Trump Foreign Policy Speech

Tuesday, August 16, AD 2016

Since most of the media has decided to view Donald Trump as a public enemy rather than as a candidate for President, I have decided to post his foreign policy speech from yesterday so our readers can have access to his address.  Below is the text of the speech.  As readers of this blog know, I do not support Trump, but the attitude of the media towards him, as opposed to their attitude towards Hillary Clinton, I find nauseating.  Trump deserves to have the substance of his remarks conveyed to the American people so they can make up their own minds, and that is simply not happening in this election where the media is acting as unpaid press agents for Clinton.  The media has always been biased against Republicans during my lifetime, but in this election no attempt is being made to even conceal it.  The people deserve better.  Here is the text of Trump’s remarks.

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One Response to Trump Foreign Policy Speech

  • It is nice to see Trump deciding to run as a presidential candidate and sound like one. He should try it more often. Hopefully not too late for him.

Who Is Unfit to be President?

Tuesday, August 9, AD 2016

Fifty foreign policy figures, most from the Bush 43 administration, have issued a letter slamming Donald Trump.  Some of the names are notable and most are deservedly obscure, being relatively low ranking munchkins.  Here is the text of the letter:



The undersigned individuals have all served in senior national security and/or foreign policy positions in Republican Administrations, from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush.



We have worked directly on national security issues with these Republican Presidents and/or their principal advisers during wartime and other periods of crisis, through successes and failures.We know the personal qualities required of a President of the United States.



None of us will vote for Donald Trump.



From a foreign policy perspective, Donald Trump is not qualified to be President and Commander-in-Chief. Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous President and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.
Most fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.



In addition, Mr. Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he has little understanding of America’s vital national interests, its complex diplomatic challenges, its indispensable alliances, and the democratic values on which U.S. foreign policy must be based.  At the same time, he persistently compliments our adversaries and threatens our allies and friends. Unlike previous Presidents who had limited experience in foreign affairs, Mr. Trump has shown no interest in educating himself.  He continues to display an alarming ignorance of basic facts of contemporary international politics. Despite his lack of knowledge, Mr. Trump claims that he understands foreign affairs and “knows more about ISIS than the generals do.”




Mr. Trump lacks the temperament to be President.  In our experience, a President must be willing to listen to his advisers and department heads; must encourage consideration of conflicting views; and must acknowledge errors and learn from them. A President must be disciplined, control emotions, and act only after reflection and careful deliberation.A President must maintain cordial relationships with leaders of countries of different backgrounds and must have their respect and trust.
In our judgment, Mr. Trump has none of these critical qualities.  He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood.  He does not encourage conflicting views.  He lacks self control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commander-in-Chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.




We understand that many Americans are profoundly frustrated with the federal government and its inability to solve pressing domestic and international problems. We also know that many have doubts about Hillary Clinton, as do many of us.
But Donald Trump is not the answer to America’s daunting challenges and to this crucial election. We are convinced that in the Oval Office, he would be the most reckless President in American history.




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10 Responses to Who Is Unfit to be President?

  • They’re worried about Trump’s “temperament” but the woman who openly, actively hates service members and whose right-hand man (Weiner’s wife) has multiple immediate family connections with current terror groups doesn’t get a note?
    Nope, hacks.

  • My husband just got a clearance renewal. Lower than the Secretary of State, of course.
    There was almost a problem because one of the people I talk to a lot was a citizen of the PI– and even though she’s an Australian now, they still had to check up on her.
    For someone I do mommy-talk with, online, because the PI has terror groups.

  • That’s rich. Foreign policy “experts” who have bankrupted this nation with unnecessary wars claim Trump can’t “acknowledge errors and learn from them.”

  • If Hillary drinks as much as has been reported, and is being injected with Valium — a deadly combination.

  • So, where is the letter claiming that the Hildebeast is unfit for command?

    Dubya certainly was the lesser of two evils in 2000 and 2004 but some of the people he surrounded himself with, as shown by this bunch, were rather inept.

  • Have any of these boys ever worked with, (or even met) DJT? How do they know he’s unable, unwilling, incompetant, blah blah blah? From TV campaign speeches? Puleeez.
    Total grandstanding.
    And whom would be the “previous president” they speak of? The guy that’s dumb as a stick and enjoys giving $400M in cash to Iran?
    I wonder who they think they’re fooling.

  • So junior Sen Barry Obama was a foreign policy expert? The candidate that campaigned in “57” US states.

  • Sour grapes from Bush loyalists.

  • “Fifty foreign policy figures, most from the Bush 43 administration, have issued a letter slamming Donald Trump.”

    No surprise. These are the same folks who are all in bed together with basic Democrat/Republican foreign and economic policy. They would much prefer Hillary who agrees with them to Trump who might begin to change from this one world direction.

Sleep Easy America, Biden is on the Job!

Thursday, September 4, AD 2014

Father Z points out a celebration of the fierce comments of beloved National Clown and Veep Joe Biden on ISIS/ISIL:


Meanwhile, from The People’s Cube, we have a solution to the problem of ISIS!

I hope the President is taking notes.

ISIL to be Defeated by Twitter and Instagram Bombardment
Dear Comrades,

Comrade Vice President Joseph Biden has announced that the USSA will chase The Islamic Caliphate (PBUI) ‘to the gates of hell’ with a barrage of fearsome Twitter messages and fatally ironic Instagram photos.

Already successful used by the USSA State Department’s Information Directorate against the bourgeois imperialist Vladimir Putin and the Boko Haram in Nigeria, The Islamic State can soon expect to receive thousand of potentially embarrassing texts and pictures from high-capacity online accounts being prepared at the White Fortress.

Throughout the USSA, countless college students have already volunteered to repost and retweet State messages, adding even heavier firepower to the State’s already considerable resources. So many messages are expected to put Caliphate accounts that many officials expect a total retreat within weeks, if not the closing of thousands of account by disloyal terrorist operatives.

Debilitated by shame and unable to handle ironic humor, Comrade President B. B. Obama has told Party officials he expects total destruction of the enemy back to manageable proportions before his mid-Autumn golf season begins in early October.

We will embarrass the Caliphate back to the Stone Age! Social Pressure is the preferred People’s Weapon!!


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One Response to Sleep Easy America, Biden is on the Job!

Everything You Need to Know About ISIL in Iraq

Thursday, June 26, AD 2014



Media coverage of events in Iraq is by and large pretty poor, reporting day to day events without giving much needed context.  Strategy Page performs a public service by giving briefings that provide a fantastic overview of just what is going on.  In their latest briefing they explain who the Sunni terrorists are who have grabbed so much of Iraq:



ISIL began as ISI (Islamic State in Iraq) after 2004 and was one of many Sunni Islamic terrorist groups operating in Iraq back then. By 2010 ISI was almost destroyed due to U.S. efforts, especially getting many Sunni tribes to turn against the Islamic terrorist groups. But after U.S. forces left in 2011 the Iraqi government failed to follow U.S. advice to take good care of the Sunni tribes, if only to keep the tribes from again supporting the Islamic terrorist groups. Instead the Shia led government turned against the Sunni population and stopped providing government jobs and regular pay for many of the Sunni tribal militias. Naturally many Sunni Arabs went back to supporting terror groups, especially very violent ones like ISI.

After 2011, as the Iraqi Shia were turning on the Sunni Arab minority, there was a rebellion against a minority Shia government in Syria, led by the Sunni Arab majority there. The Sunni tribes of western Iraq were linked by culture and sometimes family links with the Sunni tribes of eastern Syria. The rebellion in Syria got ISI thinking about forming a new Islamic Sunni state out of eastern Syria, western Iraq, Baghdad (historically the seat of Sunni power in the area, despite it now being half Shia) and Mosul. Actually this also includes Lebanon and all of Iraq, but this was kept quiet initially. This decision had ISI spending a lot more time and effort recruiting in western Iraq after 2011. ISIL was created in 2013 when ISI sought to become the dominant rebel group in Syria by persuading men, especially foreigners, from other Islamic terrorist groups fighting in Syria to join a new, united Islamic terrorist group called ISIL. This caused problems because of the harsh way ISIL treated civilians and anyone who opposed them. ISIL relished the publicity their atrocities received. But al Qaeda knew from bitter experience (in Iraq from 2006-2008) that the atrocities simply turned the Islamic world against you. The bad relations between ISIL and all the other Islamic radicals in Syria reached a low point in June 2013 when the head of al Qaeda (bin Laden successor Ayman al Zawahiri) declared the recent merger of the new (since January 2013) Syrian Jabhat al Nusra (JN) with ISIL unacceptable and ordered the two groups to remain separate. That was because the merger was announced by ISI/ISIL without the prior agreement of JN leadership. Many JN members then left their JN faction to join ISIL. JN leaders saw this as a power grab by ISI/ISIL and most of the JN men who left to join ISIL were non-Syrians. Many of these men had worked with ISI before and thought they were joining a more powerful group. A month later al Qaeda declared ISIL outcasts and sanctioned the war against them. By January 2014 this had turned into all-out war between ISIL and the other rebel groups in Syria.

That was not the first time al Qaeda has had to slap down misbehaving Iraqi Islamic terror groups and won’t be the last. But it’s not a problem unique to Iraq. It is a problem for Saudi Arabia because the Saudis finance al Nusra and some of the other Islamic terrorist rebels in Syria that are now at war with ISIL. To the Saudis such support is the lesser of two evils as ISIL is crippling rebel efforts to overthrow the Assad government. This is also part of the ideological war the Saudis (and most other Sunni Moslems) are fighting with Shia Iran (and its Shia allies the Assads and the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon). Meanwhile the Saudis continue crushing the Sunni Islamic terrorists that try to attack them at home. This includes local members of ISIL. All this sounds somewhat bizarre, with Saudi Arabia funding missionaries that create Islamic terrorists who become uncontrollable and seem to overthrow the rulers of Saudi Arabia. Absurd it may be, but it is a familiar pattern in this part of the world where religion and politics have long been intertwined in absurd and tragic ways.

The Saudis have been dealing with Islamic terrorism within their borders since the kingdom was formed in the 1920s and were able to quickly defeat the 2003 al Qaeda offensive. At first al Qaeda terrorists appeared capable of doing some serious damage in Saudi Arabia. In 2003-4, they made four major attacks. These killed 68 people, including twelve Americans. But most of the dead were Saudis, and this turned the population against the terrorists. All the planned terror attacks since then have been aborted by security forces, usually via tips from Saudi civilians. Most Islamic terrorists have now fled the kingdom. Despite this a large minority of Saudis still support al Qaeda, but it’s the majority who do not and that makes it nearly impossible for the terrorists to operate in their “homeland.” Killing civilians will do that, and al Qaeda has not been able to figure out how to fight without shedding the blood of innocents. So the innocents are taking their revenge. Meanwhile there is still support for groups like ISIL inside Saudi Arabia and ISIL has been recruiting for Saudi men to go fight in Syria and Iraq.

Taking Mosul was crucial to the ISIL plan for regional and world conquest. Mosul was part of Turkey until 1918, when the victorious Allies took Mosul province, and its oil, away from Turkey (to prevent the Turks from financing an effort to rebuild their empire) and gave it to the newly created Iraq. In the 1980s Saddam Hussein, again feuding with the Kurdish majority in northern Iraq, killed or drove Kurds out of Mosul and invited poor Sunnis from the south to move in and take over. After 2003 the Kurds came back seeking to regain their stolen property and control of Mosul. The Sunni Arabs there did not want to give up their new homes as they would be destitute if they did so. So the fighting was vicious and the Mosul Sunnis were glad to get help from ISIL and other Sunni terror groups. But now most Mosul residents are feeling the impact of the ISIL take over as new lifestyle rules have been issued forbidding many things Westernized Iraqis take for granted.

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5 Responses to Everything You Need to Know About ISIL in Iraq

  • One of the really stunning things about this ISIL resurgence in Iraq is not mentioned by Strategy page history: the fact that the success of the American military surge in Iraq in 2007-8 was caused in part by the Sunnis turning against ISI. ISI attempted to coerce the Sunnis into giving them more support, and their preferred methods were terror and atrocity. Eventually many Sunnis turned on the ISI and gave the American military enough support to root them out.

    So here we have, less than a decade later, the very people who were traumatized by these terrorists now welcoming them back. It is absurd and obscene. It just goes to show that the ‘shifting sands’ metaphor for Mid-East politics is very apt, and we all know that nothing solid can be built upon such a foundation.

  • Yes We Can!

    Hope and Change!

    The New World Disorder.

  • No average voter that I know, who has paid attention to the situation in the Middle East in the last 20 years, is the least bit surprised that the Iraqi defense forces have turn tail & run from their enemy once the USA pulled out of Iraq. I have a hard time believing that John Kerry, having lived through the Vietnam war, is the least bit surprised by these turn of events either. However, he must tow the politically correct line for the Osama Administration & act as if we had not predicted this very thing (name misspelled on purpose.)

  • Pingback: The Ecumenical Laboratory of Ukraine -

Obama: A Reappraisal

Tuesday, June 3, AD 2014



I have long thought that Obama is more incompetent than malevolent.  In light of  the Obama administration trading five terrorists for U.S. Army Sgt. Berghdahl, who, according to the men who served with him, is at best a deserter and at worst a traitor, I think I might have to make a reappraisal:

according to former U.S. Army Sgt. Josh Korder, who served with Berghdahl in Afghanistan.

There is really almost no other conclusion one can draw from the facts that are coming out about Bergdahl’s departure from his unit five years ago. 

Even the NY Times is reporting what would lead any thinking person to agree with Korder.  For example, Bergdahl left a note in his tent saying “he had become disillusioned with the Army, did not support the American mission in Afghanistan and was leaving to start a new life…[taking] with him a soft backpack,water, knives, a notebook and writing materials” but leaving behind body army and weapons, something he would ordinarily need in that region. 

Other curious facts about Bergdahl before his disappearance were that “he wouldn’t drink beer or eat barbecue” with the others, and he was teaching himself local languages such as Pashto and Dari, as well as Arabic.  None of these things would be evidence of much of anything in and of themselves, but taken together with Bergdahl’s note and desertion they also could indicate a “going native” phenomenon that might involve a conversion to Islam, which forbids alcohol and pork.

As Korder said, at best a deserter and at worst a traitor.

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41 Responses to Obama: A Reappraisal

  • I have since his third year in office believed Obama to be malevolent.

    I think we need to win the next election not only to reverse this animus towards the US but also to break through the stonewalling of the government and find out the truth behind many actions of this Administration.

  • If not Obama, whomever negotiated this. Accounts have it that the president is supplied with memoranda with canned options at the end, and selects one. Not a whole lot of mind goes into it.

    Could be worse. Remember Michael Berg?

  • This train wreck began with someone much lower on the chain of command who decided to not classify Bergdahl as a deserter. Acknowledging this shows the same dynamic as seen in the Benghazi attack / Muhammed video meme: lies allow the creation and compounding of more lies. If truth is the first causality of war then we must be at war all the time now.

  • I’d like to think that this is Obama doing his best to get impeached.

  • Seen on the Web. Obama’s new FaceBook “status”: “In a relationship with the Taliban.”

    In future, he will be called, “President Taliban.”

  • “I have long thought that Obama is more incompetent than malevolent.”

    Why can’t he be both–squared?

  • President Taliban had him him sprung in order to remove from the “front burner” the VA scandal.

  • I’ve never completely understood until now that being “pragmatic” means doing what you want, when you want, the way you want with the (apparently justified) arrogance to believe that you are going to get away with it.
    Hopefully this time he is wrong.

  • The argument for malevolence instead of mere incompetence has all along been suggested by the fact that were he merely incompetent he’d get something right on occassion, if only by accident. Moreover, he proved his competence when he got himself reelected.

    In fairness, I suppose you could argue killing Bin Laden was his blind squirrel moment. But then, there’s photo of him sulking in the corner….

  • Barack Hussein Obama and his wife Michele, regardless of whether they are supremely incompetent or not, are both utterly godless, idolatrous, malevolent, diabolical, and evil to the highest degree. That both would promote infanticide of the unborn and sexual perversion of the worst sort is par for the course for this King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. We need an Elijah, an Elisha to stand in front of these two demonic creatures of wickedness and prophesy, “Thus saith the Lord!” They need to face their wickedness – have their ugly malevolent faces rubbed in it – and one day, barring repentance, they shall (as we all will – Lord have mercy!). Sorry, folks, every time I see a picture or view a video of either one of those two, I am filled with utter fury at what they are doing to this country.

  • Having read Paul Kengor’s book about Obama’s mentor, spiritual father, and perhaps more, Frank Marshall Davis, The Communist, and the remarkably cozy relationship, and perhaps more, between O. and FMD, I have no doubt about Obama’s fundamental motivations and his diabolical intentions.

    Or, that Robert R. Taylor, grandfather of Valerie Jarrett, was an avowed card-carrying member of the CPUSA. Or that Chicago CPUSA members Harry and David Canter, who helped mentor, David Axelrod. gave Obama the talking points and teleprompter feeds that tell him exactly what to say.

    Oh, we are in the deepest trouble, and no where near the end of the journey.

  • …and we have to pray and really dedicate ourselves to imploring God to assist us..Usquequo, Domine.

  • As remarked elsewhere, it looks for all the world that Obama believes he is rescuing terrorists from Gitmo.

  • The only credible explanation to this deal is that Obama wanted to free these Taliban prisoners, and the ‘prisoner swap’ was supposed to give him cover for it. He certainly did not expect the media to wake up and actually do some reporting.

    Now that these five are out, any other Guantanamo prisoners will be much easier to spring.

  • “Oh, we are in the deepest trouble, and no where near the end of the journey.”

    Steve Phoenix.
    From where I am looking, you are dead right. I and many of my countrymen – and I’m sure many others in other countries – are watching with dismay as we witness the dismantling of all that the USA stands for, which in the past has led your country to be the greatest the world has seen – despite its flawst.
    I often concur with what Paul Primavera says about Obama. He simply has to be got rid of – not in a murderous way – along with his rabidly socialist minions.
    Your press has much accountability for what is happening.

    As for Berghdahl, he should be court martialled, then handed back to the Taliban where his sympathy lies..

  • I don’t have the visceral dislike for the President that many others have but this whole thing is mind-boggling to me. What did he have to gain from this? Is he so politically tone-deaf that he thought this would go over well? I hope the Republican party learns from the UKIP in England and the National Front in France and starts to adopt more worker friendly policies because I don’t think Hillary will be nearly as stupid.

  • “Now that these five are out, any other Guantanamo prisoners will be much
    easier to spring”

    Absolutely, Mr. Tefft. There was a good reason for our decades-old government
    policy against negotiating with terrorists. Thanks to this president’s decision,
    our military is now a much juicier target for hostage-takers. The Taliban got
    this administration to do this once– why shouldn’t they believe he’d do it for
    them again?
    One of the most disturbing things about this debacle is Obama’s undisguised
    contempt for Congress and Congress’ seeming acceptance of its new ‘irrelevant
    lapdog’ status. US law is very specific– the president is required to inform
    Congress 30 days in advance before the transfer of any Gitmo prisoners. Yet
    even Senator Feinstein (no enemy to this administration) was kept in the dark–
    and she’s the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. National Security
    Advisor Susan Rice complacently informed us on ‘Meet the Press’ that Obama
    chose to ignore the law and punk Congress because he determined that following
    the law would have jeopardized the deal. Oh. So this administration is
    admitting that it is now policy for the president to ignore the law if it would
    jeopardize him getting his way…

    Beyond being a terrible deal for so many, many reasons, this affair is showing
    us that our Congress stands to become just a rubber-stamp politburo if we
    don’t wake up.

  • Obama lost my feeling that he was incompetent instead of malevolent when he decided to pick a war with the Little Sisters of the Poor over religious liberty. If that ain’t malevolence I don’t know what is. Amazing you could go this long.

  • He lets survivor babies die on the abortion table.


    A report from Baghdad Jay Carney’s former employer. There are evidently officials in the military willing to tell this reporter that the White House short-circuited normal procedures to see to it that this crew were released.

  • I think he is competent and accomplishing what he wants, probably at a faster rate than even he thought possible. He is breaking America. I know the theories about the “roots” of his attitude and behavior but I sure don’t understand Levin for example– why would he be so destructive. And all those individual journalists. What does it take for them to break ranks? Other Democrats – when are they going to reach a saturation point and say “enough is enough.” ?

  • “I have long thought that Obama is more incompetent than malevolent.”

    He is clearly both. Malevolent because he released five evil and deadly terrorists and wasted soldiers’ lives to “free” a deserter, and incompetent because he believed that there would be universal euphoria over Berghdahl’s release and everyone would overlook the release of the terrorists (better to let five guilty men go free than to allow one “innocent” man to remain in captivity, right?). Oops! It didn’t work out quite the way he planned.

  • Tomorrow’s TAC news today: Iowa Republican Joni Ernst won her primary, so Donald will have some good news to start the day off with.

  • Many people are indignant over the law requiring 30 day’s notice to Congress on the release of any Gitmo prisoner. However, it should be pointed out that the courts have held that there is no restriction on a president’s power to issue pardons. Obama hasn’t weaseled out by invoking that power, but he can if he so decides. Any president can throw darts against photos on a wall to decide pardons and it would be constitutional.

  • @Phillip on Tuesday, June 3, A.D. 2014 at 10:57: “I think we need to win the next election not only to reverse this animus towards the US […]”
    I am afraid saving the country will require much more: that the Constitution and the laws of the US and their interpretation be subordinate to the Law of God, otherwise the US is destined to go the way that all other great nations went before it went after they attempted to build themselves apart from God.

  • “Tomorrow’s TAC news today: Iowa Republican Joni Ernst won her primary, so Donald will have some good news to start the day off with.”

    Yep, Ernst. She got an astounding 56% of the vote in a five person field and avoids a run off. A new political star is on the rise I think.

  • Good comments in this thread. I would note for the record that I have never doubted that some of Obama’s actions were motivated by malevolence. I simply thought that these were outweighed by those motivated by sheer incompetence. With this trade, incompetence does not explain it, nor does any other rational motivation that I can think of. Malevolence may lie at its core and that is deeply troubling when we are discussing a foreign policy/war action and the man acting malevolently is commander in chief.

  • I don’t think he’s malevolent though (evil on purpose), this is his idea of what is good.

  • As his actions continue to prove,BO is a Muslim.An incompetent Muslim perhaps but his time in Indonesia shaped him.

  • I agree his sympathies and inclination are toward Islam. I don’t think though that he fears God. He is secular, I would say,evidenced by his evolution on same sex so-called marriage.

  • One or two of the “joint-chiefs-of-staff-level” terrorists released were responsible for the mass murders of about 6,000 Herat tribesmen and boys. The Taliban took their city and cut the men’s and boys’ throats in front of their women.

    “God will repay for the death of every Afghan child!” twit from Bergdorf, Sr. who grew that asinine beard in solidarity with terrorists.

    We are in the forenoon of the idiotocracy. There is a large number of evil people that need to be given the Gospels.

    In my war, they had VC sympathizers running through campuses and the streets. In my sons’ war, we have terrorist sympathizers running the campuses and the White House.

  • TomD, I’m not a lawyer, so I will happily accept correction from anyone
    with more expertise in these things. That said, I’m pretty sure that for the
    president to issue a pardon, the person pardoned has to have been first
    convicted of a crime. My understanding is that the Gitmo detainees haven’t
    been tried, let alone found guilty and sentenced by any court. How then
    does one pardon a man without a court first finding him guilty?
    In the end, I think my point about the president’s naked contempt for
    Congress (and the rule of law) remains. If Congress chooses to roll over
    and let Obama do this without any blowback, then it is choosing to
    become nothing more than the president’s rubber stamp.
    Back to Mr. McClarey’s original question re: incompetence vs. malevolence.
    I’m voting ‘malevolence’, for so many reasons.

  • “That said, I’m pretty sure that for the president to issue a pardon, the person pardoned has to have been first
    convicted of a crime.”

    Incorrect. Ford’s pardon of Nixon is the classic example where no conviction, or even indictment, existed. The pardon power is pretty absolute under the Constitution. However, if Obama were foolish enough to pardon the Gitmo detainees en masse, I think he would be impeached by the House and convicted in the Senate.

  • Mr. McClarey, of course you’re right– and Ford’s pardon of Nixon makes
    that clear.

  • I agree his sympathies and inclination are toward Islam.

    Disagree. My wager is that he’s a very common bourgeois type, a faculty type, and trades in the garage sale cosmopolitanism common on in the faculty club. He came by these attitudes honestly, from the repellant woman who bore him. We live in a time and place where wide swaths of the professional-managerial bourgeoisie and wide swaths of the elite are post-American. They are not loyal to the country and the rest of us are just rubes to be kept at bay and pairs of hands to be called on when the furnace needs repair.

    Malevolent? How about this: he does not really disapprove of the Berghdahls or anything they’ve done. He does not disapprove of Michael Berg. He disapproves of Cindy Sheehan because her idiom is too plebian.

  • Art Deco

    I find your reading very plausible.

    As for Mr Obama’s apparent sympathy for Islam, Robert Redeker suggests that, post Cold War, the Left has replaced “Sovietophilia” with “Islamophilia,” and that “Palestinians and the contemporary Muslim masses replace the proletariat in the intellectuals’ imagination” as the pure, ideal alternative to Western capitalism. (Le Monde, 11/21/01)

  • Clinton you wrote “In the end, I think my point about the president’s naked contempt for Congress (and the rule of law) remains. If Congress chooses to roll over and let Obama do this without any blowback, then it is choosing to become nothing more than the president’s rubber stamp.”
    Well, yes, there are plenty of such examples with this administration, but the 30-day Gitmo release notice is not one of them. Should any president challenge the constitutionality of that law in the face of the presidential power to pardon then he will prevail and Congress will lose. Under those circumstances it will be the law itself that will violate the rule of law, by being unconstitutional.

  • “However, if Obama were foolish enough to pardon the Gitmo detainees en masse, I think he would be impeached by the House and convicted in the Senate.”

    Not sure about that, since Congress views impeachment the way that a couch potato views a good run. But just to make sure, there surely will be no en masse releases, just a drip now and then on slow-news Friday afternoons.

  • I have believed since the beginning that Obama is a seriously troubled soul. His ideology is based on envy and a dehumanizing hatred of God’s gift of free will. His disdain for the gift of life has been long evident during his time in Illinois. His associates (Dunn, Cass Sustein, Jones, etal) are also hate filled ideologues.

    The destruction of the American ideal is nearly complete and proceeds at an accelerated pace. Perhaps after years of brainwashing our children through the press and academia, this was bound to happen. The pace still shocks me. We try to analyze him according to rational and sensible norms, but those do not apply. Ascribe hate and envy, ie sin, to what you witness of this administration, and then it will all make sense. The ACA is a masterful seizure of our very personhood by the government. The idea of freeing mass murderers, the very command structure of the Taliban, to return to their power base, while at the same time leaving the field of battle is not malfeasance, it’s purposeful. I could go on, but the list would consume pages.

  • I have thought him to be malevolent ever since he voted against the infant born alive act, which put him even more pro-abortion than NARAL. There are not many things which amaze me, but the continued naivete of Americans is among them.

Impotence as Foreign Policy: Part II

Monday, May 12, AD 2014

Bring back our girs

Fresh off their laurels of establishing that the US has no policy regarding Vladimir Putin except to post disapproving internet pics, go here to read all about it, the Obama administration is trying the same thing in regard to the kidnaping of hundreds of Christian girls by the Boko Haram Islamic terrorists in Nigeria.  Needless to say that the pictures mention nothing about the main problem in Nigeria:  an inept and corrupt government and their Keystone Kops military, both of which are terrified by the terrorists who enjoy a fair amount of support among the half of Nigeria which is Muslim.


Mark Steyn gets to the heart of why the Obama administration does these idiot dog and pony shows:



The blogger Daniel Payne wrote this week that “modern liberalism, at its core, is an ideology of talking, not doing“. He was musing on a press release for some or other “Day of Action” that is, as usual, a day of inaction:

Diverse grassroots groups are organizing and participating in events such as walks, rallies and concerts and calling on government to reduce climate pollution, transition off fossil fuels and commit to a clean energy future.

It’s that easy! You go to a concert and someone “calls on government” to do something, and the world gets fixed.

There’s something slightly weird about taking a hashtag – which on the Internet at least has a functional purpose – and getting a big black felt marker and writing it on a piece of cardboard and holding it up, as if somehow the comforting props of social media can be extended beyond the computer and out into the real world. Maybe the talismanic hashtag never required a computer in the first place. Maybe way back during the Don Pacifico showdown all Lord Palmerston had to do was tell the Greeks #BringBackOurJew.

As Mr Payne notes, these days progressive “action” just requires “calling on government” to act. But it’s sobering to reflect that the urge to call on someone else to do something is now so reflexive and ingrained that even “the government” – or in this case the wife of “the government” – is now calling on someone else to do something.

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18 Responses to Impotence as Foreign Policy: Part II

  • Precisely.

    What defines a man is not what he imagines but what he does or does not do.

  • When I saw her # bring back our girls, I just wondered who she is addressing? Who does she want to bring them back? Just makes no sense at all.

  • I posted this on the original ‘fecklessness’ thread:
    More fecklessness: Dr Meriam Yahia Ibrahim (the wife of U.S. citizen Daniel Wani and the mother of 20 month old Martin Wani, who also is a U.S. citizen) was arrested and jailed in Khartoum in February 2014 on a charge of apostasy for being a Muslim woman – her father is Muslim – who married a Christian and adultery since Islamic law does not recognize their marriage, pregnant, has been beaten, denied medical care, and threatened with 100 lashes and death upon conviction. Her son is incarcerated with his mother because Islamic law prohibits his Christian father from having custody. The U.S. Embassy will not assist him without a DNA test proving that he is the son of Daniel Wani but the jail will not allow the testing.

    Yesterday the Sudanese court officially sentenced Dr. Ibrahim to 100 lashes and death. Her son, a U.S. citizen, will now pass into the Sudanese foster care system. Happy Mother’s Day. See

    “Modern liberalism, at its core, is an ideology of talking, not doing“. It seems we are usually too scared to even do any talking. Groupthink at work.

  • Someone should be buying those girls via undercovers posing as rich muslims but…days ago. I think they will machine gun the girls at the approach of any forces and they are not going to feed them much longer if he was partly unwittingly signalling that cash is needed in his “selling them” video. The Bin Laden thing is different in that no hostages were at risk.

  • Every time I see a photo of Moochelle, I think of Jezebel the wife of Ahab, and the story of Naboth the Jezreelite. The Obamas fill me with such loathing and contempt.

  • Let’s imagine for a moment TR lived in the digital age:

    #Pedicaris Alive or Raisuli Dead!

    Even our sloganeering isn’t what it used to be.

  • “Someone should be buying those girls….”

    Because if you want more of something, incentivize it, right?

  • “Even our sloganeering isn’t what it used to be.”

    Yep. Teddy had Perdicaris released within less than a month and a half. His threat was backed up by battleships and several companies of Marines, and the fact that everyone knew that when TR made a threat it was a promise.

  • Maybe Obama could go apologize for something and offer Michelle up as a swap??? Better yet, he could give Boko Harim a case of autograph copies of “Dreams of my Father whoremongering drunkard Socialist.”

    This is a serious and tragic event…..the presidency of the first Muslim of the U.S.A. And yes the inability to tell Americans the truth. The girls and their families are in my prayers.

  • Ernst,
    How do you picture an armed attack working on suicidal men who think they get many girls in paradise if they die fighting for Islam? You can kill them later when you’ve bought the girls into safety.

  • This is pathetic.
    The girls were kidnapped nearly a month ago; having tested the waters of public opinion, they decide to do something as a token of their concern.

    Wife to husband: ” What are you doing today?”
    Husband: “Nothing.”
    Wife: ” But you did that yesterday!”
    Husband: ” I haven’t finished yet.”

  • Buying the girls back only gets more girls kidnapped for ransom.

    Doing this right means using American Special Ops backed up by a Marine Expeditionary Force and Naval Air assets.

    So the Nigerians’ best bet would be to kidnap about twice as many Muslim girls and do a straight up exchange.

  • “.. girls were kidnapped nearly a month ago; having tested the waters of public opinion, they decide to do something as a token of their concern.” Don the Kiwi

    Everything is a play, a ploy! Shallow selfish amateurs who talk and preen and game the world.
    How do we get out of this?

  • Repealing the 17th and 19th amendments would be a good start. So would restricting the franchise to the 53% of adults who actually pay taxes, or some other kind of skin-in-the-game type requirement. Requiring would-be voters to demonstrate a minimum of civic literacy awareness wouldn’t hurt either, but that would go over about as well as Voter ID laws.

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  • “Requiring would-be voters to demonstrate a minimum of civic literacy awareness wouldn’t hurt either, but that would go over about as well as Voter ID laws.”
    Voter ID laws prevent fraud. Land ownership, literacy and the rest rely upon the age of informed consent at emancipation. Otherwise, the voters represent the minors.

  • As effete as they are in international affairs, they are efficacious in ruining America . . . [sigh]


    Soon enough it will be bullets.

  • I disagree with you T.Shaw. Obama in 2008 led the Democrats to the peak of their political power since their win in 1964. Under Obama’s presidency, the Republicans have taken control of more state legislatures than at any time since Calvin Coolidge was President, retaken the House and it looks like the GOP will probably retake the Senate. It is possible that historians will look back on Obama as the last gasp of FDR’s New Deal, the swan song of the welfare state in this country. We shall see.

To Intervene or Not to Intervene, that is the Question

Friday, August 30, AD 2013




President Obama is deciding whether to intervene in Syria against the Assad regime.  I think any hesitation is for show, and the decision to intervene has been made.  Intervening in the Syrian Civil War is not popular, so I guess I should give Obama some credit for having a conviction he is willing to defy public opinion on.  What that conviction is, I am not quite certain.  The Assad regime is a revoltingly bloody tyranny even by Arab standards.  However, the main rebel factions are closely allied with groups like Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, with the Muslim Brotherhood backed factions being dominant.  In Egypt there are constant accusations by Egyptians, largely correct, that the administration has tilted in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood, so perhaps that is the explanation for the desire of the administration to get involved in Syria.

My own opinion is that uttered by Henry Kissinger in regard to the Iraq-Iran war of the eighties:  a pity they both can’t lose.  I see no interest of the United States furthered by intervention, other than a mild setback to Iran which has become the main backer of the Assad regime, and I see no humanitarian benefit.  It is very troubling that Obama is not even making a pretense of gaining the approval of Congress.  It is richly ironic to see some of the harshest critics of President Bush and the war in Iraq, now rallying behind Obama’s Syrian adventure.

Neo-neocon at Legal Insurrection has a first rate parody of the to be or not to be soliloquy from Hamlet for Obama:

To strike, or not to strike: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous Assad,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To attack: to dither
No more; and by attack to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That Syria is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To act, to attack;
To attack: perchance to depose: ay, there’s the rub;
For in its wake what next may come
Whether or not Assad shuffles off this worldwide stage,
Should give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of intervention;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of chemical war, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his mark make
With a bare missile? who would tyrants bear,
To defy the red lines that he drew?
But that the dread of something afterward,
The unknown consequences in whose grip
A legacy might founder, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?

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8 Responses to To Intervene or Not to Intervene, that is the Question

  • “… and I see no humanitarian benefit.”

    Me neither, sadly. I’d likely be strongly in favor if there were. More than two years this war has raged and there was no groundswell of support for intervention all that time, so today seems no different. Two and half million Syrians have fled their homes with roughly a million that have crossed into neighboring countries and live in camps. Christian churches are periodically targeted for attack by either side for no military benefit, just to terrorize the worshippers.

    It’s been said that Assad is “winning” this war, and if the U.S. strike against him is not definitive in the sense that it is sufficient to give his opponents the upper hand, it may have the effect of prolonging the conflict and the humanitarian crisis.

    “Ah, I imagine those Norwegian leftists are now regretting that Nobel Peace Prize they bestowed upon Obama for the glorious achievement of not being George Bush.”

    We’ll see. Obama may yet yield to public indifference and decide not to strike Syria. If the Nobel Prize committee hasn’t regretted its decision after all these drone strikes, I doubt a few more cruise missile launches will move them any.

  • Er, he’s working on his second nobel peace prize . . .

    One aspect: it’s a distraction same as the fabricated bruhahaha over the rodeo clown.

    Aristotle wrote, a tyrant “is also fond of making war in order that his subjects may have something to do and be always in want of a leader.”

    You give Obama, and his moronc cheerleaders, way too much credit.

    They are ideologues: data, facts, truth have no purpose unless they advance the devolution.

    In Obama’s (pea-brained) world view the so-called muslim brotherhood and al qaeda are the good guys; and any (e.g., handing over to them North Africa) thing will be done to help them and any and all enemies of evil, unjust America.

    What evidence can you produce to prove that this worst prez in US history is an iota smarter than the Obama-worshiping imbeciles that gave him four more years to complete the wreck of our country?

    PS: Don’t even try to say he’s smarter than morons like McCain and Boehner: that’s like comparing head lice to dog ticks.

  • Wars – whether civil or international – are, often enough, the product of irreconcilable conflicts and, if allowed to run their course, end in decisive victory or mutual exhaustion. They can lead to a durable peace, when all those willing to die for the cause have been given every opportunity to do so. The Wars of Religion in France and the Thirty Year’s War in Central Europe were of this kind.

    Humanitarian interventions, however well intentioned, may simply allow both parties to regroup and rearm and may shelter the weaker side from the consequences of refusing to submit for the sake of peace. In the long run, they may lead to more suffering than they prevent.

  • What if Russia decides that she really doesn’t like our intervention at all, and acts on that?

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  • “What if Russia decides that she really doesn’t like our intervention at all, and acts on that?”

    Perhaps the admin thinks they’ve already made a secret deal with Russia.

    Clinton was slick enough. Reagan was smart enough. These guys will just be Wiley Coyote enough.

  • For info, the pope asked for prayer and fasting for peace in Syria on September 7th.

    “May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and be let themselves be led by the desire for peace.
    To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.”

    A number of bishops in that part of the middle east have spoken on the matter of military intervention in Syria recently (available on the internet).

  • The wolf call that screams weapons of mass destruction echoes in my mind!
    In our speed to right the wrong we must first identify the culprit involved.It
    appears that there may be other factors non-disclosed.
    Unfortunately with media posturing its difficult to receive good and correct
    As a Viet-nam veteran I would urge cautiousness.Our government must learn
    we cant buy friends with foreign aid and we cant police the world!

Shrewd, Very Shrewd

Tuesday, August 20, AD 2013

10 Responses to Shrewd, Very Shrewd

  • Now a shrewd US politician needs to draw attention to the burning churches and perhaps wonder out loud why Obama and Kerry continue to support the burning of churches.

  • “…underlines in the minds of most Egyptians that if they are sick and tired of endless strife and destruction they must suppport the military in its struggle against the Muslim Brotherhood.”

    The problem is that there is a sizable percentage of the population of Egypt, sizable enough to get Morsi elected as PM, that is perfectly happy with strife and destruction as long as it is directed at their non-Salafi neighbors.
    We enable great evil when we mistake democracy for freedom. Democracy without the foundation of a moral society is simply tyranny with better press. As a whole, Egytian society, like American society is becoming, is unfit for democratic rule.

  • “The problem is that there is a sizable percentage of the population of Egypt, sizable enough to get Morsi elected as PM, that is perfectly happy with strife and destruction as long as it is directed at their non-Salafi neighbors.”

    They had the excuse of ignorance. It is one thing to be the supporter of a political faction agitating against an unpopular regime, and it is quite another to remain a supporter of a faction after it takes power and falls flat on its face. The Muslim Brotherhood had been a consistent enemy of the military regimes that had ruled Egypt since 1952. Rebels tend to be popular until they win.

  • It’s not so much Sisi’s cleverness/shrewdness.

    It’s more Obama’s, Clintion’s, Kerry’s, et alles leftist stupidity and knee-jerk support for any and all dystopian radicals.

  • If it’s a tactic, it depends on the rest of the world having the capacity to recognize and reward decent acts. It won’t impress those who don’t mind the suppression of Christianity in the Middle East.

    Then again, it could be a message to the people of Egypt. Consider the flag of the Egyptian Revolution of 1919 for an idea of what Egyptian national aspiration used to look like. That revolution was a big inspiration for the recent one.

  • Too cool. Political decency from an unexpected quarter. The Egyptian military obviously has a lot going for it!

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  • Pinky and everyone else,

    I would love to see the return of that flag, WOW!

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The Woman Beside Weiner

Friday, July 26, AD 2013




As Anthony Weiner demonstrates that being a sociopath is not always an advantage in politics, Andrew McCarthy, who was the lead prosecutor in the successful prosecution of  Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven others for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, explains at National Review Online why Weiner’s wife is much more interesting than her “stand by her worthless man” routine indicates:




Charlotte’s revulsion over Huma Abedin’s calculated “stand by your man” routine is surely right. Still, it is amazing, as we speculate about Ms. Abedin’s political future, that the elephant in the room goes unnoticed, or at least studiously unmentioned.

Sorry to interrupt the Best Enabler of a Sociopath Award ceremony but, to recap, Ms. Abedin worked for many years at a journal that promotes Islamic-supremacist ideology that was founded by a top al-Qaeda financier, Abdullah Omar Naseef. Naseef ran the Rabita Trust, a formally designated foreign terrorist organization under American law. Ms. Abedin and Naseef overlapped at the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (JMMA) for at least seven years. Throughout that time (1996–2003), Ms. Abdein worked for Hillary Clinton in various capacities.

Ms. Abedin’s late father, Dr. Zyed Abedin, was recruited by Naseef to run the JMMA in Saudi Arabia. The journal was operated under the management of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, a virulently anti-Semitic and sharia-supremacist organization. When Dr. Abedin died, editorial control of the journal passed to his wife, Dr. Saleha Mahmood Abedin — Huma’s mother.

Saleha Abedin is closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood and to supporters of violent jihad. Among other things, she directs an organization – the International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child. The IICWC, through its parent entity (the International Islamic Council for Dawa and Relief), is a component of the Union for Good (also known as the Union of Good), another formally designated terrorist organization. The Union for Good is led by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the notorious Muslim Brotherhood jurist who has issued fatwas calling for the killing of American military and support personnel in Iraq as well as suicide bombings in Israel. (As detailed here, the Obama White House recently hosted Qaradawi’s principal deputy, Sheikh Abdulla bin Bayyah, who also endorsed the fatwa calling for the killing of U.S. troops and personnel in Iraq.)

Like Sheikh Qaradawi, who helped write the charter for the IICWC, Saleha Abedin is an influential sharia activist who has, for example, published a book called Women in Islam that claims man-made laws enslave women. It reportedly provides sharia justifications for such practices as female-genital mutilation, the death penalty for apostates from Islam, the legal subordination of women, and the participation of women in violent jihad. Dr. Abedin has nevertheless been hailed in the progressive press as a “leading voice on women’s rights in the Muslim world” (to quote Foreign Policy). What they never quite get around to telling you is that this means “women’s rights” in the repressive sharia context.

Back to daughter Huma. In the late mid to late Nineties, while she was an intern at the Clinton White House and an assistant editor at JMMA, Ms. Abedin was a member of the executive board of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) at George Washington University, heading its “Social Committee.” The MSA, which has a vast network of chapters at universities across North America, is the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s infrastructure in the United States. Obviously, not every Muslim student who joins the MSA graduates to the Brotherhood — many join for the same social and networking reasons that cause college students in general to join campus organizations. But the MSA does have an indoctrination program, which Sam Tadros describes as a lengthy process of study and service that leads to Brotherhood membership — a process “designed to ensure with absolute certainty that there is conformity to the movement’s ideology and a clear adherence to its leadership’s authority.” The MSA gave birth to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the largest Islamist organization in the U.S. Indeed the MSA and ISNA consider themselves the same organization. Because of its support for Hamas (a designated terrorist organization that is the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch), ISNA was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case, in which several Hamas operatives were convicted of providing the terrorist organization with lavish financing.

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13 Responses to The Woman Beside Weiner

  • Thank you for this. I was upset by the “stand by her worthless man” routine, but I didn’t know about this. Wow.

  • You didn’t know about this because it runs counter to the agenda/narrative.

  • If Huma Abedin’s husband divorces her, she may be deported as an undesirable . Weiner is her cover. Huma is the elephant in the room.

  • “…she may be deported as an undesirable.”

    I see no realistic scenario in which a Hillary Clinton protégée at her level would ever be deported as an undesirable. If anything, her connections to Muslim power circles make such an outcome even less likely.

    Obviously, hitching her political aspiration to such a wayward pony seems at present a miscalculation, but if Carlos Danger’s sins had not become so public, imagine all the wonderful blackmail opportunities that could have been brought to bear by his wife’s associates to keep him in line. It’s a plotline worthy of Hitchcock — if only the notion of a Jewish politician serving as a Trojan horse for the Muslim Brotherhood were not so politically incorrect.

    Besides, Muslim-alert organizations (e.g. have been denouncing Mrs. Weiner for years now, with very little to show for it. It is ironic that the political marriage that was designed to legitimize both of these people is now helping to marginalize them. There’s at least some poetic justice in that.

    All that being said, I do feel genuinely sorry for the woman to have wound up with such a psychopath. Who would have guessed that an arranged marriage designed to advance the murderous designs of the Muslim Brotherhood could be so bereft of family values?

  • I hate to ask a stupid question, but if Huma believed in sharia law, why would she marry a Jewish man? Doesn’t the Muslim faith go through the father – so that if your father is Muslim you are automatically considered a Muslim? What if your father is Jewish? Or Christian?

  • You are correct Sharon that Islamic law forbids a Muslim woman from marrying a non-Muslim man. Weiner would have had to have converted to Islam. There is no evidence of that. Assuming that is the case, an alternative explanation is that the marriage is one of politics and a sham. Considering that the man who officiated at the marriage is that paragon of marital fidelity, Bill Clinton, I give some credence to that theory. Questions have been raised as to what legal authority Bill Clinton had to marry anyone:

    It is interesting that Huma, the most high profile Islamic woman in the country, has received no static from the Islamic community as far as I know, for this marriage that flies in the face of Islam. The closer you look at this, the more curious it becomes.

  • Mac,

    You’re 100% correct.

    This Weiner-Abedin political alliance (a.k.a. marriage) is exactly the same as Billary’s: meant to advance Whiner’s putrid, political aspirations and Abedin’s (likely not “sleeping with the enemy”) joyless jihad.

  • The disreputable Mr. Sailer has spoken of the “Idiocratization” of American public life ( You look at the trio running for Mayor of New York (or any three North American Episcopal bishops) and you realize he may be right.

  • Instapundit reports that NBC is planning a Hillary Clinton miniseries. “Prepare yourselves for the ‘all hail Hillary movies’.”

    The media reports nothing truthfully. They consistently spawn “news” that bears no relation to the truth, not even that inherent in a common calumny.

    The MSM advances the progressive agenda: no more no less.

    Go ask the widows of Benghazi.

  • With Islam its all about power. Someone in Abedin’s position would be expected to play along, if indeed the marriage is loveless. Muslims broke 90% for Obama in the elections, This shows that for all the calls of silly Christians for a moral front with Muslims against abortion and the homosexual agenda, the Muslims would rather take care of themselves first. The white Christians are about the only considerable bloc that votes on principles.

  • This shows that for all the calls of silly Christians for a moral front with Muslims against abortion and the homosexual agenda…

    I know I’ve pointed this out before, but contrary to widespread Catholic opinion, Islam is not particularly opposed abortion. A few Islamic scholars prohibit it, but the majority follow the “ensoulment” principle by which a baby is not a person until some later stage of the pregnancy. (And really, which of those scholars is a woman – or whoever has control of her – likely to heed once either of them decide that a baby would be an inconvenience?)

    There is also no particular prohibition against contraception within Islam (though of course numerous Muslims power brokers believe in restricting anything that many in the West == rightly or wrongly –regard as sexually liberating to women).

    To put it less charitably, the Vatican is now in a position where it is trying to make common cause with those who think gays should be stoned and women (not to mention Christians, Jews, etc.) should be repressed. Even those who understand that one cannot always choose one’s allies have to also realize that such an alliance is unlikely to end well.

  • HA, my impression is that Muslims follow a very strict line when it comes to abortion and contraception. They are very close to Catholics in this regard. Muslims are generally quite nice people – I grew up with countless Muslim friends. Its when the mullahs take charge that the problems begin.

  • If I were to generalize from my own “impressions”, I would say that it is wise to refrain from generalizing too much from one’s own impressions. The question ultimately is what Islamic teaching does and does not permit. Those who believe that life is sacred from the moment of its conception need to be realistic over how much support for their views they will find among Muslims.

    And that’s great that the Muslims you know are nice people, but the observation is likewise a non sequitir. Whatever one chooses to extrapolate from a rabble of supporters with “Hail, Satan” signs, in my experience most of the people who think a woman’s right to choose is the paramount issue when it comes to abortion are just as nice as the people on my side of the issue. Likewise, Muslims by and large tend to take marriage far more seriously than the typical Christian but there is only so much common ground I will be able to find with those who believe polygamy is an acceptable lifestyle choice, regardless of how nice they are.

The Forgotten Men & Women of America

Monday, November 26, AD 2012

In 1883, William Graham Sumner published an essay titled “The Forgotten Man” (originally titled “On the Case of a Certain Man Who Is Never Thought Of” – not quite as catchy) which is as relevant today as it was when it was written. The essay is a great exposition of the laissez-faire understanding and approach to social problems and articulates what I believe many on the libertarian right and within the Tea Party believe today. From a Catholic point of view, there is much I find agreeable within it, though there are certain tangents, unnecessary to the main argument, that I would take issue with.

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14 Responses to The Forgotten Men & Women of America

  • “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – CS Lewis

  • Bureaucracies, militaries, etc. are unproductive but necessary to varying extents.

    No, the civil service and the military perform useful services. They are not, however, services that emerge from market transactions, hence the resort to public agency.

  • Useful does not = productive. Unproductive does not = useless.

  • ” . . . the civil service and the military perform useful services.”

    Truth. The military destroys things and kills people in order to prevent such evils from being inflicted on the citizenry. It does not (since they stopped issuing letters of marque) produce wealth, goods, or servicers. It takes assets, economic resources, wealth from the producers. Similarly, the civil service/bureaucrats do not produce but take from the productive sectors.

    And, above the two are politicians that deal in coersion and fraud; and have devolved into latter-day Gracchi trading bread and circuses for votes.

    Some thoughts:

    This rewards bad behavior.

    See Zerohedge, PA has issued a study showing how a family of four on various welfare entitlements has higher disposable income than the similar family that grosses $69,000 a year.

    There is no such a thing as a free lunch; or something for nothing. Someone pays for it.

    It’s always other people’s money.

    Nations reach breaking points when producers/taxpayers become outnumbered by dependents/tax takers.

    Symptoms of national disaster include the tax-taking segments growing more rapidly than the wealth-producing sectors, they call it “The evil, unjust private sector.” In 2011, the US national debt grew by more than did the evil, unjust private sector GDP, and that is just one part of the increases in government taking.

    Voting for abortionists, sodomists, and class hate-mongers (they promise to take more from somebody else that you hate whom they charge isn’t paying his “fair share”) to feed the Obama-voting moron bloc is not one of the Corporal Works of Mercy.

    Let’s have some fun. List the public utils produced by various bureaucracies.

    I’ll start with the EPA: higher prices for elecricity, gasoline, home heating oil; and shortages to boot.

    Feel free to jump in.

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  • Seeing as salty truth-tellers of old are the elixir of choice in these parts, I offer, for your edification, from 1872…

    Michael Muller, while a favourite of some (what are now thought to be) fringe Catholic groups, has in his other works great insights into prayer and the faith. Well worth a read, IMHO. Deeply rooted in the 32nd Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus Liguori.

  • “Vice is its own curse. If we let nature alone, she cures vice by the most frightful penalties.”

    He ignores the penalties inflicted on the innocent bystanders. No man is an island. No action happens in a vacuum. Every vice has a societal cost. The idea of victimless crime is non-reality.

    You read Sumner’s quote and see an affirmation of natural law. I see a justification of natural selection, which wouldn’t be surprising since such thought was rising to the forefront of academic thought in his time.

  • Darren O.,

    I’m familiar with Michael Muller. He’s the theological equivalent of 90-proof alcohol – drink it only if you’re sure you can handle it.


    Some things labeled “victimless crimes” really do have victims. Others really are harmless. Marijuana does not post a greater risk to society than alcohol; both should be prohibited or both should be legalized. In my opinion, both should be legal, not one person ought to ever be molested by the state for possessing or indulging in them. We can and should still punish crimes resulting from intoxication, but not everyone, not even the majority, will abuse these substances to the point that they pose an actual threat to someone else (to the point where the police need to become involved, that is).

    Sumner’s point and mine is that you cannot save people from themselves, and that what motivates the majority of intervention by the state is not so much a concern for society as a self-righteous delusion that enlightened elites will save the lower classes from themselves and elevate them. I reject this fantasy on moral and practical grounds.

  • “Marijuana does not post a greater risk to society than alcohol; both should be prohibited or both should be legalized.”

    There is a point when risks becomes too costly for society. While alcohol comes with its costs, introducing another intoxicant into the market will simply increase the harm incurred. And while the one indulging won’t be prosecuted in a legalize all vices society, everyone else would be punished in some form.

    This is the problem I have with the Ron Paul crowd and its obsession with legalizing narcotics. It is their belief in the license to participate in vices as the ultimate example of real freedom. Their freedom is embracing the worst habits of us and not the free exercise of what makes us a great citizen, community and country.

    “Sumner’s point and mine is that you cannot save people from themselves”

    It’s true the decision to do good or bad ultimately lies with the individual. However, law can have a positive effect in deterring one to do harm to him or herself. Absent the law, the tempted individual sees license to partake of legal activity without a true understanding of serious, even dire, consequences.

    You acknowledge there is a risk to legalization, but your interpretation of Sumner’s point makes risk evaluation pointless. For no matter the risk, you can’t save people from themselves. The result is a society where there are no personal limits. All narcotics are legalized, and no societal costs until harm to another party is done. That’s a difficult argument to make to a mother crying over a child killed by a school bus driver who showed up to work hung over from a crack high.

  • Kyle,

    I question whether or not the costs of prosecuting people for marijuana are greater than the alleged harm that these people cause society. It is a grave thing to take away a person’s freedom, or to otherwise interfere in their life, and it is all done at the expense of the taxpayer (i.e. forgotten man). Is it justifiable to cause real and lasting harm to moderate drug users? Because that is what happens when the state arrests, prosecutes, fines, monitors and ultimately imprisons a man. It is harm to a real individual, who may have dependents, who may be a worker paying taxes, who may have any number of social roles.

    So when you say that the “harm incurred” would be increased, I see that it would be decreased.

    “It is their belief in the license to participate in vices as the ultimate example of real freedom.”

    That’s really just not true. I think Ron Paul and many of us supporters would be the first to acknowledge that those who sin, are slaves to sin, that those who are addicts are not really free. This isn’t about suggesting the best means to personal freedom, but rather defining the role and the limitations of the state and the rights of the individual. We believe people ought to be free to make bad choices, though I honestly don’t see the substantial difference between having a drink (which we all regard as morally neutral, not being Puritans) and smoking a joint.

    It is also about, again, the forgotten man – the taxpayer, who has to cough up the dough to finance the criminal justice system that prosecutes all of these people for their own good. I don’t want my tax dollars spent on this. America was fine when marijuana wasn’t a controlled substance, and it will be fine again when these absurd laws are finally scrapped.

    “However, law can have a positive effect in deterring one to do harm to him or herself. ”

    Whenever you use the word “law”, I see “coercion”, because that is what we are really talking about, and in my view the use of force against a person requires a much greater justification than “they have a bad habit we need to stop for their own good.” And I have to tell you, from personal experience, that I’ve known maybe one, two at the most people who were afraid to smoke marijuana because it was “against the law.” It is a non-factor for most normal human beings. Many more people I knew refused to smoke because of drug tests or even lie detector tests that current or potential employers might subject them to.

    Believe it or not, freedom does work. Because freedom includes the rights of employers not to have potheads for employees, especially when people want to join the police or firefighters or military. This idea of the coercive state as our nanny, telling us what is best for us, though, is a degradation of human dignity. We have enough people throwing away their dignity all on their own, and we don’t need the state adding to it.

    “Absent the law, the tempted individual sees license to partake of legal activity without a true understanding of serious, even dire, consequences.”

    What I just said really proves this false. People lose their jobs, their friends, their money, their homes due to drug addiction. These are punishment enough, and they are all imposed by organic social institutions, not the artificial Leviathan. On the other hand, people who use drugs and can retain all of these things have demonstrated that they have a handle on it, and it is stupid and vindictive to punish them for it.

    “That’s a difficult argument to make to a mother crying over a child killed by a school bus driver who showed up to work hung over from a crack high.”

    She should be mad at the school for not screening their employees. Do you really think a crackhead cares that crack is against the law? To even become a crackhead you would have already have to have broken dozens of laws. Crackheads should be removed from the streets and put in rehabilitation facilities (not prisons where they can be gang-raped by unchecked prison gangs), not because they violated some absurd Puritanical rule against intoxicants, but because they do pose a threat.

    But a casual pot smoker is not a crackhead, and less of a danger than an alcoholic.

  • Hi Bonchamps. Had to step away and get some things done. Back to the discussion…

    You and I agree there are reasonable limits on freedoms. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can yell fire in a theater. Right to bear arms doesn’t mean you can possess a nuclear missile in your backyard. The debate is where to draw the line.

    You mentioned the costs to enforce the drug laws as a justification to cease the prohibition. It is my belief that the rightness or wrongness of a law is never based on its enforceability or its costs.

    If we, as a society, decide sex trafficking is wrong and should be illegal, does it matter the cost to enforce it? At what budgetary line does a harmful activity became non-harmful? Is sex trafficking bad when enforcement is $1 million but licit when enforcement costs $1 million + $1?

    How much has been spent on stopping and prosecuting murder? By the legalize narcotics standards, we should cease those laws. They are simply ineffective and too costly. Murderers will murder anyway. Or, is it possible the very existence of the law provides a beneficial deterrence to would be murders?

    You say the drug user’s addiction is punishment enough. If you have known, worked with, lived with, been the victim of, etc. an addict, you know that person is not the only one punished. Those people are the real forgotten men, the trail of victims the addict leaves behind. Those who have to live with the costs incurred by an addict’s habit. Don’t forget those forgotten men.

    In regards to Ron Paul supporters, I know very well how they think and what issues are important to them. The Paulistas rally around narcotic legalization as the ultimate example of freedom. Yet, finding such fervor about the rights of the unborn and religious freedom is virtually silent. They claim to be freedom fighters, but their motivations are really selfish. “Let me smoke my pot. Erase my debts you evil big banks.”

    I could go on and on about the problems of Paulistas. I have 2 in the family and have seen endless postings by them and their friends. You are the sanest one I’ve ever met, probably the only sane one.

  • “You mentioned the costs to enforce the drug laws as a justification to cease the prohibition. It is my belief that the rightness or wrongness of a law is never based on its enforceability or its costs.”

    Well, I don’t share that belief. I think it is morally wrong to not consider the practicality or the costs, because if they are worse than the problem that the policy claims to address, you are imposing unfair and unnecessary burdens on people. Costs matter, especially when you are proposing to confiscate people’s private property to pay them. There is rightness and wrongness to consider every step along the way. When you say you don’t care about costs, you’re basically saying that you don’t care about the consequences of your actions. How is that anything other than sociopathic?

    “If we, as a society, decide sex trafficking is wrong and should be illegal, does it matter the cost to enforce it? ”

    Yes, it does matter. It absolutely matters. There is a hierarchy of needs and priorities. I don’t know exactly where sex trafficking falls on that hierarchy, but I’m pretty sure that there are things higher than it that need to be addressed before that issue can be addressed.

    “How much has been spent on stopping and prosecuting murder? By the legalize narcotics standards, we should cease those laws. They are simply ineffective and too costly. Murderers will murder anyway. Or, is it possible the very existence of the law provides a beneficial deterrence to would be murders?”

    The state exists to protect natural rights. Laws against murder reflect the fact that we have a natural right to life that no man is justified in violating. Laws against marijuana, on the other hand, prevent people from engaging in behavior that AT BEST might theoretically cause someone else harm. At worst they are proposed to save people form themselves, which is a violation of human dignity and free will.

    The law does not exist to “instruct.” It does not exist to make us better people. That is the role of religion, of society, of our families. The law exists to protect our rights against would-be violators. That’s all.

    “You say the drug user’s addiction is punishment enough. If you have known, worked with, lived with, been the victim of, etc. an addict, you know that person is not the only one punished. Those people are the real forgotten men, the trail of victims the addict leaves behind. Those who have to live with the costs incurred by an addict’s habit. Don’t forget those forgotten men.”

    First of all, I have.

    Secondly, the state doesn’t exist to help those people. That is what families, churches, and local organizations are for. The state shouldn’t have a thing to do with what ought to be a private matter.

    “I know very well how they think and what issues are important to them. The Paulistas rally around narcotic legalization as the ultimate example of freedom.”

    Well, this is at stereotype. I am a Ron Paul supporter, and I don’t believe that. Neither does Judge Napolitano, Tom Woods, Chuck Baldwin or any number of conservative religious Ron Paul supporters.

    “You are the sanest one I’ve ever met, probably the only sane one.”

    Check out the guys I mentioned.

  • Again, and with reference to Blackadder’s contention, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has a budget of $6.9 bn, of which the Department of Justice attributes $3.5 bn to the cost of incarcerating people for whom the top count was a drug charge. Federal prisoners account for about 11% of the nation’s inmates, but a much higher share of those incarcerated for street drugs (~30%). The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has a budget of $2.4 bn. Overall, around 20% of the sum of costs for law enforcement at all levels of government is attributable to the gross costs of enforcing the drug laws. Not 10% of all public expenditure is lavished on police, courts, and prisons. About 2% of all public expenditure can be fairly attributable to drug enforcement.

    (While we are at it, libertarians, around 15% of all public expenditure is allocated to the military, and somewhat under 30% of all soldiers are billeted abroad, so “the empire” accounts for just north of 4% of public expenditure).

We Apologize For Breathing

Friday, September 21, AD 2012

Hattip to AllahPundit at Hot Air.  Your tax dollars at work.  The State Department is paying for the above video to run in Pakistan.  I find it breathtaking in its complete incomprehension.  The foolish anti-Mohammed video is merely a pretext for the Jihadists to carry on their war with us.  Obama and Clinton could apologize from now until Doomsday and it would have no impact, except to convince watching muslims that the United States leadership is weak and confused which is a completely accurate assessment of the Obama administration abroad.

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15 Responses to We Apologize For Breathing

  • Liberals simply do not understand. We have one at work. He was complaining about a totally separate subject: that Romney wants to open up more fossil fuel supply that will pollute the atmosphere. I tried explaining that Obama’s appointment of an anti-nuclear power activist as head of the US NRC and his undermining of US commercial nuclear power (the only viable alternative to fossil fuel) are even worse. But the truth didn’t matter. His eyes are fixed on the Obamessiah, yet a better technical engineer or more dedicated one I have yet to meet.

    I am convinced that liberalism is a disease of the mind that blinds the self to the truth.

  • I’m being charitable here. The liberals running us into the mud are idiotic, unprincipled cowards. It’s why they lost the Middle East and North Africa (now regime-sponsored terrorist recruiting centers and training camps), Africa, and are losing the global terror war against us.

    Paul, the useless idiots are also at war with coal, electricity generation, oil (e.g., ban Keystone pipeline), and the (evil, unjust) private sector.

    The one campaign promise Obama has kept: skyrocketing energy prices.

  • What we can and cannot do in the Near East and adjacent areas is quite constrained by costs and (with regard to certain functions) a deficit of capable and loyal personnel. A great deal of this is just political tides you cannot manipulate readily, certainly not with the clandestine services we have (in which Aldrich Ames was promoted how many times?). That having been said, a security cordon for diplomats is certainly something we can afford and that is what they did not supply to the departed Mr. Stevens and others. Instead of owning up to that they give us this. As for the odious Mr. Morsi, a reminder that we have a long memory might do for the time being. With our fiscal house in better order we might just be able to graduate to ‘nice little canal you have there; pity if someone took it from you’.

    Please note with regard to your second video that murderous intent applies primarily to the Jews and is regarded indulgently by the twerps currently in the employ of Ron Unz and Taki Theodorogetdrunkfalldownchaseskirts and also by the soi-disant Catholic peace-and-justice types (see Jonathan Tobin’s recent brief critique of Margaret Steinfels commentary).

  • “Please note with regard to your second video that murderous intent applies primarily to the Jews”

    I can think of a lot of Copts and other Christian Arabs who have the misfortune to have been born in the Middle East Art who would beg to differ as to that sentiment.

  • You are wrong – the video would have worked if Madam Hillary had worn a Hijab and covered herself appropriately. What was she thinking!?!

    Actually, I am with the Muslims on covering Hillary from head to toe – finally, common ground we can work from!

  • In his statement, the pres said, forgive me if I get the words wrong as I’ve listened several times, the that he objects to the demograte??? of all faith beliefs.
    I wonder how he can say that when he and his administration are basicly at war with the Catholic Church and other Christian faiths with all these mandates that go against the moral values of the faith of others. Is he in fact saying he will not stand for anyone to make comments or other fourms of communication against the Muslim religion but will promote it against Christian religions.

  • “wonder how he can say that when he and his administration are basically at war with the Catholic Church and other Christian faiths ”

    We don’t form murderous mobs and hunt and kill American ambassadors. Additionally I think Obama views Islam through the usual liberal prism where colorful members of the Third World can do no wrong and America can do no right. It is as condescending to them in its way as any Brit colonel in the nineteenth century ranting about WOGS in India. On the other hand, Christians in general, and Catholics in particular, are viewed as enemy number one, always standing in the way of the building of a global secular utopia. (I realize the glaring contradictions that these beliefs contain, but I do think that is how Obama and many secular liberals rationalize in their own minds the disparate treatment they mete out to Muslims and Christians.)

  • WHY do we reject this video’s content and message? On what grounds does the US government take a stand on a particular religious message? The video, as I understand it, was a privately-funded piece of art with a religious commentary. The President can personally condemn it, and Congress can pass a resolution condemning it, but seriously, how in the world can the US government state a position on it?

  • I can think of a lot of Copts and other Christian Arabs who have the misfortune to have been born in the Middle East Art who would beg to differ as to that sentiment.

    Agreed they have been on the receiving end of more abuse the last 37 years. The aspirations the Arab world’s enrages have toward the Jews remain unfulfilled due to Israel’s military.

  • Yes this apologizing thing is out of control. Jesus would have NEVER apologized for anything especially for the sake of an attempt at peace.

  • Last time I looked Bob Obama wasn’t Jesus, although I think some of his more deluded followers may be confused on that point. Anyone who believes these apologies will do anything other than to encourage Jihadist attacks, needs to put down the crack pipe and take a cold shower, stat.

  • It is correct that Jesus would never ever apologize. He is God. God is without apology. So when he had a fit in the temple, overturning the tables of the money changers and whipping them out, he did so without apology. When he condemned Tyre and Sidon, he did do without apology. When he ripped up one side and down the other of that society’s self-righteous leaders (can you spell social justice Democrat?), he did so without apology. When he told the disciples to arm themselves with a sword just before Judas met him to betray him, he did so without apology. And when he told Pontius Pilate that his kingdom was not of this world, and Pilate would have no power except what God gave him (something Obama would do well to remember), he did so without apology.

    No apology for righteousness, holiness, virtue, integrity, honor ad true justice! None! Not then. Not now. Not ever. And Jesus Christ will one day return to Earth on that great white horse with that great sword coming out of his mouth exactly as Revelation 19 explains, and without apology there will be hell to pay. You get that, Bob?

  • The pres has different views as to what needs apoligies for and what not – we know he is sending out apology messages to the Muslin nations but now a word of apology to Christians over a pice of art of Christ Crucified covered with urine, that is acceptable to him and no apology to Christians needed or condemnation of the artist.
    I made a comment to others that after the Pres took office he went to Egypy on his ‘apology tour’ to the Muslim nations, maybe he needs to go back there right now, stand in the middle of all those Muslims yelling ‘Kill Americans’ while they burn Our Flag and apologize to them again, in person.

  • This is one of the most shameful moments in American history. When before have we cowered before our enemies like this?
    What Carter began in the Muslim world, Obama will finish. What started in Iran now infects the entire region.
    He has no idea what he is unleashing.
    Others have pointed out that what the United States has repeatedly shown to the Muslim world through its actions is that we fear only one thing: Allah.
    Oh, the things they have observed.

    Americans troops don’t dare chase Jihadi’s into our mosques.
    Americans will burn Bibles at their military bases so they can’t be used to corrupt the faithful.
    They treat the Koran with the respect it deserves, wearing gloves when they touch it and never putting it on the ground.
    When Mohammad (insert appropriate verbage here) is shown disrespect, the nation’s very own leader buys time on our televisions to apologize.

    Bush was so very wrong. We are at war with Islam. And we are losing.

  • Impeach, try and convict the Secretary of State.

    It’s the only way to be sure.

Ronald Reagan on Foreign Policy

Friday, May 4, AD 2012

We in America have learned bitter lessons from two world wars: It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We’ve learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.

Ronald Reagan


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13 Responses to Ronald Reagan on Foreign Policy

  • This is the correct response to Ron Paul’s foreign policy.

  • Pretty words. But if I recall correctly, wasn’t taking shelter across the sea, and rushing to respond after freedom was lost exactly what we did in WWII, and we won that one? Seems the lesson we can take is that responding ONLY when necessary is the prudent course. Of course, one’s man’s optional is another man’s necessity.

    I also recall another great statesman warning that we should not go about the world searching for monsters to slay. His name currently escapes me.

  • I would note that I posted this merely to make my own views clear and not as a critque of Bonchamps’ post on Ron Paul’s foreign policy. We obviously differ in our views, but commenters should address our posts as separate and not attempt to engage us in a duel which is not my intention. This is a group blog and contributors are occasionally going to have different viewpoints, not a rarity actually at TAC.

  • “Pretty words. But if I recall correctly, wasn’t taking shelter across the sea, and rushing to respond after freedom was lost exactly what we did in WWII, and we won that one?”

    400,000 dead Americans later cmatt, with a world wide death toll of around 62,000,000, not to mention of course that we could have lost that War if events prior to our entry had played out differently. If we had been isolationist for a few more years we might well have ended up confronting Nazi Germany, victorious over the Soviet Union, armed with nuclear tipped ICBMs. We and the world were quite lucky as to how WW2 turned out; history could have very easily taken a much darker path.

  • With all due respect, Donald, you were the one in previous posts here at TAC who called Ron Paul “Dr. Delusional.” Now you say that yours and Bonchamps’ are simply different points of view. The derisive term “Dr. Delusional” (with which I happen to agree) bespeaks of more than simply a different point of view.

    Either your point of view is correct and Bonchamps incorrect, or vice versa. Either Reagan is correct in his speech above and Ron Paul incorrect, or vice versa. This “ain’t no dictatorship of relativism.”

    I guess now my comment is going to get me in trouble. Again, no offense is intended towards either you or Bonchamps (who is indeed a great writer). But one can’t discuss Reagan’s foreign policy in today’s post without considering Ron Paul’s foreign policy in yesterday’s post (and vice versa – darn, used that word too much!). That the two are published so close together means something.

  • One of the purposes of TAC Paul is to allow each contributor to write about whatever issues they wish to write about and to proclaim their views. Too much back and forth between contributors in the comboxes can negate that purpose. Bonchamps has set forth his views ably on foreign policy in his thread, and I have given my agreement with the views espoused by Reagan. Contributors are free to comment on each thread, but it is not my purpose to debate Bonchamps on his views on foreign policy but rather to merely assert my own.

  • In fact, Hitler wanted to wait until he had defeated Great Britain to draw the U.S. into the war. For this reason, Germany had mixed feelings about the Japanese attack n Pearl Harbor. Having split the alliaince between would ahve been devastating for the U.S.

  • Sounds like a walk softly but carry a big stick president. What countries did Ronald Reagan create more perpetual occupation? How about W? I rest my case.

  • Rest your case? You haven’t even made your case! Try again.

  • Indeed, we hurt for another Gipper to appear; our present political landscape is sadly bereft of anything larger than the occasional bump in the plain.

    He was absolutely right. The Soviet Union (and its puppets) was our enemy and it had an overt and stated goal of World Communism. Our backs were against the wall and 15 years of Liberal Democrat appeasement had cost us a war, 52,000 needless deaths and brought us to near desperation. Thank God – literally – that RWR, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II were where they were. We would not be here had they not been there.

    But that threat in that form is gone today, for the same reason. Strategies wrought in the Cold War dichotomy aren’t needed today. So, read his words carefully: “We’ve learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.”

    To obviate: “tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent”

    Which government best fits that description today?

    Again, which government – including the one that attacks religious liberty at home, exports $70 billion a year to Mexican criminals as well as millions in taxpayer funded weapons, supports its cronyist supporters through whole-cloth fiat bailouts, abandons freedom fighter abroad, appoints “czars” and wages intrusive wars while ignoring Congress, supports Social Fascist protestors who occupy and destroy private property, puts its own ideology before Constitutional process and perpetuates generations of poverty and ignorance through redistributionist programs, just to name a handful of egregious crimes – which government best fits that description today?

    Ironic, no?

    “We have met the enemy, and he is us!”

  • “Which government best fits that description today?”

    Iran. Next question?

  • “Which government best fits that description today?”

    “Iran. Next question?”

    Perhaps a better question would be “which governments [plural] fit that description”

    In addition to Iran, you can add China and Russia and a few others to that list, all of whom are dictatorships that have Obama’s lips surgically implanted on their backside.

    What isolationalists/non-intervetionist like to throw around the “The U.S. cannot be the world’s policeman” fail and/or refuse to understand is that is we are not, these tyrannical regimes would be more than happy to step into that breach. In fact, they are trying to do just that. I shudder to think of what the world would be like if they are ever successful in that endeavor. A United States willing and able to unapologetically defend its own vital interests is the only thing that stands in their way. Reagan understood this very well.

    In his “Shining City on a Hill” speech, Reagan quotes Pope Pius XII:

    “The American people have a great genius for splendid and unselfish actions. Into the hands of America God has placed the destinies of an afflicted mankind.”

  • What isolationalists/non-intervetionist like to throw around the “The U.S. cannot be the world’s policeman” fail and/or refuse to understand

    Is that the sums readily attributable to the ‘world police’ function are a modest fraction (~6%) of total military expenditures since 1953.

Has the U.S. Government Betrayed Chen Guangcheng?

Wednesday, May 2, AD 2012

Matthew Archbold as well as the folks at Hot Air have done a fantastic job covering the story of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng.  Matt discussed this story a few days ago.

Chen Guancheng is a blind human rights activist who has protested his country’s forced abortions and sterilizations. After months of beatings at the hands of his guards, Chen pretended to be sick and laid up in bed. He and his wife studied the movements of the guards, according to ABC News. In the middle of the night, Guancheng slipped past nearly 100 guards stationed around his home and escaped into the night.

Matt detailed the U.S. government’s less than enthusiastic embrace of Chen, and today we have learned more troubling details that indicate that the administration has betrayed Chen.  Ed Morrissey relays this:

Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng says a U.S. official told him that Chinese authorities threatened to beat his wife to death had be not left the American Embassy.

Speaking by phone from his hospital room in Beijing on Wednesday night, a shaken Chen told The Associated Press that U.S. officials relayed the threat from the Chinese side.

Chen, who fled to the embassy six day ago, left under an agreement in which he would receive medical care, be reunited with his family and allowed to attend university in a safe place. He says he now fears for his safety and wants to leave.

Chen says that the U.S. government lied to him.

An American official denied that account. The official said Mr. Chen was told that his wife, Yuan Weijing, who had been brought to Beijing by the Chinese authorities while Mr. Chen was in the American Embassy, would not be allowed to remain in the capital unless Mr. Chen left the embassy to see her. She would be sent back to Mr. Chen’s home village in Shandong, where no one could guarantee her safety.

“At no time did any U.S. official speak to Chen about physical or legal threats to his wife and children. Nor did Chinese officials make any such threats to us,” Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokesperson, said in an e-mailed statement. “U.S. interlocutors did make clear that if Chen elected to stay in the Embassy, Chinese officials had indicated to us that his family would be returned to Shandong, and they would lose their opportunity to negotiate for reunification.”…

“At no point during his time in the Embassy did Chen ever request political asylum in the U.S.,” Ms. Nuland said. “At every opportunity, he expressed his desire to stay in China, reunify with his family, continue his education and work for reform in his country. All our diplomacy was directed at putting him in the best possible position to achieve his objectives.”

As Allahpundit says, this is a distinction without a difference.  One way or the other Chen was led to believe that his wife’s life was in danger, or at the very least was threatened with physical harm.  Either way, Chen was clearly upset.

“The embassy kept lobbying me to leave and promised to have people stay with me at the hospital,” he said. “But this afternoon, as soon as I checked into the hospital room, I noticed they were all gone.”

He said he was “very disappointed” in the U.S. government and felt “a little” that he had been lied to by the embassy.

At the hospital, where he was reunited with his family, he said he learned that his wife had been badly treated after his escape.

“She was tied to a chair by police for two days,” he said. “Then they carried thick sticks to our house, threatening to beat her to death. Now they have moved into the house. They eat at our table and use our stuff. Our house is teeming with security — on the roof and in the yard. They installed seven surveillance cameras inside the house and built electric fences around the yard.”

At this point it’s impossible to determine exactly what has happened, and whether or not the State Department and the Obama administration sold Chen out just to remain in China’s good graces.  One would like to think the best of this president and assume that he would not betray a heroic dissident in order to keep an evil,authoritarian government happy.  One would also have to be hopelessly naive to blindly make such an assumption.

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18 Responses to Has the U.S. Government Betrayed Chen Guangcheng?

  • Well, the ChiComs are one of the biggest owners of our national debt. Who
    pays the piper calls the tune– we’re going to have to learn to do what our
    overlords want…

  • Well, you know, as Sec. Clinton said, we can’t let these human rights issues destroy our national security interests or financial interests or ENVIRONMENTAL interests……silly human rights.

  • That would be the second dissident asylum seeker betrayed this year.

    It’s fascinating: we won’t turn over Uighurs designated as enemy combatants because we are afraid for their welfare, but we’ll chuck back two men who share the values of this nation (albeit not the current occupants of Washington) without a second thought.

    Now I’m going to stop because otherwise I’m going to make several intemperate references to the sexual practices and dubious parentage of said occupants.

    Maybe I need to vote for Romney after all.

  • And if Obama were to gain a second term Dale, imagine how much more “flexibility” he would have to betray this nation’s ideals, beliefs and interests. He is beginning to nudge James Buchanan for top spot on my presidential list of shame.

  • “One would like to think the best of this president . . .”

    One would like $2 steaks and for all teenagers to respect and heed thier parents’ wisdom. One would like self-mowing lawns and 200-mpg cars possessed with zip and style. One would like his wife to budget before she spends.

    And all of that is more likely than anything resembling “best” to ever be found in “this president.”

  • How can we assume that the US government just left Chen at the hospital? I mean maybe they went to get coffee er um some good Chinese food (they are in China after all) and maybe some escorts. I mean who knows!! We have to give them the benefit of the doubt. HATERS!!

  • “One would like his wife to budget before she spends.”

    You are a dreamer. 🙂

  • “You are a dreamer.”

    But I’m not the only one . . . and it was quite a list of fantasy wishes, wasn’t it?

  • Yes it was. I am going to use them elsewhere and claim credit.

  • Shaw thinks Chen would be “better off” in Chiner if Obama gets re-elected.

  • I came to this article out of concern for the “Blind (generic) Activist”. But, now I find I have to assure WK Aiken and Phillip:

    I, a wife, am responsible for the household budget and spend/save accordingly. (And, for the record, I learned how to budget from my Mom.) Still, the rest of your list would be great!

  • It shames me to say this, but perhaps Chen Guangcheng would have fared better if
    he’d fled to the Russian embassy. My God, where is this country going?

  • Thanks, Meli, for restoring my faith in the sanctity of marital bond and domestic responsibility. Were this not a public forum, I’d give you my home number so you might instruct my spouse as to the benefits of your approach. As it is, I shall simply shore up hope and renew my supplications to The Almighty that someday, before we go to our rocking chairs, this too shall have passed.

  • WK – at least post if you find that $2 steak!

  • I have a US $5 gold piece or a few silver dollars that can buy a side of beef.

  • (Is it just me, or does it seem that Nixon going to China was a very, very bad move?)

    Despicable. Both the Chinese government, and the Obama administration’s actions.

    It’s funny, but whenever I get into an argument a discussion about America’s relationship with China, they always claim that by buying Chinese goods and being friendly with China, we’re giving the Chinese people the means to live well so that they can afford to start thinking about freedom and human rights and then will encoruage their government to follow, etc.

    That tactic doesn’t seem to be working…

  • Pingback: Aquinas & More on Boycotting Chinese Products

Ron Paul’s Foreign Policy: Golden Rule or Relativism?

Wednesday, January 18, AD 2012

If you move about those regions of the internets in which righteous display their moral superiority by posting sixty second video clips showing just how bad their opponents are, you have probably seen headlines lately along the lines of “Christians Boo Jesus” or “Republicans Mock Golden Rule”. Of course, one hardly needs to watch the clip, because in the dualism that is politicization, everyone already knows that they’re right and their opponents are wrong. But after the fifth or sixth iteration, I had to go ahead watch Ron Paul (who else) present his Golden-Rule based foreign policy to boos. Here’s the clip in question:

Or if, like me, you tend not to watch posted videos, here’s the money quote:

“My point is, that if another country does to us what we do to others, we aren’t going to like it very much. So I would say maybe we ought to consider a golden rule in foreign policy. We endlessly bomb these other countries and then we wonder why they get upset with us?”

Now, this sounds superficially high minded, and some people who really are high minded seem lured by it. Kyle, who has an genuine and expansive desire to understand “the other” has his dander up and says:

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27 Responses to Ron Paul’s Foreign Policy: Golden Rule or Relativism?

  • Ron Paul may have avoided 9/11/2001 if congress would have listened in 1999.
    Now look at the normal political trashing of our freedoms. Watch the video from a year ago
    No other military in the world can take away our freedoms. We should not let our government either.

  • If Ron Paul’s foreign policy and spending priorities were enacted (which is, perhaps appropriately given his other policy stands, a pipe dream) it would pretty quickly not be the case that no other military in the world could take away our freedoms — much less other people’s freedoms. We too easily forget the advantages that come to us and others as a result of living in a unipolar world.

    That doesn’t mean that we should be quick to dismiss our freedoms at home, but it does underline the basic insanity of Ron Paul’s non-interventionalism and isolationism.

  • Excellent post, DC.

  • WFB, Jr. on the problem I have with Paul’s thinking:

    “… to say that the CIA and the KGB engage in similar practices is the equivalent of saying that the man who pushes an old lady into the path of a hurtling bus is not to be distinguished from the man who pushes an old lady out of the path of a hurtling bus: on the grounds that, after all, in both cases someone is pushing old ladies around.”

    ~ William F. Buckley

  • Darwin, a major kudos to you for ending with C.S. Lewis’s extraordinary statement:

    I imagine somebody will say, `Well, if one is allowed to condemn the enemy’s acts, and punish him, and kill him, what difference is left between Christian morality and the ordinary view?’ All the difference in the world. Remember, we Christians think man lives for ever.

    The dualism that inhabits Lewis’ theology is nowhere more stark than here. The interior life and the exterior life have been entirely divided. Our interior beliefs (“man lives forever”) do not modify our external acts: “one is allowed to condemn the enemy’s acts, and punish him, and kill him.” This kind of disconnect between belief and act poses a major threat to the Gospel: it turns grace into a program for pagan virtue training.

    If we believe that man lives forever, if we truly believe this, then everything changes. If we believe that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities, then everything changes. If we believe that mercy triumphs over sin, then everything — everything inside us and outside us, from every thought to every act — changes.

    Even national policies related to security changes.

    While I thank Ron Paul for bringing scripture into the national debate, the heart of the Gospel is not the Golden Rule, but rather the cross and the resurrection. The cross and resurrection, presents us with an entirely new way of facing evil in this world. A national security policy based upon an invincible trust in Christ’s death, life, and love is what the Gospel calls for.

  • Nate,

    I don’t think that Lewis is being particularly dualistic here. Rather, he’s seeing how the human person, as an integrated person, is not confined by the exigencies of the world in which he finds himself — exigencies which may place him at odds with his fellow men, whether through his fault or his unknowing. To quote that second bit at greater length:

    I imagine somebody will say, `Well, if one is allowed to condemn the enemy’s acts, and punish him, and kill him, what difference is left between Christian morality and the ordinary view?’ All the difference in the world. Remember, we Christians think man lives for ever. Therefore, what really matters is those little marks or twists on the central, inside part of the soul which are going to turn it, in the long run, into a heavenly or a hellish creature. We may kill if necessary, but we must not hate and enjoy hating. We may punish if necessary, but we must not enjoy it. In other words, something inside us, the feeling of resentment, the feeling that wants to get one’s own back, must be simply killed. I do not mean that anyone can decide this moment that he will never feel it any more. That is not how things happen. I mean that every time it bobs its head up, day after day, year after year, all our lives long, we must hit it on the head. It is hard work, but the attempt is not impossible. Even while we kill and punish we must try to feel about the enemy as we feel about ourselves – to wish that he were not bead, to hope that he may, in this world or another, be cured in fact, to wish his good. That is what is meant in the Bible by loving him: wishing his good, not feeling fond of him nor saying he is nice when he is not.

    I admit that this means loving people who have nothing loveable about them. But then, has oneself anything loveable about it?

    Now, I suppose one can take our immortality one of two ways. One can either say that because we are immortal, and God will judge each one of us in his infinite knowledge and mercy, that when we are forced to kill in order to protect the innocent and the common good, we do not thus condemn the person killed to non-existence or to perdition. Or one can say that because we are immortal, it isn’t worth using violence in order to protect the innocent or the common good since, after all, there are worse things than being killed or having all your possessions destroyed.

    It seems to me that Lewis is saying the former, while you are implicitly arguing the latter. The Church has had members who have gone both ways, but if one actually looks at the doctrines of the Church, it pretty much comes down on the former side. While the Church recognizes the heroic nature of self-sacrificing non-violence, it also states that it is the duty of those in authority to preserve the common good and protect the innocent, and it acknowledges that this sometimes requires the use of force. Indeed, the catechism states that defending one’s country in the armed forces (as Lewis references having done in WW1) is at times an obligation.

  • Ron Paul’s foreign policy mindset is informed entirely by notions of moral equivalence. Nothing else can explain his analogizing of Osama bin Laden to a Chinese dissident here in the U.S.

    I’m starting to have flashbacks to the arguments of the anti-anti-communists of the 1980s. The only difference is that these days, they call themselves libertarians instead of liberals.

  • Agree, Dale — hence the quote I offered above.

  • Bravo Darwin! More thoughts this evening after I wade through 20 return calls to clients, dictation, and a meeting with clients. Spending most of the day in court wreaks havoc on a lawyer’s schedule!

  • Mike–that’s a good quote. I kinda blipped over it, I sheepishly admit.

  • Hold on, Mike, I could swear that one of the doyens of the Catholic blogsphere established that pushing old ladies is intrinsically evil, in which case saying that it’s or wrong right depending on whether you’re pushing them in front of the bus or away from the bus is just so much consequentialism.

  • Darwin, double kudos for further quoting Lewis. I’d forgotten that he’d double-downed (it’s been years since I read Mere Christianity).

    We may kill if necessary, but we must not hate and enjoy hating.

    If this isn’t dualism — dividing the body from the soul, the thought from the act — I don’t know what is. He might have well as said, “We may murder millions of babies if necessary, but we must not hate and enjoy hating.” The passionless extermination of the unborn may not be accompanied by passionate feelings of hate, but it is no less an act of hate and a sign of a hateful heart.

    Hate isn’t a disembodied emotion with no connection to our external acts. Neither is faith, hope, or love. Mother Theresa spent the last forty years of her life without any emotional conviction in God’s existence or love. Nevertheless, her life demonstrated a heart of immense faith.

    Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth
    — 1 Jn 3:18

    If faith and love are demonstrated by our acts, then so too hatred.

  • To be a little more academic, the whole doctrine of double-effect has immense applicability to the idea of killing without hatred. It is possible to kill without hatred only if our intention is not to kill.

  • Nate,

    No, you’re weirdly twisting Lewis’ argument and inserting assumptions of your own which neither he nor the Church shares with you.

    First off, you’re inserting the assumption that the act of killing necessarily involves hate, and thus that if one acts in a way one knows will cause death (to go with Lewis’ example: firing a rifle at a soldier charging at you across the no man’s land) that one is performing an act that necessarily is connected with hate. However, the Church has clearly taught that the use of lethal force in order to protect oneself, the innocent and the common good is, at time, not only morally acceptable but a duty.

    Next, you take the argument as if Lewis is saying that the only reason killing is every wrong is if you hate:

    He might have well as said, “We may murder millions of babies if necessary, but we must not hate and enjoy hating.” The passionless extermination of the unborn may not be accompanied by passionate feelings of hate, but it is no less an act of hate and a sign of a hateful heart.

    If Lewis had said that, he would clearly be wrong. But what Lewis is objecting to is the error (which you seem to be making) that killing is necessarily and always an evil, that it is never just. Abortion is always an evil, not matter what emotions one is feeling (and surely you realize that Lewis is not talking about the emotion of hate but rather hate in the theological sense: that act of the will of wishing another person ill) because abortion is the killing of an innocent person. Killing in self defense or in defense of another, etc. is not in and of itself an unjust act. The Church recognizes and teaches this, even if you disagree with the Church in that regard.

    Finally, you misunderstand the concept of double effect:

    To be a little more academic, the whole doctrine of double-effect has immense applicability to the idea of killing without hatred. It is possible to kill without hatred only if our intention is not to kill.

    You need to be more careful in your use of the world “intention” here. In double effect as regards to killing, your “object” cannot be to kill. So, for instance, if Lewis is standing on the firing step and a German soldier is charging towards him, Lewis may shoot at the soldier in order to stop the soldier from attacking him. If the soldier suddenly drops his rifle and puts his hands up, Lewis may not shoot him, because the object to stopping the attack has already been achieved. However, that doesn’t mean that when Lewis fires his rifle at the oncoming soldier he needs to be thinking, “Well, gee, I’m shooting a rifle at him, but really, I have no idea if this will kill him.” Not having killing as your object is not the same as ignorance of the likely effects of one’s action. The phrase is “forseen but not intended”, as in, you know it will happen but it is not your object in performing the action.

    But since you’re enjoying the Lewis quotes so much, here’s one from slightly before (this is all from Chapter 17: Forgiveness) that should blow the modern mind:

    For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life – namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things. Consequently, Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them. Not one word of what we have said about them needs to be unsaid. But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere he can be cured and made human again.

    The real test is this. Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad ass it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, `Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally, we shall insist on seeing everything – God and our friends and ourselves included – as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.

    Now a step further. Does loving your enemy mean not punishing him? No, for loving myself does not mean that I ought not to subject myself to punishment – even to death. If you had committed a murder, the right Christian thing to do would be to give yourself up to the police and be hanged. It is, therefore, in my opinion, perfectly right for a Christian judge to sentence a man to death or a Christian soldier to kill an enemy. I always have thought so, ever since I became a Christian, and long before the war, and I’ still think so now that we are at peace. It is no good quoting ‘Thou shaft not kill.’ There are two Greek words: the ordinary word to kill and the word to murder. And when Christ quotes that commandment He uses the murder one in all three accounts, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And I am told there is the same distinction in Hebrew. All killing is not murder any more than all sexual intercourse is adultery. When soldiers came to St John the Baptist asking what to do, he never remotely suggested that they ought to leave the army: nor did Christ when He met a Roman sergeant-major- what they called a centurion. The idea of the knight – the Christian in arms for the defence of a good cause is one of the great Christian ideas. War is a dreadful thing, and I can respect an honest pacifist, though I think he is entirely mistaken, What I cannot understand is this sort of semi-pacifism you get nowadays which gives people the idea that though you have to fight, you ought to do it with a long face and as if you were ashamed of it. It is that feeling that robs lots of magnificent young Christians in the Services of something they have a right to, something which is the natural accompaniment of courage – a kind of gaiety and whole-heartedness.

  • “The sad thing is, our foreign policy WILL change eventually, as Rome’s did, when all budgetary and monetary tricks to fund it are exhausted.”

    The idea that the Roman Empire fell because it was a hugely expansionist power is completely falacious. The Empire stopped expanding under the first emperor Augustus just before the time of Christ. The only large scale exceptions to this were the conquest of Britain under the Emperor Claudius in the first century, and of Dacia in modern day Rumania in the second century, which was abandoned by the Romans in the third century. Rome under the Republic was ruthlessly expansionist; under the Empire it was almost always in a defensive mode.

    Rome fell in the West for a multitude of reasons, but one of the primary ones was the hiring of barbarian mercenaries, and an ever lessening willingness by citizens of the Empire to enlist in the Roman military. The barbarian mercenaries eventually held all the real power in the empire in the West and often made common cause with the tribes which made successful invasions in the fifth century. Frequent Roman civil wars also weakened the Empire, but the main reason for the fall of the Empire in the West is that the Empire ceded military supremacy to their adversaries.

  • Darwin, a lot of these words are slippery, including both ‘intention’ and ‘object’. By intention, I mean ‘object of the will’ rather than motive. I’m grateful for your impersonal use of logic with these questions, and always have been. I think, however, that you’ve misunderstood double-effect theory.

    The phrase ‘object of the will’ does not refer to the motive for an act, although the simple word ‘object’ might. I think that’s where you’ve made a mistake.

    For example, someone might say, “the object of going to school is to become educated”. One could never say that about the ‘object of the will’. The object of the will of going to school is much more discrete, much more direct. It is getting in the car. It is driving. It is getting out of the car. It is sitting. It is listening to the teacher. It is reading the book. Those are all ‘objects of the will’ — deliberate acts. These are all ‘objects’ chosen by the will.

    Lewis may shoot at the soldier in order to stop the soldier from attacking him. If the soldier suddenly drops his rifle and puts his hands up, Lewis may not shoot him, because the object to stopping the attack has already been achieved. (my emphasis)

    I think this quote shows that you are using ‘object’ in terms of motive rather than deliberate choice. Think of ‘object’ less in terms of subjective reasoning, and more in terms of objective outcome. The object of the will of Lewis shooting the Nazi is, well, aiming the gun, squeezing the trigger, putting a bullet in the Nazi’s chest, twice preferably. The precise ‘object’ is a bullet-wounded Nazi.

    If we can agree on these points, I’d love to press forward with the discussion.

  • I should clarify even further (since we’re getting all philosophical), that “object of the will” should really be the “immediate object of the will”.

  • Nate,

    I similarly appreciate your calm and reasonable discussion. 🙂

    I agree that the terms being used are slippery, and probably doubly so as different philosophical and theological schools use the same terms differently. Additionally, I should confess right up front that as an interested amateur who’s training is in classics rather than either theology or philosophy, I am probably additionally muddying the waters in that my experience in reading Aquinas, Aristotle and Plato is in “getting the sense” of the original Latin or Greek, and so I’m probably doubly imprecise in the “somewhere between the various definitions in the dictionary” kind of way that language folks tend to be.

    All that said, maybe it’s best if we take a look at where Aquinas lays out the principle of double effect in Summa Theologica Q64, Art. 7:

    I answer that, Nothing hinders one act from having two effects, only one of which is intended, while the other is beside the intention. Now moral acts take their species according to what is intended, and not according to what is beside the intention, since this is accidental as explained above (43, 3; I-II, 12, 1). Accordingly the act of self-defense may have two effects, one is the saving of one’s life, the other is the slaying of the aggressor. Therefore this act, since one’s intention is to save one’s own life, is not unlawful, seeing that it is natural to everything to keep itself in “being,” as far as possible. And yet, though proceeding from a good intention, an act may be rendered unlawful, if it be out of proportion to the end. Wherefore if a man, in self-defense, uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repel force with moderation his defense will be lawful, because according to the jurists [Cap. Significasti, De Homicid. volunt. vel casual.], “it is lawful to repel force by force, provided one does not exceed the limits of a blameless defense.” Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense in order to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s. But as it is unlawful to take a man’s life, except for the public authority acting for the common good, as stated above (Article 3), it is not lawful for a man to intend killing a man in self-defense, except for such as have public authority, who while intending to kill a man in self-defense, refer this to the public good, as in the case of a soldier fighting against the foe, and in the minister of the judge struggling with robbers, although even these sin if they be moved by private animosity.

    From this I’d take a couple things:

    1) Aquinas does not think that one actually needs to appeal to double effect in order to justify a soldier killing another soldier in combat, he sees that as springing from the right of authority (the state’s) to protect the common good.

    2) That aside, in the case of someone using lethal force in self defense, Aquinas seems to be talking about one’s “intention” as being what I’d call the “end of one’s actions”, as in, that for which purpose one acts. This is not the same as “motive”, exactly, but it is more a matter of purpose, I think, than the examples you give. I’d say that in our example Aquinas is saying you can “shoot to stop” in self defense, which in practical terms is often the same as “shoot to kill”, but you may not in fact “shoot to kill”. The big difference, from a practical point of view would be when you stop. If you’re shooting to stop, you stop shooting when your assailant stops attacking. If you’re shooting to kill, you keep on till you know he’s dead. (Again, the practical difference here in many situations may be nill.)

    Anyway. Hopefully that’s enough to move the discussion forward a step. As I dig into this, I find myself thinking about writing a post specifically on double effect, which is a model that I’ve had mixed feelings over in the past — though I’d have to think if I’d still address the topic in the same way I did then.

    (Also, just as a historical side note: Lewis never shot at a Nazi. He fought as an infantry officer in World War One, in the trenches of the Somme, but was too old to be called to serve in WW2.)

  • Thanks for the thoughtful response, Darwin!

    1) You’re absolute right. It is one of the most interesting loopholes in Catholic doctrine that I have ever found. While Aquinas and others give plenty of justification for double-effect defense when it comes to civilians, there is a real lack of justification when it comes to soldiers and police. What is stranger is that the modern Catechism doesn’t address the issue at all, and in fact seems to apply double-effect reasoning to soldiers. There’s a pretty good scholarly article about this that I read years ago, about how if double-effect reasoning is applied to soldiers (as the Church’s teachings seem to be headed), then war would have to be fought on very different terms. Unfortunately, I can’t find this article.

    2) It’s my understanding that Aquinas uses the word ‘intention’ with a wide variety of meanings, but I agree that Aquinas doesn’t seem to be using it in the sense that double-effect doctrine currently does. But because I’m not that familiar with Aquinas’ vocabulary, or with Latin, I’m not going to try to get much deeper into his thought.

    Lewis makes an interesting point:

    There are two Greek words: the ordinary word to kill and the word to murder.

    The funny thing is that if you try to define what murder is, you end up with “unjust killing”, and if you try to define what is unjust, you end up with . . . something pretty close to what the Catechism says: “The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful.”

    And unfortunately, there’s where that slippery word comes in again: ‘intention’. Intention could mean, on one very far end of the spectrum, motive, and on the other very far end of the spectrum, the immediate object of the will. But in double-effect reasoning, what counts is both: both the immediate object of the will and the motive must be good or neutral.

    Veritatis Splendor makes this point:

    78. The morality of the human act depends primarily and fundamentally on the “object” rationally chosen by the deliberate will, as is borne out by the insightful analysis, still valid today, made by Saint Thomas. In order to be able to grasp the object of an act which specifies that act morally, it is therefore necessary to place oneself in the perspective of the acting person. The object of the act of willing is in fact a freely chosen kind of behaviour. To the extent that it is in conformity with the order of reason, it is the cause of the goodness of the will; it perfects us morally, and disposes us to recognize our ultimate end in the perfect good, primordial love. By the object of a given moral act, then, one cannot mean a process or an event of the merely physical order, to be assessed on the basis of its ability to bring about a given state of affairs in the outside world. Rather, that object is the proximate end of a deliberate decision which determines the act of willing on the part of the acting person. Consequently, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “there are certain specific kinds of behaviour that are always wrong to choose, because choosing them involves a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil”

  • Darwin,
    I was threatened by a criminal a year ago with gun retaliation after I defeated him in a fight after he fled my secondary inherited home in an edgy neighborhood…(a house I’m working on to sell)… which he had broken into (I arrived home to hear him slam the side door). My instincts were correct in chasing him to ambush him after hearing the door slam because he had stolen inter alia….a weapon….which I retrieved. In the NY harbor area, that weapon would have been sold by him and killed someone someday. I pray for his salvation and keep a tactical shotgun ready to kill him if he carries out his threat. Why don’t I plan to wound him? One’s goal is to stop the trigger finger and you do that by death only unless you can shoot a man’s hand off which is a
    delusional goal where there is movement….if you wound him, he can still kill you or paralyze you.
    Aquinas passage seems to imply that only soldiers can self defend. But the modern states depute civilians through gun licenses to protect themselves in their homes in my area….outside the home in many states.
    The gospel is fascinating in that repeatedly, disciples of Christ are found to be carrying machaira…war swords….both prior to Gethsemane and Peter at Gethsemane. Christ rebukes Peter for “living by the sword” in his Gethsemane choice to assault a temple soldier….but Christ nowhere stops any of them from what Pennsylvanians call….open carry. Christ’s good Samaritan parable is about a mugging and if you let muggers damage your body pre modern surgery, you may well be lame and unable to work for life. Hence it strikes me that Chrst therefore let them carry machaira….for opposing muggers….but not for attacking authorities as Peter did at Gethsemane.

  • I know less than nothing about philosophy and theology.

    Here’s what I see. Jesus advised, “Sell your coat and buy a sword.” He taught the man who sliced the temple guard’s ear if he lived by the sword he would perish by the sword. OTOH, Jesus taught if you call your brother “fool”, you will be subject to judgment and fiery gehenna. See the difference?

    St. Bernard de Calairvaux’s endorsement of the Templars contains concepts (evil may be violently confronted) that have been largely discarded by humanists and liberals.

    St. John the Baptist taught repentance, charity and justice, not pacifism or tax evasion, he did not tell the soldier to desert or the tax collector to quit.

  • Don,

    The more I think about it, there’s probably some really interesting historical analysis to be done over this whole myth that “first the Republic was replaced the by Empire, then it got too big and it got degenerate under Caligula and Nero, and next thing you know the whole thing fell apart and Rome fell.” It gets caught up in popular culture where you see things like Marcus Aurelius being made out as a secret republican in Gladiator.

    My instinct would be that it crept in in the English speaking world via the Whig political philosophers who took Polybius as guide on how to set up a balanced republic that would last. From there it’s easy to root for the Republic and to see its fall as the “beginning of the end”.

    Is this something that springs from Gibbon? (Whom I confess I’ve never read, though I know you have.)

  • It is fascinating Darwin how this myth of imperial overstretch has been imprinted on the public mind. For generations movies have shown Roman decadent early emperors as you point out, and I agree that people believe that this demonstrates how rotten Rome was, and that it was doomed to fall. Yeah, four centuries later! Most people, including quite a few people with intellectual pretensions, know very little about Roman history, which is a complicated and vast topic that stretches over a thousand years of history. Roman history is usually used as a handy vehicle when axes are ground in contemporary political conflicts, and it is normally a safe vehicle because so many people are simply bone ignorant on the subject.

    Gibbon is not responsible for this. He considered the fall of the Empire to be caused by the triumph of Christianity and Barbarism. He was nonsensical as to the first ground, but on stronger footing as to the second. Roman elites in the fourth and fifth centuries began aping barbarian fashions and contrasting the “honest barbarians” with their increasingly decadent world. The Empire in the West suffered a crisis of confidence among their elites and in that limited sense Gibbon was on to something.

    My favorite living historian, Victor Davis Hanson has summed up that line of argument well:

    “The difference over six centuries, the dissimilarity that led to the end, was a result not of imperial overstretch on the outside but something happening within that was not unlike what we ourselves are now witnessing. Earlier Romans knew what it was to be Roman, why it was at least better than the alternative, and why their culture had to be defended. Later in ignorance they forgot what they knew, in pride mocked who they were, and in consequence disappeared.”

  • Nate,

    I feel like part of the issue here is that Aquinas and I (and, I would argue, the weight of Church history and doctrine) are reasoning from the assumption that killing in just war and self defense are murder (not unjust killing) and working back from there to figure out why, while you’re working from the assumption that all killing is unjust and looking to see if there are any exceptions.

    Thus, you say:

    The funny thing is that if you try to define what murder is, you end up with “unjust killing”, and if you try to define what is unjust, you end up with . . . something pretty close to what the Catechism says: “The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful.”

    And my immediate response would be, “Yes, but the catechism immediately goes on to explain that using lethal force in a just war, in self defense and even at times in capital punishment is not unjust killing.” I see the short bit you quote as necessarily incomplete because it hasn’t yet got into the boundaries to the basic principle that is being stated, while you seem to be assuming that this is a moment of clarity in which the full truth is stated before rationalizations set in.

    On 1) I think the “loophole” actually comes from the Church historically taking the importance of the “common good” as being so great that it outweighs the needs (including the life) of the individual. In our more individualistic age, people often go the opposite direction and hold that person defense is perhaps permissible, but that the polis or civitas is not worth taking life to defend or enforce. (Puts a whole new spin on that emphasis on “common good” which the Catholic left is usually so comfortable with.) This seems exemplified by the Augustine quotes that Aquinas uses:

    Objection 1. It would seem that nobody may lawfully kill a man in self-defense. For Augustine says to Publicola (Ep. xlvii): “I do not agree with the opinion that one may kill a man lest one be killed by him; unless one be a soldier, exercise a public office, so that one does it not for oneself but for others, having the power to do so, provided it be in keeping with one’s person.” Now he who kills a man in self-defense, kills him lest he be killed by him. Therefore this would seem to be unlawful.

    Objection 2. Further, he says (De Lib. Arb. i, 5): “How are they free from sin in sight of Divine providence, who are guilty of taking a man’s life for the sake of these contemptible things?” Now among contemptible things he reckons “those which men may forfeit unwillingly,” as appears from the context (De Lib. Arb. i, 5): and the chief of these is the life of the body. Therefore it is unlawful for any man to take another’s life for the sake of the life of his own body.

    On 2) I guess now I’m trying to understand how you’re using “intention” or “object of the will” in relation to double effect. In the more modern summaries that I’d read, it seemed to me that the idea was that you have an “intention” or “end” and an action that you’re going to perform to achieve that end. The action has two effects, one intended, the other foreseen but not intended. So in one example I’ve read before: Your end is to blow up an enemy missile installation via an action: a missile precision strike. You foresee that because the installation was put in an ordinary neighborhood, you may well accidentally kill innocent civilians nearby, but this is not your intention, it’s a foreseen effect of acheiving the effect you intent: to blow up the missile site. The remaining question is one of proportion: Are you using no more force than is necessary to achieve your end, and is the end itself sufficiently worthy to justify the unintended effects. The thing you can’t do (and this is where people often slip up) is to provide a “motive” such as “I want to end the war quicker” and to achieve that pick a means “kill ten million civilians via a biologically engineered plague” which you think will achieve that motive, because in that case there are not two effects, there’s just one: kill ten million people. (explained with my typical lack of precision vocabulary)

  • Bill,

    I’m rapidly running out of time for my morning’s blogging, but just to be clear: Aquinas actually is supporting the idea that the individual person has the right (and at times duty) to use lethal force in self defense or for the common good. He’s arguing against another interpretation which was apparently around that the time that only those acting directly on behalf of the state could use lethal force.

    One’s goal is to stop the trigger finger and you do that by death only unless you can shoot a man’s hand off which is a delusional goal where there is movement….if you wound him, he can still kill you or paralyze you.

    I guess the thing I’d point out is that while you shouldn’t shoot at anyone you’re not willing to kill (otherwise, why are you shooting a gun at them?) most shootings aren’t fatal. I think people are always kidding themselves when the imagine every police officer, soldier or citizen should be some kind of Annie Oakley shooting guns out of hands or shooting people in the knee, etc. At the same time, most gun wounds aren’t fatal. The moral (if unprecise) point would be: Once the person is no longer a threat to you, you can’t shoot him.

  • Darwin
    I agree with your final idea….when he is no longer a threat, you can’t shoot him. Shotshells to the chest at close range in a house would have lethality rates far above 9mm fights on the street though. In the dark or half dark of flashlights, one can not easily determine an enemy’s being no longer a threat….ergo one may well keep shooting if one has not seen that man’s gun drop from his hand. Scripture thus in the ancient Jewish context allowed killing a night intruder and forbade killing a daytime intruder if he could be subdued (intruders then didn’t have glocks).

    Exd.22:1 “If a thief is found breaking in, and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him;
    Exd 22:2 but if the sun has risen upon him, there shall be bloodguilt for him.”

  • The moral object of an act is a slippery critter. One can begin with the thought of Martin Rhonheimer particularly in regards to Summa Theologica II q. 64, a. 7. As we see, Aquinas allows for self-defense even if the result is the death of the aggressor. Here he notes that an act can have two effects. One can kill a person who is attacking in order to defend oneself. But what is the effect of the act that determines the moral quality – the killing or the defense? Again Rhonheimer states that it is what is intended by the actor. It is that which is intended and not which is besides the intention (praeter intentionem). Acts, as noted, are not merely a physical process but rather they “…take their moral species according to what is intended and not according to what is besides the intention.” But self-defense is not an exception to the prohibition of killing as Aquinas notes that excessive force should not be used. The death of the aggressor cannot be intended and if it is then the act is immoral. Thus there is no weighing of the good of one’s life versus that of the attacker in this analysis. For Aquinas, the act solely consists in what is intended, which is the defense of one’s own life. What is “indirect” is the physical effect of killing. But this is non-intended and as such is purely a physical effect from a moral perspective. There are not two moral acts of killing and defense but only a physical act with a specific moral intent – defense. The killing is praeter intentionem even if it occurs as the “…immediate effect of the action.” Thus the physical event is no longer the object of the action but an accidental event. There is thus no “direct” or “indirect” as in PDE but only intended and what is praeter intentionem. Human acts thus should not be judged on the basis of the physical causality of the act but on what the person acting wills as the immediate end of the act.

    This is not to argue that resolving vital conflicts for Rhonheimer is a matter of self-defense. Rather, he uses this thought of Aquinas as the basis for his understanding of the moral object of the act that holds for his subsequent analysis in vital conflicts. That is, any moral analysis must be directed towards “…what is actually willed, on the level of means and end, in a concrete action.” The analysis for Rhonheimer thus becomes not whether something was done physically “directly” or “indirectly.” In self-defense, the defense comes directly from the physical killing of the aggressor. The good comes from the killing. But this is only in physical terms – an indirect willingness. This physical act is of the genus naturae. What is intended is the act of stopping the aggressor. In other terms, a direct killing is not merely a physical end of an act. Rather, directness is what is chosen as a means to an end. It is not the physical act itself that determines the moral object, but the intention of the actor. The object of the action is always conceived of as the object of the will informed by the judgment of practical reason. As a result, what occurs as a physical consequence of what is directly willed is not formative of the morality of the act. Thus, in an analogous fashion, one can consider that reason determines the species of an act as the form determines the species of natural objects. That is, reason is to the moral object as form is to matter. It is reason that determines the species of the moral object. This is of the genus moris.

    This is all of course only true if Rhonheimer’s understanding of the autonomy of practical intellect from the speculative intellect holds. If not, then we have to consider that the physical act has some bearing on the moral object.

    Obtuse enough?

No Strongman for Honduras

Monday, July 27, AD 2009

Tomorrow will mark one month since Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was roused from his bed by members of the military and escorted, in his pajamas, to a plane heading out of the country. Later that same day, June 28th, the Honduran congress elected Roberto Micheletti as interim president, with a term to expire on January 27th, 2010 — the date on which Zelaya’s term would otherwise have ended.

Since then, things have held in a state of tense limbo. No other country has recognized Micheletti as the legitimate president, and Zelaya is now camped out on the Honduras/Nicaragua boarder pushing for his return. Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, a backer of Zelaya, has darkly threatened consequences if he thinks Venezuelans in Honduras might be threatened, but to date no outside power has attempted to force the Honduran military to stand down.

However, the situation is more complicated than a simple coup. This in depth article in the weekend’s WSJ on the lead up to Zelaya’s ouster is a pretty good primer on the subject. The military removed Zelaya in response to orders from the Honduran Supreme Court for the military to arrest Zelaya for disobeying the constitution. Zelaya was attempting to push through a ballot referendum to change the constitution — his primary object according to most Honduran authorities and observers being to remove the constitutional provision which limits each president to only one term in office. In this, he was following the example of other Latin American presidents who have sought to remove the constitutional provisions in their countries that were designed to keep one man from maintaining power indefinitely.

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13 Responses to No Strongman for Honduras

  • I thought this was a good post. I have a friend who was a missionary in Honduras when the coup happened who left out of fear of an invasion or other violence. This post mirrors much what of what she’s told me about the situation.

    She also has her own blog, if anyone’s interested:

  • “there is no denying that the precedent of the military stepping in and removing a sitting president, no matter how poorly behaved, is deeply troubling — especially in a region in which there is such a recent history of frequent military coups.”

    To what extent is this concern simply a habit of the Anglo-American approach to government and the military? In many Latin American countries, doesn’t the military have police powers we Americans would rigorously separate?

  • Nine years ago, a column of soldiers and civilian demonstrators ejected the President of Ecuador from office. The Clinton Administration remonstrated with the parties involved to allow the constitutionally-designated successor to take office. This was done after some hours and the matter was closed. That particular column of soldiers was not, as were their Honduran counterparts, enforcing a court order. IIRC, the deposed President of Ecuador, Jamil Mahaud, seemed relieved to be rid of the office (the country being in the midst of a wretched economic crisis). The disposition of the U.S. Government this time has been inexplicably stubborn in insisting that this dodgy fellow Zelaya remain in office. Roberto Micheletti is the constitutional successor, Zelaya has almost no partisans left in the national legislature, and general elections are due to be held on schedule in November. It sometimes seems as if when this Administration is given a choice of alternatives, in reliably chooses the worse one.

  • “there is no denying that the precedent of the military stepping in and removing a sitting president, no matter how poorly behaved, is deeply troubling — especially in a region in which there is such a recent history of frequent military coups.”

    There are nineteen Latin American republics. The last conventional military coup among them – featuring the replacement of the antecedent government with a military board or autocrat – occurred in Paraguay in 1989. The last which featured the replacement of a constitutional administration with a military government occurred in Bolivia in 1980. You have had various incidents falling short of that, where the president of the republic was ejected from office but the whole of the remaining nexus of constitutional office-holders remained in place. In a couple of cases, the military was the prime mover and in others, the president resigned and left the country in response to street demonstrations.

  • It may be my combination of American cultural prejudices and too much reading of Roman history (where although many of the better emperors were generals — the tendency of generals to vie for imperial power was in the long run destructive) but I would prefer to see the military not involved in removing a sitting president from power even if they then step aside to allow another constitutional leader to take power. It just seems like a destabilizing force.

    So in that sense, I’d marginally prefer to see a politically neutered Zelaya returned to power for a few months and then replaced.

    However, my overall sympathies are much more with Micheletti and the military. What must absolutely not happen is for the Obama administration to put the power behind Zelaya to allow him to come and band make himself a Chavez-style indefinite president.

    It sounds like part of the problem is that for some reason the Honduran constitution includes no provision for impeaching a sitting president, though it does allow for replacing him if he’s left the country. (Thus Zelaya’s expulsion rather than arrest and trail.)

    At first it seemed like the administration had taken precisely the wrong approach to thing, but apparently Clinton is now no longer calling Zelaya’s outer a coup (which Zelaya is objecting to loudly) and is only pushing for his return with sharply limited powers. With those conditions, I could see that being the best way to save the appearances, though I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing Micheletti serve out his term instead. To my mind, the essential thing is that elections take place as scheduled in November and Zelaya not be on the ballot.

  • I may be wrong, but one of the things that I’ve found interesting is that there doesn’t appear to be much popular support for a return to power of Zelaya (which one would expect if it were a stereotypical military coup). Besides supporting a ‘rule of law’ approach to the situation, by supporting Zelaya’s return Obama may undercut Chavez’s status as a regional powerbroker. I wonder how much that was a factor.

    DarwinCatholic: What is the meaning of your username?

  • DarwinCatholic: What is the meaning of your username?

    Well, sad to say, it’s not that I’m from Australia.

    My handle dates back to my own blog (still active, and co-written with my wife) which bears the subheading, “Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don’t survive.” When we got going, I was writing a lot about the demographic tends of different political and philosophical viewpoints. As it happens, I also have a lot of interest in evolution and its relation with religion, so the theme sort of tied in there as well.

    Since I’ve been around as “DarwinCatholic” for about four years now, it seemed like a shame to lose the branding even though I went ahead and put my real name on the contributors page here, so I’ve kept the handle.

  • I came over from the Vox Nova link after I saw your comment on Exceptionalism. It embodied so well the frustrations that I’ve felt about people who have seem to confuse principled opposition of one sort with partisanship or unreasonable attention to ‘one issue amongst many.’ I thought it was a terrific comment!

    I’m interested in the relationship between evolution and philosophy (and ideologies of all sorts)- especially the theory that memetics is akin to genetics.

  • Thanks. I was a little disappointed none of the principals there responded to that, but so it goes.

    I’m never sure whether to think that memetics is terribly clever or terribly silly, but the idea of selective pressures acting on ideas is certainly interesting. There do certainly seem to be selective pressures on ideas, which include how well they fit observable reality, whether they provide the user with a certain sense of satisfaction, and whether they encourage behavior likely to result in their perpetuation. (e.g. The Shakers’ beliefs about celibacy were a major obstacle to their continuance as a sect.)

    I’m wary of the whole thing, because it seems like memetics is partly a way of treating ideas as if their appeal is more important than their truth, but it does seem like a useful way of addressing why certain ideas are persistance regardless of their truth.

  • “I’m wary of the whole thing, because it seems like memetics is partly a way of treating ideas as if their appeal is more important than their truth” – Well, I think that it is not so much that it says that such things are more important (which is a value claim) as it is a theory to explain why some ideas succeed and others don’t (which is a non-normative account of patterns of behavior). After all, societies do seem to adopt ideas in ways that do not merely take into account the verity of the ideas. (Otherwise crackpot ideas would never become popular and good ideas would never be assigned to the historical dustbin.)

  • True. And in that aspect I think it’s an interesting approach to ideas, and has the capacity to tell us a bit about ourselves in that what ideas appeal to us tells us about ourselves.

    I guess it’s not the field itself that I’m concerned with so much as some of the people who seem to be interested in it.

    But then, that can be said of many fields, many of which I find interesting.

  • I guess it’s not the field itself that I’m concerned with so much as some of the people who seem to be interested in it.

    Do you have an opinion of Rene Girard? Isn’t he the father of mimetic theory?

  • Both views have their origin in the word ‘mimema’ (something imitated), but one is memetics and the other is mimetics. I’m not very familiar with the modern continental philosophers, but I think that his idea deals with how imitating other people is a feature of human psychology. (?)

    Memetics is a term that the biologist Richard Dawkins came up with. The original idea seems to have been that from an evolutionary perspective, the success of an organism is actually a matter of gene transmission (and not the fate of the organism itself)- but that beyond that, it wasn’t the genes in the sense of particular genetic material, but the genetic coding. In other words, it was the information encoded in the genes. The theory is that just as a gene can be understood as a self-replicating unit of biological information a ‘meme’ (it rhymes with ‘theme’) is a self-replicating unit of information that is cultural rather than biological.

    Memes can be technological innovations, or stories, or ideologies, or any information that can be transmitted and reproduced from person to person. The interesting part is that you can look at the way that memes are transmitted or mutate and draw analogies to the way that genes work- and theorize about what has or will happen to ideas in a culture.

Book Review: Empires of Trust (Part II)

Wednesday, June 24, AD 2009

[Empires of Trust, review Part I]

Review of: Empires of Trust: How Rome Built–and America Is Building–a New World

My apologies for taking so long to get back with a second part to this review. In the first installment, I covered the history of Rome’s early expansion, and how its commitment to establishing a safe horizon of allies, and defending those allies against any aggression, led the city of Rome to effectively rule all of Italy. From southern Italy, Rome was drawn into Sicily, which in turn made it a threat to Carthage and drew those two superpowers of the third century BC into a series of wars that would end with the total destruction of Carthage as a world power.

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7 Responses to Book Review: Empires of Trust (Part II)

  • Like you (and Madden, I suppose) I found the parallels between the Roman Republic and the U.S. quite striking. The disanalogies, however, were also striking. What ultimately forced Rome to abandon it’s policy of political independence for Greece was the unwillingness of the various Greek city states to stop fighting with each other. By contrast, the countries of Europe seem to be perfectly content not to fight with one another.

  • True.

    I think an important distinction (and a very positive development) is that the US was able to use international institutions to station troops all over the place without actually assuming ruling powers over any of those nations. This allowed the US to remain in Europe after WW2 without getting into the business of trying to rule it (which would undoubtledly have been a disaster for all concerned.)

    I suppose part of the question here would be: If the US had returned to total isolationism after WW2 as it did after WW1, would we see the sort of postwar peace in Europe that we have in the real world? One might after that the development of a fairly conflict-free European political climate after WW2 was to a great extent caused by the fact that US power encouraged those nations to allow their military powers to atrophy.

    I’m sure Europhiles would not buy that argument. I’m not sure to what extent I do. But it does seem interesting that while Europe has a very long history of frequent wars, that history seems to have ended in those areas (and pretty much only in those areas) which have come into the US sphere.

  • Darwin, I don’t think there is any doubt about that. Had the US pulled out of Europe militarily and not assisted the population with the Marshall Plan (both done precisely with the idea of not repeating the mistakes of post WWI), Europe would have been engulfed in war within a year or two. Stalin would have attempted to gobble up Western Europe had it not been for the US presence.

  • “Stalin would have attempted to gobble us Western Europe had it not been for the US presence.”

    Bad Americans. Messing things up again.

  • If the US had returned to total isolationism after WW2 as it did after WW1, would we see the sort of postwar peace in Europe that we have in the real world?

    I’m inclined to doubt it. Even with the U.S. presence, you still had war in the Balkans, war between Greece and Turkey, the conflict in Northern Ireland, a French war in Algeria, a British war with Argentina, and so forth, not to mention the Cold War.

  • Fair point. Maybe I’m overplaying the postwar peace meme.

    Though it does strike me that in all of those cases, the war was either at or beyond the horizon of US presence at the time.

    I dunno. I’m trying to play out and see what I think of this theory. Prior reading this, I’d pretty much accepted the, “After starting two world wars, the Europeans decided that war wasn’t the answer and so the US had to come in and protect them from the Soviets” meme.

    After reading it, and having a couple long, late night discussions with an old history professor friend, I’m wondering if its much more the case that the US decision to stay in Europe is what allowed peace-emphasizing parties to win out — and that the gradual spread of US presence further into Eastern Europe and the Middle East could potentially have similar effects.

  • Don’t know. I think the Cold War was a real war that would have swallowed up a few (many, most)European countries if not for the US presence. Stalin was not opposed to absorbing whatever he could. Even if it would not have taken war for him to do it, he would have.

Free Iran

Monday, June 15, AD 2009

In the proud tradition of news photos of beautiful women protesting against political oppression, the Boston Globe provides a series of photos of the protests over Iran’s apparently rigged presidential election, but the first is this one:

(In all seriousness, this is some of the best photo journalism I’ve seen in a long time, go check it out.)

There’s some reasonable dispute as to whether it would help or hurt the protestors for the Obama Administration to break silence on the issue and speak in support of the protestors. Given Iran’s history and the fierce national pride across the political spectrum, if Obama openly supported the protestors it might give Ahmadinejad the ability to paint Mousavi’s supporters as stooges of the US. However, the US and the rest of the world should make it clear that a violent crackdown ala Tiananmen Square would be absolutely unacceptable.

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21 Responses to Free Iran

  • Yes, and China sure did pay the price for Tiananmen, right? Most favor nation trade status, billions upon billions in foreign investment, hosting the Olympics…

    Yeah, we don’t like to talk about China. But, the good news for Iran is that 75% of its population is under the age of 30 – plenty cheap, exploitable labor to get itself back into the world’s good graces if it wants. Like Chinese communism, Islamic theocracy can learn to play ball too.

  • Joe: You’re giving me whiplash. I went from disagreeing with you quite strongly in recent days to saying “Amen!” to what you expressed here. Thanks!

  • Trade between the U.S. and Iran has been largely illegal for the last 30 years. Are the Iranian people better off on account of this fact? It’s hard to see how. Would the Chinese people be better off if the U.S. had adopted a similar set of sanctions against China twenty years ago? Again, it’s hard to see how.

  • Blackadder: Your reasoning is consequential here, which seems problematic to me.

  • I think you mean consequentialist. I deny the charge. Consequentialism is not the view that consequences matter (something it would be insane to deny), but the view that *only* consequences matter. There’s nothing intrinsically evil about not having sanctions against China or Iran or whatever, and as such whether sanctions are a good or bad idea is going to turn on whether the overall consequences of those sanctions are good or bad.

  • The “turn” you describe is what make it consequentialist, I think, for precisely the same reasons you gave with a minor adjustment: consequentialists do not say that *only* consequences matter, as you say, but, instead, that consequences are *the* criterion by which we ought to judge things, especially morally relevant actions. So, by judging things as they “turn” on overall consequences, you seem to be making a consequentialist point, which, for reasons that should be obvious, I find problematic.

  • Sam,

    That’s like saying it’s consequentialist to tell someone to take an aspirin for their headache, since whether taking the aspirin is a good idea or not turns on whether it will help with your headache. It would be consequentialist to argue that we should use an immoral means to achieve a desirable end. There’s nothing consequentialist in arguing that we should use a morally indifferent means to achieve a desirable end. Nor is there anything consequentialist about saying we shouldn’t use a given means to achieve a desirable end because it won’t actually do so.

    What, exactly, is the point of sanctions if not to help the people of Iran? If sanctions don’t actually do that, then the sanctions would seem to be pretty pointless, no?

  • I think this could lead to a clearer understanding of what my general problem is with what I see as consequential, instrumentalist reasoning (and the problems with that reasoning, perhaps). I promise to resume this one tomorrow.


  • Interesting stuff viewing those photos. I have vivid memories of similar scenes 30 years ago. A generation of young rising up to shrug off a regime that was by regional standards fairly lenient and Western influenced (for better or worse) and establish an anti- West (especially US) and oppressive regime. Thirty years later their children are attempting to shrug off the stifling regime in favor of some degree of liberty and one with (at least) a not-so-anti-Western flavor. Interesting, really.

    I agree too that Obama should be prudent in any vocal support. Better at this crucial time to do a Reagan/JPII and work through back channels to facilitate communication to and among the populace.

  • The mass protests today were organized on twitter. The mullahs apparently forgot to shut that down as they did Facebook. Those protesters in the street are the future of Iran, and I would not bet against them toppling the mullahs.

  • I think Blackadder makes a good point that at a certain point tools such as sanctions should only be used if they are effective. I am one who sees a place for retributive justice, but it has its limits and I’m not even sure it’s appropriate when dealing with groups (such as nations) rather than individuals.

    It did upset me at the time that Bush didn’t call on the Chinese government to avoid violence against the protesters back in 1989, and that there was basically no effort to distance ourselves from them afterwards. But at the same time, I have to admit that in many ways the openness to trade in the twenty years since has achieved more in getting the regime there to loosen strictures on most Chinese citizens than long term sanctions would have.

    I would like to think that there is a right balance to hit, where countries threaten disapproval of wrong actions and imposed sanctions at times because of bad behavior, but don’t let things stretch on endlessly (as with Cuba.)

    Frankly, one of the things I like about “neo-conservatism” rather than the realism of a Henry Kissinger or Brent Scowcroft (both of whose mantles the current administration was eager to assume) is that I think the neo-cons tended to assert that one should at least denounce bad regimes and seek to support good ones. (Queue someone saying that talking about “good” and “bad” regimes is dualistic…)

  • Those protesters in the street are the future of Iran, and I would not bet against them toppling the mullahs.

    I would like to think that this will happen and that the current situation will have a storybook ending (I’m a red blooded American and hence incapable of not rooting for the protesters and wishing they would kick the mullahs out on their asses), but I’m pessimistic. Typically repressive regimes either collapse under their own weight, or they are overthrown by force. The fall of the Communist regimes twenty years ago was an example of the former type. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not really getting that vibe from the mullahs.

    So that leaves option two, violent overthrow; which is all well and good, except that the people in Iran with all the weapons aren’t exactly the ones you’d want replacing the mullahs. Here, for example, is a brief analysis of the possibility of overthrow at The Corner by Michael Rubin. He says that “the key isn’t how many people are out on the street, but whether the security forces and, particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, switch sides.” Am I the only one who finds that a terrifying sentence? A takeover by the Revolutionary Guard doesn’t strike me as being something to hope for. If you think nothing could be worse than the mullahs, I’d say you lack imagination. Most revolutions start with people in the streets chanting about freedom. That’s how the revolution that brought the mullahs to power started. Most of the time they end up in a much darker place.

  • “That’s how the revolution that brought the mullahs to power started. Most of the time they end up in a much darker place.”

    The historical record is mixed Blackadder. The Polish Revolution led by Solidarity led the people of Poland to a much brighter place. The 1916 Easter Rebellion, a completely hopeless and quixotic adventure, ultimately led to independence for most of Ireland. I imagine most Tories at the time of the American Revolution thought the country was ruled by mobs and was on a path to anarchy, but they were completely wrong. Rebellions and revolutions can lead to people being worse off, and they can also lead to the people being better off. If I were an Iranian I would certainly be willing to roll the dice in the hopes that something better would result.

  • Reagan didn’t just work backchannels, nor did JP II. Both spoke up loudly in support of individuals and organisations standing up for their legitimate rights.

    In this case any active participation is ill advised, but at least the moral support of the US would be of great assistance. They are asking for our support… instead of “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”… we hear…. “” from the “One” who stands for change.

    There are several interesting points here. The conventional armed forces is of course the most powerful military force, but they are not acting, they almost certainly would join the protesters if it seemed likely to succeed, and/or the security forces began mass killings. The Republican Guard are loyal to the regime, but probably don’t have a taste for slaughtering their own people. The real danger is the thousands of Arabs (probably Hezbollah) that have been brought in, they have no love for the people of Iran, and no compunction about killing innocent men, women and children.

    Seriously, this is an issue that should bring all elements of the spectrum together. Toppling of the Mullahs would be good for the Iranians, the region, and US interests.

  • The historical record is mixed Blackadder. The Polish Revolution led by Solidarity led the people of Poland to a much brighter place. The 1916 Easter Rebellion, a completely hopeless and quixotic adventure, ultimately led to independence for most of Ireland.

    Those are cases where the ruling power capitulated. As I said, I don’t see the mullahs just giving up. Do you?

    I imagine most Tories at the time of the American Revolution thought the country was ruled by mobs and was on a path to anarchy, but they were completely wrong.

    The American Revolution is a somewhat different case, since the goal was not regime change but independence (the same is true, of course, of the Irish example). I would note that the Americans almost did end up with a military dictatorship, and that it was only avoided because George Washington happened to be a man of exceptional character. I somehow doubt the same can be said of the members of the Revolutionary Guard.

    I hope you’re right, though.

  • I agree with Joe here.

    Communist China gets off way too easy.

    I still abhor their human rights violations. No matter how ‘capitalistic’ they look, they still are a totalitarian regime.

    They kidnap businessmen to resolve bad business debts, suppress opposition in the Church, and still occupy foreign territory, ie, Tibet.

  • My attitude towards the PRC is indicated by the fact that I still prefer to refer to it as Red China.

  • Blackadder: I’m back for some more. Let’s pick up when you wrote:

    “That’s like saying it’s consequentialist to tell someone to take an aspirin for their headache, since whether taking the aspirin is a good idea or not turns on whether it will help with your headache.”

    This will depend on whether we understand sanctions (which includes non-sanctions) and other things as justifiable in the way that aspirin is justifiable. Medicine like aspirin seems pretty different than the valuation of the scenario according to the anticipated effects. I know it seems weird, but, as I see it, policies in general ought to be guided by a sense of what it is intrinsically for, not the mere consequences.

  • Sam,

    That would lead to the question, though: Are sanctions (or the lack of them) or formal denunciations) or the lack, for any intrinsic purpose other than reducing repression and helping the citizens of the target nation?

  • Speaking of China, Falun Gong has excellent news coverage, Epoch Times for whatever one thinks of them.

    What a sea of humanity:

    I really feel bad for them.

  • Well, apparently Obama thinks North Korea is to be stopped at all costs: