives? Most certainly yes. The rest of your contentions I disagree with on a factual basis.

    “Perhaps we will find ourselves on the same side of a debate some other time.”

    Hope springs eternal Anthony. I have enjoyed our discussion.

  • You both Don, you seem to like central government.

    You obviously are not very perceptive if you think either Don or I are big proponents of centralized government. We’re just not fans of no government at all.

  • The discussion seems to be winding down, It has been a good discussion. I amnow clearer in my mind about Lincoln’s attitude to slavery and to blacks.

    That which will never be decided is the question of whether the Union was worth the effort, and whether Lincoln had the authority on his own bat to determine that the Union must be preserved at all costs. Did it not come from “Jimmy Polk’s war’ [against Mexico] and did it not lead to various military adventures in the Phillipines, Cuba, Hawaii, Venezuela, and again Mexico?

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