Fortnight For Freedom Day: Freedom is Not Just a Big Word

Monday, July 3, AD 2017

But before he started he looked over the judge and jury for
a moment, such being his custom. And he noticed the glitter in their eyes was twice as strong as before, and they
all leaned forward. Like hounds just before they get the fox, they looked, and the blue mist of evil in the room
thickened as he watched them. Then he saw what he’d been about to do, and he wiped his forehead, as a man
might who’s just escaped falling into a pit in the dark.
For it was him they’d come for, not only Jabez Stone. He read it in the glitter of their eyes and in the way the
stranger hid his mouth with one hand. And if he fought them with their own weapons, he’d fall into their power;
he knew that, though he couldn’t have told you how. It was his own anger and horror that burned in their eyes; and
he’d have to wipe that out or the case was lost. He stood there for a moment, his black eyes burning like
anthracite. And then he began to speak.
Stephen Vincent Benet, The Devil and Daniel Webster

 

 

 

 

 

The video at the top of this post is a scene from the classic movie, The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), based upon the short story by Stephen Vincent Benet, in which Daniel Webster bests Satan in a jury trial to save the soul of New Hampshireman Jabez Stone.   In this scene Daniel Webster addresses a jury of the damned, all villains of American history.  I have always thought this speech one of the most eloquent statements of what it means to be an American.

In regard to Freedom it reminds us that it is just not a word:  Freedom is not just a big word — “it is the bread and the   morning and the risen sun”.

Go here to read the passage in the Stephen Vincet Benet’s short story.  Below is the scene as written in the screenplay:

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Fortnight For Freedom: High Worship Word

Friday, June 30, AD 2017

 

 

Captain James T. Kirk: [to Spock] Keep working on the window if we’re ever gonna regain our freedom.

Cloud William: Freedom?

[he gets up]

Cloud William: Freedom?

Captain James T. Kirk: Spock.

Mr. Spock: Yes, I heard, Captain.

Cloud William: That is a worship word, Yang worship. You will not speak it.

Star Trek:  The Omega Glory

Long time readers of this blog will not be surprised to see that I have managed to work a Star Trek episode into one of the Fortnight For Freedom posts!

One of the “alternate Earth” episodes that became fairly common as the original Star Trek series proceeded, as explained by Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development, and stringent episode budgets,  the Omega Glory episode in the video clip at the beginning of this post featured an Earth where a cataclysmic war had driven the Americans, the Yangs, out of their cities and into primitive warbands.  Chinese Communists, the Kohms, settled in America.  Their technology was a few steps higher than the Yangs.  The Yangs had been waging a war for generations to drive the Kohms from their land, and the episode coincided with the Yangs taking the last of “the Kohm places”.

Over the generations, the Yangs had forgotten almost all of their history and what little knowledge remained was restricted to priests and chieftains.

“Cloud William: Freedom?

James T. Kirk: Spock.

Spock: Yes, I heard, Captain.

Cloud William: It is a worship word, Yang worship. You will not speak it.

James T. Kirk: Well, well, well. It is… our worship word, too.

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Fortnight For Freedom: Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher v. Henry VIII

Monday, June 22, AD 2015

 Fortnight For Freedom 2015

A spot of blood and grease on the pages of English history.

Charles Dickens, referring to King Henry VIII

For English speaking Catholics, June 22 is a bright day on the calendar of the Saints.  On this day we remember the two saints who stood against King Henry VIII, for the great principal that the State must never be allowed to control the Church.  Much that we Americans celebrate as freedom was born out of Church-State struggles down through the ages.  Sometimes those who stood against the State fell in the struggle, but the concept that the State is not absolute, that there are limits to its authority, is one of the great gifts of the Catholic Middle Ages to all of mankind.  It is only in modern times, since 1500, that the heresy that the State may exercise absolute authority has been a constant source of misery and strife in the history of the West.

When he ascended to the throne of England Henry VIII was popularly known as the Golden Hope of England.  His father Henry VII had never been loved by the people of England:  a miser and a distinctly unheroic figure no matter what Shakespeare would write in Richard III.  He had brought the end of the War of the Roses and peace to England, but that was about as much credit as his subjects would give the grasping, unlovable Henry Tudor.  His son by contrast looked like an Adonis when young, strong and athletic.  He had a sharp mind and had been well-educated, intended, ironically, for a career in the Church before the death of his elder brother Arthur.  He was reputed, correctly, to be pious.  He had considerable charism in his youth and knew how to make himself loved with a well timed laugh or smile, and loved he was, by the nobles, commons, his wife Katherine, and the Church.  Few reigns started more auspiciously than that of Henry, eighth of that name.

By the end of his reign he was widely despised by most his subjects.  Called a crowned monster behind his back, his reign had brought religious turmoil to England and domestic strife.  The best known symbols of his reign were the headman’s axe, the stake and the boiling pot in which he had some of the luckless individuals who roused his fury boiled to death.

It of course is small wonder for a Catholic to have little love for Henry VIII and his reign, but the distaste for Henry extends well beyond members of the Church.  Winston Churchill, the great English statesman and historian, in his magisterial History of the English Speaking Peoples has this to say about the executions of Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher:

The resistance of More and Fisher to the royal supremacy in Church government was a heroic stand.  They realised the defects of the existing Catholic system, but they hated and feared the aggressive nationalism which was destroying the unity of Christendom.  They saw that the break with Rome carried with it the risk of a despotism freed from every fetter.  More stood forth as the defender of all that was finest in the medieval outlook.  He represents to history its universality, its belief in spiritual values, and its instinctive sense of otherworldliness.  Henry VIII with cruel axe decapitated not only a wise and gifted counselor, but a system which, though it had failed to live up to its ideals in practice, had for long furnished mankind with its brightest dreams.”

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6 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom: Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher v. Henry VIII

  • Henry Tudor was one of the most despotic, evil men to wield political power from the time of Caligula to the 20th century. In that time period, few men , one of them being Ivan the Terrible could rival him.

  • Henry VII, ably seconded by Cardinal Morton, had laid the foundations of the Tudor despotism. He was able to do so because the old nobility had effectively exterminated each other in the Wars of the Roses.
    Henry VIII could send More & Fisher to the scaffold; the Emperor Charles V could not send John of Saxony or the Margrave of Hesse to the scaffold. Similarly, in Scotland, the royal power, even when wielded by the redoubtable Mary of Guise as Regent, proved no match for Argyll (Chief of the Clan Campbell), Glencairn, Morton, Ruthven and the other Lords of the Congregation, backed as they were by the unswerving loyalty of their vassals or their clansmen. George Buchanan remarked that in England rent was paid with silver; in Scotland it was paid with steel.

  • Henry VIII was to blame for not producing a male heir. Catherine of Arragone was one of Henry VIII’s victims. In his rapaciousness, Henry VIII never permitted his seed to mature, a prerequisite for producing a male heir. Henry VIII died of syphilis contracted from a lack of celibacy.

  • a minor but noteworthy attention to fact- Donald, the text says in a line ” the stake and the boiling pot in which he had some of the luckless individuals who roused his fury boiled to death.” note the plural. boiling pots were provided for blanching the quartered body parts maintained near view by the victim at Tyburn etc.etc.

    Boiling to death was reserved for poisoners attempting their craft on peers of the Realm. history tells us a special law permitting boiling as a death sentence was passed by parliament in 1531 to kill Richard Roose was the only ‘tudorite’ [singular] to end his days in 1532 via that seemingly horrible punishment. The starvation of the Carthusians and Margaret Clement is a magnificent story of courage and compassion – https://www.tudorsociety.com/henry-viii-and-the-carthusian-monks/ to see being DRAWN, HUNG AND QUARTERED …..

    Love all your postings donald and the comments .et al. ….they always makes me think !!

  • Thank you for your kind words Paul. I believe that Margaret Davy was boiled to death in 1542.

  • you are correct and I am better for it! thanks Donald.

The Ten Commandments and Freedom

Thursday, June 11, AD 2015

And one of them, a doctor of the Law, putting him to the test, asked him, “Master, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus said to him, “‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind.’ This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:  35-40

 

Dennis Prager, the founder of the Prager University series of videos, notes that the structure of the Ten Commandments follows what Jesus taught:

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

You shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.

You shall not kill.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

The Ten Commandments begins with our duties to God and ends with our duties to our fellow men. 

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Father Z On the Silencing of Sister Jane

Tuesday, April 8, AD 2014

Sister Jane Silenced

Father Z comments on the silencing of Sister Jane and his conclusions are sobering:

You probably saw my post Sister explains the situation. Spittle-flecked nutty, bullying, intimidation ensue.

Sr. Jane Laurel, OP, gave a talk at a Catholic High School.  Hell broke loose.

If you want to sample her talks, go HERE. Her talk at the High School was “Masculinity & Femininity: Difference & Gift”.  Presentations with that title are on that website. Listen to a few.  At the High School, Sister included comments about homosexuality, divorce and single parents. Some people lost their minds. Read more here.

I suspect that what happened, to build this up into such a thing, is that parents heard vague reports – I say vague because teens are such great sources of accuracy in reporting – about her remarks from their politically-correctly conditioned children and, stung in conscience, got out the pitchforks and torches.

The nutty built up into grand mal nutty in the form of the increasingly inevitable “town hall” meeting.

Am I entirely off base here?  Did Sister actually say things that were so outrageous, so unacceptable, so lacking in truth and in charity, that the resulting furor was appropriate, proportionate and justified?  Really?  Go listen to some of her talks using that link, above.  Does it seem likely?

Now I read that Sister is going to have a sabbatical.  HERE

It looks as if Alinsky’s Rules were at work here. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself. … Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

Look.  This is just the starting line for some observations.

It seems to me that this sad episode is one of many which reveal the building in our midst of a mob mentality akin to that which drove the Salem Witch Trials. If you speak in public now with any clarity about the Church’s teachings on sexuality, marriage, etc., or avert to conclusions which rational people reach about the same derived from the Natural Law, you will be met with fury. “I saw Lizzie Procter speaking with the devil!” Well… bad example, since most of the people who will join the snarling pack likely don’t believe in the devil.

There is a new and twisted “normal” coalescing. This new “normal”, violating the dictates of reason, will prompt the more aggressive and ideologically driven to impose iron norms, which, when violated, will spark vicious attacks from the now easily manipulated mob.

Watching episode in Charlotte build, I had the image of one of those mobs protests a G8 meeting. In these mobs there are professional instigators, anarchists and so forth, who are dedicated to getting the crowd of the curious, the young, the dumb, the enthusiastic, etc., whipped up into a frenzy. Then, as the frenzy rises, someone pitches a garbage can through a shop window and the havoc begins.

What is happening in our society that accepts so readily the hounding to ruin of the head of some business because he says that he supports true, natural marriage and does not endorse homosexual unions?

Surely there is something of a mob mentality building, and swiftly. The speed is driven by the new phenomenon of social media arriving in your hand 24/7. It is also driven by the erosion of the ability of many to reason (thanks to decades of poor education) and incessant mass media exaltation of self-satisfaction and base carnality, which also switches off higher functions.

But there is also something of the demonic in this present movement.

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9 Responses to Father Z On the Silencing of Sister Jane

  • Good news from Lifesite via Fr. Z: Bishop Jurgis is backing Sister Jane.

  • A demonstration of episcopal spine here would be most welcome. The trouble is, an indeterminate fraction of the school’s clientele is just hopeless. If you do not have the revenue to cover fixed costs, you’re going to have to close the school and to be willing to close the school if the adipose hydrogen sulfide emitting orifices among the parents walk and cannot be replaced with parents more congenial to the school’s educational mission. For now, the task at hand should be a diocesan review of the syllabi and personnel files of the religious education faculty and examinations administered to students in religious education. The social studies and biology faculty bear could some examination, and the guidance staff. It’s a reasonable wager that most of the disagreeableness finds its origins outside the school’s walls, of course.

    Oh, and identify the parental ring-leaders and expel their children.

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  • Art Deco: I agree completely with the cleansing of the school through the identification of the faculty and pruning away the ignorant fat assets. Put the Catholic High School on a diet of Catholic teaching. Put their feet to the fire.

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  • “The left in this country, with honorable exceptions, hates freedom of speech.” –

    Progressivism is built upon envy masked as economic fairness, and hate hiding behind “tolerance”. It leaves little room for the exercise of God’s extraordinary gift to humankind—our free will, and thus our gift in return to God—our obedience to His will.

  • “The speed is driven by the new phenomenon of social media arriving in your hand 24/7.
    .
    Until not qute a hundred years ago, informtion was passed in ways that were organically filtered and accountable. A newspaper that printed what it did, printed for the permanent record. Word of mouth ensured that any real idiocy usually ran out of steam by having to be pased through enough rational minds to eventully fail to launch.
    .
    There are, of course, exceptions (The French Revolution, e.g., or The “Maine” incident) but they are definable in their exceptionality.
    .
    For the most part, though, real lunacy (or worse) has visited itself on us with a directly proportional ability to skip that filtering and place evil in the minds of sufficient numbers of folkks that the accountability then becomes irrelevant.
    .
    Sergei Eisenstein, Reni Liefenstahl, Josef Goebbels, et al. perfected the art. Now their descentants in Hollywood, 30 Rock & Madison Avenue are masters at planting whatever is desired instantly into the minds of perpetually herded emotional wrecks. Contradiction, absence of principle and psychological buffeting by bringing the worst of the world into the living rooms and computers has deprived people of their reason and rational sensibilities.
    .
    This could be a book (and probably is), so I apologize for the rambling tone. There’s a beach 100 yards out the door of the Ormond Beach condo where my family and I are on Spring Break. Nonetheless, my degree was in Broadcast Media and I worked in that cesspool long enough to know intimately the motivations behind what is produced.
    .
    It is good that our Church is built upon a Rock. We’ll need it.

  • The diabolical has gained a stronghold on the thinking of the populace and especially on the media. Today to defend God and His Church is becoming a fearful task. Ridicule and loss of community status or reputation is on everybody’s watch list, due to the fact we are a faithless people today. I was taught to defend the church and God at all cost, because your soul is important not what the world
    has to say about you.
    In regards to what happened at Charlotte Catholic and Sister Jane, it is a disgrace that so many people got duped. Here was a Catholic Theologian, a well learned Nun espousing on the great sins of the day and she is run out on a broomstick,
    called to give up her ministry, because of the truth.
    Pardon me you idiots in Charlotte, but the devil won.

  • Regarding my comments and if you want to debate me here is my address.

    Edited to remove personal contact information. Folks, please do not post your personal contact information in the comboxes.

    Donald R. McClarey

Freedom and the Left

Friday, February 28, AD 2014

 

 

John C. Wright, Catholic convert and science fiction author, has a brilliant post at his blog, John Wright’s Journal, in which he examines the threat to freedom posed by the contemporary left:

 

It is darker than you think. Perhaps you have heard about speech codes on campus, about the intolerance of the Left, about their mob tactics, their fetid hypocrisy, and you thought we who complain about it were exaggerating.

You perhaps thought that, at least here in America, certain ideals and values were so much a part of our way of life, so deeply embedded into the hearts of the people, that there was no real threat to our beloved freedoms.

Those ideals and values are not a part of our way of life any longer. They have not been for twenty or thirty years. We are past the tipping point, and it will be a very, very difficult struggle to get back up the pebbly slope to the brink of the cliff down which we fell.

I could list any number of examples from my own field, starting with the expulsion of Theodore Beale from SWFA based on a false accusation by a leftist, going through my editor at Tor books having his child taken from him based on a false accusation, and ending with my agent at Tor books being fired due to a false accusation by a leftist.

I will content myself with a single item of evidence; you can find countless additional items from sources as wide ranging as the monstrous Peter Singer to the absurd Pajama Boy Ethan Krupp.

A creature named Korn writing in the Harvard Crimson calls for an end to Academic freedom.

I am not kidding, I am not exaggerating, and I am not making this up. Here is the link:

http://www.thecrimson.com/column/the-red-line/article/2014/2/18/academic-freedom-justice/?page=single#

Allow me to quote at length, lest I be accused of misrepresenting the true sewer depth of evil being promoted here, the bland banality of the call for chains and gags.

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6 Responses to Freedom and the Left

  • It seems Ms. Korn’s views are being roundly rejected by the commenters in the Crimson. May hap’s hope lingers still.

  • Ms. Korn, if that is her real name, has no sense of humor, nor sense of decorum, nor sense of her destiny. Often Ms. Korn transgresses the principle of separation of church and state. The virtue of modesty is counseled by the church. The law against lewdness or public nakedness is made by the state. (and ought to be enforced by the state, especially in San Francisco) Private nakedness, as in a doctor’s office, is granted.
    .
    The greatest argument against totalitarianism is that Ms. Korn, if that is her real name, has a rational immortal human soul and that her soul is sacred and therefore sanctions against inflicting anything less than the truth are enforced by the church and by the state for she is a sovereign person. Inflicting half-truths is criminal, called heresy in the church, perjury in the state, and lies in the public domain.
    .
    An education is learning how to think, not what to think. Enforcing indoctrination of politically correct ideas is totalitarianism. The questions must be asked:”Why are some people more equal than others? Why is a particular idea more advantageous to some than to others? And WHO wants to know? The people want to know.
    .
    Academic Justice must be equal academic Justice for all.
    .
    There must be a moral principle involved for the state to make law. A moral principle points to God and to the human soul.

  • Sandra Korn at the Harvard Crimson talks about academic justice. One day she and all of us are going to get God’s justice. It will be a terrible awakening. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.

  • If we do nothing, we fail, we know whats right, and it’s our job to “sound off” & make our case “loud & clear” that Gods given us rights, true, and absolute, for All mankind…..ask yourself, if not me, who?????????

  • I fear the Left at home more than any enemy abroad. Truth will make you free and Lies will enslave you. I cannot think of any of the Bill of Rights, with the possible exception of the Third Amendment, not routinely transgressed if not trampled by the Left when in power.

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How the Left Still Hates Maggie Thatcher

Thursday, April 11, AD 2013

His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the death of Baroness Margaret Thatcher.  He recalls with appreciation the Christian values which underpinned her commitment to public service and to the promotion of freedom among the family of nations.  Entrusting her soul to the mercy of God, and assuring her family and the British people of a remembrance in his prayers, the Holy Father invokes upon all whose lives she touched God’s abundant blessings.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State

The gracelessness and blind hatred that governs much of the Left was put on full display with the death of Margaret Thatcher, the greatest prime minister Britain has had since World War 2, with organized street demonstrations “celebrating” her passing.

Thatcher, who personified the phrase “true grit”, I think would have welcomed their hate as the finest tribute to her work.  She opposed the Left and its goal of an ever expanding state with all the wit, courage and eloquence she could muster, and she had a considerable store of all three qualities.  This accolade from Milton Friedman in 1979 explains just what an extraordinary politician Thatcher was:

We have become so accustomed to politicians making extravagant campaign promises and then  forgetting about them once elected that the first major act of Margaret Thatcher’s government— the budget unveiled on June 12—was a surprise. It did precisely what she had promised to do.

Margaret Thatcher campaigned on a platform of reversing the trend toward an ever more  intrusive government—a trend that had carried government spending in Great Britain to  somewhere between 50 per cent and 60 per cent of the nation’s income. Ever since the end of  World War II, both Labor and Tory governments have added to government-provided social  services as well as to government-owned and -operated industry. Foreign-exchange transactions  have been rigidly controlled. Taxes have been punitive, yet have not yielded enough to meet  costs. Excessive money created to finance deficits sparked an inflation that hit a rate of over 30  per cent a year in mid-1975. Only recently was inflation brought down to the neighborhood of 10  per cent, and it is once again on the rise.

Most important of all, the persistent move to a centralized and collectivist economy produced  economic stagnation. Before World War II, the British citizen enjoyed a real income that  averaged close to twice that of the Frenchman or German. Today, the ratio is nearly reversed.  The Frenchman or German enjoys a real income close to twice that of the ordinary Briton.

Margaret Thatcher declared in no uncertain terms that the long British experiment was a failure.  She urged greater reliance on private enterprise and on market incentives. She promised to  reduce the fraction of the people’s income that government spends on their behalf, and to cut  sharply government control over the lives of British citizens. Her government’s budget is a major first step. It reduces the top marginal tax rate on so-called  “earned” income from 83 per cent to 60 per cent, on “unearned” income from a confiscatory 98  per cent to 75 per cent. At the same time, it raises the level of income exempt from income tax  and cuts the bottom rate from 33 per cent to 30 per cent. It proposes to cut government spending  significantly, to sell some of the government’s industrial holdings and to promote the sale of  government-owned housing units to their occupants. It loosens foreign-exchange controls  substantially as a first step toward their elimination.

One retrograde step, in my opinion, is an increase in indirect taxes—the British general sales  taxes, or VAT. This increase, which partly offsets the decrease in direct taxes, combined with  lower spending will reduce government borrowing, facilitating a restrained monetary policy and  releasing funds for private investment. The purpose is admirable. However, once taxes are  imposed, it is hard to cut them. From the long-run point of view, it seems to me preferable to  resort to a temporarily higher level of borrowing rather than to a possibly permanently higher level of indirect taxes.

I would also have preferred to see exchange controls eliminated completely rather than by  degrees. The controls serve no constructive purpose. Eliminating them gradually only prolongs  the harm and preserves a mischievous bureaucracy.

But these are quibbles. I salute Margaret Thatcher and her government for their courage and  wisdom in moving firmly and promptly to cut Britain’s bureaucratic straitjacket. Britain has  enormous latent strength—in human capacities, industrial traditions, financial institutions, social  stability. If these can be released from bondage, if incentive can be restored, Britain could once  again become a vibrant, dynamic, increasingly productive economy.

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50 Responses to How the Left Still Hates Maggie Thatcher

  • There’s only one thing that explain the left’s irrational hatred for Margaret Thatcher, given that the left seems to have made peace (at least outwardly) with the legacies of her contemporary co-partners, John Paul II and Ronald Reagan.

    Thatcher is the subject of the left’s undying hatred because she was a woman who didn’t believe and behave like the left’s version of a woman should believe and behave. See, e.g., Sarah Palin. See also Justice Thomas for this phenomenon in the area of race.

  • Jay A. answered my question: “Why?”

    Do they want to drag her body through the streets?

    Replace pride with humility
    Replace greed with generosity
    Replace envy with love
    Replace anger with kindness
    Replace lust with self-control
    Replace gluttony with temperance
    Replace sloth with zeal for the Glory of God

  • Jay Anderson from what I understand Thatcher’s economic reforms were a much more dramatic shift than Reagan’s, in terms of the impact on mining/industrial areas. of course reforms are necessary sometimes but if certain people are dislocated/not trained for anything else you can’t expect ’em to love their situation

  • I don’t recall where I read this, but someone commented recently about Thatcher that her opponents can accept losing an election or two, but they can’t accept losing the debate. Thatcher’s opponents lost the debate, thoroughly. With Reagan, they could always say he was the Great Communicator, a former actor who knew how to sell his charm. Thatcher was more Buckley than Reagan; by the time she was through with you, you were beaten.

  • When Johnny Lydon (the former Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols) says you’re out of line–you’re out of line.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2307183/Margaret-Thatcher-dead-Sex-Pistol-Johnny-Rotten-says-hate-mobs-loathsome–calls-respect.html

  • Yes, Margaret Thatcher was a lovely lady. She spoke the truth and stood her ground with style. She will be missed!

  • The Political Left brokers no debate and tolerates nobody who opposes them. They hate Thatcher because Thatcher was right.

  • I can’t believe that I can read Catholics praising Margaret Thatcher. The woman did not posses an ounce of Christian love. She destroyed working communities across Britain. I grew up in a catholic community in Northern England that was decimated by her policies. She created such hardship and took such pleasure from doing so. She promoted the values of greed and declared that there was no such thing as society. To pretend that the outpouring of hatred towards her is the work of the far left is not accurate. Many normal working people all over the UK are still living with the consequences of her disastrous and politically motivated attacks on poor communities.

    I will not rejoice at anyone’s death but I understand perfectly where the bitterness comes from.

  • I can easily believe that a Catholic can spout the type of bilge you are spouting Chris, since it is all too common on left wing Catholic sites. Not a word you said is true about Thatcher and her policies. Socialism has wreaked havoc in Britain and it is appalling how many of the victims of the welfare state fail to see it.

  • Pope Francis has reason to be grateful to Margaret Thatcher, since British victory in the Falklands led directly to the fall of the military junta in Argentina and the restoration of democracy, which has survived for thirty years now.

    In Budapest in 1994 I shared a drink with some Poles who, when they discovered I was a Brit, raised their glasses to “Margaret Thatcher!” Other than that, they spoke no English. The Stalinist leader of the all-powerful National Union of Mineworkers, Arthur Scargill, had attacked Lech Walesa and Solidarity for being anti-Communist. When Maggie visited Poland she was treated as a heroine.

    In 1979 the union barons were perceived by most people to be the real rulers of Britain. The most prominent of these, Jack Jones was later revealed to have been a Soviet agent. Ten years later this was emphatically not the case.

    When Mrs T said “there is no such thing as society” she was in fact attacking the corporate state and extolling individual liberty. I voted for her in three elections, along with many other Catholics.

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  • what a woman,,what a woman…God rest her soul…now we just need another Maggie Thatcher and we be all set…

  • You speak with great authority for someone who didn’t actually live through it. Socialism did great evil as well, I am not a socialist. The left in Britain was insane during the 1980’s I’m not defending the failed socialism of the far left in Britain. Just because socialism was not working does not mean that what she did was successful.

    She attacked the values of community and trust. She destroyed Britain’s industrial base and replaced it with the failed service economy we see today. The south grew at the norths expense. She introduced medieval tax laws that resulted in mass riots.

    There is a reason why there is such wide spread celebration at her death and it is not because there are so many socialists in the UK. The welfare culture was in part created by Thatcherism. Her monetarist policies traded low inflation for high unemployment. She closed down industries in areas that had been industrial for centuries and offered no alternative plan for entire regions. It did not matter as those regions did not vote for her.

    She will be remembered as strong on foreign policy and she played a part in the fall of communism. As for the Falklands it was her defence cuts that lost them in the first place. She branded Nelson Mandela a terrorist and cooperated with a racist government in south Africa and lets not forget her involvement with the Khmer rouge. Her role in extending and inflaming the troubles in northern Ireland is also well documented.

    This one sided hagiography of her greatness is completely at odds with reality.

  • Margaret Thatcher’s great achievement was that she demonstrated the fallacy of the “ratchet effect.”

    Fabian Socialists (and most of the British Left were Fabians, rather than revolutionaries) believed that slow, incremental changes in the direction of social democracy were irreversible. Conservative administrations might retard their progress, but could not undo past gains.

    Her policies of privatisation and deregulation proved them wrong.

    And, yes, Chris, she closed down industries, because she recognised what she called “the enemy within,” and destroyed their power base, notably the National Union of Mine Workers. That is why she won three elections.

  • Chris, there is no ‘failed service economy’, nor did any Thatcher ministry ‘destroy Britain’s industrial base’. Britain today is more affluent than it was in 1978 both absolutely and relative to the United States. Any advanced economy has a mix of agriculture, extractive industries, construction, manufacturing, purchased services, and government. The mix varies over time and place. Economic advancement in the occidental world has tended to be manifested in the development of production in non-tradeable services as it has grown economical to produce manufactures in Latin America and the Far East. Manufacturing in advanced countries has taken on the character of high value added specialty production which employs relatively few people. There is nothing pathological about this. It would be pathological (and was pathological) to put domestic industries on perpetual government life support (through financing the deficits of creaky state enterprises and protective tariffs on manufactures).

    There is regional variation in incomes in Britain, but you see that most any place. Per capita value added in the Midlands is about 15% below the national mean, in the North of England about 20% below the national mean, and in Wales and Ulster about 25% below the national mean. So, you have more regional variation than you do in the United States. However, none of these areas are, by any serious standard of measure, poor in comparison to the general run of countries in this world or to the Britain of 1978. They are the somewhat less affluent portions of an affluent country, and compare satisfactorily to Mediterranean Europe.

  • Chris – It’s tough to assess another country’s policy. Over here, taxes were too high; Reagan cut them and we were better-off for it. For that he was branded cruel. So when Americans read about Thatcher cruelly changing the tax code in a way that harmed society, we immediately fill in the blanks with our own story and assume that you’re on the far left.

    So let’s be specific: what did Thatcher do to the tax code? Did she really shut down industries? Our president wouldn’t be able to do that. She might have ceased to protect industries, and that can have a lot of direct, bad consequences, but also a lot of indirect good ones.

  • They hate her because her truth is “marching on.”

  • “and lets not forget her involvement with the Khmer rouge”

    This is false, the rebels against the Vietnamese-inserted government did not solely consist of Khmer Rouge, you had the republican and Sihanouk-loyal groups

    actually your whole para on her foreign policy looks like you’re just throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks

  • Uhm…Ireland?

  • Chris, were you around in the 1970s? In 1974 the incoming Labour government rewarded the miners with a basic pay (excluding overtime) of £5200 a year. In the same year my salary as a qualified teacher with a good Honours degree was raised to £2400. Remember the days lost through strikes and the deliberate attempts to destroy the motor industry by politically motivated agitators like ‘Red Robbo’? Remember the ralwaymen turning down a 28% pay rise and going on strike? Remember Britain as the ‘sick man of Europe’ and Chancellor Denis Healey going cap in hand to the IMF, which was designed to bail out third-world countries? Remember PM James Callaghan humiliated by Idi Amin? It wasn’t the far Left but the soft Left which let the country down, with its taking the line of least resistance and continuing to subsidise unprofitable industries whether through sentimental attachment or fear of the unions.

    If Margaret Thatcher’s reforms were so bad, why did Labour do nothing to reverse them despite being in power for thirteen years?

  • JDP British SAS soldiers have confirmed publicly that they trained allies of Khmer rouge in Cambodia and in neighbouring Thailand during Thatchers time in office. These allies where under the command of a coalition lead by the Khmer rouge and the British were aware of that as the Khmere rouge were not controlled by Moscow. I can back up every other statement made about her foreign policy.

    Pinky she literally shut down industries as they were state owned. It was not only those industries that were effected though, the other people in these regions, the business owners that catered for the workers also lost everything. It was the total disregard for the human lives she was destroying that has caused the lasting bitterness. In these regions all that was left was massive unemployment and no investment in anything else.

    Michael, the idea of ‘the enemy within’ sums up exactly why she is hated. She treated people in communities with differing political views to her as enemy forces who must be crushed. I don’t deny that there where some crazy union leaders. But to spitefully destroy entire communities because they were viewed as a political threat is the action of a tyrant. You are correct in regard to the ratchet effect she ratcheted the centre ground to the right and it has stayed there ever since.

    Art Deco, the entire EU is richer in relative terms than it was in 1979 this proves nothing about the success of her policies. Other countries have managed to maintain there industrial capacity such as Germany.

    For the record I am not suggesting that every economic reform she made was bad. It is the lack of care for the consequences and in some regard relishing the effect this would have in places and people she despised.

    Something that should not be overlooked in the economic recovery of the UK was the discovery and exploitation of ever larger fields of North Sea oil. This roughly corresponds with Thatchers time in office.

    The fact that several generations after she has left office northern areas are 20% poorer then the south (according to your figures) speaks volumes about the destruction she wrought. Other governments have continued some of her reforms but they have attempted to assist the creation of private industry in depressed areas.

    Thank you all for the reasoned and reasonable debate.

  • Art Deco, the entire EU is richer in relative terms than it was in 1979 this proves nothing about the success of her policies. Other countries have managed to maintain there industrial capacity such as Germany.

    It is called ‘comparative advantage’. Affluent countries vary in their commercial and industrial mix. Nothing troubling about that.

    In 1979, per capita income in Britain was:

    66% that of the United States
    68% that of France
    69% that of a weighted average of the Germanies
    85% that of Japan
    80% that of Australia

    As of 2010, Britain’s per capita income was

    77% that of the United States
    89% that of France
    90% that of Germany
    85% that of Japan
    65% that of Australia

    Which is to say they have improved their position against most of the rest of the world’s affluent countries.

    Current unemployment rates in Britain are around 7.8% of the workforce. The EU mean is 10.7%. Germany’s is currently lower at 5.4%, but the British and French political economy have a long-term advantage over Germany’s: adequate fertility. Germany is facing incipient demographic implosion and has had persistent subreplacement fertility (~1.4 tfr) for a generation. Britain and France currently are reproducing near replacement levels (~2.0 tfr). Public sector borrowing in Britain is currently running at 4.3% of domestic product per annum, a figure I doubt we shall see in the States until the capital markets tell the U.S. Government to get stuffed. Ultimately, a succession of British governments had the sense to keep clear of the vampire Euro currency. The place is just the least wrecked large economy in Europe.

  • Chris you referred to a coalition which is my point. The other two parts of that coalition aligned with the Khmer Rouge for fighting purposes but had no ideological love for them.

    framing it as though Thatcher and Reagan wanted to bring the Khmer Rouge back to power is again, not accurate.

  • As far as South Africa that was a Cold War convenience alliance cuz of the civil wars in neighboring countries. we can talk about the morality of such alliances but the implication of ’80s arguments from the left seems to be that while apartheid was evil Communism was just flawed. anti-anti-Communism and all that.

  • Chris, this north-south divide is exaggerated. Leeds and Newcastle, which epitomised decline in the 1970s are completely transformed. I suppose if you lived in a pit village in Co. Durham you might feel a bit miffed, but let’s face it, most of the pits were hopelessly uneconomic, miners were always complaining about what a rotten job it was, and environmentally-driven European policies would have shut the industry down anyway.

    To suggest that she was motivated by spite or was indifferent to the plight of millions of her fellow-countrymen is a convenient left-wing myth which has been kicking around since the 1980s. Most of the people celebrating her death with tasteless street parties weren’t even born in 1979. And talk about destroying human lives is tosh, and uncharitable and unCatholic tosh at that.

  • John Nolan I have said before that I am not a socialist. I have seen first had what a combination of militant left wing local politicians combined with a hard right-wing government can do to a place. I agree that some reforms were needed. That does not mean that her set of reforms were the correct ones. Many of her policies have been reversed by successive labour governments. You are correct in suggesting that no one has questioned the idea of liberal economics though. In that regard she really did win. Our current economic crisis stems from that victory.

    Red Robbo et al were crazy but other countries in Europe have had strong unions and still managed to retain their automotive industries. There are no major British car companies now, the few cars we make are for other countries companies.

    The Left in the UK is largely to blame for Thatcher. Had they been more reasonable and less extreme then she would not of had such a mandate. (This is something the right in America should learn I would draw parallels with the “militant tenancy” and “the tea part”y ) I have acknowledged that she ratcheted the centre ground right.

    The point I have already made was that she collectively punished regions for the intransigence of the few. The tough medicine was never handed out in conservative southern England. It was political punishment for not cooperating and it was gleefully dished out.

    There is a reason why the conservatives have not won a general election since 1992, it is not because of John Major (they didn’t win the last one and had to form a coalition when facing the lame duck that was Gordon Brown). There is a reason why she is still hated by many in the UK, it is not a collective fantasy and it is not a minority view.

    In many ways the Labour party should thank Thatcher. The hatred of her policies gave them a win at all costs mentality that they did not have before.

    I shall leave it at that. My intention was not to argue with everyone over the detail but to challenge the idea that it is a minority left wing point of view to hate Thatcher. If any of you have ever been north of Watford in the UK you will realise that it is a widely held point of view by many people with no particular political affiliation.

  • Cael Schmitt wrote that every realm of human endeavour is structured by an irreducible duality. Morality is concerned with good and evil, aesthetics with the beautiful and the ugly, and economics with the profitable and the unprofitable. In politics, the core distinction is between friend and enemy.

    That is what makes politics different from everything else. ’States arise as a means of continuing, organizing and channelling political struggle. It is political struggle, which gives rise to political order. Any entity involved in friend-enemy relations is by definition political, whatever its origin or the origin of the differences leading to enmity: “a religious community which wages wars against members of others religious communities or engages in other wars is already more than a religious communality”

  • Pingback: How the Left Still <b>Hates</b> Maggie Thatcher | The <b>American</b> Catholic | americahates.com
  • Is this the same Marget Thatcher who supported South African apartheid, the murderous dictator Augusto Pinochet responsible for the assassination and torture of tens of thousands of Chileans, and who made life for prosperous for the rich and worse for the poor? It was Friedman’s neoliberal economic policies that have put us in the mess we are in today. I think the outrage expressed by many in the UK was thoroughly justified. I am quite shocked by the essay and the comments.

  • Thatcher did not support apartheid or Pinochet. Pinochet supported Britain in the Falkland’s War and the British government sold to Pinochet some obsolete Hawker-Hunter bomber fighters in return. Pinochet’s economic policies made Chile vastly more prosperous to the benefit of all Chileans, after the Marxist government of Allende had done its very worst to wreck the Chilean economy. The policy recommendations of Milton Friedman have absolutely nothing to do with our current economic travails that are the result of polices directly contrary to those proposed by Friedman.

  • Is this the same Marget Thatcher who supported South African apartheid, the murderous dictator Augusto Pinochet responsible for the assassination and torture of tens of thousands of Chileans, and who made life for prosperous for the rich and worse for the poor? It was Friedman’s neoliberal economic policies that have put us in the mess we are in today. I think the outrage expressed by many in the UK was thoroughly justified. I am quite shocked by the essay and the comments.

    While it is hard to tell if you’re particularly serious, I will take the bait.

    1. Carrying on ordinary diplomatic and trade relations with foreign governments does not render you responsible for much of anything done in the course of public policy there.

    2. In terms of magnitude, neither the government of Chile nor the government of South Africa were exceptionally abusive.

    3. Even the insipid characters at Amnesty International never accused Augusto Pinochet’s government of killing ‘tens of thousands’ of individuals. (The correct number is about 3,000, nearly all prior to 1978).

    and who made life for prosperous for the rich and worse for the poor?

    Come up with the income distribution figures or shut your mouth.

    It was Friedman’s neoliberal economic policies that have put us in the mess we are in today.

    Can you give us a reference to remarks by Dr. Friedman where he advocated:

    1. Erecting government-sponsored crony-capitalist enterprises (run by Democratic Party hacks) to trade in the secondary mortgage market.

    2. Adopting a mix of policies which provided for such enterprises to dominate the secondary mortgage market.

    3. Harried such enterprises (as well as mortgage originators) to slash their underwriting standards.

    4. Blocking efforts sponsored by George W. Bush, Gregory Mankiw, Richard Shelby, and John McCain to require such enterprises to improve their accounting practices and bulk up their capital cushions.

    ???

  • The left still hates Mrs. Thatcher like the devil hates Holy Water.

    PS; Peter M:

    Splain how Mrs. Thatcher supported apartheid, swammie.

    Pinochet saved his country. You have a list of the people he killed? Chile is the most prosperous nation in Latin America: thanks to Pinochet and Chilean economists that studied under Dr. Friedman. Chile could become the most prosperous nation in the Western Hemisphere, as the USA implodes.

    If only the US (including both Presidents Bush) had followed Friedman’s economics we would not have suffered the current Long Recession, and we would not be facing econodammerung.

    Your problem isn’t what you don’t know. It is that you “know” isn’t true. Ergo, you voted Obama.

    Shocking!

  • Swammie? I think that should be Swami, unless you are using the urban dictionary, and are referring to me as a firearm. If you are going to try to insult me, please get the spelling correct. Well, where should I begin? The disavowals punctuating the intinerary of responses to my queries are symptomatic of a willful social amnesia; perhaps they constitute ‘opinons’ spawned by a cabal of Fox News journalists, designed to keep the regime in tact (no, not the Democrats or Republicans but the regime of capital). There appears to be a studied refusal to engage with reality evidenced by several of the responses. Shoddy ideological platitudes won’t do, and only enfeeble the positions already put forward. Ask economists of various political stripes and you will learn that Friedman is the best known exponent of economic neoliberalism–his consequentialist libertarianism put him at odds with classical neoliberalism. His monetarism and laissez-faire absolutism was disastrous. Not even mainstream economists are monetarists anymore. And let’s get some ontological clarity on Thatcher. Thatcher labelled Mandela a “terrorist” and even Prime Minister Cameron has acknowledged they got it wrong on Mandela, that he was “one of the greatest men alive.” She refused sanctions on South Africa during the most bloody years of apartheid rule, tantamount to a rule of state terror, and only went against sanctions after 1986, following the US lead. Thatcher visited Pinochet who was under house arrest in London, to thank him for all he did for the UK, ignoring Pinochet’s bloody rule of terror. Yes, the ‘official’ death toll was 3,200, but that is not including the 400,000 victims of torture and the tens of thousands who were disappeared. Remember, Thatcher and Reagan supported the dead squads in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Brazil and Argentina, figuring that it was better to support murderous fascists than let communism take hold of Las Americas. Thatcher was as egregious a leader as Ronald Reagan, whose support of the Contras was an abomination since they murdered unarmed women, children and school teachers. If you were part of the ruling elite under Reagan or Thatcher, you likely prospered under his policies but in is incontestable that they created a wider gap between the rich and the poor. In fact, the US ranks among the most unequal countries in the world. I assume that all of us here are in favor of justice, and equality and freedom and democracy–participatory democracy.

  • perhaps they constitute ‘opinons’ spawned by a cabal of Fox News journalists

    followed by

    Shoddy ideological platitudes won’t do,

    Equals skipping to the next comment.

  • Which exactly makes my case about social amnesia and a studied refusal to engage with reality. thank you.

  • Which exactly makes my case about social amnesia and a studied refusal to engage with reality. thank you.

    You come onto a blog, write a long wall of text, blithely ignore most of the points made by your interlocuters, and then proceed to accuse them of talking in cliches seconds after spouting one of the most hackneyed cliches in all of politics. So I gave you and your response all of the attention it merited.

  • Which points did I ignore, and I am happy to address them. I came on to the blog astonished at the support of Thatcher. As a Catholic who is deeply influenced by liberation theology I put forth my own position, having spent the last 25 years visiting and working in Venezuela, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia. I am neither a Republican nor am I now a Democrat. Thank you for your time. Remain in your comfort zone. goodbye.

  • “perhaps they constitute ‘opinons’ spawned by a cabal of Fox News journalists, designed to keep the regime in tact”

    Paranoid rantings do not constitute an argument.

    “There appears to be a studied refusal to engage with reality evidenced by several of the responses.”

    Only if you live in a different reality from what the rest of us inhabit.

    “Ask economists of various political stripes and you will learn that Friedman is the best known exponent of economic neoliberalism–his consequentialist libertarianism put him at odds with classical neoliberalism. His monetarism and laissez-faire absolutism was disastrous.”

    Ex Cathedra statements only hold water on this blog when issued by a Pope.

    “And let’s get some ontological clarity on Thatcher.”

    You really should not use words when you obviously do not know what they mean.

    “Thatcher labelled Mandela a “terrorist” and even Prime Minister Cameron has acknowledged they got it wrong on Mandela, that he was “one of the greatest men alive.””

    Thatcher pressed Botha to give up apartheid and urged him to free Mandela.

    “She refused sanctions on South Africa during the most bloody years of apartheid rule, tantamount to a rule of state terror, and only went against sanctions after 1986, following the US lead.”

    Thatcher believed that sanctions would only hurt poor blacks in South Africa, as they did, and that trade would act against apartheid, as it did.

    “Thatcher visited Pinochet who was under house arrest in London, to thank him for all he did for the UK, ignoring Pinochet’s bloody rule of terror.”

    She thanked him for the Chilean assistance to the UK during the Falklands and for his role in the transition of Chile to democracy.

    “Yes, the ‘official’ death toll was 3,200”

    The real death toll in other words as opposed to the fevered imaginings of Leftists who long for the glory days of Allende.

    “Remember, Thatcher and Reagan supported the dead squads in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Brazil and Argentina,”

    Completely untrue, but don’t let facts stand in your way.

    “Thatcher was as egregious a leader as Ronald Reagan, whose support of the Contras was an abomination since they murdered unarmed women, children and school teachers.”

    Actually the Contra policy led to the election of 1990 which tossed the Sandanistas out of power, the Nicaraguan people prefering the opposition to the Sandanistas. The Sandanistas of course violated human rights routinely during their time in power.

    http://www.cmpage.org/betrayal/chapt7.html

    “If you were part of the ruling elite under Reagan or Thatcher, you likely prospered under his policies but in is incontestable that they created a wider gap between the rich and the poor.”

    Reagan and Thatcher left their countries far more prosperous than they found them. Would that the current leadership in both their nations had the wisdom to follow their policies.

  • McLaren: If you had extant functional gray matter, I’d provide you with the comprehensive answer my son’s (advanced degree engineers) Argentine friends gave me to my question, “Why is Argentina, a nation with vast natural resources and a highly educated population, an economic “basket case”?

    “Don’t bogart that joint, my friend. Pass it over to me . . . “

  • “perhaps they constitute ‘opinons’ spawned by a cabal of Fox News journalists, designed to keep the regime in tact”

    Paranoid rantings do not constitute an argument.

    ASSERTIONS SUCH AS YOURS FAIL TO CONSTITUTE AN ARGUMENT.

    “There appears to be a studied refusal to engage with reality evidenced by several of the responses.”

    Only if you live in a different reality from what the rest of us inhabit.

    APPARENTLY I DO. AND I AM GRATEFUL FOR THAT.

    “Ask economists of various political stripes and you will learn that Friedman is the best known exponent of economic neoliberalism–his consequentialist libertarianism put him at odds with classical neoliberalism. His monetarism and laissez-faire absolutism was disastrous.”

    Ex Cathedra statements only hold water on this blog when issued by a Pope.

    OR IF APPROVED BY OPUS DEI, NO DOUBT.

    “And let’s get some ontological clarity on Thatcher.”

    You really should not use words when you obviously do not know what they mean.

    THAT’S USUALLY WHAT MY BOOK CRITICS TELL ME WHEN THEY ARE TOO LAZY TO REACH FOR A DICTIONARY.

    “Thatcher labelled Mandela a “terrorist” and even Prime Minister Cameron has acknowledged they got it wrong on Mandela, that he was “one of the greatest men alive.””

    Thatcher pressed Botha to give up apartheid and urged him to free Mandela.

    YES, MAGGIE COME-LATELY. WASN’T THAT AFTER THE US CONGRESS PASSED THE 1986 ANTI-APARTHEID ACT?

    “She refused sanctions on South Africa during the most bloody years of apartheid rule, tantamount to a rule of state terror, and only went against sanctions after 1986, following the US lead.”

    Thatcher believed that sanctions would only hurt poor blacks in South Africa, as they did, and that trade would act against apartheid, as it did.

    WHAT ACTED AGAINST APARTHEID WERE SANCTIONS.

    “Thatcher visited Pinochet who was under house arrest in London, to thank him for all he did for the UK, ignoring Pinochet’s bloody rule of terror.”

    She thanked him for the Chilean assistance to the UK during the Falklands and for his role in the transition of Chile to democracy.

    DEMOCRACY? YES, THAT’S INTERESTING, HE TOPPLED A DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED PRESIDENT IN ORDER TO CREATE ‘DEMOCRACY.’ YES, I SUPPOSE THAT MAKES SENSE IN YOUR WORLD.
    THATCHER ALSO APPROVED COVERT ARMS FOR IRAQI DICTATOR SADDAM HUSSEIN–AS DID REAGAN, WHILE SADDAM HUSSEIN USED CHEMICAL WEAPONS.

    “Yes, the ‘official’ death toll was 3,200”

    The real death toll in other words as opposed to the fevered imaginings of Leftists who long for the glory days of Allende.

    ALLENDE WAS A RELATIVELY MODERATE LEFTIST. MUCH PREFERABLE TO PINOCHET, WHO MURDERED ALLENDE. REMEMBER WHEN ARGENTINA WAS THE POSTER CHILD FOR NEOLIBERAL ECONOMICS? LOOK WHAT HAPPENED. THANK GOODNESS THEY REFUSED TO PAY BACK THE IMF.

    “Remember, Thatcher and Reagan supported the dead squads in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Brazil and Argentina,”

    Completely untrue, but don’t let facts stand in your way.

    CORRECTION, YES, MORE SPECIFICALLY IT WAS US ADMINISTRATIONS, DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN. DONT LET THE FACTS STAND IN THE WAY OF WHAT US SUPPORT FOR THE SALVADOREAN JUNTA, UNDER CARTER, DID TO ARCHBISHOP ROMERO. BY THE WAY, ISNT HE A PROSPECT FOR SAINTHOOD? DO YOU REMEMBER THE JESUITS KILLED IN EL SALVADOR?

    “Thatcher was as egregious a leader as Ronald Reagan, whose support of the Contras was an abomination since they murdered unarmed women, children and school teachers.”

    Actually the Contra policy led to the election of 1990 which tossed the Sandanistas out of power, the Nicaraguan people prefering the opposition to the Sandanistas. The Sandanistas of course violated human rights routinely during their time in power.

    I WAS NEVER A FAN OF ORTEGA, PREFERRING ERNESTO CARDINAL. BUT YOU COULD HARDLY COMPARE THE SANDINISTAS TO THE CONTRAS. THAT IS ABSOLUTELY CRAZY. IF YOU WERE A FAN OF THE TORTUROUS SOMOZA REGIME, THEN PERHAPS YOU MIGHT WANT TO MOVE TO FLORIDA, IF YOU DONT ALREADY LIVE THERE. THERE ARE PLENTY MEMBERS OF HIS MURDEROUS REGIME ENJOYING THE BEACHFRONT LIFE.

    “If you were part of the ruling elite under Reagan or Thatcher, you likely prospered under his policies but in is incontestable that they created a wider gap between the rich and the poor.”

    Reagan and Thatcher left their countries far more prosperous than they found them. Would that the current leadership in both their nations had the wisdom to follow their policies.

    INDEED, THERE WAS AN ECONOMIC boom in the mid-1980s, as the economy recovered from a severe recession. But while the rich got much richer, there was little sustained economic improvement for most Americans. By the late 1980s, middle-class incomes were barely higher than they had been a decade before — and the poverty rate had actually risen. A recession was inevitable under Voodoo economic policy.

    According to Paul Krugman, nobel prize winner in economics (sorry, I’m not quoting the Pope so I hope I’m not wasting my time):

    I understand why conservatives want to rewrite history and pretend that these good things happened while a Republican was in office — or claim, implausibly, that the 1981 Reagan tax cut somehow deserves credit for positive economic developments that didn’t happen until 14 or more years had passed. (Does Richard Nixon get credit for “Morning in America”?)
    Like Ronald Reagan, President Bush began his term in office with big tax cuts for the rich and promises that the benefits would trickle down to the middle class. Like Reagan, he also began his term with an economic slump, then claimed that the recovery from that slump proved the success of his policies.

    And like Reaganomics — but more quickly — Bushonomics has ended in grief. The public mood today is as grim as it was in 1992. Wages are lagging behind inflation. Employment growth in the Bush years has been pathetic compared with job creation in the Clinton era. Even if we don’t have a formal recession — and the odds now are that we will — the optimism of the 1990s has evaporated.

    This is, in short, a time when progressives ought to be driving home the idea that the right’s ideas don’t work, and never have.

    I REST MY CASE., AGAIN

    More Articles in Opinion »

  • “Pinochet saved his country. You have a list of the people he killed”

    OK I am all for putting things in context (including dictatorships of whatever ideological stripe) but come on. stuff’s well-documented.

    “Remember, Thatcher and Reagan supported the dead squads in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Brazil and Argentina, figuring that it was better to support murderous fascists than let communism take hold of Las America”

    no they didn’t support “dead squads.” The government in El Salvador at the time for example was centrist. It’s true that there were far-right groups operating/there were Contra atrocities but these facts do not = we should have been indifferent to Communist governments/insurgencies in the region.

  • I AM SURE YOUR SON’S ARGENTINE FRIENDS WITH THEIR ADVANCED DEGREES ARE GOOD PEOPLE, AND I ASSUME YOU ARE A GOOD PERSON. I GENERALLY MAKE THAT ASSUMPTION ABOUT PEOPLE. HOWEVER, I VISIT ARGENTINA REGULARLY, AND HAVE PLENTY OF ACCESS TO LEARNED OPINIONS ON THE ECONOMIC SITUATION THERE. AND I HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT IT EXTENSIVELY. WHICH ISN’T TO SAY I CAN’T BE WRONG. BUT THANKS FOR THE OFFER.

  • YOU PREFER THE AFGHAN CIVIL WAR/TALIBAN TO THE PROGRESSIVE SOVIET REGIME??? YOU PREFER A BROKEN, HIGH-UNEMPLOYMENT RUSSIA TO THE USSR???

    see you can do this for a lot of things and it doesn’t make it convincing.

  • Hmm, this might be a helpful primer to people having keyboard issues tonight.
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060929164844AAtIlfH

  • MIGHT I MAKE A SUGGESTION. THERE IS AN EXCELLENT MOVIE PRODUCED BY THE PAULIST FATHERS, STARRING THE LATE RAUL JULIA. IT IS CALLED “ROMERO” AND EXPLORES MUCH OF THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN EL SALVADOR, PRIOR TO ARCHBISHOP ROMERO’S ASSASSINATION. SALVADOREANOS WHO HAVE DISCUSSED THIS WITH ME HAVE BEEN SURPRISED BY ITS ACCURATE PORTRAYAL OF EVENTS AS THEY RECALLED THEM. YOU CAN WATCH THE FILM FREE ON YOUTUBE.

  • GREAT ADVICE PAUL. BUT ISN’T YOUR WEBSITE ADVICE A CALL TO ELIMINATE YOUR OWN VOICE? SEEMS LIKE PRETTY SELF-DESTRUCTIVE ADVICE.
    OF COURSE, SARCASM ASIDE, IT’S NOT UNCOMMON FOR IDEOLOGUES TO CALL SOMEONE WHO DISAGREES WITH THEM CRAZY. DIDNT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH SAY THAT ABOUT GALILEO? WELL, I THOUGHT I WOULD END MY SOJOURN HERE BY RECOMMENDING A GOOD FILM PRODUCED BY THE PAULIST FATHERS. AND THE RESPONSE FROM A BOGGER IN A CATHOLIC PUBLICATION IS–THAT’S CRAZY. THAT SAYS IT ALL. I TAKE MY LEAVE OF YOU, WISHING ALL OF YOU GOD SPEED.

  • PS, IF YOU CAN REFRAIN FROM A RESPONSE, I WON’T BOTHER TO REPLY. BEST WISHES.

  • Peter,

    I think it’s time to say goodbye to you as well. Cheers.

    BTW, though you’re gone now and it doesn’t matter much, I will note that the Galileo dig reveals much more about your Catholicity than you intended.

  • You’re an ideologue if you don’t think any and all structural problems in Latin America warrant a don’t-call-it-socialist cure mayn. k.

The Mask Drops

Thursday, February 21, AD 2013

.

All we have of freedom, all we use or know—

This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.

Ancient Right unnoticed as the breath we draw—

Leave to live by no man’s leave, underneath the Law.

Lance and torch and tumult, steel and grey-goose wing

Wrenched it, inch and ell and all, slowly from the King.

Till our fathers ‘stablished, after bloody years,

How our King is one with us, first among his peers.

So they bought us freedom—not at little cost

Wherefore must we watch the King, lest our gain be lost,

Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue

 

 

Give an A to Sarah Conly for boldly proclaiming what many of our liberal elites believe but are too wise to state openly:

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10 Responses to The Mask Drops

  • aren’t conservatism and liberalism both visions of society that don’t place personal liberty as the end all? (Russell Kirk wrote a good denunciation of libertarianism on this point) the difference is that conservatism is more concerned with a central morality people should follow, where liberalism places emphasis on general “self-fulfillment” but then thinks it can have the government pick up the pieces from any downsides

    a good example is that very occasionally you’ll get liberals to admit that family breakdown is an issue, however they’re so concerned about “turning back the clock” that they always propose economic solutions for it, on the assumption that wherever we’re at now must represent Progress and we shouldn’t be judgmental

  • Conservatives usually put God at the end of all. American conservatism has normally followed the Founding Fathers in their innate distrust of government, and the concern for the threat to liberty it always poses. Contemporary liberals, almost all of them, have rejected this precious inheritance root and branch and believe that all the wonderful things, in their eyes, that government can do, more than makes up for limitations on liberty.

  • I just heard this quote on the radio today, from Monroe’s First Inaugural Address:

    Had the people of the United States been educated in different principles, had they been less intelligent, less independent, or less virtuous, can it be believed that we should have maintained the same steady and consistent career or been blessed with the same success? While, then, the constituent body retains its present sound and healthful state everything will be safe. They will choose competent and faithful representatives for every department. It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found.

  • @ Pinky

    And Adams said the Constitution was only for a moral and just people. If not, it would yield to “avarice, ambition, lust, and licentiousness.” Tocqueville also observed the moderating role religion played on the inherent emphasis on individualism within the liberal political ethos. He noted that the American people were “better than their philosophy.” The problem is, and I think Patrick Deneen does a good job of illustrating just why, liberal (the Enlightenment kind) political philosophy eventually neuters religion as nothing more than a private decision, eviscerating it and its restraining influence from the public square. We see the fruits of such a development, two centuries in the making, before our very eyes.

  • Amazon’s reviews are composed of a self-selected crew who bought the book and so are commonly quite laudatory. This particular book received eight reviews. Five were negative, two were ironic, and one was penned by this fellow here.

    http://mitchellfreedman.blogspot.com/

    My favorite line from the reviews was this one:

    … like dropping almost **** $100 **** on her book. Presumably the reader os the book live in a world where that’s a “smart” choice.

  • Bob Zubrin quoted at Instapundit, “The use of fictitious necessity to rationalize human oppression is not new.”

    Camus, “The common good is the alibi of all tyrants.”

    “She can’t run her own life, I’ll be damned if she’ll run mine.” I don’t remember the rock/R&B musician.

    Ms. Conley is walking, talking evidence that Ayn Rand is always right about everything.

  • “that Ayn Rand is always right about everything.”

    I think Ayn Rand was just as dictatorial T.Shaw as Ms. Conley could ever hope to be, judging from the bitter memoirs of some of her former cultists. Rand was a poor philosopher who made a name for herself by combining her jejune paean to selfishness in pot boilers with plenty of sex at a time when such novels were still considered “shocking” and “cutting edge”.

    Whittaker Chambers had Rand’s number long ago:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2705853/posts

  • Bill Buckley’s obit on Rand:

    “Ayn Rand, RIP
    New York, March 10, 1982

    Rand is dead. So, incidentally, is the philosophy she sought to launch dead; it was in fact stillborn. The great public crisis in Ayn Rand’s career came, in my judgment, when Whittaker Chambers took her on—in December of 1957, when her book Atlas Shrugged best-seller list, lecturers were beginning to teach something called Randism, and students started using such terms as “mysticism of the mind” (religion), and “mysticism of the muscle” (statism). Whittaker Chambers, whose authority with American conservatives was as high as that of any man then living, wrote in NATIONAL REVIEW, after a lengthy analysis of the essential aridity of Miss Rand’s philosophy, “Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal.”

    I had met Miss Rand three years before that review was published. Her very first words to me (I do not exaggerate) were: “You ahrr too intelligent to believe in Gott.” The critic Wilfrid Sheed once remarked, when I told him the story, “Well, that certainly is an icebreaker.” It was; and we conversed, and did so for two or three years. I used to send her postcards in liturgical Latin: but levity with Miss Rand was not an effective weapon. And when I published Whittaker Chambers’ review, her resentment was so comprehensive that she regularly inquired of all hosts or toastmasters whether she was being invited to a function at which I was also scheduled to appear, because if that was the case, either she would not come; or, if so, only after I had left; or before I arrived. I fear that I put the lady through a great deal of choreographical pain.

    Miss Rand’s most memorable personal claim (if you don’t count the one about her being the next greatest philosopher after Aristotle) was that since formulating her philosophy of “objectivism,” she had never experienced any emotion for which she could not fully account. And then one day, a dozen years ago, she was at a small dinner, the host of which was Henry Hazlitt, the libertarian economist, the other guest being Ludwig von Mises, the grand master of the Austrian school of anti-statist economics. Miss Rand was going on about something or other, at which point Mises told her to be quiet, that she was being very foolish. The lady who could account for all her emotions at that point burst out into tears, and complained: “You are treating me like a poor ignorant little Jewish girl!” Mr. Hazlitt, attempting to bring serenity to his table, leaned over and said, “There there, Ayn, that isn’t at all what Ludwig was suggesting.” But this attempt at conciliation was ruined when Mises jumped up and said: “That iss eggsactly what you ahrr!” Since both participants were Jewish, this was not a racist slur. This story was mortal to her reputation as the lady of total self-control.

    THERE WERE other unpleasantnesses of professional interest, such as her alienation from her principal apostle, Nathaniel Branden—who was so ungallant as to suggest, in retaliation against her charge that he was trying to swindle her, that the breakup was the result of his rejection of an, er, amatory advance by Miss Rand. Oh goodness, it got ugly.

    There were a few who, like Chambers, caught on early. Atlas Shrugged was published back before the law of the Obligatory Sex Scene was passed by both Houses of Congress and all fifty state legislatures, so that the volume was considered rather risque, in its day. Russell Kirk, challenged to account for Miss Rand’s success if indeed she was merely an exiguous philosophic figure, replied, “Oh, they read her books for the fornicating bits.” Unkind. And only partly true.

    The Fountainhead, read in a certain way, is a profound assertion of the integrity of art. What did Miss Rand in was her anxiety to theologize her beliefs. She was an eloquent and persuasive anti-statist, and if only she had left it at that—but no, she had to declare that God did not exist, that altruism was despicable, that only self-interest is good and noble. She risked, in fact, giving to capitalism that bad name that its enemies have done so well in giving it; and that is a pity. Miss Rand was a talented woman, devoted to her ideals. She came as a refugee from Communism to this country as a young woman, and carved out a substantial career. May she rest in peace, and may she experience the demystification of her mind possessed.”

  • Mac,

    I apologize.

5 Responses to Milton Friedman on the Loss of Freedom

  • “We are getting what the public at large is asking for.”

    1st Samuel chapter 8:

    1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his first-born son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beer-sheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint for us a king to govern us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD said to Samuel, “Hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds which they have done to me, * from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, hearken to their voice; only, you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” 10 So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; 12 and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your menservants and maidservants, and the best of your cattle* and your asses, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the LORD will not answer you in that day.” 19 But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No! but we will have a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the LORD. 22 And the LORD said to Samuel, “Hearken to their voice, and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”

  • PS, I have had atheists tell me directly that they deliberately intend to marginalize religion into the closet. That is their stated goal and aim.

  • I am not able to listen to the video just now, but Paul’s excellent choice of scripture makes up for that.
    Thanks and well done, PMP.

  • Excellent clip. I had not heard the term “prison state” before, but it’s apt.
    I think some things have changed since this was filmed. Too many of our citizens now want an expanded government, not a smaller government. They know where we are headed, and they are quite happy to hasten our arrival. I would disagree that the fault lies with our political structures. The fault lies not in them, but in ourselves.

  • Tony is right, the fault lies with us. We allowed our constitution to be twisted and misinterpreted. Why did we let freedom OF religion become freedom FROM religion? When we allowed that to go unchallenged, we all bowed to the false god of secular humanism. We stood by, barely making a sound when they decided that pre meditated murder was a woman’s right. Don’t get me wrong, I believe a woman has the right to choose what happens to her body, but that choice must be made BEFORE another innocent body resides in hers.

    How many people voted in favor of this prison state in order to gain a shiny bobble or two? We have sold ourselves and our children into slavery, and the worst part is, many of us are too blind to see it. I cringe when I see not only my brothers and sisters, lead by our priest bow and worship the great Obama. It breaks my heart that many feel that compromising our beliefs for self gain in the welfare line is but a small price to pay. We need to get back to the literal word of our constitution, and start voting with our conscience, not with the hope of an easy way out of every situation we find ourselves in. If you are uninformed, or unable to search the truth for yourself, do not by the salesmans line, stay home and don’t vote.

Of Chicken Sandwiches, Free Speech and Cheap Politicians

Thursday, July 26, AD 2012

The people who run the fast food chain Chick-fil-A are serious Christians.  They close their 1,608 restaurants on Sundays even though they lose a huge amount of revenue doing so.  The President of Chick-fil-A has spoken out against gay marriage.  As a result Democrat politicians, who have as much understanding of freedom of speech as they do morality, have decided to punish a legal business.

First up was Thomas Menino, mayor of Boston, who sent an unintentionally hilarious letter to the president of the company.  This Boston Herald editorial noted the humor:

But which part of the First Amendment does Menino not understand? A business owner’s political or religious beliefs should not be a test for the worthiness of his or her application for a business license.

Chick-fil-A must follow all state and city laws. If the restaurant chain denied service to gay patrons or refused to hire gay employees, Menino’s outrage would be fitting. And the company should be held to its statement that it strives to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation, or gender.” But beyond the fact that Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, the religious beliefs of the company’s top executive don’t appear to control its operations.

The situation was different when Northeastern University blocked a proposed Chick-fil-A amid student protests. In that case, a private institution made its own decision not to bring the company in as a vendor. But using the power of government to freeze the company out of a city sends a disturbing message to all businesses. If the mayor of a conservative town tried to keep out gay-friendly Starbucks or Apple, it would be an outrage.

Ironically, Menino is citing the specific location along the Freedom Trail as a reason to block Chick-fil-A. A city in which business owners must pass a political litmus test is the antithesis of what the Freedom Trail represents. History will render judgment on the views of Chick-fil-A executives. City Hall doesn’t have to.

Next up was Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emanuel, former Chief of Staff of President Obama.  Ben Shapiro at Breitbart gives us the details:

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12 Responses to Of Chicken Sandwiches, Free Speech and Cheap Politicians

  • I hardly need any further encouragement to consume Chik-fil-a, but this only makes me crave the original w/ a side of waffle fries even more. It would be interesting for CFA to take them to the courts on this. Even if they lost, it would then set a precedent for banning liberal supporting businesses like Starbucks.

  • I am kind of wondering what Richard J. Daley, who was a daily communicant, would make of using municipal regulations to harrass people opposed (incidental to their business) to disfiguring matrimonial law or promoting sodomy.

    Remember when emblematic liberals were nice guys like George McGovern and Allard Loewenstein?

    Pieter Viereck nailed it: the notable problem with the liberal is his grandson.

  • The insanity of all of this is really hard for me to grasp. How can someone speak out of both sides of thier mouths and continue to get a pass? Free Speech means eactly what? Agree with me or else! Venerable Sheen said that (paraphrase here) tolorance of people is absolutely paramount but tolorane of principles can not be accepted. I can look up the exact quote but the point is clear. It seems that the dynamic shift they want is a shift that they think is “progressive” but in reality it is regressive. Welcome back to the age of paganism that rules..

  • Chick-Fil-A’s website has a location finder. I discovered one not that far from my apartment. It’s a little out of the way, but I’ll give them a try.

  • I live close to two Chik-fil-a stores. The food is excellent, the staff is very friendly and it is always clean. It is a really nice place to eat.

    It is really quite frightening what is going on. The complete hypocrisy would be amusing if it wasn’t so scary. Watching all of this happen makes me feel like I am in a bad dream, saying to myself “this can’t be happening” and hoping I wake up.

  • Perhaps Emanuel is more broadminded than I thought. He is enthusiastic for one religious group in Chicago that is opposed to gay marriage:

    http://hotair.com/archives/2012/07/26/important-update-on-chicago-values-non-inclusive-chick-fil-a-out/

  • I think that this is one (of 10,000) example of liberal fascism.

    Drudge has these bylines: “Godfather Rejects CHICK-FIL-A: ‘Not Chicago Values’”… and “RAHM WELCOMES FARRAKAHN.” Caput in ano est.

    Christainity banned in Windy City. Nation of Islam is established Chicago official religion. Spucatum tauri.

  • Chik-fil cannot attain to the first-grade of the “Chicago way” for the ballerina, unless the duty managers went around stabbing patrons with wishbones while screaming “You’re dead!!”. True mastery of the “Chicago way” though will come only by emulating Emmanuel senior, one time scourge of the transportation and hotel industries in Palestine.

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  • I am thoroughly disgusted with the homosexual activists in this country. Who died and left them kings?

  • As a fellow Chicagoan (and a lover of food-things chicken) I have to laugh at Rahm.

    It’s pretty great that whenever someone disagrees with their agenda (or grab at votes) they are called discriminatory, mean-spirited or whatever. I guess the only true tolerance for them is apathy or agreement with them. Very nice.

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Fortnight For Freedom Day 1: Freedom is Not Just a Big Word

Thursday, June 21, AD 2012

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the first of these blog posts.

The video at the top of this post is a scene from the classic movie, The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), based upon the short story by Stephen Vincent Benet, in which Daniel Webster bests Satan in a jury trial to save the soul of New Hampshireman Jabez Stone.   In this scene Daniel Webster addresses a jury of the damned, all villains of American history.  I have always thought this speech one of the most eloquent statements of what it means to be an American.

In regard to Freedom it reminds us that it is just not a word:  Freedom is not just a big word — it is the bread and the   morning and the risen sun. It was for freedom we came in boats and ships to these shores.  It has been a long journey, a hard one, a bitter one. There is sadness in being a man, but it is a proud thing, too.  Out of the suffering and the starvation, the wrong and the right, a new thing has come, a free man. When the whips of   the oppressors are broken, and their names forgotten and destroyed, free men will be walking and talking under a free star. Yes, we   have planted freedom here in this earth like wheat.  This is the priceless treasure that Goverment encroachments like the HHS Mandate begin to take away from us.

Go here to read the passage in the Stephen Vincet Benet’s short story.  Below is the scene as written in the screenplay:

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27 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom Day 1: Freedom is Not Just a Big Word

  • Defend Religious Liberty.

    Stop Tyranny.

    Defeat Obama.

  • Isn’t it ironic that Democrats are the most anti-freedom people around, from their support of slavery in the 1800s to their support of baby-murdering in the late 1900s and early 2000s? Having sold their souls to Satan, I suppose they have no other choice.

  • Freedom of religion lets us live by conscience.
    Freedom of worship is within ‘church’ walls, not the law. Until … such as places in the eastern world.
    Two weeks for special prayer for Christianity, whether or not locales have any plans to get people together to understand.

  • I will be saying the St. Michael Prayer, which Pope Leo XIII wrote after seeing a horrific vision of demons and St. Michael. Our country, the Catholic Church and the world certainly needs his intercession. We all need to be warriors now!

    Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

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  • Satan has no soul. Satan is a person as he testifies for himself, but Satan has no soul. Saint Michael, appearing to the children of Fatima, brought to them Holy Communion. Saint Michael bowed to the earth in their presence and confessed that he could not receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Satan, the Destroyer, liar and murderer, cannot be a citizen as he claims in the story The Devil and Daniel Webster, because a citizen constitutes a nation. Just being there as he claims, when the slaves were enslaved, does not constitute citizenship. Constituting the nation constitutes citizenship. Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, has a human, rational soul. Jesus Christ is Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Because Jesus Christ is the Son of God, perfect innocence, perfect charity, the standard of Justice and mercy, Jesus Christ constitutes all nations, all sovereignty, and therefore, is a citizen of all nations, all people. Jesus Christ, as citizen of the universe, nation and the USA, cannot be denied access to the public square, the public square, Jesus’ God and Father created.
    When the Person of God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit, the Trinity of Persons, the first family, the community of LOVE, is returned to the public square, all freedom will reign. Viva Christo Rey
    The moral order is established by God. Jesus Christ lives the moral order.

  • Our US bishops have exercised, for the most part, silence regarding the Church’s truth, though hard sayings, regarding artificial contraception and abortion. The bishops, the USCCB, have not for many years exercised their so called American “freedom” and “freedom of conscience” regarding the Church’s doctrines. They have been afraid to speak the truth in love to Catholics or they have sold their souls to the liberal, often Judaized, philosophies. Fear and silence do not go together with truth and true freedom. Pope Gregory the Great famously said .. “If people are scandalized at the truth, it is better to allow the birth of scandal, than to abandon the truth” Here is what Saint Catherine of Siena said about silence. “I’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent! Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues. I see that the world is rotten because of silence.” A follower of Christ is to be a bondslave of Christ.

    Now we are supposed to be rallying and considering “civil disobedience” in this “Fortnight of Freedom”, when the Americanist bishops and “American Catholics” for the cause of “freedom”, which is NOT the cause of Christ, and is NOT first obedience to God.

    Read what Pope Pius X said about Americanism and the Americanists. The founding of the USA was by those who believed in the principles of the Enlightenment. The principles of the Englightenment are anti-Christ and anti Christ toward Christ’s Catholic Church.

    Thomas Payne and Thomas Jefferson spoke of “freedom” not in Christ’s definition of “freedom” (the glorious freedom of the children of God) but in this worldly Englightenment ideas of freedom, and that is the way this Fortnight of Freedom is promoting “freedom.” This is not freedom under God. This is freedom above God.

    Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat!

  • In a word, Jeannon, baloney. Try reading this passage from Leo XIII:

    ” Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion. She, by her very nature, guards and defends all the principles on which duties are founded, and setting before us the motives most powerful to influence us, commands us to live virtuously and forbids us to transgress. Now what is the Church other than a legitimate society, founded by the will and ordinance of Jesus Christ for the preservation of morality and the defence of religion? For this reason have We repeatedly endeavored, from the summit of the pontifical dignity, to inculcate that the Church, whilst directly and immediately aiming at the salvation of souls and the beatitude which is to be attained in heaven, is yet, even in the order of temporal things, the fountain of blessings so numerous and great that they could not have been greater or more numerous had the original purpose of her institution been the pursuit of happiness during the life which is spent on earth.

    5. That your Republic is .progressing and developing by giant strides is patent to all; and this holds good in religious matters also. For even as your cities, in the course of one century, have made a marvellous increase in wealth and power, so do we behold the Church, from scant and slender beginnings, grown with rapidity to be great and exceedingly flourishing. Now if, on the one hand, the increased riches and resources of your cities are justly attributed to the talents and active industry of the American people, on the other hand, the prosperous condition of Catholicity must be ascribed, first indeed, to the virtue, the ability, and the prudence of the bishops and clergy; but in so slight measure also, to the faith and generosity of the Catholic laity. Thus, while the different classes exerted their best energies, you were enabled to erect unnumbered religious and useful institutions, sacred edifices, schools for the instruction of youth, colleges for the higher branches, homes for the poor, hospitals for the sick, and convents and monasteries. As for what more closely touches spiritual interests, which are based upon the exercise of Christian virtues, many facts have been brought to Our notice, whereby We are animated with hope and filled with joy, namely, that the numbers of the secular and regular clergy are steadily augmenting, that pious sodalities and confraternities are held in esteem, that the Catholic parochial schools, the Sunday-schools for imparting Christian doctrine, and summer schools are in a flourishing condition; moreover, associations for mutual aid, for the relief of the indigent, for the promotion of temperate living, add to all this the many evidences of popular piety.

    6. The main factor, no doubt, in bringing things into this happy state were the ordinances and decrees of your synods, especially of those which in more recent times were convened and confirmed by the authority of the Apostolic See. But, moreover (a fact which it gives pleasure to acknowledge), thanks are due to the equity of the laws which obtain in America and to the customs of the well-ordered Republic. For the Church amongst you, unopposed by the Constitution and government of your nation, fettered by no hostile legislation, protected against violence by the common laws and the impartiality of the tribunals, is free to live and act without hindrance.”

    The hatred that some trad Catholics have for their own nation and our heritage of freedom as Americans is simply bizarre and has nothing to do with Catholicism.

  • Correct me if I am wrong, but as I understand it, Pope Leo XIII wasn’t so much critical of the Republican system of secular government over these United States, as he was of installing such a system of government for the Church in these United States. Indeed, one might rightly argue that it is the liberals who want Church matters decided on by popular vote, as though the Church ought to be ruled by the “peepul”.

    Establishing Americanism as the Church government in America is obviously wrong. But having a Constitutional Republican government for secular society is exactly what has prevented secular government from telling the Church what to do or not do, and thus has enabled (or at least allowed) the Successors to the Apostles act like the Successors to the Apostles.

  • In a word, Mr. McClareey, baloney. Try reading this passage from Leo XIII Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae (1899).

    “Pope Leo identified three major erroneous views that served to dilute Catholicism in America. The first is the belief that “in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions.”

    And further, Mr. Baloney, your statement “The hatred that some trad Catholics have for their own nation and our heritage of freedom as Americans is simply bizarre and has nothing to do with Catholicism.” is bizaare and has nothing to do with Catholic conduct.

    “The second error condemned by Pope Leo was “that opinion of the lovers of novelty, according to which they hold such liberty should be allowed in the Church, that…allowance be granted the faithful, each one to follow out more freely the leading of his own mind and the trend of his own proper activity.” The pope was condemning the idea of private judgment being the supreme guide as to how one should live, and he was rejecting the idea that the Church should have no say over the consciences of men. The source of this error was the constitutional, enlightenment states that were growing up in the 1800s, and according to American history professor, author and Pulitzer prize winner, Joseph Ellis, the USA is an Enlightenment state. We see the Enlightenment’s imprint on the US in Thomas Jefferson’s famous quote inscribed in the Jefferson Memorial that “I have sworn on the alter of god, eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

    “The Third error condemned was “an unwarranted importance to the natural virtues as though they better responded to the customs and necessities of the times.” The late Fr. John Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary, states “In general, active virtues correspond to what is commonly associated with American activism.” The great Dominican Thomist, Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, explained in his monumental work, The Three Ages of the Interior Life, that Americanism was the revival of the spirit of “practical naturalism” which is “the negation of the spirit of faith in the conduct of life”. (Tan Books, 1989, vol 1. P. 275) He teaches that Americanism says that the passions are neither good nor bad, but that they “become so according to the intention of our will. They are forces to be utilized; they must not be mortified, but regulated and modulated.” (p. 276) Americanism resists efforts to “combat private judgment, self-will…[because to do so] is to place oneself in a state of servitude which destroys all initiative and makes a person lose contact with the world, which one ought not to scorn, but to ameliorate.” (p. 276).

    The above summarization of Testem

    At the root of Americanism is pride, a pride that says America is not only unique and special but that it is also the greatest. A pride that corrupts doctrine and says that America knows better than the Church and that the Church should learn from America. A pride that places loyalty to America and the USA before loyalty to the Church and the Holy Father. A pride that places being American before being Roman Catholic. This is what we may draw from Leo’s indication that Americanism is a rejection of the words and spirit of St. Jerome who speaking to Pope St. Damasus said “I acknowledge no other leader than Christ, am bound in fellowship with your Holiness; that is with the chair of Peter. I know that the church was built upon him as its rock, and that whosever gathereth not with you, scattereth.” It is the primacy of Christ and his Church, as well of the authority of the Holy Father, that is needed in the hearts of believers to keep unity. For, as Leo XIII continued, the “true church is one, as by unity of doctrine, so by unity of government.”

    The summarization of Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae is taken from a speech of David Wemhoff, “THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT AND THE NEW AMERICANISM”

    http://www.romancatholicreport.com/id172.html

  • Jeannon Kralj,

    Everything you quoted from Pope Leo XIII’s Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae confirms what I wrote: the Pope wasn’t criticizing the Constitutional Repubic that was the United States, but the application of “peepul” rule and popular opinion for Church government.

    Look at the statements in your comment:

    (1) “…The first is the belief that ‘in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age…'”

    (2) “The second error condemned by Pope Leo was ‘that opinion of the lovers of novelty, according to which they hold such liberty should be allowed in the Church…'”

    (3) “The Third error condemned was ‘an unwarranted importance to the natural virtues as though they better responded to the customs and necessities of the times…'”

    The Pope never criticized the United States herself as a Constitutional Republic. Rather, he criticized trying to apply a system of voting, popular opinion and relativism in place of the Church government that Jesus established.

    BTW, I love my country, but I love God first. So I take exception to these statements:

    “At the root of Americanism is pride, a pride that says America is not only unique and special but that it is also the greatest. A pride that corrupts doctrine and says that America knows better than the Church and that the Church should learn from America.”

    That’s not the Americanism I have or profess. Rather, the Americanism I have and profess is one where God is honored first, where Holy Mother Church occupies a central place in the public square, where free exercise of religion is sacrosanct, and where the country I love is restored to being the Christian Consitutional Republic that she once was. We can never be best or greatest except that God be first.

  • BTW, one other thing Jeannon. You correctly wrote incriticism of this idea: “America knows better than the Church and that the Church should learn from America.” The whole idea of of this fortnight for freedom prayer time is to combat this very notion.

    America does NOT know better than the Church, the indefectible Bride of Christ (though Barack Hussein Obama and Kathleen Sebelius think otherwise), and the Church, the indefectible Bride of Christ, ought NOT to learn anything from America (though LCWR and the other liberal Katholyks think otherwise) except perhaps what NOT to do.

  • Jeannon, when you quote papal documents actually quote them, and not glosses. There is nothing in Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae which supports the wacked out argument you are making.

    Here is what the Pope actually said:

    “From the foregoing it is manifest, beloved son, that we are not able to give approval to those views which, in their collective sense, are called by some “Americanism.” But if by this name are to be understood certain endowments of mind which belong to the American people, just as other characteristics belong to various other nations, and if, moreover, by it is designated your political condition and the laws and customs by which you are governed, there is no reason to take exception to the name. But if this is to be so understood that the doctrines which have been adverted to above are not only indicated, but exalted, there can be no manner of doubt that our venerable brethren, the bishops of America, would be the first to repudiate and condemn it as being most injurious to themselves and to their country. For it would give rise to the suspicion that there are among you some who conceive and would have the Church in America to be different from what it is in the rest of the world.”
    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13teste.htm

    Paul, the Church teaches us how to go to Heaven, it teaches us very little about a wide range of subjects outside that sphere. The Church has never claimed to have all wisdom in secular matters, and Catholics who pretend otherwise, and I do not place you in that group, are very much mistaken.

  • Oh, and Jeannon, David Wemhoff who you quote seems to hold some nutty theories including that Pope Benedict is a tool of the United States:

    “But that is what conquerors do — they destroy the conquered and themselves if their conquest is not in the name of Jesus Christ and with the sign of the Cross. Munoz’ mind is enslaved by the Americans just as is the mind of Joseph Ratzinger. Benedict’s many speeches praising America are a, if not the, critical factor for the darkening of Munoz’ mind so as to accept error. Benedict, as leader of the Catholics, has been conditioned to be an American and to serve America, and so Catholics are bound to follow their leader into captivity. Ratzinger, now pope, as a type of Manchurian Candidate, is a symbol of America’s occupation of the Catholic Church.

    One of the great causes for hope and miracles of the day, in addition to the numbers of people entering the Church and growing it around the world even while its prelates are suffering through their American and Jewish captivity, is that the Holy Spirit still speaks through the papal encyclicals, such as Deus Caritas Est, which calls Catholics, and all people, to the truth and liberation from error. For error leads to sin, and the wages of sin is death. One need only consult antiquity and societies of the modern era grown too engrossed in serving wealth to see where it all leads. The unfortunate part is that many who consider themselves Catholic will go down with the sinking ship known as America. And, most importantly, many are in danger of the fires of hell because of the American ideas that come from the man who is pope.

    [1] “American(s)” refers to those who hold to the liberal, Enlightenment principles that created the country known as the USA which, with its Constitution and Declaration of Independence in large measure, shape the society known as America. One can be a citizen of the USA (that is, CUSA) and be a Catholic, and most CUSAs are Americans. One cannot be a Catholic and an American. To be an American is to believe in American principles before the teachings of the Church, or in other words to accept the Enlightenment ideals as superior to the teachings of the Faith.”

    http://catholicforum.fisheaters.com/index.php/topic,3445145.0.html

    Rad Trads can be just as nutty as leftist Catholics.

  • I agree with your statement, Donald: “…the Church teaches us how to go to Heaven, it teaches us very little about a wide range of subjects outside that sphere. The Church has never claimed to have all wisdom in secular matters…” (e.g., US NRC oversight of reactor plant safety – clearly a non-spiritual issue.)

    As you correctly noted: “…I do not place you in that group…”

    I should have been more precise in my statements. It’s difficult getting all the nuances right. I did not intend to confuse rightful authority in secular matters that would devolve onto government with authority in spiritual matters that would devolve onto the Church.

  • “the Church teaches us how to go to Heaven, it teaches us very little about a wide range of subjects outside that sphere.”

    I believe the Church’s social teachings, which are founded on caring for “the common good” teach us much about a wide range of subjects outside the sphere of how to go to heaven. For example, the Church used rightly to teach us about usury and how wrong it is. Dante put sodomites and usurers in the same circle of hell. Usury seems to be the basis of the “capitalism” that we have in America. The basics of economics falls within the Church’s social teachings. Another example, the Church cares about just wages for the worker and just prices. It looks to me like the Left and the Right of all parties have been rewarding corporations for moving their industrial operations and jobs for Americans overseas, and they have been doing this for at least 40 years, possibly much longer.

    I do not consider myself a “Rad Trad” and I do not know what the terms “liberal” and “conservative” mean anymore.

    The one thing the Church as been way too silent about is that there have been dark forces and people for centuries, if not millennia, who have in stealth manipulated unjust wars and other deceptions for the purpose of forming a world government, which will nothing other than a death and slavery system for all. We know that one world government will come about from reading the Apocalypse. Who can make war with the beast? But we are to expose it, oppose it, and work to establish Christ the King’s rule on this earth as best we can.

    America was founded as a Protestant country. You say America is a Christian country. When I read the words of Christ, I simply cannot see that.

  • “You say America is a Christian country. When I read the words of Christ, I simply cannot see that.”

    No, I say that America was founded as a country of religious liberty, a concept that the Church has fully embraced.

    “For example, the Church used rightly to teach us about usury and how wrong it is.”

    Yep, and history moved on and the Church came to terms with interest and banks. The world is not static and neither is the teaching of the Church in areas not directly connected to dogma or revelation.

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15235c.htm
    “basics of economics falls within the Church’s social teachings. ”

    Not really. Ecclesiastics tend to be as poor at economics as economists tend to be at theology. A recent example in support of this proposition:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2011/10/27/a-fisk-of-towards-reforming-the-international-financial-and-monetary-systems-in-the-context-of-global-public-authority/

    “It looks to me like the Left and the Right of all parties have been rewarding corporations for moving their industrial operations and jobs for Americans overseas, and they have been doing this for at least 40 years, possibly much longer.”

    Actually it is the law of production costs. Corporations tend to go where the work force is cheapest, other things being equal. The Chinese now are losing factories along their coast due to rising labor costs. Assuming that government fiat can alter the laws of economics has been a pleasing superstition for too many government officials and clerics down through the centuries.

  • Must Jehovah Witnesses employers include blood transfusions in coverage for Catholic employees? Can Muslim employers insist on Sharia law in the workplace? Must Christian Scientist employers provide health insurance?

    This slippery slope is coated with ice.

  • “the Church teaches us how to go to Heaven, it teaches us very little about a wide range of subjects outside that sphere”.

    I don’t think that is right. I see really no subjects outside that sphere. There is no part of me or my life than I can keep separate from the quest for Heaven. I can’t put my religion in my back pocket when I am thinking about nuclear reactors or anything else.

  • “I can’t put my religion in my back pocket when I am thinking about nuclear reactors or anything else.”

    You will find precious little in Church teaching as to how to construct nuclear reactors Anzlyne, or as to what the Hearsay Rule is, how best to utilize grazing fire in a fire fight, how to fill out the Estate Tax Return that will be one of my duties today or myriads of other topics. The confusion of religion with secular knowledge is never a good idea. Religion of course gives us our guide in morality, but too often clerics pretend to expertise in secular matters that they sadly lack, and not infrequently prove themselves buffoons in such areas to the same extent that non-clerics frequently do when they pontificate on matters of religion.

  • Hi Mr. Mc. I think we are coming from different angles here–both correct I think in what we mean.
    I think we agree that knowledge is not always wisdom, but that wisdom includes knowledge– and morality. Morality requires judgments (distinctions, decisions) based on something– and that “something” is found our religion- the foundational plank to base our lives’ actions and choices on.
    Like you, I don’t think the Bible, Tradition or the Teaching Authority of the Church try to teach us how to build a nuclear reactor. There are lots of things we can know HOW to do with or without revealed religion.
    I do think the wisdom of our religion can help us do what we can morally choose to do, better, having considered the ends, and the means to the ends. Consideration of our religion colors all of our decisions, even though it does not directly supply the ‘how to”

  • “Consideration of our religion colors all of our decisions, even though it does not directly supply the ‘how to””

    Writ large enough on big issues perhaps. My Catholicism however really does not impact my decision on how to apply the Hearsay Rule in court, or whether the Deadman’s Act is a good piece of public policy. On the other hand I think my Catholicism clearly impacts on my view of the sanctity of an oath taken in Court to tell the truth.

  • Yes. and I might add from your quote above:
    …”And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure- …. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion. She, by her very nature, guards and defends all the principles on which duties are founded, and setting before us the motives most powerful to influence us, commands us to live virtuously and forbids us to transgress.”

    Thank you so much- I thoroughly enjoy the discussion

  • Even the pagans can see the myth of America was founded as a Christian country on Christian principles.

    Note this article on a “secular humanist” site secularhumanism.org

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=fi&page=walters_32_4

    Once and for All, Is America a Christian Nation?
    The Myth of America’s Christian Heritage
    Kerry Walters

    Do not agree with Professor Walters completely, but he does provide us a much clearer picture of history. Note, in reading the article, that Catholics are not part of the early American “evangelicalism.”

    Catholics were allowed into the New World but were barely tolerated.

  • Hmm, Kerry Walters or Alexis De Tocqueville? I’m really having a hard time determining who might have a firmer grasp on America’s founding.

    In all seriousness, Walters’s grasp of history is almost as poor as David Barton, whom I critiqued here the other day. He cherrypicks select quotes and pretend that he has stockpiled evidence in his defense. If Walters had stopped at Jefferson and Franklin in his litany of heterodox Christians, he would have perhaps had a point. But just as Barton overstates his case with regards to Jefferson’s orthodoxy, Walters overstates his case with regards to the heterodoxy of the rest.

  • From Waller’s linked to article. “But the big players in the founding of the United States—such men as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, and probably Alexander Hamilton—weren’t.”

    Thomas Paine, the “filthy little atheist” as Teddy Roosevelt called him, was a bit player in the Revolution. Benjamin Franklin was a deist who had doubts about the divinity of Christ, but lacked evidence sufficient for him to venture a verdict. George Washington was a conventional Christian. Thomas Jefferson was a deist. James Madison really doesn’t give enough evidence from his writings to say whether he was a Deist or a Christian. John Adams was a Christian most of his life and had Unitarian leanings by the time of his death. Hamilton dabbled with deism as a young man but was an orthodox Christian by the time of his death.

Pope Benedict’s Sermon on Freedom in Revolution Square

Thursday, March 29, AD 2012

Yesterday Pope Benedict capped off his visit to Cuba with a huge mass in Revolution Square in Havana.  The theme of his homily, freedom, probably made the Cuban officials at the mass squirm, at least I certainly hope so.  Here is the text of the Pope’s homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 

“Blessed are you, Lord God…, and blessed is your holy and glorious name” (Dan 3:52). This hymn of blessing from the Book of Daniel resounds today in our liturgy, inviting us repeatedly to bless and thank God. We are a part of that great chorus which praises the Lord without ceasing. We join in this concert of thanksgiving, and we offer our joyful and confident voice, which seeks to solidify the journey of faith with love and truth.

“Blessed be God” who gathers us in this historic square so that we may more profoundly enter into his life. I feel great joy in being here with you today to celebrate Holy Mass during this Jubilee Year devoted to Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.

I greet with cordial affection Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, Archbishop of Havana, and I thank him for the kind words which he has addressed to me on your behalf. I extend warm greetings to the Cardinals and to my brother Bishops in Cuba and from other countries who wished to be in this solemn celebration. I also greet the priests, seminarians, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful gathered here, as well as the civil authorities who join us.

In today’s first reading, the three young men persecuted by the Babylonian king preferred to face death by fire rather than betray their conscience and their faith. They experienced the strength to “give thanks, glorify and praise God” in the conviction that the Lord of the universe and of history would not abandon them to death and annihilation. Truly, God never abandons his children, he never forgets them. He is above us and is able to save us by his power. At the same time, he is near to his people, and through his Son Jesus Christ he has wished to make his dwelling place among us in.

“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:31). In this text from today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals himself as the Son of God the Father, the Saviour, the one who alone can show us the truth and give us genuine freedom. His teaching provokes resistance and disquiet among his hearers, and he accuses them of looking for reasons to kill him, alluding to the supreme sacrifice of the Cross, already imminent. Even so, he exhorts them to believe, to keep his word, so as to know the truth which redeems and justifies.

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6 Responses to Pope Benedict’s Sermon on Freedom in Revolution Square

  • Thank you, Donald – shared on Blogger & Facebook.

  • “The Church lives to make others sharers in the one thing she possesses, which is none other than Christ, our hope of glory (cf. Col 1:27). To carry out this duty, she must count on basic religious freedom, which consists in her being able to proclaim and to celebrate her faith also in public, bringing to others the message of love, reconciliation and peace which Jesus brought to the world.”

    Spoken at the very center of the fascist left’s idyllic paradise, with their godless icon looking on in the distant background.

    ” Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Eph 6:10-17

    Praise Jesus!

  • Amen, WK Aiken. This is about the 10th time I have seen St. Paul’s Armor of God discourse quoted in a very few number of days. My “sponsor” would say that that’s not a coincidence or even a soft whisper, but a booming shout from the mountain top.

  • Pingback: The Pope’s Havana Homily on Freedom and Truth « Aliens in This World
  • Watching the Mass, I was impressed by the quiet, respectfulness of the people of Cuba.

  • Bishop Lori, during this hour, is discussing Religious Freedom on Sunday Night Prime on EWTN.

48 Responses to Thomas Woods and His Critics, The Austrian vs. Distributist Debate Among Catholics

  • Good post, David. Off-topic, but are you in CL?

  • Great post – I agree this discussion is fascinating. IT it is very much improved by the frank admission and acceptance of the principle of the autonomy of the temporal order, and the civility of the contributors to the discussion. I hope to see more posts like this here.

  • I hate this post. I don’t like things that remind me of how poorly read I am. 😉

    In seriousness, thank you very much for writing this; I think it will give people like me a basis for understanding this debate. Now if only you could out enough time to go with the many links!

  • Great roundup. Thanks.

    Let us generalize about right-liberals and libertarians of various stripes (I might be described as paleo-libertarian, but the concept still seems to me to be in development, and I dislike all liberalism):

    Insofar as they are fine with a determinism of the “free market” economic conduct, they are wrong:
    by this I mean a view that the market is incompatible with ethics. “Efficiency” is NEVER to be valued above morality. The “market” has NO “inner logic.”

    Thus a good society is built upon the morality of its people, and culture is more important than politics and the construction of economic structures.

    Market-Determinism, it might be called, is anti-human, just as collectivism is anti-human (Ayn Rand was right about the Soviet Union and wrong about herself).

    Markets come from society. They are social institutions, flowing from law and custom. A market mechanism punishes inefficiency – great. But morality and family (and from family, tribe, and from tribe, nation, if a nation is not to have large-scale internal conflict) must be the foundational basis of organizing influence upon a polis.

  • Chris,

    Absolutely.

  • I have one issue with this debate – it seems too narrowly framed. Although I admire distributism, I don’t really regard myself as one. It’s a little narrow in its focus. And the Austrians are a little kooky and fringe. The real argument is between Catholics who support the postwar experiment in Christian democracy (which, as the pope says, is very close to social democracy in its economic aspects), and the resurgent laissez-faire liberalism that held sway long before Hayek started worrying about welfare states and dictators.

  • I’m curious about something and would like to it throw something out here. I am not very well read on economics, but I’m under the impression there are no major true laissez-faire capitalist voices out there. My impression is that most everyone acknowledges a role of the government in the economy, and that the debate is really one of degree and type of involvement. Is that a fair assessment?

  • resurgent laissez-faire liberalism

    The Libertarian Party is good for 0.7% of the national vote. Dr. Paul won about 5 1/2% of the Republican primary and caucus ballots two years ago; Alan Keyes once did about as well.

  • MM,

    If you really want to talk about real, current alternatives in the current political and economic landscape, I’m not clear that Christian Democracy or even Social Democracy are much on the table either.

    If I were to venture a guess though, I think that the appeal of Distributism for many Catholic readers/writers is that:

    a) It is a specifically Catholic phenomenon, which Social Democracy is not and Christian Democracy only partly is and

    b) For many Catholics, I think that the European example of Christian Democracy and Social Democracy in the post-war years is seen as tainted by what seems to have followed naturally from it: a breakdown of the communal in favor of the individual, and a relationship between individual and state replacing other more subsidiary relationships.

    Distributism, in it more communitarian forms, appeals to those who might be more receptive to ideas of Christian Democracy if they hadn’t seen how it worked out in reality. In that Distributism has (or can have) communitarian elements, yet lacks the centralizing and statist impulses of Christian Democracy, its fans hope that it would fair better.

  • Regarding a supposedly resurgent laissez-faire liberalism….since when exactly? Maybe in the time of McKinley and Taft, but certainly not since the first large-scale American centralizations, which began with Wilson (who could make W. Bush look like the head of the ACLU) and continued with the New Deal and the Great Society and continues right on up to the corporatist spirit and value transferrence of….well, today’s Republicans and Democrats (although, hey, maybe the big banks and companies and major foundations and Wall Street crowds will give a lot less to leftist parties and causes this year, given the economy – typically they fill up those coffers).

    The real argument is, increasinly, between our elites (government, media, big business, big public sector labor unions, ethnic activists, those that transfer instead of create value) and the folks really getting hammered – small business owners, family farms, manufacturers, ect (ie people that make our economy hum and don’t want to think too much about politics as they raise their families). Douthat hinted at this yesterday: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/06/opinion/06douthat.html?_r=1&ref=rossdouthat

  • My impression is that most everyone acknowledges a role of the government in the economy, and that the debate is really one of degree and type of involvement. Is that a fair assessment?

    I’d say so. These days even anarchists acknowledge a role for government.

  • Chris,

    Thanks for this excellent overview!

    Many of you know that I am intimately involved in this dispute. I was a contributor to the Distributist Review, and was unceremoniously dumped when I began to take more libertarian positions.

    Indeed I have been characterized as a “Distributarian” for my attempt to reconcile the two positions (and I thank you for including my old article, my first attempt at that).

    I have been fascinated with the work of Hayek and Ropke, and I have come to believe ever-more strongly in the positive goodness of economic liberty. I think my evolution is quite similar to David Jones’, in that it is impossible for me not to acknowledge what the Austrians get right.

    Those who want to learn more about my perspective are also invited to read:

    http://joeahargrave.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/markets-and-morality-ron-paul-and-wilhelm-ropke/

    http://joeahargrave.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/the-distributist-manifesto/

  • Blackadder,

    Yes I am in CL. Drop me an email if you desire.

  • The Distributists err when they claim the Austrians are a bunch of heretics. In Catholic Social Doctrine there is the principle of the “Autonomy of the Temporal Order”. The Church does not mandate we embrace a specific economic (or political) model. The Church has been critical of both Socialism and Capitalism in the past, but also recognizes that we live in a global economy today. The prudential application of moral principles can be applied in both a Distributist and Capitalist economic model.

    Actually, the charge is that the Austrians deny that the Church has any sort of teaching role in economic matters (and the concomitant claim that economics is completely separate from ethics). The Church does not mandate any particular order for all polities, but it does provide general principles.

  • (and *affirm* the concomitant claim that economics is completely separate from ethics).

  • Let me also say that I agree with Johnathan Jones about the importance of culture. We cannot have Locke without Burke. We cannot have freedom without values. We cannot have liberty without Christ!

    But having said all that, I believe many of the critics of economic liberalism undermine the free-will that is inherent in human nature, that is a property of the souls God gave us. It is free-will that bestows a dignity upon man above all of the animals; it is free-will that makes us moral beings. To undermine free-will by attempting to micromanage the economy is to degrade humanity, in my opinion. There should certainly be a framework, but within it, there should be as much freedom as possible.

    I think we are voluntary collectivists by nature. So I reject involuntary collectivism as well as voluntary individualism. And I think Christianity is ultimately voluntary collectivism, and what we ought to be working towards.

  • Excellent. Thanks for taking the time to put all that together – I hope to get through it all someday.

    I think a great point made, that deserves to be mentioned again, is that the issue is morality, virtue and character.

    Austrians maybe right about the market (I happen to agree); however, men are not angels. Although the market is the preferred method for ferreting out problems, it fails without Church (conscience) and government (fair broker). The problems we face are that we do not have a church in this country, we have churches and although there is really only One Church in truth, we are not there yet. We also have to deal with the fact that centralized statist power necessarily attracts men of low character and questionable morality, if any. Therefore, the government is not a fair broker.

    The government and the corporatists look out for each other at the expense of everyone else. This is what caused Jesus to flip tables in the Temple.

    We need to have this debate; however, in order for it to be something more than an academic and theoretical one, we need to restore the US Constitution, apply subsidiarity (federalism) and restore the moral order – first within ourselves, our Church, our communities and then elect men of character as our representatives. Then this discussion can have practical results.

    In the current corporatist-statist paradigm neither Austrian theory, nor Distributism have any place. We are given the option of Socialism leading to Communism leading to an evil oligarchy and reducing us to serfs (slaves), or Capitalism leading to corporate usurers being in control leading to an oligarchy and reducing us to employees (slaves). The result is the same either way.

    Me thinks the majority of people given the latter two choices, would prefer either of the former choices as an economic system for this country.

  • In meaning that culture is more important than politics, and that the family is the very foundation of a good society, it should also be noted that the strands of activist statism and liberalism (because even right-liberalism is an invitation to statism, as “freedom” is isolating and people become open to state-sponsored communion, and so I use liberalism to mean “equal freedom”, as enforced equality is left-liberalism) invite hubris. Protection against this is the genius of Madison in Federalist 10, writing that a dim view of human nature is most reasonable for the conduct of public affairs. “The good life of man” he traced to the Greeks, who asked not what kind of society can we mold but how can we mold ouselves to a concept of the good. Such (proper!) questions are why literary insight matters so much to governmental organization – as governmental organization should be concerned with following the good order of souls, which will always gravitate towards communion (hopefully in the Eucharist), no matter their stated desires (and so I agree about humans being “voluntary collectivists).”

  • Actually, the charge is that the Austrians deny that the Church has any sort of teaching role in economic matters (and the concomitant claim that economics is completely separate from ethics).

    The Austrian position is more limited than this. Here, for example, is Woods:

    My position, therefore, in no way involves the claim that the sciences per se, including economics, are exempt from moral evaluation. They are, however, exempt from technical critiques on the part of the Church, since churchmen may speak only as individuals on such questions and not for the Church as a whole. Thus if a certain medicine could be produced only by ripping the hearts out of living human beings, the Church should condemn such a thing, no matter how many doctors were in favor of producing the medicine. But if two kinds of medicines are suggested to treat a particular ailment, and no moral objection can be raised to either one, then in such an area the Church must defer to those who are schooled in that specialized science.

    The confusion arises, I think, from the fact that Catholics often make moral claims which presuppose certain factual assumptions. These assumptions can seem so obvious that a person doesn’t even realize they are there. It just seems like straight morality. So when an Austrian denies the conclusion and says it goes beyond the Church’s competence, it sounds like he is denying a moral teaching.

  • Blackadder: Do the Austrians claim that economics is purely descriptive? If so, then on what basis do they make normative claims?

    Medicine or pharmaceuticals is a product of art subordinate to biology — it’s not exactly a good analogy since all human transactions are moral in nature and cannot be studied in abstraction of their morality. One cannot say that these are just our observations about how operate work in the “marketplace” and they are morally neutral. If economics were just like physics or biology, one could claim the Church has no competence to criticize. But it’s not.

  • “We cannot have Locke without Burke.”

    That’s a good argument for getting rid of Burke.

  • Joe H. Says, “We cannot have Locke without Burke.”

    Why would we want Locke at all?

  • In America, we’re stuck with Locke, and I don’t think he was all bad.

  • @ John C.M.

    LOL

    …Locke, Stocke, and Two Smoking Barrels!

    (Couldn’t resist)

  • It’s not longer a matter of will, intention, rationality, etc.? We’re just stuck with him?

  • Well, I think Locke is a part of the American political tradition via the founding fathers and particularly Jefferson.

    So no, I don’t think you can just will the legacy of Locke’s ideas out of the American political consciousness.

  • Locke’s influence on the Founding is overrated. Locke was but one of many writers that were quoted and cited in the literature of the time, but if you look at the philosophy of the men who truly formed our republic – Madison, Hamilton, Adams, etc – he was not a formative influence in any meaningful way.

  • And how did we even get onto this discussion in the first place? We make some funny detours around here.

  • David & BA,

    CL as in Communion and Liberation?

  • One thing that strikes me as peculiar about the point of origin of this discussion is your identification of ‘Austrian’ economics as the counterpoint to certain trends in Catholic social thought. ‘Austrian’ economics is an odd and controversial set of conceptions and not accepted by aught but a small minority of macroeconomists with an affinity for libertarian notions of justice.

  • jonathanjones02 & DarwinCatholic – All brilliant comments and observations. I agree with them, I think.

    Joe – Blosser referred me over to your blog. Wow, great stuff. You and I will be talking I am sure. I will definitely read the links you provided above. I am especially interested in learning more about Ropke’s thought. If memory serves me correctly ISI publishes some of his works or at least book(s) about his thought. At this moment I am reading the foundational texts of Distributism. I also what to read the newer books of Distributism that the Distributist Review Press is putting out. I also desire to read more Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk, & Karl Polanyi. Maybe I can find time for Ropke as well. You might find this article of interest.

    http://www.mmisi.org/ir/41_01/carlson.pdf

    PB – I agree with you.

    American Knight – Brilliant comments as well. I would slightly differ with you on that it is possible to find small ways to live the Distributist lifestyle in our time. Refer to the works and thought of Wendell Berry, Eric Brende, Rod Dreher, Caleb Stegall, etc. The work and thought of John Médaille and Richard Aleman are especially helpful in this regard. Refer to the Aleman’s recent talk at the Chesterton conference. I am not sure it’s available yet though.

    http://chesterton.org/2010conference.htm

    Maybe he will be kind enough to provide the text of the talk to us. Refer to his podcast interview though on Uncommon Sense #17.

    http://uncommonsense.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=573724

    John Médaille – As a 2001 IRPS grad (last class under Bushman) from UD I salute you. Thank you for all your years of work advocating Distributist thought. What you and others have done with the Distributist Review is simply beautiful. I am really excited about where DR is going.

    WJ, John & Joe – I prefer Burke over Locke… I wonder what Russell Kirk has to say about Locke? I would also remind folks of Masonic influence on Locke’s thought. Blosser is now beating his head on the table. hehe

    http://ressourcement.blogspot.com/2005/09/freemasonry-and-america-part-iii.html

    Tito – yes CL means Communion and Liberation in my case.

  • What concerns me about the Austrians or anarcho capitalists, especially Rothbard’s and even Lew Rockwell’s thought as far as I have read or heard them, is this… They never it seems to me distinguish between the local, state and federal governments. All government is bad, all the time. This is simply not reasonable. This is not in line with Catholic Social Ethics either. Things should be handled at the lowest level possible (subsidiarity) – individual, family, neighborhood, parish, community, state, nation, etc. Government is not evil though, which is the presupposition of the Austrians. I reject that. Government is necessary for the common good in a fallen world.

  • In addition to the above link that I provided here are some others. Here are just some of the historic conversations I have had with Blosser and others on the influence Masonic thought on our Founding Fathers refer below.

    http://ressourcement.blogspot.com/2007/09/george-washington-and-freemasonry.html

    http://ressourcement.blogspot.com/2005/11/how-charles-carroll-influenced-us.html

    Locke and others are talked about in the comments of this last link.

    One could argue the liberalism (classical?) that they Austrians argue for is related to this topic as well.

  • As an attempt to gently guide us back to the topic of the main post. If you had to put me in a box politically I would state I am a traditional conservative, or to use Rod Dreher’s term – a crunchy conservative. Refer to his book, Crunch Cons. Libertarianism for me is like a shoe one size too small. I am very attracted to it at times, but the shoe just doesn’t fit. I like what the Austrians have to say about the monetary policy (i.e. fiat currency & the Federal Reserve), but I can’t swallow their promotion of anarchy, either in the economic or political spheres. I agree with the comments above about the importance of morality and values. A government can enact moral and just laws. A government can regulate the market for the common good. I would just argue this needs to be done at the lowest level possible. I share the same concerns of many above about collectivism.

  • I hear you David. I think matters would be helped if we considered that there is a difference between:

    1) “government” and “the state”, and

    2) “the state” and “the State”

    Re. 1, I think it is arguable that “the state” – the modern state as we know it – is a relatively recent invention. It is a permanent set of coercive institutions operated by professional bureaucrats. Governments, I think, are the sum of administrative institutions. At least that’s how some people would draw the distinction. There are anarchists who say they are “anti-state” but not “anti-government”, and that’s how they do it (crudely, roughly). Personally, I don’t see how you have a government without at least a minimal state – the “minarchist” position.

    I’m closer to minarchism these days, but I do see a positive role for government in providing benefits and incentives to inherently good and socially beneficial activity. Really I’d just like to go back to city-states, in my fantasy land 🙂 Catholic city-states… like medieval Venice… I think those accord much better with CST than say, the reign of the Sun King.

    Re. 2, here much confusion arises, especially among Catholics. I think when the pre-councilar popes, especially Leo XIII, are speaking of “the State” with a capital S, they are speaking about something somewhat different than say, our federal bureaucracy. When I read Aristotle’s Politics, for instance, it seems rather clear to me that in many places in which “State” appears, we might use the word “society” or even “civil society” – as a sphere distinct from coercive authority. And I see a similarity in Leo’s encyclicals. It could mean both, it could mean either.

    So “State” capital S seems to suggest a great deal more, and at the same time, a great deal less from the coercive power.

    I could be wrong I suppose. But if I’m right, then it puts some of the social teaching in a new light.

  • Joe – I am curious to get your judgment of Carlson’s article on Karl Polanyi when you get a free moment.

  • David,

    I have the tab open. That means it will be read today 🙂

    It looks fascinating, and so yes I will comment!

  • David,

    I read the article. Polanyi’s arguments are very familiar to me, and indeed I used to share many of them. At the root I still share them, but I think many of the individual ideas are based in a selective and incomplete historical narrative.

    “Laissez-faire” is a slippery term. But the argument that production for exchange isn’t “natural”, i.e. Aristotle’s argument, is just not obviously true. It makes sense in Aristotle’s world, but then, so did slavery and the total subjugation of women. At the same time, Aristotle recognized the implications of technological progress in a very poetic and perhaps unintentional way when he wrote in Book I of the Politics, justifying the reduction of a man to an instrument of production:

    “For if every instrument could accomplish its own work, obeying or anticipating the will of others, like the statues of Daedalus, or the tripods of Hephaestus, which, says the poet,

    of their own accord entered the assembly of the Gods;

    if, in like manner, the shuttle would weave and the plectrum touch the lyre without a hand to guide them, chief workmen would not want servants, nor masters slaves.”

    Arguably our modern technology has brought us far closer to this fantastic ideal than Aristotle could have ever imagined. So those who use Aristotle to try and justify reactionary economic arrangements today would do well to realize that Aristotle was something of a technological determinist himself.

    Next, the idea that there was this marvelous social order on the eve of the 19th century that laissez-faire broke apart forcibly is only partially true. These processes had been taking place for centuries, and it is arguable that it began with the massive labor shortages caused by the Black Death.

    It also ignores the rise of commercial capitalism in the Middle Ages, and particularly in the Italian city-states, in which there were limited-liability contracts, profitable lending (some would call it usury), and other financial instruments to encourage economic growth. The maritime trading empires of Venice and Genoa especially were built on the “unnatural” form of wealth-getting.

    Alongside commerce and trade existed the Church, whose morality was the foundation upon which all was built. Leo XIII recognized this as a great example of the Church’s positive contribution to civilization in Libertas:

    ” Neither does the Church condemn those who, if it can be done without violation of justice, wish to make their country independent of any foreign or despotic power. Nor does she blame those who wish to assign to the State the power of self-government, and to its citizens the greatest possible measure of prosperity. The Church has always most faithfully fostered civil liberty, and this was seen especially in Italy, in the municipal prosperity, and wealth, and glory which were obtained at a time when the salutary power of the Church has spread, without opposition, to all parts of the State.” (46)

    Here, btw, is another example of Leo’s use of the word “State” meaning something different than our use of the word “state”. Clearly here “State” means more than the coercive power and its bureaucratic appendages.

    This brings me to the last critique I would make of Polanyi: his belief that the artificial, bureaucratic interventions of the welfare-regulatory regime somehow “restored balance” to a social order upset by laissez-faire. I can see how at the time these institutions and interventions were seen as necessary; I believe a century of historical experience has shown that they make the problem worse. The state cannot replace local, organic, spontaneous institutions created through a shared culture and values. Instead it becomes something like a powerful magnet that, through sheer force, draws all of the atomized individuals to it in an undifferentiated mass.

    And the labor unions have proven to be a reactionary force as well. I think they actually prevent the Distributist goal of widespread ownership by bolstering illusions in wage labor. Nisbet mentions “unions and cooperatives” as if they are part and parcel of the same process; I say that the latter will really only begin to thrive as the former finally disappear. I see them as rival visions for improving the lot of the common man.

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  • the Daily Bell
    Let’s Talk About Natural Rights by Dr. Tibor Machan

    When various skeptics question the soundness of the American political system, one of their targets is the idea of human nature. After all, the founders took their political philosophy mainly from John Locke who thought human nature does exist and, based on what we know of it and a few other evident matters, we can reach the conclusion that all human beings have certain rights. This is what is meant by holding that there are natural rights and that they are pre-legal, not a creation of government…

    http://www.thedailybell.com/1357/Let-Us-Talk-About-Natural-Rights.html

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  • “It’s not an either/or solution, it’s a both/and solution. Test everything, hold fast to what is good in both camps.”

    I have been saying this very thing for a couple of years. Both “camps” seem to me to be excessively doctrinal (and academic) in their writings and debates; so much so that I felt the need to withdraw and take a “time out” to digest it all.

    It’s hard enough for non-academics to absorb this stuff without the the exchange of missiles between the two sides.

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David, Nathan and Freedom

Monday, June 14, AD 2010

In the Mass Readings last Sunday, for the reading from the Old Testament we had Nathan the Prophet denouncing King David for his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband Uriah the Hittite after Bathsheba became pregnant with his child.  It is a familiar tale for us, and the familiarity conceals from us just how remarkable it is and how important for us it is, not just in a religious sense but also in our secular lives.

A forgotten masterpiece from Hollywood, King David (1951), helps remind us of the importance of the two great sins of David and their aftermath.  David is well-portrayed by Gregory Peck.  No longer the shepherd boy, he is now an increasingly world-weary King.  God who was close to him in his youth now seems distant.   Rita Hayworth gives a solid performance as Bathsheba, David’s partner in sin.  The best performance of the film is by Raymond Massey as Nathan.  Each word he utters is with complete conviction as he reveals the word of God to those too deafened by sin to hear it.  In the video clip above we see this when David attempts to argue that the soldier who died when he touched the Ark of the Covenant may have died of natural causes.  “All causes are of God”, Nathan responds without hesitation.  He warns David that he has been neglecting his duties and that the people are discontent.

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4 Responses to David, Nathan and Freedom

  • Today is Flag Day and the 235th anniversary of the United States Army.

    Pray for our gallant troops!

    Pray for Victory and Peace!

    God bless America!

  • The essence of this story of David and Nathan was captured by a French priest, Fr. Louis Evely, several years ago in his inspiring book “That Man is You”. Anyone who is interested in deepening their understanding of Christ’s message and/or increasing their insight of the Word of God should try to find a copy of this heart awakening read. You’ll never want to part with it because it opens ones eyes to the light of truth like no other.

    It has been out of print for some time but well worth a search for this treasure.

  • This Old Testament reading is an important one in the field of Catholic Apologetics.

    Most if not all protestants deny that the priest has the authority to forgive sin in the sacrament of Penance; that a priest is not needed, we can go straight to Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins.

    However, in this passage of scripture, we see Nathan being given the authority by God to forgive David his heinous sin, and the penance is the death of his son born to Bathsheba from their illicit union.

    This is a clear scriptural precedent for confession of sins to a priest. Of course, the protestants have other arguments, but they will not deny the scripture.

  • Good post. My comment is here:

    http://commentarius-ioannis.blogspot.com/2010/06/caesar-is-accountable-to-god-not-vice.html

    My point of view may be a bit different. And no, I am not a troglodyte. I simply despise and loathe liberalism and progressivism.

The Birth of Freedom

Tuesday, April 13, AD 2010

A trailer for a documentary from the Acton Institute.  This documentary examines the role of Judaism and Christianity in creating the conditions which led to the concept of human freedom cherished in the West.  A number of short clips from the video are available on-line and I will be using them in posts in the days to come.  In regard to the trailer I would state the following propositions for discussion:  (1)  The clash between Church and State that characterized Western Europe in the Middle Ages was a fundamental pre-condition for the concept of limited government as it developed in the West; (2) the insistence of the Church that all men and women were equal in the eyes of God established the basis for the concept of human rights; and (3) that as a Western society becomes divorced from its religious roots the very concept of freedom as it has been understood in the West becomes difficult to maintain from a philosophical standpoint.

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20 Responses to The Birth of Freedom

  • Agreed on all three. On 2, the very concept of “person” and personhood was born out of the early Trinitarian & Christological controversies in the Church… how many secularists are even aware of that? And similarly for 3… freedom is understood as indifference, license… definitely not the more philosophically-robust concept born out of the 13th century.

  • You hit the trifecta, my friend.

    The American colonists were fighting for rights they considered theirs by birthright as Englishmen. Those rights were forged in the Middle Ages, not the “Enlightenment.”

    The “Enlightenment” gave us the Jacobins, the deification of Reason, the Reign of Terror, the Vendee, the Napoleonic Wars, and communism.

  • Nothing like a little Whig propaganda!

  • “Nothing like a little Whig propaganda!”

    Actually WJ I believe Lord Macaulay, the embodiment of Whiggish history, would have argued vehemently against all three of my propositions.

    “Those who hold that the influence of the Church of Rome in the dark ages was, on the whole, beneficial to mankind, may yet with perfect consistency regard the Reformation as an inestimable blessing. The leading strings, which preserve and uphold the infant, would impede the fullgrown man. And so the very means by which the human mind is, in one stage of its progress, supported and propelled, may, in another stage, be mere hindrances. There is a season in the life both of an individual and of a society, at which submission and faith, such as at a later period would be justly called servility and credulity, are useful qualities. The child who teachably and undoubtingly listens to the instructions of his elders is likely to improve rapidly. But the man who should receive with childlike docility every assertion and dogma uttered by another man no wiser than himself would become contemptible. It is the same with communities. The childhood of the European nations was passed under the tutelage of the clergy. The ascendancy of the sacerdotal order was long the ascendancy which naturally and properly belongs to intellectual superiority. The priests, with all their faults, were by far the wisest portion of society. It was, therefore, on the whole, good that they should be respected and obeyed. The encroachments of the ecclesiastical power on the province of the civil power produced much more happiness than misery, while the ecclesiastical power was in the hands of the only class that had studied history, philosophy, and public law, and while the civil power was in the hands of savage chiefs, who could not read their own grants and edicts. But a change took place. Knowledge gradually spread among laymen. At the commencement of the sixteenth century many of them were in every intellectual attainment fully equal to the most enlightened of their spiritual pastors. Thenceforward that dominion, which, during the dark ages, had been, in spite of many abuses, a legitimate and salutary guardianship, became an unjust and noxious tyranny.”

    Macaulay, History of England, Chapter I

  • What that old Whig, Lord Acton, would have thought about the video from the Acton Institute is interesting to contemplate. Perhaps he would merely be surprised that they got it done, unlike Acton’s History of Freedom which he spent his lifetime not writing!

  • What influence of Judaism? Judaism as a religion and social force had zero influence on historical European culture. The Catholic Church marginalized Judaism because of the anti-Christian teachings of the Talmud. It was the Old Testament, as interpeted by Jesus, the apostles, and their successors that influenced the development of polictical and religious freedom. The Jews as a social force had no influence on European-American culture until the birth of modern liberalism. And they were Jews who threw off the shackles of the Talmud and sadly rejected both the Old and New Testament. Instead, they sought to ‘free’ mankind by inventing or supporting socialism, communism, and many other various isms that bedevil s to this very day.

  • Stephen, Judaism influenced European history because Christianity was born from Judaism. Judaism influence Europe the same way the root of a plant influences the flower.

    It’s in the first book of the bible we that find the truth that we are all created in the image of God, and this is the basis for our conception of the fundamental dignity of each & every human being.

  • The American colonists were fighting for rights they considered theirs by birthright as Englishmen. Those rights were forged in the Middle Ages, not the “Enlightenment.”

    This is an iffy proposition, at best. “rights they considered theirs by birthright as Englishmen” were, as Edmund Burke (a strong, and sometimes paid, advocate of the colonies) made clear, a product of the Glorious Revolution. This can be very fairly placed under the umbrella of Enlightenment, even as we recognize the big differences between the several British ones and the several continental ones (all stand in contrast to the “Middle Ages”).

  • “Judaism as a religion and social force had zero influence on historical European culture.”

    Quite untrue. Just one of many examples: The grudging tolerance that the Church gave the Jews in the Middle Ages, often in the teeth of popular hatred, was the earliest glimmerings of the concept of religious freedom and tolerance in the modern world. Christians in the Middle Ages, at the command of the Church, had to acknowledge the existence of a group within their ranks that were alien to them. Now the expulsion of the Jews from many Western nations, England for example in the thirteenth and Spain in the fifteenth, illustrates how precarious this tolerance was, but the insistence of the Church upon it was an inmportant factor in the development of the concept of freedom in the West. It is interesting that as religious faith has waned in the West, anti-semitism has become a potent force.

  • The American colonists were fighting for rights they considered theirs by birthright as Englishmen. Those rights were forged in the Middle Ages, not the “Enlightenment.”

    Thank you Joe. The more I study of the period (and I’ve studied a lot) the less enamored I become of the so-called Enlightenment influence on America. I’ve argued that the Americans were more influenced by the Scottish philosophers than the French, but I even think that is exaggerated. If you want to see the influence of Enlightenment thought, look at France, not America.

  • As the ones with the money, and being very independent because they did not have the same status as others in the countries they were in, the Jews had a considerable amount of influence on the shape of world history. Those who got their money often got the resources needed for power; those who did not, often lost out.

  • Messers McClarey and Burgwald, you missed the entire point of what I had to say. “Christianity was born from Judaism” says Mr Burgwald. Not true. Christianity is based on the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, who rejected the teachings of the rabbis who were the founders of Phariseeism which became Rabbical Judaism, which was codified as the Talmud. See Matt 23 Judaism is not the religion of the law of Moses, so it is impossible for Christianity to have developed from it.

    Mr McClarey, ‘tolerance’ doesn’t prove your point about “the earliest glimmerings of religious freedom and tolerance in the modern world”. The Jews were tolerated out of pity for their spiritally lost state. They were allowed to have their synagoges for worship services. But they were put under many restrictions to prevent them from having much interaction with the population. The anti-Christian attitudes fostered by the Talmud were well known to the Catholic clergy, so many laws were passed in all the Catholic contries to limit Christian exposre to Jewish perfidy.

    Yes, “tolerance” was “precarious”, but given the active Jewish hostility toward the Christian faith, (which is pretty well documented in history books such as “Reckless Rites” by Elliot Horowitz) what else could they expect?

    Mr McClarey is correct about anti-semitism becoming a potent force since religious faith has waned in the west. Since the Jews have gained their freedom from a formerly Christian European culture, they have used that freedom to support and sponser anti-Christian movements such as socialism, communism, fascism, gay rights, drug legalization,pornography, etc. Their known control of the mass media gives them the clout to pull this garbage off. Is it any wonder that anti-semitism is becoming “a potent force”?! Lets hope that Europe and America can recover its Catholic heritage before the Jews “freedom” destroys what’s left of it.

  • Judaism and phariseeism are not identical, Stephen. Jesus was a Jew, His mom and adoptive dad were Jews, He worshipped His Father in the Jewish Temple, His first followers were Jews and they likewise went to the Temple for prayer. St. Paul — also a Jew — makes clear that Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism. To claim utter separation between Judaism and Christianity is akin to the early heresy of Marcionism.

  • The last paragraph of Mr. dalton’s 9:53am post should have the moderator’s “Danger, Will Robinson!” klaxons going off at full volume.

  • Mr Burgwald, I’m well aware Jesus kept the Mosiac law.
    He fullfilled the law. But I repeat again, The Mosiac law and Judaism are not the same thing. The Jewish Encyclopedia’s article on Phariseeism makes it quite clear that Judaism is Phariseeism, and it is not the law of Moses. Christianity is not the fullfillment of Judaism/Phariseeism, it is the fullfillment of the law of Moses.

    As for Mr Price’s comment on the last paragraph of my last post, he must not know much about the history of Eropean politics in the last three hundred years. Otherwise, he would not have made such an assinine remark.

    And in case anyone tries to use the anti-semite smear on me, I happen to come from a very old Marrano family. For the uninformed, thats a Spanish slang word for a secret Jew. So I’m very well informed about Judaism and it’s teachings. I only wish Price, McClarey, and Brugwald were too.

  • Bye Stephen, take your issues with Jews elsewhere. You are banned from this blog.

  • Johnathan,

    “This is an iffy proposition, at best. “rights they considered theirs by birthright as Englishmen” were, as Edmund Burke (a strong, and sometimes paid, advocate of the colonies) made clear, a product of the Glorious Revolution. This can be very fairly placed under the umbrella of Enlightenment, even as we recognize the big differences between the several British ones and the several continental ones (all stand in contrast to the “Middle Ages”).”

    A couple of points.

    First, do you have a problem with the phrase “Middle Ages”? We have to call those centuries something. If you don’t, why the scare quotes?

    Second, the English Bill of Rights didn’t come out of a vacuum. You can draw a line from the Magna Carta (with its own historical antecedents), through Edward I’s establishment of Parliament, and so on and so forth, up to the English Civil War, which was fought, among other reasons, over the interpretation and understanding of these rights.

    If you look at life in the Middle Ages as well, especially in England, you can see how such a conception of rights would develop. Most of the villages were autonomous, they weren’t micro-managed by lords or by bureaucrats. If a serf escaped to a town and lived as a free man for a year and a day, he became emancipated. And there was the Church, which always stood as a barrier between the people and the rapacity of secular government.

    Of course it wasn’t all fun and games, it wasn’t The Shire, there were wars, rebellions, plots, massacres, repressions – but these exist everywhere. I don’t think you can judge a society by what it shares in common with every other society, but by which is unique to it.

    I think many of these features of medieval life at the practical level were replayed on the virgin soil and boundless spaces of America after these medieval conditions were supplanted by absolutism in Europe. If not for Protestantism, I daresay that something resembling medieval Christendom could have been established in North America.

    I think therefore that in both theory and practice, the American colonists were decidedly more conservative and backward looking certainly than the French revolutionaries. I think they were fighting to preserve their rights, not to create new ones out of nothing. But I think what they were trying to preserve was also a way of life that had a tradition going back many centuries, even before medieval times, a way of life that was gradually supplanted by the encroachments of governments.

    All the English Bill of Rights did, really, was to codify them.

  • Joe, thanks for your explanation. It does not seem to me, however, that your reasoning above is in line with the claim my first comment highlighted, which was this: the American colonists were fighting for rights they considered theirs by birthright as Englishmen, rights not forged in the “Enlightenment.”

    To your points –

    First, do you have a problem with the phrase “Middle Ages”? We have to call those centuries something. If you don’t, why the scare quotes?

    Quotes because the Middle Ages, like the Age of Enlightenmnet, is a large and complicated term with a variety of meanings across a variety of time and environments. This is one reason why your claim is awkward, and why it would be awkward for me to make the opposite claim (i.e. The American colonists were fighting for rights they considered theirs by Enlightenment). I have mentioned before that my personal view is that the American founding is a mixture of Greco-Roman civic republicanism (and how much has our educational system minimized this!), Enlightmenment romanticism, and a moralistic therapeutic Deism. This is a strange, strange, strange brew, and it has allowed democracy and orthodox religion to flourish. Yet, even so, how did the Founders understand themselves? Some by your description, but not nearly enough for your generalization.

    Second, the English Bill of Rights didn’t come out of a vacuum. You can draw a line from the Magna Carta (with its own historical antecedents), through Edward I’s establishment of Parliament, and so on and so forth, up to the English Civil War, which was fought, among other reasons, over the interpretation and understanding of these rights.

    Yes, I concur completely.

    If you look at life in the Middle Ages as well, especially in England, you can see how such a conception of rights would develop. Most of the villages were autonomous, they weren’t micro-managed by lords or by bureaucrats. If a serf escaped to a town and lived as a free man for a year and a day, he became emancipated. And there was the Church, which always stood as a barrier between the people and the rapacity of secular government. ……..

    So what does this tell us other than “Enlightenment” had very deep roots? Heck, I’d argue its roots go back to Athens and Jerusalem, those places where humans were very serious about the search for knowledge!

    I think therefore that in both theory and practice, the American colonists were decidedly more conservative and backward looking certainly than the French revolutionaries.

    Without question. In fact, I’d even argue that the Federalists were conservatives.

    I think they were fighting to preserve their rights, not to create new ones out of nothing.

    Is this true of Thomas Paine? Maybe, but its not terribly clear.

    Now in some respects we have a lot of agreement on these questions, perhaps. But your generalization which I highlighted in my first comment shouldn’t be made. Let us take the dominant religious sentiment of the founders (and of many colonists, although there was great diversity of religion across the colonies, one big result of toleration by investors in England trying to make some quick money), Deism. Deism was an outgrowth of 17th and 18th Century scientific speculation! Follow Nature – not Revelation. Use math. Ect.

    What I am saying is that when it comes to America, the Enlightenment, that large and messy term, is everywhere and always present. It cannot be escaped. This is why our conservatives will always differ from European conservatives, who can root themselves in blood and soil.

  • Johnanthan,

    Well, I disagree.

    “Quotes because the Middle Ages, like the Age of Enlightenmnet, is a large and complicated term with a variety of meanings across a variety of time and environments. This is one reason why your claim is awkward”

    This can be true, but these phrases have some pretty commonly understood meanings too. Because they do, my claim isn’t awkward at all. It can be made awkward to the extent that one wants to complicate the common understanding of when the Middle Ages occurred and when the Enlightenment occurred, but it isn’t as if these two periods follow one after the other anyway.

    I’m the first to admit that all such epochal groupings can be fought with difficulties. Nonetheless there is a massive difference between the “Age of Faith”, “Christendom”, “the Middle Ages” – and all of its dominant paradigms – and the Enlightenment with its own. And that means ideas born in each, or lets say, which gestate and develop in each, will end up looking quite differently, as did indeed the American and French Revolutions.

    “Yet, even so, how did the Founders understand themselves? Some by your description, but not nearly enough for your generalization.”

    Here I think you’re wrong again. I think they all recognized that they were fighting for rights that had historical, and not merely abstract, justification – it is only a question of how many of them ALSO believed in various Enlightenment ideals.

    I suppose it might be another awkward formulation in your view, but that is another way I separate the epochs, and I think it is how Burke did as well.

    “So what does this tell us other than “Enlightenment” had very deep roots? ”

    Now see, how is this not just a fallacious expansion of an epoch to suit the need of the moment? I don’t mean that in an insulting way, please understand, but that’s how it looks, as if now we can draw no lines, we can mark no transformation from quantity to quality, we can see no essential differences between one period and another. But this is obviously false.

    The “Enlightenment” may well have deep roots, but they weren’t sprouting very much during the reign of Christendom, thanks to the Church and her true Enlightenment.

    So, what those historical facts I pointed out “tell us” is that the rights American colonists fought for were, as I said, forged during the middle ages, during the rule of the Church, Christendom, the Age of Faith, the supposedly bad old days during which everyone was oppressed. During the very time that the “Enlightenment” supposedly came to put an end to, to eradicate for all time. So to me, that’s a tension, a contradiction, and an undermining of the Enlightenment’s supposedly vast role in the American founding.

    For crying out loud, even Marxists such as Karl Kautsky saw that the “Reformation” took a much different path in England than it did in Germany, and that in the former it ended up usurping many of these rights and driving tens of thousands of peasants into starvation.

    The autonomous village and the free town of the Middle Ages must have seemed like a lost paradise in comparison, which is probably why the whole English national identity is wrapped up in the concept of “Merry Old England”, that is, the time when the Church of Rome and not that of England held sway!

    “Is this true of Thomas Paine? Maybe, but its not terribly clear.”

    Thomas Paine wasn’t a founding father, so it really doesn’t matter. I’ll even grant that it wasn’t true of him.

    ” But your generalization which I highlighted in my first comment shouldn’t be made.”

    Which one, though? If its the one about the American founders fighting for English rights, you may have a point, though I think I’m right in saying that it was a baseline view and that it was views about the Enlightenment that greatly varied. I mean, once they ceased to be Englishmen upon telling King George to stuff it, they had to have a different reason to continue the fight. Enlightenment ideals helped.

    If its the second point, though – that the rights were forged in the Middle Ages – I stand by that. Jefferson didn’t copy John Locke, after all, who said nothing about unalienable rights. Some people think he was influenced by St. Bellarmine. And Bellarmine was following Aquinas. And Aquinas was… well, we get the idea. It’s speculation but it makes sense.

    “What I am saying is that when it comes to America, the Enlightenment, that large and messy term”

    Well sure, I agree.

  • Ok, I see better the disagreement, and it would be instructive to parcel out the American revolution in this context. I believe there were two revolutions, and hopefully we can extend these conversations. And generalizations are an unfortunate necessity in blogland….

Obama Approves Assassination of Citizen

Thursday, April 8, AD 2010

When Catholics justified their decision to vote for Obama, they did so on two grounds: healthcare and foreign policy. The premise was Obama would actually save lives through healthcare and through his more peaceful foreign policy, thus outweighing the damage he would do through his promotion of abortion.

I never found that premise convincing. Not only did I think they underestimated the damage abortion does, but I also believed that they were ignoring what Barack Obama was actually promoting in his foreign policy. To make a long story short, I think most people assumed that since Obama was a Democrat who had opposed the war in Iraq that he would be the opposite of Bush when in truth their positions are very similar.

Since taking office, Obama has largely followed the lead of his predecessor. However today news is coming out that he has surpassed his predecessor in circumventing due process: Obama has authorized the CIA to kill a US citizen believed to be involved in terrorism (H/t Vox Nova).

The idea that an American citizen can be killed without a trial outside of battle is a troubling one, regardless of whether you voted for Obama or not. The death penalty is something that should be used only rarely (if at all-I’m w/ the bishops that it’s not good in modern America), and if used then used in the context of a trial. The rights of trial are not merely procedural technicalities but safeguards designed to protect the dignity of life: that is, regardless of what someone has done, freedom & human life itself are so precious that we take it away only after a deliberate and careful process.

To take away human life outside of self-defense is a power no one, including the President, possesses. One will hope that the media will publish this and emphasize it so that public pressure will dissuade Obama from taking this course of action. Unfortunately, one has to doubt that that hope will be realized.

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63 Responses to Obama Approves Assassination of Citizen

  • Oh, but surely the president deserves the benefit of the doubt! He has “more information” than we do! And he should be allowed to do anything to save american lives!

    At least, this is the defense you people made of Bush. Now you’re criticizing Obama on the same grounds?

    Of course, much of Obama’s foreign policy is sheer evil, just like Bush’s. But do forgive me if I find your opposition of it laughable, considering you defended Bush’s policies. Your concerns ring hollow.

  • An interesting debate on this topic taking place on National Review Online:

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/

    I found this comment by Jonah Goldberg interesting:

    “Re: Assassinating Awlaki [Jonah Goldberg]

    Just my quick two cents: I think this is a good and fine debate to have, but it’s worth considering that one reason we’re having it is that the White House wants us to. As Steve Hayes noted last night on Special Report, the news that we would be targeting Awlaki was leaked months ago, around the time of the Christmas bomber. It was releaked this week, perhaps to counterbalance the news that the White House is considering removing references to Islamic extremism in its national security strategy.”

  • The Catholic Anarchist’s response to the news that the man he voted for is willing to have the CIA assassinate an American citizen is to rant against Bush and his supporters. I am shocked, shocked!

  • I will have to let the others included in the group of “you people” answer for themselves, whoever “you people” is meant to address.

    However, I think you need to show me where I defended Bush’s policies. To my knowledge I have never done so on a blog. While I was very much a neocon in 2004, as I learned about Church teaching in college I came to oppose Bush’s foreign policy in regards to the war in Iraq, treatment of prisoners, etc. I don’t believe I have ever blogged supporting Bush’s actions, so I presume your accusation against me is nothing more than reasoning by stereotype & generalizations rather than any substantial basis.

    But of course, I digress. Whether or not my concern is has ill motives does change the fact that what I’m saying is true. I’m the one who voted against the man who’s trying to assassinate American citizens and you’re the one who voted for him.

    Donald:

    That is an interesting idea. Obama’s pretty good about getting the media to follow along; I wonder what the strategy is.

    And you are more than welcome to continue to post clips from Casablanca on any post I write. In fact, this post is surely deficient for lacking clips from that classic movie.

  • One of my rules of life Michael is that there are few things that cannot be made better by a Casablanca reference!

  • To quote my mom:
    “Life is technicalities.”

    I have no problem with murderers being targeted for death, I object to this one being killed without a trial to revoke his citizenship. (on the basis of having declared war on the US, if this is the youtube fellow I seem to remember)

    (Ed note-No profanity, even if merely abbreviated.)

  • I have no problem with murders being targeted for death

    Typical view of The American Catholic.

    (Ed-I changed your quote of him to what I changed him to say without the language).

  • Foxfier:

    They still retain human dignity and ought not to be killed, regardless of what they have done, unless self-defense requires it. There is no reason this man should not be “merely” imprisoned.

    MI:

    You really need to stop arguing by association.

  • You really need to stop arguing by association.

    And you should take your own advice, methinks.

  • MD-
    Sure there is: we can’t do it, and trying to will make for a nice big pile of dead bodies. Failure to act has already resulted in innocent deaths– in part because this unspeakable has been able to be at war with a nation without even losing his citizenship of that nation.

  • Foxfier:

    Do you have any evidence of someone who has died b/c the United States was trying to capture this man rather than assassinate him?

    MI:

    This thread is not about my decision to blog for TAC so please stop submitting comments in that regard. Needless to say, I do not agree with everything my co-bloggers or the commenters say. In fact, I accepted the invitation to discuss those differences.

    Furthermore, as one of your co-bloggers has just mentioned some support for Obama’s decision at your blog, you should check your own house.

  • Question:

    What’s the standard?

    What I mean is, under what circumstances may the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States authorize armed force against an enemy person?

    Obviously we don’t try all enemy soldiers in American courts prior to bombing their positions.

    On the other hand, obviously the President shouldn’t be able to declare any given Person X somewhere in the world to be an enemy and have him shot.

    Somewhere between those two extremes is a line, which can be demarcated on the basis of moral principles.

    What’s the standard?

    I notice that the article brought up whether the target was on a battlefield. In this war, what battlefield would that be? A Paris nightclub? An apartment in Beirut? A city street pretty much anywhere?

    It seems more pertinent to me to ask whether the subject is armed…but once the Nazis bedded down for the night, they weren’t armed. Yet I suppose we were perfectly willing to bomb the Nazi barracks, and I don’t suppose that was unjustified.

    What then?

    Perhaps the concern is whether the man is an American citizen? Hmm. The only way that seems pertinent to me is that, if we can capture him, we should try him for treason instead of locking him up until end-of-hostilities as an unlawful combatant. I mean, if we’re talking about a matter of human rights, and not just the particular privileges of citizenship.

    I don’t mean to make absurd comparisons here. Of course I see the difference between blowing up a guy’s house in Kentucky and blowing up a Nazi barracks.

    But I want to see the standards and criteria for authorizing force spelled out in plain language. It seems to me that doing this allows those standards to be evaluated dispassionately.

    So: Those of you who think the CIA hit isn’t okay: What’s the least alteration in the situation required to make it okay? Those of you who think it’s fine: What alteration would make it beyond the pale?

    Where’s the line? What’s the standard?

  • God Bless America! I just want everyone to know how much I love my country.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

    If this doesn’t make you cry, you’ve got the devil in your soul.

    (Ed-note: This is not an actual comment from Iafrate but a joke played on him)

  • I for one find this development troubling on several levels. This is very much in line with the previous administration’s foreign policy, but it goes a step further.

  • Yes, the thing that Obama defenders seem to be missing out on this topic is that by ordering the killing without trial of an American citizen, Obama is taking a step which the Bush administration explicitly declined to do. (And rightly, I would argue.)

    Ordering any kind of assassination is troubling from a moral and a legal point of view, and it is (I think) with good reason that US law has generally forayed this. Setting the precedent of ordering the assassination of a US citizen (even on suspicion of terrorist involvement) without trial essentially means that Obama is claiming the authority to order the death of any person, at any time, for any reason.

    That’s not something one wants any authority to claim. (And someone who imagines this is “the same” as having the authority to order military action is either ignorant or duplicious.)

  • I just wanted to make sure you all saw this, so here it is again.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

    Why, I love this song so much that I may never post anything else here again.

    (Ed-note: this is not an actual comment of Iafrate but a joke played on him.)

  • First, will whoever it is that is manipulating Michael I’s posts stop?

    Second, Michael D: did you read the updates on the link? Already the discussions are open.

    Third, Darwin, are you so sure?

    http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/usnews/politics/2856-cia-has-program-to-assassinate-us-citizens

  • Only American citizens deserve human dignity?

    I’m not really worked up over this one way or the other, maybe because I don’t see any other president doing any differently, but I do find it somewhat disturbing that some believe killing Americans is somehow less immoral than killing non-Americans.

  • Would you be worked up about it if Bush did do so?

  • Restrainedradical

    For me, the issue is that this is another step away from human rights; I agree with you that assassination is wrong, whether or not an American. However, there has always been a sense that Americans are given more rights and protections – rights and protections I think which should be extended outside of America, but instead, we see the rights and protections being eliminated, to make everyone equal.

  • Henry,

    Is this the WaPo article – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/26/AR2010012604239.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2010012700394 – with this correction:

    “Correction to This Article
    The article referred incorrectly to the presence of U.S. citizens on a CIA list of people the agency seeks to kill or capture. After The Post’s report was published, a source said that a statement the source made about the CIA list was misunderstood.”

  • The posts attributed to Iafrate are simply wrong. I disagree with the guy on a lot of things and I wouldn’t exactly consider him the most considerate and thoughtful person around the blogosphere, but while I appreciate the humor of it, it’s just wrong and makes you all look bad.

    It’s your blog to do with as you see fit. I’ve voiced my opinion in the past that I don’t think you should moderate even the worst of his comments because most people can see them for what they are. They’re a true reflection of what he stands for and his character. Posting comments under his name that he clearly didn’t write shameful and even worse than the way the other blog refuses to post comments that challenge the fallacies and unwarranted assertions offered.

    I would remove the comments, apologize, and promise to not do anything like this in the future. Common decency dictates that, and your regular readers deserve better (at least this regular reader thinks he deserves better).

  • Michael’s posts are faked?

  • Jonathan

    A couple things. If you read beyond that, there is still the assertion of Americans being targets, just the CIA source is wrong. Second, there are other articles and discussions on the CIA affair– not just that one article. So, it is possible they were wrong, but as I said on the VN post, there are all kinds of indications which the Bush administration favored such actions and did them — even if we cannot prove it, I suspect this is not new, a creation ex nihilo, but an open admission to what was once not open. That is my intuition. Even if I am wrong there, there is nonetheless evidence which, though not proof, shows why one can suspect it is the case — and again, the line beyond what you quote is indicative of that, too.

    Still, Obama is bad for doing this. But to believe it is new… and the Bush team opposed such an idea? Read Cheney.

  • The posts attributed to Iafrate are simply wrong.

    Agreed RL. Completely classless. Michael’s a troll on this blog, no question about it. And anyone familiar with his writings will recognize the joke. But editing comments that way is a basic violation of blogging etiquette (as is the delete-all-dissent (DAD) policy at VN from some writers) and it shouldn’t happen. Apologies are owed to Michael I.

  • I generally approve of what Obama is doing here. I can see the other side but I think he is solid COnst grounds here.

  • If it was found in WWII tha there were in a army camp numbers of Japanes Americans that had returned to Japan to fight could we bomb it or since it they are citizens would we have to send in the FBI to arrest them

  • “The death penalty is something that should be used only rarely (if at all-I’m w/ the bishops that it’s not good in modern America), and if used then used in the context of a trial. The rights of trial are not merely procedural technicalities but safeguards designed to protect the dignity of life: that is, regardless of what someone has done, freedom & human life itself are so precious that we take it away only after a deliberate and careful process.”

    I think calling this the Death penalty , while a good way to try to put this in the Civil Context , is largely incorrect.

    We currently have an young American Citizen from Mobile Alabama that is in Somilia (at least was) creatingterror and destruction in his for work for AQ. In his spare time he sends out videos urging all to the join the war against the United States

    Woull targeting him be the death sentence or would it be valid military exercise?

  • I woke up this morning to the altered comments. As they’ve been discussed, I don’t think it’s fair to delete them but for the sake of avoiding any confusion I have added a note to both comments making it clear that the content was not of Iafrate’s doing. As I didn’t do the editing, I think that’s all I can do other than to promise that there will be no further editing of comments in my threads other than modifying inappropriate language. I apologize for the editing that took place and am trying to rectify it as best I can.

    If there’s anything else MI would like me to do (or anyone has suggestions for me to do), please let me know.

  • Jh:

    I’m thinking about it, but let me ask you a question: what is the difference between an assassination and a “valid military exercise?” That is, is it always permissible for another country to execute kill orders for the leaders of the opposition? If say Robert E. Lee had been shot in the back during the Civil War by a Union sniper, is that morally acceptable as a “valid military exercise?”

  • Michael D:

    Actually, there is a real-life example you can use: the targeted shooting down of Japanese Admiral Isoruko Yamamoto’s plane while on an inspection tour. Yamamoto’s plane route was discovered because we had cracked the Japanese military code. The attack was authorized by President Roosevelt:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isoroku_Yamamoto#Death

  • Michael There would be nothing wrong for a Union Sharpshooter to shoot General lee in the back

    Union and Confederate sharpshooters were shooting Officers all the time

  • Jh:

    My example was poor. Let be more specific-General Lee is sitting 300 miles from a battlefield visiting with his family. He sits down to the dinner table with one of his kids on his knees. At that moment, the Union sharpshooter fires. Or we can play with the example of a regular private, sitting at home with his family.

    I think we would agree that a sharpshooter in the heat of battle is justified in aiming at officers-it causes confusion and makes victory more likely, not to mention it is battle. One can further argue that when one is conducting military missions, like the example Price gave, one can expect to be attacked and so is permissible.

    I don’t think that however we can argue that a participant in war is subject to be killed at all times regardless of whether or not they are involved in the war. A soldier on leave is not a target.

    What makes the problem fuzzy w/ Obama’s decision however is trying to decide what constitutes a battlefield here. I’m not prepared to say that the decision to be a terrorist constitutes a continuous act of war. I think the US has the right to seize him arrest and use force to do, including the force necessary to defend the soldier’s lives. I’m not prepared to say that if they find him unarmed & alone they can kill him.

  • Michael D:

    A soldier on leave is not a target.

    Exactly. It is more than this, but this is the heart of the issue — for a war to be just, there are all kinds of rules for war; among them is how one finds targets (which goes with the question, is the soldier acting as a soldier, or outside of that domain). To approve of assassination in this instance is to extend the domain of the battle and the domain of what is and is not soldiering, both of which are troubling.

  • Of course the classic example is Adolph Hitler. Even before we were at war with Hitler I would have had no problem, moral or otherwise, with anyone assassinating Hitler after he came to power in Germany. The question gets much murkier when we are dealing with smaller fry in service to evil.

  • I don’t think that however we can argue that a participant in war is subject to be killed at all times regardless of whether or not they are involved in the war. A soldier on leave is not a target.

    I may be wrong on this, but I’m not aware of any restriction on killing enemy soldiers who aren’t on the battlefield or on leave or whatever. Nor is it clear what the moral difference would be.

  • If there’s anything else MI would like me to do (or anyone has suggestions for me to do), please let me know.

    Whoever did it should personally and publicly apologize.

  • I may be wrong on this, but I’m not aware of any restriction on killing enemy soldiers who aren’t on the battlefield or on leave or whatever.

    You are wrong. The church condemns the killing of non-combatants.

  • BA

    Actually, just war theory discusses the status of soldiers, and makes sure that they must be, when engaged, combatants; military necessity and proportionality are a part of the ways this is addressed in classical terms. The soldiers can be captured, but if they have given up fighting, they can’t be killed as if they were still fighting. And if they are, for example, off the battlefield, they are no longer fighting.

  • BA

    BTW, this is why we can’t just take out wounded soldiers or prisoners of war; just because they are soldiers does not mean they fit the status of combatants, they can lose that status in various ways.

  • Actually, just war theory discusses the status of soldiers, and makes sure that they must be, when engaged, combatants; military necessity and proportionality are a part of the ways this is addressed in classical terms. The soldiers can be captured, but if they have given up fighting, they can’t be killed as if they were still fighting. And if they are, for example, off the battlefield, they are no longer fighting.

    I agree with all of this except the last sentence. I’ve never seen any discussion of Just War stating that you can’t kill enemy soldiers when they are “off the battlefield,” whatever that means.

  • BA

    Just gave you an example where this debate actually exists in the tradition — naked soldiers taking a bath. And if you agree that prisoners of war or wounded soldiers cannot be taken out indiscriminately, why? What makes them no longer free game, if they are still soldiers?

  • BTW, this is why we can’t just take out wounded soldiers or prisoners of war; just because they are soldiers does not mean they fit the status of combatants, they can lose that status in various ways.

    Soldiers who are captured or wounded are *incapable* of fighting, and thus have traditionally been protected as noncombatants. That’s a far cry from someone who is capable of fighting, and who isn’t doing so at the moment only because he’s not aware of your presence.

  • Just because they are wounded or captured does not mean they are incapable of fighting; many wounded people get up and fight, and many people who are captured struggle for release. They might be less capable, but so is someone who is not on the battlefield, without any weapons of any kind. Capture them, if you wish. Assassinate when they don’t possess a threat? What?!

  • You are wrong. The church condemns the killing of non-combatants.

    Well sure. But an enemy soldier is a combatant.

  • Just gave you an example where this debate actually exists in the tradition — naked soldiers taking a bath.

    Larry May (the author you cite) argues that you shouldn’t kill a naked soldier but says that this is not a matter of justice but humaneness, and admits that his position is not the standard one. The only source he cites discussing the issue, Walzer, treats it as obvious that killing the naked soldier is permitted.

  • Just because they are wounded or captured does not mean they are incapable of fighting; many wounded people get up and fight, and many people who are captured struggle for release.

    Right, and if a wounded soldier picks up a gun and starts shooting or an enemy soldier tries to escape then they lose the protection of noncombatant status. Do you not agree with that?

  • BA:

    The point of the article is that it is an issue of concern and debate within the framework of just war discussions. And humanness and mercy is within the context of just war discussions (see Augustine). More importantly, your answer “and if they pick up a gun and starts shooting” goes back to the naked soldier point. They are not with a gun, not shooting. Remember, one aspect of just war theory is response must be just — which goes with the humanness issue of the article but he didn’t put it in that context — that is, if you can capture without killing, that is what is expected.

  • “if you can capture without killing, that is what is expected.”

    In the case of al Qaeda-style terrorism, the likelihood of a Khalid Sheikh Mohammed arrest scenario is probably low. More likely the “combatants” will go out like the Madrid train bombing cell.

    This is what is so vexing about jihadist terrorism; it exists in limbo somewhere lower in intensity than conventional warfare, but significantly more intense than organized crime. The Catholic moral philosopher has his work cut out for him. What is the battlefield, and who are the combatants? Is a UAV-fired missile strike legitimately called assassination, or is it just the regular course of this type of warfare? I’ve seen this stuff argued back and forth in comboxes ’til everyone is blue in the face, but I haven’t found a good treatment of the subject from a Catholic perspective.

  • Well sure. But an enemy soldier is a combatant.

    No, not always. I saw a Marine havin’ lunch at the Pizza Hut the other day. Is he a legitimate target?

  • I saw a Marine havin’ lunch at the Pizza Hut the other day. Is he a legitimate target?

    No, but then he’s not an enemy soldier either.

  • No, but then he’s not an enemy soldier either.

    Not to his fellow lunchtime buffet diners, no…

  • This is a fascinating discussion. With regards to these latest posts, though, how plausible would it be that an individual Marine would be targeted for an attack?

    For the purposes of the analogy, it might be better to consider a high-ranking officer, someone who has been promoted off the battlefield but nonetheless plays a major role in directing operations–say, a member of the joint chiefs of staff, or the enemy organization’s equivalent.

    When and when would not that individual be a legitimate military target?

  • And what about civilian commanders like a head of state? What about president-elects who have no power yet but certainly will unless stopped?

  • Pingback: Blog Comment Policy and Conflict « The American Catholic
  • Has anyone yet proposed a standard for what constitutes a combatant who may be legitimately targeted?

    I mean, IF…

    1. He has participated in attacks, or the planning of attacks, against the U.S.; and,

    2. He declares himself to be at war against the U.S.; and,

    3. It is not feasible to capture him;

    THEN, if he’s in a cabin or compound by himself, is it okay to blow the place up with a Hellfire missile?

    Under what circumstances is it not okay?

  • * crickets chirping *

  • The way I understand it is that in war one does not directly aim to kill but rather one aims to stop an unjust agression. Such is the case with self-defense also. Not clear at this point but some argue this is how the Church has moved captial punishment – from punishment to defense of society. Thus the moral object (perhaps) is the use of force to render an attacker impotent and not killing of the attacker. That consequence may be forsee under double effect but again is not directly intended.
    Can such an argument be used here? There is a person who is in fact, if not at that moment at some point in the past and probably in the future, involved in attacks on the US. Can we apply the above reasoning. It seems hard to make the argument that one is not directly intending the killing of a specific person in this situation. Perhaps an argument can be made that it isn’t and is licit. Perhaps, if as noted above capital punishment is not direct killing, one can apply the principle of the state executing a person to defend society.
    Then it would seem clear the guilt of the individual would need to be clearly established. In that case one would need to argue that a finding by the President on secretly held information would suffice. Does the Church say that determinations of guilt must be public and/or judicially based?

  • Phillip:

    I don’t know of any direct Church teaching on that point.

    Unless there is some passage of which I am unaware which says otherwise, I expect that the rule is a matter of the morality of individual action, initially, with social and corporate action envisioned as an outgrowth and an organization of the former. It is to the individual act that universal and objective moral laws are directly applied; the corporate organization of a nation’s laws is reflective of this individual obligation indirectly, showing forth the moral pattern at higher levels of organization in a fashion similar to the way a fractal pattern is repeated at larger scales.

    If so, then a need for determinations of guilt to be public and judicial in character is not a primary moral obligation but an outgrowth of that which is healthy for society; namely, the rule of law and the need that society’s judgments in matters of life and death be carried out in “daylight” and with great deliberation whenever possible.

    That, of course, is healthy for society. But note the caveat “whenever possible.” It is not always possible.

    The law, as it ought, provides for instances in which a man defends his family or even his property by armed force against an intruder “in the gravest extreme”; that is, when the need to stop the criminal attack is now and the soonest intervention by police is ten minutes hence. If Person Y comes storming into Person X’s house in the middle of the night, and Person X stops the invasion with a firearm, thus killing Person Y in the process, no crime is committed. (Provided there’s no disparity of force, that Person X didn’t chase Person Y while Y is fleeing the scene, and so on.) The normal orderly intervention of society was not possible in this instance.

    So too there may be — in fact, certainly are occasions when a trial and a civilian conviction and incarceration are impossible responses to an attack. Military initiative is therefore required instead. I don’t think anyone denies this; the question is how to write our laws in such a way as to (1.) adequately anticipate this need and allow for it under the law, so that the rule of law is not visibly violated every time one of these exceptional cases arises, and (2.) write the law in such a way that it does not allow the unscrupulous, incautious, or confused to exercise military initiative in instances where a capture and trial are plausible.

    Writing the law to meet those two goals in a fashion sufficient to satisfy all observers is impossible. Satisfying most observers is extremely tricky even if some of them weren’t biased towards finding fault. In an adversarial political system, in which half the observers are finding fault wherever possible in order to win the next election, you probably won’t even be able to satisfy a majority of observers.

    Which is why I wasn’t surprised when, in response to my two requests that someone propose a standard or even lay out where they thought the lines should fall, I got the blog equivalent of chirping crickets. (Even among this usually quite vocal crowd!)

    Now in a sense that request isn’t quite fair of me. Or, if the request is fair, it isn’t quite fair that I should waggle my finger at everybody for not proposing a standard. After all, I haven’t proposed one, either!

    But I’m making a larger point; namely, that criticism of a president for “going too far” in this area of policy is meaningless unless one has a standard by which one may judge he has gone too far. Without the standard, how does one know if he has gone too far?

    We have here a crowd of folks some of whom gave G.W.Bush quite a tongue-lashing for the laxity with which he carried out policies in this area. Later, a slightly different crowd with (tho’ with some overlap) gave Obama equally nasty language for doing basically what Bush did, or perhaps a bit more.

    Now one would guess from all these loud pronouncements of fire and brimstone against both presidents that every poster here has in mind a standard of what is and isn’t appropriate target-selection, which (1.) he knows to be the correct standard, (2.) can articulate, (3.) can defend against other proposed standards, and (4.) which one or both presidents have violated.

    But I suspect very few if any of the posters here really do have a well-defined standard in mind. At least I haven’t heard one articulated. And I myself am having difficulty coming up with one, so I suspect others are as well.

    But why, then, are folks giving Bush and Obama a lot of grief, if they can’t even say for sure that either man is operating outside the correct moral standards for this area of policy-making?

    I suspect it’s for two reasons: (1.) We have a gut feeling that this targeted assassination (what a choice of words: why is it considered assassination, I wonder, rather than an attack or assault?) is going too far; and, (2.) Even if it isn’t, we’re aware that a precedent granting the president power to do this sort of thing is dangerous when wielded by a man without a well-formed conscience.

    Now item (2.) is entirely logical, and if we all opposed this policy on the basis of avoiding the precedent, I would not complain of holes in our argument.

    But it seems to me that some folks are composing their criticism in such a way as to imply that Bushama have violated a standard of policy-making which everyone ought to know and which Bushama has no excuse for not knowing and following. It seems to me that they’re making this implication, without actually articulating the standard, because in reality they don’t have a clue exactly what the standard is.

    And, as I said before, I’m not sure what it should be, either.

    But let’s face up to it. On Argument 2 (dangerous precedent) we can articulate exactly what the problem is. But on Argument 1 (violation of an objective moral standard) all we have is gut feeling. And I don’t think it’s very just to blame Bushama for not having the same gut feeling as we, and following it.

  • R.C,

    I think your points are well made. There is certainly a tendency to think politically and it affects both sides of the house. I think this is showing up now on this issue. I think it has been more prominent on the torture issue. I have asked plenty of times some very vociferous opponents of torture what licit interrogation looks like and gotten no answer. I think the terrorism piece makes traditional assessments more difficult and need to be looked at dispassionately. But this is perhaps a reflection on the current state of American politics.

  • The danger in this case, and many other cases, in this thing we used to call the “global war on terror” is this- we become too accustomed to the demonization effect that creating a special kind of warfare always produces.
    Because the Muslim jihadists who cloak their cause for war in their faith make us uncomfortable, we decide that they are terrorists, rather than merely being unlawful combatants engaged in combat against a signatory nation to the various Geneva Accords. When we have to make them special because they are non-standard enemies, we commit ourselves to mental, legal, and geo-political gymnastics that always seem to produce bad results and bad decisions.
    The no-good, non-state, illicit Muslim jihadi swine declared, through action, war upon the United States (a signatory to the Geneva Accords).
    Congrtess should have declared war upon them and their supporters wherever they may be found- what they did, was authorize the POTUS to take whatever military action necessary to bring them to heel.
    In this case, the POTUS had, and still has, the legitmate authority over the armed forces of the US to prosecute the war as necessary (in compliance, where understood, with international standards for war).
    What you describe here, and what is not particularly new, is the POTUS ordering civilian (non-military) security and intelligence personnel to take lethal actions in cases where such authority is suspect at best. If the military commander assigned to the area of responsibility locates, targets, develops and strikes said scuzzy individual into non-existence, so be it. But where and when will end the POTUS’ authority to issue “kill” orders against “terrorists” at his own discretion, apparently independent of his authority as commander in chief? Certainly not at the conclusion of hostilities. Unable to even formulate a strategy to defeat global jihad without conducting all-out war, the Pentagon has adopted the capstone military concept of “persistent conflict.” Do not look for the conflict to ever end, nor for the military to seek victory.
    At water’s adge? That famous dividing line for domsetic politics is now long gone politically, as well as operationally. The new administration has been most vocal first in extending to domestic political enemies the moniker of “potential terorrists” and in declaing that home grown extremism (worded to appear to account for MAJ Hasan, in reality the wording more closely fits previous warnings about Tax Tea Partiers) is a gfreater threat than Al-qaida.

    In my opinion, the lout is an absolutely valid target. So kill him in combat, not as a covert operation of clandestine intelligence services.

Ronald Reagan Warns Against ObamaCare

Sunday, February 28, AD 2010

This is a clip of Ronald Reagan warning us of socialized medicine, the very same bill that President Obama and the Democratic Party are trying to ram through congress.

Reagan warns us of how people such as six-time presidential Socialist Party candidate Norman Thomas, and many others, explained how to move their agenda of achieving a socialist state by a Foot-in-the-Door policy of socialized medicine.  Which is eerily similar to what President Obama and the Democrats are doing, against the will of the people with their European socialized health care bill.

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40 Responses to Ronald Reagan Warns Against ObamaCare

  • I love that clip. It shows why Ronald Reagan will always be “The Great Communicator”. Clear, factual, and with his own depth of Philosophical belief. Unlike most politicians, what Reagan said, he believed.

    After watching the “Bipartisan Healthcare Summit” I was truly astounded at how poor Obama is at communicating without a pre-prepared speech and a teleprompter. The man is rude, cuts people off, stutters and stammers, and has trouble forming thoughts about his beliefs.

    Basically, to anyone who watched the BHS (no, not Barack Has to Stutter) this was a wake up call–Barry isn’t a good speaker, he is a good reader.

  • Is this a real or a parody post? If the latter, well the joke’s on me then…

    But assuming it isn’t – I assume you realize that Reagan was making all kinds of outlandish claims about Medicare, including that it tell doctors where they had to live? I think history had proved him a tint bit wrong – so much so that the party that now idolizes his memory is fighting tooth and nail against “cuts” in this very same Medicare..

    Oh, and as superior as single payer is (and Medicare is single payer by the way), the Obama bill retains the current system of privaet insurers. There is nothing “socialistic” about it. Of course, it attempts to regulate private insurers, including (by the way) how they must deal with abortion – something no Republican has ever supported.

  • MM,

    He was talking about the slow descent to socialism, or does this escape you?

    As for abortion, no matter your hollow arguments, you still voted for the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States of America.

  • You need to study more on what Reagan actually predicted pertaining to Medicare. Also, tell me why his acolytes currently are its biggest defenders? Also, please tell me what abortion protections were put into the Republican-sponsored Medicare Advantage expansion? And please tell me what exactly is “socialist” in the HCR bill?

    Of course, having a policy debate would require moving past mindless slogans – “socialist”, “most pro-abortion president”. Of course, I could also point out to your that your own ideology is almost identical to the liberalism opposed by the Vatican for quite a long time.

  • Awesome Post!

    Reagan also signed the UN declaration against torture and his DOJ successfully tried and convicted a Texas sheriff for waterboarding prisoners, so I guess that he solved those current debates as well!

  • Oh No! But I just realized that Ronald Reagan might disagree with Friedrich von Hayek on this question, who wrote, in his Road to Serfdom, that “Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance, where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks, the case for the state helping to organise a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong.”

    And now I don’t know WHAT to think!?!

  • We could also say that Reagan raised taxes pretty much every year of his presidency, and pushed for a very ambitious arms control deal! The modern GOP would denounce him a “lib-uh-ral socialist”!

  • Here is the text of the speech:

    http://www.elephantowners.com/?page_id=68

    Reagan’s warnings have proven prescient. Medicare and Medicaid have grown and grown. We cannot pay for them just as we cannot pay for Obamacare. The government as an insurer has driven up the costs of medicine for all.

    Oh and Tony, the most pro-abortion President in our history isn’t a slogan, but a reality. You supported him and now you aren’t even going to get health care. He is also producing a political reaction which is going to sweep the Democrats from power in November in Congress and across the country. As a Republican I would like to thank you. Obama is the best thing that has happened to the GOP since Jimmy Carter!

  • “Reagan’s warnings have proven prescient. Medicare and Medicaid have grown and grown. We cannot pay for them just as we cannot pay for Obamacare.”

    As have Eisenhower’s regarding the military-industrial complex. But few “conservatives” seem to think that that is much of a problem.

    The point of all this, of course, is that it’s rather silly to think that the policy positions of American politicians–Republican or Democrat–should have any bearing on arguments (rather than sloganeering) about what is actually beneficial to the commonweal.

  • However plausible Reagan’s predictions may have been at the time, they have not been borne out by subsequent events. It’s been 45 years since Medicare was enacted, and it hasn’t led to a total government takeover of medicine. In fact, I think there’s a plausible argument to be made that Medicare is one of the main impediments to passing a universal health care plan today.

  • Instituting programs that we cannot pay for is not beneficial to the commonweal, but rather bankrupts the commonweal. As for Defense, that thing that gives you the freedom to comment on blogs, it took up 23% of the federal budget in 2009. Social Security took up 20% and Medicare and Medicaid 19%.

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

    Medicare and Medicaid are going to explode in costs over the next two decades and there is no clue how to pay for them other than for the government to continue to borrow until—well, I guess until we can’t borrow anymore or our economy collapses under the debt burden.

  • I’m not sure how mandating that people purchase something from the private sector constitutes “socialism”?

  • And that’s not even to say it is a good idea. This is strictly speaking toward definition.

  • Wj,

    If you think that Hayek quote is amazing, check out this one (from the Constitution of Liberty):

    Once it becomes the recognized duty of the public to provide for the extreme needs of old age, unemployment, sickness, etc., irrespective of whether the individuals could and ought to have made provision themselves and particularly once help is assured to such an extent that it is apt to reduce individuals’ efforts, it seems an obvious corollary to compel them to insure (or otherwise provide) against those common hazards of life. The justification in this case is not that people should be coerced to do what is in their individual interest but that, by neglecting to make provision, they would become a charge to the public. Similarly, we require motorists to insure against third-party risks, not in their interest but in the interest of others who might be harmed by their action.

    Finally, once the state requires everybody to make provisions of a kind which only some had made before, it seems reasonable enough that the state should also assist in the development of appropriate institutions . . .

    Up to this point the justification for the whole apparatus of “social security” can probably be accepted by the most consistent defenders of liberty. Though many may think it unwise to go so far, it cannot be said that this would be in conflict with the principles we have stated . . . It is only when the proponents of “social security” go a step further that the crucial issues arise. Even at the beginning state of “social insurance” in Germany in the 1880’s, individuals were not merely required to make provision against those risks which, if they did not, the state would have to provide for, but were compelled to obtain this protection through a unitary organization run by the government.

  • Reagan’s warnings have proven prescient. Medicare and Medicaid have grown and grown.

    Reagan was warning that eligibility for the programs would expand, not cost. That hasn’t happened.

  • “As for Defense, that thing that gives you the freedom to comment on blogs….”

    Funny, I thought that was the Constitution. Thanks for pointing out my ignorance!

  • Eric,

    The moment congress passes this bill, within a generation, we will no longer have what you refer to as the “private sector”.

  • The moment congress passes this bill, within a generation, we will no longer have what you refer to as the “private sector”.

    This strikes me as unlikely. What in the bill do you think will do away with private sector health care?

  • It’s not in the bill.

    But succeeding congresses will expand the bill to include a government option. Will ultimately be a single payer “option”.

    I probably should have said an incremental march towards the elimination of private health insurance.

  • Blackadder,

    Yes, that quote is amazing. I am always impressed by the clarity and nuance of Hayek’s thinking; if Republicans were more consistently Hayekian and Democrats were more consistently social democratic then we might have actual arguments about policy! We would also be living on another planet, of course.

  • Tito,

    Why do you think passing this bill now will make passing those bills in the future any more likely? Usually passing a bill on a subject makes it harder to revisit that subject legislatively, not easier.

  • BA,

    They would not necessarily pass more bills, but it can happen.

    They would also expand the power of said agencies that would squeeze the private sector more and more.

    Not to mention executive orders that can expand the powers of said agencies and restrict those of the private sector.

  • Well, what do you mean by “private sector” anyway?

  • Tito,

    Okay, but all that stuff could happen regardless of whether the current bill is passed. Why is this an argument against the current bill?

  • I ask because it seems that, in your mind, there are these two abstract entities–the “private sector” on the one hand, and “government” on the other–that are necessarily in opposition. But this over-simple characterization does not fit the *actual* way in which the health-care industry (and, for that matter, most other large industries) operates in America.

  • BA,

    Because it is a slippery slope of creeping government involvement in people’s lives.

    WJ,

    Please explain.

  • Can’t–going to bed; briefly, though, I understand your distinction to hold for small businesses, relatively local economies, etc. but not for huge corporate enterprises which sometimes enjoy monopolist status and have the clout to influence legislation in their interests; for such enterprises, any simple distinction like the one you draw seems inadequate for accounting for the facts on the ground.

  • “Funny, I thought that was the Constitution. Thanks for pointing out my ignorance!”

    You are welcome. Without military force to back it up, the Constitution is just another piece of paper.

  • As have Eisenhower’s regarding the military-industrial complex. But few “conservatives” seem to think that that is much of a problem.

    Perhaps becuase the allocation of available resources to military expenditure fluctuates up and down in response to external conditions and is lower now than was the case in 1960.

  • which sometimes enjoy monopolist status and have the clout to influence legislation in their interests;

    The only monopolists in our economy are gas and electric companies and (to some extent) the postal service.

  • (and, for that matter, most other large industries) operates in America.

    That’s just what we need, more crony capitalism.

  • Well, what do you mean by “private sector” anyway?

    Never mind.

  • We could also say that Reagan raised taxes pretty much every year of his presidency,

    You could say that, if you’ve forgotten that legislation is enacted by Congress and that legislative initiative in matters of taxation and appropriation rests with the lower house of Congress, and that the lower house of Congress was controlled by the political opposition for all eight years he was in office.

  • Of course, having a policy debate would require moving past mindless slogans – “socialist”, “most pro-abortion president”.

    Those are not slogans, those are characterizations (the latter quite accurate).

  • Tito: “we will no longer have what you refer to as the “private sector”…slippery slope of creeping government involvement in people’s lives.

    So, the government should not regulate anything that privaet insurers do? So you are fine with them covering abortion, I take it?

  • As for Defense, that thing that gives you the freedom to comment on blogs, it took up 23% of the federal budget in 2009.

    I’m reminded here of an old Lincoln quote:

    All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

    We don’t need to spend anywhere near 23% of the budget on defense to ensure freedom of blogging in the U.S.

  • Blackadder,

    You’re being much too reasonable to be taken seriously on this thread.

  • We don’t need to spend anywhere near 23% of the budget on defense to ensure freedom of blogging in the U.S.

    Just out of curiosity, do you have in mind a scenario of what occurs given particular levels of American military spending?

  • “All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.”

    Considering how fearful Lincoln was during the Trent Affair of the possibility of British intervention, I doubt if he meant that statement literally. Additionally, in an age of ICBMs and the coming age of portable nukes by non-state terrorist groups, things have changed militarily a tad since Lincoln gave that speech.

  • Anyone who cannot see that Reagan was right about his beliefs needs to answer these questions:

    1. Did Medicare achieve the goals intended at the costs it promised? Further, is it almost broke now?

    2. Was Reagan right that Medicare was just a preemptive move to pass Socialized Healthcare?

    My answers for those questions are:

    1. No, it has exploded in size, cost, and is rife with Govt corruption and inefficiency.

    2. Obamacare anyone?