Lies People Tell Children

Friday, September 17, AD 2010

Ann Althouse has fun with a recent back-to-school speech delivered by President Obama:

President Obama’s back to school speech contained blatant lies…and if there were any students not bright enough to notice that they were hearing lies, the lies, in their particular cases, were, ironically, bigger lies. Check it out:

  • “Nobody gets to write your destiny but you. Your future is in your hands. Your life is what you make of it. And nothing — absolutely nothing — is beyond your reach, so long as you’re willing to dream big, so long as you’re willing to work hard. So long as you’re willing to stay focused on your education, there is not a single thing that any of you cannot accomplish, not a single thing. I believe that.”

If you believe that, you are so dumb that your chances of controlling your own destiny are especially small. But it’s absurd to tell kids that if only they dream big, work hard, and get an education, they can have anything they want. Do you know what kind of dream job kids today have?  A recent Marist poll showed that 32% would like to be an actor/actress. 29% want to be a professional athlete.  13% want to be President of the United States.  That’s not going to happen.

Even young people with more modest dreams — like getting a decent law job after getting good grades at an excellent law school — are not getting what they want. To say “nothing — absolutely nothing — is beyond your reach” is a blatant lie, and Barack Obama knows that very well…

…Does [Obama] look at a poor person and say, his life is what he made it? Of course not.

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13 Responses to Lies People Tell Children

  • The ideology of egalitarianism (we all have the same moral worth, but differ quite a lot in aptitude and interest) has massive opportunity and emotional costs – and not infrequently, just so some elite can feel good and morally superior.

    In education, for example, what if very easily observable differences in educational attainment (existing across time and environment, regardless of massive influxes of cash – go ahead and look into the Kansas City and New Jersey examples as particularly bad on that score) are due in no small measure to heredity? UH OH – thought crime. But then our whole educational system is a giant false pretence, with constant “innovation” to little avail. Better to have tracking and a revival of vocational training (combined with a massive lowering of immigration to keep wages from crashing).

    If, that is, our PC-addled stomachs can take it, which I seriously doubt.

    Once again, leftists and right-liberals: you care about the poor? Stop destroying their wages through the systematic decline of industry and the influx of labor. Cesar Chavez, a great hero of mine, understood this, but many of you seem much more interested in status posturing – after all, your job is not in jeopardy……


  • Interesting. The idea of ‘vocation’ is thrown quite out the window, isn’t it? When life only has a meaning that you choose, can it really have a meaning?

    Having said that, I believe intelligence is a very flexible trait. Not to mention wisdom.

  • I find myself conflicted about this kind of thing, in that, on the one hand, it’s demonstrably false that you can do anything if you try hard enough, believe, in yourself, etc.

    On the other hand, with sufficient effort one can often do a number of things which a given teacher, relative, mentor, etc. would not actually realize that you would be capable of doing. So while what you can do in life is certainly contrained by ability, there is a great deal one can do with sufficient effort.

    It seems to me that sometimes our development is spurred on by a bit of delusion. I look back at stuff I wrote in high school, which I honest thought was very good writing at the time, and I know it was just bad. Yet, if I’d been fully aware at the time how bad my writing was, I probalby would have simply quit. In similar form, a certain amount of “you can do anything with sufficient effort” kind of thinking may actually be helpful, even if it isn’t true. But if you have no idea of what your actual limits in ability are, and you really do spend fifteen years of your life trying to become an astronaut or an NFL star, when you pretty clearly just can’t, you’ll end up a pretty disappointed person.

    American culture seems fairly heavily based on the illusion that with sufficient hard work anyone can do anything — perhaps as much so as some traditional cultures were built on the idea that everyone was categorized by birth. I’m not sure what happens to American culture if we actualy admitted on a widespread level that many people don’t actually have the ability to “rise to the top” even if they work hard.

  • It’s a balancing act. I’ve been discouraged from doing things I’ve been told I wouldn’t excel at but looking back my only obstacle was the discouragement. I’ve also been encouraged to do things I’ve failed at miserably. It’s good to pursue big dreams but it’s equally important to assess our chances of success realistically and take measures to hedge our risk of failure.

  • ….How many folks stick with what they wanted to do in high school? (Well, TECHNICALLY I’m being paid to write, but I don’t think that Amazon’s Mechanical Turk would even be recognizable to me. ^.^ I’ll still never be able to write the stories I dream of, any more than I’ll paint the images I dream, or be a great singer.)

    I can’t stand the “you can be anything you put your mind to”– although I like its cousin, “work hard and you can succeed.” It may not be the success you were thinking of, and the work may be in more places than you ever imagined, but hey.

    An odd association popped up: how many dang times in the Bible does God pull his little joke of giving folks things in ways they never thought of?

  • I can’t remember who said it (W.C.Fields or Will Rogers?) but I always loved this advice:

    If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. After that, move on – there’s no sense in being a dang fool about it.

  • “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again… Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.” ~Mark Twain

  • I think Christopher Lasch offered that early 19th century writings on the subject of coming into adult life did not typically incorporate notions of upward mobility, but of each man having a ‘competence’. The difficulty with that at this time is that contemporary division of labor leaves a large fraction of the labor force with service jobs for which the level of skill and capacity for acquiring it is severely limited. One salutary social adjustment is having such employment nearly universal for people at a given point in their life cycle and another is having such employment as a pragmatic supplement to family income. Still, you have a large fraction of the labor force who do this sort of work all their lives and have to look outside their work for aught but minor satisfactions.

  • I can’t speak for other eras, but all my 50+ years I have observed that most people work for money. They very seldom have jobs that they would confuse with their avocations, and those that do are mightily blessed. Fathers work in jobs they do not particularly enjoy as an expression of love for their families. I doubt this is new. There is risk in the ubiquitous admonishment “Find your passion!” We have tens of thousands of 20- and 30-somethings in this country who live at home waiting for an occupation to surface that suits their passion or interest. This is not to say that no passion seeker ever succeeds — just that it is a very risky strategy. My observation is that those who embark on this strategy successfully usually do so from a posture of family comfort. A trustafarian can more rationally try to align his work-life with his interests than most of us.

  • The part of the message that is true, and ought to be repeated is this:

    Nobody knows what you can do until you work at it for a while.

    But “you can do anything if you put your mind to it” is simply false. It also sends an extremely bad message (as does the french fry poster), that certain kinds of work is to be sneered at, that workers who toil at those kinds of work are “people who didn’t put their mind to it,” and that the purpose of work is self-satisfaction and pride.

    Which it’s not.

  • Which it’s not.

    It is not, but there is a sense of craftsmanship to be had in tasks well-executed. (Of course, people’s capacity to experience that is variable, as is their opportunity).

  • Craftsmanship =/= pride.

    Satisfaction in a job well done =/= self-satisfaction.

  • As in most things there needs to be a balance between “You can do absolutely ANYTHING if you try hard enough” vs. “You are nothing but a helpless victim of circumstance and it doesn’t matter what you do.” Perhaps the first attitude is an overreaction to the latter, or vice versa.

    Although perfection cannot be achieved in this world, there is a value in setting the bar pretty high. Another favorite quote of mine from Mere Christianity: “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”; aim at earth and you will get neither.”

Mr. President, Not Even Close to Good Enough

Wednesday, June 16, AD 2010

Mr. President,

Last night you gave an address using the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as an opportunity to pontificate about many subjects. I am afraid that far from convincing me you are leading the federal government well in this disaster, you have removed beyond a doubt your indifference to the state of Louisiana. Since you rarely visited the state before the disaster (even when the un-repaired damage done by Hurricane Katrina should have called your attention), perhaps I, as a resident of this great state, can explain what you obviously don’t understand.

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8 Responses to Mr. President, Not Even Close to Good Enough

  • Flappin’ gums don’t get things done!

    Do something besides execrating BP and demolishing the unjsut, racist capitalist economy!

  • Bravo. I would not like to be President with the current problems that face the country including the disaster in the Gulf. But the man wanted the job and billed that the planet would start to heal with his ascent. Now he’s learning that neither the tides nor disasters heed his will.

    Leadership is a lot more than talk.

  • I honestly did not seize the opportunity to observe the speech, but I was amazed to learn that Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman heavily critized the President.

    Olberman said: “It was a great speech if you were on another planet for the last 57 days.”

    Matthews compared Obama to Carter, said that he had “no direction,” was “a lot of meritocracy, a lot of blue ribbon talk” and that he did not personally “sense executive command” from the President.

  • This whole Obama experiment is kind of like expecting a career .200 hitter to suddenly start hitting .325 with 30 hrs and 92 rbi. I suppose it’s possible if the player played every game like the one game last September when he went 4 for 5 with 1 hr and 4 rbi. Possible, but not bloody likely. The truth of the matter is that Obama was not even a good community organizer. People who spend too much time reading the sports pages missed this little fact.

  • Actually, if a player played every game like the one last September, he would be an .800 hitter with 162 hr and 648 rbi – but I think you catch my drift.

  • Even more about the poor performance Tuesday night. You know its bad when your own press supporters dis you:

  • It seems like there is finally some good news with the spill. The Houston Chronicle reports, U.S. ships were being outfitted earlier this month with four pairs of skimming booms airlifted from the Netherlands and should be deployed within days.” Could this be the turning point? For all those feeling pretty gloomy about this situation, I recommend a good laugh… Here’s a funny joke,

Red vs. Blue Families

Tuesday, May 11, AD 2010

It’s fairly common for advocates of more liberal social policies to point out that “red states” tend to have higher rates of divorce, teen pregnancy, etc than “blue states”. This is taken to suggest that, however much conservatives may go on about “family values”, it is actually more liberal social values which are best for families. Ross Douthat does a good job of addressing this mentality in his column from last Sunday, in which he takes a closer look at some of these “family values” statistics.

Today, couples with college and (especially) graduate degrees tend to cohabit early and marry late, delaying childbirth and raising smaller families than their parents, while enjoying low divorce rates and bearing relatively few children out of wedlock.

For the rest of the country, this comfortable equilibrium remains out of reach. In the underclass (black, white and Hispanic alike), intact families are now an endangered species. For middle America, the ideal of the two-parent family endures, but the reality is much more chaotic: early marriages coexist with frequent divorces, and the out-of-wedlock birth rate keeps inching upward.

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20 Responses to Red vs. Blue Families

  • There are more problems with this book that I’ll outline in about a week. I have the post 3/4’s written but have to run some regressions and what not. I imagine you and your fellow travelers will largely be in agreement with me.

  • You read Douthat’s piece and came away with a completely different impression of it than I did. Of course, in my blog post on the subject, I did acknowledge that I may have been reading Douthat’s piece through my Ross-colored glasses, which probably tends to somewhat negatively distort anything written by the guy.

    I probably could have just let this one go, but for his gratuitous swipe at Bristol Palin.

  • I probably could have just let this one go, but for his gratuitous swipe at Bristol Palin.

    I thought it was pretty obvious from the context that he was characterizing the authors of the book as the kind of people who would make such a comment rather than taking a swipe at her himself. Judge for yourself:

    This is one of the themes of “Red Families v. Blue Families,” a provocative new book by two law professors, Naomi Cahn and June Carbone. The authors depict a culturally conservative “red America” that’s stuck trying to sustain an outdated social model. By insisting (unrealistically) on chastity before marriage, Cahn and Carbone argue, social conservatives guarantee that their children will get pregnant early and often (see Palin, Bristol), leading to teen childbirth, shotgun marriages and high divorce rates.

    I could be wrong, but it never occurred to me to read it otherwise. He is laying out their argument in that paragraph; and the rest of the editorial is critical of that simplistic portrayal of Red America, and (implicitly) the kind of people who would cite Bristol Palin as the exemplar of backwards redstate America. Notice, the conclusion of the piece:

    By comparison, the “red family” model can look dysfunctional — an uneasy mix of rigor and permissiveness, whose ideals don’t always match up with the facts of contemporary life. But it reflects something else as well: an attempt, however compromised, to navigate post-sexual revolution America without relying on abortion.

    Translation: Red State America does not take abortion as an easy way out; this decision has consequences that aren’t always pretty, but it also reflects a lived moral conviction.

  • MZ,

    Sounds interesting. I’ll keep an eye out for it. (In the mean time, I’ll try to figure out if I should be flattered or perplexed at having “fellow travelers”.)


    Yeah, I didn’t get that he was rolling over to the book’s thesis at all, but rather refuting it. But while I want to argue with anything Rod Dreher says, Ross Douthat doesn’t fall in that camp for me.

  • Yeah, I didn’t get that he was rolling over to the book’s thesis at all, but rather refuting it.

    I’m with Jay on this one – it sounded like it was Ross himself backing the authors’s thesis.

    There is an easy way out of this morass, of course. Douthat could have, at some point, made an affirmative denunciation of the thesis and spelled out why the authors were mistaken. Instead we get a subtle jab that leaves the reader perplexed as to what exactly Douthat’s personal point of view is.

  • It was pretty clear as written, Paul; certainly Darwin and most of the commenters at the New York Times picked it up quickly enough. Douthat’s point is that attitudes toward abortion – not abstinence education or an emphasis on marriage or the simple stupidity of people in Red America – account for most of the differences we see in out-of-wedlock birth, early marriage (and accompanying divorce), etc.

    The contemporary liberal narrative downplays this fact. Abortion is becoming increasingly unpopular, so liberals want to argue that increased access to contraceptives will reduce the need for abortion, and that it is cultural conservatism that, in effect, increases the abortion rate. Douthat just points out this argument doesn’t square with the facts; teen pregnancy is lower in blue states primarily because abortion is more prevalent. That’s why Darwin and Chris Burgwald flagged the article; it refutes a central part of the contemporary liberal diagnosis of red state America – the myth of social conservatism increasing the abortion rate.

  • Jay:

    I’m normally a Douthat fan, but I did think this article was weirdly written for some reason so while I noted as Darwin did that he ultimately refuted the thesis, that I didn’t feel great about him doing so. Not sure why.

  • The whole concept of the book is wrong-headed I think in its analysis of Red and Blue states. There are really very few states that fit in that category. For example I live in Blue Illinois. Outside of Chicago and some of the suburbs, most of Illinois has life conducted along the lines of a Red State by the lights of the book. The reverse is true of Red States, Texas for example, with large urban enclaves. This mixed quality of the states would have to be taken into consideration when looking at statistics regarding marriage and divorce. Additionally, I think we are at the beginning of a political era where the Red and Blue divisions may soon seem like relics as much as the divisions between the Whigs and the Jacksonian Democrats do today. The political landscape is changing rapidly, as I think Illinois will demonstrate in the fall.

  • “teen pregnancy is lower in blue states because abortion is more prevalent”

    Well, actually it would be teen BIRTH rates that would be lower in those states. I have seen lists of nations with the lowest teen pregnancy rates and the lowest teen birth rates side by side, and they are NOT identical, so statisticians do have a way to compile those statistics separately. (Switzerland, for example, is in the bottom five nations as far as teen birth rate, but does not have the same ranking for teen pregnancy rate.)

    If Douthat’s theory is true, blue states would have the same or possibly even higher teen PREGNANCY rates, but lower teen birth rates, the difference being due primarily to abortion.

    The only other possible cause for such a disparity would be a high rate of miscarriage or stillbirth due to poverty or poor medical care; that might be a factor in some Third World countries but probably not so much in the U.S., even in areas of extreme urban decay.

  • Also, figures in some of the red states may be considerably skewed by the impact of (illegal) immigration.

  • There is an easy way out of this morass, of course. Douthat could have, at some point, made an affirmative denunciation of the thesis and spelled out why the authors were mistaken.

    There is little indication from his writing that Ross Douthat has the background to have much critical engagement with a piece of quantitative social research, so he would be advised to tread rather carefully in commenting on that. It’s regrettably been years, but I have done this sort of work on this sort of topic and (judging from the literature I reviewed and my own analyses) you generally get ambiguous results.

    Of course, the book could be flawed in all kinds of ways that a layman could spot quite readily. Awful lot of groupthink in academe.

    But while I want to argue with anything Rod Dreher says,

    The bulk of what Brother Dreher has to say is he is upset. No point to arguing with that.

  • Well, actually it would be teen BIRTH rates

    Yeah, mistyped.

    The bulk of what Brother Dreher has to say is he is upset. No point to arguing with that.

    Heh. A little harsh, but there’s a lot of truth there.

  • If Douthat’s theory is true, blue states would have the same or possibly even higher teen PREGNANCY rates, but lower teen birth rates, the difference being due primarily to abortion.

    While the terms are being used a bit interchangeably in the comments here, Douthat does successfully make the distinction, and the data he links to does indeed bear this out. For instance:

    Alabama has a pregnancy rate for 15-19 year olds of 73 out of every 1000 women. Connecticut has a rate of 57. For in Alabama only 20% of those pregnancies end in abortion, while in Connecticut 53% do. West Virginia has a teen pregnancy rate of 62, which is the same a Rhode Island’s rate of 62 — but in West Virginia only 17% of those pregnancies end in abortion while in Rhode Island 42% do.

  • Regardless of whether Douthat was using her as an example of the kind of people the authors were talking about, Bristol Palin should not have been brought up at all.

  • The bigger point might be the supposed connection between morality and whether one is red or blue. As much as either side tries to convince that it is more moral than the other, neither the public examples, nor the statistics are there.

    If you wanted to analyze the big picture on abortion or divorce, you’d have to draw in economics, religion, and education, among other factors. They used to say the moral majority is neither. It’s still true.

  • Regardless of whether Douthat was using her as an example of the kind of people the authors were talking about

    It’s not that she typifies the type of people the authors were writing about (although she does in some respects). It’s that she is a common example cited by people like the authors. Douthat is laying out the lefty worldview; and Bristol and Sarah Palin references are common. Is that unfair to Bristol? Sure. But I don’t think re-stating the blue state critique of red-state America in its own terms makes Douthat morally reprehensible.

  • Todd,

    I’m not clear that moral conservatives necessarily claim to be more moral than social progressives, they just claim that they continue to espouse morality while their opponents consider it “repressed” or “outdated”.

    Of course, the other point here is that claimed moral beliefs are certainly not the only difference between the populations of “red” and “blue” states. In this sense, although it’s an oft used distinction, trying to make these distinctions is overly broad.

    As I’m sure you’d agree “red” and “blue” (there’s a certain late-Roman quality to how attached we are to these color designations) in the sense of left-politics/right-politics can contain a whole host of contradictory groups within one label. I would imagine that you share much more in moral/cultural outlook with those in the Moral Majority (however distasteful you may find their politics) than you do with the sort of folks who write long self-examining essays about how monogamous marriage doesn’t make sense in the modern world for The Atlantic, even if you might share some of the same favorite politicians.

    Data that I have seen which is more explicitly broken down by actual stated moral beliefs does show that, while as should come as no surprise to anyone those who espouse traditional moral beliefs are far from perfect in their practice of them, people who claim to believe in traditional morality, attend some sort of religious services regularly, etc. do tend to have fewer sexual partners, “wait” longer as teenagers, etc. Whether people claim allegiance to moral norms is not irrelevent to their behavior, even though many do not life up to their own stated ideals.

  • I suspect those on the left have their own moral positions though they may deny that. Just look at the furor over such issues as immigration restrictions, global warming etc. And like those on the right, there are many on the left that do not live up to their moral positions.
    No one is the equal of their ideals. The problem is what ideals are the right ones. Then, how to implement them.

  • Thanks for the comment, Darwin. I suspect that “researchers” on this topic go after their perception of hypocrisy from the Right. In a way, all they have to do is point to select developments in Republican-leaning regions, say “gotcha!” and move on. Point proved.

    I have yet to see a serious across-the-board study that would link abortion, divorce, and other issues with geography, politics, wealth, education, race, etc.. Unfortunately, any serious sociologist who attempted one would either be too biased from the outset, given the polarization of the culture, or would get hammered from both sides of the ideological divide. For now, I think we exist in a state of ignorance when it comes to other people’s morality. And maybe it’s better that way. Heaven knows I have my hands full with my own moral temptations.

    I’m not sure I would equate this situation too much with the parable of the two sons, the one who promised to work then didn’t (conservatives) and the one who declined to give lip service, but then reconsidered and labored (liberals). But we do know there are prominent folk who do not live up to their stated guiding principles. I’m disinclined to credit that as a torpedo to the movement, even ones I disagree with.

    I know, for example, a number of homosexuals who are highly moral people. For some people on the Right, they would trip over the sex and not get any further.

    Sex is a big part of morality, in part because of our culture’s fixation on it, but it’s not the only factor.

  • I grew up in New York and raise my family in NJ, the statistics in this book challenge stereotypes of both liberals and conservatives. However, I just read Frank Luntz’s book, “What Americans Really Want…Really”. Based on polls taken in the U.S. it states that families who regularly attend church and children who are brought up conscious of God and family life are often more aware about the consequences of their decisions and how a religious family life is beneficial to children. Luntz states that children who attend church, eat dinner as a family, take family vacations etc are less likely to take drugs. He also states parents should go over their children’s homework daily. There are tips that can benefit both red and blue families. If rural America and poor areas tend to have higher teen birth rates and unstable families then the U.S. Govt should be working harder to bring quality education and jobs and rescources to these areas especially. Also, many jobs that illegals hold may be desirable to poorer and less educated Americans. Hence, the unfortunate recent bias attacks in Staten Island where people in poorer areas were hostile as illegals came to their neighborhoods and took the jobs available in a sluggish job market. Also, since contraception is so widely accepted since the 60’s the governments role in promoting (politically or financially) contraceptives doesn’t seem so vital in blue states. Teens in middle class blue states are educated and now have the access they need.

Res et Explicatio for AD 2-4-2010

Thursday, February 4, AD 2010

[Update at the bottom of this post]

Salvete TAC readers!

Here are my Top Picks in the Internet from the world of the Catholic Church and secular culture:

1. The USCCB scandal continues as the U.S. bishops continue to issue denials of wrongdoings.

Mary Ann of Les Femmes blog asks why does the USCCB continue to cooperate with evil.

An interesting twist to this story is how the Boston Globe and New York Times covered the homosexual pedophile abuse scandal in the Church quite vigorously yet not one peep when the USCCB is caught red-handed with direct links to anti-Catholic organizations.

2. A great discussion about the origins of the phrase, “The Dunce Cap“, provided for a clarification by Friar Roderic.  He provided a video that explains the steady progression as a Protestant insult, ie, to call Catholic dunces for being aggressive in their Catholic beliefs, to the more secularized version which has turned it into a catch phrase for idiocy.

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Res et Explicatio for AD 2-3-2010

Wednesday, February 3, AD 2010

Salvete TAC readers!

Here are my Top Picks in the Internet from the world of the Catholic Church and secular culture:

1. On ABC’s “This Week” this past Sunday Arianna Huffington, of the Huffington Post accused Glenn Beck of “inciting the American people” to commit violence against Obama by talking about “people being slaughtered.”

Here is Glenn Beck’s response from last night:

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7 Responses to Res et Explicatio for AD 2-3-2010

  • Safari and Chrome are superior to Firefox in page loading speed and web standards compliance. Firefox uses the least memory but the #1 reason I stick with it is because of the extensions. All this competition is producing rapidly improving browsers.

  • “Here is a neat story of how a kitty cat at a nursing home in Rhode Island curls up to patients just before they are about to die.”

    Oscar, The Cat of Doom!

  • RR,

    I agree. Competition makes everyone better. And if they don’t get better they wither and die!

  • I have found Google Chrome to be the superior browser, at least on my home computer. I don’t do much except browse the internet, and it is super fast. I have two problems with it, though they might be unique to my circumstance. For one, last I checked it still wasn’t syncing with PayPal to enable me to print out shipping labels (I have some ebay business), and for whatever reason whenever I attempt to write out blog posts all but the first paragraph disappears when I attempt to publish.

    I do like Safari as well, and Firefox works great on my work computer but for some reason is slow as heck at home.

  • Thanks for the post about Glenn Beck and for your pro-life stand.

  • Paul,

    Some of the online and evening classes I’m taking requires that I use Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox to access my assignments.

    Ironically they never configured their secure sites for Google Chrome, but Chrome works infinitely better than IE and Firefox!

    Go figure.

  • Pingback: Res et Explicatio for AD 2-4-2010 « The American Catholic

Fort Hood Massacre, President Obama, and George Tiller the Killer

Monday, November 9, AD 2009

Isn’t it interesting that President Obama is pleading for us to “not to rush to judgment” concerning the Fort Hood Massacre that was executed by Malik Nidal Hasan who is an extremist Muslim.  Yet President Obama called out the National Guard to protect abortion mills when George Tiller the Killer was killed by a deranged man and not a pro-life advocate?

Double standard you think?

Yeah.  But just remember that this is the same administration that called “right-wing” groups such as pro-lifers as a threat to national security and not one mention of extremist Muslims or Muslim organizations that operate within the United States or abroad.

President Obama and his administration represent a world view that is un-American with values that only Moloch would love.  Catering to the politically correct sympathies and dogmas of modern liberalism while demonizing pro-life organizations that only seek to protect the most vulnerable among us.

Let’s pray for a one term Obama presidency and a strong candidate to emerge to represent the best of most Americans.


To read more about the Fort Hood Massacre click here.

To read more about the murder of George Tiller the Killer click here.

To read more about President Obama demonizing Pro-Lifers the same day that George Tiller the Killer was killed click here.

To read more of the Obama Administration categorizing Pro-Life groups as terrorists click here.

To read more by Ralph Peters of the New York Post on President Obama’s response to the Fort Hood Massacre click here.

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12 Responses to Fort Hood Massacre, President Obama, and George Tiller the Killer

  • I agree Tito – the double standard is as blatant as it is ridiculous. The government and the media did nothing as pro-lifers as a whole were vilified by the left.

    We are not a protected group. Neither, for that matter, are innocent unborn children.

  • Agreed, the double standard is absurd. But should we avoid fooling ourselves into thinking that Republicans don’t do the same thing?

  • Let’s not forget how quick Obama was to condemn the Cambridge police in the Gate arrest.

  • Phillip – Also, how long it took him to barely criticize the Iranian elections and subsequent crackdown.

  • According to the NRO, the NY Times has published a piece describing the heroic Michael Mansoor as an example of a patriotic and selfless Muslim serviceman who threw himself on a grenade to save others.

    In its zeal to promote Muslim servicemen, the Times got one little detail wrong – Mansoor was in fact a devout Catholic.

    You can see how such a mistake would happen, given the problems that paper has with the Catholic faith. To their hive minds, devout Catholics = child molesting priests and “anti-choice fanatics”, not heroes, while Muslims are all noble and good.

  • From NRO:

    In this New York Times story on Muslims serving in the U.S. military, the Times presents Navy SEAL Michael Monsoor, who earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for throwing himself on a grenade to save his team members in 2006, as a Muslim. It quotes a Muslim Army reservist who cites Monsoor as an example of a Muslim service member who gave his life for his country, and the Times lets the assertion stand. But Monsoor was a devout Catholic, as his Department of Defense official biography clearly states.

  • Donna V.,

    Could you send me the link? Thanks!

    Joe & Pinky,

    Thank you, it had to be pointed out. It was obvious to me.


    Absolutely agree.

    Arlen Spector, then a Republican, made the remark of how the Catholic Church was intolerant towards science and brought up the Galileo incident. Can’t remember the context of which he spoke about this, so if anyone can remind me what it was it’ll make for a good follow-up article in the future.

  • wow, I just read that Times article. That’s a pretty douche-bag (pardon the language) move by the NYT. Really ticks me off that they were so desperate to find counter examples that they resorted (as usual, i guess) to outright falsehoods for which they will no doubt issue a correction that is hidden away among the folds of a later issue.

    Not to go off-topic, but I recently read a defense of Tiller’s killer somewhere (

    I mean, what does one do when a state-sanctioned serial killer is loose in the world? Isn’t there some context that allows for individual citizens to do something about those people? If there was a known serial killer in public and he had publicly stated his intentions to kill again, is there no recourse for the sane members of society?

    I think I might agree with Gottfried that Tiller’s killing was not necessarily murder. However, his killing will undoubtedly result in harder times for the pro-life movement, but I’m not sure that is enough to make the actual act immoral.

    Tiller had killed some 60 thousand innocent people. I have a hard time believing that tiller’s killer could be guilty of murder.

  • Highly theological, though. probably so much so as to render any treatment of it in this limited space more of a detriment to the understanding of it.

  • Sorry for not posting it earlier, Tito. In the updated version, Mansoor is referred to as a Christian:

    With this added at the end:

    Earlier versions of this article misstated the religion and rank of Michael A. Monsoor and the act he performed that earned him the Medal of Honor.

CNN and HuffPo Feeling Heat Over False Racist Quotes to Rush Limbaugh

Friday, October 16, AD 2009

[Updates at the bottom of this post as of 4:21pm CDT 10-16-2009 AD]

This week there has been a whirlwind of character assassination done by the mainstream media to conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh’s bid to purchase the St. Louis Rams (American) football team of the National Football League (NFL).   They have been accusing Mr. Limbaugh of saying several racist quotes without confirming their existence.  All the alleged racist quotes have been debunked by Snopes earlier this week as well as being denied by Mr. Limbaugh.  Additionally many in the mainstream media have been unable to find any evidence of these allegations.

But today there has been a sudden realization of regret when the heat turned up on their yellow journalism.  Regret that some elements of the mainstream media were involved in libel and slander.

The most prominent of the yellow journalists are liberal news anchors Anderson Cooper and Rick Sanchez of the left-of-center CNN, sports columnist Bryan Burwell of the liberal St. Louis Dispatch, and finally the liberal Huffington Post (HuffPo) blog.

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10 Responses to CNN and HuffPo Feeling Heat Over False Racist Quotes to Rush Limbaugh

  • If I were a St. Louis Rams fan, I would not want an owner who couldn’t tell how good a quarterback Donovan McNabb was (at least before his injuries).

  • I would not want an owner who couldn’t tell how good a quarterback Donovan McNabb was

    Sigh. You know, Rush never actually said Donovan McNabb wasn’t a good quarterback. In fact he has repeatedly said that he is. The whole fiasco was about how he felt the media portrayed McNabb – a point that Chris Collinsworth actually all but confirmed the very next week when he overhyped McNabb’s role in an Eagles’ victory that was all but due to the defense.

  • BTW, somewhat tangentially, a person can be deemed overrated who, noentheless, is still a great player. Case in point: Derek Jeter. Jeter is no doubt a Hall of Fame caliber ballplayer, yet at the same time he is completely over-hyped by a fawning media. At the time Rush made the comments I think it’s fair to say that McNabb, while a very good player, was probably slightly overrated by the media. Even if you don’t think the media was motivated by racial considerations, I thought at the time that such a consideration was fair.

  • Being a liberal means never saying you’re sorry.

  • Yeah, I thought Rush’s comment was probably correct, but imprudent for exactly the reason that has manifested this past week. People with agendas would twist his words to manipulate people without gray matter.

  • This is on of the many instances where the mainstream media tries to silence crazy uncle Rush, not because of what he says, but because they disagree with his point of view and are jealous of his following and his wealth.

    If he hasn’t pulled a Pete Rose (or something similar), why would he not be allowed partial ownership of a sports team? I guess I will never understand that one…

  • Speaking of bad journalism… Anderson Cooper did -not- use the false quotes, he merely pointed out they weren’t accurate, which is an example of yellow journalism? Logic fail.

  • No one destroyed Rush Limbaugh…he is still going strong…those who lied will have their lies backfire on them at some point…what goes around, comes around. Actually, Rush would probably not have had as much time for his radio show so the liars have enabled Rush to stay and fight against the radicals who have infiltrated our adminstration and our country. Way to go!!!!

  • Paul, Just this guy,

    Being a liberal means never saying you’re sorry.

    That was funny!

Carter Tries to Deny He Said Obama Critics Driven By Race

Thursday, October 1, AD 2009

Former President Jimmy Carter was interviewed by CNN’s Candy Crowley who questioned him on why he accused “an Jimmy Carteroverwhelming portion” of tea party protesters and others that oppose current President Obama as racists.  Jimmy Carter responded by denying he ever made such a claim.  Several times Candy Crowley tried to ask President Carter to explain himself and each time President Carter denied he even said any such thing.

Am I hearing this right?  The following video shows the portion of the video where Candy Crowley is interviewing President Carter and then at the end it shows a clip of what President Carter said.  Truly amazing that He would have the audacity to lie on national cable television.

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.3546910&w=425&h=350&fv=]

Matthew Balan of NewsBusters has the complete story on this development here.

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12 Responses to Carter Tries to Deny He Said Obama Critics Driven By Race

  • Jimmy Carter responded by denying he ever made such a claim.

    File this under the same category as: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”.

  • At first I would say under my breath questioning his senility. Now I feel sad for the man.

  • This is the same peanut farmer who, after making a deal way back when with the North Koreans regarding their development of nuclear technology, told CNN: “I think it’s all roses now”.

    Yeah, right.

  • I still can’t get that petulant smile of Madeline Allbright that was showing during her North Korean visit when she was all grins during the Dear Leaders parade for her visit to Pyongyang.

  • File this under the same category as: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”.

    Well, I see what you mean. But Carter’s statement wasn’t made under oath.

    It is obvious from this that Carter realizes his blunder and is back-tracking from the stupid and wrongheaded remark. You can’t gain points from calling everyone on one side of a policy issue “racists”.

  • Carter was senile when he was President, and he’s even more senile now. It’s actually sad. This isn’t a case of his being evil. He’s just senile and should be taken care of in a nice rest home where anything he says no longer gets any publicity or credibility.

  • He wasn’t senile when President. He was book-smart and moral to the point of being Pollyannaish.

    He was so fundamentally ignorant of evil and sneakiness in the world that he was utterly incompetent either to engage in international relations, or to be discerning of the motives of his left-leaning political allies.

    He was, sad to say, as innocent as doves, and as wise as doves.

    So, he did a pretty bad job. But not a uniquely bad job.

    As a former president, his record is also mixed, though generally negative. He does quite well when, through the Carter Center, he does uncomplicated local community “good deeds” — rounding up donations for housing and the like.

    It is when he gets involved with international relations or other politically complicated topics, that he once again exceeds his realm of competence, and elicits groans from those of us who call Georgia home.

    A decent man, in the end…but one who, as described in the Peter Principle, was promoted to (perhaps far past) his threshold of incompetence.

  • R.C.,

    What a very interesting perspective that you’ve shed on President Carter. That’s probably the best examination of the man of heard yet.

    For the record, his state of mind has been a concern for the past two years. Now I don’t question it.

    I only feel sadness for the man.

  • Jimmah does not seem to be aware that a thing called “YouTube” exists and the ordinary peasants out there can access it and see for themselves what he originally said. And it can be done with a few key strokes and a couple of mouse clicks.

    This new-fangled Internet thingy is such a pesky inconvienence to old-time pols. They can’t simply deny the idiotic and offensive things they said the day before yesterday, with the help of soliticious reporters who toss them softballs.

  • True Donna, although it is amusing watching them try. A sympathetic press is only of marginal utility in the days of YouTube and blogs. This is really killing off the “mainstream media”, that is now widely regarded as a mere propaganda organ for the Democrat party. Why read Pravda when the truth is available for free on the internet?

  • Sorry, but I disagree that Carter is a “decent man”. He’s a bitter hypocrite and a grandstander. He is a petty, mean, and vindictive man who, in contrast to the tradition of former Presidents to avoid criticizing their successors in office, has engaged in unseemly, ungracious, and self-aggrandizing sniping from the sidelines. The final straw was accusing anyone who disagrees with President Obama of being “racist”. So-called “decent men” don’t calumniate with such broad strokes.

    I’ll grant him the good he’s done with Habitat for Humanity, but I’m just no longer willing to sit back and listen whenever Carter is described as a “decent man”.

  • Judging by some of the thing his former Secret Service detail have said, I’d say Jimmy Cater is not a nice man at all.

Non-Binary Thinking on Healthcare Please

Thursday, July 23, AD 2009

There’s a conversational dynamic which I’m already getting tired of, though I’m sure that we’ll see a lot more of it in the coming weeks and months, and it goes basically like this:

A: “I see the following problems with Obama’s health care proposal…”
B: “Don’t you understand the Church teaches health care is a right? Do you want there to be 47 million uninsured? How can you stand in the way of the one chance to do this? Do you think the current system is just fine?”

Clearly, just because the Democrats in Congress are patching together a 1000+ page bill which has specific characteristic and goes under the title of “healthcare reform” do not mean that this is the only way in which one might seek to reform healthcare. And although this may be the primary alternative to the status quo available at this moment in time, even someone who considers the status quo to be far from perfect might well consider the proposal currently coming together to be worse than the status quo.

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30 Responses to Non-Binary Thinking on Healthcare Please


    Somebody who understands the “Either/Or” fallacy!

    Of course, it just happened to be DarwinCatholic.

    This guy truly has the makings of a barrister!

    DC should consider a career in law with such a keen eye for fallacies as flagrant as the one currently featured at Washington!

  • Darwin’s too smart to waste his life on the Law!

  • Donald et al.,

    This is off tangent, but while I was checking into WordPress your most recent comment is the American Catholic’s 14,000 comment!


    I present you with the White Elephant Award.

  • I will use it wisely Tito!

  • I’ve heard that Obama voted against the 2 Republican health-care reform proposals which were presented during his tenure. One was to allow individuals who aren’t provided health insurance by employers to deduct the cost on their taxes (an evil idea, good thing it was shot down!!!), and the other was a bill to allow small businesses to pool together to buy health insurance for their workers (nasty business, must oppress them).

    Bottom line is there are much better ideas out there that will make it possible for more people to secure coverage at a lower cost and less disruption.

    Note also that we are talking about INSURANCE. Americans are not typically denied health care even if they are not insured. The converse is not always true of countries with government health insurance, I assure you.

  • I think half those comments came in the “Kudos to Rep Smith” thread.

  • e.

    Just to finish hijacking my own thread…

    Whenever I hear the word “barrister” I recall the Dorothy Parker quip when she heard that a prominent divorcee had broken her leg, “How terrible. She must have done it sliding down a barrister.”

    Still, I like to think that we also serve who gather data and tell the more fluffy marketers that their schemes won’t work.

  • Donald,

    Mighty glad to know though that, at the very least, there remains those Catholics in that now abominable profession (which is why I can’t really fault Erasmus for himself having such a low opinion thereof), such as your own distinguished person, who ever strive still to practice in accordance to the Faith, after the image of the illustrious Sir Thomas More himself!

    (BTW, what the heck is a “white elephant award”???)

  • DarwinCatholic,

    Apologies for both the seeming hijack and, admittedly, the unnecessary emote.

    Now, back to your regularly scheduled program…

  • Michael Denton,

    That’s not far from the truth.

    But I need some evidence before I can agree with you on that.

  • e.,

    Hopefully that’ll satisfy your thirst for meaningless knowledge.

    Michael Denton,

    Is that an example of evidence?

  • e.,

    Just curious, are you a guy or a girl?

  • Tito:

    Look, I trust the word of my Salvadorean friends. If I could transport them with a translator into your living room, I would.


  • Tito:

    No. My Salvadorean friends tell me that the white elephants were Marxists and hid guns in their trunks, so I don’t think that the process of making them into an award will go anywhere


  • Michael Denton,

    Naus hasn’t told me anything resembling that Karlsonian tome.

  • “(BTW, what the heck is a “white elephant award”???)”

    I’m not quite sure, but right now my albino squirrel assassins are playing with it!

  • I take it walnut rations had been restored.

  • The squirrels are “playing?” How dare they, the little slackers, when the enemies of the Church abound! Why, right next door to me live two vile heretic cats and there’s a bulldog down the block I suspect has been exposed to Jack Chick tracts. He used to like me but today he growled when he saw me. Hence my desperate need for albino squirrel assasins. Traducers of the faith are everywhere up here – and down in Illinois, the squirrels play! Grrrr,…,

  • Er, since they are Illinois squirrels, maybe offering a little something extra on the side, like a couple of bags of cashews, may induce them to come north and take care of business. Nobody has to know, I’ll just leave the cashews in a P.O. box in Chicago. Call it a gift, boys.:-)

  • I am sure Donna that they would walk through Gehenna itself for cashews!

  • Having played a major role in hijacking this thread, I now declare the hijack over! All future comments should be directed towards Darwin’s post please.

  • Re the healthcare being a “right” talk, I wonder if some of these folks have ever given this any thought beyond the most superficial and simplistic kneejerk reactions. As one blogger put it:

    The constant improvement in health care gives another good example of why the “right” to health care makes little sense. Did you have a right to chemotherapy in 1600 AD? You could have protested to Parliament all you wanted, but chemo just didn’t exist. Then, did you have a right to it the moment some genius invented it? You did not pay for the research. You did not make the breakthrough. Where do you get the right? How did it come into existence for you the moment somebody else created these things? I’m pretty sure you cannot have rights to material goods that don’t exist, and I am pretty certain that the moment some genius (or business, or even government) brings them into the world your “rights” do not improve. But strangely, many disagree.

    Conundrums are easy to create. If a cure for all disease is discovered but it costs the GDP of Europe for each treatment, do we all have a right to it? Of course not. We can say we do, but it does not matter. We cannot have it.

  • Jabez,

    that’s an interesting point. To my mind, rights are not “entitlements” so much as that they are things that ought not be unjustly denied. You don’t have a right to do nothing and then have food put in your mouth. You should be able to work and secure food for yourself, and your family, your rights are denied if someone prevents you from doing that. The same would go to health care. Of course one has to consider that while access to food may be a right, access to steak is not, the same must be the case for health care.

    If we consider rights to be “entitlements”, then the question is who is violating your rights by not providing for you, and then should the government punish these transgressors and coerce them into providing for those needs? Or should just be able to sue in civil courts? Will damages be involved? Wow, another great opportunity for the lawyers to make a 30% commission.

  • I apologize for my levity: I find it hard to resist the squirrel jokes.

    On to the topic of this thread, the bottom line is that in order to provide coverage for all, many will have to be denied testing and treatments they would get under private plans. (Not our Congresscritters, I know, but after all they are superior beings exempt from the rules that guide mere mortals.)

    Now, I work in a hospital and I know full well that often people do demand unnecessary tests. They come into the ER with a scratch and write angry letters to the admin rep later on wanting to know why Dr. Z did not send them to get a MRI. And sometimes Dr. Z does, just to cover his butt because he fears a malpractice suit. (And, while everyone loves to hate the insurance companies, I don’t see much coverage of what part huge malpractice settlements have played in raising medical costs. 10 years ago, the OB’s at my hospital – a Catholic institution with an excellent Labor and Delivery unit – took pride in the fact that our C-section rate was below the national average. Not any more, it isn’t, thanks to John Edwards and other ambulance chasers. Now OB’s are so afraid that something will go awry that they perform C-sections as soon as the mother starts having any difficulties.)

    The problem with offering a nationalized system is that it will seize the bull by the horns and turn it very sharply in the opposite direction. Care will be rationed.There will be waiting lists. There will be no way to provide the level of care Americans are accustomed to now. And, as the boomers age, the crunch will only get worse.

    The thing I fear most is that when you combine nationalized (and rationed) health care with a culture that is already on shaky grounds re: life issues, you are going to end up with the same situation you have in the Netherlands. Old people actually fear going into the hospitals there because they get pressured (subtly and not so subtly) to opt for a “final exit.” After all, you’re elderly, you’ve lived your life, you’re using up precious resources that younger, healthier people should be getting – time for you to go gramps, and if you say “no” you’re being “selfish.” (Just as people who choose to have more than 2.1 children are deemed “selfish” by the pro-death enthusaists among us.)

    I have no good answers to this. I talk to people who are smarter and better informed than I am about this issue all the time and they have no good answers either. But I feel pretty sure that turning the whole shebang over to the government is not the way to go.

  • No apologies needed Donna. This is one blog where good natured levity is always welcome!

  • Tito:

    Are you a guy, a girl or simply ambiguous?

    Also, thanks for the info; however, it’s not so much to satisfy my supposed thirst for meaningless knowledge, but that it seems you yourself seem rather to not only glory in it but, indeed, even enjoy flaunting it, my friend.

    Better to reserve your needless wont to reward your fellow man with your meaningless white elephant trophies and dedicate such ardor to more weighty issues, such as the one DarwinCatholic addresses in his above post.

  • This coming from the man who feels harangued at even the slightest suggestion of calumny made by certain interlocutors (from both amicable & hostile sections in the audience) in previous threads?

    You need a vacation.

  • Pingback: Pelosi, Are Senior Citizens “Well Dressed Nazi’s”? « The American Catholic

Rhetoric, Abortion and Abraham Lincoln

Monday, July 6, AD 2009

Lincoln and son

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of Father Z at What Does The Prayer Really Say.  Today he has a post on calls to tone down the rhetoric of those who oppose abortion.  He eloquently explains here why he probably will not heed these calls.  Let me associate myself with Father Z’s remarks.  I have a great many interests and a great many opinions on a lot of issues, but for me abortion will always be THE ISSUE.  I am never going to stop speaking out against the obscenity of abortion.  I will never stop making abortion THE ISSUE on which I vote.  Sometimes in life you simply have to call a spade a spade, and to call abortion the deliberate taking of innocent human life.

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12 Responses to Rhetoric, Abortion and Abraham Lincoln

  • Great post.

  • I have believed for a long time that pro-lifers could learn a lot from Lincoln’s approach to slavery. He never wavered in his belief that slavery was wrong and his carefully crafted arguments against it were designed to win over people who didn’t agree with him, rather than just “preaching to the choir”.

    The irony is, however, that in 1860 most abolitionists regarded Lincoln as too “soft” on slavery since he did NOT insist upon its immediate abolition everywhere, nor did he condemn Southerners or slaveowners as harshly as they did. Moreover, once the Civil War broke out, he made it clear that preserving the Union was “THE ISSUE” for him more than slavery. This is evident in his wording of the Emancipation Proclamation to exclude border slave states still loyal to the Union (so as not to alienate their slave owning residents).

    Although Lincoln did make political compromises on slavery that abolitionists did not approve of, in the end, he is the president who gets the credit for having freed the slaves. Likewise, the president on whose watch legalized abortion on demand finally comes to an end may not be what we expect — he or she may NOT have a 100 percent pro-life voting record, and may not even be a conservative or a Republican.

  • Sigh. Disingenuous, much? African-American slaves were always human beings with a right to as much self-actualization as anyone else. Fetuses, on the other hand, are not only *not* human beings with a right to self-actualization, but they are *incapable* of self-actualization. In fact, you might even call self-actualization a fetal condition incompatible with life.

    It’s so junior-high-debate-club to try to draw a parallel between slavery and abortion, but at least you avoided the easy Hitler points, so that’s something… I guess.

  • Jillian,
    what do you mean by “self-actualization”

  • Jillian, fetuses are perfectly capable of self-actualization IF they are allowed to live long enough to be born! You were once a fetus yourself, and yet you managed to become self-actualized, so I wouldn’t say that condition is “incompatible with life.” Actually, by your definition, African-American slaves were not “always human beings” because THEY all were fetuses at some point in their existence too.

    Maybe the reason it’s “so junior high debate club” to draw a parallel between slavery and abortion is because the parallels are obvious enough for even 12-year-olds to see? A particular group of beings belonging to the species Homo sapiens is declared, by law, not to be persons and not to have any rights, based on certain “scientific” arguments of the era. (There were plenty of scholars and scientists in the 19th century lined up to provide “proof” that African-Americans were inferior to whites and incapable of rational thought or action, and that slavery was absolutely necessary for their own good as well as that of white society.)

  • Ouchy, that’s a bit close. Sure to bring out some folks swinging the personal attack bat.

    self-actualization is the *final* thing in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; claiming that because someone, at this very moment, isn’t able to fulfill:
    Needs for Self-Actualization
    When all of the foregoing needs are satisfied, then and only then are the needs for self-actualization activated. Maslow describes self-actualization as a person’s need to be and do that which the person was “born to do.” “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write.” These needs make themselves felt in signs of restlessness. The person feels on edge, tense, lacking something, in short, restless. If a person is hungry, unsafe, not loved or accepted, or lacking self-esteem, it is very easy to know what the person is restless about. It is not always clear what a person wants when there is a need for self-actualization.

    If we’re going for the assertion-without-anything-to-back-it-up tactic– which is so grade school, but you chose the field– then a fetus is a human being with as much of a right to not be killed as any random person on the street.

    Laws may not acknowledge that fact, but they didn’t allow for self-actualization of slaves, either.

    It’s so junior-high-debate-club to try to draw a parallel between slavery and abortion, but at least you avoided the easy Hitler points, so that’s something…

    So refute them, by either logic or showing a flaw in the logic.
    If it’s so simple that a 12 year old can do it, why haven’t you?

  • -Obama has attempted to brand himself as a modern day lincoln — its a shame he hasn’t shown pres lincoln’s spine and character to protect the most weak

    later this week Obama will meet the Pope may the Holy Father boldly teach the chosen one

  • “Fetuses, on the other hand, are not only *not* human beings with a right to self-actualization, but they are *incapable* of self-actualization.”

    Jillian, the problem isn’t self-actualization of unborn children but the self-rationalization that pro-aborts such as yourself engage in in order to blind yourselves to the taking of innocent human life. Thank you for providing an object lesson of the infinite capacity of human beings to justify evil for the sake of self-interest.

  • “Moreover, once the Civil War broke out, he made it clear that preserving the Union was “THE ISSUE” for him more than slavery.”

    True Elaine, up until the Emancipation Proclamation. After that he indicated on several occasions that the two non-negotiables for him on ending the war were the restoration of the Union and the abolition of slavery. Frederick Douglass was correct in his comments about Lincoln on this point:

    “His great mission was to accomplish two things: first, to save his country from dismemberment and ruin; and, second, to free his country from the great crime of slavery. To do one or the other, or both, he must have the earnest sympathy and the powerful cooperation of his loyal fellow-countrymen. Without this primary and essential condition to success his efforts must have been vain and utterly fruitless. Had he put the abolition of slavery before the salvation of the Union, he would have inevitably driven from him a powerful class of the American people and rendered resistance to rebellion impossible. Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.”

  • “Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.”

    As Douglass points out, Lincoln was a politician and an elected official and he had to walk a fine line between determination to carry out his goals and the necessity of making sure enough of the public stayed on board to make that possible. This of necessity requires some degree of compromise.

    I would seriously like to see some officeholder or politician take the same approach to abortion that Lincoln took toward slavery. Has anyone ever actually done or attempted this? It would be interesting to see what kind of reaction he or she would receive. More likely than not, pro-lifers would be upset with him or her because he/she was too soft, while the pro-abort crowd would label this person as radically “anti-choice” and paint them as someone willing to toss pregnant women in jail for having miscarriages, or some other ridiculous charge.

  • Excellent post, with a most useful Lincoln quote.

  • So Jillian.

    At what point in your life did you become “self-actuallised”?

    Fetuses on the other hand are not only *not* human beings with a right to self-actualization….

    Does the *not* refer to the fetus not being a human being, or does it apply to the adjectival phrase as well?
    If you believe the fetus is not a human being, at what stage does it change its “nature” to become a human being?

    Humanity does not depend on “self-actualization”.

Sotomayor, No Content Of Character Here

Thursday, June 4, AD 2009

Sotomayor Racism

Imagine a white male conservative making the same comments that Judge Sonia Sotomayor made:

A wise White man with his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a Latina female,”

The mainstream media (old media) would have a field day recounting how racist Republicans are.  It would be nonstop media coverage not seen since Trent Lott’s infamous statements.

Now here are Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s comments.  Keep in mind that when she said these comments that she was dead serious:

A wise Latina woman with her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male,”

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15 Responses to Sotomayor, No Content Of Character Here

  • A wise woman will more often than not reach a better conclusion than most males.

  • Gabriel,

    A wise woman will more often than not reach a better conclusion than most males.

    and conversly a wise man will more often than not reach a better conclusion than most females.

    Now, to be clear, we’re talking about the proper understanding of “wise”. Here’s another thoughts:

    An “educated” man or woman will more often than not reach a worse conclusion than most anybody.

  • Gabriel,
    Indeed, but a “learned” person has a better chance of becoming a “wise” person than most.

  • Mike Petrik,

    Indeed, but a “learned” person has a better chance of becoming a “wise” person than most.

    not typically in this day and age, maybe before the “enlightenment”.

    am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.
    — William F. Buckley

  • Matt,
    I intended my post as a response to yours, and without getting into the relevance of the so-called enlightenment, my point was to distinguish the “learned” from the “educated.” I suspect you would agree with that point, properly understood.

  • Sorry Mike, I though you were equating learned with education. So if you agree that the 2000 professors of Harvard are neither wise, nor learned no matter how educated they are, then we’re on the same page.

  • At the risk of being accused of making sweeping generalizations, I agree completely — at least in principle.

  • Imagine a white conservative saying: “A wise Italian woman with her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male.”

    I doubt there would’ve been much protest.

    I’m not very familiar with La Raza. How many whites have they lynched?

  • –Imagine a white conservative saying: “A wise Italian woman with her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male.”

    May I then in the same spirit nominate my wise grandmother for the USSC. She’s an Indian fisherwoman but (per Asimov) as indeed all grandmothers, is in fact Jewish.

  • RR,

    If you ever read anything from La Raza you would be appalled at the literature out there.

    As far as I can recollect, I haven’t read any Italian-American literature calling for the annexation of the eastern United States to Italy and calling themselves the Master Race.

  • I have no love in my Hispanic heart for La Raza, MEChA, et al. I also am not naive about the meaning of identity politics, in particular Affirmative Action (see my recent post at Vox-Nova:

    Add to that, I do not know Sotomayor or what she meant by this statement. Having said that, none of us “know” her intentions or the meaning of her language here.

    The point where I dispute this post (and others like it) is that there is only one meaning to her statement. There is a connotation of racism, to be had, for sure.

    However, I think that there is also another meaning that is hardly controversial, albeit politically incorrect. Namely, that the our life experiences shape our ability to interpret the world, in this case, the law.

    This is why a Catholic perspective, to me, is a richer view to look at thing with when compared to narrower views–for this very reason I supported the nominations of Alito and Roberts, and was deeply criticized for it.

    So, while lumping in the implication that she is racist may still be a possible way to interpret what she said and her affiliations with the organization that smack of supremacy (although for complex, yet still misguided in my mind, reasons) are troubling, there is no reason to think that this interpretation has some kind of monopoly over the possible meaning of her words.

    Perhaps I am wrong, but the content and tone of this post suggests that this is the “real,” “only” way to see her comments. And that clearly seems to be untrue.

  • Sam,

    The context of the post is very limited, for that matter all posts are, since it can be difficult to understand the context of where the person is coming from as well as the words themselves.

    With that said, a lot of people in La Raza and MEChA as well, can be discerned as well meaning. Just as those that may have joined the Nazi party in the Weimer Republic of the 1930s.

    I.E., not all people are bad by association.

    With that said, considering the educational and intellectual background of Miss Sonia Sotomayor, it can be construed as a very poor judgement on her part for being affiliated with such organizations. As well as her work in college for calling for Puerto Rican independence.

    For all we know, she may well be a very patriotic American and is embarressed by her poor choice of words. Unfortunately she does not have the character to admit the errors of her way since she is determined to be a Supreme Court Justice.

    If she were to recant and be apologetic, I would certainly be one of the very first to accept it and maybe even accept her as a Supreme Court Justice, but her admitting her mistakes is not part of her character. Sadly. She is of this world and not Christs.

    I am beyond “ethnic” politics, at least I think so. If the nominee were of “Latino” ethnicity but of a practicing Catholic, I would be celebrating the fact that she is Catholic. Not that she is “Latino”.

    I have no doubt that she will be confirmed, regardless of her less than stellar career as a district judge, since it seems to guilty white liberals that ethnicity and empathy trump experience and character.

    My posting was basically for historical posterity. So when people look back and see the baffling and poor writing of Miss Sonia Sotomayor, they will see why she was placed on the bench.

    Simply because of the color of her skin and her gender. Not because she was qualified.

  • Tito, thanks for acknowledging the limits here. But even given the limitations you mention, I don’t understand the meaning of many of the words you are using (e.g. liberal, the problem with PR independence, belonging to the world vs. Christ) and the concepts that follow.

    The biggest problem, however, is that you seem to have missed a major consequence of my comment. Namely, that your interpretation of Sotomayor here, posted for posterity, could in fact be completely wrong. Which would mean she would have no reason to apologize int eh first place. Instead, she would only have to say what she meant in a way that a bit more clear.

    So, the needed apology would only be if you are right here, but—and this was my point—you may be quite wrong and neither one of us can possibly know that for sure. But, while you say you have serious limits, being wrong isn’t really one of them here.

    No, my point is not saying that guilt by association is true (of course it isn’t), it is saying that, given what she said, there are other possible interpretation that should keep our decisions on the matter (i.e. what she said) open ended for now.

    There is a decidedly partisan tone to your argument, as I read it, that seems to prevent you from granting that limitation. Without doing so, I fear you are simply asserting something as plausible for your cause as the other are plausible for the other side of the aisle. My point is this: both sides are bankrupt, we do much better thinking free from them, and, if we do, then, we cannot say the things you are saying here or the other side is saying there—you are both wrong, for now.

  • Forgive the grammar and misspellings, I think the basic ideas are still intelligible, though.

  • Sam,

    I respectfully disagree with your sentiments.

    I am not a registered Republican and have rightfully castigated people such as Rudy Guiliani and Sean Hannity for being less than truthful in their faith.

    I am a history buff and always take care with what I write knowing that history will prove me right in the end (at least I think so). In addition, you pointing out the fact that this is an opinion is like accusing the President of being partisan. Of course it is my opinion, that is why I wrote this piece.

    I do presume, based on the mountain of information that I have, especially since I feel that I am a patriotic American and disavow all calls for the dissolution of union when it comes to Puerto Rico. If Miss Sotomayor would apologize for her un-American statements in supporting anarchy and her racist remarks, then I would be supportive.

    But considering her lack of faith and her lack of character, I highly doubt this will occur. Though I would be happy to be corrected here.

    Grammar and misspellings are easily forgiven. Please forgive me as well for the same.

    For posterity’s sake, I opine that history will judge Miss Sotomayor harshly. May she return to her faith and find solace in the Lord with His mercy so she can deal with the shame and rightful scorn that will be placed upon her during her time (assuming she gets confirmed) as a Supreme Court Justice.

The Unattractive Truth About "Heart-wrenching Decisions"

Thursday, May 28, AD 2009

A guest post at the League or Ordinary Gentlemen provides an interesting critique of pro-choice rhetoric from a doctor who is himself pro-choice:

[quoting a pro-choice advocate covering Obama’s Notre Dame address]

Good, I thought. It will be from the parent of the mentally retarded high school student who was gang raped, the doctor of an 11 year old incest victim, or possibly a woman with four kids already whose husband has just lost his job and medical benefits along with it.
Boy, was I wrong.”

The above desired examples of women (or girls) seeking abortion are precisely the kind of examples that do nothing whatsoever to further the purpose of honest debate about abortion in this country. Women (or girls) in such circumstances are chosen as examples because theirs are the stories most likely to evoke sympathy from most people (even if they do not sway the edicts of the Holy See). That Ms. Burk would cherry-pick them is not surprising, but nor does it speak to her desire to see abortion honestly discussed.

My trouble with her examples stems from my own experience as a doctor in New York City. For a few years, I worked in a clinic that provided free care to adolescents and young adults. I saw many, many young women who had become pregnant unintentionally. Many of them went on to deliver and parent their babies. Many opted to abort. (Before moving forward, I should clarify that our clinic did not provide abortions, but did serve as a point of referral.)

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8 Responses to The Unattractive Truth About "Heart-wrenching Decisions"

  • Please- stop this Third Way stuff. Discussing compromise on these matters. Not. Going. To. Happen. The above physician lists very real issues that the pro-aborts in their Rhetorical and Suppositional Wonderland fail to address. As though it’s a Third Rail issue- along with Social Security. The fact that this physician any states some very harsh truths about a real-live medical office shows that he is moving, gently but firmly… the pro-life side. If Bernard Nathanson could repent and jump the fence, many more medical professionals may follow. We can anticipate mass migration just from the horrorshow that is Planned Parenthood. We are not Europe. Our collective consciences have not been completely numb. Watch and pray over the next two years. A regular prayer request in my daily Rosary is the reversion of public feminists such as Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell. Time to add pro-abort medical pros to the list. Without them, no baby-killing.

  • I wasn’t intending my brief remarks at the end to suggest some sort of “third way” policy, so much as to observe that since even many who consider themselves pro-choice are revolted by abortion as it often exists in this country (when they actually come face to face with the realities involved) we should as pro-lifers be able to achieve a great deal in the way of restricting abortion before we find ourselves pushing against the tide of public opinion.

  • The doctor writes in a fantasy world. How many “back-alley” abortions has he come across? Or is he depending in the rhetoric of the abortion movement.

    I note the condescension of his “The young women I saw, profoundly unready to be parents”. So he will recommend a procedure which will affect them for the rest of their lives.

    I have ever found it particularly bizarre that a man would be “pro-choice”. It is like asking a man if he would vote for brothels. No skin off his nose.

  • This doctor does not seem to recognize his own moral responsibility for his patients’ indifference to the destruction of human life. True, his clinic does not actually perform abortions, but it apparently dispenses contraceptives to sexually active young women, and it points them in the direction of the nearest clinic if they choose to abort. It thereby legitimizes recreational sex and treats the creation of new life as an undesirable side effect. In that way, it makes concrete for these young women the amoral theories expressed in the Roe and Casey decisions.

  • I think it’s important to note that MOST Americans believe abortion should be banned except in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. This represents roughly 1% of the cases. So, if the political interests and activist judges would step aside for the democratic process, 99% of abortion could be banned.

    Now, that doesn’t mean we as pro-lifers would be willing to compromise, we would continue to fight until all abortion is banned, but Lord would it be a glorious day when 99% were. The graces that could flow from such a change would be enormous.

  • I think it’s important to note that MOST Americans believe abortion should be banned except in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.

    That isn’t the case.

  • Yes, in point of fact it is.

  • Well, Matt, the ones on the pro-obortion side act as if they believe most Americans believe abortion should be banned in all but rare, icky cases; why else would the pro-aborts distrust the voters so much and run to the courthouses for their abortion-on-demand legislation?

    I too have long been suspicious of all that rhetorical boilerplate about “heart-wrenching decisions” coming from pro-abortion politicians and activists. Such words don’t fit in with their efforts to make abortion acceptable and no big deal.

    As for those cases that supposedly make choosing life soooo hard, let’s ask the pro-aborts to identify just how many there really are and why abortion-on-demand should be the law of the land in order to deal with a miniscule number of tear-jerker cases.

Partisanship and Empty Rhetoric

Wednesday, March 4, AD 2009

It seems in recent week that an ever-increasing focus has fallen on Rush Limbaugh and his radio show.  Not only have the usual suspects worked themselves into a frenzy over him, but we’ve even had President Obama command Congressional Republicans to ignore him.  And the White House has yet to let up on speaking against him.  White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has even taken a few stabs at Limbaugh.  Even more amazingly, Republican Chairman Michael Steele has voiced disapproval of Limbaugh’s talks.

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52 Responses to Partisanship and Empty Rhetoric

  • Lambasting Limbaugh serves two purposes for Obama: (1) icing the Republicans who have emerged as the more serious party in the debates surrounding the stimulus bill and (2) making a grotesque caricature of him the poster boy for the Fairness Doctrine.

  • And a very stupid move it is for Obama. Mud wrestling with a pundit is never a good move for a President, especially someone who reaches 20,000,000 listeners a week. Other than driving up the ratings for Rush, I can’t think of anything positive that Obama will accomplish by this. It is all downside for him.

  • I am baffled by the Limbaugh discussions raging through the blogosphere. Limbaugh has been around forever and his schtick is wearyingly familiar. I suppose Republicans don’t have much else going for them, and Democrats would rather not talk about the stimulus because it’s not particularly popular. But who cares about Limbaugh? Compelling politicians and fundamentals control political outcomes; radio hosts do not. I don’t intend this to be a criticism of the post (which I basically agree with), just an observation.

  • Obama is not smart here. As a talking head said earlier today, it is counterproductive to get into a urinating contest with a skunk….

  • I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh (not since he had his television show, anyway) but I think it would be a rather entertaining debate were Barack Obama to respond to his challenge to debate. =)

  • Christopher,

    Limbaugh would mop the floor… unless Obama had a teleprompter.

  • Yeah, the head of Harvard Law review against the Oxymoron, that is, the moron addicted to Oxycotin.

  • Mark,

    high or not, Limbaugh embarrasses your boy.

  • ps. generally speaking POTUS is a higher office than head of Harvard Law Review, either way the man stutters whenever he’s put on the spot… not exactly quick on his feet (except on the basketball court, better for the country he focuses on his jump shots, he’s hell on the economy, and the unborn).

  • “the moron addicted to Oxycotin.”

    A moron who has been the most powerful voice on radio for almost two decades? As for oxycotin, I believe that Rush licked that addiction. Of course if oxycotin is going to be brought against Rush then I assume that cocaine may be brought up against Obama.

  • I did not realize that A-C was populated by so many ditto-heads. Interesting; no, actually, quite understandable.

  • “A moron who has been the most powerful voice on radio ….”

    So was Father Coughlin in the 30s. Your point?

  • Father Coughlin, whatever else could be said about him, was no moron. You do not like Rush or his politics Mr. DeFrancisis, but you have given no evidence that he is a moron, and his success for 20 years in a highly competitive environment would argue otherwise. Your ideological soulmates at the moribund Air America could attest to that.

  • 1. To various other folks above me- no moron can maintain an audience of 20 mil over 20 years. Would have been wiped off the map long ago. 2. Love how the sensitive and caring always bring up the Oxycontin problems. Not the usual yes they’re sick people and we should care for them and so forth. Replaced his weight as the usual cheap shot point. See how these Christians care for one another. 3. There has been no one else in mass media history with his ability to get into your head and stay there. Polarizing and proud of it. Not enough media attention to his offer to debate the Apostle live- on his radio program- and handle all of the Apostle’s arrangements for transportation, luxury hotels, Secret Service demands, and post-debate party with Allen Bros. Kobe beef. Polarizing enough for the morning phone calls among Greenberg, Carville, Begala and Stephanopoulos to arrange talking points. Say- at least three of them work for major media organizations. Shouldn’t their bosses tell them- choose between the morning calls and your paychecks from us? Or would that be a concession to Limbaugh? 4. Libs need boogie men like Tiller the Killer needs poor dumb pregnant 18-year-olds. Since Richard Nixon. Rush is now Boogie Man Number One, in the absence of GWB and Company. Knows it. Relishes it. 5. Doesn’t faze him. Remember, Slick Willie once remarked that he was holding Rush accountable for the Oklahoma City bombings. 6. So much for the personal destruction- his CPAC speech last Saturday was carried live- start to finish- on both Fox News and CNN. Bad publicity is better than none at all. 7. I feel about him the way Walter Lippman wrote about another hero, H.L. Mencken- “the man increases your will to live.”

  • Yeah, the head of Harvard Law review against the Oxymoron, that is, the moron addicted to Oxycotin.

    Given that Obama has written about his own pot and cocaine episodes, is that really where one wants to go on the topic?

    I listened to Rush a lot back when he was fairly new and I was in high school — and in my previous job he used to always be on the radio when I was working out in the warehouse with the shipper and the drivers — but I haven’t heard him in years at this point.

    He takes a populist and sometimes hyperbolic approach to conservatism, and I don’t agree with him on all topics, but the guy is generally far smarter (and indeed far more polite to his opponents when they’re actually on the phone with him) than most liberals give him credit for.

    What in the world Obama’s administration thinks it can gain by picking him for a personal fight I don’t understand. Perhaps they actually believed their own rhetoric that the whole country would unify under their banner.

    For conservatives, however, it think Rush’s apparent dominance in the conservative debate right now is more of a mixed blessing. He’s a solid radio personality and a smart guy, but if his current prominance is the result of our lacking any clear policy direction or high profile leader (and I fear it is) that’s a problem.

  • Amazing. So quickly derailed…

    So tell me, guys, what do you think about my premise that partisanship and hard-fought arguments are necessary for the shaping of good legislation?

    And maybe I’m blind, but how exactly do Rush’s drug-abuse problems fit into that?

    Frankly I have no problem with an Obama/Limbaugh debate, if that’s what it takes to actually have a debate over issues. However, I’m leery of Limbaugh. I read through his speech to the CPAC, and maybe I’m blind, but I didn’t catch much of anything in the way of substance.

  • Along with that, I thought dissent was patriotic. Not that Limbaugh is always (nor necessarily even often) correct. But I think Obama is horrifically misguided in his policy choices at this time. Let them debate.

  • It doesn’t matter who the President is or who the pundit is, it wouldn’t be fair or appropriate for a President to have a debate with him. A President, even if he agrees on a particular point, might not be able so say so for prudential, diplomatic reasons. Ditto for valid arguments against the pundit. Also, a politician, regardless of his policy has to be mindful how he presents it if he is going to convince opposition or lead. A true statesman (not saying I think Obama is worthy of the title) with a clear and solid ideology and policy position would only do his cause damage by such an activity.

    The above is a defense for Obama as President and I would apply it to any President. However, I concur with those who believe that as far as having a well thought out and principled idea of policy and ideology – and one that he can proudly proclaim to the masses rather than obfuscate – Limbaugh would prevail.

    Sorry, Ryan. Yes, I agree that partisanship is important for proper governance, though I would qualify it. The partisanship demonstrated by this country’s founders was often fierce, but quite correct and the cream truly came to the top. The motivation on all sides was primarily what was best for going forward. These days, regardless of party affiliation, partisanship often exists for its own sake and for personal/party interest and I’m not so sure that a quality outcome is forged from the process.

  • Rick,

    the President already violated the principle here by personally attacking Rush Limbaugh, as well as Fox News. That’s exactly why he is being challenged.


  • These days, regardless of party affiliation, partisanship often exists for its own sake and for personal/party interest and I’m not so sure that a quality outcome is forged from the process.

    I’ll agree quite a bit to that. However, I think there’s a problem in that people anymore perceive all partisanship as being of the cynical type you just mentioned. I think that works to the advantage of one party or another because any legitimate protest/partisanship can be written off (in the eyes of the public) as just more of the same political squabbling that gets nothing done.

    Still, one of the more remarkable conclusions about this that I’ve come to is that we keep trying to find a system in which, regardless of our fallen state, we’ll always end up at the right place with the right answer.

  • I understand that, Matt. I never said I thought Obama should have said anything about Limbaugh, Fox, or any other commentator. And even if put on the spot by a member of the press corp to address something a pundit said, he should decline or give a respectful but dismissive response. The office demands an air of dignity, the president shouldn’t attack pundits anymore than he should debate them. I’m happy to cry foul on Obama for his actions, but I think it wrong to want him to further damage his or the office’s credibility by debating a pundit. It’s all just wrong.

  • Rick,

    Limbaugh is pointing out the President’s error in diminishing his office by making personal attacks on pundits. Regardless, following up his smear campaign with a debate doesn’t seem to me to diminish it any further.

  • Regardless, following up his smear campaign with a debate doesn’t seem to me to diminish it any further.

    Maybe, maybe not. I still think it would. We can certainly disagree on that point and the world will continue to spin. 😉

  • Ryan:

    I knew immediately that this thread would become a debate about the merits of Rush. But as for the actual topic of your post, I completely agree, and have said as much on my blog in a previous post.

  • Sorry guys, the opportunity arose via one commenter to make it about Rush, and I did not resist the temptation.

    But I am surprised what we have learned in the course of derailment about Mr. McClarey’s thoughts in regards to Father Coughlin.

    I’ll leave it at that.

  • But I am surprised what we have learned in the course of derailment about Mr. McClarey’s thoughts in regards to Father Coughlin.

    [McClarey] Father Coughlin, whatever else could be said about him, was no moron.

    I don’t think Mr. McClarey shared us many of his thoughts at all on Fr. Coughlin. But the one thought he did share, that Fr. Coughlin wasn’t a moron [in spite of whatever else could be said about him] is fair and accurate. Like everyone else, Fr. Coughlin had some good traits and some bad traits, some of the bad ones were pretty bad too, but he still wasn’t a moron – a person of subnormal intelligence. He was actually quite intelligent, but even that doesn’t mean he was right on everything, especially his antisemitism streak.

    Mr. DeFrancisis, what was the purpose of the remark about Mr.McClarey and Fr. Coughlin? What point were you trying to make?

  • What point is Donald trying to make, that is the question.

  • It seemed apparent to me that he was taking issue with you labeling Fr. Coughlin a moron, just as he took issue with you labeling Limbaugh a moron. There’s nothing wrong with you disliking Limbaugh or anyone else who you think actively does harm or stands for destructive things, but it’s best to do so by speaking the truth to the best of our ability.

    I probably feel the same way about Obama as you do Limbaugh, but I wouldn’t say Obama is a moron. He’s clearly not. He might be a very ambitious fellow, have what I consider a very flawed worldview or moral foundation, and support what I consider horrendous positions. It would be easier to just say, he’s an evil moron, but that’s not correct or necessarily just and we’d all be best served if I explained why I thought those things if they weren’t readily apparent.

  • Mark,

    It means Donald is fair minded enough to recognize that not everyone he disagrees with is a moron.

    On Ryan’s original point,

    I think it’s a key distinction. I too want to see Obama’s financial plans fail, and fail quickly, so we can move on to something I think will work. To insist that everyone “hope for success” results in a curious sort of double talk.

    To try it on the right side, I would assume that those who opposed the Iraq war would not want to have been told, “If you care at all about the US and the Iraqi people, you should want the Iraq War to succeed — it’s just that your definition of success involves not going to war and keeping the Hussein dictatorship in place. But we all want ‘success’ for the war.”

    That would be a useless way to talk. For those who think that Obama’s financial and social plans would be a disaster for the country, it’s obviously the correct thing for them to want to see him fail.

  • Darwin,

    Perhaps you do not know of the “SOMEONE MUST BE BLAMED” Father Coughlin well enoung, maybe due to Mr. Lugari’s strange defense. Read Adorno on the hate-monger and scapegoater. (Yes, I purposely chose such charged words, as they are most appropraiate in this case).

  • I agree he was certainly an unsavory character — and an interesting example of how fascist/statist and left/populist instincts often met and blended in the 30s in a way that’s often forgotten now — but I don’t think he was a moron. Generally speaking, one does not come such a widely listened to and influential figure by being a moron, unless by “moron” one simply means “someone I don’t like”.

    So for example, I tend to think of John Edwards as being a living example of much of what is wrong (and badly and dangerously wrong) with the American left, but does that necessarily mean that I should refer to him as a moron?

  • A bit about Fr. Coughlin:

    “He was an early supporter of Roosevelt’s New Deal reforms and coined the phrase “Roosevelt or ruin”, which became famous during the early days of the first FDR administration. Another phrase he became known for was “The New Deal is Christ’s Deal.”[4] In January 1934, Coughlin testified before Congress in support of FDR’s policies, saying, “If Congress fails to back up the President in his monetary program, I predict a revolution in this country which will make the French Revolution look silly!” He further stated to the Congressional hearing, “God is directing President Roosevelt.” [5]

    Coughlin’s support for Roosevelt and his New Deal faded later in 1934, when he founded the National Union for Social Justice (NUSJ), a nationalistic worker’s rights organization which grew impatient with what it viewed as the President’s unconstitutional and pseudo-capitalistic monetary policies. His radio programs preached more and more about the negative influence of “money changers” and “permitting a group of private citizens to create money” on the general welfare of the public.[6] He also spoke about the need for monetary reform. Coughlin claimed that the Depression was a “cash famine”. Some modern economic historians, in part, agree with this assessment. [7] Coughlin proposed monetary reforms, including the elimination of the Federal Reserve System, as the solution.

    Among the articles of the NUSJ, were work and income guarantees, nationalizing “necessary” industry, wealth redistribution through taxation of the wealthy, federal protection of worker’s unions, and decreasing property rights in favor of the government controlling the country’s assets for “public good.” [8] Illustrative of his disdain for capitalism is his statement that, “We maintain the principle that there can be no lasting prosperity if free competition exists in industry. Therefore, it is the business of government not only to legislate for a minimum annual wage and maximum working schedule to be observed by industry, but also to curtail individualism that, if necessary, factories shall be licensed and their output shall be limited.” [9]”

    He probably would be writing for Obama today.

  • fascist/statist and left/populist instincts often met and blended

    At least until the last election. This describes Obama’s policies precisely.

  • Strange defense? How so? What was in error?

  • Maybe I should state something here. I think my assertion (Donald’s initially) is reasonable and factually correct. There is nothing to my knowledge that would indicate Fr. Coughlin was a moron. I agree with his views that FDR and the New Deal were bad, but I also disagree with a number of his prescriptions. I think he was good in that he cared about social justice, but bad in that bought into bigotry and antisemitism and harbored some sympathy for fascism as a whole (dislike his sympathy for National Socialism, but appreciate his support of Franco in Spain – different countries under different circumstances with different leaders and intentions).

    Fr. Coughlin was very dedicated to St. Therese, the Little Flower and was responsible for building a beautiful shrine to her here in Detroit. I don’t think it’s wise or just to minimize souls to good or evil, moron or brilliant, as Mr. DeFrancisis seems wont to do. Praise which is good and condemn which is evil, but always deal in truth and justice. For all we know, Fr. Coughlin is in Heaven praying for us – at any rate, he now knows where he was right and wrong, and what he was culpable for.

    To ditto some points others made, Fr. Coughlin should be viewed as a hero to many on the left.

  • I gues Democracy is a messy thing. Anyone can offer their opinion. Rush Limbaugh, Fr. Coughlin, Keith Olbermann etc. etc. Often those opinions are offered to us by political and academic elites. Often those opinions are no more correct than the guy next door.

  • Moron comes from the Greek “moros”, the latter of which means dull. Calling someone moronic can therefore connote dullness of mind to the extent that he/she lacks good or sharp judgment.

    I do not apologize for calling the someone who encouraged and exemplified a racist-tainted laziness of judgment towards Jews in the 30s a moron, his devotion to the Little Flower withstanding.

  • Of course promoting abortion is showing a lack of judgment. Therefore Obama is …

  • Touche. 😉

    But I’ve gone on too far already.

    I encourage all to return to the actual topic that Ryan means to discuss.

  • Good sport Mark.

  • Mark,

    so are you acknowledging that Obama is a moron, or that your moron comment was really just “partisanship and empty rhetoric”?



  • Matt,

    Mark acknowledged the point. Let’s just move on.

  • Mark acknowledged the point. Let’s just move on.

    In the spirit of the thread: Mega-dittos to John Henry.

  • Partisanship, wielded properly, is a necessary thing. Keeping the debates alive and lively is why we even bother having a two-party system.

    I agree, but the ‘wielded properly’ modifier does a lot of the work here. People have very different ideas about what is proper. In the debates over the stimulus, for example, Congressional Republicans claimed to be acting on small government, anti-pork principle. Democrats claimed they could not be taken seriously given their support for the Bush-era deficits, and that they were engaged in irresponsible political point-scoring. Obama suggested much the same thing with his efforts to depict himself as ‘post-partisan’.

    I think most people agree in principal that it is good to have multiple perspectives, etc. But they often find reasons to dismiss other perspectives with tu quoque’s in practice.

  • DC/JH,

    what point did he acknowledge? Ryan’s post is about partisanship and empty rhetoric. I would like to know if Mark’s admitting to engaging that practice, or that he thinks Obama’s a moron too.

    By the way, in the spirit of bipartisanship and intellectual honesty I condemn the actions of Sam Brownback, and believe that he is a MORON for supporting a rabid pro-abortion candidate for DHS. I will resist the temptation to impune his morality, that’s for his bishop to examine.

  • Well, unless it was cross posting the exchange appeared to be:

    Phillip Says:

    Of course promoting abortion is showing a lack of judgment. Therefore Obama is …

    Mark DeFrancisis Says:

    Touche. 😉

  • DarwinCatholic,

    I don’t think Mark D. would admit that Obama is a moron, so I presume he is retracting his accusation that Rush is, and acknowledging that he practices “partisanship and empty rhetoric”, but I could be mistaken. It would be more helpful if he would clarify his “touche”.

  • Matt,

    In the frey of verbal exchange, I broadened the definition of moronic. In doing so, I admitm I was seeking not primarily truth, but scoring immediate argumentative points.

    And I would not have even had the chance to succumb to such maneuvering, had I been more careful with what I chose to call both Limbaugh and Coughlin.

    But inasmuch as Obama clearly lacks good judgment with respect to the abortion issue, I conceded that he is/was moronic in that regard, using my broadened usage of the term.

    Any way, if I would have allowed the discussion to remain about what Ryan’s ultimate questions brought into focus and veer toward a discussion of Rush’s merits per se, none of this would have ever arisen.

    As I did contribute to furthering the conversation by actually changing its purposed content, I apologize to all involved, especially Ryan Harkins, who wrote a nice post.

    I hope that suffices.

    Does that suffice?

  • Mark,

    Does that suffice?


  • John Henry,

    In the debates over the stimulus, for example, Congressional Republicans claimed to be acting on small government, anti-pork principle. Democrats claimed they could not be taken seriously given their support for the Bush-era deficits, and that they were engaged in irresponsible political point-scoring.

    This brings up one of the gray areas that always makes me stop and think when we talk about partisanship. As I said in my post, I’m against bringing up someone’s drug addiction…unless one can show how it pertains to the argument. Now, I think there’s is some reason, possibly some merit, to bickering in that sense, in that we’re questioning motive behind a particular stance.

    Now this example is made up, so don’t try to find anyone who matches. But suppose there’s someone who has been heavy into drugs, but supports open borders with Mexico. Questioning his border policy based on his past drug abuse might–and I say might, because even in this it might be stretching things a bit–be based on the premise that if the borders remain open, drugs keep flowing through, and thus he can get his drug fix so much easier. But even then, that doesn’t necessarily touch on the merits of his arguments, though it may make any legislation he tries to pass needing close scrutiny.

    To an extent, the seeming mud-flinging may serve some purpose in trying to judge whether or not we should trust a particular politician. For instance, while I hope Congressional Republicans block some, if not most, of this fiscal irresponsibility, I don’t trust them to be fiscally responsible themselves. And the point the Democrats made about Republicans not being true conservatives for having passed all of Bush’s spending is a valid point. But is valid so long as we’re trying to judge whether we can trust Congressional Republicans. It loses its edge when it becomes a debate between who we should trust more to be fiscally responsible.



    I hope that suffices.

    Does that suffice?

    Apology accepted, not that it is necessary. Besides, your very first comment still makes me chortle, and my wife got quite a kick out of it.

Did the U.S. Commit "Terrorism" in Syria?

Tuesday, October 28, AD 2008

Michael Iafrate of Vox Nova condemns the United States for a brutal act of “terrorism” in conducting a strike into Syria against an al Qaeda facilitator.

In typical fashion, Michael likewise insinuates that Sarah Palin approves abortion bombings and alleges that, by virtue of the fact that nobody at American Catholic has yet commented on the story, we are quite obviously racist:

Of course the “pro-life” Cathollic barfosphere, so vocal in the “defense of human life,” remains utterly silent in the face of the Bush administration’s ongoing acts of terrorism. Of course, these weren’t cute white babies who were slaughtered, were they? That explains it.

Michael’s penchant for profanity, libel and general elementary school antics does nothing to enamor readers of his position or the Catholic blog he represents. Yet I think he deserves a response (however meager) …

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37 Responses to Did the U.S. Commit "Terrorism" in Syria?

  • More background on the Abu Ghadiyah network in Syria

  • The idea that countries may give sanctuary to terrorists and be immune from the consequences of their actions defies history and common sense. Syria has now been put on notice that the US will no longer tolerate their collusion with Al Qaeda, and my only regret is that we didn’t do this years ago.

  • The always indispensable Michael Yon has an informative piece on the strike.

  • I hope Michael or anyone else who disagrees with Chris will engage the substance of this post… great post, Chris.

  • Donald,
    I would disagree. I think, rather than primarily signifying that you can’t harbor terrorists, it signifies that powerful states can ignore international law.

    International relations depend on the norms accepted by the participants, and here the US is suggesting that the norms are those of Thrasymachus.

    A grand strategy that would better serve us (and which would arguably be more Christian) is for us to argue that powerful states must abide by the same rules as all others, and to have our actions match our words.

  • Aside from Blosser’s typical cut-up job in which he suggests that comments I made about the Catholic blogosphere in general were made in direct reference to your blog (which is misrepresentation and nothing more), Blosser’s main point seems to be: this certainly could have been an act of terrorism, if we knew that civilians were directly targeted. But since we don’t have all the facts, we don’t know. Blosser assumes that, even though their goal was to kill one human being, these eight human beings were somehow not directly targeted. (Reminds me of that old show Sledge Hammer in which the main character often would blow up a building in order to kill a criminal who had run inside to hide. The show made a mockery of the notion of double effect that Blosser carelessly applies.) The assumption that these deaths were “collateral damage” is an assumption just as much as mu view that they were intentional. The thing is, my assumption is based on the actual history of united states military actions, while Chris’ is based on the illusion that the united states only kills when necessary, or by accident.

  • And for someone who claims in his writings to take just war tradition seriously, that Blosser would actually defend such an action shows that he does not take it seriously at all. Just war teaching allows for no such actions.

  • shows that he does not take it seriously at all

    Or that he might be mistaken in his application of it, but that wouldn’t fit with your preconceived notions of Chris, Michael. Better and easier just to impugn him.

  • Chris, I could charitably say that he was “misapplying” just war teaching if there was any evidence of him actually attempting to apply it at all in this case.

  • For the sake of argument, Michael, I’ll grant that there is no such evidence. My point is simply that it seems (as I’ve proposed elsewhere) better to give Chris the benefit of the doubt and *inquire* and dialogue with him about that. Instead of saying that he doesn’t take just war teaching seriously at all, given that he does even attempt to apply it in this case, why not *ask* him if he’s applied said teaching, and how he arrived at the position he did having done so?

  • [Michael]: Blosser’s typical cut-up job in which he suggests that comments I made about the Catholic blogosphere in general were made in direct reference to your blog

    After Chris Burgwald protested charges of racism, classicism and nationalism, you responded:

    I’ve noticed your blog, Chris, has not condemned this action of the united states against innocent people. And of course it won’t. You guys are too busy belly aching over how badly Joe the Plumber is being “persecuted.”

    I think it a fair assumption that your prior remarks would apply to “his”/our blog as well, insofar as American Catholic is presumably part of “the Catholic blogosphere in general.”

    However, if you’re willing to retract your charges and amend your post, I’m perfectly willing to accept your apology.

    [Michael:] Blosser’s main point seems to be: this certainly could have been an act of terrorism, if we knew that civilians were directly targeted. But since we don’t have all the facts, we don’t know. Blosser assumes that, even though their goal was to kill one human being, these eight human beings were somehow not directly targeted.

    All you had rely on in your post, Michael, is a rather flimsy story culled from the headlines — your impulse was to play judge, jury and executioner on the basis of sparse details and rival claims as to the intent of those involved and the identities of those slain.

    My point: I think charity demands we refrain from doing so.

    You bemoan my hesitancy to apply just war teaching in evaluating this particular incident — I would go further in saying that there are likely those who are far more qualified than you or I to make an accurate assessment of what happened based on the facts, and that we do a disservice to the just war tradition when we indulge in speculations and condemnations based on insufficient evidence.

    (The history of a similar “rush to judgement” further compels me to wait until “all the facts are in”).

  • Mr. Blosser,

    What has been your stance about the US invasion and occupation of Iraq?

  • The irony is that to garden-variety leftists like Michael I., it’s America’s fault both for 1) allowing Arab terrorists to enter Iraq and kill people there (i.e., for allowing people to die in Iraq), AND for 2) trying to stop Arab terrorists who have killed people in Iraq. Catch-22.

  • Michael I.,

    Why are your posts on Vox Nova so full of hate and vitriol, but in the American Catholic comments box you are very civil and polite. I hope your commenting skills will spill over into your posts.

  • S.B. – The united states does not have the right to invade other countries whenever it feels like it, even if Syria is “harboring terrorists.” It goes against international law as well as the just war tradition of the Catholic Church.

  • Blosser – Is that your advice for the families of the victims? “Just wait until the ‘facts’ are in. Charity, charity.” Give me a break.

  • Michael, since when is this about what *advice* to give the families? I thought the point was regarding the *justice* of the actions… even if it *had* been a just action, there’s no “advice” that would have solaced the families of innocent victims… would you tell them, “Oh, it’s okay, this strike was justified under the auspices of just war teaching of the Catholic Church.” Of course not.

    Tangentially, Michael, why do you capitalize “Syria” but not “United States”?

  • Because he’s a classic troll . . . he writes not for the purpose of rational debate, but just to ignite other people into reacting.

  • Blosser – Is that your advice for the families of the victims? “Just wait until the ‘facts’ are in.

    As far as “advice” to families of those killed, I agree with Chris Burgwald.

    Given the deaths of civilians I would hope there to be a full investigation into the matter by the proper authorities to determine culpability.

    On the other hand, we very well could form a mob, hold a public lynching of the soldiers involved and get it over with, facts be damned — just as Senator Murtha did in the case of Haditha.

    It would certainly save us a lot of time and thought.

  • On the matter of international boundaries, Zach says “rather than primarily signifying that you can’t harbor terrorists, it signifies that powerful states can ignore international law.” True, but there are limits to the case. Weigel makes a good point that “the principle of state sovereignty must not be considered exceptionless.”

    Suppose an Indian government, controlled by militant Hindu nationalists and capable of deploying nuclear weapons, decided to settle the “Pakistan problem” and redress what it considered to be the fundamental injustice of the 1947 partition of the subcontinent, using its claims to sovereignty in Kashmir as the opening wedge for military action. Or at a somewhat less apocolyptic level, suppose the government of Turkey decided to rid itself of the Kurds in the manner in which it had once decided to rid itself of the Armenians. Does the principle of state sovereignty mean these affairs would be no one else’s business? Would it constitute a fundamental breach of the principle of sovereignty of an international force — or an individual state, for that matter — intervened to stop the genocide of Christian tribesmen in the south of Sudan?

    Put that way, the question seems to answer itself: whatever else it might mean, the principle of state sovereignty cannot mean that states are free to engage in the indiscriminate slaughter of religious, racial, or ethnic minorities within their borders. When that is taking place, othes have a right — perhaps even a duty — to intervene to stop the killing.

    (Idealism Without Illusions/U.S. Foreign Policy in the 1990s pp. 99-100).

    Syria continues to be a state-sponsor to terrorism — but quite apart from Syria’s hosting of terrorists within its borders, the problem remains of its porous borders. According to the December “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq” report to Congress, nearly 90 percent of all foreign terrorists known to be in Iraq had used Syria as an entry point.

    The target in question — Abu Ghadiyah — was not only complicit in funneling terrorists across the border, but himself a leader in terrorist acts:

    Last spring U.S. intelligence picked up similar reports that Abu Ghadiyah was planning an attack in Iraq. The information — not detailed enough to act on — was followed by the murder of 11 Iraqi policemen. Abu Ghadiyah personally led the attack, a senior U.S. official told The Associated Press.”The trip wire was knowing an attack was imminent, and also being able to pinpoint his location,” the official said Monday.

    So there is no question that the target was legitimate.

    According to the same AP report, the U.S. had requested Syria “hand over Abu Ghadiyah months prior to the raid, the intelligence official said. Syria rebuffed the U.S. request, saying it was monitoring Abu Ghadiyah’s activities.”

    Should they have gone across the border? — I don’t know.

    How much actionable intelligence did we have?

    How close were we to taking out Abu Ghadiyah?

    Was it a reasonable presumption that those men in Ghadiyah’s company were complicit in his activities?

    Was there any off-the-record notification of Syrian authorities? — One account alleges that “The Syrians were unwilling to be seen publicly bowing to US pressure to tackle the group, he says, but in the end gave the Americans the green light to do so themselves.”

    Did the authorities give consideration to the minimization of civilian casualties? — According to the AP, “A ground attack was chosen over a missile strike to reduce the chance of civilian casualties.”

    Meanwhile, the Syrian government appears at odds with local authorities as to how many people were killed:

    The government statement said eight people were killed, including a man and his four children and a woman. However, local officials said seven men were killed and two other people were injured, including a woman.

    A journalist at the funerals in the village’s cemetery saw the bodies of seven men — none of them minors. The discrepancy could not immediately be explained.

    Lastly,was the United States prepared to deal with the aftermath that would follow when the incident went public?

    There is a lot we don’t know and sorry, I’m not going to imply that I’m competent and knowledgable enough to register a judgement on the culpability of those involved.

    Tangential note: I predict we will be revisiting this argument under the next presidential administration, given suspicions that Osama Bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan and/or being assisted by Pakistani elements, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that President Obama may embark on a similar ‘across the border’ excursion to apprehend another terrorist.

  • Apologies — for some odd reason, when you insert something in “blockquotes” WordPress renders the first paragraph in bold. Never figured why it does that or how to circumvent.

  • Chris – Who are “the proper authorities”?

  • Michael,

    Q: What usually happens in the context of a military operation when civilians are killed in the line of fire?

  • What usually happens is that the event is ignored and/or justified under the vague blanket term “collateral damage.”

  • Okay… At first cut my thoughts would be:

    1) I very much doubt you would believe a claim of first person knowledge that disagreed with your preconcieved notion, so I’m not sure why we should find your reception of one that agrees with it to be so compelling.

    2) It’s entirely possible that he’s dead right, and that the site attacked was of no military value whatsoever. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was a terrorist attack intentionally aimed against civilians. It could well simply mean that it was a mistake. For instance, I wouldn’t claim that Clinton was performing a terrorist attack against the Chinese when he ordered (through a mistake in building address) the bombing of the Chinese embasy in Kosovo.

  • Darwin you are unbelievable. “Must have been a mistake. My country, right or wrong.” You have no desire to know the truth. You’d rather assume everything is a “mistake,” and that the u.s. military does no wrong.

    (And, yes, Clinton was a terrorist too.)

  • Look, I think Clinton was a lot of things, but a terrorist? Is your theory, then, that the US _did_ intentionally bomb the Chinese embassy in Kosovo?

    I certainly don’t think that the US military can do no wrong — but to claim this was a terror attack doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The whole point of a terror attack is to kill lots of people in an indiscriminate and spectacular fashion so as to strike terror into the populace. Napalming several whole Syrian villages would be an obvious way to achieve that goal. Sending in a couple helicopters to attack one house, and one house only, in a remote area seems a curious approach.

    It’s entirely possible that the military was criminally negligent and struck a target based on intelligence that was flimsy and entirely wrong (though that certainly seems odd given that it probably took very high level approval to strike across and international boarder) but terrorism really doesn’t seem like a probably motivation.

    It’s not “my country right or wrong” it’s using one’s basic powers of reason. (I invite you to try it some time.)

  • So Michael links to (and thanks) an anonymous commenter who purports to be Syrian (how that Syrian guy ended up on Vox Nova, who knows) who says that the United States is lying about this attack, just like the United States lied about the fact that it arranged 9/11 to happen so that it would have an excuse to kill Muslims.

    It’s very telling what Michael I. does — and does not — disagree with. In fact, I’d guess that Michael is a 9/11 “truther,” given that he’s a sucker for whatever crap he reads on any random leftist website.

  • I don’t know the particulars about the bombing of the Chinese embassy. But in between the Gulf Wars Clinton oversaw regular bombing raids in Iraq as well as the sanctions there in which children were knowingly left to die. Madeline Albright said publicly that these children’s deaths were “worth it.” This is terrorism.

    Look, I know these actions won’t fit your definition of terrorism. But that’s part of my point. Who gets to decide what “terrorism” is? If the military was criminally negligent, I would still call that terrorism. Being careless about the power you wield over life and death is terror.

    (I invite you to try it some time.)

    And I invite you to include a little self-criticism in your reasoning, and to purge your capacity for reason of the utter denial of your country’s history.

  • Michael, if you can indulge me… why “Syria” but “united states” and “u.s.”?

  • Well, I have my suspicions, but I want to see if I’m correct.

  • He’s just being trollish, i.e., trying to poke a finger in people’s eyes, just to get a reaction.

  • Michael, so who does get to define terrorism? Or more precisely, why don’t you simply lay out your terms for what constitutes terrorism so we can all at least know what the other is talking about? Frankly I have to believe that there is a fundamental difference between targeting a single house with several helicopters and targeting a whole market square with a single bomb. One speaks loudly of restraint, while the other speaks of indiscriminate violence. I’m not saying that therefore you can’t claim terrorism on the part of the US, but then, I like to see exactly, point for point, what your criteria for terrorism are.

    Also, let me ask one further question: is there a difference between intentional and unintentional killing: for example, between murder and manslaughter?

  • Chris, feel free to email me for an answer to your question. I don’t feel like “discussing” it with S.B. again. 🙂

    Michael, so who does get to define terrorism?

    For starters, I’d say the victims of should be given special consideration as to what constitutes terrorism.

    Frankly I have to believe that there is a fundamental difference between targeting a single house with several helicopters and targeting a whole market square with a single bomb. One speaks loudly of restraint, while the other speaks of indiscriminate violence.

    If the u.s. military was going after one person, which the reports claim, then killing EIGHT other people IS a matter of indiscriminate violence. Perhaps if it was your family that was killed, you would not be calling the action “restrained.”

    …is there a difference between intentional and unintentional killing: for example, between murder and manslaughter?

    Yes, of course. But bear in mind that we often hold people accountable for unintentional killing. That’s the whole point of the concept of manslaughter. I also think that there are different types of unintentional killing. If my car hits a patch of ice and I slam into someone and kill her, that’s unintentional. But soldiers being reckless when attempting to capture ONE PERSON such that EIGHT OTHER people are killed, when this is happening on the ground and not from a helicopter, etc., this is not an accident. It is recklessness that comes from not giving a shit who gets in the way. And being willing to sacrifice whoever is “in the way” is indeed terrorism. The Syrian gov’t is absolutely right to call it terrorism.

  • Somewhat tangential here…

    Why do so many liberals place so little faith in one aspect of the US government (the military), but so much confidence in other aspects of the same government? And why do so many conservatives do likewise?

    If it’s patriotic to serve your country in the armed forces, why isn’t it similarly patriotic to be a civil servant? And likewise the opposite?

    Am I missing something obvious?

Measured Rhetoric Is More Effective

Friday, October 24, AD 2008

A good part of what I was trying to say in my Socialist post the other day concerned the relationship between precision in political rhetoric and its ability to persuade; in short, I think that “toned-down” rhetoric is more likely to convince an interlocutor (let alone an observer)  of at least the plausibilty of one’s position than is the “speaking truth to power” approach.

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22 Responses to Measured Rhetoric Is More Effective

  • Just so.

    I suppose it’s just an intellectual twitch of mine, but whenever I hear that someone is a person who “speaks truth to power”, I have the strong urge to walk rapidly in the opposite direction. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anything worth hearing given that moniker.

    Much though I don’t want to see an Obama presidency, and eager as I will be to keep it to four years if it happens, I hope that the general conservative movement can hold itself back from an “Obama derangement syndrome” which is equivalent to the Clinton and Bush varieties suffered by the two respective parties. Aside from being unattractive, such obsessions make it harder to understand one’s opponent, and thus defeat him.

  • I hope that the general conservative movement can hold itself back from an “Obama derangement syndrome” which is equivalent to the Clinton and Bush varieties suffered by the two respective parties.

    Ditto. We can certainly push back against the administration, but I really don’t want to walk into Borders and see entire tables dedicated to books detailing the evils of the Obama administration written by unhinged conservatives or disenchanted leftists.

  • I really don’t want to walk into Borders and see entire tables dedicated to books detailing the evils of the Obama administration written by unhinged conservatives …”

    You’d never see that even if such books existed by the truckload. They’d be neatly hidden away outside of public view. That is, if Borders bothered to stock them at all.


  • Jay:

    Good point. But hopefully we won’t be seeing too much of that kind of stuff either way.

  • On this issue of measured rhetoric, why is it that there has been little (or no) measured critique of the Bush Administration by Senator McCain? It seems that he could have critiqued President Bush’s bloating of the federal government and budget in a decidedly un-conservative way.

    Or did he make those critiques and I missed them (likely story).

  • “Or did he make those critiques and I missed them (likely story).”

    There was little that the Bush administration did domestically that McCain did not attack at one time or another.

    Here is a link to a newspaper story from May 22, 2004 in which McCain attacked the budget of the Bush administration.

    “Yesterday the budget hold-up drew fierce criticism of the Senate rebels by Republican leaders in the House of Representatives. But John McCain, the Arizona senator and one of the four, angrily shot back, accusing “some of those in our party” of abandoning the commitment of “real Republicans” to fiscal responsibility.”

  • Thank you Donald. I guess I mean to ask why this didn’t/doesn’t seem to be a prominent part of McCain’s campaign.

  • I don’t think McCain has done a very good job of that — partly, I imagine, because he doesn’t want to offend the 25% of voters (pretty much all Republicans I assume) who still say they approve of Bush’s performance. In that sense, someone with more conservative credentials would have probably been able to campaign better than McCain, criticizing Bush from the Right.

  • “I guess I mean to ask why this didn’t/doesn’t seem to be a prominent part of McCain’s campaign.”

    Good question Father. McCain is a true maverick and campaigns in the way he wishes to campaign whether it makes sense to others or not. Not stressing this difference with Bush doesn’t make much sense to me, since the Republican base is always in favor of the government spending less.

    One decision McCain made was to save most of his advertising money until the last two weeks. This gave Obama a four to one, in some states an eight to one advantage. Now they are making huge ad buys and Obama’s ad avantage is now down to 5-4 nationally. A very risky tactic, and we shall see how it works for McCain. I can understand why he did this however. If you can’t match your opponent dollar for dollar, do it when you know the voters will be paying attention.

  • So I’m supposed to pretend I think Obama means well when really I know better?

    I’ll just stick with the truth, thanks.

  • Steve, how is this any different than people say that Bush lied us into Iraq, because, well, they just *know* that he intentionally deceived us? There is *no way* I’d ever vote for Obama, but I don’t need to employ overblown rhetoric to make my case… as DC noted at the top, the whole “speaking truth to power approach” invariably turns people off. So if our goal is to actually *convince* people of the truth and rightness of our position, we ought to employ an approach which makes that more likely, not less.

  • Agreed, Chris. Measured rhetoric is more persuasive. Given that persuasion is a prerequisite for the maintaining of laws and policies in a democratic society, I’d say persuasive rhetoric should be the rule. Moreover, cases against Obama’s policies will better persuade if they are not undermined by hyperbolic or demeaning rhetoric.

  • Measured rhetoric seems to me the most optimum pathway towards bringing others into your own camp. It’s like a girl getting hit on at a bar, her defenses are up because she knows the environment she’s in. But at a grocery store she would be as aware of men’s advances.

    Yes I know the analogy is pretty simple, but it does state the case very well.

    What do they say? You’ll attract more with honey than with vinegar.

  • I don’t mean to be a jerk–seriously I don’t. But Obama wants to re-legalize a procedure of delivering babies up to their head, stabbing them in the back of the skull and sucking out their brains. That’s not overblown rhetoric; it’s the truth. It’s not hyperbolic; it’s an apt description.

    So what is the “measured rhetoric” for this? I guess it would be “choice”?? The culture of death already has the upper hand in a lot of ways, and now we’re willing to play on their home field by using their lexicon to define terms of debate?

    I think we run the risk of sanitizing some dramatically anti-human, anti-Christian ideologies–and in doing so, blind ourselves and our neighbors to the dangers of electing radicals like Obama.

  • It’s not hyperbolic; it’s an apt description. So what is the “measured rhetoric” for this?

    Steve, I agree with you: that is an apt description. No, “choice” is *not*, because it isn’t a description at all. But I’m not talking about how to describe the process of PBA or infanticide… I’m talking about this: how can we persuade people that PBA needs to be outlawed? What is the most effective way to convince them? Just as a matter of psychology, I don’t think calling them “baby killer” is likely to work. I can assure you, I’ve had the experience of employing language that is stark and explicit, and it inevitably fails as a matter of persuasion.

  • And I know you aren’t trying to be a jerk, Steve. 🙂

  • Definately not a jerk. The question needed to be asked. 🙂

  • -It’s like a girl getting hit on at a bar, her defenses are up because she knows the environment she’s in. But at a grocery store she would be as aware of men’s advances.-

    Man. Does this work? I’ve been married eleven years and now it’s too late to try it. Rats!

  • Well, thanks for the assumption of good faith, but when I re-read my first post in this thread, even I thought I was a jerk.

    Now, I do believe that persuasion can be greatly effective in certain circumstances. If you are debating the best way to create jobs or save social security, or any number of things, I think it is an effective tool.
    That said, I appreciate, and generally agree with your point. What troubles me, however, is that Obama’s words, associations, and voting record suggest to me that he does in fact have a radical leftist ideology.

    Now, how do you use measured rhetoric to combat this?

    Using the PBA example, if someone knows about PBA, how can we convince someone that it’s wrong? Isn’t it self-evident?

  • Steve:

    You raise a good question. I think we can be forceful without becoming unhinged. Just look at Egan’s wonderful article today. It was blunt, and even shocking to a degree, but he maintained an even tone that simply laid all the facts on the table. I think he gave us an example to be followed.

  • And I assumed most people know what article I am referencing, but if not, here it is.

  • Rob,

    Oh, it totally works. But all is not lost: You can always try hitting on your own wife while you’re at the grocery store together.