Ronald Reagan: For God and Country

Wednesday, March 21, AD 2012

The things that you find on YouTube.  Ronald Reagan in a training film for Army chaplains, For God and Country (1943).  Much higher production values than the average training film, and I found it moving.   Reagan was assigned to the 1rst Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Corps.  During the War it made some 400 training films for the Army.

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9 Responses to Ronald Reagan: For God and Country

  • I’ll concede that compared to the current crop of politicians, Ronnie looks good. However, While it is easy to feel misty-eyed about good ol’ Dutch exuding sunlight from that ever-smiling actor studio’s face, there are other images that persist:
    • A clearly winded Ronnie, in his second term, falling asleep in front of the Pope.
    • Trading arms for hostages.
    • Running a trillion-dollar national debt to three trillion, thanks to lot of money for tanks, bombs and missiles.
    • Ordering the bombing of Libya, which resulted in several deaths, including that of Khaddafi’s adopted daughter, on flimsy evidence that that country was behind the bombing of a Berlin nightclub.
    * Ordering bloody military actions to suppress social and political change in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Afghanistan. He even admitted the U.S. intervention into Lebanon was one of his biggest regrets.
    • His low opinion of Martin Luther King Jr. Reluctantly signed MLK holiday. Asked if King was a communist sympathizer, Reagan responded: “We’ll know in 35 years, won’t we?” referring to sealed documents.
    Hollywood-trained that image was everything, substance nothing, Reagan was scripted to the core, from host of GE’s TV theater, reading from a cue card, to the schamltzy “touch of the face of God” speech after the Challenger astronauts died – most of his speeches written by the likes of Peggy Noonan and Pat Buchanan.
    Like both Bushes, Reagan was never very hard-working, put in a 9 to 5 day five days a week, napped often and vacationed at his palatial ranch in California with a moon-faced Nancy perpetually guarding the gates and fending off the press.
    Perhaps given undue credit for “defeating” the Soviet Union “without firing a shot” is the biggest mistake conventional wisdom makes in the instant rush to write history. Reagan’s “evil empire” speech had no effect on the Russians, as Gorby and others said, but rather it came at a time when the USSR was overburdened by massive defense spending in an attempt to keep up with Reagan’s runaway Pentagon budget.
    But who wants to spoil Americans’ image of Reagan atop a white horse, metaphorically leading the charge against the “Evil Empire,” cowboy hat jauntily placed amid the orange-dyed locks with the Battle Hymn of the Republic crescendoing in the background.
    To be sure, Reagan had some good qualities such as connecting with the masses. Some, however, would prefer to remember him as “The Great Prevaricator” rather than “The Great Communicator.” He told some whoppers.
    Of course, all presidents lie – it’s how they get elected and keep office for the most part. I’ll give Reagan credit for at least being able to read the script virtually flawlessly. Poor George W. Bush. He was not only the most intellectually shallow person ever to occupy the White House, he also mispronounces the most elemental words.
    Although I’d hold my nose and vote for Romney, he is no Reagan. The last good President we had was Ike but most on here weren’t even born yet when he ran the show. The prosperity, peace and unity of the fifties, Korea notwithstanding, will never been duplicated again.
    Even with Rubio on the ticket, Romney will stumble during the final months of the campaign as the Obama propaganda machine gets into full gear, the MSM making sure that their boy gets another 4 years to seal the country’s doom.
    I’ve said before that if that happens, resources permitting, I would become an ex-pat and although my first choice would be Costa Rica, I am thinking that I would settle into a cheap apartment in Rome to be near the Vatican, which I would visit every day to help restore my now weak Catholic belief. In short, I have given up on America.

  • Joe,

    I’m looking at NZ and Chile, too. Rome: hadn’t thought of that. Worth a look. Wait until the euro crashes.

    I remember Ike and the ’50’s and ’60’s. I was dealing with a salesman 10 years younger than me and he lamented having come of age in the ’70’s. I had to agree.

    Guys like you and I may be unhappy now. At least we can look back on better times – the best years of our lives. The young ones never had it GOOD, and things will get worse.

    God help them.

  • Mr. Shaw. Just finished Pat Buchanan’s book, Suicide of a Superpower, which renewed my nostalgia for the “good old days,” along with Stephen King’s Book, 11-22-63, which also transported me back to a better age.

    I no longer identify with the current or previous generation and suppose I’ve become embittered and misogynistic in my old age, pining for an era of simplicity and civility that no longer exists. Which is why my Catholic faith is returning because it is the one thing I can cling to as I hopefully merit God’s grace and go to a far better place.

    For me, Keats, in Ode to a Grecian Urn, sums up life on this earth: “Beauty is truth and truth beauty. Tis all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.”

  • T. Shaw and Joe Green – I also remember and value as a standard, the civility and simplicity of life until the early 60’s when the balance in life started to go heavily toward the material here and now and lighter on innocence, faith, and reason. The young and children have such a different way with life these days (computers and dangers). I marvel at what I was unaware of even at age 21. It’s interesting to think of alternative residencies (the depth of being near the only outpost of Truth)( often think of my mother’s cousin in Italy who would never visit here), but I’m at a loss and the logistics are overwhelming … I think it was Franz Kafka, who wrote ‘A Clean, Well-Lit Room’. And, Jesus, in so many ways, warned against taking the things of the world to follow Him. He also said to keep lamps ready for when He returns. I don’t want to be out of oil for my lamp at that time. At least here – familiarity.

  • Ronald Wilson Reagan is the greatest president of my lifetime, including Eisenhower.

    My list of the top ten Reagan accomplishments:

    1. Restoring America’s economic prosperity. Reagan through his policies vanquished the inflation that had been roaring through the seventies, and lowered the astronomical interest rates. People not alive then will have a hard time comprehending the deep ditch the economy was in before Reagan took office.

    2. Reagan restored American military strength. A perfect symbol for American military impotence under Carter was the failed rescue attempt of the Iranian hostages.

    3. Reagan successfully ended the Cold War in victory by convincing the Soviet leadership that they could not keep up with America militarily.

    4. Reagan halted the expansion of Communism in Central America and oversaw the successful resistance to the Soviets in Afghanistan.

    5. Reagan reduced the size of the Federal government in relationship to gnp by about 5%, almost an impossible accomplishment with the appetite of govenment for growth.

    6. Reagan was fond of saying that Communism was on its way to the ashheap of history. For that, he was often denounced by his detractors at the time as simple minded at best and a warmonger at worst. Reagan knew which way history was running and his detractors did not.

    7. Reagan gave the pro-life movement a strong bully pulpit, best typified by this essay he wrote for the Human Life Review in 1983:

    Reagan and his followers transformed the GOP into a party where pro-lifers predominate.

    8. Reagan restored pride in the country among many Americans. His campaign theme in the 1984 election was “It’s Morning Again in America” He won 49 states.

    9. Under Jimmy Carter it was common for people to say that the Presidency had become too big a job for one man, too complex. No one said that during the Reagan administration. From his first day to his last day in office he never had any doubt about what he wanted to accomplish and how to go about it. An uncertain rider makes a poor horseman, and an uncertain President does a poor job. Reagan was never uncertain.

    10. Reagan took a country that was manifestly in decline by most standards when he took office and left the country the sole superpower by the time he left.

    Reagan was not perfect and here are some of the criticisms of Reagan I have listed before on this blog:

    1. Reagan simply refused to veto spending bills on a regular basis and as a result the national debt soared.

    2. Reagan committed the Marines to Lebanon with no plan and after the barracks bombing he retreated from Lebanon in disarray, a complete foreign policy debacle.

    3. Reagan’s staff was often incompetent and he refused to do anything about it.

    4. Reagan often confused giving a good speech on a problem with actually doing something about the problem.

    5. The White House rarely had an effective strategy for raising public support for judicial nominees which directly led to the “Borking” of Judge Bork in 1987.

    6. Reagan often listened to Nancy who had disastrous political instincts.

    7. Reagan was too much of a “hands off” President which led to the Iran-Contra debacle which was caused by relatively low level figures such as Colonel North running riot with almost no adult supervision.

    8. Reagan was a disaster at using his popularity to help in Congressional races which led to the losses in the House in 82 and the loss of the Senate in 86.

    9. Reagan allowed himself to be outfoxed time and again by Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neal and was unable to understand his combination of personal amiability with unrelenting partisanship.

    10. For all his talk about Federalism the size and power of the Federal government continued to grow under his tenure, although he reduced it against the size of gnp.

    Having said that I wish there was space on Mount Rushmore to place the Gipper’s face up there. A nation is lucky to have a statesman of Reagan’s calibre at its head every century or two and I deem it a privilege to have lived during his administration.

  • Don, thanks for adding some perspective and balance to my rather harsh critique of the Gipper. In retrospect I’d take him over any president in the past 60 years. However, I’d put Ike on Rushmore so make room for one more.

  • Ike at his finest Joe, drafting this statement in the event D-Day failed:

    “Our landings have failed and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

  • Europeans also have a lot to thank Reagan for, particularly those in central Europe. In 1994 I ran into some Poles in Budapest who insisted on buying me a drink and whose only English was ‘Ronald Reagan’ and ‘Margaret Thatcher’. Eisenhower’s second term is now viewed much more positively, and it’s a pity that Nixon wasn’t elected in 1960 – there would have been no Berlin Wall, no Cuban missile crisis and quite possibly no Vietnam War.

    On a liturgical note – although he holds the paten correctly between first and second fingers, the thumb and forefinger of the left hand are not conjoined, and the slight bows in the Libera nos are omitted.

13 Responses to Religious Kook Talks About Evil Existing in the World

  • Thanks, Paul Z.! I can’t watch the video at work, but I will tonight. I was, however, able to share it on Goggle Blogger and Facebook by using my i-Pad and personal wireless hot spot. There have been a whole series of excellent posts coming out of TAC from you, Foxfire, Donald, Jake and others over the past month or so. I have to write very little at my own blog. Keep it up. You’re irritating the liberals! 😉

  • Thanks Paul. Doing my best.

    By the way, the link at Right Scoop has a shorter version of this video in case you don’t want to watch the entire speech.

  • That was almost 20 years ago. People in the West still believed in evil, and even Satan.

  • I’m sure it was said/written a thousand times before I heard it in a horridly violent movie. Something to the effect that Satan’s greatest coup was to convince mankind he does not exist.

    I desire moral courage.

    Think of the crown of sharp thorns that was forced down on Our Lord’s sacred head and the patience with which He endured the pain for our sins.

  • Wasn’t that C.S. Lewis in Skrewtape Letters?

  • What crazed right wing zealot prayed this prayer during one our wars? (No fair using google!)

    “And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

    With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy.”

  • Don: I’m guessing it was right wing nutcase FDR.

    I watched what is probably the last (thank you, Lord!) GOP debate tonight and do you know what? I think 3 out of 4 of the men on that stage are capable of beating Obama (sorry, Paul fans). Mitt sounded much better than usual, but Santorum and Gingrich had good moments too, although they both have had better nights.

    I will vote in good conscience for whoever the nominee is. (Once upon a time the Wisconsin primary actually meant something. ) Heck, after the HHS directive, I actually think I could even vote for Paul, if it came to that. (It won’t.) Why? Because Paul’s foreign policy views are no crazier than Obama’s, and his take on fiscal issues is far more sensible. At least Paul (or Rick, Mitt or Newt) wouldn’t persecute my Church. ABO!

  • BTW, on a secular site, the Santorum haters were wondering why Newt and Rick didn’t have ashes on their foreheads. Don’t know about Newt, but apparently Santorum went to Mass this morning and, well, first of all, it’s ash, not paint or magic marker. Secondly, both men had to have makeup applied for TV and I assume any remaining ash was removed by the makeup artist, which I don’t think is any big deal. The haters said “removed by the makeup artist? Are they now trying to hide the fact they’re Catholics?” To me, what would have been much worse is having the ash wiped off, the makeup applied, and the ash then REAPPLIED. That would have struck me as terrible, phoney pandering.

    Of course, had either man appeared with an ash cross on his forehead, there would have been plenty of snide remarks and jokes about that. You just can’t win with the bigots.

  • “Don: I’m guessing it was right wing nutcase FDR”

    Correct Donna! It was from his D-Day radio broadcast.

  • OK, last night I watched the debate and commented here afterwards. I did not look about on the Net to see what people were saying about it until this morning. I have been less of a Santorum fan than many, but I thought he did OK last night, although it wasn’t his best. I’m a bit baffled by all the people who are proclaiming that Mitt outshone everyone else and Rick was terrible. I simply didn’t see that, although I thought Romney did well. I was happy to see them all firing at Obama, instead of directing all the heavy artillery at each other.

    My political instincts must be way off-kilter, I guess.

  • It was an interesting debate last night Donna, especially since it highlighted the Weathervane, Doctor Delusional Alliance. Romney and Paul and their wives are close friends, Paul has said he would be honored to be Romney’s veep, although I doubt if Romney would be so foolish, and last night Paul was Romney’s pitbull against Santorum. CNN helped this strategy by having Santorum sandwiched between Paul and Romney. Additionally the Mittbots stacked the debate audience. The Arizona Republican party helped fill the hall and they are in the Romney tank, and La Mesa where the debate was held has, I believe, the second highest Mormon population in the US.

  • No tv for Lent, so gee darn I missed all the excitement. The twitter consensus was the Santorum didn’t do well, though it doesn’t sound like anything significant took place. The unholy alliance of Paul and Romney for really much of this campaign has been a sight to behold.


Servant Of God Father Patrick Peyton CSC, Leader Of Rosary Rallies, Founder Of Family Theater

Wednesday, February 9, AD 2011

Many have heard the term, The Family That Prays Together Stays Together. Yet, how many are familiar with the life of Father Patrick Peyton, his rosary rallies which drew millions, and Family Theater which he started in Hollywood in 1947 and is still going strong today?  How many are aware that Father Patrick Peyton drew over 1,000,000 people to several rosary rallies in the 1950s. He even drew over 550,000 to a 1961 San Francisco Rosary Rally, six years before the city became a focal point for the 1960s counter culture revolution and subsequent 1967 Summer of Love. As you can see, when we turn our back to faith, we find ourselves going down a very slippery slope. Yet, Father Patrick Peyton was a true visionary. He saw the slippery morals in tinsel town long before the 1960s and knew he needed to do something to counterbalance what was going on. He knew of Hollywood’s bad influence and moral collapse long before most realized it, and yet he truly believed that Family Theater would one day bring faith back to Hollywood and all who are influenced by her.

Who was this Renaissance man, a man of wealth and privilege, a man of many letters? Hardly, Father Patrick Peyton CSC came to the US during his teen years, penniless, uneducated and according to the world’s precepts harboring little potential. However, before he left the docks of Ireland his mother told him in no uncertain terms that with the Blessed Mother’s aid, he could do great things. After doing manual work for the Holy Cross Fathers he was allowed to enter the seminary at Notre Dame. Yet, shortly before he was to be ordained, he received a dire medical prognosis and it appeared that not only was his ordination in question, but his life itself was in peril. He did the only thing he could, pray unceasingly. His prayers were answered and he thanked the Blessed Mother along with St Joseph, both of which he had a strong devotion. He along with his brother was ordained in 1941.

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3 Responses to Servant Of God Father Patrick Peyton CSC, Leader Of Rosary Rallies, Founder Of Family Theater

  • Why are there no Rosary Rallies?

    In the early 1950’s, as a small child, my father brought me to a Catholic rally in the Polo Grounds in NYC. Not sure if it was a Rosary Rally. One never hears of anything like that in 2011.

    Also, as a child, we lived just north of Yankee Satdium. Each year the Jehova Witnesses would hold a rally there.

    I recommend we Catholics say the Holy Rosary (soup to nuts) each day.

    Today, it is the Glorious Mysteries.

  • T Shaw, good idea about more Rosary Rallies. In 1985 in the twilight of his life Father Peyton led almost 2,000,000 in praying the rosary in Manila. In 2007 Family Theater was part of the Rosary Bowl at the Rose Bowl in Pasedena, even though the stadium was filled, it barely garnered a peep in the mainstream media. Finally, there was another Rosary Rally in Manila in 2009 to mark what would have been the 100th birthday of Father Peyton. Something tells me more people are familiar with him there than here.

    Father Peyton was an amazing man, I heard about his legend first hand when I spoke to Family Theater in 2007 and again last December. There are endless documentaries celebrating what happened in San Francisco in 1967, but barely a peep about the 1961 Rosary Rally. The Archdiocesan Historian for San Francisco named it as the most important event in the Archdiocese’s history. Yet, you can barely find any info on it even from the Archdiocese. This paradoxes amaze me.

    I have been to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and there is plenty there about San Francisco, Monterey and Woodstock, even though Woodstock was by all accounts a logistical and an acoustical nightmare. Yet, the pop culture gatekeepers would have us think it sounded as if you were in Carnegie Hall. Have you ever seen a documentary from Catholic sources or otherwise on the 550,000 who came to the Rosary Rally, six years before fewer came to Haight Ashbury?


2 Responses to Those Voices Don't Speak For The Rest of US

God Bless America by Kate Smith

Sunday, July 4, AD 2010

Kathryn Elizabeth “Kate” Smith (May 1, 1907 – June 17, 1986) was an American singer, best known for her rendition of Irving Berlin‘s “God Bless America“. Smith had a radio, television, and recording career spanning five decades, reaching its pinnacle in the 1940s.

Smith was born in Greenville, Virginia. Her professional musical career began in 1930, when she was discovered by Columbia Records vice president Ted Collins, who became her longtime partner and manager. Collins put her on radio in 1931.  She appeared in 1932 in Hello Everybody!, with co-stars Randolph Scott and Sally Blane, and in the 1943 wartime movie This is the Army she sang “God Bless America”.

Late in the following video you’ll see a young Lt. Ronald Reagan make a cameo.  39 years later President Ronald Reagan awarded Kate Smith the Presidential Medal of Freedom America’s highest civilian honor.

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One Response to God Bless America by Kate Smith

6 Responses to Is Barry, Jimmy?

  • Jimmy looks exceptionally good by comparison.

    Jimmy mismanaged inflation and unemployment adding up to horrendous “misery index” measures.

    Barry’s been successful in keeping unemployment so high that no one has cash to feed inflation. This is truly an outcome that had to be striven after. Barry and Ben Bernanke have destroyed the currency with expansionary monetary policy – monetized $1.25 trillion in worthless mortage papaer – and about $800 billion in fiscal stimulus, plus many hundreds of $$$ billions in TARP and bank (seems everything’s a bank excpet saloons and gas stations) debt guaranties. But, the patient expired anyhow. It appears, a dead economy doesn’t have inflation.

    Various coercive federal mortgage modification programs, tax credits, etc. have kept housing prices high and that piper must be paid before the housing construction can recover.

    The take-over of health care (no one knows how bad it will be but it will be bad) and demagoguery about raising taxes on the evil rich don’t foster economic growth and development.

    And, you know Barry’s gonna be at least as successful in saving the Gulf from the oil spill to end all oil spill.

    We’re screwed.

    Oh, I blame Bush.

  • No, Tito, Barry is not Jimmy. Jimmy was a largely good and honorable man who did not get us into any wars and stayed out of the internal affairs of other nations even if they were ruled by despots the US previously propped up in the past.

    Rather, I like the John Stewart segment the other night that showed that Barry is just becomming Bush III.

  • “Jimmy was a largely good and honorable man who did not get us into any wars and stayed out of the internal affairs of other nations even if they were ruled by despots the US previously propped up in the past.”

    Carter was a self-righteous and smug idiot who presided over a bad economy, pulled the rug out from under the Shah and thereby allowed Khomeini and his thugs to seize power, who dithered through the humiliating Iranian hostage crisis, who hollowed out our military to the extent that the failed rescue attempt of the hostages was a symbol of American impotence, and who reacted to the Soviet seizure of Afghanistan by blurting out “Brezhnev lied to me!”

  • I’m tending towards the view he’s Nixon.

    Really, the last half-century or so of Presidents blur into one another, and if anything, they should be compared by policies rather than parties.

    Even in college, I heard the argument that it should really be the Carter-Reagan years and the Bush-Clinton years, since the actual policies of those presidents were very similar.

    If you go back before that (skipping Ford, though an argument could be made for a Ford-Carter comparison), LBJ and Nixon had a lot in common, and Eisenhower and JFK had a lot in common.

    So, if we’re going for historical comparisons, Obama is more like Nixon at this point than any other president (and the Stupak scandal is far worse in principle than Watergate), though Obama as Dubya II has some weight. Indeed, about 8 years ago at this time, Rush Limbaugh was accusing Dubya of being the second coming of Nixon.

  • T. Shaw, inflation is inconsequential. The Federal Reserve responded quite appropriately to a sudden increase in the demand for real balances, which is why prices have been more-or-less stable in the last 21 months (as opposed to declining at a rate of 9% per year over the period running from 1929 to 1933).

    Mr. Carter suffers from a menu of character and personality defects, as do we all. However, he was an experienced public executive, had two serious careers before adopting politics as a profession, was more resistant to public sector borrowing than any other president in the last 50 years, and sponsored a salutary policy innovations (e.g. removal of mercantile regulations in the energy and trucking sectors).

    Recall also that he had poor relations with Congress, not because he was deficient, but because they were. It was Mr. Carter’s position that the federal courts and U.S. Attorneys’ offices were not dumping grounds for patronage; that the watersheds of this country should not be manhandled to produce brochure fodder for members of Congress; that the tax code should not be manipulated to sluice income to the oil sector, the real estate sector, and a hundred other lobbies; and that Congress ought to concern itself with matters that they cannot exploit at the next election, like future energy sources and the condition of the civil service. There is a reason a mess of our federal legislators was attempting in 1979 to draft the U.S. Senate’s chief lecher-cum-lush, and it is not a publicly defensible one.

    To date, BHO has not compared favorably to Jimmy, and I doubt he will 50 years from now.

25 Responses to Why I am Filing for Separation from the Democratic Party

  • Welcome to the world of independent idealism. Good to have you on board. It’s still (maybe especially) possible to be a good citizen being off the party rolls. I encourage the strategy.

  • I know exactly how you feel. I live in Washington DC, where it’s all politics, all the time. For a few years now I’ve answered the question “Are you a Republican (Democrat)?” with “I’m a Catholic.”

  • I simply must repeat what I said when you mentioned this to me privately — this is a great loss for pro-life Democrats, but God as you seem to have discerned may need your gifts and talents elsewhere for the sake of His Kingdom and, temporally speaking, for the common good.

    I need not ask to know whether I still have your support and you need not ask if you have mine. Have faith, there are sincere pro-life Catholics in the trenches my friend. You have simply chosen a new battlefield; there is only one Enemy.

  • Congratulations to you, and welcome aboard, Tim! But one question: am I completely imagining this, or didn’t you announce/decide this a couple of months ago? I thought I remembered reading a post you had written to that effect, but without all of the outlines for an independent party based on Catholic moral teaching and the Natural Law.

  • What’s wrong with the US Constitution Party?

    It’s platform is the closest to Chrcuh teaching:

    I understand, however, that it doesn’t fit the false gospel of the common good, social justice and peace at any price.

    It seems like the writer just wants a socialist party that can call itself pro-life and be Christian in name instead of advocating for a return to the truly Christian Constitutional Republic we once were.

    Why not read and study what this country was founded at insteda of trying to invent some socialist utopia. The common good didn’t work for the Church in the time of Ananias and Sapphira. It won’t work now. And I (along with many, many other Constitutionalists) shall never, ever support it.

  • Paul, it is quite arrogant to assert that people whose views are different than yours and do not think that the U.S. Constitution Party is the closest reflection of Catholic social teaching in the U.S. are merely socialists who want a “socialist party.”

    I think it is an unfair judgment of our Catholicism and our commitment to the teachings of the Church, which requires on some issues much prudential judgment that naturally creates a discussion — and not clear-cut policy positions or views we must embrace.

    Moreover the idea that the United States was ever “truly” an explicitly “Christian” constitutional republic is quite arguable. I find it hard to believe that an authentically Christian society had legal slavery rooted in irrational hate of ethnicity; other points could be made, but I think you are romanticizing history and my argument need not be taken as saying the current situation of America is better or superior but simply that the U.S. was never a “truly Christian constitutional republic” in the sense that you seem to suggest.

    Lastly the idea that people who fail to subscribe to what you have suggested have neglected to “read and study what this country” was founded on “instead of trying to invent some socialist utopia” is nonsense.

    I was not even aware that any sort of disagreement (at least it seems that way in the way you frame your argument, there appear to be only two options) with the position you offer logically implies subscription to socialism. Moreover, it is nonsensical for you to appeal to Catholic social teaching — from Leo XIII to Benedict XVI — and say that the “common good” does not work.

    It would be more credible to argue that what the political left, by and large, presents as the common good is (in your view) a pseudo-common good and the actual common good is something much different — and you could detail it with what you think would work better. But to say the common good “did not work” and will not “work now” while appealing to Catholic social teaching where that very concept is integral to the whole body of the Church’s social doctrine is unbelievably dubious. Honestly, I am not saying this to be harsh; it simply is the case.

    I suppose it is a way to look at things but it is a perspective that I would never, ever support. The political left often gets attacked for claiming to have the correct political translation of Christian values in action and I, to a considerably large degree, can concur that in the current political situation criticism is very warranted. But the political right in the GOP and in my view in conservative third parties, at present, in my view, cannot lay claim to Christian values in their entirety. Many questions are again prudential and need not be dogmaticized — perhaps it is time that we Catholics, particularly those of who choose a specific political avenue or entity, whether it be a party or some other organization, stop trying to box the Church’s teaching into acceptable political language and contrived concepts that derive primarily from secular schools of thought. It is telling when what we call “Catholic social teaching” begins to look conveniently like our party’s platform. Indeed, the Gospel easily transcends all these things.

  • Eric- thanks for your eloquent defense and support- Kevin in Texas- I have been hinting at such a move but I retained my position as vp of florida dems for life until this week- my good friend at the organization- a Catholic- had asked me to take some more time before I made a formal decision- out of respect for this great friend, I decided to wait, pray and see if the Spirit would reveal more- at this point, I really feel that being a non-partisan will be advantageous as a Catholic teacher and in trying to open channels of dialogue working on specific issues rather than risk being written off as a Democratic Party operative or Republican mole inside the Dem party. This decision just feels like a spiritual breath of fresh air- something rare in the political trenches:)

  • Tim,
    Blessings… I too left the party of my youth, however, I came from the opposite side and have landed at Independent as well.
    Wonderful defense.

  • Tim,

    Interesting post. It reads to me like you are not rejecting the Democratic party so much as you are rejecting politics per se. I think this is OK; not every Catholic is meant to act in the political sphere. But I do not think such a position can be normative. It is part of the lay vocation to transform our politics from within, and to the extent that you did this as a pro-life Democrat it was a good thing.

    I think generally speaking it is good for Catholics to consider themselves unwedded to any political party. Catholics are wedded to the truth and must understand themselves as Catholics first and then Republicans or Democrats. A Catholic can be a Republican or a Democrat, but they must be a Catholic first.

    Although I’m not thrilled that there is yet another good person giving up on American politics, I am happy to hear that someone is leaving the Democratic party, which in my opinion is virtually unsalvagable. The Democratic party is in principle the party of death.

  • Eric,

    “I find it hard to believe that an authentically Christian society had legal slavery rooted in irrational hate of ethnicity;”

    Slavery had nothing to do with “hate” as we think of it today. It was certainly based in an erroneous view of race, but it was no more hateful in 1788 than it was in 300 B.C. or so when Aristotle was justifying slavery. It was seen as a part of the natural order.

    A lot of the founding fathers, like Thomas Jefferson, struggled with the issue. So, avoid blanket condemnations in the other direction. The northern states abolished slavery right from the beginning. The southern states had “rational” economic reasons for wanting to keep it – but “rational” does not = morally right.

  • The democrat and republican parties are not the same.

    If more people voted for McCain, we’d have a chance overturning Roe v Wade with the nomimation of more good supreme court justices like Roberts and Alito, but no, we get Sotomaer and Kagan.

    Thanks alot 54% Catholics who voted for Obama or Indepedants! Like you really care about the unborn…rightttt.

    A Catholic with a well formed conscience can not in any way vote for the party of death.

  • Zach- I don’t think you are reading me correctly- I’m not giving up on American politics- I am just backing out of the Democratic party since I could not find any traction for pro-life Dems in my geographic area- I tried through offering a viable candidacy and having a presence in the local media and making contact attempts- but it didn’t happen. I decided it was best for me to purify my own end of things and come clean as an Independent who will work with partisans on the various issues of importance- but will be a non-partisan about it. In a way I am following the lead of Archbishop Chaput who was once one who identified more closely with the philosophy of governance represented by the Democratic Party, but because of the emergence of social liberalism and hardcore secularism in the heart of Democratic Party activism- he has chosen the Independent political path- and since I am a Catholic teacher myself, I think it is prudent to stake out non-partisan territory myself- not to avoid the political fight over the important issues of our times, but to be taken more seriously and to be seen as more consistent than those who seem to allow their Party loyalties to determine their political consciences. We’ll see if this decision makes sense over the longer haul- I am a Catholic first- that is my core message in all this.

  • I pray a lot and the Holy Spirit reveals a lot to me.

    When he talks to me, he starts with “Shaw, love humility, live the Gospels, obey the Ten Commandments, and adhere to the teachings of Holy Mother Church handed down from The Apostles and today from the Pope.”

    He revealed to me “Shaw, you can’t be both a democrat and be pro-life.” And, “You won’t be getting into Heaven if you vote democratic.”

    Early in 2008, this Pope gave four non-negotiables. Despicable dems are 180 degrees, and violently (47,000,000 exterminated unborn), opposed to each and every one.

  • I agree with Jasper and I’m ashamed of being a (cradle) Catholic these days, when 54% of them voted for Barack Obama, a pro-abortion and pro-infanticide politician. As a matter of fact, the Democratic Party has become the party where the Culture of Death has taken hold, and I’m glad I abandoned them over 10 years ago.

    Jasper is correct in that with the GOP, at least we got two solid, pro life, conservative Supreme Court Justices, but with Obama, we’re getting rabidly pro-abortion ones. Way to go, my brothers and sisters in the Church. Next time, please use the God-give reason you were born with and LEARN the candidates’ record on abortion!

  • Paul – Pope Benedict doesn’t agree with you

    Pope calls for ethics in world economy

    “Benedict said the search for common good must inform globalization and be the goal of progress and development, which would otherwise merely serve to produce material goods.”

  • Non-partisan? Transpartisan?

    I think there’s room for a Christian-Democratic political and social presence in the United States, and it can grow if it plays by the populist playbook, particularly the experience of the Non-Partisan League.

    Perhaps you can take the whole matter up with Oscar De Rojas? I have a hunch he has an interesting perspective on this whole thing.

  • Putting one’s faith in a political party will inevitably lead a sincere Catholic to a sense of disillusionment with politics in general. However, as a means to an end, parties may be used as an imprecise apparatus and like an imprecise apparatus they more often than not accomplish the task with less success than we would like.

    I have yet to see a practical way out of the 2 party system we have in the US that does not, as a by-product, result in one party dominance, after the other party fractures it’s base.

  • Dear Mr. Shipe,
    I was very touched by, and sympathized with, your declaration. I would like you to know that a group of citizens are forming a new centrist political party: The Christian Democratic Union of the United States (CDUSA). We are in the process of redesigning our webpage, but please use my address for any additional communication or request for information. We invite you to please advise us and be in touch with us.

    Our basic political philosophy is quite straight-forward: we are “center-left” (i.e., agree with many Democratic party positions) on most economic and political issues, while we are “center-right (i.e., agree with many Republican party positions)on most social and cultural issues. We are, essentially, the OPPOSITE of what libertarians and Tea-Party groups stand for. Indeed, we reject the labels of “liberal” or “conservative”, because these can have different meanings, depending on what standpoint you look from.
    We do hope to hear from you and your friends, and, in the meantime, remain, sincerely yours,
    Oscar de Rojas
    Executive Director
    Christian Democratic Union of the United States

  • “We are, essentially, the OPPOSITE of what libertarians and Tea-Party groups stand for.”

    That’s unfortunate. Are you sure you know what they stand for?

  • we are “center-left” (i.e., agree with many Democratic party positions) on most economic and political issues, while we are “center-right (i.e., agree with many Republican party positions)on most social and cultural issues.

    That sounds agreeable as stated. The difficulty is that ‘center-left’ on economic matters (at this time and in this country) means the continuous multiplication of patron-client relations between politicians and lobbies, in which the politician is a broker who supplies constituency groups with the fruits of the state’s extractive capacity in return for the fruits of the constituencies’ fundraising, labor, and brand-loyalty. You could call it crony capitalism, but the beneficiaries are not merely favored business sectors but also the social work industry and the public sector unions and provincial and municipal politicians. Call it crony capitalism, crony philanthropy, crony syndicalism, and patronage.

    That’s unfortunate. Are you sure you know what they stand for?

    Joe, it is somewhat disconcerting that ‘TEA’ is an acronym for ‘Taxed Enough Already’. The focus should be on the ways in which the public sector might be circumscribed. Once you have come to an understanding of the appropriate boundary of the public sector, the tax rate is implicit. Complaints about taxation per se enhance the stupidity of the political culture. One can address complaints about tax rates by reducing them, but without a willingness to circumscribe the public sector, you just get deficits. The federal government’s statement of income was in far more parlous shape when Mr. Obama took office than was the case when Mr. Reagan took office, so we no longer have the margin for an extended game of let’s pretend.

  • Thank you for the interesting comments.

    What I mean by center-left in the economic area is that we do believe in a necessary and appropriate level of government regulation of the “free market” to avoid situations of abuse such, as for example, the financial disaster that we still have not gotten out of. And, yes, we are for more progressive taxation — meaning taxing the really reach -not the middle class, certainly not the poor- to further the common good.

    The fact that there is so much cronyism, lobbying, corruption etc. in the political system is somehting that we clearly have to tackle with, but hopefully, with a more just society, these things might also become more repugnant and begin to change.

  • Art,

    Give the people a break.

    “The focus should be on the ways in which the public sector might be circumscribed.”

    There is plenty of focus on that. If you don’t know it, you haven’t interacted with the people in the movement.

    “Complaints about taxation per se enhance the stupidity of the political culture.”

    No they don’t. Statements like this just reveal the extent to which you aren’t affected by taxes. You realize that over half of the tea party is made up of one of the most unjustly-taxed brackets of income earners in America, right? We’re talking people who make somewhere between 50 and 100 thousand or so a year. They pay through the nose.

    “One can address complaints about tax rates by reducing them, but without a willingness to circumscribe the public sector, you just get deficits.”

    Why would you assume this willingness isn’t there? It is.

    “The federal government’s statement of income was in far more parlous shape when Mr. Obama took office than was the case when Mr. Reagan took office, so we no longer have the margin for an extended game of let’s pretend.”

    Again, if you don’t think the tea party acknowledges and address this, you’re really quite out of the loop. Fiscal responsibility, dealing with the debt, stopping the spending and related issues are probably more important to it than the tax rates, I would say.

  • And, yes, we are for more progressive taxation — meaning taxing the really reach -not the middle class, certainly not the poor- to further the common good.

    Um, if, by ‘the rich’, you mean a class of rentiers or latent rentiers (along with senior corporation executives), I think you will find on inspection that you are speaking of around 2.5% of the population who corral about 15% of the nation’s personal income.

    If, by the poor, you mean individuals whose wage and private pension income (w/ salaries or proprietor’s income or annuities in some few cases) is below the cost of a basket of staple commodities as calculated by federal statistical agencies, that would be perhaps 20-25% of the population who corral about 4% or so of personal income.

    The ‘middle class’ (salaried employees and small proprietors) corral north of 45% of personal income and the more prosperous wage earners corral the balance of roughly 35%. You are not going to tax any of these people? Do you plan to finance the state with lotteries?

  • My comments were not derived from my personal fiscal situation (which does include considerable tax liability, though that is none of your business).

    Federal and state income tax codes are so rococo that it is simply impossible (with any degree of thoroughness) to say from descriptive statistics which strata are being ‘unjustly taxed’ and which are not.

    I did not name the ‘Tea Party’. I am not sure to whom the moniker is attributable. It does make me anxious, however.

    I am pleased if you can find a generous slice from among the miscellany of people who are protesting who are thinking seriously about the ways in which the public sector can and should be circumscribed. Any movement has quite a mix as regards its degree of sophistication and seriousness.

    I was a witness to the political discourse engaged in by Mr. Reagan and his acolytes during the period running from about 1978 to 1989. It is not a happy precedent and is one I hope the Republic can avoid. In general, it has not been my observation that an understanding of the relative size of the public sector and the distribution of expenditures between various categories thereof is (in schematic outline) well understood even among the quarter or so of the population who follow public affairs. If there are many counter-examples in the Tea Party, that is all to the good.

  • Tim –

    I’ve also thought about a party based on Catholic Social Teaching principles that could go by the name “The Common Good Party” – which has the great benefit of being shortened simply to the Good Party, with a membership of Good People.

    I’m not nearly as politically astute or experienced as you (or Oscar) though, and very much look forward to your thoughts on how practically to develop such a political force.

    If you want/need any help from the Pacific Northwest, do let me know, and I’ll do what I can!

Ronald Reagan and James Dean

Tuesday, April 20, AD 2010

Highlights from the Dark, Dark Hours presented by General Electric Theater on December 12, 1954, 12 years before Reagan ran for Governor of California, and just a little over 9 months before Dean’s death in a car crash.  Hattip to the Atlantic.  Juvenile delinquency was a hot topic in the Fifties and in this morality play we see punk nihilism, magnificently portrayed by Dean, up against stolid decency ably portrayed by Reagan.  This was made just after Reagan made the jump to television after his career as a leading man in Hollywood waned.  Dean of course would go on to make the immortal Rebel Without a Cause which would be released after his death.

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One Response to Ronald Reagan and James Dean

3 Responses to Set Me Free (From Ideologies) Part 1

  • Just a word of caution on the authority of the Compendium. Even the Compendium itself recognizes that some of what is in it does not partake of infallibility:

    “In studying this Compendium, it is good to keep in mind that the citations of Magisterial texts are taken from documents of differing authority. Alongside council documents and encyclicals there are also papal addresses and documents drafted by offices of the Holy See. As one knows, but it seems to bear repeating, the reader should be aware that different levels of teaching authority are involved.”

    Also Catholic Social teaching as you point out, does not fit any particular political position. Fortunately, CST also notes that it does not propose any particular political solutions. That is in fact left to the prudential judgment of the laity (yes it is up to the use of prudence – the practical application of moral norm to a specific problems.) Thus CST also notes that Catholics in good faith can disagree on particular solutions. To say otherwise is in fact to act contrary to Catholic Social Teaching itself.
    Now it seems you are not doing so but you do head near the shoals of Ultramontanism (as some other Catholic blogs do) by thinking that by reading the Compendium you will come up with a specific solutions. You won’t. Specific moral principles to apply – yes. Particular solutions that all are called to adhere to as good Catholics – no.
    I agree that one has to avoid ideologies that reduce the truth to sound bites. But there is a distinction between ideologies and ideas. Long, hard, cold thought out ideas that have internal coherence and which can provide specific political solutions. These ideas which form from the understanding of history, politics etc. have internal validity as expressions of human reason and if solidly based are a valid means of approaching problems of the world today. Even you admit to some with your FDR approach. This is okay.
    Its okay to have internally consistent ideas that propose solutions to political problems as long as one is open to new understanding as the study of history, politics, etc. develop. Even the Church (in one of JPII’s social encyclicals which is lost on me now) admits this much. That some of what is in CST is based on current understanding of history, economics etc. and can develop as these disciplines and as human understanding itself develops (see my first admonition above about differing degrees of authority.)
    So the bottom line is, I don’t have a problems with Conservative/Liberal etc. But let all come forth with solid, reasoned arguments and not the raw emotionalism that Charity in Truty decries. Let the best current understanding of social problems be presented with solid economic, historical etc. understanding. Then let Catholic laypersons with solid ideas (and not ideologies) make solid, prudential decisions.

  • Appreciate the insights Phillip- I suppose my goal is not to replace a brother/sister’s ideology with another one- but to get every serious Catholic who makes a big show of being a out and proud “conservative” or “liberal” and so forth- to think again- not to convert to another ideology, but to just leave off the self-labeling when saying you are Catholic- a Christian disciple- should suffice. I recall cringing at Sen. Brownback after receiving Father Pavone’s personal endorsement for President, going around saying that he was the “true Conservative”. Is that a good public witness for Christ, given that Christ is giving us a social doctrine that doesn’t lend itself easily to ideological adherences? Personally, I don’t see how an honest reading of all the social doctrine materials can lead me to voluntarily accept the imprisonment of any merely political ideology. I have tendencies toward the FDR Democratic party mold, but I recognize the fallibility of such to address all issues for all time- I won’t suggest that it wasn’t surprising that so much of the Catholic Church faithful were inclined to the FDR-Dem party – even in the Hierarchy- given the connections people were seeing between the social teachings and the political visions offered at the time. Of course times change, and appeals to FDR are not what I am much concerned with.

    I believe we are living in a bit of a new Barbarian Age- more subtle than before, very high-tech, but also very deadly to bodies and souls- I see the Barbarian movement in the establishment Left and Right- with abortion killing millions and a serious lack of global solidarity leading to unnecessary military conflicts and unjust economic situations. America is part of the problem and part of the solution- I’m focused on getting my nation to get out of the business of being part of the problem.

    As for the Compendium- I realize that differing levels of teaching authority are in play- but the fact that they are now given new circulation in the Compendium which is a concise rendering of the entire corpus of our social doctrine should be cause for new appreciation for all of it’s contents. At minimum what is in there must be taken deeply into our developing consciences- to say that only the most explicit detail of a particular principle of social teaching is worth reading would be a major error in prudential judgment. I figure if the Magisterium or Church leader puts something down on paper for our consumption, we should attempt to take time to consume it, let it work through our minds and imaginations, so that when we set about proposing specifics on major issues, or vision statements- we will have the benefit of all of the Church’s vast wisdom. I think that too many Catholics abuse the notion of prudential judgment to simply short-circuit the papal words that don’t mix well with their chosen ideological adherences- I’m not making a personal accusation to you Phillip or anyone in particular- but I am suspicious of everyone who clings too closely to something like what Brownback said “I am the true Conservative” I’m very suspicious of true believers in political ideologies.

  • Thanks for your reply. Will respond more fully after Easter. Quick reply is that I appreciate and look forward to your insights also.

Ronald Reagan Warns Against ObamaCare

Sunday, February 28, AD 2010

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

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

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40 Responses to Ronald Reagan Warns Against ObamaCare

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • MM,

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

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

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

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

  • Awesome Post!

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

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

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

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

  • Here is the text of the speech:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Wj,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Eric,

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

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

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

  • It’s not in the bill.

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

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

  • Blackadder,

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

  • Tito,

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

  • BA,

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

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

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

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

  • Tito,

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

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

  • BA,

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


    Please explain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Never mind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I’m reminded here of an old Lincoln quote:

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

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

  • Blackadder,

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

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

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

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

    Considering how fearful Lincoln was during the Trent Affair of the possibility of British intervention, I doubt if he meant that statement literally. Additionally, in an age of ICBMs and the coming age of portable nukes by non-state terrorist groups, things have changed militarily a tad since Lincoln gave that speech.

  • Anyone who cannot see that Reagan was right about his beliefs needs to answer these questions:

    1. Did Medicare achieve the goals intended at the costs it promised? Further, is it almost broke now?

    2. Was Reagan right that Medicare was just a preemptive move to pass Socialized Healthcare?

    My answers for those questions are:

    1. No, it has exploded in size, cost, and is rife with Govt corruption and inefficiency.

    2. Obamacare anyone?

Reagan and FDR

Saturday, February 6, AD 2010

Happy birthday Gipper!  Reagan and I share the same birthday.  My beloved bride has the same birthday as FDR, January 30.  My daughter’s birthday is February 9.  This time of year is a good time for cake at the McClarey household!

It will come as little surprise to faithful readers of this blog, that I consider Ronald Reagan to be one of the great American presidents.  My views on him are sent forth in this recent thread.  He restored our prosperity and brought the Cold War to a successful conclusion.  His radiant optimism was a tonic for the nation’s shaken morale.  He deserves to be on Mount Rushmore if there were room.

It will perhaps stun faithful readers of this blog to learn that I have similar feelings for Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Although I believe much of the New Deal was counterproductive and completely wrong-headed, FDR understood that raising the nation’s morale was absolutely critical.  His sunny ebullient optimism, and his ringing phrase, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!” were just what the nation needed.  His fireside chats, which Reagan emulated in his Saturday radio chats, were a brilliant stroke which helped forge a personal bond between FDR and much of the nation.  (Although not my Republican shoemaker grandfather who remained impervious to the charms of FDR to his dying day!)  During the war his leadership was masterful and greatly aided the US in winning in 3 and a half years a global conflict.  Prosperity was restored to the US on his watch, although it was due to the War and not the New Deal.

Reagan was a supporter of FDR.  He used to say he didn’t leave his party, his party left him.  Looking at Reagan side by side with FDR, it is hard not to believe that Reagan learned many valuable leadership lessons from FDR.

Reagan and FDR  were both ardent patriots with a deep love for this nation.  Their optimism was based on their belief that the US could overcome its present difficulties and go forward to a brighter future.  I find this personally appealing.  Optimism and courage are necessary both in our lives here on Earth and in our spiritual lives.  I have always agreed with Saint Francis, “Let gloom and despair be among the Devil and his disciples.”

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9 Responses to Reagan and FDR

  • Happy Birthday to you and Ronaldus Magnus!

    It would be quite interesting to hear your thoughts in another post on how FDR was the right man at the right time for WWII. I had always thought that America would have been better off if FDR had never been born (based on the epic failure of his economic policies which 70 years later continue to be a moral/financial plague on this nation).

  • Try as I might I can’t gather up the admiration for FDR the way I can for RWR. Leaving aside his economic mistakes, his complete misunderstanding of Stalin had truly horrible consequences. Stalin rolled him.

    That said, I agree that it is important that a leader display confidence and grace under fire, and both Reagan and Roosevelt did that.

  • As a practical matter Mike there was absolutely nothing that FDR could have done regarding Soviet control over Eastern Europe after World War II short of igniting World War III. FDR and Churchill merely recognized a fait accompli. Whether they recognized it or not, the Red Army wasn’t going to move from East Germany, Poland, Rumania, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria unless they were driven from it. I think precious few Americans would have been willing to pay the price to accomplish this. Truman was much harder edged than FDR regarding Stalin, but he never considered the type of war to drive the Soviets back into the Soviet Union that Patton supported. Other than Patton I can think of no high ranking American civilian or military who thought such a war would be a good idea.

  • Don,
    I don’t disagree that FDR had limited options. But the fact remains that the record is clear that he trusted Stalin — he really did! His statements at the time (including private statements to advisors) reveal an appalling naivety that greatly disturbed those with better judgment including Churchill. And Truman was a slow learner himself. After the famous iron curtain speech Truman was so angry at Churchill he called Stalin to apologize. Finally, while we may have had limited options regarding the eastern Europe the forced (and that is a mild word for it) return of thousands of Russian prisoners to the USSR against their will was an inexcusable moral lapse on the part of FDR. It was one of the saddest episodes in US history.

  • “He restored our prosperity and brought the Cold War to a successful conclusion. His radiant optimism was a tonic for the nation’s shaken morale.”

    As a retired military who served almost my entire career during the cold war, I would have completely agreed with these statements – back then.

    21 years later I don’t think they completely stand the test of time. Let me break it down:

    1. On “restoring prosperity” – he may have restored temporary (immediate) effects from the “Carter Malaise”, but the long term effects of Reaganomics of deficit spending and deregulation started us on the glide path of crushing debt we are in today.

    The other reality is it was the brutal austerity by Paul Volker and the Fed that stopped the rampant inflation. Reagan was his cheerleader, but he had no say in that decision as the Fed acts independently of the government.

    2. Regarding the “Cold War” – again he a a PART in this but there were two other factors that played a much bigger role, the first being Pope John Paul II, the second was that with or without Reagan, the Soviet economy would have collapsed (in fact already had) because it was always destined to collapse. Reagan just happened to be in the chair when the music stopped.

    To his credit he had to work within the confines of the system as it was in his time, and I do believe that he knew that the unbridled capitalism he unleashed would have to be reigned in at some point as evidenced by this speech:

    Ronald Reagan’s Speech on Project Economic Justice

    3. Regarding his optimism, There I’ll agree. At times I wanted to jump off a tall building after listening to “Jimmah” and his constant whining and droning, and Reagan could deliver a speech like no other in my lifetime – I think that was his biggest contribution, getting people to believe in themselves and America again.

  • In regard to Stalin Mike, FDR was already sending cables to Stalin in March of 1945 accusing him of breaking his Yalta commitments over Poland, Germany, prisoners of war and other issues. The Grim Reaper prevented us from knowing how FDR would have dealt with Stalin post war, but I assume he would have followed a similar path to that taken by Truman. The forced repatriation of Soviets who were captured by the Western allies while serving the Nazis is something that should not have been agreed to at Yalta and not something carried out in 1946, long after FDR’s death. I would note however, that not all of the Soviets so repratriated were innocent victims. More than a few had commited atrocities while serving with the Nazis, including cossacks who served in the Waffen SS. They however should have been tried in the West rather than turned over to the Soviets. I would note that Britain and the US did refuse to turn over to the Soviets displaced persons from lands annexed by the Soviet Union during World War II, including the Baltic States, Eastern Poland, Western Ukraine and West Byelorussia. A good article on the subject of the forced repatriations is linked below.

  • Jim, in regard to Reagan I respectfully disagree. He supported the anti-inflationary policies of Volker at a high political cost. These policies led to the recession of 81-82 which cost the Republicans quite a few seats in Congress. Reagan had the nerve to stay the course and reappointed Volker in 83. The deregulation movement initiated by Reagan was also very important in starting a wave of prosperity that went on for two decades. The deficit spending was a huge problem that Reagan failed to address, but the return to prosperity, at the time, was more important than balancing the books, which Congress was simply not going to do in any case. We always have to remember with Reagan that he never had a GOP house, and for his last two years he faced a Congress completely controlled by the Democrats.

    In regard to the Soviet Union, their economy had been collapsing since 1917, by Western standards. The Soviets nonetheless maintained their empire. The Reagan military build up, and especially his bringing the Pershing missles to Europe and his much derided Star Wars proposal, convinced enough Soviet leaders that they simply could no longer keep up with the US and they needed to bring the Cold War to an end. John Paul II and his support for Solidarity in Poland was of course very important, but it was Reagan and his build up that came at precisely the right time to topple the Soviet Union. A good article on the subject is linked below.

  • I can’t imagine anyone who could have done a better job executing that war – from marshaling resources to putting the best people in the right roles. The world owes thanks to FDR for that. On the flip side, FDR deserves the world’s scorn for the sellout of Eastern Europe. Millions and millions of people suffered or were murdered because of that. Look how many subsequent wars were waged because the USSR was empowered. Shameful. I get the pragmatism of assisting the USSR and allying ourselves with them for the objective of defeating Hitler, but one would think that considering Stalin was just as bad or worse and just as guilty for the starting that war that aid would be limited to such a degree as to keep the USSR in the game and no more. I can’t help but to think that it all may have turned out differently if FDR wasn’t such a statist to begin with.

  • Must disagree, RL. Via-a-vis the post-war situation in Eastern Europe, I think Mr. McClarey is correct, for the most part. There is one qualification, and that concerns the situation in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Competitive and passably fair elections were held in these countries (in November 1945 and February 1946, respectively) and the means the local Communists used to seize power involved industrial actions and the staffing of the government departments over which they were given control in the coalition ministries of the immediate post-war period. One might at least give some thought to counter-factual scenarios in which effectively implemented clandestine operations might have disrupted certain of their activities and given elements of the civil society enough power to resist that the Soviets might have accepted a Finland solution for one or the other.

    The situation that FDR inherited in 1933 was far more dire than that which Mr. Reagan inherited in 1981, so I think an analogy between the two is of limited utility. Between the last quarter of 1929 and the first quarter of 1933, the country had seen a fall in real domestic product of nearly 30%; forty percent of the banks in the United States had failed, and depositors could only get their money back in time-consuming bankruptcy proceedings; equities had lost 85% of their nominal value; the body of business corporations were posting a collective loss; fully half the homeowners with mortgages (a proportionately smaller group then) were delinquent on their payments; and a quarter of the formal-sector work force was unemployed. The principal policy problem that Mr. Reagan faced was currency erosion; the year-over-year decline in domestic product from 1979 to 1980 was 0.2%.

    I do not know how much of the prosperity of the last three decades I would attribute to Mr. Reagan’s policy preferences. That aside, there is the question of how prosperous this era has been in relation to cross-sectional or historical means. If I am not mistaken, the last thirty years have seen a mean growth of domestic product per capita of 1.4% per annum. The United States is about at the technological frontier, so it does not reap the benefits of economic dynamism from the application of technologies developed elsewhere (as does South Korea); it has also grown faster than western Europe (since 1980) and Japan (since 1990). Still, it has grown more slowly than it did during the period running from 1929 to 1980, when mean annual improvements in real income per capita were on the order of 2.0%. It is difficult to tease out the sources of spatial and temporal variation in economic dynamism.

    Deregulation is a good thing when it acts to bust up state-administered cartels and dispose of price controls; it is also a good thing when there are other policy instruments which are as effective or more effective toward certain ends than command-and-control regulation. It is a good thing when regulations have collected like barnacles and lead to perverse results. It was also not exclusive to the Reagan Administration. The deregulation of the transportation sector was an initiative of the previous administration, and Mr. Carter did his best (against Congressional opposition) to sell decontrol of oil prices. However, deregulation of the financial sector and the evolution of the culture of financial institutions has led to four separate crises over the last thirty years. It has not been a successful enterprise.

    One should point out that the country began running deficits on the current account of the balance of payments in 1981/82 and was a net debtor by the end of 1984. If one looks at Federal Reserve figures, one can see a secular increase in the propensity of households to make use of debt over that time. These are aspects of the Reagan legacy as well, though to be sure, it is difficult to imagine the U.S. Congress consenting to the consumption taxes necessary to stanch the accumulation of household debt (or, in fact, doing anything at all other than feeding their favored client groups).

    Did you catch Henry Paulson on PBS the other night? Noting that a year after a hideous banking crisis Congress had still not crafted legislation to create an institutional architecture for rapidly winding-down firms in the capital markets like Lehman Brothers, he said he had to conclude they do nothing unless a crisis forces it. Mr. Carter, Mr. Reagan, and everyone after them have had to confront the same problem: Congress is rotten.

34 Responses to Compare and Contrast

  • While personally speaking I don’t put as much stock in this sort of thing as some, I think it is interesting to contrast his ‘bowing’ incidents with his encounters with Queen Elizabeth and Pope Benedict. I think the Holy Father got a handshake and the First Lady gave the queen a pat on the back…

    Perhaps the POTUS has a dim view for institutions of Western Civilization?

  • B.O. seems to feel uncomfortable with the idea that all men are created equal.

    Gonna be a long time till Jan. 20 2013.

  • He’s only shaking with one hand! How disrespectful! No wonder why the world thinks Americans are arrogant!

    He shouldn’t have bowed, at least not that profoundly. But the reason he shouldn’t have is because it’ll offend Republicans.

  • restrainedradical, Heads of State never bow. I guess the Southside Messiah skipped that section when he was reading Protocol For Dummies.

  • Catholic heads of state always bow to the pope.

    Heads of state should also never give unwanted shoulder massages and you shouldn’t even need Protocol for Dummies to know that.

  • What his handlers forgot to brief him on is that how far you bow conveys status in Japan. If you bow further, you imply the other is your superior. However, if you bow much further than you ought to, it is considered sarcastic. (Though in this case, I’m assuming it was merely taken as clueless.)

    If you’re not going to bother to know enough about a culture to get things right, you shouldn’t go through the motions at all.

  • He was probably told to make a profound bow which would’ve be appropriate if he weren’t a foreign head of state.

    A bow of the head would’ve be appropriate since it isn’t a sign of respect but a greeting.

  • restrained radical, Akihito isn’t the Pope and Obama isn’t Catholic (Praise the Lord!). As for Bush and Merkel, I guess no one has found any pics of Bush bowing to anyone, so that is the best that can be found in retaliation for Obama embarrassing himself and the US.

  • You know, the odd thing about this is that Obama was criticized for what seemed like a bow to the Saudi King earlier this year. Either this was deliberate, or the man is very slow to learn from mistakes.

  • Didn’t we set up the office of the President after we fought a war to get rid of an earthly king?

    It seems odd that our President, chief diplomat, would bow to any earthly king.

    Bowing to the pope would be different since the pope is a head of state and also head of the universal Church to which 25% of Obama’s constituents belong. I am not saying a non-Catholic should bow to the pope; however, one can accept it as a sign of respect for The King that the pope represents and Obama alleges that he is a Christian and he represents a nation that identifies itself as 85%+/- Christian. Although some of those conisder the pope the antichrist and the Church the whore of Babylon – poor fools.

    Donald, I will take issue with your PTL for BHO not being Catholic. I pray that he converts; not into a Pelosi-type of Catholic but into an orthodox Catholic. Can you imagine what a blow that would be to the forces of evil?

  • My comment AK was in reference to Obama as a Catholic with his current policies, which I believe would make him a CINO.

  • Unlike Pelosi and her cohorts are correctly called SICO’s.

    “Self Identified Catholic’s Only”.

  • Not maintaining eye contact also makes it a particularly submissive gesture. This photo will not enhance Obama’s stature in Asia one bit.

    For someone touted as vastly more worldly than Dubya, Obama keeps making rookie blunders when he travels beyond our shores.

  • Here’s a link to photos of other world leaders meeting with the Emperor of Japan. To a man, they all managed to resist the urge to bow:

  • BTW, does anybody know if JKF bowed to the Pope when he met him? Certainly, Catholics will agree that a Catholic president should do so, and yet it had to be a rather delicate situation for JFK, given that he had had to convince the American public during his campaign that the US would not be controlled by the Vatican if he were elected.

    Jackie visited the Pope as a private citizen, not in her capacity as First Lady, but I am unable to find any photos of JFK’s meeting with the Holy Father.

  • Just tell me he didn’t curtsy before the English Queen. Oh wait, my mistake, the English are our allies–he couldn’t care less about them.

  • ^ And the Japanese are enemies?

    There was an episode of the West Wing where the White House is negotiating a meeting between the President (who was Catholic) and the Pope and one of White House’s demands were no pics of the greeting.

  • Donna V., Obama was very well received here in Japan. His speech yesterday, on international solidarity, on how humanity stands or falls together, was given credibility by his own international background. I agree with what some Jesuit said on another thread here back in June: on these points Obama represents the spirit of Vatican II. Btw, on that thread you made false statements about me, including the claim that I am a Jesuit.

    A problem with the Japanese Emperor is that he is very short while Obama is very tall. I remember seeing our tall President Hilary greet the still shorter former Emperor Showa in 1983; even without bowing a certain comic effect was produced.

  • But is it true that 53% of Catholics voted for Dear Leader?

  • Ronald Reagan bowed to Queen Elizabeth and I think Obama did too. Maybe it is because they are gentlemen of the old school?

  • Ooops, misspelt name of Irish President Patrick Hillary above.

    I think Obama should not have shaken hands while bowing.

    At least he didn’t vomit on the PM’s lap…

  • double ooops: it is Patrick J. HILLERY.

  • Donald R. McClarey Saturday, November 14, 2009 A.D.
    “Akihito isn’t the Pope and Obama isn’t Catholic (Praise the Lord!)”.

    Did not Mr. Obama go to a Catholic school as a child? What is there to praise that he is not a Catholic?

  • Because with his policies he would be a CINO, as I stated in an earlier comment in this thread.

    BA: I do and I think a lot of other people do who will be voting in 2010 and 2012. Obama’s understanding of the dignity of the office he holds is as defective as his grasp of basic economics.

  • Obama probably didn’t think about this but that pic won’t help with relations with the Koreas.

  • Or the Chinese who still remember WW2 in China quite vividly.

  • Spirit of VII: I don’t remember what I wrote in a June comment thread. I do know I was under the impression that you were a Jesuit. I stand corrected.

  • Donald, I had a feeling you meant CINO, I just wanted clarification, especially for other readers – obvioulsy, that didn’t work. Sorry.

    SINO – Right on Tito.

    BTW – I am all for the bowing, it is a heck of a lot cleaner than shaking hands. 😉

  • BA: I do and I think a lot of other people do who will be voting in 2010 and 2012.

    Someone is going to base his vote in 2010 or 2012 on the fact that Obama bowed to some guy in Japan? If so, that’s scary.

  • BA,

    Just as scary for those that voted for President Obama in 2008 because he talks nice.

    But as far as 2010 and 2012, I’m voting for some other candidate for different reasons.

  • “Someone is going to base his vote in 2010 or 2012 on the fact that Obama bowed to some guy in Japan? If so, that’s scary.”

    It would be if that were the only reason which of course it is not. The bowing is symbolic of his utter cluelessness regarding both the office he holds and the fecklessness of his foreign policy.

  • Hmm… and here I thought the problem was O facing the wrong way when he bent over.

Tear Down This Wall!

Monday, November 9, AD 2009

Ronald Wilson Reagan, how I miss you.

When talking about Ronald Reagan, I have to be personal. We in Poland took him so personally. Why? Because we owe him our liberty. This can’t be said often enough by people who lived under oppression for half a century, until communism fell in 1989.Poles fought for their freedom for so many years that they hold in special esteem those who backed them in their struggle. Support was the test of friendship. President Reagan was such a friend. His policy of aiding democratic movements in Central and Eastern Europe in the dark days of the Cold War meant a lot to us. We knew he believed in a few simple principles such as human rights, democracy and civil society. He was someone who was convinced that the citizen is not for the state, but vice-versa, and that freedom is an innate right.I often wondered why Ronald Reagan did this, taking the risks he did, in supporting us at Solidarity, as well as dissident movements in other countries behind the Iron Curtain, while pushing a defense buildup that pushed the Soviet economy over the brink. Let’s remember that it was a time of recession in the U.S. and a time when the American public was more interested in their own domestic affairs. It took a leader with a vision to convince them that there are greater things worth fighting for. Did he seek any profit in such a policy? Though our freedom movements were in line with the foreign policy of the United States, I doubt it.President Reagan, in a radio address from his ranch on Oct. 9, 1982, announces trade sanctions against Poland in retaliation for the outlawing of Solidarity.I distinguish between two kinds of politicians. There are those who view politics as a tactical game, a game in which they do not reveal any individuality, in which they lose their own face. There are, however, leaders for whom politics is a means of defending and furthering values. For them, it is a moral pursuit. They do so because the values they cherish are endangered. They’re convinced that there are values worth living for, and even values worth dying for.

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8 Responses to Tear Down This Wall!

  • Historical footage of not only the timeless principles that makes America the grand country that it is, but also showcases the sheer gravitas of one particular historical figure that nobody (be it now or in the future) can ever compare with — not even that flake, Palin. *wink*

  • e., from the great beyond I have absolutely no doubt that Reagan is cheering Palin on.

  • I’d never heard about that poster before.

    I saw High Noon for the first time a few years ago. It felt like a biography of George W. Bush. I recognized every argument the townspeople made from the runup to the Iraq War. It was a real let-down to me when I later heard that the movie was intended as a protest to Hollywood blacklisting. I’m glad to see that the movie was used against Communism, and that people were inspired by the heroism of Cooper’s character.

  • I miss him. He had that charm and skill at creating a coalition to stand against the slide toward socialism. Can we have that again? Can you bring authentic conservatives, traditionalists, libertarians (the relatively sane ones) and anti-communists (or whatever you want to call those against collectivism) together under the Republican banner? I think it can be done but sheeple need a shephard. Who will lead?

    How will you weed out the Wall Street-Leftist Establishment cronies? As much as I loved Reagan, we had to swallow Mr. G. H. W. “New World Order” Bush for 12 years too. Read my lips, that bovine scatology won’t fly these days – we need real, honest, true, authentically conservative and God-fearing leadership. Do we deserve it? Pagans usually don’t.

  • I appreciate Reagan more and more as I get older. I did not when he was in office. However, he did just fine without my vote!

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  • It is amazing how un-Presidential Reagan’s successors have been. Listening to this speech and knowing the background of it caused me to lament the current administration’s tepid response to Afghanistan decisions and the Ft. Hood shooter. President Reagan made his speech at the wall in the face of handlers (including Colin Powell) who said he shouldn’t make such a strong statement. The President must both know what needs to be said and have the courage to say it. I look forward to having such a person in office again.

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Res et Explicatio for AD 11-9-2009

Monday, November 9, AD 2009

Salvete TAC readers!

Here are today’s Top Picks in the world of Catholicism:

reagan pope john paul ii

1. Today is the twenty year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin WallPope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher all played pivotal roles in bringing down Communism and discredited all socialistic and atheistic systems the world over.  Pope John Paul II played the most important role of the three, providing the moral backbone that is needed when confronting these manifestations of evil.

Newt Gingrich, Callista Gingrich, and Vince Haley wrote a timely article concerning this important anniversary titled The Victory of the Cross: How spiritual renewal helped bring down the Berlin Wall.  For this article click here.

2. Dave Hartline has already posted three articles here with us.  His latest is titled, Following the 2009 Election Results which Way is the Tide Turning toward Truth or Relativism?

For the article click here.

For all of Dave Hartline’s articles on The American Catholic click here.

3. Catholic Culture has changed their look again.  Unlike the last time I mentioned their new look, I have to say it is a major improvement.  It’s much easier to find Diogenes of Off the Record (under Commentary).  Blue has replaced what I think was the color pink as it’s primary color and the fonts are much stronger.

For the Catholic Culture link click here.

For Diogenes, which is under Commentary, click here.

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2 Responses to Res et Explicatio for AD 11-9-2009

France Tells Obama To Cowboy Up

Friday, October 2, AD 2009

Obama Sarkozy

Never in a million years would I have expected a Frenchman, any Frenchman living today, to chide an American president to be a man.  Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan are rolling over in their graves as French President Nicolas Sarkozy reminds President Obama, our president,that “we live in a real world, not a virtual world“.

This episode between Sarkozy and Obama occurred prior to President Obama’s I have a dream of a world without nuclear weapons disarmament speech as chair of the United Nations Security Council meeting on September 24.  An American holding the chair of the U.N. Security Council was a first, so the foreign media was out in force attracting global attention.  Unbeknownst to the world at the time President Obama, as well as Sarkozy, had intelligence that Iran had an illegal uranium enrichment facility.

So instead of using the bully pulpit as the leader of the free world and his superior oratory skills to admonish Iran at the United Nations Security Council, Obama chose to give his I have a dream of a world without nuclear weapons disarmament speech. The New York Times reported “White House officials,” did not want to “dilute” his disarmament resolution “by diverting to Iran.”

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27 Responses to France Tells Obama To Cowboy Up

  • The emperor has no clothes. The European leaders recognized this including Mr Putin, etal His constant campaigning for his own edification and ego instead of strong deliberate leadership is obvious to most people. His approach is to go to his constituents when he needs help and to have a deaf ear to those who have experience and do not want to repeat history.

  • This sucks becuase that wuss is our president. I know that Rush said he wanted him to fail and I agree to a point. Nationalize health care, kill more babies, rasie taxes – yes, I want him to fail at that.

    As Commander in Chief and Head of State, no, I DO NOT WANT him to fail, I want him to be a huge success.

    Sadly, as expected, he’s failing.

    The parallels with Carter are striking and Iran knows that BHO is more concerned with how he looks than what he does. They are going to use that to their advantage and our detrmient and he might let them.

    I think BHO just launched his campaign for beloved leader of the world with no nukes, no mean talk show hosts and everyone gets a pony. Awww, how sweet.

    Gimme a break. I want my president with big brass ones.

    “I just signed legislation outlawing Russia (China, Iran, N. Korea), bombing begins in ten minutes”

  • Hmm…I would prefer a President with spine when he needs it…and the brains to know how and when to use it. “Big brass ones” often lead to trouble.

  • *Tosses red meat*

    I’d like to build on what c matt says and question whether “putting Iran in her place” is really in the best interest on either America or Iran. What would such a confrontational approach really accomplish? All this would do is provoke Iran into hardening its position and making things much more difficult for the fledgling opposition movement there.

    Words are important, but supposing that strong words are a substitute for prudent action is ridiculous.

  • NauticalMongoose and C Matt,

    Excellent analysis, but isn’t their position already hardenned? What part of “remove Israel from the map” can Iran do more on?

    I’m not advocating a massive shock and awe campaign, just some tough sanctions, inspections, and timetables.

    There are levels of degrees that are attributed to “confrontation”.

    Not to mention funding the Iranian people to overthrow their Mullah overlords with money, intelligence, and possibly weapons (more so if we are already doing this).

    We can also put the squeeze on them by massing troops both from Afghanistan and Iraq with Pakistan following with their troop deployments. In addition we can arm both the Iraqi’s and Afghans to the teeth (more so the Iraqi’s) and really pressure Iran to give it up.

    Just some thought.

  • Tito,

    You are assuming that the Iranian leadership is rational. I don’t think they are technically insane but I think they are looking for a fight and winning it, as far as they are concerned, is simply causing massive damage and chaos. If they are wiped out in the process, then they are martyrs, whoopi. Their goal is the benfit of Dar al Islam, not Iran.

    You cannot reason with a mentality like that. Sadam was actually a megalomaniac but he could be reasoned with, or bought. We picked the wrong target in 2003 and now the right target is in our sites, yet, we aren’t handling it well. This is where regime change makes sense.

    If Iraq was designed as a flanking manuever to Iran then that is fine, although we could have accomplised with much less loss of life (both our soldiers and Iraqi civilians) and much less cost. Any way, would-ah, could-ah, should-ah. We’re here. Iran needs massive pressure and a regime change – not like 1979.

    Boy don’t you miss the Shah. Friendly, checking Russia, selling us oil – we removed him and look what we got. Who was it that did that? Uhm, ah, o yeah Obama’s big daddy Carter. Here we go again.

    Now were’a my 8-track?

  • Today’s Iran is another disaster that the Peanut Farmer, Carter, was actually responsible for.

    It would be all too easy to blame it on a supposed senility on his part; more likely, it was due to his alarmingly incredible incompetence.

  • The more Jimmah’ speaks, the more Billy Carter looks like a genius.

    Anyone has any Billy Beer to spare?

  • AK,

    The Iranian middle class is rational.

    It’s the Islamic extremists, unfortunately who are in power, that are irrational.

    Malaise in America?

  • The middle-class is always rational, which is why we are always the targets of every ISM ideology.

    All ISMs eventually lead to a master oligarchy (minority) and compliant and fearful slaves (majority) — no middle class.

    Tito we could also say, “The American middle class is rational. It’s the leftist extremeists, unfortunately who are in power, that are irrational.

    Who’s in the White House? Barrack Carter-LBJ-Wilson???

    I don’t know about malaise but you could put on a sweater and lower the thermostat, what with all the global cooling, er, no, global warming, er, no, climate change, yeah, that’s the ticket, climate change going on, huh?

    He was right about one thing, we are a bad country, worse than in the 70s, and it is becuase of people just like him.

  • Looks like a case of ” Big hat, no cattle.”

  • Alright, I’ll show my lack of knowledge here, what’s an “ISM”?

    I’m sure it’ll come to me as soon as I press “Submit Comment”.

  • Tito, think of political ideologies: Liberalism, Conservatism, etc.

  • Thanks Donald, I think waaay too much about some things.

  • Exaclty Donald.

    SocialISM, CommunISM, FascISM, CollectivISM, ObjectivISM, CorpratISM, ObamunISM. . .

    Didn’t you ever see Ferris Bueler’s Day Off?

  • Why Abe Froman, aren’t you the sausage king of Chicago?

  • I was, but then we lost the 2016 Olympics becuase of some incompetent named Barracks, or something like that.

  • Here is instance in which Obama failed to show any backbone.

    The Uninted States and other Westen nations show such hypocracy and we wonder why Iran and other Islamic nations tell us to go to hell.

  • Awakaman you’d have a point if Israel was threatening moslems with nuclear annihilation as Iranian leaders have repeatedly threatened Israel. Since they haven’t your comment is as pointless as those in the 30s who pointed to French military spending as justification for German rearmament. Iran is the problem, not Israel.

  • Don,

    Why should Israel bother to threaten? They know when push comes to shove, the U.S. will either take actions themselves or support Israeli action. Hasn’t Israel flirted with the idea of bombing facilities? If they did that, wouldn’t THEY then be the real aggressors?

    In all seriousness…what does ‘cowboy’ing up on Iran exactly look like?

    Iran may indeed be led by people who are a bit unhinged, or have bizarre political positions… but that doesn’t necessarily translate to insanely using nuclear weapons.

    Iran is a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty. They have a right to nuclear power. Have they not also alerted the IAEA of their intent to bring a power plant online months prior? We’ve known they’ve been on that track for awhile now.

    Iran is also surrounded by nations that DO indeed nuclear weapons, and not all of them are models of sanity either. Pakistan. India. And Israel herself, who both refuses to sign the non-proliferation treaty and to acknowledge her possession of weapons.

    Of what interest would it be for Iran to actually USE a nuclear weapon? Nuking Israel wouldn’t just kill Jews, it would kill many Muslims as well in Palestine… supposedly the very Muslims they sympathize with. How would it benefit Iran, who are Persian, do wind up killing Arabs? Iran would be isolated from their own neighbors for such an action!

    This is to say nothing of the international response. The world would attack them and their allies would abandon them. Their would be a great temptation to respond with nukes as well… likely those ‘secret’ Israeli ones.

    Does Iran really want to join the United States as only the second nation in history to use nukes against people?

    And how exactly would sanctions help? IIRC, Iran does not even refine its own fuel. The idea that we’d cut off their gas is only going to hurt their middle class… the people most likely sympathetic to the west’s position. It will easily worsen the conflict.

    Obama put himself in this position because it was HE who talked tough on Iran (and Pakistan/Afghanistan) during the election. My guess is he only did that so that he couldn’t be accused of being a weakling.

    It seems to me that Iran’s biggest detractors here in the states will only accept one course of action: the military kind. Its not enough that Iran is surrounded either by either US troops or nuclear powers. The sense I get is diplomacy is as about meaningful to the hawks here as it was in the run up to Gulf War II.

    If I were Iran I’d put my hands up in the air and let all the inspectors they want into my country. Not because I’d feel compelled to prove I was telling the truth, but because Washington DC has proven to be as insane as any other foreign government. Unfortunately my biggest fear is that, like Iraq’s leader appearing weak in front of their people and the Middle East, letting the west have it’s way is not a pill they can swallow— and the world will end up with yet another tragic mess in the region costing unnecessary blood and treasure.

  • Anthony anyone who doesn’t think the Iranian regime is seeking nuclear weapons to use them just has not been paying attention. Ahmadinejad has made his intentions clear:

    1. “Israel must be wiped off the map … The establishment of a Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world . . . The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of the war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land.”
    October 26, 2005
    (In an address to 4,000 students at a program titled, ‘The World Without Zionism’)

    NB The translation of this quote is debated and has also been read as “Israel must disappear from the page of history”

    2. “The Zionist regime is an injustice and by its very nature a permanent threat. Whether you like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation. The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm.”
    April 14, 2006
    (In a speech at the opening of the “Support for the Palestinian Intifada” conference on April 14-16 hosted in Tehran)

    3. “Today, they [Europeans] have created a myth in the name of Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets … This is our proposal: give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them [Jews] so that the Jews can establish their country.”
    December 14, 2005
    (Speaking to thousands of people in the Iranian city of Zahedan)

    4. “The Zionist regime is the flag bearer of violation and occupation and this regime is the flag of Satan. …It is not unlikely that this regime be on the path to dissolution and deterioration when the philosophy behind its creation and survival is invalid.”
    August 18, 2007
    (Address to an international religious conference in Tehran)

    5. “A new Middle East will prevail without the existence of Israel.”
    August 4, 2006
    (as quoted by Malaysian news agency Bernama website)

    6. “In parallel to the official political war there is a hidden war going on and the Islamic states should benefit from their economic potential to cut off the hands of the enemies.”

    7. “Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces…. Although we don’t accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, our question for the Europeans is: Is the killing of innocent Jewish people by Hitler the reason for their support to the occupiers of Jerusalem? If the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe — like in Germany, Austria or other countries — to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe.”
    December 8, 2005
    (While speaking to journalists at an Islamic summit in Mecca)

    8. “The Zionists are the true manifestation of Satan . . . Many Western governments that claim to be pioneers of democracy and standard bearers of human rights close their eyes over crimes committed by the Zionists and by remaining silent support the Zionists due to their hedonistic and materialistic tendencies.”
    February 28, 2007
    (to a meeting of Sudanese Islamic scholars in Khartoum)

    9. “Thanks to people’s wishes and God’s will the trend for the existence of the Zionist regime is downwards and this is what God has promised and what all nations want…Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out”
    December 12, 2006
    (Comments to Iran’s Holocaust Conference)

    10. “Though the enemy had made preparations for not allowing Iran (president) to make his voice heard, but, they could not succeed and thanks to grace of God the world people heard our voice.”
    September 30, 2007

    11. “Zionists are people without any religion. They are lying about being Jewish because religion means brotherhood, friendship and respecting other divine religions…
    They are an organized minority who have infiltrated the world. They are not even a 10,000-strong organization.”
    August 28, 2007
    (At a news conference in Tehran)

    12. “With God’s help, the countdown button for the destruction of the Zionist regime has been pushed by the hands of the children of Lebanon and Palestine . . . By God’s will, we will witness the destruction of this regime in the near future.”
    June 3, 2007
    (Speech, as quoted by the Fars News Agency)

    13. “Although the main solution is for the elimination of the Zionist regime, at this stage an immediate cease-fire must be implemented.”
    August 2, 2006
    (as quoted by Iranian TV)

    14. “[N]o Muslim nation would put up with this entity [i.e. Israel] in Islamic lands, not for one moment … If it’s true that the [Europeans] committed a big crime in World War II, then they must take responsibility for it themselves, and not ask the Palestinian people to pay the price … Those countries that support this regime [Israel] were terrified at the suggestion that [Israel] should be relocated to their neighborhood. So why should the Palestinians and the countries in our region accept this entity?”
    (In a speech before an audience in the Iranian city of Qom, aired on television)

    15. “They [the United States] think they are the absolute rulers of the world.”
    October 29, 2005
    (Marching in a demonstration alongside a crowd of students in Tehran)

    16. “It is not just for a few states to sit and veto global approvals. Should such a privilege continue to exist, the Muslim world with a population of nearly 1.5 billion should be extended the same privilege.”
    June 19, 2005
    (In an interview with state television shortly before his election)

    17. “Iran’s enemies know your courage, faith and commitment to Islam and the land of Iran has created a powerful army that can powerfully defend the political borders and the integrity of the Iranian nation and cut off the hand of any aggressor and place the sign of disgrace on their forehead.”

    18. “Soon Islam will become the dominating force in the world, occupying first place in the number of followers amongst all other religions.”

    19.”What is important is that they have shown the way to martyrdom which we must follow.”
    [President Ahmadinejad’s comments on an aircraft crash in Tehran that killed 108 people in December 2005].

    20. “Is there a craft more beautiful, more sublime, more divine, than the craft of giving yourself to martyrdom and becoming holy? Do not doubt, Allah will prevail, and Islam will conquer mountain tops of the entire world.”

    21. “Our revolution’s main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi.”

    22. “The wave of the Islamist revolution will soon reach the entire world.”

    23. “We don’t shy away from declaring that Islam is ready to rule the world.”
    January 21 2006

    24. “Our enemies should know that they are unable to even slightly hurt our nation and they cannot create the tiniest obstacle on its glorious and progressive way.”
    April 28 2006

    25. “By the grace of Allah, we (will be) a nuclear power.”

    26. “If you have burned the Jews, why don’t you give a piece of Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to Israel. Our question is, if you have committed this huge crime, why should the innocent nation of Palestine pay for this crime?”
    April 19, 2006

    27. “The UN structure is one-sided, stacked against the world of Islam.”
    June 8, 2005
    (In an interview on state television)

    28. “Are they human beings?… They (Zionists) are a group of blood-thirsty savages putting all other criminals to shame.”
    (as quoted by Iranian TV)

    29. “The Zionists and their protectors are the most detested people in all of humanity, and the hatred is increasing every day.”
    July 13, 2006
    (as quoted by Iranian state television)

    30. ”We say that this fake regime (Israel) cannot logically continue to live. Open the doors (of Europe) and let the Jews go back to their own countries.”
    April 24, 2006
    (In a news conference held on April 24, 2006)

  • Additionally Anthony do you seriously believe that a regime which butchers its own people would have any qualms about using a nuke on Tel Aviv as the final solution of their Jewish problem?

  • Don,

    I’m certainly not defending the Iranian regime, its attitude towards Jews or Israel or how they treat their own people. What I am trying to do is get a sense of what the political reality is before the Hitler comparisons start flying. Quickly scanning through your litany of quotes, I only see a reference once to ‘nuclear power’ and no references specifically to using nuclear weapons.

    Yes, every couple of months Ahmadinejad says something ridiculous and racists about Jews and it is plastered on every news service… but how are we to know this is not grand standing for his own people? How can we really understand the context his saying these things, a part from our own biases? He mentions that the Soviet Union was wiped off the map…. indeed it was, without a single shot or nuclear weapon for that matter. So like all things politicians say… their meaning can be rather open ended.

    Would the Iranians use a nuke against Tel Aviv? Perhaps. But like I said, the consequences for them would be incalculable. And I’d be willing to bet that the more the rhetoric or sanctions escalate in the U.S., the more likely the Iranians will indeed lash out with a demonstration of WMD capability. Our policy could end up cornering them into doing the very thing we are trying to prevent!

    Don, there has to be some sobriety on these topics before— once again— we march to the tune of pre-emptive war. Iraq was a bungling of an large and ongoing magnitude, and the U.S. really can’t afford the same deal with Iran.

    There has to be a genuinely moral way we can create a path to peaceful relations that do not involve more slaughter. We should be trying to understand the Iranian’s situation and work towards making their goals and our goals the same— namely a self-sustainable Iran that is peaceful.

    I don’t believe that the only way to prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons is by making war. We aren’t there yet. It deeply bothers me to see such a push in that direction.

  • American Night: Everyone gets a pony?

    Geez, I’d flatten a pony! Obama can’t even get THAT right. We don’t even get a grownup-sized horse!

    **France** is laughing at us.

    I just… wow. That’s so wrong in so many ways. I think I’ll start calling myself a Canadian.

  • Don:

    This guy had nukes – a lot more than Iran and we survived.

    Quit your worrying Chicken Little.

  • Hardly reassuring Awakaman since the world came within inches of a nuclear war in October 1962. Additionally Khrushchev was a rational leader. Ahmadinejad is many things, but I supect that rational is not among his attributes, and, in any case, he and other Iranian leaders have given every indication that they will use nuclear weapons once they have them.

  • I agree that Ahmadinejad having nukes is not as bad as Bin Laden having them, (it is generally acknowledged that nation states are not as irresponsible as terrorist groups) but the risk is certainly greater than Khrushchev, and that was pretty bad. Most experts believe that the use of nukes by a bad actor is only a matter of time, unfortunately.

Pope John Paul II Doesn't Sound Like A Reaganite

Saturday, July 11, AD 2009

Here is a good portion of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis written in 1987 and is followed up by Pope Benedict’s most recent. It is a relevant passage because it deals directly with the subjects dealt with in the ongoing discussion on “Guatemala” et al, on the debated need for apology/examination of our American conscience for abuses- or some would argue not- by our American leadership and elite interests, in regard to other nations- particularly poorer, weaker ones. There seems to be the idea floating around in conservative political circles that Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan were cut from the same cloth. I do not believe the approach to foreign relations by those who praise the Reagan/Bush years, holds up to Catholic scrutiny. But here are the words of our previous Holy Father- and no I do not accept the argument that we can distinguish where the Peace and Justice crowd at the Vatican is speaking and where the Pope is- that sort of treatment of these official Encyclicals is beneath my contempt. I will offer commentary on the latest encyclical after I have time to digest it, I refuse to rush my judgment on such important Church offerings. :

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4 Responses to Pope John Paul II Doesn't Sound Like A Reaganite

  • A letter from a “sandalista” (a non-Nicaraguan supporter of the Sandinistas) on her reaction to Pope John Paul II’s visit to Nicaragua in March 1983:

    “Katherine Hoyt
    National Co-Coordinator
    Nicaragua Network Education Fund

    March 16, 1983

    Dear Folks–

    Well, I promised to write about the Pope’s visit and so I guess I must even though I would rather not even think about it much less write about it! I feel that the visit to Central America as a whole has meant a return to a pre-1967 Church: before Paul VI’s encyclical “Popularum Progressio”–which specified the cases in which insurrection and rebellion would be justified–and the 1968 Latin American Bishops Conference at Medellin, Colombia, which gave the big push to liberation theology.

    On this recent visit John Paul II spoke in words easily understood by the Right as support for its cause: You peasants live in unjust and inhuman conditions but don’t be tempted to rise up in arms against your oppressors; and Archbishop Romero was a martyr but we must not allow his memory to be manipulated politically, etc., etc. But this I’m sure you know. What you’d like to know is our experience of his visit here.

    Well, the government and the Church working together made a tremendous effort to mobilize all means of transportation available in the country so that 800,000 people, approximately 36% of the total population, saw the Pope, either in Leon or in Managua. (Older people, children under 12 and pregnant women were asked not to brave the heat.) Everyone who wanted to go had the chance.

    Victoria [my 13 year old daughter] and I went on the bus to Managua two days ahead. We saw on television his arrival at the airport with Daniel Ortega’s very appropriate (but, I hear, badly received by the U.S. press) quotation from a 1921 letter from Bishop Pereira of Leon to U.S. Cardinal Simpson protesting U.S. intervention in his country. The Pope was even then quite cool and we could see that he lectured Father Ernesto Cardenal, but his airport speech was pretty good. The service in Leon went off quite well. The only objectionable thing that he said in his homily was about the “strict right of believing parents” to not see their children submitted in the schools to “programs inspired in atheism,” something that has never been contemplated here.

    Well, after watching all this on TV, we ate lunch, I put on my sunscreen and we (Victoria and I) took off walking on the prescribed route to the Plaza [19 of July]. It took us almost an hour, from 1:40 to 2:30, to get there. (Access to the Plaza was completely open, by the way.) First we got behind some people who had brought ice chests and stools so because they stood on the stools and blocked our view, we moved over to the right among simpler folk. (It turned out that that first group was composed of Archbishop Obando supporters–there were maybe 40 or 50 thousand of them all together right up in front.) Most of the crowd where we were was composed of simple Christian revolutionaries, women of AMNLAE [the women’s association], peasants of the ATC [farmworkers association] who had had their hopes falsely raised by all sides, church and state, that the Pope was going to say some words of consolation to the families which daily lose loved ones to the counterrevolution, especially since just the day before 17 outstanding members of the Sandinista Youth Organization, killed in an ambush, had been buried after a memorial program in this very same plaza. Certainly if the head of a foreign state visits a country the day after a busload of teen-agers killed in an accident have been buried, he is expected to make SOME sympathetic remarks. However, the Pope studiously avoided making ANY sympathetic words either publicly or privately to the Mothers of Heroes and Martyrs who gave him their petition for peace. He could have said a few words of sympathy and won over that crowd easily and satisfied the Sandinista leaders who weren’t expecting more than a crumb. Then it wouldn’t have mattered how strongly he spoke about Church unity under the bishops. Both sides would have been both satisfied and disappointed. But he was extremely careful not to give even a crumb to the revolution and I think no one expected this unrelieved bleakness.

    The Mass began at 5:00 and as the revolutionaries in the crowd began to get the idea of the way things were going, they began to demand “A prayer for our dead,” “We want peace,” and “We want a church on the side of the poor.”

    When that terrible sermon (which demanded that we abandon our “unacceptable ideological commitments” for the faith) was half over I began to feel sick as a result of two and one half hours standing in the sun in the crowd and extreme distress at the direction the Pope was taking. Victoria insisted that we move back to a place where the crowd was less dense and we could sit down and buy some water in plastic bags. By this time the sun had gone down, the horizon was red from so much dust raised on the outer edges of the Plaza, people were chanting “people power, people power” now, too, along with “We want peace,” and the Pope was having a hard time moving along with the Mass. At the silence between the consecration of the bread and that of the wine, a women broke in with a megaphone to say (in respectful tones, actually), “Holy Father, we beg you for a prayer for our loved ones who have been murdered,” or something very similar. The Lord’s Prayer somehow never got said and only a few people were given communion (one was the mother of Daniel and Humberto Ortega who was with the Mothers of Heroes and Martyrs, having lost another son, Camilo, in 1978). Finally at 8:00 p.m., the Pope gave the last blessing and was off while the vast majority of the crowd stayed at attention to hear the Sandinista Anthem.

    Daniel Ortega’s impromptu speech at the airport as the Pope left was enough to make one cry. He almost begged the Pope to make one solid proposal for peace in Nicaragua, to say one word, to give that one crumb that he was not willing to give. We heard only part of it as we were walking back to Toyita’s house, dirty exhausted and I, of course very distressed by the whole visit and certain we were headed for schism. One of the last slogans somebody had cried out as the Mass was ending was one of anguished defiance: “Because of Christ and His Gospels, we are revolutionaries.” That seemed to just about sum things up.

    While I showered, I turned the radio on to the BBC 9:00p.m. news. The British announcer, in typical understatement, said that the Pope had just finished saying the “most unusual Mass of his career in Managua, Nicaragua.”

    Of course it was a boost for the counter-revolutionaries and we are seeing an increase in the number of battles right now, some close to Matagalpa–near San Ramon and San Dionisio–and all anybody talks about is war. This has had serious repercussions in our Paulita who has developed a terrible fear of war and what might happen to us all. She starts crying when anyone talks about battles or civil defense measures in school.

    Write soon.

    Love, Kathy”

    John Paul II was a complicated man and he was often critical of the West, but in the confrontation between Democracy and Communism John Paul II was much closer to the position of Reagan than the Catholic Left of the time.

  • Here is a good portion of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis written in 1987 and is followed up by Pope Benedict’s most recent. It is a relevant passage because it deals directly with the subjects dealt with in the ongoing discussion on “Guatemala” et al, on the debated need for apology/examination of our American conscience for abuses- or some would argue not- by our American leadership and elite interests, in regard to other nations- particularly poorer, weaker ones.

    How does this stratospheric complaint about global political economy ca. 1987 have much to say about the parsing of responsibility between the U.S. Government and Guatemala’s political class?

    There seems to be the idea floating around in conservative political circles that Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan were cut from the same cloth. I do not believe the approach to foreign relations by those who praise the Reagan/Bush years, holds up to Catholic scrutiny.

    Just out of curiosity, what aspects of that ‘approach’ do not? While you answer that, consider what discontinuities existed between the Reagan Administration and its predecessor. Increased military expenditure, promotion of democracy abroad, modernization of nuclear arsenals, confrontation with foreign reds (in El Salvador, &c.), and subsidy and training of insurgencies challenging communist governments were all policies that had been adopted by his predecessor, albeit more tentatively, by 1980.

    But here are the words of our previous Holy Father- and no I do not accept the argument that we can distinguish where the Peace and Justice crowd at the Vatican is speaking and where the Pope is- that sort of treatment of these official Encyclicals is beneath my contempt. I will offer commentary on the latest encyclical after I have time to digest it, I refuse to rush my judgment on such important Church offerings. :

    You quote an introductory paragraph, three paragraphs which are drily descriptive, one which locates the antagonism of the West and the East bloc in their dissimilar political economy (though blocs and mutual antagonisms are the rule with or without such dissimilarity). The equivalence drawn between Western media and that of the Communist bloc is foolish. The succeeding paragraph (“International relations, in turn,…” is again uncontroversially descriptive. The next (“Although at the present time”) is not much more so.


    two concepts of the development of individuals and peoples both concepts being imperfect and in need of radical correction. This opposition is transferred to the developing countries themselves, and thus helps to widen the gap already existing on the economic level between North and South and which results from the distance between the two worlds: the more developed one and the less developed one.

    This is one of the reasons why the Church’s social doctrine adopts a critical attitude towards both liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism. For from the point of view of development the question naturally arises: in what way and to what extent are these two systems capable of changes and updatings such as to favor or promote a true and integral development of individuals and peoples in modern society? In fact, these changes and updatings are urgent and essential for the cause of a development common to all.

    Whether it be the Holy Father speaking or krill suspended in some Vatican dicastery, passages such as this do not provide even minimal guidance for the faithful policy-maker. What does ‘true and integral development’ mean? N.B. by 1987, ‘liberal capitalism’ was a fair description of the political economy of … Hong Kong. The occidental countries had with scant exception adopted some variation of what Paul Samuelson called the ‘mixed economy’, featuring considerable income redistribution, collective consumption, and ratios of public expenditure to domestic product north of a third.

    Countries which have recently achieved independence, and which are trying to establish a cultural and political identity of their own, and need effective and impartial aid from all the richer and more developed countries, find themselves involved in, and sometimes overwhelmed by, ideological conflicts, which inevitably create internal divisions, to the extent in some cases of provoking full civil war. This is also because investments and aid for development are often diverted from their proper purpose and used to sustain conflicts, apart from and in opposition to the interests of the countries which ought to benefit from them. Many of these countries are becoming more and more aware of the danger of falling victim to a form of neocolonialism and are trying to escape from it. It is this awareness which in spite of difficulties, uncertainties and at times contradictions gave rise to the International Movement of Non-Aligned Nations, which, in its positive aspect, would like to affirm in an effective way the right of every people to its own identity, independence and security, as well as the right to share, on a basis of equality and solidarity, in the goods intended for all.

    The first portion of this paragraph is again descriptive. The terminal portion, an endorsement of the Conference of Non-Aligned Nations, actually was likely at a variance with the views of the Reagan Administration. It was incumbent upon the Holy Father to explain why he thought the Conference of Non-aligned Nations, that international gathering where Togo could weigh in on Timor, was significant to those not on the payroll of its secretariat. Now, if my memory serves me, one of the Conferences in this era (in 1983 or 1984) passed 11 separate resolutions attacking the United States and not a one attacking Soviet Russia, so it would not be surprising for anyone in American politics this side of Ron Dellums to find the Conference repellant. How does this jibe with the Holy Father’s carefully balanced complaints?

    22. In the light of these considerations, we easily arrive at a clearer picture of the last twenty years and a better understanding of the conflicts in the northern hemisphere, namely between East and West, as an important cause of the retardation or stagnation of the South.

    This is not a statement of discrete empirical fact, but it does presume a settled understanding of the dynamics of economic development that was not in fact the case in 1987 – or now.

    The developing countries, instead of becoming autonomous nations concerned with their own progress towards a just sharing in the goods and services meant for all, become parts of a machine, cogs on a gigantic wheel.

    The best sense that can be made out of this passage is that it is an endorsement of conceptions of the international economic order associated with characters like Immanual Wallerstein. That also would be at a variation with the Reagan Administration. It is also controversial quite apart from that; Efforts to empirically verify through statistical method the conceptions of this school of thought were not notably successful.

    This is often true also in the field of social communications, which, being run by centers mostly in the northern hemisphere, do not always give due consideration to the priorities and problems of such countries or respect their cultural make-up. They frequently impose a distorted vision of life and of man and thus fail to respond to the demands of true development.

    The referent here was contemporary efforts by UNESCO to erect a ‘New World Information Order’ incorporating controls on the Western press. The Reagan Administration withdrew from UNESCO at the close of 1984, in part for this reason and in part because the agency was internally mismanaged (“a third world kleptocracy” in the words of one critic). So, yes, this is at variation with the Reagan Administration, but with a great many others. Michael Kinsley had this to say about his colleagues in the press: “[UNESCO’s behavior] caused them to lose some of their cultural relativism, and their patience.”

    Each of the two blocs harbors in its own way a tendency towards imperialism, as it is usually called, or towards forms of new- colonialism: an easy temptation to which they frequently succumb, as history, including recent history, teaches.

    That is more Cyrus Vance than the Reagan Administration, ’tis true. It could use some elaboration.

    It is this abnormal situation, the result of a war and of an unacceptably exaggerated concern for security, which deadens the impulse towards united cooperation by all for the common good of the human race, to the detriment especially of peaceful peoples who are impeded from their rightful access to the goods meant for all.

    Bipolarity and the presence of weapons of mass destruction were certainly unusual, as was the ideological dimension of internationial conflict. We do need to ask the question as to whether ‘united cooperation by all for the common good of the human race’ really characterized previous historical era, as this comment seems to suggest.

    Seen in this way, the present division of the world is a direct obstacle to the real transformation of the conditions of underdevelopment in the developing and less advanced countries. However, peoples do not always resign themselves to their fate. Furthermore, the very needs of an economy stifled by military expenditure and by bureaucracy and intrinsic inefficiency now seem to favor processes which might mitigate the existing opposition and make it easier to begin a fruitful dialogue and genuine collaboration for peace.

    23. The statement in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio that the resources and investments devoted to arms production ought to be used to alleviate the misery of impoverished peoples41 makes more urgent the appeal to overcome the opposition between the two blocs.

    This is also at a variance with the Reagan Administration. The thing is, I doubt you will find many third world countries in 1987 who had a ratio of military expenditure to domestic product exceeding .03, bar those in the midst of internal insurrections or wars of national mobilization. IIRC statistics I was scanning at that time, such was particularly true in Latin America.

    Today, the reality is that these resources are used to enable each of the two blocs to overtake the other and thus guarantee its own security. Nations which historically, economically and politically have the possibility of playing a leadership role are prevented by this fundamentally flawed distortion from adequately fulfilling their duty of solidarity for the benefit of peoples which aspire to full development.

    It is timely to mention – and it is no exaggeration – the a leadership role among nations can only be justified by the possibility and willingness to contribute widely and generously to the common good.

    There are several problems with this statement. One, is there a well established means by which international transfers of public capital induce sustainable local development?; two, to what extent are such transfers inhibited by specifically military expenditures?; three, how is it that ‘global leadership’ can be said to be conferred by virtue rather than merely being the artifact of power politics – something that exists rather than something that is ‘justified’?

    If a nation were to succumb more or less deliberately to the temptation to close in upon itself and failed to meet the responsibilities following from its superior position in the community of nations, it would fall seriously short of its clear ethical duty. This is readily apparent in the circumstances of history, where believers discern the dispositions of Divine Providence, ready to make use of the nations for the realization of its plans, so as to render “vain the designs of the peoples” (cf. Ps 33[32]: 10).

    What exactly is its ‘clear ethical duty’ in the realm of international relation?

    24. If arms production is a serious disorder in the present world with regard to true human needs and the employment of the means capable of satisfying those needs, the arms trade is equally to blame. Indeed, with reference to the latter it must be added that the moral judgment is even more severe. As we all know, this is a trade without frontiers capable of crossing even the barriers of the blocs. It knows how to overcome the division between East and West, and above all the one between North and South, to the point – and this is more serious – of pushing its way into the different sections which make up the southern hemisphere. We are thus confronted with a strange phenomenon: while economic aid and development plans meet with the obstacle of insuperable ideological barriers, and with tariff and trade barriers, arms of whatever origin circulate with almost total freedom all over the world And as the recent document of the Pontifical Commission Iustitia et Pax on the international debt points out,42 everyone knows that in certain cases the capital lent by the developed world has been used in the underdeveloped world to buy weapons.

    See above on the ratio of military expenditure to domestic product. Here are some figures from 2004, courtesy Global Security. I believe that global product is now about $60 tn, so the $1.1 tn devoted to military expenditure is less than 2% of the total.

    If to all this we add the tremendous and universally acknowledged danger represented by atomic weapons stockpiled on an incredible scale, the logical conclusion seems to be this: in today’s world, including the world of economics, the prevailing picture is one destined to lead us more quickly towards death rather than one of concern for true development which would lead all towards a “more human” life, as envisaged by the Encyclical Populorum Progressio.43

    Here we pose the question: in 1987, had median life expectancies been increasing, or decreasing? Was global food production per capita improving, or not?

    Tim, we have to regard the statements of our bishops on matters outside of faith and morals with the antecedent assumption that they understand of what they speak, and we should be taught by them. The thing of it is, they can and do adhere to conceptions of their social world the empirical reality of which is controversial and so for a reason so we are in conversation with them on these matters. That applies to the late Holy Father as well.

  • I don’t know if you are familiar with our site, the Catholic World Report, but we have a “Round-Table” wherein J. Brian Benestad, Francis J. Beckwith, Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., Richard Garnett, Thomas S. Hibbs, Paul Kengor, George Neumayr, Joseph Pearce, Tracey Rowland, Father James V. Schall, and Rev. Robert A. Sirico share their thoughts on Caritas in Veritate.

    It’s located at:

19 Responses to Channeling His Inner Reagan?

  • There is a chasm between these remarks and the speech you “wrote” for him this week. Look at Obama’s tone — the condemnation of official violence, the point about not interfering in Iran’s politics, it’s about Iran not the US, the emphasis on the justice, the reference to the amazing Cairo speech.

    You, on the other hand, wanted to take sides immediately, to threaten “serious consequences” beginning with sanctions, and couch it all in condescending language about the “free world”. The arrogant and un-nuanced Bush approach, in other words. And this was before the regime cracked down on the protestors — a distinction you fail to make.

    I find it truly amazing that we are seeing neocon history repeat itself. Just as the Iraqis were supposed to welcome the Ameicans with flowers, people like Fred Barnes think the young generation in Iran is pro-American and has forgotten all about 1953. Sbefore you start making comparions with Solidarnosc 1981, you should consider the ramifications of your advice.

    Let me jog your memory: US overthrows popular elected leader for despised shah to stop nationlization of oil companies. Fear that the US will yet again re-impose the shah in 1979 led to hostage crisis. US funds and arms Saddam Hussein in a brutal war in the 1980s, leading to a million deaths, and the use of chemical weapons by American’s then friend. US calls Iran part of “axis of evil” with two countries it despises. And this will now be all forgotten?

    We see now that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are desperately trying to pin this on foreign interference, whereas it is home-grown. Had Obama listened to you and your neocon frieds a week ago, he would have played right into their hands. The resistance movement might be beaten into submission right now, but it has not lost its legitimacy.

    Interestingly, I think the Cairo speech may have actually emboldened the Iranian opposition in the first place. After all, who could have predicted such excitement about a boring 68-year old former prime minister who is a firm believer in he revolution and the Islamic republic? Reaching out with the arm of friendship is always better than hypocritical hectoring. And the Church would say the same thing — the Vatican praised the Cairo speech.

  • I went on record as saying I thought a hands off approach by Obama was probably the most prudent action. However, let’s not just throw a bunch of excrement on the wall and call it an argument.

    And this was before the regime cracked down on the protestors — a distinction you fail to make…

    You say Donald’s speech came before the Iranian government cracked down and Obama’s came after. Not so, referencing my own comment in that thread I know there were at least 8 dead protesters at the time of Donald’s writing, and that Obama had characterized the whole thing as dialogue.

    …We see now that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are desperately trying to pin this on foreign interference, whereas it is home-grown. Had Obama listened to you and your neocon frieds a week ago, he would have played right into their hands. The resistance movement might be beaten into submission right now, but it has not lost its legitimacy….

    Actually, most of could see they were trying to pin it on foreign interference from the beginning, it was the sort of thing that could be expected, plus, well, the regime proclaimed it pretty loudly. And we understood, as I’m sure the regime does, that it is indeed home-grown. I’m not sure how this supports your argument though. And I’m not sure how you think the resistance movement has its legitimacy – are you saying it is because Obama finally spoke up or because it was legitimate before he spoke up?

    Also, you might find some a more support or persuade a number of people to your view if you refrained from being so patronizing and quick to assign the worst motives, beliefs, or ignorance to those you disagree with. We get that it’s important for your own thought process to categorize everyone into evil or good, American or good, Calvinist or good, neocon or good, etc., but it doesn’t make for convincing argument. Really, I’m sympathetic to some of your arguments until you start to act as if nobody but you are capable of understanding these things, because they’re just so evil or American.

  • Rick: “And I’m not sure how you think the resistance movement has its legitimacy – are you saying it is because Obama finally spoke up or because it was legitimate before he spoke up?”

    Legitimacy has absolutely nothing to do with Obama, or any other American for that matter. I’ve been saying since the outset that this is a domestic Iranian struggle, and has nothing to do with us. It’s precisely the neocon approach that sees this though US-tinted lenses — that these people desire western-style democracy and the American notion of “freedom”. Not so. I’m sure some are very western in their outlook (that doesn’t mean they would look too kindly on American “freedom”, including rampant pornography, liberal sexual ethics, mass availability of guns, just to same a few). Others, and I would say the majority outside the rather closeted society of North Tehran, are committed to the Islamic revolution but are sick and tired of Ahmadinejad, an embarrassment on the world stage.

    I think their reaction would be akin to America rigging the election in favor of McCain last October — could you imagine the public outrage? It would not be an indictment of the system itself, just legitimate anger over a great injustice. And imagine if such a scenario took place, would Americans like it if the Iranian leadership publicly sided with the protestors? I think not — imagine the Fox News headlines!

    I’m trying to figure out your last paragraph. The dualism you accuse me of is exactly the what I am opposed to, especially in the way neocons view the world. So, to go back to Donald’s Reagan reference, the Soviet Union was not an “evil empire”. There was and is no “axis of evil”. There are merely people who do evil things because of sin.

    John Allen had a nice analysis during the Iraq war when he talked to certain Vatican officials, who saw a whiff of Calvinism in what the US was doing. To quote “Calvinist concepts of the total depravity of the damned, the unconditional election of God’s favored, and the manifestation of election through earthly success, all seem to them to play a powerful role in shaping American cultural psychology” Well, Catholics do not divorce sin and evil from grace and redemption.

    So please — I have never called anybody “evil” (some possibly facetiously!), but I certainly think a lot of people around here are very influenced by this Calvinist outlook. As for me, I prefer the approach of Obama in Cairo to Reagan during the Cold War.

  • Tony, you shift your position as swiftly as your weather-vane president. As he continues to get tougher on Iran, and he will, you will find justifications for his change of policy, as I predicted you would last week. Of course, the simple truth is that Obama clearly misread initially not only the situation in Iran but the reaction of this nation to the brutality of the Iranian regime. Obama’s policy of sucking up to Ahmadinejad and the mullahs is in tatters, and so he runs to get in front of where most Americans currently are in regard to Iran. Obama has his gifts, but leadership is not one of them.

  • [1] Calvinist concepts of the total depravity of the damned, [2] the unconditional election of God’s favored, [3] and the manifestation of election through earthly success, all seem to them to play a powerful role in shaping American cultural psychology

    [1] and [2] don’t have much to do with the Iraq War. [3] is a fabrication; Calvinists don’t think that God’s election is shown by earthly success.

    * Needless to say, I’m talking about actual Calvinists here, which is a term that you seem to be unfamiliar with. John Calvin was a 16th century French theologian, and the term “Calvinist” refers to followers of John Calvin — currently found mostly in Presbyterian and Reformed churches.

  • Thanks for a thoughtful reply, MM.

    Legitimacy has absolutely nothing to do with Obama, or any other American for that matter. I’ve been saying since the outset that this is a domestic Iranian struggle, and has nothing to do with us.

    I agree as to the legitimacy of the movement, and frankly I haven’t heard anyone proclaim it otherwise, save the Iranian government – and I’m quite sure they know the reality. So when you brought up the legitimacy I reasoned that it was part of the argument you were making – an argument that still isn’t making sense to me.

    Anyway, my last paragraph was a rather lame attempt at mocking you while trying to point out that you might have a beam in your eye. I’m quite aware of you calling out dualism and such, however I think you do so often based on your presumption of what others are saying or thinking rather than the reality – and often enough, it’s easy enough to predict where you stand on any given issue simply based on where partisan lines are drawn. Your initial comment here is an example. Who said what’s happening in Iran is really about the US? Who thinks Iran should be USA Lite? Who believes for a moment that our system could or should be transplanted there? I doubt you could find one example. However, I bet you could cite a number that you attribute those thoughts to.

    If someone says they hope the Iranian people effect some change and gain for themselves more liberty and institute a just government – and even a government that’s not so hostile to the US – or that they think the US leadership should speak in support of the protesters or condemn the regime’s behavior, it doesn’t mean they think it’s all about the US, that Iran should be just like the US, etc. And if you were to find someone so wrong-headed, it certainly doesn’t mean that because others advocate the same or similar actions are necessarily wrong.

    One last thing. I think history has proven that Reagan’s “Evil Empire” thing was not the bad thing his critics on the left thought it was, but actually turned out to be a very powerful thing that led to a better world. I know you see dualism and hatred in it, but that’s what you’re looking for. If you’re concerned about the souls that have suffered under a system, a system that lacks much good and perpetuates the misery, you would have no problem calling it an evil empire. Most people can make the distinction between the system and governance of a state and its people.

  • Well, Donald, I would hope to change my opinion when facts and circumstances change. And it certainly makes sense to condemn a brutal repression today, when it made sense not to side with the mass protests 7-10 days ago. And even then, it makes sense to be cautious, to speak in terms of justice, and Obama has done that.

    Do you honestly think Obama’s policy is worse than the “tatters” of teh last 8 years? Do you really think the “codpiece diplomacy” worked. It might play well at home and help people feel good about themselves, but as policy, it’s been an unmitigated disaster.

    And do you think Obama’s Cairo speech helped rally people toward Moussavi (who let’s face it, is not exactly an inspiring figure)?

  • MM,

    I don’t think that the protests in Iran have much of anything to do with Obama’s Cairo speech. Sheesh, talk about it not all being about the US.

    And as for codpiece diplomacy — it was mostly in your head in the first place. Obama’s reaction now (as he gradually catches on to what’s going on in Iran — which admittedly wasn’t part of his “I will tame the regime through kind words” script, so he had to do a little expectatin resetting) is really not that different from the sort of thing we would have heard from Bush or McCain.

    The idea that they were running around hurling grenades and grunting, “Me good and free, you bad and oppressor” never really had much correllation to reality in the first place.

  • that doesn’t mean they would look too kindly on American “freedom”, including rampant pornography, liberal sexual ethics, mass availability of guns

    You are almost certainly correct on the first two, but given that Islam effectively proscribes pacifism, I’m not so sure they’d react with your reflexive horror to firearms ownership.

  • One of the reasons people find it hard to take your crusade against dualism seriously, MM, is that you are so dualistic in your approach to your opponents. You think they’re “know nothings”, that they don’t know the most basic things about local history, that they want to make war on everyone, that they want everyone to be completely Americanized, etc. Given that you’re so dualistic (and far from reality) in your approach to people you disagree with, it’s hard to take your claims that other people are dualists seriously.

  • Oh, the codpiece diplomacy was not a figment of my imagination — it was on full display during the GOP pirmary reason. Remember the juvenile machismo of Giulinia, Romney, Tancredo? OK, McCain was an adult in that group but he still was too attached to an emotive trigger-happy context free response.

    I will never ever forget the collective insanity that overtook this country in the aftermath of 9/11. I cannot comprehend how the authors and cheerleaders of the Iraq war are now being granted a soapbox to make the same idiotic statements about Iran, with the same ignorance of history, and the same demonization of the regime. So when I rail against know-nothings, I’m talking very recent history, with very concrete examples.

    You know well that I don’t like Obama’s continued occupation of Iraq and his ratcheting up the war mode in Afghanistan. But look how far we have come – the Cairo speech actually treats the Islamic world with respect, and calls for equal Palestinian and Israeli rights. And he’s actually backing up the talk on Israeli — much to Netanyahu’s disgust. Again, not perfect (my views here are aligned with the Vatican), and still too pro-Israel, but certainly infinintely better than what could have been.

    I do see a link between Cairo and Iran. Obama appealed to their better angels, and they responded. I would not overdo this, though — this is certainly a domestic Iranian issue. But nobody can fail to notice the sea-change in official US rhetoric, and nobody cannot be uplifted by it (except those who thrive on conflict and demonization, of course, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad included).

    But I’ve seen people go too far, pointing to the loss of Hezbollah’s coalition in Lebanon. No, sorry, Hezbollah won every seat it was expected to win, it’s just that its Christian ally, Michel Aoun, got trounced.

  • Obama helped spark the Iranian uprising? Tony, only an Obamabot could even suggest that with a straight face. Obama clearly thought he could work a deal with the mullahs, cue the horselaugh, and from the beginning he has completely misread what is going on in Iran.

    As to your comments about the aftermath of 9-11, it must truly pain you that you have to live in America currently to earn your bread and cheese. You seem to be constantly out of sorts with America, with the sole exception of the election of your candidate last year for President. This is going to be a long four years for you Tony as Obama dismally fails in his plans to transform the US into a large Sweden. After it is all over with, you can simply chalk it up to our innate stubborn American, “Calvinist” in your lexicon, natures!

  • Thug Ahmadinejad thinks Obama is channeling his inner Bush!

  • I’m with Donald, MM. *Why* do you live here? You’re like the anti-de Tocqueville, an endless series of carping complaints and observations about the people, civics, culture and mindset of the nation you currently reside in.

    Any unique features of this place that you *do* like, or is every day here rather like continuing exposure to low-grade debilitating radiation?

  • MM,

    When I have a guest in my home who constantly complains about my food, hospitality and funishings, I politely ask him to leave.

    Perhaps having assisted this country in electing Obama, you can now find other, fruitful pursuits in another land.

  • MM:

    1. No apology for the complete fabrication about what Calvinists believe?

    2. So you’re back to the “codpiece” talk. Can you think of any insults that aren’t so crass and gutter-minded?

  • I live happily in the US because (i) I live in very international circles and (ii) the Americans I know do not believe in the American empire. No, the problem lies with the economically-backward regions, with their “culture” facing a demographic time bomb. Good riddance to it. I look forward to the day when this Protestant culture wanes as Hispanics become the dominant group. For that is what I love about the US — its openness to all peoples and cultures, its liberal immigration policies, its nature as a melting pot. Remember, Catholic culture has always been a vibrant urban culture…

    If you want to talk about Obama, it’s clear to me that the Ahmadi-Mousavi struggle is a little similar to Mccain-Obama — a jaded old regime, an embarrassment on the world stage, challenged by an upstart with huge popularity among the younger generation. Mousavi’s spokesman says as much, and there’s a ring of truth to it.

    And I notice that nobody criticizes the collective madness we lived through after 9/11….

  • Once upon a time the insult was to be called an ugly American. MM sets the new standard as the ugly European. Of course, for those of us who have lived there, there’s always been such.

  • No criticism was mentioned Tony of your statement in regard to 9-11 because it was too absurd to waste electrons on. Your belief that Hispanics will transform America into something more pleasing to you is ludicrous. Catholic ethnic groups in this country tend to hold views no more acceptable to you than their Protestant counter-parts. I might add that Hispanics are over-represented, by choice, in our military. I welcome them. Over time they will, as a group, be no more reliably Democrat votes in most states in this country than say Italian-Americans are now. Your beliefs are actually carbon-copies of those held by rich wasp liberal elites in this country, and so your sham pose of being in rebellion against some sort of Protestant ascendancy in this country is nothing but a pose. Your comparison of McCain to Ahmadinejad is of course nothing but the substition of vitriol for analysis.