Trump Lied

Tuesday, March 8, AD 2016

“In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security.”

Hillary Clinton, October 10, 2002

 

 

 

One of the more pernicious accusations in political life today is the claim that Bush lied the country into war against Iraq by falsely claiming the necessity of stopping Saddam Hussein’s WMD programs.  Leaving aside that the country went to war for various reasons, detailed here, there is no evidence that Bush lied about the WMD programs of Iraq, but was rather relying on the best intelligence available.  Donald Trump recently took up this mantra of the left:

 

Then Trump went on to say something even more unusual in a Republican primary. He suggested that the former GOP president, George W. Bush, directly lied to the American public in order to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

“I will tell you. They lied. And they said there were weapons of mass destruction and there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction,” Trump said.

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21 Responses to Trump Lied

  • Jim Geraghty had a good line in yesterday’s Morning Jolt:
    .
    “[D]on’t worry, immigration hawks. There’s no way Trump is conning you. He means everything he says to you — he’s just offering a line, spin, and empty promises to everyone else.”

  • There were no weapons of mass destruction.
    So he’s ignorant or a liar. Go figure.

  • We have to get history right if we are going to make right choices now. thanks for the thoughtful video
    related thought – I hope whoever wins the GOP nomination and presidency puts in astute patriot Rick Santorum as Secretary of State..

  • Yes, Saddam Hussein DID have WMD and was trying to acquire MORE and BETTER WMD.
    .
    President George W Bush was RIGHT and CORRECT, and the rest of the world was WRONG.
    .
    May God forever bless and protect our last real President, George W Bush.

  • The one possible thing twirling in the back of my mind is that sometimes the good Lord uses evil to bring about a greater good and something needs to be done to stop the establishment from their destructive agenda or it won’t matter about voting at all.
    Right now, I fear Trump and the establishment about the same, and intend to vote for Cruz, but all things are possible–depending upon what games the corrupt GOPe plays from here on in.

  • Saddam gassed the Kurds and others, and I recall convoys heading into Syria at night before the war began. I think it doubtless, Iraq had WMD. Trump may be a quick study but not a thorough one. Cruz is probably our last good hope but if the GOP opts for shenanigans rather than supporting him, they will pay a dear price.

  • @Lucious. Ditto. There are plenty of articles detailing the dismantling and destruction of chemical weapons seized in Iraq. Saddam was a little Hitler who, along with his sons and henchmen, had to go. We can debate what was to replace him, but he had to go.
    I wonder how Obama would have handled Saddam. Bowed to him, release assets, and give billions in aid, aka Saddam retirement fund. Maybe even supply him nuclear technology, which would only be used to generate energy of course.

  • “Maybe even supply him nuclear technology, which would only be used to generate energy of course.”
    .
    It depends on the nuclear technology being discussed. There is as much a difference between a light water reactor (like the US AP-1000 or the Russian VVER) and a nuclear fission weapon, as there is between gasoline for a motor vehicle and napalm, one of whose ingredients is gasoline.
    .
    I therefore do NOT object to either Iran or Iraq using light water reactor technology. I do object to heavy water reactor technology that can be used to breed plutonium-239 from uranium-238, and to enrichment of natural uranium beyond the 5% required for light water reactors.

  • Wow, it posted before I was ready! Nevertheless, my concluding statement is this:
    .
    There is a difference between a weapon and an energy source.
    .
    Napalm is a weapon.
    Gasoline is not.
    .
    > 90% U-235 and > 90% Pu-239 are weapons.
    < 5% U-235 and < 5% Pu-239 are not.

  • Whatever Saddam needed to develop a nuclear weapon, that’s what he would convince Obama he needed for energy purposes.
    .
    Gasoline can’t be made into a weapon?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molotov_cocktail

  • Kyle,
    .
    I agree that Barack Hussein Obama will do whatever he can to benefit Muslims. It is a part of his nature and mindset. However, that said, it is very difficult to make a nuclear weapon and Iran’s ability to do so has been set back by the Iranian accord.
    .
    Yes, gasoline can be used in a Molotov cocktail just as alcohol can be used. Neither is a militarily useful weapon but both are excellent terrorist or guerrilla warfare weapons. But a terrorist cannot take a sack of uranium or plutonium and make a Molotov cocktail (however, he likely would die eventually of heavy metal chemical poisoning, entirely non-nuclear).
    .
    Now that said, anything less than 90% enriched U-235 or Pu-239 or U-233 cannot be used to be a militarily useful weapon. Those are the ONLY isotopes which can undergo thermal fission. On detonation a 90% U-235 or Pu-239 or U-233 is very difficult and very expensive. The DPRK chose the U-238 to Np-239 to Pu-239 route and its bomb had so much non-fissile Pu-240 that its yield wasn’t worth the effort.
    It pooped out. Yes, U-233 can also be used if > 90%, but that is even MORE difficult to make because it requires using the Th-232 to Pa-233 to U-233 route. And enriching U-235 from nature requires lots and lots of centrifuges to do the necessary isotopic separation. NOT easy.
    .
    I have neither the time nor the energy to explain here 30+ years of nuclear engineering knowledge and experience. Basically, nuclear power reactors for electricity are EASY and nuclear bombs are HARD. So every time I see the nuclear word used in conjunction with energy for weapons, I respond: a light water nuclear reactor is NOT a vehicle for making bombs. NOT. Can you do it with graphite or heavy water moderated reactors – making U-233 or Pu-239? Yes, but the DPRK failed at that. In fact, it would not surprise me if a DPRK bomb fizzled out right in the lab before it every got deployed to the field. And using centrifuges to enrich U-235 takes a very long time and is itself difficult, Iran had to give up on that. Now it will use Russian VVER light water reactors for electricity and those are perfectly fine – a souped-up variant of the Westinghouse PWR with some Russian submarine reactor engineering thrown in for good measure. They are examples of some really excellent Russian engineering.
    .
    All that said, the routes to nuclear weapons for Saddam Hussein were cut off after the 1991 Iraq war. The WMD he acquired were chemical and biological weapons. Might he have had a radiological dirty bomb (a chemical explosive coated with Cs-137 or something else)? Possibly, but even those are not militarily useful weapons and usually the terrorist who uses them dies from poisoning before he can deploy the device to the field. However, dirty bombs are great for striking terror (radiation! radiation! we’re all a’gonna die!) into ignorant liberal New Yorkers and the like. But as WMD they suck.
    .
    Again, Kyle, I agree with you about Obama, but Saddam’s WMD effort was emasculated with respect to nuclear, and Iran currently does not have an immediate path forward to a bomb (even its heavy water Pu-239 Arak breeder is permanently disabled – concrete in the RPV as I recall; not sure).

  • There were no weapons of mass destruction.
     
    So he’s ignorant or a liar. Go figure.
    Foxfier

    Both and.

  • Neil Bush just endorsed Ted Cruz. The Cruz’s go way back with the Bush administration both Ted and Heidi his wife before they were married worked in the Bush administration. Heidi worked with Condi Rice on a think tank for the Counicil on Foriegn Relations in drafting a policy that would eliminate our sovereign borders to include an invisible borders surrounding Canda, USA and Mexico with homeland security guarding it. Ted Cruz can seem like a true Constitutionalist but the more investigated his background the more I grew concerned. I don’t trust Ted Cruz and his wife. I’m voting for Donald Trump because he is the only speaking about protecting our country against global socialism New World Order being controlled by the UN. Nothing is going to matter if we don’t have a Soverign Nation. You better wake up!

  • Heidi worked with Condi Rice on a think tank for the Counicil on Foriegn Relations in drafting a policy that would eliminate our sovereign borders to include an invisible borders surrounding Canda, USA and Mexico with homeland security guarding it.

    This is pure moonbattery. If you’re concerned about Ted Cruz’s record on US sovereignty, I suggest you google the Medellin case, where Cruz – as Solicitor General of Texas – successfully argued before the Court to overrule a Bush administration directive which would have forced states to comply with the International Court of Justice in reviewing death penalty convictions of Mexican nationals.

  • Two matters I have yet to hear expressed during the current situation. 1. The investigation into Hillary’s email scandal should reach a conclusion soon to prevent a Constitutional crisis situation during or soon after the election. 2. If a Trump Presidency is inevitable, it may at least prompt the long overdue correction of abuses of Presidential powers. I would rather see a President Cruz accomplish as much in a non-adversarial manner but one way or the other it should be done.

  • Neil Bush just endorsed Ted Cruz

    ….Who?
    Oh, you mean that Jeb and W’s little brother, who’s a businessman that nobody cares about other than his last name, joined the fund-raising team for Cruz, according to CNN.
    (A disclaimer it seems wise to include, given their behavior of late.)

    As for the claims about involvement with Dr. Rice, it seems to be a conflation of Mrs. Cruz’s prior work in the 90s as an investment banker that focused on Latin America with her work after she’d married him in ’01, when she was the Economic Director for the Western Hemisphere at the National Security Council under Rice, or maybe some of her other public sector work.
    Or a general accusation about bankers.

  • Good video. Lucius and Wm P Walsh: Agree. I am so tired of that old saw re Pres. Bush’s lie about WMD. In the early days of the war Iraq’s western border with Syria was porous and convoys with Saddam relatives, gold/money and WMDs crossed over. When our troops found poison gas buried underground in concrete bunkers, where were the retractions in the media?
    We and our allies won the Iraq War. Obama then lost it!

  • We should wish not to see an effort at the Convention to undo the voters will. The place to make the argument is during the primary elections. How can the Republicans criticize the super-delegate rigged primary of the so-called Democratic Party, if they out do their shenanigans?

  • The long primary season is a blessing. Retail politics makes the candidates get face to face with ordinary people. The long season starts out with many candidates and going state to state gives the whole nation a chance to focus and learn. And “weed out” as they see things unfold. The first caucus and primary voters had a wider selection at the time, but we have all -the whole nation – got to know the candidates better, those early voters might very well make a different choice today. The system is great- open and energetic. The convention is there precisely for the purpose of making the best choice based on what we know now at convention time.

  • .Anzlyne, great point.

  • .Anzlyne, thanks for your optimism. If things work out for the best, we shall be pleased. My pessimism is based on past performance, unfortunately.

Miss me Yet?

Monday, April 13, AD 2015

15 Responses to Miss me Yet?

  • I love President Bush. I despise, loathe, abhor, detest, and hold in utter contempt and disdain Barack Hussein Obama. Bush was not a perfect human being, but he knew that. That godless man of sin and depravity Obama however acts as though he is some sort of god. Heaven help him when the Lord God finally has had His full of such defiance. And Heaven help the United States of America as well.

  • One other thing. Bush stated the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. We were entering a nuclear renaissance and dozens of new nuclear power plants were going to be built in the US. These would have offset fossil fuel use and global warming and all of that. But that man of evil Obama has killed GNEP and the renaissance is dead. Instead, Vermont Yankee, Crystal River, Keewanee, and both San Onofre units are all shutdown and being decommissioned. Five nukes off the grid and what replaces them? Solar and wind have capacity factors < 30% so it isn't them. It's gas – explosive, dangerous, CO2 emitting gas burning. And the godless Demoncraps blame Bush for being pro-fossil, pro-oil, pro-gas. I despise Demoncraps with all the fabric of my being. They despoil the morals of the nation and constrict its energy supply into nothingness. But Obama and Al Gore and all the rest will continue to jet around on vacations, burning all that fossil fuel that they say they hate.

  • Well, I suppose I “miss” him. But not enough to vote for his brother.

  • I love Dubya. But, Fred Flintstone looks good compared to Obama. And, of course, that makes me a racist; and, an enemy of the state.

  • Jay- as I keep saying, W’s brother has all of his down sides and none of his positives. (…given some of the junk that is coming up on the Democrat side, I guess I should qualify that with something like “which cannot be found in the average, reasonably law abiding citizen.”)

  • The best explanation of the Bush family’s political activity I’ve seen is preternatural competitiveness. It was so odd that a man as capable as the elder George Bush had entered politics in that no set of issues seemed to animate him at all. As a particular social type from the social matrices in which he had lived in work, there were some perimeters he would not cross. Otherwise, everything was fungible. The one exception was the capital gains tax, an issue on which he’d walk the plank. I bet Christine Todd Whitman would too.

    I’ve heard Jeb Bush is supposedly principled in a way the rest of the Bushes are not, but is most vigorous principle appears to be a re-enactment of his brother’s affection for open borders. (See the disreputable Mr. Derbyshire’s deft review of his book co-written with Clint Bolick). We do not need that.

    And, of course you miss W if you’re not subscribing to the venomous nonsense the alt-right peddles about him. It really hit me in March 2009 when Barack Obama made a public comment which indicated he had not undertaken even cursory reading on how to address the banking crisis we were in. What he was reading would be a matter of conjecture.

  • President Bush ignored – even cavalierly dismissed – Pope Saint John Paul II’s warning that his (illegal and unwarranted) invasion of Iraq would cause “chaos.” Today’s patriarchs and religious leaders of the region agree that it was that invasion that led directly to ISIS and the ongoing extermination of Christianity in the Middle East.

    Moreover, the war and the economic fantasy bubble that accompanied it led directly to the collapse of October 2008 and on a silver platter gave the election to Barack Obama.

    Partisan hacks and analysts playing the blue-team red-team don’t get it. Bush’s wars and “Big Government Conservatism” spending and invasion of personal privacy for our own good” have all been inherited and expanded under Obama.

    Forget the hate and check out the facts. Both party establishments are corrupt and will do nothing to defend life, the family, or religious freedom.

  • I would agree pretty much with the first post above by Paul W Primavera. I grew to be a great admirer of George W Bush, a very decent man and a good leader.His wife too is a very decent and respectable woman. Both of them for that reason alone seem to be unique in today’s political world ! I just finished the book that he recently authored about his father, “41”, and have a new found respect for G.H.W. Bush as well after reading it.

  • “his (illegal and unwarranted) invasion of Iraq”

    Neither of those statements are true.

    “would cause “chaos.””

    As opposed to the peace of the mass graves that Iraq enjoyed under Saddam.

    “Today’s patriarchs and religious leaders of the region agree that it was that invasion that led directly to ISIS and the ongoing extermination of Christianity in the Middle East.”

    Which is complete rubbish. The Middle East would be in flames today even if the US had not toppled Saddam.

    “Moreover, the war and the economic fantasy bubble that accompanied it led directly to the collapse of October 2008 and on a silver platter gave the election to Barack Obama.”

    The war in Iraq had nothing to do with the economic meltdown in 2008.

    “Bush’s wars and “Big Government Conservatism” spending and invasion of personal privacy for our own good” have all been inherited and expanded under Obama.”
    The Iraq war was won by the time Obama took office and Afghanistan was stable. His bad decisions directly led to disaster in both countries.

  • I personally do not see this as the proper forum to engage in a debate about politics and so I won’t do that PERIOD ….HOWEVER the recent post by Christopher Manion is absolutely full of half-truths and inaccuracies to such a large extent that it is little more than sophistry [ IMHO ].

    God Bless George W Bush ! God Bless St. John Paul the Great !

  • So… was there a single detail there that wasn’t false?
    Thank you, Donald, I’m getting really tired of people making up facts to fit their beliefs– and the irony of throwing that many ignorant falsehoods and then urging others to “Forget the hate and check out the facts” is mildly boggling.

  • Paulites and neoconfederates (but I repeat myself) have a tendency to make rather sweeping statements, steeped in talking points regurgitated from other sources, while turning around and accusing everyone else of being mindless sheep. It’s one of their unique charms.

  • Moreover, the war and the economic fantasy bubble that accompanied it led directly to the collapse of October 2008 and on a silver platter gave the election to Barack Obama.

    Housing prices came unglued from nominal incomes in the Case-Shiller 10-city sample around about 1997. The enhanced military spending after 2001 consisted of a graduated transfer of 2% of domestic product (per annum) from the civilian sector to the military sector. Why not explain the mechanism whereby a rebalancing of production which took place in 2002-05 was responsible for an asset price bubble which began in 1997 and ran on for nine years? Are you going to hold the military budget responsible for the post 1994 stock market bubble as well?

    Bush’s wars and “Big Government Conservatism”

    The entitlement state long pre-dated George W. Bush and Congress frustrated his efforts to sand down some portions of it. Discretionary domestic spending is a modest fraction (usually about 14%) of federal expenditure.

  • (illegal and unwarranted) invasion of Iraq

    1. If ‘international law’ is law, who defines, enforces, and adjudicates that law?

    2. You had a trilemma in 2003: leave the sanctions on (which Big Consciences were telling us were costing 500,000 excess deaths per year), take the sanctions off (see the consequences in across the Shatt al Arab during the period running from 1980-88 or in Kuwait in 1990, or eject the government. Now try to get some alt-right blowhard to make a reasoned exposition for one position or another that does not involve fantasy history or magical thinking.

What Would Bush Have Done?

Wednesday, February 2, AD 2011

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

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

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

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7 Responses to What Would Bush Have Done?

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

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

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

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

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

  • Bush is history.

    Key question: What will obama do?

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

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

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

U.S. Involvement in The Great Game Realpolitiks in Gaza

Friday, June 4, AD 2010

With the news of Israel’s blockade of Gaza still hot all around the world because of the Israeli attack on the activist boats- I think it is important to look back and assess how we have got to this point of chaos, confusion and rage.

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46 Responses to U.S. Involvement in The Great Game Realpolitiks in Gaza

  • Excellent analysis, especially on the historical tie between the Christian’s moral responsibility with the Roman Empire and our own responsibility with the American experiment. In this article you call to mind the sad obligation of the prophet. Amos, Micah, Isaiah and Jeremiah had the unhappy responsibility to call the Hebrew community to moral accountability and unfortunately their words went unheeded and Israel had to learn through hardship and suffering. Jesus Christ also spoke the moral truth to a corrupt social power and within a generation Jerusalem was destroyed. What will be are lot.

    We seem to have such an unreflective society and this in the end will make us morally bankrupt as well. But hope in God we have and struggle we must to awaken the American population to the great values that once guided this nation and to the post war principles that it helped to create in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • Frankly the fact that Hamas was elected in a quasi-Democratic election in Gaza is of no more moral significance to me than the fact that the Nazis came to power in 1933 in German in a legal fashion. Of course the article you cite is completely wrong-headed. Hamas has always had a stronger following in Gaza than Fatah, because Hamas is regarded, rightly, as being much more wedded to the idea of waging war ceaselessly against Israel, which is what most Gazans want. The policies followed by the Hamas government are completely in accord with what a majority of the Gazan population want. Their war against Israel, unfortunately for them, simply, and predictably, is not going well.

  • It seems that what you’re saying is that Hitler should have been supported because he was legally elected. We should not have stopped his rampage throughout Europe or his extermination plans? Or perhaps the world should have waited until Germany’s next election to vote Hitler out of office? No matter the millions of lives which would have been terminated by then? It is legal in our country to perform abortions…should we cease fighting against the extermination of life in the wombs of mothers because, after all, it is the law of the land? I don’t understand you…

  • wow- so Hamas equals Hitler? In essence the Palestinians are Nazis who are just crazy to kill every Israeli they meet? I can’t argue with such fantasies- and I won’t because it is such a worn out rhetorical device used by the Left and Right to cover their own inadequacies in presenting the facts on the ground. I’m looking for more thoughtful comments- anybody out there?

  • wow- so Hamas equals Hitler? In essence the Palestinians are Nazis who are just crazy to kill every Israeli they meet?

    Considering that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians don’t believe that Israel has a right to exist, and that many if not most have little moral problem with strapping bombs to people in order to murder scores of innocent Jews, I’d say the comparison is a little less fantastical than that.

    I’m looking for more thoughtful comments-

    You first.

  • “wow- so Hamas equals Hitler?”

    Not quite Tim. Hamas lacks the power to kill every Jew in Israel. If they had the power, based upon prior statements made by Hamas leaders, I have no doubt they would kill every Jew until Palestine was Judenfrei.

  • I think the analogy holds up fairly well if you consider that the extermination of Jews was an objective of the Nazis, but not necessarily of the German people. A good number of Germans were apathetic over what the Nazis were doing, those who would have strongly objected remained silent and inactive out of fear.

    Similarly, a distinction should be made between the Islamic Palestinian people and Hamas and other groups. Thing is the extermination of Jews has a religious character here and it seems the average Islamic Palestinian is far more likely to be inclined to support Hamas’ rhetoric and objectives than the average German was to the Final Solution. I’m distinguishing between Islamic Palestinians and Christian Palestinians because I think the Christians have have suffered at the hands of Israel and would certainly want things differently, but they don’t necessarily hate Jews and want them cast into the sea.

  • Tim,

    I agree with Donald that the Vanity Fair article is completely wrong-headed (Vanity Fair? Really?). IT starts, it seems to me, from an assumption that Israel = wrong/support of Israel = wrong.

    I also disagree with your analysis of what you describe as our Realpolitik, and I disagree that our Yes should mean Yes and our No should mean No as a practical guide to international relations. While it is an ideal to be pursued, it can’t and won’t work in our international community until *everyone* approaches international relationships this way.

    Our government’s first concern should be the preservation of the state. Our country has a right to exist (as does Israel, as does Iran, as does Turkey, etc.). One could argue that the Palestinian people have a right to a homeland too; of course, they’ve never had one (and that isn’t the fault of the US), so it’s hard to say where that should be.

    As to the way events unfolded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip…well, I for one cannot blame the Bush administration for trying. Was it a correct move to try to force Hamas out? Uh…Yeah it was. Hamas is bad. Fatah is to, but the enemy of my enemy being my friend, Fatah had to look like a pretty good compromise. Are there bad people in Fatah? Of course there are. Apparently, there were some pretty bad people among the “peace activists” on that Turkish-flagged vessel, too (good people don’t beat downed soldiers with pipes).

    Governments sanction actions that harm people all the time in order to pursue their national interests. In the case of a war, a government would sanction the killing of other people (objectively evil) in order to protect its country; cities sanction the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers against evil-doers in order to protect its citizens. Your outlook about America’s support for Israel and work against Hamas in the Gaze Strip is simplistic at best.

    THanks.

  • – I’m a bit unclear what the author of the article thinks should have been done. He blames the US for supporting elections when Fatah was not in a position to win them, but he also blames the US for not accepting the results of the elections when Hamas won. He seems to think that Fatah was a better group to remain in charge — yet he blames the US for backing them and he emphasizes their torture and killing of members of Hamas much more than he emphasizes the (at least equally prevalent) torture and killing of members of Fatah by Hamas. He blames the “quartet” for cutting off aid to the Palestinian Authority, but he also blames them for trying to direct and influence Palestinian affairs. I suppose he could think that we should fund them, but not try to influence them in any way, but even then we’re left with having them in a near constant state of war with Israel, and that doesn’t seem great either.

    – Regarding the comment discussion that has developed: I’m not actually clear why comparisons of Hamas to the National Socialists are necessarily that far off. Both are militiant political parties which gained support through street fighting and popular support for their promise to restore national/ethnic dignity. Both endorse a genocidal racial policy towards a designated enemy group which is seen as at fault for the people’s sufferings — a policy which many of their supporters may not enthusiastically share, but which they are willing to overlook. Both came to power in the wake of poverty, military defeat, occupation and perceived loss of standing in the world. And both promise to reverse all of those misfortunes through greater world prestige and military adventures. It’s not a bad comparison, and unless one has particularly grotesque stereotypes about the nature of ordinary German people in the 30s and 40s, I’m not clear why it’s less flattering to the Gazan population than accuracy would demand.

  • I love it. If people discuss the way Israel seems to follow Nazi policy, we are told about “Godwin’s Law.” And that ends all conversation, like usual. But it is perfectly fine to suggest the Palestinians are like Nazis. Of course, I am sure we will also hear how Native Americans were the Nazis, too…

  • Henry,

    One of the main things people have pointed out in regards to your repeated claims that Israelis are “like Nazis” is that it’s incredibly historically insensitive. Which is true.

    In the comment thread above, the logical sequence was as follows:

    Several people pointed out that if it was necessary to support a political faction merely because they won an election, it would have been necessary to grant recognition to the Nazis after 1933.

    In return, Tim questioned whether people were accusing the Palestinians of being “crazy Nazis”.

    RL and I then both pointed out that the sense in which such a comparison might be apt would be that most Palestinians are not “crazy Nazis”, but have ended up supporting a militaristic and radically anti-Jewish faction for fairly understandable reasons — kind of like many non-Nazi-fanatic Germans did in the ’30s.

    You then show up and accuse everyone of saying that “Palestinians are like Nazis” and then go on to suggest that people will say that Native Americans “were the Nazis” too.

    How about this one: Why is it that you are convinced that Hamas is as admirable as Chief Joseph or Sitting Bull? Has Hamas ever behaved as honorably, or sought the good of their people above their own power? Hamas is an organization that routinely kills and tortures its own people, while seeking to kill Israeli civilians in order to relieve their desire for revenge. Their existence has done nothing but hurt the Palestinian people. Why do you see the need to defend them?

    Defending Hamas is not the same as defending the Palestinian people — one may care about the latter while despising the former.

  • All comparisons of present politics to Nazis and Communists that are devoid of direct connections are a stretch and should be avoided.

    With that said, Henry, there are in fact direct connections between the Nazis and Islamist Palestinians. You can begin with Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, continue to the many efforts to kill Jews for being Jews, and head right on up to the present and beyond with the Hamas charter, a document and an ideology that enjoys very strong support. All of this information is readily available, quite twisted, and beyond historical dispute.

  • Why is it necessary even to compare anyone to anyone here? Granted, there are arguably strong parallels between National Socialism and Islamic militancy as practiced by Hamas; that being said, can’t we just deal with history?

    Israel became a state in 1948, whereupon it was immediately attacked by its Arab neighbors. They one that war. Israel was again attacked in the 50’s, the 60’s (which resulted in the destruction of three countries’ military apparatus and the annexation of the Sinai, the West Bank and Gaza, and the Golan Heights. They were attacked again in 73, again in the 80’s, the 90’s and the 00’s (how do you say that in a word?). Each time, its attackers suffered military defeat at the hands of a much smaller (but better trained, equipped and motivated) IDF.

    Ya can’t blame the 48 war on Israel
    s treatment of Palestinian Arabs. Nor can one blame the ’67 or the ’73 war on that. And it is axiomatic that Israel has a right to protect its existence by any proportionate means necessary; we may argue about the definition of “proportionate”, but it is up to the National Command Authority in Israel to determine what is proportionate, and to be liable for the judgment before God.

    The Palestinians are pawns in a game whose goal is the elimination of the state of Israel. If Hamas would do as it’s been asked, this would all be over. They won’t; it’s not. Why do we beat them up so?

  • I love it. If people discuss the way Israel seems to follow Nazi policy, we are told about “Godwin’s Law.” And that ends all conversation, like usual.

    The ‘conversation’ is unnecessary because the analogy is stupid and malicious and not worth discussing. The most militant sector of public opinion in Israel (KACH, Moledet, &c) has advocating expelling the Arab population and forcing them to take up residence in neighboring states. The most precise analogy might be the post-war Czech government’s dealings with Sudeten Germans or the Croatian government’s dealings with Krajina Serbs during the recent unpleasantness in the Balkans. Neither Gen. Tudjman or Eduard Benes had a political programme that resembled that of the Nazis in the least.

    But it is perfectly fine to suggest the Palestinians are like Nazis.

    Repair to the YouTube Mr. McClarey posted a while back. There is a sector of public opinion in the Arab world which has aspirations very like that. For a majority party to advocate liquidating a neighboring state is highly unsual – nay unique – in the world today. Even absent a considered programme of extermination, such a project would comprehend a great deal of killing. The precedent in the eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire in 1915-18 is sadly relevant here.

  • Regarding the premise that an elected Hamas government is akin to Hitler’s Nazis being elected- so this scores points for the side that says the U.S. should feel free to use any means to upend the Gazan government- be it pouring money into political alternatives or funding armed resistance or perhaps even overt or covert plans of assassination. This is the slippery slope we are on here at American Catholic blogosphere.

    Here’s a little analogical monkeywrench to loosen up the pro-Israel crowd- and I do mean crowd around these parts.

    Let’s say that there was a “quasi-election” in a large nation and a regime that openly supported the termination of unborn children in the wombs of mothers was “elected” by a majority of the citizens. It is determined that in fact 3-4000 children are murdered each day in this hate-filled society. It is also determined that many of these mothers are profoundly disturbed enough to actually volunteer to take their unborn children into a medical clinic to have the personnel there dispose of these children God entrusted to them. This is the consequence of a mass insanity inculturated by a political and economic order that propagandizes that this is no big deal, that this is an expression of women’s rights and so forth. And the mainstream opposition to this situation is a major political party that claims only that this right to kill unborn children should be an issue decided by individual states- not at the federal level.

    Now suppose you live in another nation that universally recognizes the rights of unborn children to live and be born without fear of termination at the hands of their mothers/fathers/society. Should you use your ample resources to undermine the sovereignty of that evil nation of baby killers? Should you stop at public scoldings or should you send monies secretly to agents of influence who would use those foreign monies in ways illegal to their own nation’s electoral laws? And what about organizing a coup with some handpicked military men, or even stage an invasion if you have a superior military yourself?

    Surely, a nation that kills 3000 children a day in a genocide of unborn, unwanted persons is akin to a democratically-elected Adolf Hitler led Nazi Germany? For even as Hitler attempted to export his brand of Nazi ideology and invade other countries with his military- this modern nation exports the propaganda in many varying forms to the rest of the world encouraging the practice of murdering the unwanted unborn. And it is noted that millions of dollars of private monies are coming from the demented citizenry of this nation to actually fund the killing places on an international level. This is all occuring with an apparent majority of these citizen’s support- these people must for the most part be hideous anti-child, anti-decency- whatever comes of them can only be seen as justified by any truly decent citizen of the world. Why should the good people of the world allow for such Hitler/Nazi-like tendencies to continue without doing something now?? I’m sure there are a few decent members of that society who don’t see the killing of their own little ones as a human right, or as a state’s right to choose- but they are so few and have no powerful position in the mainstream political and economic order- they should be overjoyed for a foreign power such as ours to take control of their situation and nation- and save the children!

  • Tim Shipe:

    The most salient characteristic of the Nazi regime in Germany was its revanchism and the consequent impossibility of developing a stable political equilibrium in Europe absent submission to or destruction of the regime. It presented a much more acute problem for foreign governments than would the incorporation of gross injustices in the mundane social practice of a foreign state.

  • “Surely, a nation that kills 3000 children a day in a genocide of unborn, unwanted persons is akin to a democratically-elected Adolf Hitler led Nazi Germany?”

    The analogy only works Tim if they are engaged in forced abortions, a la China. Legalized abortion is an abomination, but our primary problem is with people utilizing the law to slay their own offspring. Neither Hitler, nor Hamas, would rely on private actors to kill the Jews. All the killing would be by actions of the State. When a regime is dedicated to that type of genocide, I weep no tears over efforts to remove it.

  • Let me get this straight:
    Claim: if it is morally acceptable for the US to intervene against NAZI policy to exterminate Jews, it should be morally acceptable for the US to intervene against Hamas policy to exterminate Jews.
    Counterclaim: If it is not morally acceptable for a hypothetical pro-life nation to intervene against US policy to not prohibit private abortions, then it is not morally acceptable for the US to intervene against Hamas policy to exterminate Jews.
    Is that really the level of argument here?

  • Tim,

    I don’t think anyone here is disputing that it’s fairly natural for those in Gaza to resent the idea of the US messing with their elections or providing support to Fatah in relation to a coup.

    The thing I don’t get about the article, though, (and perhaps you don’t support this aspect of it) is that it seems to be taking both sides and no side. The author blames the US for pushing for elections because Hamas won, but it also blames the US for seeking to leverage Hamas out of power again after the election.

    Yet if the US has simply not encouraged elections in the first place, then Hamas would not have come into power since Fatah wasn’t scheduling open elections.

    Then the author both blames the US for cutting off aid money to the PA because Hamas was elected, and also blames the US for giving aid money to Fatah to fight Hamas. But if the US had not encouraged elections, and had not stopped giving aid money in the first place, than Fatah would have been free to use the money to buy weapons and keep Hamas out of power via kidnapping, assassination, torture and street fighting — which is pretty much how Fatah and Hamas were mixing it up in the first place during the time when Fatah wasn’t holding elections because they weren’t “ready”.

    Now, if the answer is simply that the Palestinians would rather be left alone to have elections or coups or civil wars or whatever occurs, but without the US having a hand in it — which I would certainly understand that. On the other hand, cynical though this may sound, there are some benefits to being a region that the major first world powers are constantly sticking their noses into. The Palestinians have been in a state of recurring strife with the Israelis for sixty years now, and in that struggle they’re massively out-gunned. If the Middle East was an area that no one paid much attention to (like Chechnya or Congo or Sudan or Somalia) would the situation of the Palestinians be better or worse?

    Because there’s so much scrutiny on the area, if the Palestinians are able, somehow, to get some leaders who care more about them than about greed and violence, there are a lot of people who would very much like to see them become a peaceful and state. Israel and Ireland are both good examples of countries which made the transition very quickly from being terrorist states fighting much stronger regional powers to accepted members of the international community.

  • Well, guys, let’s not give the Allies too much credit, either. If the Nazis had never attacked any of their neighbors, but had simply pursued the Final Solution quietly within their borders, it strikes me as doubtful that anyone would have fought a war simply to end the holocaust — at least not till it was far too late.

    It’s the fact that Germany attacked their neighbors that ended in their being fought and defeated.

    The beef people have with Hamas is not that they include many anti-Jewist fanatics among their ranks — it that they tend to launch rockets at the country next door. If they kept things within their borders, the “land for peace” thing would have worked.

  • Perhaps Darwin, although I would note that Sir Winston Churchill was tireless in raising the persecution of the Jews throughout the 1930s in his indictment of Nazi Germany, as he sounded the alarm to a Britain still shell-shocked from World War I. He was joined in this, interestingly enough, by two Englishmen sometimes accused of anti-Semitism: G.K. Chesterton, until his death in 36, and Hilaire Belloc. There were others speaking out in England and elsewhere. Pius XII of course had some involvement in an anti-Hitler plot in January of 1940. If WW2 taught us nothing else, I suspect it is the folly of regarding the type of persecution that Hitler unleashed upon the Jews as ever being simply an internal matter. That, and that when a government has a long record of calling for the extermination of a group, do not be surprised that they will act upon it when they have the power to do so.

  • That, and that when a government has a long record of calling for the extermination of a group, do not be surprised that they will act upon it when they have the power to do so.

    So very very true Don.

  • I certainly agree that some people saw what the Nazis were up to, Don. But it wasn’t till the war started and the Germans were almost to the Channel that Churchill was actually called on to form a government. I fear he would have remained a voice in the wilderness if the Nazis had not actually invaded a British ally.

    That said: As I think about it, Tim, I should apologize for pushing the Nazi analogy further. The 30s being a period that particularly fascinates me (and rejecting the theories that are along the lines of: Ordinary Germans supported the National Socialists because they were eeeeeviiiiil) I’m particularly interested in the question of what pushes people to support extremist/militarist political factions which end up driving them into situations that only hurt them more — but as the “Goodwin’s law” point underscores, usually when Nazi’s are brought up in a conversation it’s because someone is trying to claim that a group of people are so lost to hate that one doesn’t need to think of them as human.

    And I recognize that by bringing up your views on this topic here, it’s already enough like facing a firing squad without terms like “Nazi” being discussed.

  • Darwin,

    I think there were about 800,000 Jews in Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland ca. 1930. Per William Rubenstein, around 360,000 Jews emigrated from Germany during the years running from 1933 to 1939. Absent the war, < 5% of the Jewish population of Europe would have accessible to the SS, so no 'final solution'.

  • When a country faces economic and social stressors, you can have spikes of transient atavism in the political sphere. David Duke’s career in Louisiana during the years running from 1989-93 would be a minor example. The 2d incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan, which had 4,000,000 members in 1924, a quarter that in 1930, and was formally dissolved in 1944, would be another. The Nazi Party was inconsequential in Germany in 1928 and nostalgic parties even more so in the post-war period; their Austrian counterparts were a modest minority readily contained by the Dollfuss-Schuschnigg ministries. One can readily imagine a counter-factual history which would have certain contingencies breaking the other way and the Nazi Party rapidly imploding. They lost support in the last parliamentary election held before Hitler was appointed Chancellor.

    What is disconcerting in comparison is that the — uh – ambitions of Arab particularists of various strains have abided for many decades now.

  • But it is perfectly fine to suggest the Palestinians are like Nazis.

    When you consider that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was Hitler’s guest in Berlin during WWII, that there were Palestinian SS troops, and that “Mein Kampf” is a permanent best-seller on the West Bank (and indeed, throughout the Arab world), I don’t see why Henry considers this some sort of outlandish comparison.

    Godwin’s Law is in effect when you compare people who really aren’t Nazis to Nazis. When you compare people who enthusiastically embrace the goal of making the world Juden-frei to people who enthusiastically embrace the goal of making the world Juden-frei, I call that – an apples-to-apples comparison.

  • I think there were about 800,000 Jews in Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland ca. 1930. Per William Rubenstein, around 360,000 Jews emigrated from Germany during the years running from 1933 to 1939. Absent the war, < 5% of the Jewish population of Europe would have accessible to the SS, so no 'final solution'.

    I suppose, to the extent it would have been easy to simply drive all the Jews out of Germany and Austria, that’s so. (Actually, as I recall, it wasn’t until part way into the war that it was decided for sure to exterminate the Jews. Prior to that, deporting them somewhere suitably out of the way, I believe Madagascar was considered, was considered by the Nazis.)

    On the other hand, I imagine that if all Jews left the Middle East, the anti-Jewish feeling in Hamas would die off pretty soon there after. It’s hard to hate someone who’s not around.

  • It’s hard to hate someone who’s not around.

    I wouldn’t bet on it. Anti-semitism is still alive and kicking in Europe, which now has very few Jews. One of the truly noxious anti-Semites I “met” on the Internet a few years back was from Wyoming. Are there enough Jews in Wyoming to form a synagogue? Yet he knew all about them, without ever having met one in the flesh.

    Just as there sure seems to be a fair number of fundamentalists living in notably non-Catholic areas who know all about the evils of the Pope and Catholicism although they meet Catholics seldom or never.

  • Well guys my impression taken from first hand observation and from the opinions of the Catholics who are actually living in the Holy Land- overwhelmingly the impression I take away is one that is radically different from the positions you hold- it makes me feel ashamed because the Catholic Church is supposed to be a universal, global brotherhood- what I find here is that most of the American Catholics here and elsewhere are so enamored with the propaganda that comes from non-Catholic sources. It seems that no one here wants to take the Palestinian Catholic viewpoint on the subject of Israel-Palestine- I’m not sure what to make of this- some sense of superiority on the part of Americans in general- you really feel a kinship with secular Jews more than Catholic Arabs? I don’t know what else it is because when facts are presented from a Palestinian viewpoint- even from the Latin Patriarch in the Holy Land- these facts and views are immediately dismissed by this crowd-

  • I’m going to move on to other issues because I feel a sick sense of being an alien in alien territory like being on a pro-abortion site and trying to present a case for the unborn- I’m kicking the dirt off my sandals on this issue on this blog in search of another front where there is at least a chance of finding common ground- there is always the easy pro-life zone- it seems to be the one place I can converse with loud and proud conservatives and not experience that sense of dread knowing what is around the next corner- a huge disconnect of mind and heart. These issues may be prudential issues but real people are being killed over them so I am deadly serious about the differences of opinion but I don’t have the time to give these things the necessary documentation to refute the overwhelming number of naysayers- I wasn hoping to attract more of my like-minded brothers and sisters to help make the case while I take care of my 3 little ones and my very pregnant wife- but alas the debate never got off the ground so I’m checking out- do few things but do them well- I can’t do this debate on my own right now- I would suggest maybe taking in Deal Hudson’s reporting- he is a devout conservative and has had lot’s of contact with Holy Land Catholics in the past few years- I have found him to be very informative- you may want to check out his reports at insidecatholic.com or email him about the Palestinians- part of the problem I do find is that the Palestinians for the most part have not defending themselves very vigorously here in the U.S.- some times it seems like I am pulling more weight on this issue than many American Catholic Palestinians- maybe they are afraid to speak out publicly? I know they have strong views when I speak to them privately- so this is a bit of a mystery- I admire the fight in those Jews who support the Israeli position here in the U.S.. I like to model my own activism on their example- even as I disagree with their position.

  • For the stray open-mind that may be reading this- for more on Middle East issues from an Arab Catholic witness- check out Monsignor Labib Kobti’s excellent web site http://www.al-bushra.org God Bless, God please bring justice to the peoples of the Middle East and the Holy Land in particular- this scandal of violence, injustice and indifference must conclude- God Willing

  • Tim,

    I recognize that this is a tough topic in a tough venue for you, so feel free not to respond to this, but I’m trying to bridge some understanding here if possible. (Grabbing a moment while my own pregnant wife is keeping the four kids under control.)

    – Do your Palestinian Christian friends agree that Hamas (and the fact that they managed to get 56% of the vote) is part of the problem, with their rocket attacks on Israel? For instance, with Northern Ireland my first instinct was always to blame the Brits for the impact their actions were having on the Catholic population — but at the same time I loathed the IRA and considered them the instigators.

    – I certainly think that living with and talking with your Palestinian friends, you probably have a better understanding than most of us as to what the impact of Israeli actions are on ordinary, non-militant Palestinians. However, do you think it’s possible that, especially given that travel is pretty locked down and news media is all controlled by one side or the other, ordinary Palestinians may often rather less appreciation for the attacks inflicted on Israel which motivate Israeli actions? For instance, on the flip side, I used to work closely with several Jews who’d grown up in Israel, and could tell stories about taking shelter during rocket attacks and seeing the carnage left by suicide bombings. Obviously, formed by this, they tended to be in favor of very militant responses to Palestinian attacks — since they were familiar with the Israeli side of the picture, which the reprisals were in “the other guy’s” territory. Might this same effect not actually make Palestinian opinion rather biased?

  • Good post, DC. I don’t doubt Tim’s sincerity or his attachment to his Palestinian Catholic friends, but it frankly, disturbs me that he appears to see it as a matter of “rooting for our tribe.”

    Rachel Corrie has gotten a tremendous amount of publicity. But she’s very far from being the only Rachel who has been killed in Israel. Here are some Rachels who had no plays written about them or ships named after them:

    RACHEL Thaler, aged 16, was blown up at a pizzeria in an Israeli shopping mall. She died after an 11-day struggle for life following a suicide bomb attack on a crowd of teenagers on 16 February 2002.

    Even though Thaler was a British citizen, born in London, where her grandparents still live, her death has never been mentioned in a British newspaper.

    Rachel Levy, 17, blown up
    in a Jerusalem grocery store

    Rachel Charhi, 36, blown up
    while sitting in a café

    Rachel Gavish, 50, killed with her
    husband and son while at home

    Rachel Kol, 53, who worked for
    20 years in the neurology lab at
    Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital,
    murdered with her husband in a
    drive-by shooting by the Fatah
    al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, in
    July 2005 (in the midst of a
    supposed Palestinian truce)

    Rachel Ben Abu, 16, killed with
    her teenage friends by a suicide
    bomber at the Netanya shopping
    mall, in July 2005 (in the midst
    of a supposed Palestinian truce)

    Rachel Shabo, 40, murdered with
    her three sons aged 5, 13 and 6,
    while sitting at home

    Should we not care or sympathize with those deaths because those women were Jews and not Catholics?

    http://www.tomgrossmedia.com/TheForgottenRachels.html

    Of course, the link is from a non-Catholic source and so, I suppose, can be dismissed as Zionist propaganda.

    Yes, I realize innocents have, tragically, been killed on the other side too. And the Arab Christians there are in a very difficult bind. If the Arabs laid down their arms tomorrow, there would be peace. If the Israelis did so, they would be slaughtered pitilessly, right down to the last infant. I firmly believe that, and that thought really does kinda bother me, even though they’re not my tribe.

  • Darwin- I really appreciate your effort to understand- I do think that American Palestinians as well Americans here now from Israel will have some obvious points-of-view- it helped me in formulating my own view to spend time with both Palestinians in a village 1/3 muslim, 1/3 Catholic, 1/3 Orthodox, and then a few weeks in West Jerusalem living with an American with a Russian Emigree wife. This was in the early 90’s during a lull after the first intifada which was truly serious overkill by the Israelis- and I went into the West Bank and saw what occupation looked like in Hebron- the Israeli military was there to police the Palestinians- something like 100,000 of them so that a couple of hundred of extremist settlers could set up shop and take over some Arab homes and establishments- this was rubbed in the Palestinian faces every day- I was supposed to take a U.S. AID job teaching English there and I turned it down because I really thought that it would be tough for some Palestinians not to respond to me with violence in their frustration.

    The facts as I saw then and have read more extensively about ever since- is that no matter if Palestinians respond collectively without violence- they do not get rewarded with a true statehood on the 1967 border lines- it seems obvious to me that Israel’s leadership has simply been buying time to move more settlers into West Bank and East Jerusalem- and when they provoke violent responses like when they assassinate some Palestinian or build up some settlement- then they respond with overwhelming and extreme force- look at the numbers of Palestinians killed over the years and especially during intifada times- how many suicide bombers were there back during the first intifada in 1987? If Israel were to give to the Palestinians what has been set forth by the UN resolutions and then continued to receive the suicide attacks of rocket attacks- then I would say- yes- this is self-defense time- I would even agree that the US should make their defense of Israel a part of the peace agreement that gives the Palestinians their WEst Bank/East Jerusalem/Gaza State and gives monetary repayment to those Palestinians forced out during the 48 War- recall that as part of geneva conventions you cannot permanently settle on lands taken during war.

    Now here is Pat Buchanan on the Gaza situation: http://www.lewrockwell.com/buchanan/buchanan138.html

  • Donna- I did not see your response when I was writing one to Darwin- I am in agreement that civilian deaths all around are horrible- that is where my deepest concern begins and ends- we differ as to who is primarily to blame for the root causes of all the violence, and also what steps should we take with our American resources and clout to do everything we can to bring an end to these tragic circumstances.

    If you look back to the First uprising by the Palestinians from 1987-1993 the First Intifada- and here is a link to Wikipedia on that- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Intifada

    You find that the Palestinians were responding to Israel’s dominance and some extreme examples of violence, and that in the beginning the Palestinian citizens responded on their own with many acts of non-violent protests, and with youths mostly throwing rocks and such- the Israeli response was not to stop and listen to the just complaints for the need to allow the Palestinian people a homeland of their own to address the situation of the post 1967 borders whereupon the Palestinians of Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem were placed under Israeli occupation- instead of taking the clue that the long term peace depended upon granting autonomy to the Palestinians- Israel instead decided to try to break down the Palestinians at every level- brutal tactics, and increasing Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories just heaped gasoline on the fire and was also illegal by international legal standards- you cannot permanently settle your folks on land taken during a war- and this is exactly what Israel did and actually has continued to do for reasons that appear to indicate that they hope to one day create a duplication of the American experience with the Native Americans- squeeze them out or put them into little tribal land reservations- this strategy is what I believe is the leading cause of the violence putting the Israeli and Palestinians into a quagmire of repeated violent cycles. This has not historically been a Muslim Jihad thing if you just look at the history of the Palestinian people and their leadership- it threatens to become such with the emergence of Hamas as a new model of extreme Palestinian response to the extreme position of Israel’s establishment. If you choose to see all of this as a Hamas-Jihad problem I would suggest that you have come late to the game- I was in the area in the early 90’s and the Palestinians at that time were a mix of secularists, Christians, and Muslims, Hamas had been initially a group supported by Israel to drive a wedge between palestinians who were led by mostly secularists along the PLO model- so don’t give me the storyline that the Palestinians are just a bunch of Islamists who only know about killing infidels- that fiction is one that will only serve the cause of more and perpetual killing of future civilians.

  • Tim, DC and Donna: I was dimayed by the orginal discussion attempting which attempted to paint the issue by tossing around the “nazi” label. Louis Black’s recent contribution at the Daily show to critique this type of politically bantaring hit it home for me to dismiss this type of political arguement.

    But the conversation has thankfully moved on to address the real issues of suffering and our need to create policies of compassion. Our Catholic religious community, the Passionist, has a house in Bethany and in 2005 “The Wall” was built through our property. Priority must be given for the population that is in the midst of suffering must be listened to. Scripture reminds us that the cries of the suffering goes up to heaven. If we do not tend to these systemic forms of violence then God will tend to us for the role we did or did play in tending to our brothers and sisters in the holy land.

    Both sides of the wall have faced great pain and violence. The Palestinian community suffer from a brutal occupation. The Israeli community suffer acts of terrorism to their communities. What makes the situation difficult is that neither side wants to budge. Groups have tried to bridge this ethnic divide and the Jewish voice for Peace stands out for their great work in attempting to reconcile this ethnic violence.

    Our community has a vested interest for peace. Many of our Catholic community comes from Palestine and violence againts the Palestinians makes no distinguishing difference between Muslim and Catholic Arabs. Not that a policy for peace should but of course it is only human to be concerned primarily with ones own family member. To address this concern our UN NGO, Passionist International, has taken to work with other Catholic NGO’s to go back to the legal international framework that started this entire issue. The violence that both sides face is systemic and that system is particularly rooted in the international organization called the UN. It behooves the United States to return the international body where this situation originated and to again work at empowering this body to force both sides to come to the table by applying real international pressure (primarilly through economic pressure) If Israel knew that their military financial subsidy (which is enormous) is about to be touched don’t you think their tone would change. Likewise if the Palestinian people thought for one second that they would get an actual chance to have a real and secure state that their own political tone would not change. I am not a betting man, but I would money on that possibility. A possibility that no one has wanted to really approach because the self interest of so many players have gotten in the way. Below I will share the position for Passionist International.

  • Freedom Flotilla and Israel’s Attack:
    The attack by Israeli forces on a flotilla carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza might have left more than 10 activists dead. The survivors, mostly Turkish, have been taken to Ahshod, where dozens have been hospitalized.

    As Christians, we tend to naturally sympathize with the Jewish people because of the connection of Christian origins with Judaism, and because of the suffering the Jewish people endured with the Holocaust. Post September 11, we also tend to view terrorist organizations will little sympathy and therefore can identify with Israel, feeling it is justified in its actions of blockading Gaza. So perhaps some important clarifications are needed to gain some perspective on what is happening.

    It is true that innocents, including children, have been killed on and by both sides in the conflict that has raged between Palestinians and Israelis, and both sides have violated international law in doing so. But the violence by Israelis and Palestinians does not have the same roots, nor are the 2 sides culpable in the same way.

    Palestine has been under military occupation for some time, and this in itself is illegal. All Israeli violence in the occupied territories stands in violation of international law – specifically the Geneva Conventions that identify the obligations of an occupying power to protect the occupied population.

    The blockade is a de facto occupation of the territory, asserting control over the land and halting vital aid. The amount of material and food provided is inadequate, precipitating a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Building materials such as cement are disallowed. Occasionally, Israel will dispense with strictness and show a tempered quality of mercy, but given the destruction of homes in Gaza and the need for building materials, that quality is thin.

    Palestinian violence is the violence of resistance, and has escalated as conditions of life and loss of hope breed greater desperation. It is carried out primarily by individual Palestinians and those linked to armed factions, and is aimed mostly at soldiers and settlers in the occupied territories. The rocket attacks in recent years have targeted civilians and are themselves a violation of international law. But the overall right of an occupied population to resist a foreign military occupation, including through use of arms against military targets, is recognized as lawful under international law.

    Israel has every right to arrest and try anyone attempting to attack civilians inside the country. But it does not have the right to occupy a neighboring country, not block aid to the civilian population. And, if it is serious about ending attacks on its own civilians, it must be serious about ending that occupation.

    It is an important fact to remember that Israel’s admission to the United Nations in 1948 was conditioned on its willingness to abide by General Assembly resolution 194, which states, “Refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return,” something Israel has never complied with.

    Also, Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the 1967 war, identifies “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.” That is understood to mean that the territory Israel captured by war must be returned; that to keep it is inadmissible.

    Unfortunately the combination of the U.S.-Israeli “special relationship” and the vast superiority of Israel’s power in the region, with the 5th most powerful nuclear arsenal in the world and one of the most powerful conventional militaries anywhere, means that other countries in the region and around the world will tend to limit their diplomatic imagination to what they think Israel will accept. That means acquiescence to continued U.S. control of any negotiations. And here in lies the danger, for the U.S. position has never placed international law and U.N. resolutions at its centre.

    Branding activists as terrorists and denying the human situation in Gaza will not help an Israeli cause that is proving more alienating the longer it persists. If there is an inquiry into this incident, it will have to be wide ranging and international.

  • Thanks John for your extensive comments- we will see if anyone who spoke out earlier will take up your challenging perspective.

    As for my own use of the “Nazi” comparables- I did so only to show that such linkages can be cover almost any political situation where there is a conflict with Jewish involvement if one wants to play the Holocaust card in the Israel-Palestine Conflict- but it could also be applied to any situation where there are mass killings taking place with seeming public indifference of support- like the Germans who mostly accepted Hitler’s plans, or much closer to home- Americans who don’t see or don’t want to see the humanity of human lives being terminated in abortion clinics- some 50 million lives according to reports I’ve heard- so when I see the Palestinians- Hamas in particular called out as Hitler Wanna-Be’s- I think that is more than a bit much- it is way to tough to separate out how much of Hamas’ rage against the Jews is really just rage against the Machine of Israeli occupation and assassinations et al. And we have to make clear that our own society is full of contradictions such as our stated ideals of democratic self-determination and aversion to foreign influences- and then taking on the right to intervene in all kinds of ways in places all over the world without really defining how our interests are coinciding with the interests befitting a majority Christian nation.

    Finally- to Donna et al- it is important to place special interest on Catholic Palestine and take care to help with special concern the Catholic Palestinian community- this is something that the Church has always upheld- one of the defenses of the Pope during WWII was that he was compelled to attempt to defend his flock wherever they may be- the reason being is that for the Church to fulfill her evangelical mission She must spread and inculturate everywhere- The Church implanted first by foreign missionaries, is to become impregnated with indigenous priests and bishops- this is what has happened in the Palestinian community- as evidenced by the Latin Patriarchs in the Holy Land- we need to take special interest in listening to their cries, their perspectives must be taken deep, deep into our consciences especially when they are calling out their American Catholic brothers and sisters- I am and I have been listening very intently- I don’t believe that many of the commentators here at American Catholic are quite getting the significanse of this necessary point of contact between Catholic communities. If we are indeed concerned over the possibility of a global radical Islamist movement- then we should do everything in our power to assist the smaller Catholic communities in the Middle East- they are the seeds of hope for the future- to be peacemakers, to be the bridge between peoples- Middle Eastern and Western. Now according to Fr. Mitch Pacwa of EWTN, he estimates that in Israel upwards to 80% of the citizens of Israel who are “Jewish” are actually atheistic or agnostic- so “Jewish” has come to indicate something cultural/biological for some and not really connected to a belief in the Torah/Judaism. This is relevant since we are always debating the Israel-Palestine conflict along the lines of how being on the side of Israel is to be on the side of those closest to us and our way of living and believing- this would be true only if by “we” we are referring to the secular liberal American society- which I don’t think most conservative Catholic commentators are suggesting. So this is just more food for thought for those who have taken a hard position in favor of “Israel- good guy- yesterday and today- Palestinians- violent- not appreciative of Israel’s good faith offers- Islamic radicals bent on wiping out all Jews- just like Hitler”. I will continue to challenge those who pen such beliefs at every turn- they may feel like they and Israel are receiving so much unfair criticism all the time- but just follow the money and the military hardware- Israel has received billions of American public and private dollars every single year for decades- Israel has received American political support in international bodies at every turn as well- American Catholic Israel supporters are hardly the “Davids” in this debate- they are the all-time, big-time, winners if one judges by the facts of where all the American establishment clout has been directed- short answer- it hasn’t been to support the Palestinian Catholics and their leadership’s views on how Americans should act in the Holy Land. I stand with my brother and sister Catholics in the Holy Land- if you wish as Catholics to stand with the mostly secularized Israelis- that is your call- I’m just here to challenge your stated positions and check your influence as Catholic witnesses who are actually harming the Catholic peoples of the Holy Land- contradictions abound here at American Catholic.

  • No sooner did I post the above – then I read that the Vatican shares the perspective that religious freedom is vital in our relationships with Muslim countries- as I wrote a blog entry about a couple of weeks ago about- and also blame is attached to Israel for undermining the Catholic community in the Holy Land- read the article for yourself at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100606/ap_on_re_eu/eu_cyprus_pope

  • Tim,

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply, I hope that you’ll feel that I live up to the tone in responding to it.

    I must admit, if I’m understanding your description of when Palestinians would see as a suitable point to consider attacks against Israel unacceptable:

    If Israel were to give to the Palestinians what has been set forth by the UN resolutions and then continued to receive the suicide attacks of rocket attacks- then I would say- yes- this is self-defense time- I would even agree that the US should make their defense of Israel a part of the peace agreement that gives the Palestinians their WEst Bank/East Jerusalem/Gaza State and gives monetary repayment to those Palestinians forced out during the 48 War

    it gives me very little hope that there will ever be peace in the region. It represents pretty much a best-case demand, and I can’t think of any situation in history where insurgent nationalists have received that. (Also, a few elements are notably one-sided: I don’t imagine anyone is stepping forward to compensate the equal number of Jews expelled from surrounding Arab countries in the ’48 war.)

    Consider, by comparison, the way the Irish won independence:

    During the Irish War of Independence of 1919-1921 (which was only the most recent of centuries of Irish rebellion against British rule), the Irish civilian population suffered frequent reprisals from British military/police organizations such as the Black and Tans. One egregious example was the football massacre on Bloody Sunday, when in reprisal for the targeted assassination of 13 British intelligence officers and military personnel, British auxiliaries sent to look for IRA gunmen at a soccer match ended up firing randomly into the crowd with rifles, pistols, and a machine gun mounted on an armoured car.

    In the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921, the Irish delegation led by Michael Collins got far less than they had hoped for. They sought a united and independent Irish republic — they got an Irish Free State, which had to acknowledge the British crown, and they didn’t get Ulster.

    In many ways, perhaps, it was the same as the situation that Arafat found himself in the Camp David Summit. Fortunately, however, Collins was a much greater man than Arafat. The treaty was put up for a public referendum, and Collins (who had won popularity through his leadership of the IRA during the war) supported it publicly.

    When the treaty was in fact passed, a significant minority of the revolutionaries refused to accept it, and the Irish Civil War began. Irish Free State leaders who until months ago had seen their comrades tortured or put before firing squads by the British, had to turn to the British for arms and supplies and fight their own former comrades in order to secure the imperfect free state.

    That was the price for freedom and peace. Once the Irish had shown themselves as a peaceful and responsible neighbor, and once the wounds felt on both sides had healed, there was no violence when Ireland declared full sovereignty in 1937, or left the commonwealth in 1949.

    Keenly though the Palestinians feel their injustices, it’s important to understand that the Israelis also believe themselves in the right — and given the amount of blood spilled at this point there will never be peace if the condition for stopping the violence is that the Palestinians get everything they want. One can only pray that there will someday be a Palestinian leader with the moral and personal courage of a Collins (who was himself killed in the Civil War).

    recall that as part of geneva conventions you cannot permanently settle on lands taken during war.

    I probably shouldn’t bring this up, since it’s a tangential point, but this strikes me as an example of how the UN and modern international agreements are sometimes more an obstacle to peace than a move towards it. The fact is, wars have, throughout history, resulted in the acquisition of territory. And indeed, there’s a certain irony that it was enacted in 1949, as from 1945 to 1950, the Allied powers had set new boundaries in Europe as a result of being the victors in the war, and engaged in the largest act of ethnic cleansing in recorded history: deporting around 14 million ethnic Germans from Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania and the Netherlands in order to make the ethnic makeup of Europe match the newly drawn borders and assure that a resurgent Germany would never again justify aggression by claiming they were only “liberating” the German-speaking populations in neighboring countries.

    By holding out the promise that property loss 60+ years ago will somehow be made right at some point in the future, if only people will hang around in refugee status indefinitely, I think our international community probably makes nasty conflicts of ethnic nationalism (such as that in the Middle East) even worse than they would otherwise be.

  • Tim Shipe,

    The Arab leadership passed on three clear opportunities to obtain an Arab state on portions of the former mandatory Palestine demographically dominated by Arabs. That, without a lot of deal-breaking paraphenalia, is simply not a political goal of theirs.

  • The highest ranking Catholic in the Holy Land (just recently retired), has been the Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah (lpj.org). The Patriarch has been pleading for years that American Catholics need to work to change the American policy of financing Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. He has stated that: “ The State of Israel encompasses 78% of historical Palestine…the remaining 22% was occupied by Israel in 1967, and this is all Palestinians want- a small part of what they had before 1947. They want that 22% to be free of occupation, all of it. Israel cannot have both things- security and occupation. They must give up occupation for security.” (As quoted in the St. Anthony Messenger). The Church has stood behind the Geneva Conventions regarding the right of people displaced by war to return to their homes, and the UN Resolutions 194, 224, and 478, as well as Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of human rights.

    I’ll stand by the Holy Land Catholics- if American Catholic commentators want to deny them and write off their view of their own immediate situation then that’s your deal- I can only urge you do some Deal Hudson type of research instead of relying on whatever dubious sources you have been up to this point- has anyone commenting here actually spent any time in a Palestinian city, town, or village?

  • By holding out the promise that property loss 60+ years ago will somehow be made right at some point in the future, if only people will hang around in refugee status indefinitely, I think our international community probably makes nasty conflicts of ethnic nationalism (such as that in the Middle East) even worse than they would otherwise be.

    Exactly so. Since 1948, the Palis have lived as human title deeds on the West Bank and Gaza. That was not done out of concern for the Palestinians’ well-being (I believe their fellow Arabs could care less) but solely out of a desire to hurt the Israelis.

    Tim, again, you might discount this source because it’s not Catholic, but the renowned Israeli novelist Amos Oz wrote back in 2002 that he recalled his parents telling him that in the Poland of the 1930’s, graffiti abounded saying “Jews to Palestine.” Now graffiti writers in Europe scrawl (and American journalists say): “Jews out of Palestine.”

    Amos said “We are not supposed to be in Europe. We are not supposed to be in Palestine. The message is: don’t be.

    Where, Tim, do you think the Jews should be?

  • This article appeared in the Asian Times:

    It may seem odd to blame the Jews for the misery of Middle East Christians, but many Christian Arabs do so – less because they are Christians than because they are Arabs. The Christian religion is flourishing inside the Jewish side. Only 50,000 Christian Arabs
    remain in the West Bank territories, and their numbers continue to erode. Hebrew-speaking Christians, mainly immigrants from Eastern Europe or the Philippines, make up a prospective Christian congregation of perhaps 300,000 in the State of Israel, double the number of a decade ago.

    The brief flourishing and slow decline of Christian Arab life is one of the last century’s stranger stories. Until the Turks killed the Armenians and expelled the Greeks, Orthodoxy dominated Levantine. The victorious allies carved out Lebanon in 1926 with a Christian majority, mostly Maronites in communion with Rome. Under the Ottomans, Levantine commerce had been Greek or Jewish, but with the ruin of the Ottomans and the founding of Lebanon, Arab Christians had their moment in the sun. Beirut became the banking center and playground for Arab oil states.

    The French designed Lebanon’s constitution on the strength of a 1932 census showing a Christian majority, guaranteeing a slight Christian advantage in political representation. With the Christian population at barely 30% of the total and 23% of the population under 20 – Lebanon’s government refuses to take a census – Lebanon long since has lost its viability. The closing of the Christian womb has ensured eventual Muslim dominance.

    Precise data are unobtainable, for demographics is politics in Lebanon, but Lebanon’s Christians became as infertile as their European counterparts. Muslims, particularly the impoverished and marginalized Shi’ites, had more babies. In 1971, the Shi’ite fertility rate was 3.8 babies per female, against only 2 for Maronite Christians, or just below replacement. Precise data are not available, but Christian fertility is well below replacement today.

    Lebanon was a Catholic project from the outset, and the Vatican’s thinking about the region is colored nostalgia for a dying Christian community and a searing sense of regret for what might have been. If only the State of Israel hadn’t spoiled everything, many Arab Christians think, the Christian minority would have wielded enormous influence in the Arab world. It is true that in many Arab countries, Christians comprised a disproportionate share of merchants and intellectuals. But the same was true of the 130,000 Jews of Iraq before 1947, who owned half the businesses in Baghdad.

    Contrary to the Arab narrative, the peak of Arab Christian influence occurred a generation after the founding of the State of Israel, when Boutros Boutros-Ghali became Egypt’s foreign minister in 1977, and Tariq Aziz became Foreign Minister of Iraq in 1983. In fact, the founding of the State of Israel propelled Christian Arabs into leadership positions in Arab governments. The Arab monarchies installed by the British in Egypt, Jordan and Iraq failed miserably in their efforts to crush the new Jewish State in the 1947-1948 War of Independence. Young military officers replaced the old colonial regimes with nationalist governments, starting with Gamal Abdel Nasser’s 1952 coup in Egypt.

    Nationalism opened the door of political leadership to Arab Christians. The Syrian Christian Michel Aflaq founded the Ba’ath party which later took power in Syria and Iraq. The rise of secular Arab movements with strong Christian influence was a response to the Arab failure to prevent the founding of the State of Israel. After the Turkish destruction of Orthodox Christian populations in the Levant, the Arab Christian elite – for centuries graced by not a single name the world remembers – saw its chance to shine. Lebanon, previously a backwater, and the pugnacious Maronite population, a marginal group except for their ties to France, improbably emerged as the focal point of Levantine Christianity.

    But Arab nationalism failed just as miserably as did the monarchies invented by the British after the Turks were thrown out. Having rolled the dice with Arab nationalism, Arab Christians were left with diminished leverage and declining numbers on the ground in the advent of political Islam. Both in politics and demographics, the Arab Christians largely had themselves to blame. Understandably, they find it more palatable to blame the Jews.

    A case in point is Father Samir Khalid Samir, a Jesuit of Egyptian Arab origin who prominently advises Pope Benedict XVI on Islam. I reviewed his fine book 111 Questions on Islam last March [1]. Samir is circulating what he calls a “Decalogue for Peace”, leaked August 9 on the website of veteran Vatican analyst Sandro Magister [2].

    According to Samir:
    The problem goes back to the creation of the state of Israel and the partition of Palestine in 1948 decided by the superpowers without taking into account the population already present in the (Holy) Land. There resides the real root of all the wars that followed. To repair a serious injustice committed in Europe against a third of the world Jewish population, Europe (supported by the superpowers) decided to commit a new injustice against the Palestinian population, who are innocent of the martyrdom of the Jews. The original decision-making was shaped largely as reparation by the superpowers for doing little or nothing to end a systematically organized persecution against the European Jews as a ‘race’.
    Samir’s plan includes international troops on Israel’s borders, recognition of the Palestinian right of return, an international commission to decide the future of Jerusalem – in short, what the Israelis would consider the end of their sovereignty and the liquidation of the Jewish State. That a prominent Vatican Islam expert would take such a stance speaks volumes about the power of nostalgia.

    There is not a single fact in place in Samir’s presentation.

    Leave aside the fact that the League of Nations in 1922 confirmed the object of the British mandate to establish a homeland for Jewish people in Palestine, and that preparations for the Jewish State were complete before World War II. Leave aside also the pope’s Biblical belief that the Jews are in the Land of Israel because God has commanded them to be there. The fact is that most Israelis, contrary to Samir, descend not from the Jews driven out of Europe by the Holocaust, but rather from Jews driven out of Arab countries after 1947.

    There were 600,000 Jews in Israel on the day of its founding; an additional 700,000 were expelled from Arab lands, including Iraq, where the Jews had lived for 1,000 years prior to the arrival of the Arabs. By expelling the Jews, the Arab countries created a population concentration in Israel that made possible the country’s emergence as a regional superpower. The results were an exchange of populations of roughly equal numbers, Palestinians leaving the new State of Israel and Jewish refugees arriving from Arab countries.

    No, Tim, I haven’t lived in or visited any Palestinian Christian communities. I haven’t lived in or visited any Israeli Jewish ones either. Have you ever considered that your closeness to Palestinian Catholics might be distorting your views a bit?

    Palestinian Christians might think they’ll get a better shake under Muslim Arab rule than under Israeli rule. The facts seem to point in a different direction.

  • Tim, your recommendation makes sense only under the assumption that American aid to Israel in an impediment to some sort of settlement. That aid gives the Jewish population the wherewithal for greater resistance, but that is not a problem for the United States and would not be much of a problem for the Arab population either if the Arab leadership and populace maintained a set of political goals which could be incorporated into a stable political equilibrium. They do not, and no amount of ‘research’ by Deal Hudson or gas from the Latin Patriarch are going to change that one bit.

    Why do the Jews have a state? Because they built one. What problem do you have in the Fertile Crescent? The entrepreneurial sector have other things to do with their lives than cope with the environment created by that region’s wretched political elite and emigrate – to the Gulf emirates, to the United States, to France. The process is most advanced on the West Bank and Gaza where the field has been left to capos, gangbangers, and ululating hags.

  • I have to say that I spent only two weeks in Israel and the West Bank. Went there with a Franciscan priest who lived there for 19 years. Met with both Israelis and Palestinians. Found both prejudiced in their own way. Felt hate towards the other by both. Israelis can be biased. Like American Catholics, so can Palestinian Catholics also be biased.

6 Responses to Video: Different Presidents, Different Responses

  • I’m not sure exactly what I’m supposed to deduce from this. I suppose your feelings on this greatly have to do with how you believe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ought to be concluded…

  • Anthony,

    Nice try at a straw man and outlandish speculation.

  • Actually I was being totally genuine.

    “Supporting the troops” often means supporting war, or THE war, at least.

    I “support the troops.” I want them home safely with their families, etc. But I can’t, in good conscience, support the ill-defined mission they’ve been handed (by both administrations).

    So, hey, no straw man or speculation intended. I just don’t understand the value of saying the military loved Bush (why? because he was folksy?) versus disdain for Obama (why? because of his likely indifference?).

    Again, I’m just trying to understand your point, which as you say, is supposed to speak for itself.

  • Agreement with Anthony. The video means nothing. Our military men and women are professionals, not adolescents. Their likes and dislikes of the chain of command is irrelevant. They follow orders. They do their jobs. And when they return home, hopefully they have a federal government that recognizes their sacrifices and compensates them fairly for it all.

    Since Tito’s point is vague, I’ll substitute mine:

    Support the Troops: bring them home.

  • This is comparing apples and bananas.

    The first the troops were at “stan at ease” and couldd make personal responses and the President came in with an informal style. The second the troops were at attention the President came in with a formal approach, being good Marines they stayed at attention until told to sit. I suspect one of the reasons the second was more formal was that the local command did not want an incident, while in the first they were not worried.

    The military like every one else tends to react to others by the amount of respect they perceive and the attitude toward them.

    No one ever doubted that President Bush has great respect for the military, and even if they disagreed with him they felt he was acting in what he believed was their interests.

    Despite efforts to the contrary President Obama projects what is easily perceived as an air of distain for the military. It would not be difficult for them, even when they agree, to suspect the his decisions have nothing to do their interests

    The conclusion drawn in the post is probably correct, but the video does not support it.

  • Protocol wise, the second speech entrance is the one that an APOLITICAL (demonstrated bias towards NEITHER political party or for that matter ANY political party)
    Professional, restrained, the stuff you see the officer corps doing more than the enlisted ranks.

    That said, there was and is an overwhelming difference between the two men, more so than between Clinton and either Bush. And for as much as Obama is compared to Carter, Carter DID serve in the Navy, whatever else, he and Reagen both took their duties as Commander in Chief seriously.

    Obama has more disdain for those in uniform than even Hilary Clinton ever had her first year in the White House with her husband,

Previewing President Obamas State of the Union Address

Wednesday, January 27, AD 2010

[Updates at the bottom of this post as of 1-27-2010 at 4:20pm CST]

Victimhood personified by a modern liberal of the Democratic Party.  Where is Harry “the BUCK stops here” Truman?

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3 Responses to Previewing President Obamas State of the Union Address

  • I am sure he will discuss his spending freeze proposal. Supposedly, he increased government spending by about 25% but only plans to freeze about 4% of his spending.

  • Maybe you should go back and read Ronald Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s first state of the union addresses. Did they personify Harry “The Buck Stops Here” Truman? I think not. They talked about where the country wason the day they gave their speeches in terms of how the country had gotten there – in other words, they looked back. So, Reagan and Bush 43 must have been cases of victimhood personified by “modern” conservatives of the Republican Party, don’t you think?

  • Linda,

    They talked about America in general.

    They didn’t cite the previous president’s name and blamed him for all the problems that they were still having.

Daniel Larison, Talking Sense

Monday, December 14, AD 2009

I’ve written about this before, but it’s nice to see Daniel Larison making the point with characteristic clarity in an interview with The Economist:

Iraq was also the policy that turned the public so sharply against President Bush prior to the 2006 mid-term elections, and those elections were and were correctly seen as a rejection of the war and Mr Bush’s handling of it. The war was the main issue of those elections, and the GOP lost control of Congress because it had identified itself completely with the war and its members in Congress continued to be its most vocal defenders. By national-security conservatives, I mean those members of the conservative movement who have a primary and overriding focus on foreign policy and national-security questions, and who typically take extremely hawkish positions. They were the leading advocates and cheerleaders for the invasion. Most movement conservatives supported the policy, but it was the national-security conservatives who drove the party into the ditch while the others went along for the ride.

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14 Responses to Daniel Larison, Talking Sense

  • Well, Larison was certainly wrong about the surge which he vehemently opposed and predicted would fail.

    http://larison.org/2007/01/27/to-oppose-servility/

    The war in Iraq was quite popular until the casualties began to mount and the Bush administration appeared to have no plan to win the conflict. That is death for popular support of a war. After Rumsfeld was finally dumped, Bush listened to Petraeus and carried out a war-winning plan, but by that time it was too late. I do think however that Republican unpopularity in 2006 had more to do with the accurate perception that Republicans had been profligate in spending in Washington. The Iraq War was a major secondary factor in 2006, but I do not think it played much of a role in 2008, an election in which the economic meltdown in September was devastating to Republicans. Then the Democrats took over the White House with broad majorities in Congress and demonstrated to the Republican amateurs how true pros in wasteful and feckless spending went about things.

  • I have a hard time accepting the idea that deficit spending was a significant factor in 2006. For one thing, the deficit spending was basically half of what it was in 2004 when Bush won re-election, and it was trending downwards in 2005, 2006 and 2007. As the deficit picture was improving, Bush’s approval ratings were sliding.

  • The Iraq War was probably the main reason for the GOP losses, but there were so many factors – scandals, deficits (yeah, they were going down, but the Bush-led GOP was seen as no longer living up to conservative principles economically), an unenergetic base (thanks to the previous point), fall-out from Katrina (which ties in with administrative incompetence in Iraq as well), etc.

  • The problem with blaming Republican defeats on excessive spending is that such spending went on for years and no one really cared. It was only when the party was already hurting because of Iraq that it became an issue.

  • The Republican Party never had but quite modest pluralities in both houses of Congress. With few exceptions, it is the norm for the President’s party to lose ground during midterm elections, most particularly during midterm elections held during a second presidential term (for whatever reason). It would have been a historical oddity had the Republicans retained Congress, without regard to the ambient concerns of the electorate.

    The article to which Mr. McClarey links is instructive. Unless I am mistaken, Mr. Larison’s time in the military approximates that of Madonna Ciccone. All of his formal education has been in pre-modern history or in the liberal arts at an institution which (as we speak) offers one (1) course in either military history or national security studies. The guy must be a hell of an autodidact. I see has been adding to his portfolio skills as a diviner of public opinion as well (and the results of his dowsing are that the general public’s irritation is a precise replica of his own – Frank Luntz, your consulting business is in danger).

  • “The problem with blaming Republican defeats on excessive spending is that such spending went on for years and no one really cared. It was only when the party was already hurting because of Iraq that it became an issue.”

    Much of the Republican base has always cared. Ross Perot used that to devastating effect against George Bush in 1992. George Bush with his “compassionate conservative” spending programs exacerbated the problem. Contra Larison the response to 9-11 and the seeming victory in Iraq in 2003 helped mask this problem in the 2002 and 2004 elections. When Iraq went South, disgruntled Republicans over spending saw no reason to turn out in 2006, and there was great dissatisfaction with McCain in 2008 and his support of the Bailout Swindle of 2008. The tea parties are merely an outward manifestation of a growing concern with fiscal folly that has been building for well over a decade. Republicans ran in 1994 as the party to bring fiscal sanity to Washingon, and initially they did to some extent. The years under Bush convinced too many Republicans that there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the parties on the issue of government spending. The Democrats this year have convinced many of those same Republicans that they were wrong.

  • Find me two people who voted Democrat in 2006 because the Republicans were spending too much.

  • Find me two people who voted Democrat in 2006 because the Republicans were spending too much.

    More likely, it would be people who abstained and added to the plurality of the Democrats by default.

  • Again, I don’t know that it was deficits per se, but rather a feeling that the GOP had lost its way generally on economics issues. As Art Deco noted, the primary impact there was influencing core GOP voters to stay home.

  • Well, maybe, but my guess is that it deficits were more of a second order effect. By 2006, Bush’s approval ratings had tanked, primarily because of Iraq (and Katrina). To say that deficits were the real problem or even a major one requies an explanation for

    1) Why Republican voters did turnout in 2004 when deficit spending was much higher, and why reductions in deficit spending between 04-06 convinced those voters to stay home.

    2) Why Republican voters were so different from the rest of the electorate that it wasn’t Iraq, Katrina, etc that depressed turnout when it pretty clearly was what drove most of the rest of the country.

    There’s not any way to prove this one way or the other, of course. But I think the fiscal irresponsibility account is pretty implausible as a primary driver, even if it undeniably is a first order consideration to a vocal but small contingent on the right (like, for instance, Ron Paul supporters). Most people don’t pay attention to politics much, and that’s certainly true of the deficit.

  • I have a feeling it was more of a “Change” election in 2006 than any one factor. It happens. It does nto seem fair but it is what it is.

    We should also recall in 2006 that “Joe” Lieberman” was target number one over the Iraq war and he won.

    What the various branches of the GOP and the conservative movement really hate to admit is that they were too busy fighting each other and calling each other RINOS. They seemed to have forgot there were democrat challengers. This nasty counterproductive scorched earth policy started happening around the Dubai Port controversy and just got worse. Add to that a few unfortunate scandals and the Washington Post making all out war on the VA GOP Senator and it was a bad day.

    Also another point. WE lost a ton of hispanic vote largely because we could not police our own on a highly emotional debate.

    Did the Iraq war play a role in some places. Perhaps but when I look at some blue dog victories that occured in other places the ansewer is no there.

  • Regarding fall out from Katrina. I really wonder how much that was a factor. I think on the whole the public was much more sophisticated about that. In Louisiana the GOP did not suffer for it from what I can tell. It did not show up in the Congressional races in the last two cycles

  • Larison’s argument assumes that the fiscal and defense conservatives are two separate teams.

    “Most movement conservatives supported the policy, but it was the national-security conservatives who drove the party into the ditch while the others went along for the ride.”

    That sounds like scapegoating. If all the hawks jumped off a bridge, the movement conservatives shouldn’t have followed them. In reality, hawks are movement conservatives. There may be some conservatives who promote military strength, fiscal soundness, or traditional social values more, but there’s too much overlap between their policies to identify many of them as single-issue conservatives.

    Furthermore, the invasion of Iraq didn’t harm the Bush Administration. The apparent failure in Iraq, along with the Mark Foley scandal, added to the natural midterm loss for the president’s party.

    The lack of Republican fiscal high ground was a major cause of their losses in 2008. And again, there weren’t economic conservatives who lost their way, or who are trying to spin old military failures to their advantage. The Party lost its way fiscally.

  • Y’all keep referring to Republican voters and who they voted for, I don’t get it. Republican voters always vote for Republicans. Republicans lose because non-Republican voters who tend to vote for Republican candidates may or may not vote for them depending on what they actually do.

    Iraq could have been over in 18 months if we fought it right. The problem was Rumsfeld and the liberal neo-cons that were extending the conflict for nefarious purposes. Compassionate conservatism was code for spending like Democrats to sway the liberal-leaning Hispanics because they are seen as the future of the party, since it is a forgone conclusion in Republican circles that blacks are lost to the murderous Democrats (responsible for the murder of a third of all conceived Negros over the last 40 years!). ANd white voters are being overrun by brown immigrants and lack of reproduction. This is all conventional thinking and it is wrong.

    Republicans only win by default because they are less bad than the Democrats. Of course a charismatic leader, an orchestrated economic crisis and non-conservative Republican stooge makes for a great way to intentionally lose an election and keep the money rolling in to ‘win’ next time. Gimme a break.

    There is hardly a difference between the two parties and most Americans are so ignorant of the purpose and intent of government that they will vote for the jerks that promise the most stuff or the idiots who promise not to let them, but let them anyway.

    This is a dying system, if it isn’t dead yet. How do the Republicans recover?

    Oddly enough it will be the same way the Church will. Ditch the lying, sniveling, liberal relativism and honestly stick to principles of truth and Truth. Do the right (pun intended) thing especially when it is unpopular. And be doers of the conservative principles.

    Republicans have the same choice to make as the two sons from yesterday’s Gospel reading. Are they going to keep saying the are conservative and act like slightly less liberal Democrats, or are they actually going speak moderately and behave in a principled, conservative manner?

    Republicans lose because they lie, Demoncrats win because they will double your freebies if you vote for them within the next 15 minutes. Call now for more free crap.

Obamaville Shanty Towns: Tent Cities Sprouting Up Across America

Monday, December 14, AD 2009

As the recession continue to take its toll on our fellow Americans, rendering more and more of them homeless, tent cities have begun sprouting up across this great country.  It would not be fair to blame President Obama for the predicament that our nation is in, but President Obama has done nothing to help the situation.

President Obama’s ‘stimulus package’ only rewarded government contractors with more spending.  It is also correct to point out that former President George W. Bush’s ‘stimulus package’ did nothing more than President Obama’s spending bill.

Small businesses and the private sector in general got almost zero benefit for either porkulus spending bills.  Though this recession is typical of a business cycle, there are some things that can be done to alleviate the stress the economy is undergoing and maybe expedite the expiration of the current recession.  President Obama has done neither.

So it is fitting and fair to label the tent cities that are sprouting across America as Obamavilles.

(Note: In case the above YouTube video is taken down by the Blueshirts, you can see the entire story and video here.)

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23 Responses to Obamaville Shanty Towns: Tent Cities Sprouting Up Across America

  • Perhaps this can be the campaign song for Team Obama in 2012:

  • I would like to know what you think Obama could have done differently over the past year.

    There’s so much misunderstanding over the role of fiscal policy during this recession. It was precisely the huge expansion in the public deficit that counteracted the collapse in private demand, preventing huge negative growth rates, and equally dire employment numbers. Think of it this way: we went from a deficit of 2 percent of GDP in the balance between private income and spending shifted from to a surplus of over 6 per cent – in increase in private savings by 8 percent of GDP. What do you think would have happened without the fiscal crutch?

    It’s fustrating how few people get this point. I listened last night to John King lecture Larry Summers on how government debt is exploding at the very time when households are tighening the belt. Honestly, I thought this fallacy went out with Herbert Hoover! Here’s the issue: the vast majority of the increase in debt during this recession was because of the recession (lower taxes etc). In the jargon, it comes from automatic stabilizers. You work against the stabilizers, you make the recession worse. Moxt experts quite rightly felt that the depth of the collapse in private demand justified going even further than automatic stabilizers – hence the stimulus. The standing “crowding out argument” does not work in an environment when interest rates are near zero and nobody is lending (the case of a liquidity trap).

    Anyway, have a look at this post I did on what governments did right, and 4 key fallacies surrounding this recession.

  • MM,

    he vast majority of the increase in debt during this recession was because of the recession (lower taxes etc)

    Don’t you think if there was less federal government bureaucracy and programs, instead of raising taxes, that we wouldn’t have gotten to this point?

  • MM:

    Moxt experts quite rightly felt that the depth of the collapse in private demand justified going even further than automatic stabilizers – hence the stimulus.

    Except as the author rightly pointed out that the stimulus didn’t do ANYTHING. Most of the money in the Obama stimulus has yet to be spent.

    I supported TARP under the idea that despite that it would be mishandled, the banks needed shoring up. But make no mistake, there was a ton of corruption in TARP and even more under Obama’s stimulus.

  • Think of it this way: we went from a deficit of 2 percent of GDP in the balance between private income and spending shifted from to a surplus of over 6 per cent – in increase in private savings by 8 percent of GDP. What do you think would have happened without the fiscal crutch?

    My guess is that if Congress hadn’t passed a stimulus the Fed would have engaged in more quantitative easing, and we’d be pretty much where we are now. I don’t think Obama is to blame for our current troubles, but the things he’s done haven’t been particularly helpful either.

  • It also would have been nice if they had used tax cuts, or focused a higher percentage of the spending in 2009 and 2010, rather than just handing out money to every Democratic Congressperson’s favorite pork project.

  • Tito – I don’t get your point. The recession was caused by greed in the financial sector. Government softened the blow …. dramatically. And by that I mean monetary, fiscal, and financial sector policy.

  • I reckon living in a tent in Colorado in mid winter won’t be too much fun.

  • MM,

    This is a normal business cycle. Recessions occur every 5-7 years.

    To blame anyone is like throwing darts at a dartboard.

    I was just touching on the debt. Meaning that if we had less wasteful federal programs to defund the debt would be a bit more manageable.

  • John: I take your second point, but not the first. Multiplers are much larger on the expenditure than tax side. And I never got the whole “pork” thing — that’s the whole point of stimulus. Of course, it would be nice to get some socially worthwhile investments going (greening buildings, trains etc) but that’s not really the point of stimulus. The whole “pork” fetish is really an argument for good times – when you are supposed to be building your reserves to use them in times like this.

    On the tax point, Krugman just referenced some cutting edge new research suggesting that tax cuts are a really bad idea in liquidity type situations – http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/14/a-new-paradox/

  • Tito,

    No, this was not a normal business cycle. It was the buggest global slowdown since the Great Depression. The fact that a meltdown was avoided comes from policymakers learning the lessons of the Great Depression (see the chart in my post).

    On your second point, it certainly makes sense to run prudent fiscal policy in good times to store up reserves for the lean years. And the debt profile today would not look so scary if we had gone into this in good shape. But we did not – the major fiscal loosenings of the last administration were not paid for – Iraq war, tax cuts for the wealthy, medicare part D expanion. Each of these added more to the debt than any single Obama initiative, and they didn’t even pretend to pay for them.

    The key fiscal challenge is that taxes are too low for teh level of desired spending. And if you disagree, you need to be willing to cut military spending or medicare – nothing else is going to cut it.

  • Blackadder, that’s possibly right, but (i) QE doesn’t come without cost; (ii) its success has been limited – again, it comes back to the fact that monetary policy has limited value in a liquidity trap.

  • MM,

    I agree with you that taxes are too low for the level of desired spending.

    Which to me means that we need to cut more federal programs.

    We have never had an income tax at all in this country, with a couple of exceptions, until the current income tax I believe was finally imposed in 1913.

    There is nothing that warrants to take people’s hard earned money.

  • Tito,

    Much as it might hurt to admit it, MM is right here. This wasn’t an ordinary business cycle.

  • Tito:

    (1) But what programs? As I said, you can’t do this without touching the military and medicare.

    (2) Your last sentence is not fully aligned with developments in Catholic social teaching, and reflects more a laissez-faire liberalism. Remember Pope John XXII: “the economic prosperity of a nation is not so much its total assets in terms of wealth and property, as the equitable division and distribution of this wealth” (Mater Et Magistra, 1961). Powerful stuff, that!!

  • MM,

    There’s room for disagreement on taxing hard working Americans and redistributing to the proletariat in Catholic Social Teaching.

    Pope John XXIII’s teaching is not set in stone nor is it mandatory.

    And by wealth he didn’t mean taxes, he meant equitable distribution, ie, opportunities to capital, resources, etc. Not take from workers and redistribute to the proletariat.

    BA,

    I’m not debating whether it’s ordinary or extraordinary (if I gave that impression, I didn’t mean to). But the fact remains it’s a business cycle that the socialist leaning Democratic Party is exploiting to further control our lives.

  • But what programs? As I said, you can’t do this without touching the military and medicare.

    Means testing Medicare and Social Security would be a start.

  • Multiplers are much larger on the expenditure than tax side.

    You will get quite an argument from some macroeconomists on that assertion.

    I would like to know what you think Obama [ie the Administation and Congress] could have done differently over the past year.

    1. Undertake a special audit of Citigroup, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo / Wachovia, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and GE Capital [?] to determine their authentic book value.

    2. Erect a fund of about $300 bn to compensate defined benefit pension funds and purchase preferred stock in insurance companies as needed, as these entities are abnormally invested in bank bonds.

    3. Prepare articles of incorporation for the successors of each of the foregoing. Each should have at least two successors – an ongoing business concern and a holding company which owns certain assets (illiquid securities, delinquent loans, and swaps & derivative). Citi, Bank of America and JP Morgan might have three successors: the dead asset holding company, their deposits-and-loans business, and their capital markets business.

    4. Recapitalize the aforementioned banks and investment firms through swapping debt (bonds, securitized receivables, l/t loans, &c) for equity in the successor corporations. If any one corporation retains a positive book value, it should be divided between its erstwhile creditors and equity holders; otherwise, the former bondholders, &c. get the whole enchilada.

    5. Call in all outstanding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt and replace it with common stock. If necessary, agree antecedently to exchange the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds held by sovereign wealth funds abroad with U.S. Treasury debt.

    6. Suspend collection of federal payroll taxes. Phase them back in per the performance of the macroeconomy.

    7. Transfer responsibility for unemployment compensation to the federal government.

    8. Institute reductions in pay and benefits for all federal employees. Compensation would be cut each quarter in step with the decline in domestic product per capita.

    9. Remove all conditions on intergovernmental transfers from the federal government to state and local governments bar one: they have to cut the compensation of all public employees in their purview in step with the decline in per capita income in the country at large.

    10. Legislate a pre-packaged bankruptcy for General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler which would feature compensation cuts of at least a third for the workforce and legatees in return for equity shares in proportion to losses. The bondholders might get preferred stock. In lieu of making use of TARP funding, have the Federal Reserve provide a bridge loan by purchasing their commercial paper.

    11. Cut the minimum wage to $4.60 an hour.

    12. Institution a mortgage modification program along the lines suggested by Martin Feldstein (with NO means testing): those whose mortgages are held by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or banks held by the FDIC might apply for a reduction in the principal equal to the fall (since they purchased the home) in the OFHEO price index for their area; in return, their chattels could be attached and their wages garnished if they defaulted.

    13. Institution of comprehensive tax reform as part of medium term planning for a return to fiscal balance: the elimination of deductions and exemptions, the gradual replacement of the payroll tax with enhanced income levies, the gradual institution of a component which taxes an index of one’s personal consumption, and a an enhanced per-dependent credit.

    14. Introduction legislation to erect a revised financial architecture some features of which might be as follows:

    a. Divestiture of subsidiaries which hold deposits domiciled abroad;

    b. Prohibitions on the ownership of financial firms by non-financial firms, or (for more than a temporary period) of non-financial firms by financial firms.

    c. Separation of deposits-and-loans banking from securities underwriting, proprietary trading (in securities, futures, options, &c.), ‘prime brokerage’, and private equity.

    d. Separation of securities underwriting from all activities other than corporate lending.

    e. Separation of proprietary trading from all other activities.

    f. Separation of prime brokerage from all other activities.

    g. Separation of private equity from all other activities.

    h. The separation of mutual funds from retail brokerage, trust companies, and treasury services firms.

    g. The separation of mid-market, corporate, and governmental lending from mortgage, farm, consumer, and small business lending. The former would be lodged in national banks which take deposits only from governments and incorporated entities; the latter would be lodged in banks which could take deposits from anyone but would constrained to operate within geographic catchments.

    h. Erection of an exchange for trading in swaps and derivatives.

    i. Prohibition of credit default swaps and insurance on securities.

    j. Prohibition on the use of credit to purchase securities other than initial public offerings; limit the ratio of margin loans in individual portfolios to one quarter of total assets; limit the permissible leverage of hedge funds accordingly;

    k. Erection an agency similar to the FDIC to act as a receiver of bankrupt securities firms and roll them up as rapidly as possible.

    l. Prohibition on the securitization of receivables.

    m. Turning Fannie and Freddie into self-liquidating entities.

    15. Postponement of action on medical insurance UNTIL THE BLOODY BANKS ARE REPAIRED.

  • Means testing Medicare and Social Security would be a start.

    Bleh.

  • socialist leaning Democratic Party

    Hillarious!!

  • Morning’s Minion writes Monday, December 14, 2009 A.D.

    “preventing huge negative growth rates”

    I have read this phrase in several places. I have not succeeded in understanding what is “a negative growth rate”. Is it shrinking?

    [I make the point chiefly to illustrate that much discussion about matters economic has similar fine-sounding nonsensical phrases].

Overreacting, The Left Needs To Wake Up To Reality

Tuesday, September 8, AD 2009

GOP overreaction to Obama speechLiberals and Democrats have accused many Americans of overreacting to the speech that President Obama will be delivering to school children today (at 11:00 am Central Daylight Time).

On the surface this would seem a fair evaluation but if you dig a little deeper, those on the Left may well be making another crucial misdiagnosis of the source and cause of this reaction.

First lets examine the prism that those on the Left have viewed this reaction.

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33 Responses to Overreacting, The Left Needs To Wake Up To Reality

  • You, and so many others, are conflating legitimate opposition to policy with lunacy. Just because you’re on the same side of the aisle doesn’t mean you have to defend all of them. The Birthers and now the Uneducators cannot be reasoned with and trying will only be politically counterproductive. Obama and the Democrats gain by keeping alive this perception that Republicans are crazy.

  • Well I am opposed to Obama’s nationwide speech to school kids and I am not an “Uneducator”. I have a teacher’s BA in social studies which I obtained before I ran off to Law School. My wife has an MA in Library Science and an MA in Spanish, and has taught Spanish in a public high school, and she opposes this use of the students of America as a political prop for this floundering administration. All three of our kids attend our local public high school. The superintendant of our school system has decided to burn the speech onto some DVDs and make them available to kids who want to watch it, but not to turn over instruction time to this Presidential nationwide photo-op.

  • I don’t oppose the president’s speech at all, but I do think the teacher’s lesson plan put out by the White House smacked of the cult of personality.

  • The text of the speech is here. On a quick perusal, it appears to be an “eat your vegetables” speech, no different from those given by prior presidents. Not sure what the fuss is about.

  • Blackadder-
    Given that it doesn’t match up with the topics listed even in the re-done study guide, it would be reasonable to assume the speech was significantly re-written. This guess is bolstered by the fact that they didn’t release the speech days ago, instead of the morning prior to the scheduled talk.

  • Lesson plans asking students to write about “Is he challenging you to do anything?” Easily can be lead down the partisan route by a partisan teacher (and plenty of those in public schools.) Doesn’t help that is was written in part by the White House with the Dept. of Education. The faux pas was clear even to the White House and DOE resulting in changes to the lesson plans. Should have also released the content of the speech prior to today. Who’s to say the opposition didn’t change the wording of the speech.

    Some potential problems with the lesson plans:

    http://blog.heritage.org/2009/09/03/politicizing-the-department-of-education/

  • Foxfier anticipated part of what I am saying.

  • Foxfire,

    I’m not sure what study materials you are referring to. The study materials I’ve seen (and that would include the materials referenced in the article Phillip cites to) seems to match up pretty well with what’s actually in the speech.

    My understanding is that the study materials for the Obama speech track pretty closely the materials for Bush’s speech to school children back in the early 1990s. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if whatever Dept of Ed underlying was assigned to prepare the materials just ripped off the prior version.

  • Actually no. The Dept. of Ed admits the lesson plans were written in collaboration with the White House – and not the Bush White House.

  • The topics mentioned were “citizenship, personal responsibility, and civic duty”– only two of those three can sort of be found in the speech.

    Do you have a link to said materials? I’ve heard that statement morphing from “maybe Bush the Elder did it” to “these are exactly what Bush the Elder had” over the course of the weekend.

    Also, we do know who wrote the lesson plans– they were in large part provided by the White House.

  • Folks like MM love to make the hypocrisy point, claiming that everyone was fine when Reagan and Bush made similar speeches. Not so fast: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/When-Bush-spoke-to-students-Democrats-investigated-held-hearings-57694347.html

  • I’m sure this point will be brought up on NPR this afternoon. Waiting…Waiting…Waiting.

  • SB, you simply don’t understand. The problem is the difference between devils (R) and gods (D).

    Either way though, it’s just one more reason to homeschool.

  • Here’s the lesson plans. Also the Dept of Ed site notes that the plans were written in collaboration with the White House:

    http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/academic/bts.html

  • Folks like MM love to make the hypocrisy point, claiming that everyone was fine when Reagan and Bush made similar speeches.

    Okay, so liberals are hypocrites for objecting then and not now, and conservatives are hypocrites for objecting now but not then. The question is whether there’s anything objectionable about what the President said. If there is, I’m not seeing it.

  • Is there anything objectionable about the lesson plans as originally formulated – Yes. Is there anything objectionable about what he was going to say before the fuss began – maybe. The protest may have done its job in more ways then one.

  • What was objectionable about the lesson plans as originally written?

  • What *isn’t* creepy about telling kids to write letters on how they can help the president, to be collected and passed out later to see how they’re living up to the goal?

    What if you’re not inspired by Obama, for that matter?

    (For that matter, the idea of a speech being interesting and challenging for pre-schoolers through seniors is kinda bloody weird, too, especially for someone that has kids.)

  • If I want my kids to listen to a politician I’ll take them to see said politician, without the assistance of the school or the White House, thank you very much. (In regard to my kids, however, if Obama wanted to address a classroom in person I would love for the class to contain my three kids. Two of them would ask follow-up questions that would leave a mark! My autistic son would probably be wondering how one of Dad’s boring political shows followed him to school!)
    A factor overlooked in all of this of course is that the National Education Association, the teacher’s union, has been a dominant power in the Democrat party for decades. The idea that a fair share of their membership will not be attempting to make partisan hay out of this is risible.

    The link below is to their story on the Obama address at the NEA website. As the first comment notes the NEA protested Bush addressing four classrooms in 1991.

    http://www.nea.org/home/35721.htm

  • One of the suggested activities in the original was to write about “how to help the president.” It was changed to “how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals.” IMO the criticism was fair and it was rectified. Still doesn’t explain why so many are opposed to children even hearing the speech.

  • Restrained Radical,

    I noted your points in my posting. And I explained why there was an overreaction.

    The reaction is to President Obama’s policies itself that manifested since the mainstream media refused to air any of the legitimate news concerning this growing grassroots movement. Add to this that President Obama and his proxies continue to slur and belittle any news that percolates to the surface and you have what happened with President Obama’s video to kids.

    It’s all in my posting.

  • Another problem is that the lesson plans ask older students to look at past Obama speeches on education and post quotes around the classroom. Of course past education speeches of Obama are riddled with errors. This from teh Washington Post:

    “Studies show that children in early childhood education programs are more likely to score higher in reading and math, more likely to graduate from high school and attend college, more likely to hold a job and more likely to earn more in that job. For every dollar we invest in these programs, we get nearly $10 back in reduced welfare rolls, fewer health-care costs and less crime. That’s why [the stimulus law] invests $5 billion in growing Early Head Start and Head Start.”

    Early education is a contentious issue, with many types of programs serving various goals.

    There is research to show lasting benefits for some kids who later move into good schools. There is research to show that such benefits fade if they do not move into strong schools. There is research to show that some programs help kids from low-income families become academically prepared for school. And there is research to show some programs don’t do more than babysit.

    Head Start, the country’s largest publicly funded preschool program, is praised by supporters for providing comprehensive education, health care and other support to low-income families. Critics say some programs are uneven and have little or no impact on academic performance. Finally, there are many estimates about how much money preschool saves in the long run. Obama’s is not the final word.

    DROPOUTS

    “Our high school dropout rate has tripled in the past 30 years.”

    For this statistic, the Education Department says that the president drew on a report from the National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy at Boston College that was cited by the College Board in December. It said: “The rate at which students disappear from schools between grades 9 and 12 has tripled in the last 30 years.”

    How such rates are calculated is highly controversial. Dropouts are hard to track in part because kids move around. Graduation rates are often cited, but analysts say they have been fudged in some places. According to University of Chicago professor Melissa Roderick, it all depends on how and whom you count. One way is to calculate the people who wind up getting some kind of high school diploma or equivalency degree by their mid-20s. About 87 percent of people ages 25 to 29 are getting such degrees.

    If you look at kids who are getting diplomas on time, after four years of high school, that overall rate is about 75 percent, she said, although it is much lower for black and Hispanic students. States, pushed by the federal government, are moving to standardize the use of this on-time graduation rate.

  • What *isn’t* creepy about telling kids to write letters on how they can help the president, to be collected and passed out later to see how they’re living up to the goal?

    One of my co-workers told me the other day that he remembers watching Ronald Reagan speak when he was a kid in school and was assigned to write about how he could help the President (the co-worker is a conservative Republican, btw, and no fan of Obama).

    It’s only creepy if you want it to be.

  • On graduation rates– don’t forget private or homeschooling might “look” like a kid dropped out, or those folks who join the military early and get their GED in bootcamp.

  • True. My point is that included in the lesson plans was quoting past Obama speeches on education. Even one’s that are quite flawed in their data. So a student might decide to write his legislator about increasing funding for Headstart. Even though there’s no evidence that that works. Except from a partisan perspective. And there’s the problem.

  • Blackadder-
    Was that from the nation-wide, White House provided lesson plan, or did his teacher do it on his own?
    Was this after he directly contacted principals to get them to show his speech?
    Come to think of it, how old was your co-worker? How well does he remember this? (I’ve seen false memories show up for stuff that’s less than a year old, let alonenearly twenty-one years old.)

    November 14th of 88, Reagan did a Q&A for school kids that was carried on C-SPAN. He was nearing the end of his term, had no big irons in the fire, wasn’t hugely controversial, didn’t try to subvert usual channels, hadn’t just chosen a ton of highly controversial advisors and wasn’t accusing the opposition of manufacturing (violent) protests while doing so himself.
    With just one or two of these, the Obama thing might not be a big deal. With all of these things, it’s a big deal.

  • Yes. It would be good to see the lesson plans developed by the DOE and the White House for both the Reagan and Bush speechs. I just can find them on Google.

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  • So after all of this fuss and fuming and hyperbole, and after the speech has been described as good, topical and non-partisan by a great number of independent and moderate Republican leaders nation-wide, the anti-Obama posters here still think there was a great conspiracy to indoctrinate kids – wow, what a shock. I guess it is better to accuse the president of an unproven, unlikely theoretical malfeasance based upon one’s political orientation than to judge what actually happened.

    That

    First, yes the Dept. of Education wrote a series of suggested activities and topics – that is what the Dept. of Education does.

    Second, yes White House staff – not a giant uber-being called the White House, but some White House staffers helped. Why? Because they being in the White House, actually might have known some of the topics of the speech. If the WH had sent no staff to the Dept. of Ed., that would have been really stupid and the Dept. of Ed. would have not known what to activities to suggest. Is this logic difficult to follow?

    Third, all speeches go through a series of revisions (as do ALL lesson plans) up until they are published. Now, maybe Obama originally had the words, “Look into my eyes and join the Democratic party,” or “Hey kids lets all chant, ‘public option, public option, yea public option,” or maybe even “When I was your age, I enjoyed reading such books as Mein Kampf and histories of the Bolshevik revolutionaries,” until right-wingers complained and then he removed them … or maybe he actually wanted kids to stay in school and be responsible for their own education … and then maybe someone said, “Make sure you add something about being careful about coming down with the flu,” and so things like that were added? As Tito demonstrated in the article, it is easy to overlook the simple answer when you are passionately looking for a more sinister one.

    Phillip: So you say that statistics can be difficult to interpret and the methodology of creating them differs from organization to organization and state to state. Yeah, I think we probably already know that. That may be one of the bad effects of local control. When you want to compare things across the nation, it is often useful to use national standards … oops, that darn federal government getting in our business again! There is actually a valid way, though of looking at data that comes from different sources and that is to study it longitudinally. That is, as long as the different statistics consistently use the same techniques from year to year (this is the reason we have state statisticians) then you can look for trends. If these trend show increases and there are what are called “internal or external threats to validity,” then those statistics can give you some insight. It is limited and it is conditional, but I’m sure you as a teacher and a lawyer, you must use some statistics in your work.

    Foxfier, they already know which students are homeschooled and even private schools have to give their data for these studies. The most difficult thing that I came across when I worked for a few years in an urban school, was with the students who changed schools mid-year if their family moved. This is a surprisingly large number of kids (5-10%) and a real problem with their education.

    Foxfier, I think you are a bit disingenuous when you say that Reagan’s talk to students (carried on a network that was broadcast to many schools) was somehow so innocent and apolitical and as if you was just a kindly old man talking to some kids. Well, yes democrats largely kept it apolitical because liberals realized that it was a great thing for the most powerful man in the world to take time out of his day to talk to kids and I guess that was a time of greater respect for the office. However, Reagan was NOT uncontroversial – he had the Iran-Contra scandal that still is reverberating, he had the most advisors of any president ever (until Bush 2) under indictment, he had . He WAS accusing his opposition of a great many things, it was just that his opponents were mostly protesting issues, like moving nuclear waste and clear-cutting redwoods, they weren’t attacking him or arriving to his speeches holding semi-automatic weapons.

    Aside: After the attempted assassination on Reagan, how restrained do you think Reagan’s secret service would have been compared to the way restraint that Obama’s secret service detail has been even as people have waved signs describing how blood should be spilled and that he is the moral equivalent to Hitler? Given that the last few years have shown that it is mostly radical white conservatives how have killed the most people for cultural and political reasons, the authorities have shown remarkable skill and restraint.

    So Obama is really no more controversial than Reagan was, they both inherited problems, though Obama inherited worse ones according to Bush, and they both took principled stands that have made them targets for dissent, but there is a difference. Just like Tito and Foxfier some conservatives are already so convinced of a pattern of behavior, so prejudiced to a perception about Obama that ANYTHING he does is colored. And of course to my mind, the problem is that this perception is false.

    Obama has not belittled his opponents, has never dismissed the tea partiers as unAmerican (find the video!!) or even lashed out at those who whine about his citizenship. He is actually almost to “no drama Obama” about almost everything, except when he jumped the gun on the Gates arrest. If you can’t see that he is the most restrained president in a long, long time than you are mightily biased and you’ve forgotten when Reagan said this:

    I realize that for some, as long as an older, moderately conservative white president tells someone to shut up, that it is a “manly, American” moment, yet if a younger, moderately liberal black president would say the same thing, it would be the act of an arrogant elitist cult figure. I’m not accusing anyone here of this, but I can’t help think of what the “birthers” would say. It is prejudice, it is about culture war politics and it is a symptom of people who have lost or never had a way to be self-reflective and intellectually honest.

    The liberal hecklers who shouted at President Reagan and the two Presidents Bush, were generally young and though vocal were not a large segment of the population – those who actually formed the loyal, liberal opposition were usually respectful. Those who over-reacted to Obama’s speech and attended some of the town halls and tea parties are parents and people who should either know better or be better role models. Not to stop voicing their opinions or to stop articulating their opposition – for that is the messy reality of democracy – but they should at least act like adults.

    To me the thesis of this entire thread seems to be false as I read it.

    1. President Obama was not elected because people were merely protesting a bad economy. That is flat out unsupportable. Both McCain and Obama were BOTH running against the Bush economy and the people actually had a choice of philosophies and a choice of candidates and Obama fit what the people wanted.

    2. The voters did not vote for a greatly expanded bureaucracy, yes, but they did vote for a candidate who was refreshing in several ways, first he actually didn’t blame the federal government for everything. He talked about government in an adult manner, not trying to call it evil while at the same time trying to get the job to run it, and not pretending to cut the expanse of government while actually increasing it. Case in point, the federal government expanded under every president and the single biggest increase in federal jobs occurred under George W. Bush with Homeland Security.

    3. The voters voted for someone who would stop lying to them about Iraq, not break international treatise, end torture of prisoners (which he has done mostly), end intrusion into people’s live by wiretaps and other means as implemented by the “small government” of GW Bush (which he really hasn’t done), improve the diplomatic corps that was decimated by Bush, opened dialogue with our allies without bribing them into helping us … etc., too many things. I hope you get it. He was voted in on a broad agenda of changes that now have been conveniently forgotten about.

    4. The original post is also wrong in stating that he failed “to recognize genuine American concern to deficit spending…” Actually he didn’t. He unlike Bush put the Iraq War back into the budget so people could actually see and congress could be more responsible for its affects on the budget, which Bush liked to hide. He also staunchly would veto any health care reform that would create deficit spending and is the first president in a while to advocate for “pay as you go.” Some here may not know what that means, but it means “don’t add to the deficit.” So that means cut programs or raise taxes. You may agree with his tax plans, but you can not call him unconcerned for deficit spending – two different things.

    5. The article says that Obama failed to recognize how much Americans don’t want “the nationalization of the motor industry.” No one wants the nationalization of the motor industry, Obama has said repeatedly that he doesn’t want to run GM or have the government nationalize any corporation. You may not agree with the tactics but bailing out GM just means having a 60% non-voting investment in it. It is one company, not an industry. It is temporary and GM is already planning to pay it back because they don’t want the government strings that are attached. And why are they attached, because the government (the Fed Reserve and Treasury) by law CAN NOT just give money away without protecting the taxpayer. It is too much to get into hear, but even the financial news pundits who hate government intrusion have come to realize that GM still went out under bankruptcy, but that it did so in a far quicker time frame and it saved all of the thousands of smaller companies and many dealerships (which of course IS the majority of the motor industry) from having to go bankrupt and thus not become nationalized. This was not perfect and I think the unions got a better deal than they deserved and some of it was political (wow, McCain would never have been political!?), but to call that nationalization of the motor industry is so far from reality that it is laughable. Ford is doing just fine and if Chrysler fails or GM has any more problems, it will be gone. The bailout was only deemed necessary because it happened to coincide with the failure of Wall Street and even though I believe in the principle of moral hazard in capitalism, I also feel that once a century the rules of the game need to be bent to prevent needless pain as long as it is temporary – and that is from Thomas Jefferson’s (a great small government guy) views.

    6. The article says, “Then came the town hall meetings where Americans began to voice their displeasure. Again, President Obama and his proxies dismissed them as “astro-turf”. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi derided them as Nazi’s.” This is a particularly biased statement in my opinion. First Obama, again, did not dismiss the town hall protesters … ever!!! Some did of course, because some protesters were way over the top, but there is no cabal of Obama proxies soing anything. There are some pundits and some politicians who think that many of the tea parties and town halls had some outside influences – and they did, but no one said that all or even most of the people there genuinely expressing opinions were that way. As a matter of fact the administration has mostly said that it was only the most vocal that got on TV, but that most town halls went well with plenty of genuine and passionate viewpoints.

    Also I find it interesting that Pelosi (of whom I am not a fan) says the term “Nazi” once in relation to, not protesters, but to the people who yell to the point that no one can speak, she gets blamed for that hyperbole even as hundreds of right-wingers and dozens of conservative talk show hosts actually call Obama a Nazi on a daily basis. Just think use some perspective hear, the Speaker of the House can use it once about one particular instance and every extreme conservative makes a huge deal out, yet when conservatives say the same thing on a daily basis, they are somehow patriotic Americans. I guess some people just don’t get irony.

    There is more that I could write, but this is way too long already. I just think that the premise of the thread is so much ado about nothing. The Obama admin. hasn’t over-reacted or demonized conservatives. It was dealt a bad hand in the way that President Bush 43 was dealt a bad hand with 9/11 and both administrations had political operatives whose job it is to look for ways of dealing with emergencies and even using them as opportunities for change. Bush and Cheney used 9/11 as a reason to invade Iraq and to greatly increase the power of the presidency. It is unclear how Raum E. expects to use the current crises, but Obama has chosen to look at how Reagan era deregulation substantially led to the Wall Street credit problem and the recession is a good time to reform the system. That is actually a responsible position to take. We’ll see if it works. Health care will bankrupt the country if it is left to grow at the existing rate, and in an economic down turn, this may also be the time to reform it as well. Finally, wars and security issues are good drivers for reforming the countries energy policy.

    My point is that you can disagree with Obama’s philosophies and argue his policies and even dislike his personality, but to say he is that much different from most other administrations, both Republican and Democrat, is quite the overstatement. And yes, if he does over-react (which he hasn’t yet) or he takes on too many issues to change (which he probably did), then elections will be his report card. Let’s just keep the hyperbole and biases to the pros, like Beck.

    BTW, his approval rating has fallen from 70% to 50%. A big drop, but 50% is pretty high for any president during a once in a century economic crisis and in the midst of two wars and as a target of plenty of prejudice even as he has maintained by and large his dignity and not simply fallen into the tactics of most other presidents of wrapping himself in the flag and causing people to be scared.

    BTW, the whole point of the cartoon at the top has obviously been missed.

  • You have a lot of time on your hands. Your ignore the bottom line. The lesson plans were changed. The White House itself by its actions admitted they were wrong by doing so. They may very well have changed the speech due to the democratic efforts of Republicans. Can’t deny the truth of this.

  • Would you like a match for your strawman? Maybe a thresher?

    I haven’t seen such a load of hooey since my little sister tried to use “nothing happened” to prove “nothing will ever happen” when she stayed out too late in high school.

  • I do think that the fuss about the school address has been excessive — at the same time, however, I think MacGregor’s extensive comment above falls into the basic pattern (all too easy to fall into) of looking at things through a tribal lens and thinking, “Sure there are some crazies on my side, but there aren’t many and they’re harmless. Now the other guys! They’re bad!”

    Yes, there have certainly been over-the-top reactions to Clinton and Obama, but there were incredibly extreme amounts of hate directed at Reagan and Bush2, and both of them dealt with it in a calm and statesmanlike fashion. Attempts to portray Obama’s critiques as more deranged or dangerous than the sufferers from Bush Derangement Syndrome over the last eight years suggest a certain lack of perspective.

    This is not to say that people are right to behave irresponsibly in response to Obama, but perspective is always necessary.

Bush, Orthodoxy, & Damon Linker

Thursday, April 16, AD 2009

From the always insightful and provocative Daniel Larison:

As I noted long ago, and as Ross has suggested again this week, it makes no sense to blame Christian orthodoxy or traditional Christianity for the religiously-tinged ideology of the Bush administration and the resulting failures of this ideology’s optimistic and hubristic approach to the world. It is no accident that the most strident and early critics of the Bush administration hailed from traditionalist Catholic and Orthodox circles that make Linker’s bete noire of First Things look like the relatively liberal, ecumenist forum that it is. Mr. Bush espoused a horrifyingly heterodox religious vision, one far more akin to the messianic Americanism that forms part of what Bacevich has called national security ideology than it is to anything that could fairly be called orthodoxy.

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12 Responses to Bush, Orthodoxy, & Damon Linker

  • Is there anything about Linker to take seriously? As far as I can tell he did an ideological about face in hopes of a fast buck, and that is the alpha and the omega of the analysis needed regarding that gentleman. As for Bush, I doubt if History will be as harsh in its judgment of him as Mr. Larison and his paleocon cronies would wish.

  • Bush was a Wilsonian, and Larison is right to call him “unconservative” and so on. The problem is that in the American context, Bush fits in the mainstream of what it means to be a movement conservative, and that is rooted very much in liberalism. Yuval Levin is good on this:

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YjVlZGQ1NDcxOGU3NGQzZWIzYTcyOWQxYTAxNjI5Njc=

  • Agreed, Jonathan… what we mean by a “conservative” today is better described as a “conservative liberal” in the intellectual currents of the last three centuries, as you, Levin, MacIntyre and others have noted.

    Of course, there is a robust conversation among Catholics regarding the degree to which the broader liberal tradition (which would include what we normally call “conservatism” in the US today) is ultimately compatible with Catholicism.

  • I daresay that Burke during the period of the French Revolution with his calls for an all out war against the French Revolutionaries might well have been denounced by the spiritual forebears of the current paleocons who seem to look upon isolationism as a key conservative virtue. Of course, it is always dangerous to take conservatives of one generation and merely assume that they would agree with a particular faction of conservatism in a current controversy. As Burke was fond of noting, circumstance is everything. For most of his career Burke was considered by most of his contemporaries to be anything but a conservative, especially since the term wasn’t used in its modern sense until 1819. As a whig, Burke was normally considered to be in the avant-garde of political thought in England, until his Reflections on the Revolution in France. Of course nothing had changed about Burke or his thinking, but the circumstances of his times had.

  • I guess my question would be: Did the MTD vibe in some of Bush’s major speeches result from Bush being a morally therapudic deist at heart (and forming policies that were “deist” or “gnostic”) or is MTD is a sort of lowest common denominator of vaguelly religious discourse in our country, and thus something utilized by speechwriters on both sides of the aisle in order to draw on religious ideals without being hit with religious divisions.

    While I cracked a smile as Ross Douthat’s description of Bush’s second inaugural address as “moral theraputic deism goes to war”, I think Linker is taking it too far by failing to distinguish between rhetoric and action.

    Bush did lay out a universal semi-theological principle in that he argued that as humans we have a universal longing for freedom, and that as Americans it is both virtuous and in our interests to foster freedom and democracy throughout the world, but for all the hysteria that caused among those worried about “theocons”, this didn’t actually result in the US getting embroiled in any new wars or other foreign policy engtanglements in the second term.

    The big controversial foreign policy engagements of the Bush years were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to an extent the rhetoric used against North Korea and Iran. However, I’d really have to ask if moral theraputic deism was the main driver behind how we dealt with any of those areas. Perhaps the implicit theology of the administration controlled the tone a bit. But the most theology that I’d read into the various Bush commitments was a very general, “We should seek to support regimes we actually approve of rather than taking the old CIA ‘at least they’re our SOBs’ approach.”

  • I guess my question would be: Did the MTD vibe in some of Bush’s major speeches result from Bush being a morally therapudic deist at heart (and forming policies that were “deist” or “gnostic”) or is MTD is a sort of lowest common denominator of vaguelly religious discourse in our country, and thus something utilized by speechwriters on both sides of the aisle in order to draw on religious ideals without being hit with religious divisions.

    Well, I think Linker finds MTD attractive because he believes it is a lowest common denominator, and therefore a good candidate for the American civic religion. I don’t think Douthat and Larison are asserting Bush was a MTD, per se; heterodoxy is not necessarily the same thing as MTD, although they can overlap. They are making the more limited point that whatever Bush’s approach was, it wasn’t orthodoxy.

  • Perhaps I am dense, but what I think I am reading into both the article and the comments is some sort of assumption that President Bush acted as he did on the world stage out of some misguided Gnostic plan of action, in which only he was privileged to know and understand God’s divinely appointed plan for America, and which therefore drove him to foolish choices on the world stage. If I misinterpret, my apologies, and please disregard what follows.

    I would count myself among those Christian conservatives who hitched their hopes to President Bush. However, I feel not tainted in the least by any of his choices; I believe, instead, that President Bush was and is a man of character and integrity, who found himself in a position to be The Man In Charge of our nation’s response to global terrorism. I believe (and the record would seem to support) that Pres. Bush acted as the Just War political leader is supposed to: he analyzed the threats, determined which required what response, and he responded, while keeping just war principles at heart.

    Did he make bad choices? Certainly, because he (like everyone else) was operating from a human actor with human advisors. I don’t doubt his Christian orthodoxy (prosecuting a war fits into Catholic theological constructs); and I think it almost borders on scandal to presume to know his heart, and to denigrate him based on that knowledge.

    As, I think, Doug said, History will not be *nearly* as critical of President Bush as some have been, here and elsewhere. I, for one, am content to remain hitched to his bandwagon for now.

    Peace!

  • I have to admit I am a tad with Darwin on this. I like DOuthat but I think his arguments against Bush and this MTD need to be developed. I mean what is Douthat arguing post 2004 that Bush did that went as to this

    I mean are the Bush Actions in Africa that were incredible a part of this and now shall be tainted.

    If I agree with such things a the Trade pact with India, the Dubai Port deal, and the Columbia Free trade accord am I in some Gnostic heresy

    What about Missile defense.

    Was immigration reform a part of this that Bush tried to do twice?

    I mean besides Iraq what else is there to pin this on Bush?

  • As to Damon Linker I am still baffled how he is at a magazine Like the New Republic. I mean this is a guy that swears up and down there was some plot by Neuhaus and others to make this some Catholic Theocon Country. Even likely allies panned his book

  • John Henry,

    But here’s my question: In what sense is it being argued that Bush was “heterodox” in his theology exactly?

    I mean, as a Catholic I’d say he’s “heterodox” in the way that other Evangelicals are, but frankly I think that people aren’t doing themselves a lot of favors intellectually when they read a lot of serious theological content into mainstream political speeches and then try to analyze whether that theology is orthodox.

    So for instance, those into such things criticized Bush a great deal for talking about “forces of evil” and “evil doers” and an “axis of evil” and “defeating evil”. This, it was suggested, betokened a radical Calvinistic dualism (or Gnostic dualism — or both) and committed the US under Bush’s leadership to both the illusion that people were either wholly good or wholly corrupt, and the duty of fighing everyone judged to be wholly corrupt.

    The thing is, I’m not sure there was ever much evidence outside the minds of these critics that Bush actually believed “evil doers” to be wholly and completely evil, nor did the US in fact proceed to go on some sort of all out world-wide war against “forces of evil”. Rather, it continued plodding along with what it had been doing to start with — attempting to replace two strategically located hostile regines (one theocratic, the other bascially fascist) with friendly liberal-democratic governments.

    It strikes me that much of what was going on here was intellectuals taking marketing as if it were motivation, rather than looking at what was really going on.

  • In what sense is it being argued that Bush was “heterodox” in his theology exactly?

    I think that’s a good point, and jh and Deacon Chip articulated it well also. I should have been clearer in the post. Frankly, I have no idea how one is to evaluate whether Bush himself was ‘heterodox’. First because it’s unclear what that term even means in the contemporary U.S.(is Larison using it to describe any Christian who is not Orthodox or Catholic?). Secondly, because it’s not always clear what support for a specific policy actually conveys about a politician’s theological beliefs.

    That said, I think there is abundant evidence in Bush’s speeches of the ‘messianic Americanism’ Larison describes; a sort of hubristic optimism combined with a facile equivalence of U.S. policy and the forces of good in the world. The same could be said of many U.S. politicians.

    I agree with Douthat and Larison (contra Linker) on the more modest claim that it was not slavish devotion to Catholic orthodoxy that led to Bush’s most glaring failures (e.g. Iraq was opposed by the Pope and most bishops), and that the primary lesson to be drawn from the Bush years is not that orthodoxy and politics should be kept separate going forward.

    Frankly, I do not think orthodox Catholics had much influence in the administration. Bush was happy to use Catholic language when it suited him, but there’s little reason to believe he was familiar with the broader Catholic intellectual tradition from which it arose. As someone who thought the war did not meet just war criteria, I am of the opinion that a deeper reflection on that tradition might have prevented the war. I have a similar opinion regarding the Administration’s use of torture.

    To sum up, I would say Bush’s speeches often expressed a worldview that reflected either little or only a very shallow engagement with orthodox Christianity; I would probably accept heterodox as a description of some of them, depending on how heterodox is defined. That doesn’t mean he personally was heterodox, but it does suggest orthodoxy did not play a significant role in the failures of his Administration.

  • To sum up, I would say Bush’s speeches often expressed a worldview that reflected either little or only a very shallow engagement with orthodox Christianity; I would probably accept heterodox as a description of some of them, depending on how heterodox is defined. That doesn’t mean he personally was heterodox, but it does suggest orthodoxy did not play a significant role in the failures of his Administration.

    Exactly, though I think it goes much further than that; I think Bush is either not smart enough to understand the deeper aspects of his own religion, or he’s using said religion as a political tool, plain and simple. There is nothing orthodox about him or his decisions.

George Weigel on Narratives & 'Bush Derangement Syndrome'

Wednesday, February 18, AD 2009

In an essay entitled A Campaign of Narratives in the March issue of First Things (currently behind a firewall for non-subscribers), George Weigel writes:

Yet it is also true that the 2008 campaign, which actually began in the late fall of 2006, was a disturbing one—not because it coincided with what is usually described in the hyperbole of our day as “the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression” but because of how it revealed some serious flaws in our political culture. Prominent among those flaws is our seeming inability to discuss, publicly, the transformation of American liberalism into an amalgam of lifestyle libertinism, moral relativism, and soft multilateralism, all flavored by the identity politics of race and gender. Why can’t we talk sensibly about these things? For the past eight years, no small part of the reason why had to do with what my friend Charles Krauthammer, in a nod to his former incarnation as a psychiatrist, famously dubbed “Bush Derangement Syndrome.”

Raising this point is not a matter of electoral sour grapes. Given an unpopular war that had been misreported from the beginning, plus President Bush’s unwillingness to use the presidential bully pulpit to help the American people comprehend the stakes in Iraq, plus conservative aggravation over a spendthrift Republican Congress and administration, plus that administration’s failure to enforce discipline on its putative congressional allies, plus public exhaustion with a familiar cast of characters after seven years in office, plus an economic meltdown—well, given all that, it seems unlikely that any Republican candidate could have beaten any Democrat in 2008. Indeed, the surprise at the presidential level may have been that Obama didn’t enjoy a success of the magnitude of Eisenhower’s in 1952, Johnson’s in 1964, Nixon’s in 1972, or Reagan’s in 1984.

Still, I would argue that the basic dynamics of the 2008 campaign, evident in the passions that drove Obama supporters to seize control of the Democratic party and then of the presidency, were not set in motion by the failures and missed opportunities of the previous seven years but by Bush Derangement Syndrome, which emerged as a powerful force in American public life on December 12, 2000: the day American liberalism’s preferred instrument of social and political change, the Supreme Court, determined that George W. Bush (the candidate with fewer popular votes nationally) had, in fact, won Florida and with it a narrow majority in the Electoral College. Here was the cup dashed from the lips—and by a court assumed to be primed to deliver the expected and desired liberal result yet again. Here was the beginning of a new, millennial politics of emotivism (displayed in an astonishing degree of publicly manifested loathing for a sitting president) and hysteria (fed by the new demands of a 24/7 news cycle).

[Emphasis Mine]

I think this analysis gets things exactly backwards.

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35 Responses to George Weigel on Narratives & 'Bush Derangement Syndrome'

  • Good post. Ultimately, this defeat may in fact be the best thing for the Republican Party as it embarks on a return to principles and examines what led to the public’s dissatisfaction.

    On a tangential note, your observation that “the press embarked on what was, in my view, a credibility-shattering love affair with the Obama campaign; it became difficult for me to separate the official Obama campaign spokesmen from the unofficial, honorary spokesmen at our major newspapers,” ABC’s Jake Tapper blogged an interesting story on former-journalists-turned-Obama-appointments.

  • John Henry,

    good post. I’m not sure about this though:

    In short, the polling data suggests events, rather than a mysterious political pathology, were responsible for Bush’s unpopularity.

    If we examine the actual events which led to his popularity drop, many of them really are not justified. The liberal media’s hatchet jobs had their intended effect. That is not to say there weren’t PR and real blunders, but not anywhere near what could legitimize the rage.

    Look at the “One’s” blunders in his first weeks, and yet nary a peep of rage at him… Harriet Meiers may have been unqualified as a SC justice, she at least, as far as we know, paid her taxes.

  • Poor Weigel.

  • Spot on by Prof. Dr. Weigel. But would go back further to that ghastly Tuesday night in November 2004 when both Houses of Congress went into hands of Wascally Wepublicans. Unhinged the Dems big time- power as a matter of their sheer force of righteousness. Setting stage for hanging chads nonsense with led to Bush Derangement Syndrome. Which will account for the rushrushrush to move Porkapalooza Bill down assembly line. In fact may be release of pent up energy building up far back as 1965- Great Society, War on Poverty, etc. Perhaps even waaay back to 1933. Note that when Messiah of Hope and Change signed Porkapalooza into law, among casualties was that grabbag of regulations known as Welfare Reform. Agreed to by Slick Willie in summer of 96 before boarding plane to Chi-Town Convention. Gone gone gone. More lifetime serfs dependant on Federal subsidies for very existence. Took some cold logical thinking in the midst of BDS to insert those clauses into Porkapalooza.

  • Chris,

    Thanks for pointing out that story; I hadn’t seen it. Given the financial state (and the politics) of the journalism industry, I suppose it’s not very surprising (although I wonder why anyone would want to work as part of Joe Biden’s communications team).

    Matt,

    I think it’s true that Bush received harsher coverage than a similarly-situated Democratic President would receive. At the same time, I think that type of thing moves the approval rating from 50% to 46-47%, rather than from 50% to 30%. Bush, after all, was re-elected in 2004. Events drove the difference in perception between 2004 and 2008.

    Gerard,

    Your comments almost invariably make me laugh; I think we have to agree to disagree here. I certainly acknowledge that something akin to ‘Bush Derangement Syndrome’ exists; what I dispute is that ‘the basic dynamics of the campaign’ were set in motion by it rather than Bush’s (very real) mistakes.

  • events drove the difference in perception between 2004 and 2008.

    Of course without any events it would have been much harder to drive the perception, but that does not explain it without a massive and misleading campaign by the liberal media.

  • Major correction- big time derangement since 1994 congressional election- revenge inflicted in part with Porkapalooza.

  • I cannot believe George Weigel is still defending the Iraq war, and his infamous “charism of political discernment” (“Bush’s unwillingness to use the presidential bully pulpit to help the American people comprehend the stakes in Iraq”). Shame of Weigel for going against the Church on this from the beginning, and even bigger shame on him for not repenting his earlier mistake.

    Plus, he’s a good friend of notorious torture defender Charles Krauthammer????

  • I’m not clear why defending the Iraq War now would be less tenable now than it was four years ago. From a just war perspective, it was either just or it wasn’t in the first place. Some Catholics such as Weigel (and I) thought and continue to think that removing Hussein from power was a worthy and just cause of war. Some, such as you and apparently John Paul II and Benedict XVI, did not think the war was justified.

    But there’s not a specific position of the Church as a whole on the topic, and I’m not clear why the passage of time would necessarily make Weigel’s position any different than it was in the first place.

  • Plus, he’s a good friend of notorious torture defender Charles Krauthammer????

    “Morning’s Minion” — Honestly, I think I’d be more understanding if you voiced similar outrage about somebody’s being a good friend of “notorious defenders of” Roe v. Wade.

  • Or, for that matter, voting for “notorious defenders” of Roe v. Wade.

  • methinks M.M. can be right about the warmongers and sadists…AND still not vote for or support either them or the “notorious defenders” [i.e., abortion had NOTHING to do with M.M.’s comment]

  • Darwin:

    Many who supported the Iraq war did so because: (i) they believed Saddam presented an imminent threat, based on his WMDs; (ii) they believed the war would be quick and costless, as the Iraqis would welcome the invasion. For a Catholic, (i) would take care of the “last resort” criterion and (ii) would address “proportionality” from a just war perspective. I would argue (and did argue) with these interpretations but there was at least the semblence of an argument there. And, honestly, given the lies and obfuscation of the last regime, I can understand why somebody would fall for (i)– unaccustomed to being told lies of this magnitude, I believed it myself at first.

    But we now know that both (i) and (ii) proved false, and that the war has been a disaster– up to a million Iraqi deaths, a quarter of the population displaced, God hows how many future terrorists nurtured on the killing fields of Iraq. So, yes, I would expect Mr. Weigel and others who take just war teaching seriously to show just a little remorse and humility. Is that really too much to ask for?

  • And, honestly, given the lies and obfuscation of the last regime, I can understand why somebody would fall for (i)– unaccustomed to being told lies of this magnitude, I believed it myself at first.

    I guess I’m a little confused by this, since as a war supporter I did not at all think that Hussein and his potential weapons presented an imminent threat to the US. Nor did I think that the administration presented a very strong case that he did. The case that I did and do think was strong was that Hussein was an illegitimate ruler who had already invaded several of his neighbors, who did not abide by the treaty that ended the Gulf War (which should unquestionably have gone all the way go Bagdad) and who had been almost unimaginably cruel to his people. He had also made it clear he was unwilling to leave power of moderate his tyranny, thus making it obvious that nothing short of a war would remove him from power. So clearly, war was a last resort when it came to removing Hussein from power.

    As to proportionality — anyone who thinks any war will be quick and costless is not only a fool, but a dangerous fool. If someone thought such a I thing, I think he was very wrong to. But at the same time, it seems to me that your approach to proportionality here is rather flawed. The decision to overthrow Hussein’s regime pretty clearly did not directly result in all the civilian deaths and displacement that occurred. (I think the numbers you’re citing are incorrect, but it’s not a numbers game so that’s irrelevant.) Most of that death and displacement was caused by attacks on the Americans and especially on the general population made by factions within Iraq that were unhappy with the sort of government that came into being after the invasion. It was (as I recall you pointed out on more than one occasion) a civil war. Now I think that many in the DOD and administration were very much to blame for the fact that things became sufficiently destabilized after the invasion to get to that point, but one can hardly cite the methods of civil war factions within Iraq as reasons why the original decision to get rid of Hussein via an invasion was disproportionate.

    I could certainly see supporters of the war wishing that it had been run better, and bitterly regretting the amount of unnecessary destruction which resulted from poor planning for the post invasion period. But I really can’t see why you’d think this would change one’s assessment of whether the invasion itself was just. (Though it might make people more inclined to be realistic about the capabilities of military power, which is always a good thing.)

  • Now I’m confused, Darwin. If that is the reason you supported the removal of the pesident of Iraq by force, then I could probably come up with maybe 20 equally odious regimes that nobody would miss. Do you really want to go down that road?

    As for proportionality, I think you are missing the point. I never said the US was directly responsible for the carnage that ensued. But by storming into this tempest, without heed for history, culture or context, it bears responsibility for what happened in the aftermath. And there were many voices warning that this was going to happen (including from the Vatican), but they were ignore.

  • Now I’m confused, Darwin. If that is the reason you supported the removal of the pesident of Iraq by force, then I could probably come up with maybe 20 equally odious regimes that nobody would miss. Do you really want to go down that road?

    I’d have to hear the examples, but I might well consider it to be entirely just for one to wage a war to remove any one of those regimes. The fact that it would be just certainly does not mean that one absolutely must do it. (Or at least, I would assume that you don’t argue that simply because it would be just to wage a war in a given circumstance, that it would thus be immoral _not_ to.)

    For example, I would consider it entirely just for the US to intervene in Darfur in order to protect civilians from government backed militias — but the fact that one would be justified in doing so does not necessarily mean that one _must_ or that it would be evil not to.

    As for proportionality, I think you are missing the point. I never said the US was directly responsible for the carnage that ensued. But by storming into this tempest, without heed for history, culture or context, it bears responsibility for what happened in the aftermath. And there were many voices warning that this was going to happen (including from the Vatican), but they were ignore.

    The just war criteria is that the wrong being addressed must be proportionate to the evils that inevitably result from war. That’s different from the instigators of the war being responsible for every possible resulting occurrence.

    Also, I think you’re eliding the fact that simply removing Hussein did not necessarily have to result in nearly the problems that did in fact happen. The incredibly bad decisions made by Gen. Tommy Franks and Ambassador Bremmer (among others — and of course Rumsfeld and Bush in that they approved those decisions and picked those decision makers) make things far, far worse than they need have been. For that I do have a lot of regret, but it’s not regret that the war took place at all, but rather than the follow through was so poor.

  • I guess I’m a little confused by this, since as a war supporter I did not at all think that Hussein and his potential weapons presented an imminent threat to the US.

    I may have misunderstood Just War theory, and the Catechism is necessarily a simplification, but it says that “governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed,” and when it sets forth the conditions, it says “The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration…” If you don’t believe the U.S. had a legitimate claim to acting in self-defense (as I didn’t), doesn’t that preclude the invasion regardless of proportionality?

    For example, I would consider it entirely just for the US to intervene in Darfur in order to protect civilians from government backed militias

    I think there is a distinction between a humanitarian intervention to protect citizens within a country, and a situation like Iraq, where it was frequently argued that Iraq was a military threat to the United States. There was some language about humanitarian intervention in the run-up to Iraq, but my recollection is that this consideration was a distant second or third to other objectives. I do not think it is accurate to characterize the invasion of Iraq as motivated primarily by humanitarian concerns, and I didn’t think the U.S. had a strong case for self-defense.

  • John Henry,

    you don’t believe the U.S. had a legitimate claim to acting in self-defense (as I didn’t), doesn’t that preclude the invasion regardless of proportionality?

    Legitimate defense can apply to the defense of others, including the population of the country itself. I don’t believe anyone argued that Iraq was a direct military threat to the US. They were in no means capable of attacking the continental US, and nobody argued it. What was argued (irrefutably), was that Iraq was a threat to it’s neighbors and by extension to legitimate US security interests. It’s apparent attempt to develop WMD only heightened the level of that threat.

    do not think it is accurate to characterize the invasion of Iraq as motivated primarily by humanitarian concerns

    correct, but this justification doesn’t require us to have this primary motivation as the primary goal (provided the end itself is not immoral).

    I didn’t think the U.S. had a strong case for self-defense

    How many National Security briefings were you privy to? The same number as the Holy Father, and the USCCB? I’m not saying you don’t have a right to your opinion and voice, we all do, and must express them. At the end of the day, we are not aware of much of the information that the president has. Even conservative commentators have stated that Bush was no longer best equipped to make such judgments the day after he took office.

  • What was argued (irrefutably), was that Iraq was a threat to it’s neighbors and by extension to legitimate US security interests. It’s apparent attempt to develop WMD only heightened the level of that threat.

    Well, part of the difficulty with Just war theory is that the standards are unavoidably ambiguous. At a high level of generality I suppose Iraq was a threat to its neighbors in the same way Iran is a threat to Israel, and Israel, Iran; the same way India is to Pakistan and Pakistan is to Israel; and the same way that Russia is to its former satellites. But my interpretation is that the threat should be more imminent than the general threat that exists any time countries have long-standing animosities and military capability, otherwise Just War theory is basically a green light to attack whenever you feel ‘threatened’ in some sense. To me Iraq was not sufficiently distinguishable as an imminent threat, and this rendered our response illegitimate. It’s hard to argue it was in ‘self-defense’ or even defense when no attack was imminent.

    How many National Security briefings were you privy to? The same number as the Holy Father, and the USCCB?

    Judging by the reliability of some of the pre-war intelligence, one may have been better off not being in those briefings…

  • “I don’t believe anyone argued that Iraq was a direct military threat to the US.”

    What world were you living in during 2002-03?

  • John Henry,
    Well, part of the difficulty with Just war theory is that the standards are unavoidably ambiguous. At a high level of generality I suppose Iraq was a threat to its neighbors in the same way Iran is a threat to Israel

    Generality? So training and funding terrorists to blow up school buses and markets is just a “general” threat? You’re joking right?

    and Israel, Iran

    Israel is only a threat to Iran because of it’s own attacks by proxy against Israel. The threat is by no means “general”… if Iran gets to close to it’s bomb, Israel will attack, be assured of that.

    the same way India is to Pakistan

    It’s a different situation there, far different, and not “general” either. There is a threat though, and under the right theoretical circumstances either party may be justified in attacking, of course those circumstances couldn’t exist because of proportionality.

    It’s hard to argue it was in ’self-defense’ or even defense when no attack was imminent.

    Aside from the attacks which were ongoing against our aircraft performing a legitimate humanitarian and security function?

    I think part of your problem here, is that you are trying to deal with all of the justifications in isolation from the other, that is not giving you the whole picture. Iraq was violating the terms of the truce, the whole purpose of a truce is that it prevents the offender from being able re-arm and pursue it’s agenda again.

    How many National Security briefings were you privy to? The same number as the Holy Father, and the USCCB?

    Judging by the reliability of some of the pre-war intelligence, one may have been better off not being in those briefings.

    You and I are STILL not in a good position to know everything the president knew, nor do either of us know if Syria is now in possesion of Iraqi WMD materials or technology. Even IF the intelligence was as bad as you might think, it doesn’t change the the moral justification if it was reasonably believed to be accurate.

    Mark D,

    did you think that Iraq had missiles, bombers or warships capable of attacking US soil? I never heard anyone claim such, but maybe you have different sources than I.

  • While I don’t necessarily agree with every detail of what Matt said above, I think he’s pretty clearly right that no one serious claimed that Iraq was a direct military threat to the US back in the lead up to the war. There was a lot of discussion of Iraq’s potential to cause trouble for us in Afghanistan or to provide aid to terrorists who would in turn attack us directly, but aside from shooting at our planes in the No Fly Zone, Iraq wasn’t really capable of being a direct military threat to us.

    Thus, if one takes just war as only applying in situation which are directly self defensive in nature, than I would see a pretty clear argument that the way isn’t just. It doesn’t seem to me, however, that just war must always be defensive. I already pointed out the possibility of “humanitarian” wars, and I would tend to consider removing a manifestly aggressive and oppressive regime that was destablizing the region as a reasonable casus belli in certain situations.

    At root: I think that getting rid of Hussein’s baathist regime was the right thing to do in 1991, and short of it massively changing its way of behaving (which it clearly hadn’t) I continued to support removing it at any point thereafter.

    It’s perhaps key that the Vatican opposed the original Gulf War as well (which strikes me as odd, in that that struck me as a pretty classic example of a just war) and so I’m hardly surprised that they opposed continuing it to its logical conclusion.

  • It doesn’t seem to me, however, that just war must always be defensive…

    Is this view in tension with Just War theory as it is presented in the Catechism? Granted, the CCC is a starting point rather than the definitive understanding, but it seems to suggest that ‘self-defense’ is the primary consideration, and when it sets forth the Just War conditions it says: ‘the strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force…’.

    I already pointed out the possibility of “humanitarian” wars,

    I think the use of force for humanitarian intervention can be justified under the right circumstances, but I do not think Iraq was understood to be primarily a humanitarian enterprise. This is a different type of ‘defense,’ but it is still defense.

    At root: I think that getting rid of Hussein’s baathist regime was the right thing to do in 1991, and short of it massively changing its way of behaving (which it clearly hadn’t) I continued to support removing it at any point thereafter.

    Well, I guess the point is moot now, but while I think this justification works theoretically, it’s always left me cold. I tend to think there was an end to the hostilities in the original Gulf War, and that the renewal of large-scale military activity required a separate justification. That said, aside from diplomatic considerations (the appearance of Vatican-sanctioned Christians v. Muslims), I’ve always thought the original Gulf War was basically a slam dunk case for military intervention. The U.S. was not directly threatened, but they stepped in, along with much of the international community, to assist in the restoration of Kuwaiti sovereignty. I’ve always been puzzled by the Vatican’s opposition to the original Gulf War.

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  • How can anybody seriously claim that Iraq was bit presented as a direct threat to the US in 2002-2003? Doesn’t anybody remember that the imminent threat of Iraq justified preemptive war?

  • Wj,

    shouldn’t be hard to come up with a citation then.

  • Matt,

    Here’s George Weigel, for example, in January 2003:

    As recently as the Korean War (and, some would argue, the Vietnam War), “defense against aggression” could reasonably be taken to mean a defensive military response to a cross-border military aggression already underway. New weapons capabilities and outlaw or “rogue” states require a development of the concept of “defense against aggression.” To take an obvious current example: it makes little moral sense to suggest that the United States must wait until a North Korea or Iraq or Iran actually launches a ballistic missile tipped with a nuclear, biological, or chemical weapon of mass destruction before we can legitimately do something about it. Can we not say that, in the hands of certain kinds of states, the mere possession of weapons of mass destruction constitutes an aggression—or, at the very least, an aggression waiting to happen?

    This “regime factor” is crucial in the moral analysis, for weapons of mass destruction are clearly not aggressions waiting to happen when they are possessed by stable, law-abiding states…If the “regime factor” is crucial in the moral analysis, then preemptive military action to deny the rogue state that kind of destructive capacity would not, in my judgment, contravene the “defense against aggression” concept of just cause. Indeed, it would do precisely the opposite, by giving the concept of “defense against aggression” real traction in the world we must live in, and transform.

  • John Henry,

    this citation does not suggest that the threat is directly against the US. In fact it’s clear from his use of the Korean War, and Vietnam that Weigel is not necessarily concerned with direct military threats to the US, but also with with threats against neighbors and threats against US interests.

  • It sounds like he was talking about a threat to the U.S. to me…

    “…it makes little moral sense to suggest that the United States must wait until a North Korea or Iraq or Iran…”

  • John Henry,

    “…it makes little moral sense to suggest that the United States must wait until a North Korea to attack South Korea or Japan, or Iraq to invade Kuwait again, or Saudi Arabiaor Iran…” attack Israel.

    Now, the scenarios I listed are all eminently more realistic than the idea that Iraq attacking the US directly. The scenarios are also very real threats to US and world security.

  • John Henry,

    The scenarios are also very real threats to US and world security.

    Exactly the point. It was argued that preemption was necessary to protect against “real threats to US” security.

    Ok, so what do we disagree on? I’m simply arguing that an unrealistic direct attack by Iraq on the US was not the used to justify the invasion, but a very real threat of Iraq attacking other nations in the region causing instability and a serious impact to US security.

    We can disagree on the level of threat or whether it provides sufficient justification, but it has to be based on an acknowledgment of the facts. Iraq was a serious threat to the region and indirectly to the US.

  • Matt,

    It seems to me that Weigel himself suggests that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iraq could constitute a direct threat to the U.S.. I don’t know why you thought it was particularly relevant to alter his phrasing to add other countries; he only mentioned the U.S.

    Here’s Bush in the 2003 State of the Union, suggesting Iraq could provide such weapons to terrorists:

    Our nation and the world must learn the lessons of the Korean Peninsula and not allow an even greater threat to rise up in Iraq. A brutal dictator, with a history of reckless aggression, with ties to terrorism, with great potential wealth will not be permitted to dominate a vital region and threaten the United States….

    And this Congress and the American people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/onpolitics/transcripts/bushtext_012803.html

    Iraq was described as a threat to the United States, often a direct one, and a preemptive attack was justified on those grounds.

  • John Henry,

    Weigel did not say ““…it makes little moral sense to suggest that the United States must wait until a North Korea or Iraq or Iran…” to attack the US.

    What did he mean? It’s entirely likely he meant attacking neighbors in the region. Which is an indirect attack (as would, say putting a nuclear weapon in the hands of Al Queda).

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Bush: Nixon or Truman?

Wednesday, January 21, AD 2009

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

pres_approval_history

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

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

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24 Responses to Bush: Nixon or Truman?

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

    God Bless,

    Matt

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

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

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

  • Good point, Jay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And, potentially, Obama….

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

    Thomas Woods a Catholic historian has studied this in detail.

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

    Matt

  • “And, potentially, Obama….”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Morning’s Minion,

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

    Matt

  • “Truman was also a war criminal.”

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

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

  • Donald,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Amen!

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

  • “2000 campaign”, I meant.

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

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

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

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

    God Bless,

    Matt

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

  • Mark,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    the DOJ scandal, – huh?

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

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Matt you are an utterly sick human being.

  • Matt,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Don – Matt did not make an argument.

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

  • Donald,

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

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

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

  • Anthony,

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

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

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

    God Bless,

    Matt

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

    – Eric from Washington D.C.

  • Matt,

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

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

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

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

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

    They might as well debate Ann Coulter.

  • Anthony,

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

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • John Henry,

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

    Matt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Katrina.”

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

    “DOJ scandal ?”

    read the newspaper.

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

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

  • partisan nonsense

    dememted and racist

    These are accurate comments.

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

    Gee, you think.

    Matt you are an utterly sick human being.

    dememted [sic] and racist man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Matt,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Christopher,

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

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

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

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

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

    God Bless,

    Matt

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

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

    God Bless,

    Matt

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

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

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

    Michael,

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

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

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

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

    Bravo!

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

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

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

    Torture is intrinsically evil.

  • Michael,

    Torture is intrinsically evil.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Part I
    Part II

    God Bless,

    Matt

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

  • Michael,

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

    God Bless,

    Matt

  • Matt,

    Are you a seminarian? Just wondering…

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

  • Michael,

    “or any other authoritative document”

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

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

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

  • I wish for one minute that you people

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

    Indeed.

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

  • “you people”?

    Who you calling “you people”?

    Huhhh.

  • [Deleted due to inflammatory remarks]

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

  • Michael I,

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

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

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

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

  • Matt,

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

  • Michael I.,

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

    Hope your New Year is going awesome for you!

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

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

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

    Not familiar with the reference.

    Hope your New Year is going awesome for you!

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

  • Michael,

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

    Here‘s a link for details of the process.

    Good luck with that.

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

    [Edited due to inflammatory remarks]

  • Michael,

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

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

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

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

  • Michael:

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

  • Michael,

    Your incivility is silly; not your beliefs.

  • Your incivility is silly; not your beliefs.

    Sounds like there is a difference of opinion among you.

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

    I’m on track. Thanks for asking!

  • Michael,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • hmmm….

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

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

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