March 2, 1836: Texas Declaration of Independence

Thursday, March 2, AD 2017

 

Four days before the fall of the Alamo on March 6, 1836, the people of Texas in Convention assembled proclaimed the independence of the Republic of Texas.  Surely few such proclamations have been issued in more dire straits.  Texas had no military other than some raw militia units.  The Texan garrison at the Alamo was under siege by a large professional Mexican army under Santa Anna.  It seemed as if the Republic of Texas was a still-born State, doomed to be forgotten soon after its birth, its advocates lucky to be alive if they survived the coming military debacle.  However, General Sam Houston, commander of all of the non-existent armies of Texas, had other ideas.  Here is the text of the Declaration:

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12 Responses to March 2, 1836: Texas Declaration of Independence

  • When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived,

    When has it ever been a Catholic principle that authority comes from below (i.e. the people) rather than from God? The more revolutionary documents I read, the more they all seem to boil down to non serviam.

    They sure had a particular disdain for the Church with no less than three direct attacks against the Church.
    the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty
    the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood
    It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a national religion (that is, the Church)

  • “When has it ever been a Catholic principle that authority comes from below (i.e. the people) rather than from God?”
    Actually Saint Thomas Aquinas:

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/1990/thomas-aquinas-the-first-whig-what-our-liberties-owe-to-a-neapolitan-mendicant

    Neither the framers of the Texas Declaration nor the Angelic Doctor would dispute that God was ultimately in charge, but they also understood that the mass of humanity were not born with saddles on their backs, to quote Jefferson, to be ridden by a select group of leaders.

    “It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a national religion”

    The Texans were rightfully upset that the Mexicans restricted citizenship to Catholics only. The Church today would object to such a provision.

  • Actually Saint Thomas Aquinas:
    Novak fails to make his case in attempting to push back onto Aquinas Novak’s own politics.

    In doing background research while reading your Novak article, I see that article is part of the growing dispute among Catholics over the reconciling of certain American/liberal principles and Catholicism. It led me to your fellow contributor, Christopher Blosser’s blog sites compiling articles, as well as a previous American Catholic article on the debate. I don’t we’re going to get very far on our disagreement here. Your link to Novak suggests you’re sympathetic to his position. I’m not.
    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/2014/02/06/a-catholic-showdown-worth-watching/ :
    For those in the Murray/Neuhaus/Weigel school, it’s simply a matter of returning us to the better days, and reviving the sound basis on which the nation was founded. For those in the MacIntyre/Schindler school, America was never well-founded, so either needs to be differently re-founded or at least endured, even survived.

    While I don’t care to get pigeon-holed with names of others, I arrived independently with the same general conclusion as the apparent MacIntyre/Schindler school that the philosophical principles (and implementation) of the American (and Texas) founding fathers is incompatible with Catholicism. Today, we are seeing not the abandonment of original principles, but inevitable fruits.

    The Texans were rightfully upset that the Mexicans restricted citizenship to Catholics only
    Do you have a citation that citizenship was actually restricted rather than simply that Catholicism was officially recognized and other practices prohibited? Remember, a nation has the right to regulate immigration to avoid the detriment of its citizens.
    The Church today would object to such a provision.
    I’m sure you’ll understand that I’m not going to be impressed with statements that start with The Church today would …, considering that one can fill the ellipses with pretty much anything.

    I have a particularly difficult time being sympathetic with any group’s complaints about despotism while itself practiced slavery. The Texians were importing slaves and slavery contrary to existing Mexican law. The Church then did not approve, much less today. Again, the Texians turned right around and restricted Texas citizenship on the basis of race. Care to defend that?

  • Oops. Sorry.

    My poor old eyes skimmed over “theamericanconservative.com” and interpreted “the-american-catholic.com.” That article didn’t come from this site. It was just linked to by Mr. Blosser.

  • “While I don’t care to get pigeon-holed with names of others, I arrived independently with the same general conclusion as the apparent MacIntyre/Schindler school that the philosophical principles (and implementation) of the American (and Texas) founding fathers is incompatible with Catholicism. Today, we are seeing not the abandonment of original principles, but inevitable fruits.”

    You of course have been proven wrong on that. Catholicism has flourished in the United States while it is dying in such traditionally Catholic countries as Italy and Spain. The pathologies that afflict the Church here are much worse in most parts of the world. You merely lend support to the lies of anti-Catholic bigots that Catholicism is inevitably the enemy of free institutions. Fortunately very few Catholics I believe agree with you.

    “Do you have a citation that citizenship was actually restricted rather than simply that Catholicism was officially recognized and other practices prohibited?”

    The Constitution of 1824 prohibited any faith other than Catholicism, and settlers were required to convert to Catholicism. If you think such provisions aided Catholicism in Mexico you are incorrect.

    “The Church then did not approve, much less today.”

    Actually the Church did not condemn slavery until 1839 in In supremo apostolates. It would take the Civil War to rectify that injustice. Spain and Portugal long ignored the condemnation of slavery by the Pope.

  • Catholicism has flourished in the United States
    Really? I think you are mistaking flourishing within the US qua US, with the establishment of communities of Catholic immigrants. Once the influence of those first generation catholics waned and the assimilation to American culture took root, the Catholicism began to wither on the vine. Point out just where Catholicism is flourishing in the US today. The US can not even produce enough priests for its own needs. I think you use a different definition of flourishing.
    Yes, things are bad in other first world countries. The same philosophical principles took root there, too (although much originally came from the continent). However, the “it’s worse elsewhere” argument does not demonstrate that the philosophical principles in the US founding are compatible with Catholicism. That is just deflection.

    You merely lend support to the lies of anti-Catholic bigots that Catholicism is inevitably the enemy of free institutions.
    That is an astounding outburst of emotion. You’ve completely disengaged from rational discourse.

    The Constitution of 1824 prohibited any faith other than Catholicism, and settlers were required to convert to Catholicism. If you think such provisions aided Catholicism in Mexico you are incorrect.
    Title I, Article 3. The Religion of the Mexican Nation, is, and will be perpetually, the Roman Catholic Apostolic. The Nation will protect it by wise and just laws, and prohibit the exercise of any other whatever.
    No mention of the requirement for conversion. Care to point that out.

    Yes, Catholics in Mexico have suffered much at the hands of atheists and Masons. Subsequent constitutions turned very anti-clerical. De Santa Anna himself was no supporter of the Church.
    The US itself did Catholics no favors in the Mexican conflicts. Particularly in the Cristeros war, the US was supplying the anti-Catholic regime.

    Church did not condemn slavery until 1839
    Actually there were condemnations much earlier.

    Spain and Portugal long ignored the condemnation of slavery by the Pope.
    Ahh! The “Billy’s mom lets him do it” justification.

    I admit defeat. I cannot compete with Billy’s mom.

  • “Really?”

    Yes, really.

    “Yes, things are bad in other first world countries.”

    You can add to that almost all third world countries outside some areas of Africa, areas where the local Church still relies upon strong financial support from outside Catholics, usually from the United States.

    “That is an astounding outburst of emotion. You’ve completely disengaged from rational discourse.”

    You of course have no response to what I wrote because it is true. You would use Caesar to eliminate the public worship of all groups except Catholics. You are far more useful to anti-Catholic bigots than any Jack Chick comic book.

    “Title I, Article 3. The Religion of the Mexican Nation, is, and will be perpetually, the Roman Catholic Apostolic. The Nation will protect it by wise and just laws, and prohibit the exercise of any other whatever.”

    Yep, that provision was interpreted by Mexican officials as requiring conversion to Catholicism before citizenship could be granted.

    “Yes, Catholics in Mexico have suffered much at the hands of atheists and Masons. Subsequent constitutions turned very anti-clerical. De Santa Anna himself was no supporter of the Church.”

    Santa Anna, scoundrel that he was, had no true convictions. He was an enemy of the Church at times, but in the last of his many terms as President, in the 1850s, he posed as a friend of the Church. The problem of course for the Church was that the principle that the government could intervene in matters of religion was established from the inception of the Mexican republic. Establish Caesar as a champion of the Church and an enemy of other faiths, and do not be surprised when the sword of Caesar is eventually wielded against the Church, as has happened in Catholic country after Catholic country.
    In regard to the Cristeros War, Dwight Morrow, American ambassador to Mexico, brokered the peace with the Mexican government, the Vatican supporting this initiative.

    “Actually there were condemnations much earlier.”

    Limited condemnations which had zero impact, as typified by religious orders that owned slaves, for example the Jesuits in Maryland, who sold some 272 slaves in 1838 to reduce a massive debt owed by Georgetown University.

  • You would use Caesar to eliminate the public worship of all groups except Catholics. You are far more useful to anti-Catholic bigots than any Jack Chick comic book.
    I stated no such thing. You made an emotional jump to an irrational assertion.

    Seems to me you should review your own Comments Policy:
    I will express my disagreements with others’ ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally.
    I will not exaggerate others’ beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt.
    Making wild, unfounded assertions about my position and what I would or would not do, hardly seems to conform.

    I would have thought by now you’d have enough experience to know that anti-Catholic bigots don’t need any excuses for their hostility. It isn’t the external enemies that the Church has ever had to truly worry about. It’s always those on the inside collaborating, compromising, and falling for false doctrines. That’s what brings the Church down.

    I’m familiar with Morrow’s role while the US was supplying weapons to Calles and trying to obtain oil leases. The so-called peace deal won no concessions for the Cristeros. Yes the Vatican and the Mexican bishops approved it. It was not the first (nor will be the last) mistake the hierarchy has made.

    You still have not shown how Catholicism is “flourishing” in the US. Good luck with that. How the Church is doing in other parts of the world is irrelevant to the evaluation of the Church in the US. The 2nd largest denomination in the US is ex-Catholics. Somehow American culture is not conducive to reinforcing Catholicism.

    But let’s be real. This is a very emotional topic for you, and further discourse on it will not render any good fruits. If you want to hold the position that American founding principles are good for Catholicism, you’re certainly in good company. The American hierarchy holds that view, too. Of course, they’re too busy closing parishes to comment at this time.

  • “Do you have a citation that citizenship was actually restricted rather than simply that Catholicism was officially recognized and other practices prohibited?”

    I guess that was a purely meaningless comment by you? At least have the courage of your mistaken convictions.

    “Making wild, unfounded assertions about my position and what I would or would not do, hardly seems to conform.”

    I merely made the mistake of taking seriously what you typed.

    “I would have thought by now you’d have enough experience to know that anti-Catholic bigots don’t need any excuses for their hostility.”

    How that has anything to do with you giving them ammunition for one of their key assertions is beyond me.

    “The so-called peace deal won no concessions for the Cristeros. Yes the Vatican and the Mexican bishops approved it. It was not the first (nor will be the last) mistake the hierarchy has made.”

    Actually that is incorrect.

    His office drafted a pact called the arreglos (agreement) that allowed worship to resume in Mexico and granted three concessions to the Catholics: only priests who were named by hierarchical superiors would be required to register, religious instruction in the churches (but not in the schools) would be permitted, and all citizens, including the clergy, would be allowed to make petitions to reform the laws. But the most important part of the agreement was that the church would recover the right to use its properties, and priests recovered their rights to live on such property. Legally speaking, the Church was not allowed to own real estate, and its former facilities remained federal property. However, the church effectively took control over the properties. It was a convenient arrangement for both parties, and the church ostensibly ended its support for the rebels.

    Personally I would have held out for more, but that was a good enough deal for the Church, especially since the Mexican government was bound to cheat as it did. The Church excommunicated Cristeros who did not accept the peace terms. Of course the whole affair was a good argument for American style separation of Church and state.

    “You still have not shown how Catholicism is “flourishing” in the US.”

    Compared to the 1950s in the US it is not. Compared to the rest of the world today it certainly is.

    “This is a very emotional topic for you”

    Not really since in my day job I am paid to argue without getting emotionally involved. I simply do not allow people to make statements without holding them, on this blog, to account for their statements.

  • The relationship between religion and the state is a main theme of the Bible. It certainly comes up in the story of the passion story. But Our Lord doesn’t waste much time on that. Give to Caresar the things that are caesar’s, and to to God these things that are God’s . Ironic, because everything belongs to God

  • It is a historical fact that Anglo settlers in Texas made a bargain – convert to Catholicism, and get free land in Texas. Before 1836, it seemed like a good bargain. When relations between the Anglo settlers and the Mexican government soured, the Anglo settlers made their objection to forced conversions an article in their Declaration of Independence. So, it is a historical fact that Texas independence was (temporarily) a setback for Catholicism. I am a Texan and a Catholic, and while I love my home state, I am aware that the history is full of the good, the bad and the ugly.

  • John Schuh: “Give to Caresar the things that are caesar’s, and to to God these things that are God’s.” Ironic, because everything belongs to God;
    Caesar belongs to God.
    The sovereign personhood that institutes government is endowed by God. God gives man free will and freedom. The state is founded by sovereign citizens to guard the endowed gifts of God, in that order. Yes, the Son of God instituted the Catholic Church to free men from sin. Free men wrote our Founding Principles. Slaves know their freedom. In the Catholic Church men find their freedom. So to find their freedom, men sometimes use the Catholic Church and using the Catholic Church, men find their God.

October 22, 1836: Sam Houston-First President of the Republic of Texas

Thursday, October 22, AD 2015

“Some of you laugh to scorn the idea of bloodshed as the result of secession, but let me tell you what is coming….Your fathers and husbands, your sons and brothers, will be herded at the point of the bayonet….You may after the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, as a bare possibility, win Southern independence…but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of state rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction…they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South. “

Sam Houston, 1861

 

One hundred and seventy-nine years ago Sam Houston was inaugurated as the first President of the Republic of Texas.  This was only one of many roles Houston assumed during his tempestuous life: husband, father, soldier, lawyer,  Congressman from Tennessee, Governor of Tennessee, drunk, adopted Cherokee, Major General of the Texas Army, President of the Republic of Texas, Texas Representative, Senator from Texas, but perhaps his greatest role was at the end as Governor of Texas in 1859-1861.  As secession fever built in Texas at the end of 1860 he stumped the state vigorously, although he knew it was hopeless, arguing against secession which he viewed as an unmitigated disaster for Texas and the nation.

“To secede from the Union and set up another government would cause war. If you go to war with the United States, you will never conquer her, as she has the money and the men. If she does not whip you by guns, powder, and steel, she will starve you to death. It will take the flower of the country-the young men.”

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22 Responses to October 22, 1836: Sam Houston-First President of the Republic of Texas

  • Houston seems to be one of the few leaders on either side who foresaw what the true cost of the war would be. Some Southern leaders offered to wipe up all the blood resulting from secession with their handkerchief and even Lincoln initially only called up 75,000 militia for 90 days.
    I wonder how different things would be if leaders on both sides if they had been given a vision of the carnage to come?

  • Wasn’t one motive in setting up the Republic of Texas the extension of slavery? RE Lee I believe didn’t see the good of secession either. Kindly enlighten this ignorant Garden State Yankee.

  • Lee indeed, like most Virginians, did not support secession over the election of Lincoln and the threat it posed to slavery.

    Only after Lincoln called upon states to contribute troops to an invasion of the south did Virginia secede.

    Houston was prescient, of course… but no great movement comes without cost; recall that the sober thinking about the war for Independence from Britain was rightly thought to be a disastrous undertaking given the vast resources and military superiority of the Brits. And yet we fought.

    So with the South, and the issue was a close one for several years. For the Confederacy, the cost for their freedom in the “second war for independence” was worth the cost. That they did not succeed is not a valid argument against their endeavor.

  • “Houston seems to be one of the few leaders on either side who foresaw what the true cost of the war would be.”

    Both Lincoln and Davis swiftly saw how long and bloody the War was going to be. Lincoln initially called only for 75,000 volunteers because the chaotic systems that prevailed North and South at the beginning of the War had a great deal of difficulty feeding and equipping new troops.

  • Tom wrote:
    “For the Confederacy, the cost for their freedom in the “second war for independence” was worth the cost.”

    Freedom to do what?

  • Freedom to order their states (i.e., their societies) on whatever basis they chose, something they perceived, rightly, that the North was increasingly hostile to. The freedom to be left alone, which was becoming increasingly difficult, and with accession of the radical Republicans, promised to become even more difficult.

    Whose business is it, anyway, what object their freedom had? There’s no authority in the constitution for the federal government or any gathering of states to obstruct the activities of a sister state unless it directly conflicts with an express provision of the constitution.

  • Much like now, if several states could gather a moral majority against abortion or homosexual marriage, it would not give them any right to interfere with those evil practices in states that adopt them.

  • Tom wrote-
    “Freedom to order their states (i.e., their societies) on whatever basis they chose, something they perceived, rightly, that the North was increasingly hostile to. The freedom to be left alone”
    Freedom of whom to do these things? Mississippi (my home state) and South Carolina had majority black populations. So certainly not for black people to “order their states on whatever basis they chose” or black people’s “freedom to be left alone”.
    I believe in and have defended federalism, “states rights properly understood” as a bulwark against unbridled centralized authority, seen today in the government in Washington D.C. dictating to the states against the will of a majority of their people. I think the biggest blow against real states rights was not the confederacy’s loss of the Civil War, but the 17th amendment.
    Why do states exist as political entities, other than to ensure the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” of it’s people? And what if a state says to (some or even a majority of) it’s people “you are a lesser form of humanity, so the greater form of humanity in our society can abrogate your rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” ?
    Perhaps I misunderstand you Tom, but you seem be saying: “The Confederate states existed for the white people who could vote, and I’m alright with that.”

  • Blacks could not vote in the North, either. Even during Reconstruction, many Northerners and Republicans resisted the black franchise and political equality. We don’t hear about all the civil disabilities against blacks in the North because slavery in the South was relatively worse than what blacks faced in the North.

    And yet, states’ rights are still a bedrock principle. Again, whatever one thinks of the morality of slavery, it’s irrelevant to the question of the right of a state to order its own affairs without interference from other states, group of states, or the federal government.

    You won’t get me to say that slavery is OK, it’s not, but just because I don’t agree with a practice does not mean that I think any means can be taken to eradicate it.

    In the universal practice among all the states of the day, freedom to direct a states’ activities necessarily referred to those admitted to civic life. By the way, it was not only blacks who were excluded from civil life, many poor whites were also.

    Bottom line: moral outrage cannot be allowed to trump the constitution, as Lincoln and the radical Republicans did in ostensibly making slavery the casus belli in 1862. Lincoln himself knew at the beginning of the war that extirpation of slavery was not a legitimate constitutional aim of the war, which he initially claimed was all about maintaining the “Union.”

  • Technically, Houston was the first popularly-elected president of Texas. The first man to serve as President of Texas was David Burnet, elected to the position on March 22, 1836 by the delegates to the Convention of 1836 in Washington-on-the-Brazos. Burnet’s service, and those of the Cabinet elected with him, were always intended to be interim appointments until such time as popular elections could be organized, which was done in October of that year and resulted in the election of Houston as president.

  • “David Burnet”

    Houston called Burnet a hog thief. I do not know if the allegation was literally true.

  • “Blacks could not vote in the North, either.”

    Untrue. Blacks did have the franchise in some states including New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire prior to the Civil War.

  • Tom wrote-
    “Blacks could not vote in the North, either. Even during Reconstruction, many Northerners and Republicans resisted the black franchise and political equality. We don’t hear about all the civil disabilities against blacks in the North because slavery in the South was relatively worse than what blacks faced in the North.”
    Actually free blacks could vote after the Revolution in Mass., New Hampshire, NY, and Pennsylvania. and had been able to vote at other times in other states. Justice McLean called out Chief Justice Taney for ignoring this fact in the Dred Scott decision. Historically, its true that blacks weren’t fully able to exercise their inalienable rights or enjoy full political equality in the north before the civil war. But being free of having one’s children sold away from their mother and father, being able to legally remove oneself from intolerable and abusive conditions, not being treated as little more than a beast of burden, and eating the bread you earn without leave of anyone is NOT just “relatively” better and failure to see that indicates, at the very least, a lack of empathy.
    Tom wrote
    “And yet, states’ rights are still a bedrock principle.”
    No Tom, individual liberty under law is the bedrock principle. The Declaration is our “why” the Constitution is our “how”. Our Declaration recognizes (and only recognizes–not gives) the God-given rights “Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”. The constitution begins with “We the People”, not “We the States”. The ends are securing the “inalienable rights” and the “blessings of liberty”. Governments of any sort exist to secure these ends. Can you really believe states rights, as practiced by the confederate states were NOT destructive of those ends?!
    Tom wrote
    “whatever one thinks of the morality of slavery, it’s irrelevant to the question of the right of a state to order its own affairs without interference from other states, group of states, or the federal government.”
    What about the inalienable rights of blacks to “order their own affairs”? I think, with Jefferson, that any government, to the extent it is complicit in abrogating the rights of it’s citizens (and blacks were born in the south and fought in it’s wars against the British and Indians, so yes they were citizens even if the white politicians who ran the south didn’t recognize that fact) makes itself illegitimate. So blacks had the legitimate natural right to rebel, more of a right to rebel than the white confederates. And so if the northern states assisted them in this rebellion, even if they didn’t call it that at first or even realize it, they were right to help their black neighbors, which IS a bedrock principle of Christianity. They DID better than they KNEW!
    Tom wrote-
    ” just because I don’t agree with a practice does not mean that I think any means can be taken to eradicate it.”
    What means do you think would have been the rights ones to eradicate slavery? What if slave owners had resisted those means? Our Revolution in the late 1700s was justified by the facts that the British governments, by jailing colonial citizens without trial, disregarding efforts of local governments arbitrarily, quartering soldiers in citizens homes, etc was reducing British colonial citizens to little more than slavery.

  • The Declaration is not law, the Constitution is. Much mischief has been done appealing to the Declaration instead of sticking to the Constitution.

    As I stated, I will not accept the invitation to defend slavery, but note that blacks suffered in the North as well. As a constitutional practice, like it or not, no state, states, or the federal government had any authority to interfere with the right of a state to permit slavery.

    As for the alternative to bloody civil war which killed well over 600,000 men and altered forever the original system of federalism as envisioned by the Founding Fathers? Well, the tide of history and economic necessity would eventually have made slavery cost prohibitive, and compensated gradual emancipation worked elsewhere in the world. And while standing corrected on black suffrage in some parts of the North, I would point out that this process was gradual, not done overnight or by means of violence. And it bears repeating that the vast majority of Southerners, including the soldiers who fought for their independence, had nothing to do with slavery, which was an institution mostly reserved to an aristocratic elite.

    I don’t know– how do we end abortion or homosexual marriage, the former of which has done more damage to more lives than slavery ever did? That some moral evils are or appear to be intractable does not justify throwing away constitutional government or initiating bloody civil war. I wouldn’t do it to eradicate abortion, and Lincoln was wrong to do it to eradicate slavery. Of course, the dirty little not-so-secret is that Lincoln didn’t give a damn about eradicating slavery when he launched the war, he simply seized on the issue to shore up shaky Northern support for the war and as a virtue-signal to England to keep them out of the war.

  • If the South had seceded to defend porn or some obscenity *other* than slavery, I wonder if Christian neo-confederate apologists would spill the same amount of ink in her defense?

  • Well, Dale, I’ve already said that if we could wage a civil war to rid ourselves of abortion, I would not do it if it meant violating the constitution. It’s cute how for neo-Unionists any discussion of secession and the constitution quickly devolves to “but slavery!”

    In other words, your insinuation that “neo-confederates” support slavery is, like the neologism “neo-confederate,” a cheap ad hominem.

  • “Whose business is it, anyway, what object their freedom had?”

    So, if you lived in one, you’d defend the right of your State to secede to protect modern peculiar institutions like porn, abortion or birth control mandates?

  • Tom wrote:
    “The Declaration is not law, the Constitution is. Much mischief has been done appealing to the Declaration instead of sticking to the Constitution”
    The United States Code Annotated includes the Declaration of Independence under the heading ‘The Organic Laws of the United States of America’ along with the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and the Northwest Ordinance. Enabling acts frequently require states to adhere to the principles of the Declaration. It is true that southern political philosophers such as Calhoun and Alexander Stephens had little use for the Declaration, and frequently attacked the principle contained in it, because they did not agree with it’s statements on human equality.
    Tom wrote:
    “no state, states, or the federal government had any authority to interfere with the right of a state to permit slavery.”
    The Northwest Ordinance set the precedence by forbidding slavery in the Northwest Territory.
    Tom wrote:
    “As for the alternative to bloody civil war which killed well over 600,000 men and altered forever the original system of federalism as envisioned by the Founding Fathers?”
    We can agree to disagree about whether the civil war altered the system of federalism. I don’t believe it did, other than to definitively determine that state do not have the right to leave the union other than by the same way they entered the union, by majority vote of congress.
    Tom wrote:
    ” the tide of history and economic necessity would eventually have made slavery cost prohibitive, and compensated gradual emancipation worked elsewhere in the world.”
    Slavery was different in the south. Slave owners were beginning to make money from nascent industrializtion. Fully 1/2 of Tradegar Iron Works 900 man workforce was leased slaves. And Lincoln tried to institute conpensated emancipation in Delaware and EVERY slaveholder rejected it.
    Tom wrote:
    ” the vast majority of Southerners, including the soldiers who fought for their independence, had nothing to do with slavery, which was an institution mostly reserved to an aristocratic elite.”
    Recent studies show that while young confederate soldiers may not have owned any slaves themselves, they were from families who did. Adding those who owned slaves directly with those whose lived with their slaveowning families before becoming soldiers, and the percentage rises to 36%.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/08/small-truth-papering-over-a-big-lie/61136/
    Tom wrote:
    “That some moral evils are or appear to be intractable does not justify throwing away constitutional government or initiating bloody civil war. I wouldn’t do it to eradicate abortion, and Lincoln was wrong to do it to eradicate slavery.”
    Thought experiment- In 2018, President Cruz appoints and a republican senate approves two conservative supreme court justices replacing Breyer and Ginsburg, and they reverse Roe V. Wade. California secedes from the union, and orders the U.S. government to vacate Vandenburg AFB and San Deigo Naval Base or they will be fired on by the Ca National Guard. Do you believe the U.S. military is wrong to defend the bases?
    Tom wrote:
    ” dirty little not-so-secret is that Lincoln didn’t give a damn about eradicating slavery when he launched the war”
    I think slavery is wrong, morally, and politically. I desire that it should be no further spread in these United States, and I should not object if it should gradually terminate in the whole Union.” The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume III, “Speech at Cincinnati, Ohio” (September 17, 1859), p. 440.
    Those don’t sound like the words of a man who “doesn’t give a damn”. And Lincoln didn’t launch the war. The confederates, led by PGT Beauregard, fired on Fort Sumter first.

  • I think, with Jefferson, that any government, to the extent it is complicit in abrogating the rights of it’s citizens (and blacks were born in the south and fought in it’s wars against the British and Indians, so yes they were citizens even if the white politicians who ran the south didn’t recognize that fact) makes itself illegitimate.

    I agree. And any state (or federation of states) that permits abortion is likewise illegitimate. Which goes to show that the current crop of Americans simply don’t have the cajones to do what their civil war era (technically, a war of secession, which is slightly different) counterparts did – fight against something they allegedly believe is an abomination.

  • Well c matt, I believe in the rule of law, whether I agree with what’s being enacted or not. And under Jefferson’s rule as interpreted by you, all the Northern states should have faced rebellion as well, since all had to some degree or other, denied black civil rights. Alexis de Tocqueville described the situation of free blacks:

    In almost all the states where slavery has been abolished, voting rights have been granted to the Negro, but, if he comes forward to vote, he risks his life. He is able to complain of oppression but he will find only whites among the judges. Although the law makes him eligible for jury service, prejudice wards him off from applying. His son is excluded from the school where the sons of Europeans come to be educated. At the theatre, any amount of gold could not buy him the right to take his seat beside his former master; in hospitals, he lies apart. The black is allowed to pray to the same God as the whites but not at the same altars. He has his own priests and churches. Heaven’s gates are not blocked against him. However, inequality hardly stops at the threshold of the next world. When the Negro passes on, his bones are cast aside and the differences in social conditions are found even in the leveling of death. Thus, the Negro is free but is able to share neither the rights, pleasures, work, pains, nor even the grave with the man to whom he has been declared equal…

    And what of the Indians, utterly oppressed by the federal government? Point being, there is plenty of oppression to go around, not all of it in the South, simplistic portrayals notwithstanding.

    And if California wanted to secede as suggested by BPS, I’d say “great, and take Washington state and probably Oregon with you if you don’t mind!”

    All the moralism about slavery and the status of blacks does not in the slightest alter the constitutional reality that the Southern states had the right to secede to protect their interests, however they themselves saw them, and as I said, even LIncoln (who did indeed personally disapprove of slavery) knew that he had no authority to use force to abolish slavery, and only went to war to vindicate his view that the Union must maintained even if a bunch of states wanted nothing to do with it.

  • “does not in the slightest alter the constitutional reality that the Southern states had the right to secede to protect their interests,”

    They had no such right since the right to secession was not granted by the Constitution and they had no pre-existing right to secede from the Union. As the Father of the Constitution, James Madison noted at length late in his life:

    TO N. P. TRIST. … MAD. MSS.

    Montpellier, Decr 23, 1832.

    Dr. Sir I have received yours of the 19th, inclosing some of the South Carolina papers. There are in one of them some interesting views of the doctrine of secession; one that had occurred to me, and which for the first time I have seen in print; namely that if one State can at will withdraw from the others, the others can at will withdraw from her, and turn her, nolentem, volentem, out of the union. Until of late, there is not a State that would have abhorred such a doctrine more than South Carolina, or more dreaded an application of it to herself. The same may be said of the doctrine of nullification, which she now preaches as the only faith by which the Union can be saved.

    I partake of the wonder that the men you name should view secession in the light mentioned. The essential difference between a free Government and Governments not free, is that the former is founded in compact, the parties to which are mutually and equally bound by it. Neither of them therefore can have a greater fight to break off from the bargain, than the other or others have to hold them to it. And certainly there is nothing in the Virginia resolutions of –98, adverse to this principle, which is that of common sense and common justice. The fallacy which draws a different conclusion from them lies in confounding a single party, with the parties to the Constitutional compact of the United States. The latter having made the compact may do what they will with it. The former as one only of the parties, owes fidelity to it, till released by consent, or absolved by an intolerable abuse of the power created. In the Virginia Resolutions and Report the plural number, States, is in every instance used where reference is made to the authority which presided over the Government. As I am now known to have drawn those documents, I may say as I do with a distinct recollection, that the distinction was intentional. It was in fact required by the course of reasoning employed on the occasion. The Kentucky resolutions being less guarded have been more easily perverted. The pretext for the liberty taken with those of Virginia is the word respective, prefixed to the “rights” &c to be secured within the States. Could the abuse of the expression have been foreseen or suspected, the form of it would doubtless have been varied. But what can be more consistent with common sense, than that all having the same rights &c, should unite in contending for the security of them to each.

    It is remarkable how closely the nullifiers who make the name of Mr. Jefferson the pedestal for their colossal heresy, shut their eyes and lips, whenever his authority is ever so clearly and emphatically against them. You have noticed what he says in his letters to Monroe & Carrington Pages 43 & 203, vol. 2,1 with respect to the powers of the old Congress to coerce delinquent States, and his reasons for preferring for the purpose a naval to a military force; and moreover that it was not necessary to find a right to coerce in the Federal Articles, that being inherent in the nature of a compact. It is high time that the claim to secede at will should be put down by the public opinion; and I shall be glad to see the task commenced by one who understands the subject.

    I know nothing of what is passing at Richmond, more than what is seen in the newspapers. You were right in your foresight of the effect of the passages in the late Proclamation. They have proved a leaven for much fermentation there, and created an alarm against the danger of consolidation, balancing that of disunion. I wish with you the Legislature may not seriously injure itself by assuming the high character of mediator. They will certainly do so if they forget that their real influence will be in the inverse ratio of a boastful interposition of it.

    If you can fix, and will name the day of your arrival at Orange Court House, we will have a horse there for you; and if you have more baggage than can be otherwise brought than on wheels, we will send such a vehicle for it. Such is the state of the roads produced by the wagons hurrying flour to market, that it may be impossible to send our carriage which would answer both purposes.

  • cmatt wrote:
    “any state (or federation of states) that permits abortion is likewise illegitimate.”
    I agree!
    cmatt wrote:
    “the current crop of Americans simply don’t have the cajones to do what their civil war era (technically, a war of secession, which is slightly different) counterparts did – fight against something they allegedly believe is an abomination.”
    But I disagree with that in the current situation, because you don’t “resort to bullets when you have the resort of the ballot.” Unless we are fired upon like the British did their colonial citizens or the confederates on their fellow citizens at Ft. Sumter, and as long as we have the right to try and convince our fellow citizens by persuasion and argument to change this illegitimate government to a legitimate one, we must not resort to war.

Lone Star State v. the UN

Friday, October 26, AD 2012

Observers  from the UN, allied with Leftist groups in the US, are planning to send observers to monitor our elections to ensure that there is no “voter suppression”:

United Nations-affiliated election monitors from Europe and central Asia will be at polling places around the U.S. looking for voter suppression activities by conservative groups, a concern raised by civil rights groups during a meeting this week. The intervention has drawn criticism from a prominent conservative-leaning group combating election fraud.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a United Nations partner on democratization and human rights projects, will deploy 44 observers from its human rights office around the country on Election Day to monitor an array of activities, including potential disputes at polling places. It’s part of a broader observation mission that will send out an additional 80 to 90 members of parliament from nearly 30 countries.

The Lone Star State is having none of it:

Ambassador Daan Everts

Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

UI. Miodowa 10 00-251 Warsaw, Poland
Dear Ambassador Everts:
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will reportedly dispatch election observers to the State of Texas to monitor the November 2012 general election. While it remains unclear exactly what your monitoring is intended to achieve, or precisely what tactics you will use to achieve the proposed monitoring, OSCE has stated publicly that it will visit polling stations on Election Day as part of its monitoring plan.
In April, you reportedly met with a group of organizations that have filed lawsuits challenging election integrity laws enacted by the Texas Legislature. One of those organizations, Project Vote, is closely affiliated with ACORN, which collapsed in disgrace after its role in a widespread voter-registration fraud scheme was uncovered. In September, a federal appeals court rejected Project Vote’s challenge to the State’s voter-registration regulations and allowed Texas to continue enforcing laws that were enacted to protect the integrity of the voter-registration process.
According to a letter that Project Vote and other organizations sent to you, OSCE has identified Voter ID laws as a barrier to the right to vote. That letter urged OSCE to monitor states that have taken steps to protect ballot integrity by enacting Voter ID laws. The OSCE may be entitled to its opinions about Voter ID laws, but your opinion is legally irrelevant in the United States, where the Supreme Court has already determined that Voter ID laws are constitutional.
If OSCE members want to learn more about our election processes so they can improve their own democratic systems, we welcome the opportunity to discuss the measures Texas has implemented to protect the integrity of elections. However, groups and individuals from outside the United States are not allowed to influence or interfere with the election process in Texas. This State has robust election laws that were carefully crafted to protect the integrity of our election system. All persons—including persons connected with OSCE—are required to comply with these laws.
Elections and election observation are regulated by state law. The Texas Election Code governs anyone who participates in Texas elections—including representatives of the OSCE. The OSCE’s representatives are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place. It may be a criminal offense for OSCE’s representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place’s entrance. Failure to comply with these requirements could subject the OSCE’s representatives to criminal prosecution for violating state law.
Sincerely,

Greg Abbott

Attorney General of Texas

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18 Responses to Lone Star State v. the UN

Father Galveston

Tuesday, July 17, AD 2012

It is ironic that a priest who became so associated with Galveston and Texas was a Yankee!  James Martin Kirwin was born in Circleville, Ohio on July 1, 1872.  Kirwin was ordained to the priesthood on June 19, 1895.   Incardinated in the Diocese of Galveston, Texas, while in the seminary he attended, Father Kirwin was sent to the University of America in Washington, DC by the Bishop of Galveston, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in theology.  His ability being recognized early, Father Irwin was made rector of Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Galveston in 1896.

Throughout his priesthood Father Kirwin was always a whirlwind of activity, and he quickly became noticed for the heroism with which he attended the sick during the yellow fever epidemic of 1897.  During the Spanish-American War he helped raise the First United States Volunteer Infantry and served as its chaplain with the rank of captain.  Although the regiment never served over seas, the fate of most of the American units raised for the Spanish-American War, Father Kirwin’s service began a life long association for him with the Texas National Guard and the United States Army.

Father Kirwin rose to national prominence after the Galveston hurricane of 1900, the worst national disaster in US history which killed approximately 8,000 people.   He helped found a committee of public safety which restored law and order to the city, he drafted the martial law plan, helped with the burial of the dead, and organized and served on the central relief committee which aided victims of the hurricane.  Together with his good friend Rabbi Henry Cohen, he spearheaded the efforts over the next few years to rebuild Galveston, including the building of a seawall for the city, the cornerstone of which he blessed in 1902 and saw through to completion in 1905.

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8 Responses to Father Galveston

  • Thanks for sharing, Donald. I didn’t know about Monsignor Kirwin. My ancestors were part of the Jewish community in Galveston. My great x3 grandfather was the local kosher butcher, a position of some religious importance. After the Hurricane my family moved to the swampy backwater town of Houston, and the rest is history. Galveston never fully recovered from the 1900 hurricane and regained its prominence economically. That may be for the best since it is a very vulnerable barrier island. Currently the island survives because of the University of Texas Medical School and seasonal tourism. The old Cathedral in Galveston is very beautiful, but I think the seat of the diocese has moved to a new Cathedral in Houston. I haven’t seen it since hurricane Ike so I don’t know if it has sustained much damage.

  • I LOVE this! My family visits Galveston a few times a year and I did not know this part of Galveston’s history. . I just purchased a used book about the history of the Ursuline convent there and find it hard reading knowing I’ll eventually have to read about the hurricane. . I’ll have to look up where this marker for Father Kirwin is located so I can make sure we visit it next time we go. .

  • Melinda what strikes me most about Father Irwin’s life is how eager he was to take on challenges that many of us, I know I would, would find overwhelming. We need a lot more of his spirit in this country today.

  • Msgr. Kirwin sounds like a priest after my own heart.

    Reading the article, I couldn’t help but think that so much of the activity that endeared
    him to the city– helping resolve disputes at the docks, his founding of the Home
    Protection League, his work to improve the fire department and the water system,
    building the seawall and blessing its cornerstone– wouldn’t those good things be
    grounds for complaints today?

    Imagine such a priest in 2012– he’d be told to respect the ‘wall of separation between
    church and state’, go back to his rectory and enjoy his ‘freedom of worship’. As for
    his work against the KKK, which was basically an arm of the Democrat party, well,
    today he’d be vilified for interfering in politics!

  • I was not aware of Father Kirwin. He led a very impressive life, in service to his fellow man and his community.

    God bless Texas!

  • I suspect that, in a world where any decent citizen would be “public-minded” and do lots of civic stuff, there’d be less worry about any particular person doing stuff. But of course, a lot of civic activities used to be more bipartisan, and by design. Nowadays, there’s very little agreement about what is normal and agreed by everybody, and it’s common for radical folks to try to “capture” organizations or leadership.

    So there’s not much room for bipartisan or apolitical civic groups. Radicals hate ’em and sue ’em.

  • The Right Reverend Monsignor James Martin Kerwin would be anathema to the one who says ‘no one actually achieves anything on their own’, who may have been speaking for himself, because the hand of God, cooperation of the inspired by the Holy Spirit, and the friend Rabbi Henry Cohen achieved so much through the work of human perseverence. He didn’t operate as a business, probably had no gov. salary or exemptions, and I imagine, in humility, Fr. Kerwin would take no credit for his accomplishments while in Galveston from 1896 to 1926. Love and service for God and neighbor.

11 Responses to Somalia, Libertarian Paradise!

  • Very nice Tito. I have never been quite sure how “Conservative Catholics” in this country embraced Libertarianism. Up until very recently (and maybe in the ideal, still), the Church has seemed more ready to embrace Catholic Authoritarian governments that would enforce Catholic moral teaching with laws at the expense of individual freedoms.

  • Tito,

    Bless your heart.

    I wish you had counted to 10,000 before you posted that video. And, I know you did not put it together.

  • No, I didn’t put it together.

    But after listening to Ron Paul wanting our military to withdraw from South Korea, among other things, my enthusiasm for libertarian ideals have matured.

  • I thought this was hilarious! As much as most of the bloggers here prefer to focus on the threat of a bloated, oppressive “nanny state” it helps to be reminded once in a while that the other extreme — no government at all — ain’t that great either.

  • Pingback: Should Catholics Support Ron Paul? | The American Catholic
  • Pretty amusing.

    Of course, as the blog’s resident pseudo-libertarian, I should note that compared to other African countries (which have governments) Somalia has been doing fine.

  • Has anyone here even read the US Constitution? Powers granted to the federal government are specific and limited. Today however our federal government is so large that it is about to take everything away from the people. We will not have to worry about our states rights or the Bill of Rights as they pertain to religious freedom, noooooo, the Global government will see to that.

    Sounds farfetched ?!? Twenty years ago could anyone here see the demise of this country? We are actually debating Sharia Law and Ginsberg worries about how our laws differs with international laws.

    Wake up people!

  • Blackadder,
    While other states in Africa are having issues, I think you are seriously underestimating how bad things are in somalia. Lets remember, this is country whose multiparty civil war has lasted for twenty years now, that is the home to numerous pirates that have been raiding shipping in the Indian Ocean, sell people of Bantu heritage into slavery….

    In other words, there might be countries that are worse off in Africa, but there are also countries that are much better off.

  • It’s interesting to note that three new countries (not recognized by the international community) have emerged from the shambles of Somalia.

    They are Somaliland, Puntland, and Galmudug.

    I say let them break up if those countries are able to function!

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New Blogsite: Gulf Coast Catholic

Wednesday, November 10, AD 2010

A blogsite dedicated to all things Catholic in Houston

Gulf Coast Catholic is a blogsite that will be serving the Catholics of the the great Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.  A group of writers got together over a year ago and have been working and planning together to get this site up and running.  I am their Chief Editor and we will be writing on activities, events, apostolates, and other things Catholic that are occurring in Houston area.

We hope you all take a look at it give us some feedback on this new endeavor.

There will be a slight emphasis towards young adult Catholics, but like anything Catholic, there is always something for everyone.

We will be serving the laity and clergy of the Gulf Coast region in establishing a strong, vibrant, and orthodox fellowship among Catholics!

For the Gulf Coast Catholic link click here.

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5 Responses to New Blogsite: Gulf Coast Catholic

  • Nice nod to the old Houston Gamblers logo, those were the days. Looking forward to your new blogsite for Houston area Catholics.

  • Patrick,

    You are my man!

    Yes, I took the old (and hopefully public domain) Houston Gamblers logo and turned it into the official logo of Gulf Coast Catholic.

    I am still working on the logo, I am going to remove the star and place a cross in its place when I have the time.

  • Excellent site! I will be adding your site to my blogroll.

  • I was just about to write that this looks like a trademark infringement of the Houston Gamblers logo.

    😉

    By the way, the leading rusher in Gamblers history is from my hometown of Van, TX – Todd Fowler. His dad was the head football coach of the fighting Van Vandals, and I have to say that I was pretty honored that the jersey number Coach Fowler gave me to wear was Todd’s #46.

  • Teresa,

    Thanks!

    Jay,

    I’ve changed the color scheme around for the old Gamblers logo. I’ll be replacing the star with a cross sometime in the future.

    And great job in getting the number to wear, especially from his own father!

Sacred and Holy?

Sunday, September 5, AD 2010

And they cried with a loud voice, saying:  How long, O Lord (holy and true) dost thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? Apocalypse 6:10

If you listen closely you can hear the attendants (which include the mayor of our fine city of Houston Anise Parker) at this “dedication” commenting on their newly “sacred and holy” ground. They are speaking of the largest abortuary in the United States.

If we are moving toward, or already in, a post-Christian civilization then should we be surprised that those who promote and support abortion and other anti-life policies impart a religious sheen on their actions?  After all, human sacrifice was present in almost all pagan religions to some extent with the Aztec sacrifices being among the most infamous.  These people are willing and proud worshipers of Baal and, unless we pray, fast and offer Masses in reparation for these sins, we will only allow this evil to grow and ever more innocents slaughtered at the altar of “Choice”.

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5 Responses to Sacred and Holy?

  • Walter,

    Thanks for posting this.

    It’s a crying shame that the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has the largest abortuary in their backyard.

    I’d like to know if there was a Catholic priest present at the ceremony and what is his name. I only say this because the attendees were reading from a pamphlet that said “holy and sacred ground”. Sounds very Catholic to me.

    That and Carol Alvarado, a Catholic state representative is shown prominently in this video. She is also (or was) on the board of directors of Planned Parenthood of Southeast Texas (Houston).

  • Yeah thanks for posting this.. I get sick listening to that mayor and state rep – notably misguided by a passion that can’t see the truth… Please people from Houston vote them out…

  • “holy and sacred ground” sounds very Catholic to me”

    It could just as easily be Episcopalian, since a lot of their liturgy “sounds Catholic” too (in some cases, more Catholic than the current Novus Ordo).

  • McClarey posted some homilies by Cardinal Newman this past Lent that addressed the neo pagan-atheism that will plague our times.

    It seems we may be experiencing that right now. Secularization of society, practical atheism, and a president with an ideological bent toward socialism, liberation theology, collective salvation and Mohammadism (he may not be a Muslim, but he is certainly sympatico).

    Add that to Human child sacrifice (abortion), use of magic potions (drug and alcohol abuse), sexual rites (cohabitation, pedophilia, pornography, sodomy, homosexualism, ‘gay marriage’, incest, polyamorous unions, etc.) and a generally hedonistic culture.

    We, orthodox Catholics, are nothing more than a remnant in a culture that is more pagan and evil than pre-Christian Rome.

    Time for the saints to rise up.

  • I noticed that the woman in red was clearly embarrassed and did not want to pronounce the word “abortion”.

    They perfectly well know what they are doing and desperately try to delude themselves into thinking that they are not murdering anyone.

    M

A Moving Moment Outside The World's Largest Abortion Mill

Tuesday, June 8, AD 2010

An inspiring scene of Ramon refusing to cater for the new super abortion mill in Houston.

To help eliminate the world’s largest abortion mill in Houston contact the following groups:

Life Advocates of Houston

Texas Right to Life

Houston Coalition for Life

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

— Holy Gospel of Saint Luke 23:34 cf.

Ora pro nobis!

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3 Responses to A Moving Moment Outside The World's Largest Abortion Mill

  • Ramon, You are my hero! Thank God for a man like you who will stand up for his beliefs and who is so willing to share his heart for the unborn with others!

  • Great Ramon – you are my hero. I posted this on my blog. Ramon knows what many do not – that Planned Parenthood kills babies. They also target minorities with EUGENICS. Check out – Maafa21 for stunning documentation of this fact: http://www.maafa21.com

  • Ramon God will bless you tremendously for standing up for unborn babies and trusting in Him.

Texas, Textbooks, the Washington Post and Ann Althouse

Monday, May 24, AD 2010

The Left in this country has been having a hissy fit over conservatives on the Texas State School Board amending the social studies standards in that state.  For example, California State Senator Leland Yee (D. San Francisco) has introduced a bill that would require the California Board of Education to be on the lookout for any Texas content in reviewing public school textbooks.  He also makes the hilarious statement that the Texas curriculum changes pose a threat “to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California.”  This in a state where the legislature has instituted a Harvey Milk Day to propagandize students in the gay rights agenda, and where the California Education Association, the teacher’s union, is the largest spender on politics in the state.

To support the meme of the Left that evil conservatives were perverting educational standards in Texas, the Washington Post wrote a hit piece that may be read here.  Ann Althouse, law professor and blogger decided to compare the claims of the Washington Post to the new standards.  Here is what she found:

Let me embarrass the Washington Post. Below, the material from the WaPo article, written by Michael Birnbaum, is indented. After the indented part, I’ve located the relevant quote from the Board of Education text, found here. (I’m searching 3 PDF documents: Economics with Emphasis on the Free Enterprise System and Its Benefits Subchapter A. High School; Social Studies Subchapter B. Middle School; Social Studies Subchapter C. High School.)

The Washington Post writes:

The Texas state school board gave final approval Friday to controversial social studies standards….

The new standards say that the McCarthyism of the 1950s was later vindicated — something most historians deny –…
The students are required to “describe how McCarthyism, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the arms race, and the space race increased Cold War tensions and how the later release of the Venona Papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government…” The word “vindicated” is inflammatory and unfair. What is the Washington Post saying historians deny? One can be informed of the reality of what the Venona Papers revealed about communist infiltration into the U.S. government and still understand and deplore the excesses of “McCarthyism.”

…draw an equivalency between Jefferson Davis’s and Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural addresses…
Students are required to “analyze the ideas contained in Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address and Abraham Lincoln’s ideas about liberty, equality, union, and government as contained in his first and second inaugural addresses and the Gettysburg Address.” The word “equivalency” is uncalled for. The requirement is to analyze, not to be indoctrinated that the ideas are the same.

… say that international institutions such as the United Nations imperil American sovereignty…
What I’m seeing is “explain the significance of the League of Nations and the United Nations” and “analyze the human and physical factors that influence the power to control territory, create conflict/war, and impact international political relations such as the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), or the control of resources.” Where is the language that can be paraphrased “imperil American sovereignty”?

…. and include a long list of Confederate officials about whom students must learn.
Students are required to “explain the roles played by significant individuals and heroes during the Civil War, including Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, and congressional Medal of Honor recipients William Carney and Philip Bazaar.” Only Davis and Lee were Confederate officials! There is also this: “describe the role of individuals such as governors George Wallace, Orval Faubus, and Lester Maddox and groups, including the Congressional bloc of southern Democrats, that sought to maintain the status quo [in the Civil Rights Era].” That’s obviously not from the Civil War, but I can see why it’s annoying to Democrats.

They also removed references to capitalism and replaced them with the term “free-enterprise system.”
The document on economics does use the term “free enterprise system” throughout, but students are required to “understand that the terms free enterprise, free market, and capitalism are synonymous terms to describe the U.S. economic system,” so what is the problem?

Virtually everything cited in the article to make the curriculum seem controversial is misstated! Appalling!

ADDED: Birnbaum had an article in the previous day’s Washington Post that does contain quotes, and these have to do with changes that went through on Thursday (and which do not — but should! — appear in the documents that are available at the Board of Education website):

Students will now study “efforts by global organizations to undermine U.S. sovereignty,” an addition late Thursday evening encouraged by board member Don McLeroy (R), who has put forward many of the most contentious changes….

Another one of the seven conservative board members, David Bradley (R), added a list of Confederate generals and officials to the list of topics that students must study.

This provides support for Birnbaum’s statement that the standards “include a long list of Confederate officials about whom students must learn.” And it answers my question “Where is the language that can be paraphrased ‘imperil American sovereignty’?” My criticisms about “vindicating” McCarthyism, “the equivalency between Jefferson Davis’s and Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural addresses,” and the term “free-enterprise system” remain.

I have not been defending the Texas standards, only attacking the quality of the journalism that fails to quote or link to a text that is referred to. Birnbaum’s Friday article contains some useful quotes (though still not a link to the whole text). The Saturday article was unanchored to text and forced me to look for what I could find on line. I’m also criticizing inaccurate paraphrasing, like the use of the words “vindicating” and “equivalency.” Birnbaum’s take on the standards might be true, but in an article that refers to a text, I do need to see the text. Paraphrasing, without the text, raises suspicions, and I don’t apologize for having those suspicions.

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17 Responses to Texas, Textbooks, the Washington Post and Ann Althouse

  • I will wager this fellow Birnbaum was acting as a mouthpiece for some advocacy group or looks at just about anything with a set of distorting lenses and has no idea he has said anything tendentious.

  • There is the issue that the role of Thomas Jefferson’s writings in influencing the founding of America is being de-emphasized. Allegedly, St. Thomas Aquinas’ thought in influencing America (more of a stretch than Jefferson) is being noted.

    Moreover, the emphasis on the presidency of Lincoln, the unintended consequences of the Great Society, Reagan, the contract with America in 1994, and the emphasis of the Founding Fathers’ particular interest in a small, limited government leads me to believe that this is a politicized curriculum — in fact, the Chair of the State Board, Don McLeroy has said himself admits:

    “It’s imperative that our children be taught the original direction of our country…And I think you tie that in with the concept of American exceptionalism that we’ve added to the standards. I think that it’s important to understand why America is such a wonderful place.”

    McLeroy wrote in an Op-Ed in the USA Today that the curriculum will “challenge the powerful ideology of the left,” whose “principles are diametrically opposed to our founding principles.”

    Sorry, but the curriculum is heavily politicized and I prefer history not historical revisionism.

  • And that need not be taken as a defense of the current curriculum — hardly. But this surely is not a remedy. I hope it fails.

  • Sorry, but the curriculum is heavily politicized and I prefer history not historical revisionism.

    Why are you confident the extant curriculum is not ‘heavily politicized’? What, roughly, would a ‘non-politicized’ curriculum look like?

  • In regard to Jefferson being de-emphazised Eric, that claim is made, but I do not think there is substance to it. The Declaration of Independence, Mr. Jefferson’s magnum opus, is to be studied at several points in the curriculum. The one place where Jefferson is omitted is under World History:

    “Government. The student understands the process by which democratic-republican government evolved how contemporary political systems have developed from earlier systems of government. The student is expected to:
    (A) explain the development of trace the process by which democratic-republican government evolved from its beginnings in the Judeo-Christian legal tradition and classical Greece and Rome, through developments in England the English Civil War and continuing with the Enlightenment; and
    (B) identify the impact of political and legal ideas contained in the following significant historic documents: including, Hammurabi’s Code, the Jewish Ten Commandments, Justinian’s Code of Laws, Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, John Locke’s “Two Treatises of Government,” and the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen;
    (C) explain the impact of Enlightenment ideas from the writings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, and William Blackstone and Thomas Jefferson on political revolutions from 1750 to the present; ”
    Jefferson is omitted under C.

    Under United States government Jefferson’s ideas are to be studied:

    “(D) identify analyze the contributions of the political philosophies of the Founding Fathers, including John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, John Jay, George Mason, Roger Sherman, and James Wilson, on the development of the U.S. government;”

    I think the idea that Jefferson is being de-emphasized is not really accurate.

    Politics since the days of Horace Mann have always played a large part in curriculum development for public schools which is why states produce laundry lists of dos and don’ts in regard to what is taught. For example in Illinois the kids get off for Casimir Pulaski day and learn about him in school. Pulaski played a fairly minor role in the American Revolution dying at the siege of Savannah in 1779 leading a cavalry charge. However, activist Poles in Chicago wanted him in, so class time is taken up on this minor figure. What is unusual in Texas is not the politics, but the publicity it has received.

  • Texas is in the process of being “Arizonaed”.

  • Re: politicized curriculum, a few years back I noticed that my beliefs about political events were roughly that liberals were almost always right up until the 1980s, at which point conservatives were usually right. It occurred to me that my knowledge of pre-1980s politics came mainly from my public school education, whereas since then my knowledge of politics came from having experienced it as it happened.

  • Art,

    I didn’t say the current curriculum is not politicized. In fact, I stated explicitly that I’m not defending it.

    Education curriculum is not my specialty nor need I devise a “non-politicized” scheme of education, but when the Chair of the Texas State Board of Education is making statements focus on reversing ideological trends in emphasis rather than providing a solid presentation of American social history for Texas children, I’m inclined to think the curriculum is being politicized and with the emphasis on the Judeo-Christian roots of America, small and limited government, Lincoln, Reagan, the unintended consequences of the Great Society, the 1994 Contract with America, it seems obvious that the shift in emphasis is to offer a certan reading of history and the filtering of information is to, more or less, generate students that have a more conservative (politically speaking) view of society. The education seems primarily aimed at that end and I simply don’t support that. And this does not mean that I support in totality the current liberal establishment in the education scene.

  • Eric,

    Saying that “the curriculum is being politicized” suggests that it is not politicized already.

  • Steve Sailer wrote a pretty damning piece on one high school history textbook:

    http://www.vdare.com/sailer/100425_schoolbook_massacre.htm

    It’s hard to read that and not come to the conclusion that something in education has gone horribly wrong.

  • In my Texas public school I suffered a day of in-service regarding a computer instruction program. When I told the expert that the English IV segment contained nothing but two novels of manners (oh, yeah, boys go crazy over Jane Austen), she airily advised me that “It’s not all about Texas content.” My response was that Beowulf, Shakespeare, and Milton are still taught in Texas and, presumably, in Rhode Island.

  • “oh, yeah, boys go crazy over Jane Austen”

    Only if they are given the zombie version:

  • This is one guy who’s a huge Jane Austen fan.

  • Nice icon pic Mr. Anderson!

  • I’m with you, Jay.

  • I find the hullabaloo over the new standards to be most intriguing indeed. As a native Texan who attended public schools I have always viewed the curriculum as s starting point for education. I would humbly assert that it is the duty of parents to supplement the learning taught in the classroom. In thirty years I have seen three such battles and each time it was an exercise in futility.

Mickey Kaus: Democrat With a Difference

Monday, May 3, AD 2010

Mickey Kaus, blogger and writer, is running against Barbara Boxer in the Senate primary in California.  I have read with enjoyment his KausFiles for years.  Alas, Mr. Kaus is not pro-life.  If he were, I could imagine myself possibly voting for him.  He is taking on some of the major shibboleths of his party.  Here are a few examples:

Unions:

“Yet the answer of most union leaders to the failure of 1950s unionism has been more 1950s unionism. This isn’t how we’re going to get prosperity back. But it’s the official Democratic Party dogma. No dissent allowed.

Government unions are even more problematic (and as private sector unions have failed in the marketplace, government unions are increasingly dominant). If there are limits on what private unions can demand — when they win too much, as we’ve seen, their employers tend to disappear — there is no such limit on what government unions can demand. They just have to get the politicians to raise your taxes to pay for it, and by funding the Democratic machine they acquire just the politicians they need.

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One Response to Mickey Kaus: Democrat With a Difference

Sheridan, Hell and Texas

Friday, April 30, AD 2010

Earlier this week I referred in this thread to General Sheridan’s quip about Hell and Texas.  Here is the background story on Sheridan’s comparison of the Hot Place and the Hot State.

Phil Sheridan could be a nasty piece of work on duty.  A bantam Irish Catholic born in Albany, New York on March 6, 1831, to Irish immigrants, Sheridan carved a career in the Army by sheer hard work and a ferocious will to win.  He had a hard streak of ruthlessness that Confederates, Indians and the many officers he sacked for incompetence could attest to.    His quote, “If a crow wants to fly down the Shenandoah, he must carry his provisions with him.” after he ordered the burning of crops in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864 to deny them to Confederate troops indicated just how hard a man he could be when waging war.

Off duty he was completely different.  He had the traditional Irish gift of gab and in social settings was charming and friendly.

After the Civil War he commanded an army of 50,000 troops in Texas to send a none-too-subtle hint to the French who had used the opportunity of the Civil War to conquer Mexico that it was time for them to leave.  The French did, with the Austrian Archduke Maximillian they had installed as Emperor of Mexico dying bravely before a Mexican firing squad.  During his stay in Texas Sheridan made his famous quip about Texas.  It was swiftly reported in the newspapers:

14 April 1866, Wisconsin State Register, pg. 2, col. 3:
GEN. SHERIDAN, after his recent Mexican tour, states his opinion succinctly and forcibly, as follows: “If I owned h-ll and Texas, I would rent Texas and live at the other place!”

“19 April 1866, The Independent, pg. 4:
But these states are not yet reduced to civil behavior. As an illustration, Gen. Sheridan sends word up from New Orleans, saying, “If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent Texas and live in Hell.” This is the opinion of a department commander.”

“15 May 1866, Idaho Tri-Weekly Statesman (Boise, ID), pg. 7?, col. 3:
GEN. SHERIDAN does not have a very exalted opinion of Texas as a place of resident. Said he lately, “If I owned hell and Texas, I would rent Texas and live at the other place.” In former times, before Texas was “re-annexed,” Texas and the other place were made to stand as opposites. Thus, when Col. Crockett was beaten in his Congressional district, he said to those who defeated him, “You may go to hell, and I’ll go to Tex!” which he did, and found a grave.”

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30 Responses to Sheridan, Hell and Texas

  • He had a hard streak of ruthlessness … His quote, “If a crow wants to fly down the Shenandoah, he must carry his provisions with him.” after he ordered the burning of crops in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864 to deny them to Confederate troops indicated just how hard a man he could be when waging war.

    In other words, Sheridan, like the rest of the “total warfare” marauders on Grant’s staff, was a war criminal. Maybe he’s “enjoying” the abode he so famously chose after all.

  • Well here we go on another refight of the Civil War. Couldn’t disagree with you more Jay. Burning the crops was a perfectly legitimate tactic of war. The Shenandoah Valley had served as the main supply source for Confederate forces in northern Virginia since the beginning of the War. Burning the crops vastly increased Lee’s supply woes and hastened the end of the War. As for the ultimate fate of Sheridan, if he went to Hell I am certain that there were quite a few Southern Fireeaters there to greet him for the part they played in starting a war in defense of slavery that the South was bound to lose.

  • I will be away from my computer at a Rotary District Conference until late on Saturday in the event that this thread explodes into the Second Civil War. When I return I will take up the cudgels for the Union Forever. 🙂

  • Don’t care to re-fight the war. Just pointing out that taking warfare to the civilian population – and I would assume the farmers in the Shenandoah Valley qualify as civilian population – violates Catholic teaching.

  • I was not born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could. Before I lived her, I knew it would be hot, and plagued by mosquitoes. But between the heat, the mosquitoes and the hurricanes, I made a living out of it – just like Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and others before me.

    I will admit, like any Texan, that it’s hot down here. It’s the plain and simple truth. But any Yankee who presumes to compare Texas with hell is full of it. That’s my humble opinion, sir.

  • I’ve been critical of some of the destrection wrought by Sherman, but I’m not informed enough to criticize Sheridan. Based on the above exchange I would have to agree with Don about the destruction of crops. That tactic is as old as time, was just as critical in seige warfare as was breeching a wall, and was widespread in Christendom. I am unaware of any condemnations of the practice by the Church.

    On the other hand, Sherman’s men indescriminately and deliberately burning civilian homes is another story.

  • During the War, the U.S. developed what was called the “Lieber Code” to govern what was, and was not, acceptable military behavior.

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

    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/lieber.asp

    While harsher in many respects than we now allow, it did ban torture and “wanton” destruction of property. Significantly, it permits destruction of property if “commanded by the authorized officer.” Article 44. And despite the noble words of Article 56, the Union’s treatment of its Confederate prisoners was as bad as anything at Andersonville. Worse, really–the Union had the material means to provide better for its prisoners.

    Not so by the way, Lieber thought of himself as a compiler/harmonizer, not an innovator. Thus, his Code is a kind of declaration of the law of war as it had developed up until his time.

    Be that as it may, the actions of Sherman and Sheridan rendered the wounds of the nation that much slower to heal.

  • With 27 years in the Army, and service in 2 combat zones, I don’t claim to be a hard-core combat vet, but I’ve seen enough to provide an informed perspective. Spare the enemy’s civilian support at the expense of your own soldier’s life in combat. Spare one in exchange of the other. On which side of the equation can you tolerate more death? Sherman is quoted as saying “war is hell” and a more accurate description would be hard to come by. A commander has to make incredibly difficult decisions. As an officer, I had to figure out how to kill the enemy and spare enough of my own soldiers in a way that would still allow me to reach heaven. There were excesses in Sheridan’s campaigns and Sherman’s march to the sea, to be sure. When my time comes, I’ll find out how God judged them.

    And, since I live in Texas, I can say I like what Crockett said. To paraphrase… if you don’t like Texas, you can go to the other place… I like it here just fine!

  • From the Civil War Preservation Trust website:

    … [Grant] sent Philip Sheridan on a mission to make the Shenandoah Valley a “barren waste”.

    In September, Sheridan defeated Jubal Early’s smaller force at Third Winchester, and again at Fisher’s Hill. Then he began “The Burning” – destroying barns, mills, railroads, factories – destroying resources for which the Confederacy had a dire need. He made over 400 square miles of the Valley uninhabitable. “The Burning” foreshadowed William Tecumseh Sherman’s “March to the Sea”: another campaign to deny resources to the Confederacy as well as bring the war home to its civilians.

    […]

    In an effort to force the Plains people onto reservations, Sheridan used the same tactics he used in the Shenandoah Valley: he attacked several tribes in their winter quarters, and he promoted the widespread slaughter of American bison, their primary source of food.

    (emphasis added)

    http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/phillip-sheridan.html

  • For a sin to condemn a man to hell, he has to know it’s a sin and embrace it anyway.

    When I learn from reliable historical sources that Sheridan, prior to burning crops, queried the Vatican website or opened his copy of the Catechism, found teachings there not to his liking, and ignored them, I will then assume that he willfully committed mortal sin in the burning.

    Ahem.

    My point is not merely that earlier generations found it more difficult, for purely technological reasons, to reliably know Church teaching on difficult topics when they arose.

    It is also that earlier eras have tended towards sins other than those towards which we tend. For of course one possible rejoinder to my wise-acre remark above would be, “But it’s obvious that burning crops would be sinful!” To you, maybe. But not to every Christian who ever lived in every era.

    If earlier eras were often without mercy, then our era is often without chastity and courage and industry. We look at them and wonder how they could have sunk to the level of burning crops. They look at us and wonder how we could have sunk to the level of producing and maintaining a trillion-dollar pornography industry to help us fill the hours when we aren’t watching American Idol.

    Anyhow, I hope Sheridan is in heaven after a fitting, but not interminable, purgation. And I think that hope is not improbable.

  • I certainly don’t hope or condemn Sheridan to hell. Not my place, so to speak. My comment was a tongue-in-cheek play on Sheridan’s own desire to live in hell rather than in my home state.

    As to the rest of your comment, taking warfare to the populace was controversial even in Sheridan’s time, and, as the link I provided indicates, he did far more to take the war to the populace than merely burn some crops.

    Especially in the example of what he did with regard to the plains Indians. You’d think an Irishman might have qualms about taking an action that forces the starvation of whole peoples.

  • Don’t mess with Texas.

    Here is a quote of General Sherman that provides timeless truth.

    “If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from Hell before breakfast.”

    Point of information, Mr. Anderson: At any moment, the Confederacy and the Plains Indian could have enjoyed peace and freedom. About 80% of the (thousands of) Indian warriors that massacred Custer and his battalion of the Seventh Cavalry had jumped their reservations (eating guvmint beef) for one last spree.

    Lo, the noble savage! Each Plains tribe had a “calling card” they left on the bodies of their victims. The Sioux would cut the (Marine?) corpses’ throats. Another tribe would cut stripes in the victims’ thighs. The Army told Custer’s widow his body hadn’t been defiled – white lie. And, if they captured an enemy, slow torture to death was de rigeur. The male Plains Indian was a warrior and hunter. It was all he did. He was the finest light cavalryman the world had seen since the Mongols and just about as gentle.

    The quicker the generals destroyed the Confederacy’s/Plains Indians’ means of waging war, the fewer combatants would die.

  • My favorite Sheridan quote is:

    “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”

    http://www.trivia-library.com/b/origins-of-sayings-the-only-good-indian-is-a-dead-indian.htm

    It is certainly nice to know that the good general’s genocidal tendencies were not restricted to Southern Rebels.

    Defending such actions by stating that they shortened fighting after starting such fighting after initiating aggression and invasion . . . well, let’s just start excusing Hitler and Stalin and Mao, and their ilk. By engaging in ruthless conduct they were just attempting to break the spirit of their enemies and thus bring resistance and additional deaths to a quick end. Like Sheridan, I doubt if any of these men had access to the Vatican web site or had a through understanding of Church teachings so we need to likewise excuse their ruthlessness since it was merely a product of their respective eras.

  • Of course Sheridan was not Stalin, Mao or Hitler and did not engage in the mass slaughter of civilians. Sheridan never said “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” That is a myth. If he had said it, the comment would have come as a vast surprise to his good friend General Ely Parker, a Seneca.

  • In the 1640’s, Oliver Cromwell treated Ireland in the same brutal way that Sheridan would treat his enemies. If Sheridan had some Irish blood in him, he ought to know better.

  • Unlike Cromwell Sheridan did not engage in the mass execution of civilians, especially Catholic priests, nor did he exile the Confederates in the Shenandoah Valley to West Virginia and resettle the land with loyal Unionists. Sheridan was 100% Irish, his parents both being immigrants from the land of Saints and Scholars.

  • The end does not justify the means. Cromwell thought his political/military goals were more important than human life. He did not care too much about the deaths he caused, because they were of a different religion, race or nationality than his own. In this regard, Cromwell and Sheridan are not too far apart from each other.

  • They are miles apart Centinel, as Cromwell’s actions at Wexford and Drogheda amply demonstrate and his policy of Hell or Connaught in expelling the native Irish to the west of Ireland, and if you don’t know that you truly don’t know either Old Ironsides of Little Phil.

  • Cromwell’s actions alone were a signal of the atrocities that were going to be committed in the French Revolution.

    He was ruthless, heartless, and amoral.

    Comparing him to Sheridan is character assassination of the worst order.

  • Sheridan burned the Shenandoah Valley to the ground and promoted the massacre of buffalo to starve the Indians. He caused the deaths of many people. He thought he was doing the right thing. His actions are unjustifiable.

  • Wrong again Centinel. Sheridan burned the crops of the Shenandoah Valley in 1864 in order to starve Lee’s army. He gave his troops specific instructions that the farm families were to be left sufficient food for personal use to get them through until the next harvest. Personal dwellings were not to be touched.

    In regard to the Indians, Sheridan applied the buffalo slaughter strategy to tribes that were at war with the US in order to have them go to reservations where they could have food. It worked very well at bringing the wars to a rapid close. The idea of course that a policy could have been adopted at the time that would have left the plains Indians free to roam the plains following Buffalo herds may appeal to people sitting at their computers in th 21rst century, but in the Nineteenth Century in the 1860s and 1870s that simply was not going to occur.

  • My pro-life values compel compel me to condemn warfare as Sheridan waged it. Sometimes a soldier must kill people, but the use of force must be:

    1. no more than necessary to achieve legitimate goals, and
    2. proportional to the evil that is being remedied or avoided.

    Once again, the end does not justify the means. Human life does not become expendable, merely because of one’s political/military goals. If one’s political/military goals conflict with innocent human life, one must give way to the other.

    I invite you to take a look at the map and see how big the Shenandoah Valley is. If Sheridan indeed left enough food for the farmers, that contradicts his boast of turning the Valley into a barren wasteland that a crow flying from one end to the other would need to bring its own provisions. That’s roughly 180 miles.

    Most of the time, the only justifiable wars are wars of self-defense and defense of others. Some of the Indian Wars may have been for self-defense, but the killing of civilians is seldom if ever justifiable.

  • “Once again, the end does not justify the means.”

    Usually said by someone who supports neither the means nor the end. I believe that the means taken by Sheridan in both the Civil War and the Indian wars were completely justifiable. I have no difficulty at all in distinguishing between abortion and denying sustenance to enemy forces.

  • Of course Sheridan was not Stalin, Mao or Hitler and did not engage in the mass slaughter of civilians. Sheridan never said “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” That is a myth. If he had said it, the comment would have come as a vast surprise to his good friend General Ely Parker, a Seneca

    Depends on what you consider a “mass slaughter” of civilians. It may not have been a mass slaughter to you but to those on the receiving end of the slaughter the number of others (Indians and Southerners) that died with them means very little.

    Secondly, you can deny what he said all you like but Sheridan did state that the only good Indians he knew were dead ones. He may have not used those exact words attributed to him but the ones he did use had the same meaning. Another example is Charlie Wilson and the quote “What’s good for General Motors is good for the USA>” He never said that exact phrase but he said “[w]hat is good for the USA is good for General Motors and vise versa”, and this for all intents and purposes is the meaning of the quote attributed to him.

    Finally, I can’t believe you used the “some of his best friends were Indians” defense.

  • Compared to the attrocites the “Saxon” committed against Irish Catholics (from say 1560 to 1922), Sheridan and all the Indian fighters were gentler than “Mother Teresa.”

    The source quote, by an unnamed US Cavalry officer, was in general response to Eastern papers’ “lo the noble savage” tripe. He said, “The only good Indian I ever saw was dead.”

    The Saxon was far gentler to the Irish Catholic than the Democratic party is to 47,000,000 unborn babies they exterminate.

    Vilifying General Sheridan won’t get you into Heaven if you vote Democratic.

  • “Finally, I can’t believe you used the ‘some of his best friends were Indians’ defense.”

    *I* can’t believe anyone tried to compare Sheridan to Stalin, Hitler and Mao. Supporters of the lost cause should avoid the same victim-speak, hyperbole and morally-incoherent rhetoric deployed at public university ethnic studies departments. Sheridan’s conduct can be condemned on its own terms without resort to bankrupt analogies. Using such trivializes 20th century butchery and obscures what actually happened.

  • “Finally, I can’t believe you used the “some of his best friends were Indians” defense.”

    The mythic statement applied to Sheridan to the effect that the only good indian was a dead indian is refuted by Sheridan’s friendship with Parker, who, I might add, was Commissioner for Indian Affairs from 1869-1871 while Sheridan was in command in the West.

    Before commenting on historical figures and controversies it does help to have some basic knowledge about the individuals involved in them.

  • Nice try, fellas. The name of this blog is The American Catholic, but your position is not representative of the entire American Catholic population. I can count one regular and one guest contributor who have spoken up on this thread and they’re both pro-Sheridan.

  • Zounds, now he tells us! I always assumed that every position we take, even when contributors disagree vehemently with each other, was representative of all Catholics in the US. Thanks for straightening that out Centinel!

  • For that matter, the online calendar on this blog makes Monday look like the first day of the week. You Catholics should know better.

Debra Medina Fails To Disavow 9/11 Truthers, Rick Perry Gets My Vote

Thursday, February 11, AD 2010

[Updated]

It has been said that all politics is local.

And so it is.

I have had some issues with whom to vote for in the upcoming Texas gubernatorial elections.  Especially with the Republican primary coming up and Debra Medina gaining fast on current Governor Rick Perry.

Insurgent Republican candidate Debra Medina was a asked a question by Glenn Beck on his radio show if she would deny that there was any government role in 9/11 and she hedged.

Mr. Beck followed up with a direct question and she still hedged.

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103 Responses to Debra Medina Fails To Disavow 9/11 Truthers, Rick Perry Gets My Vote

  • I listened in this morning because I wanted to hear what she had to say. I saw this as a make it or break it moment for her campaign. The interview seemed to start off rocky. In reply to the question, “Who is Debra Medina?”, she briefly talked about herself and then went into critiques of Perry and Hutchison. Glenn was audibly annoyed, by that point.

    On the one hand, I wonder why the 9-11 Truther question was asked; it didn’t seem to pertain to the issues facing Texans today. But, as I sat listening, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She was dancing around the issue! This little dance routine looks like a tacit admission of Trutherism. She never outright rejected the notion. The perception now, despite what she said, is that she’s a Truther. She’s finished. Finished.

  • I didn’t listen to the radio show, only to Medina’s comments on the show.

    Like you the question wasn’t really relevant in certain ways, but the way she answered it was awful.

  • It’s because of Beck’s target crowd.

  • I listened to one of the clips and he said he brought it up because he got a lot of mail accusing her of being a Truther. Based on her answer, there was probably a lot of legitimate concern out there and it turned out to be a fair question. I’m not a Beck fan, but I’m not sure what’s wrong with not having Truthers as a target audience.

  • I thought Truthers were liberal Democrats who despised Bush, the same way Birthers tend to be conservatives who despise Obama.

    If this woman is running as a Republican for governor of one of the reddest of the Red States, by what logic does she figure sympathy for the Truther movement helps her win votes? If she were running for, say, mayor of Berkeley or for Congress from some hard-left-leaning district I could see her logic; but this doesn’t make sense.

  • Texas isn’t very red. The TX House of Reps is 77 Republicans and 73 Democrats — a 4 vote majority. The TX Senate is 19 Republicans to 12 Democrats — a 7 vote majority.

    There’s been much talk in terms of changing demographics in Texas. In about 10 years, this state will arguably be purple, politically speaking.

  • When I was working in politics in Texas we had a term, Texicrat, for Texas Democrats. Think RINO, but in reverse.

  • Tito, I must say I’m sad that you will be voting for Governor 39%. We’d be better off being governed by cardboard for the next four years.

    I am totally opposed to Governor Perry and I am still entertaining the idea of voting for Debra Medina (who I oppose practically down the line on almost every issue) to vote against Governor Perry in the GOP primary (which will count me as a registered Republican until the next election — the horror!). It was a gaffe, sure. I’m more disturbed that Perry was unaware that the Advanced Care Directives Law that has seen the euthanasia of a six month old infant and several others had passed through the Texas Senate when he was the Lt. Governor and President of the Texas Senate.

    You’ll disagree, sure. Vote your conscience. I’m not rather concerned that someone’s gaffe in failing to deny that they believe in a conspiracy theory as more important than defeating Governor 39% who has been more than a horror. I’m not how sure one’s views over something that has no affect over the immediate points of Texas’ public policy absolutely disqualifies someone from your vote unless you think the other candidate is better on public policy. Mandatory vaccinations? An education budget that has been either frozen or cut in the last 16 years? — In the last 5 year in Houston alone, nearly 250 teachers were fired for criminal activity including criminal misconduct, child sexual abuse, and workplace intoxication — and I can’t seem to find one candidate talking about such issues other than lets-be-anti-Washington. Great. How are we going to solve our state’s problems?

    Of course, there’s that ever-annoying dilemma. With any of these candidates, I’m going to find their agenda sickening and their Democratic opponent is almost surely going to be pro-choice. I’m really divided over the question of whether it is legitimate not to vote for conscientious reasons.

  • Medina is a Truther and therefore unfit for any public office as far as I am concerned. It takes a special type of paranoid idiocy to believe that 9-11 was the work of agencies of the government.

  • “Medina is a Truther and therefore unfit for any public office”

    Well, that depends on how you define a Truther. It could mean :

    1) someone who believes the 9-11 attacks were actually plotted or staged by the Bush administration;
    2) one who believes the Bush administration knew the attacks were coming but chose to do nothing to prevent them;
    3) one who believes the Bush administration discounted or misinterpreted evidence that the attacks were imminent, and thereby failed to prevent them;
    4) one who believes the U.S. government has not revealed all that it knows about the origin and nature of the attacks.

    Conclusions #1 and #2, which assume that Bush was willing to let thousands of innocent American citizens die purely to provide himself with a pretext for launching the War or Terror, the PATRIOT Act, and other measures, are examples of “paranoid idiocy.”

    Conclusion #3 simply assumes that Bush and/or his advisers made mistakes, though not necessarily malicious ones. Conclusion #4 presumes that the government might be withholding certain information for security reasons, or to protect certain parties from embarrassment or exposure. While we may not agree with these conclusions (and I don’t), I think they can be held by reasonable people.

    If Medina says simply she doesn’t know the “whole truth” about 9/11, she may mean something similar to Conclusion #3 or #4, not necessarily #1 or #2. However it’s evident she handled the question very badly.

  • I have to wonder, if Sarah Palin handled this question badly — let’s say almost identically — would it change your view of her or your willingness to cast a vote in her favor?

  • I don’t understand the Governor 39% thing. What’s that about?

  • My views regarding Truthers Eric are independent of the person making the statement.

  • Well, since at this time I have no intention of voting for Sarah Palin — it wouldn’t change my view of her.

    I’m just baffled that Medina would attempt to run as a more-conservative-than-thou Republican if she was a genuine, hard-core Truther who really believed Bush was that evil. Is she trying to appeal to the libertarian, Ron Paul types who consider everything the Big Bad Feds do evil?

  • My guess Elaine is that like Ron Paul she is a paranoid conspiracy nut who normally has the good sense to not go full headcase before the sane. Beck caught her in an unguarded moment.

  • Tito,

    With all due respect, this is a really poor reason not to vote for Debra Medina.

    And while I remain highly skeptical of the logistical aspect of the 9/11 conspiracy, it is a documented historical fact that factions in this government (and it is far from the only government in history) have considered false-flag operations in the past.

    Operation Northwoods, for instance, is not a hallucination. It’s not tin-foil hat spectulation, it is real, verified, accepted history that absolutely no one denies.

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

    And this is only ONE example, ONE historically documented, scholarly approved, mainstream comfortable instance of the US government either considering, or actually perpetrating, harm on its own citizens (lets not forget the Tuskeege Experiments either).

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

    Unless Medina is actually coming out and saying that she believes the US government planned and executed 9/11, I think its incredibly closed-minded to write her off. Voters should look at policies, not implied personal opinions.

    That’s just my two cents, and I’m sure everyone will disagree. It’s cool 🙂

  • I’m also really just disturbed by this notion that an failure to immediately disavow an idea that isn’t popular (although I think this particular idea is more popular than you realize) is automatic grounds for disqualification, as if our minds must instantly shut down.

    Forgive me if I see this as an example of knee-jerk group-think and want nothing to do with it.

  • Perry won his 2006 re-election bid with 39% of the vote, which is humorously exactly where he’s polling right now in the GOP primary.

  • Perry won his 2006 re-election bid with 39% of the vote

    So what? 39% is a pretty respectable figure in a four person race, particularly when two of the other candidates are competing with you for votes on your half of the political spectrum.

  • Eric,

    you said, “I have to wonder, if Sarah Palin handled this question badly — let’s say almost identically — would it change your view of her or your willingness to cast a vote in her favor?”

    I am probably one of the Biggest fans for Sarah, but if she answered this way… I would have disowned her in a heartbeat!

    I’m sorry Joe, but you are wrong… we don’t need loons running the government.

  • This was a clear and definite set up. First of all, to not question what happened on 9/11 and to simply accept the government’s account is blissful and disgusting ignorance. Debra Medina did not say that 9/11 was an inside job or that she believed that government insiders allowed 9/11 to take place. It is a fact that some of the 9/11 commission members said that the investigation was doomed from the start. So what is the public supposed to make of such claims? Medina simply said that she was not satisfied with the official story. She is not alone. Many Americans feel this way and Mrs. Medina should not be expected to disavow a staff member simply because that staff member questions the government’s “official story”. Beck is a Hack and anyone who agrees with his sentiment on this issue will believe just about anything, I suppose. Any talk show host who labels an individual running for governor as a “9/11 truther” is only trying to do one thing and that is to distract the public from focusing on important issues like government taxation and an overreaching federal government. Make no mistake, this was a planned attack by the republican establishment of Texas to bring down Debra Medina. Sarah Palin just endorsed Rick Perry and Glenn Beck has been in Palin’s pocket from day 1. Medina’s following was getting to be just too large to be allowed to go on any further. Anyone who has followed her race closely can see through the blinders the neocons have put up for the public.

  • Debra Medina is like a non-press adored Barack Obama.

  • It is possible I suppose that she answered the question as she did because she assumed that Beck is a Truther. Surprise! Like a lot of Beck’s critics, and I say this as someone who thinks Beck is half a lunatic, she made assumptions about Beck rather than being aware about what his actual views are.

    Beck has long been a severe critic of the Truther movement as the nut cases in the movement themselves realize:

    http://www.infowars.com/beck-says-truth-activists-in-the-white-house-threaten-obamas-life/

    This might be an indication that Medina is not a Truther, but rather just another politician attempting to curry favor with whoever is interviewing her at the moment. That is somewhat pathetic, but it is not paranoid crazy.

  • I’m with Brett on this.

    I like Palin, but if she would say what Medina said, I would immediately drop any interest that I had for her.

    That simple.

    I don’t buy the conspiracy theory one iota.

    And with much respect to Joe, when it happens I’ll believe it.

    There would be a near-revolution if the government were actually implement anything like Northwoods.

    There are still people who believe that FDR allowed Pearl Harbor to be bombed, which I don’t believe one bit.

    🙂

  • Tito,

    The only reason government DIDN’T was because JFK was, in spite of his flaws, a man with a moral compass. This proposal was drafted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It went almost all the way up to the top – but the buck stopped with Kennedy.

    Forgive me if I think it is reasonable to believe that George W. Bush was not of the same caliber. Or Bill Clinton. And certainly not the current clown.

    Bottom line – our government has factions within it that are morally willing and able to plan the mass murder of US citizens to advance a foreign policy agenda. The hard evidence that it carried out 9/11 is somewhat lacking – I personally believe that it was gross negligence and incompetence this time around – but I certainly don’t believe that those who think government is CAPABLE of it on a moral level are insane.

    I think you’re naive if you think people in power are checked by some profound respect for human lives that even the average citizen finds difficult.

  • I love the defenses of Medina: “Don’t listen to what she *said*, listen to what her campaign wrote after the fact!”

    Who are you going to believe, her furiously-spinning flacks or your lying ears?

    Listen, it’s pretty clear that her “Truth”erism is, like it is for all “Truth”ers, a lazy exercise in mental masturbation. Anybody who really, truly believed that the government was complicit in 9/11 would do more than try to argue it’s a “Federal issue” (which ranks as one of the 10 dumbest political statements I have ever heard or read). They would actually be trying to *do* something, and not just sign web petitions, make internet videos harassing Danny Bonaduce (no, really) or try to burn chickenwire. Consistent with her statements and political bent, you’d think that Medina would at least organize a tax protest, for the love of Ron. “Everybody fill out new W-4s!” Legal. Easy. Noticeable. And it would crimp the evil regime, even if just a little bit. But no, she makes a jurisdictional argument, of all things, not to address the issue.

    None of them deserve to be taken seriously because, deep down, none of them seriously believe a word they emit on the subject. To use an analogy appropriate to a Catholic blog, “Truth”ers are a church made up entirely of the lapsed.

  • I’ll continue playing devil’s advocate here, because I think it needs to be done.

    Dale,

    You said,

    “Anybody who really, truly believed that the government was complicit in 9/11 would do more than try to argue it’s a “Federal issue””

    Actually, no, that doesn’t logically follow. Belief and action are not logically connected in that way. You can say that they ought to or they should – but not that they must.

    “They would actually be trying to *do* something”

    Again, no. That’s not an argument.

    This really isn’t about the substance of their claims, but the error in logic you are making here. The actions or lack thereof of 9/11 truth folks have absolutely nothing to with whether or not they ‘actually’ believe it. Belief implies nothing.

    We might say that anyone who really believed in Jesus Christ would devote their entire lives to Him, but then, we’d only have a tiny handful of Christians left. There’s what we ought to become, and what we are.

  • The fact that Operation Northwoods was developed and advocated is not evidence that our government conspired to produce 9/11. 9/11 truthers are nutters of the same ilk as flat-earthers. Joe, you are a good and smart guy, but one really can have a mind so open that all gray matter manages to escape.

    Don’s hypothesis is the most reassuring, even if it does take considerable speculative liberties.

    Finally, I admit that it is technically possible that the truthers are right, just as it is technically possible that the flat earthers are right. But folks who vote and live their lives respectfully mindful of these bizarre technical possiblities are missing the boat big time.

  • Mike,

    “The fact that Operation Northwoods was developed and advocated is not evidence that our government conspired to produce 9/11.”

    I NEVER argued that it was. That is NOT my point.

    I said, very clearly – and against all hope that I would be properly understood – that it simply means that people who suspect that the government is morally capable of such a thing are not crazy. They have a precedent.

    So please understand, two entirely distinct claims. The precedent of Northwoods:

    1) Does show that it is not crazy to believe government is capable of harming its own citizens (and we have JFK alone to thank for putting a stop to what the CIA and Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted to do)

    2) Does NOT prove a single thing about 9/11, obviously.

    So while I question 9/11 truthers on the logistics of the whole conspiracy, I DO NOT question their sanity for believing that the government could contemplate such a horrific act. And Northwoods is only ONE example.

  • Joe:

    Well, no right back! 🙂

    The lack of action–deeds–suggests quite a bit about the putative believer. It is a strong indicator that the belief in question is a matter of mere minor habit, or a dilettantish (word coining time!) dabbling done because it’s what a subgroup expects.

    Let’s try it this way. Consider the following hypothetical (none of which is true, amusingly enough): I say I’m a fervent Democrat and I believe the Republicans need to be stopped at all costs because their policies are uniformly destructive and threaten our nation.

    Subsequently, you find out that (1) I’ve never donated to a Democratic candidate, (2) never had a yard sign for a Dem on my property, (3) I’ve never done volunteer work for Democrats and (4) it turns out that I vote about 20% of the time.

    On the other hand, I’ve renewed my Detroit Lions season tickets at the first opportunity for the past 22 years, price increases or no, and despite the fact I know the feckless owner of the Lions bankrolls GOP candidates and causes.

    Thus, while you would not be in a position to call me a liar with respect to my claim to be a dogged Democrat, you could draw some conclusions about the nature of my claim and its importance in my life.

  • against all hope that I would be properly understood

    LOL 😀

  • We need to remember what this was all about:

    “Operation Northwoods, which had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Lemnitzer and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war.” — Body of Secrets, James Bamford, 2001

  • Dale,

    Yes, one could do all of those things – but one would have to make an awful lot of unwarranted assumptions to do so. All could be explained in ways other than laziness.

    1 – you have no money
    2 – you don’t have a yard
    3 – you’re too busy
    4 – you’re threatened with job loss if you leave work to vote

    Or, alternatively, one could do one or more of these things but just isn’t comfortable for whatever psychological reason.

    All of these things happen to people on a regular basis. The bottom line is that you can’t make judgments about a person’s sincerity without knowing something more about their circumstances.

    As for Medina, she’s running for office. Presumably she’s spending her own money toward that end. Perhaps she thinks that will be more effective than convincing a handful of people not to pay their taxes this year. Again, I think you’re making unwarranted assumptions about her. She might – might – embrace an unpopular position so its easy to just pile on the assumptions; she’s so unpopular, who will care?

  • I don’t think Operation Northwoods shows the government was capable of orchestrating 9/11. It’s one thing to talk about doing something like this, quite another to actually carry it out. Further, the scale of what was proposed was not comparable to what happened on 9/11. The proposals generally involved either fake incidents or attacks on a small number of non-citizens. That’s shocking enough, but it’s nowhere close to plotting to kill tens of thousands of Americans.

  • Eric, et al,

    I to have the very same concerns about Perry. I was quietly seeing and maybe even hoping that Medina would creep up the polls as she had recently overtaken Hutchison for number 2.

    Believe me, I’m going to hold my nose when I cast a vote for Perry.

    Like McCain, I’m not that enthusiastic as it is.

    Unlike McCain, I have seen Perry work closely with the pro-life movement in the legislature and he has been “our man” in Austin getting things done, or at least going to bat for us and our legislative bills.

    He’s learned his lesson, believe me, I’ve inquired.

    Perry has got my vote after Medina’s unfortunate comments.

  • Words just don’t matter any more, do they?

    I might as well type asjdkhbsjkfhbjskgbfjkdgbjk the next time I want to make a point. It would be just as effective.

    “I don’t think Operation Northwoods shows the government was capable of orchestrating 9/11.”

    It shows that government is morally capable of it – that is what I said. The logistics are a different story. I made that distinction several times. I should have typed djbfdsjkgbskjgdb instead.

    “It’s one thing to talk about doing something like this, quite another to actually carry it out.”

    Is it another thing when the Joint Chiefs of Staff propose it? The only reason it wasn’t carried out Kennedy’s personal opposition.

    The talk only does one thing – it obliterates the ceaseless and stupid claim that anyone who believes government could or would kill its own citizens is “crazy.” That’s the only claim I am making.

    Or, AJgjisfgbjfgbjshfgbsf.

    “Further, the scale of what was proposed was not comparable to what happened on 9/11.”

    The scale isn’t relevant. What was proposed was bad enough. And no one said anything about “tens of thousands” – only 3000 or so died on 9/11. A terrorist campaign “in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington” – could have ended up killing or wounding just as many. Not to mention all of the innocent people who would have died fighting the phony war.

    Or, ritoyritoyuitory.

  • Joe H.,

    Ewrtjvjrum gweercfviop weporijwoiu qwefijkfj qjkfaslkuj kljlkj eiruqtcb adfga? qpwoeiru alf, aslfkj to what asfkl.

    Eric,

    zvxbvbm tyru f asjg, afas ja asw.

    Dale,

    The city of Detroit reminds me of Kabul, just as pretty but not so much.

    BA,

    As mfnf, asdfklj “paokj” dhakh sdfho.

  • I mean, have you listened to the emotional-hysterical reasons why people won’t even CONSIDER the possibility? It’s just that they can’t bear to think for one second that American soldiers are being sent to fight and die for a lie. Well, that’s not an argument. It’s an emotional response.

    If someone wants to completely and totally reject 9/11 conspiracies on the facts, I respect that. In fact, that’s what I do myself.

    But to reject it on the assumption that government would never do or contemplate doing such a thing, or on the grounds that we MUST NOT THINK lest we denigrate the service of the men and women overseas are just forms of self-imposed idiocy. To then turn on people who share a different interpretation of the facts, given what government is historically capable of, and call them cooks, crazies, even traitors who ought to be shot, is just crazed mob mentality. It isn’t sane, it isn’t rational.

  • “I don’t think Operation Northwoods shows the government was capable of orchestrating 9/11.”

    It shows that government is morally capable of it – that is what I said. The logistics are a different story. I made that distinction several times.

    My comments were directed towards morals, not logistics.

    The scale isn’t relevant. What was proposed was bad enough. And no one said anything about “tens of thousands” – only 3000 or so died on 9/11.

    The expected death toll was in the tens of thousands. The only reason it wasn’t actually that high was that people ignored official statements that it was safe to stay in the Towers. Anyone who thinks the government was behind 9/11 has to think they were planning on killing far more people than actually ended up dead.

    A terrorist campaign “in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington” – could have ended up killing or wounding just as many.

    Allow me to quote from the Wiki page on Operation Northwoods that you linked to earlier:

    The terror campaign could be pointed at refugees seeking haven in the United States. We could sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or simulated). We could foster attempts on lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to the extent of wounding in instances to be widely publicized.

    I don’t think attacks on Cuban refugees in the states “even to the extent of wounding” were likely to kill thousands of American citizens. Again, even trying to wound a non-citizen is really bad (and sinking a boat load of refugees would be horrendous), but it’s not on the same level as deliberately killing thousands if not tens of thousands of your own citizens.

  • Joe:

    You are a game interlocutor, I concede that! 🙂

    But…I don’t know that my carefully-stacked deck allows you to play all of the cards you want to play–e.g., the self-declared diehard Dem has plenty of money to spend on Lions–Lions!–tickets. Granted, that may also be a symptom of a delusional personality in and of itself, but I’ll put that aside for now.

    More to the point, my hypothetical shows the belief holder to be knowingly acting against the holder’s alleged firm belief by actually funding that which he asserts is anathema.

    Which is what the “Truth”ers are doing by living out the status quo under the most illegitimate regime in American history.

    It seems that you have met a better grade of “Truth”er than I have. I envy you. In *every* case where I have stumbled across one, it is either a case of lazy paranoia alloyed with dogged ignorance, or worse (and thankfully rare) is closely-associated with hatred of Jews.

    I have no problem with a distrust of government–even where it is reflexive, so long as there are limits. I think it’s wired into our national character and usually serves us well. But when it lapses into a habit of paranoia, it becomes corrosive. The “Truth”er mentality is deeply corrosive, and is of a piece with other anti-reason/hyper-individualist memes floating about in American life right now, which is why I react so badly to it.

  • “My comments were directed towards morals, not logistics.”

    That wasn’t clear. It is now. And I completely disagree.

    “Anyone who thinks the government was behind 9/11 has to think they were planning on killing far more people than actually ended up dead.”

    If the ends justify the means, then the difference of thousands isn’t really a difference at all.

    And again, you leave out all of the people who would have died in the phony war, a war against a country under the direct protection of a nuclear superpower. I’m sure the Soviets would have sat on their thumbs while all of this unfolded.

  • If the ends justify the means, then the difference of thousands isn’t really a difference at all.

    If numbers don’t matter, why did the report suggest that people would only be wounded in the attacks rather than killed, or that the various attacks would or could be faked rather than real. Why the focus on non-citizens? I don’t think it is realistic to human psychology to say these things don’t matter.

    And again, you leave out all of the people who would have died in the phony war

    Soldiers dying at the hands of the enemy in a war you started (for what you believe to be justified reasons) is not the same as you killing your own citizens.

  • Dale,

    “The “Truth”er mentality is deeply corrosive, and is of a piece with other anti-reason/hyper-individualist memes floating about in American life right now, which is why I react so badly to it”

    I’m not concerned with various “mentalities”, to be honest with you Dale. All that matters to me are facts and logic, both of which are independent from one or another kind of “mentality.” A crumpled up napkin in the gutter that has the expression “2+2=4” on it is telling me a truth regardless of its grimy and smelly presentation.

    On many of the facts, I think 9/11 truthers come up short. But the premise that government would carry out such an operation is not delusional, since there are plenty of historical precedents for it here and in every other country.

    The precedent, obviously, proves nothing. It does something else. It makes it reasonable to question and investigate the official narrative of 9/11. It provides a good reason to search for proof. It makes the people (or some of them at any rate) who do search for it “not crazy”, not traitors, but reasonable people with a legitimate concern.

    Now, let me address this:

    “More to the point, my hypothetical shows the belief holder to be knowingly acting against the holder’s alleged firm belief by actually funding that which he asserts is anathema.”

    By this logic, though, no one who pays taxes in this country really believes in anything. Both left and right disagree with where a lot of the tax money goes – to what the left believes are unjustified wars, to what the right believes are unjustified welfare programs, to what Christians believe are immoral, sacrilegious purposes, and so on and so forth. People pay taxes because they don’t want to risk jail, not because they don’t care.

    That’s just being pragmatic. There is a time and place for self-sacrifice in the name of a cause, and my guess is that most people do not feel that this is the time. Or, they are cowards.

  • “If numbers don’t matter, why did the report suggest that people would only be wounded in the attacks rather than killed”

    Different people and different governments have different approaches to these matters. The Project for a New American Century reports stated quite clearly that the entire foreign policy agenda they wanted to see implemented would require a “Pearl Harbor” type of event.

    A larger scale war may require a larger scale incident. It could be that simple.

    Of course, their saying it, and their being guilty for arranging it, are indeed two different things. It isn’t a distortion of the truth at all, however, to say that this think tank, whose members went on to occupy key positions in the Bush administration, greatly benefited from the 9/11 attacks. It’s the plain, unvarnished, indisputable, documented truth.

    “I don’t think it is realistic to human psychology to say these things don’t matter.”

    Then I believe you are being naive about man’s capacity to do evil.

    What you’re really saying here, in making these distinctions between citizens and non-citizens, terrorist attacks and wars, is that the same people who are willing to go to war on the basis of outright fabrications, drop bombs on civilians, and cause thousands of deaths – in the name of a cause they believe is justified – would be completely unwilling because of some magic barrier in their minds to do anything remotely similar to their own citizens.

    Forgive me if I don’t think that particular approach to human psychology is realistic. Operation Northwoods, is, as I said, only one example of the government’s willingness to commit crimes against its own people (or lets say, innocent people).

    There were Operations Ajax and Gladio, in which innocent civilians – albeit non-Americans again – were murdered by the CIA in collaboration with other intelligence agencies in foreign countries. There is MK Ultra, there is the Tuskegee Experiment, which WERE done on American citizens. There is the reckless use of depleted uranium which has caused untold misery to a number of US combat veterans, these are only a few.

    Personally, I don’t think the numbers mattered at all. IF the government did 9/11 – IF – then it was clearly aimed at simply bringing down the Twin Towers as a symbolic landmark, whether there was 1 person or 10,000 inside.

    “Soldiers dying at the hands of the enemy in a war you started (for what you believe to be justified reasons) is not the same as you killing your own citizens.”

    If you send soldiers off to die for a lie, and especially back then when the draft was being used, then I don’t think there is a relevant difference. How many people do you think would volunteer to fight and die for what was an obvious, open lie, or a reason so immoral and stupid that it would have to be covered up by a lie?

  • Plus, the wiki entry doesn’t have everything.

    “The Joint Chiefs even proposed using the potential death of astronaut John Glenn during the first attempt to put an American into orbit as a false pretext for war with Cuba, the documents show.

    Should the rocket explode and kill Glenn, they wrote, “the objective is to provide irrevocable proof … that the fault lies with the Communists et all Cuba [sic].”

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=92662&page=2

    Can we trust the crackpots at ABC news?

    We have a clear pattern of deception and reckless disregard for the sanctity of human life.

    Given that, the only thing I say follows is that we take claims seriously. It’s a lesson as simple as the one we learn from “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”

  • “I’m not concerned with various “mentalities”, to be honest with you Dale.”

    You should be. The way people think–or, in this case, won’t–is exceptionally important, especially in the context of a society that aspires to be self-governing. To the extent lazy paranoid un-thought becomes widespread, all of us will suffer. The hardening of destructive intellectual patterns and the championing thereof by the strident is always a precursor to civil conflict. It was in America from the 1840s to Sumter and it was the same with the run up to the Spanish conflagration in 1936. I’m not saying we’re anywhere near such a horror here, but the initial signs are worrisome.

    More to the point, your tax analogy dodges the monstrous nature of what “Truth”erism says about our current republic–namely, that it is dead.

    Not reformable, not fixable at the ballot box, not subject to redress in the courts, but *dead.* It posits that an illegitimate regime has enthroned itself on the corpse of the American republic, having committed the mass murder of American citizens before our eyes for various sordid and squalid ends. That the murderous puppetmasters who perpetrated this atrocity are so slippery and clever that they cannot be rooted out despite the “obvious” “evidence.” With the war in Iraq or on abortion, the various political factions at least have the honest hope that the ballot box might move policy in their favor, however incrementally. Not so the “Truth”er.

    Whether honestly held or as is currently practiced, “Truth”erism is the political equivalent of the sin of despair. It is another toxin in the body politic. I pray to God that it remains in the inert form we see in adherents like Medina.

  • As a former resident of Texas I feel it is a shame that Medina fumbled the question and that so many are so sensitive to the ‘truther’ question they would actually fall into the arms of Rick Perry.

    Rick Perry has had more than enough time as governor of Texas. He should be retired from public service and forced to work the private sector.

    Medina has handled herself extremely well in the debate footage I have seen, and technically her answer was not wrong, just horribly answered. I would be willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that she was shaken by the question which— lets be honest, has nothing to do with Texas politics. And shame on Glenn Beck for an atrocious interview. He just lost a viewer.

    Clearly Medina falls into the category of ‘truthers’ that do not necessarily accuse the government of being ‘behind’ the 9/11 attacks, but nevertheless suspects that all that can be revealed about that day has not seen sunlight. While I personally do not think the U.S. government had anything to do with the attacks I think it is fairly naive to portray the U.S. government as being completely in the dark regarding a rising and ongoing threat. Also it is naive to not believe that some in our political class privately wait for just such disasters in order to advance their own ideological agenda. ‘Never let a crisis go to waste’ indeed.

    One question I would have for those (among the Right) who immediately are now going to vote for frat-boy extraordinaire Rick Perry: if it is so easy to imagine a ‘conspiracy’ amongst bankers and politicians to extract money from the taxpayer through the bailouts, why is it impossible to imagine a ‘conspiracy’ among political elites to further entrench their foreign policy agenda?

    The 9/11 highjackers ‘conspired’ to murder thousands of American citizens. Enron executives ‘conspired’ to coverup their pattern of fraud and theft. The CIA conspires EVERYDAY to destabilize governments not to their liking. Environmentalists conspired to gain economic and political control in order to mold society as they see fit. A few thousand years ago, political and religious authorities ‘conspired’ to murder Jesus Christ.

    Again, do I believe the U.S. government, in twirling-mustache fashion engineered the fall of the WTC and Pentagon? No. Mostly, because they’ve proven themselves to be so grossly incompetent in all lesser ambitions. BUT if you think for one second that the most powerful and influential people in the United States do not have interests contrary to the safety and well being of the ‘common good’, and that they work (ie, CONSPIRE) in the advance of that agenda: you’re living in la-la land.

    People don’t suddenly become angels and saints when they work in higher office. When I entered the professional world at an ad agency, one of the biggest surprises was the open pettiness, back-stabbing, egomania and over-the-top theatrics of ADULTS. It wasn’t until several years after being on projects ranging from film productions to simple busy work that I realized it wasn’t much different in the upper-levels of society: just the stakes were much higher.

    I fully admit I’m not cutout for such an office. I would not want to be a part of a culture where my all too common weakness can result in lives being ruined or snuffed out.

    Bully for Medina for giving an honest, if not well-articulated answer, despite the known backlash that would come. Thats more than can be said for either Rick Perry or Sarah Palin.

  • The Project for a New American Century reports stated quite clearly that the entire foreign policy agenda they wanted to see implemented would require a “Pearl Harbor” type of event.

    I assume you are referring to the PNAC report Rebuilding America’s Defenses, which includes the following quote:

    Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.

    If you read the section of the report in which this quote appears for context, you’ll find that the “transformation” and “revolutionary change” referred to in the quote consists of things like adopting information technologies, reforming the military procurement process, and generally streamlining the military to make it smaller and more effective. So, in context, the quote 1) doesn’t say that a new Pearl Harbor is desirable; and 2) is talking about an area of military policy that a) doesn’t have anything to do with Iraq, and b) hasn’t actually happened yet. To say that this quote somehow gives any credence to 9/11 conspiracy theories is, in my opinion, pretty thing gruel.

    It isn’t a distortion of the truth at all, however, to say that this think tank, whose members went on to occupy key positions in the Bush administration, greatly benefited from the 9/11 attacks.

    It’s true that some people associated with PNAC held positions in the Bush administration. On the other hand, some of the people associated with PNAC who held positions in the Bush administration were against the Iraq War. So perhaps they needed to be a bit more discerning about who they let into their cabal.

    Personally, I don’t think the numbers mattered at all. IF the government did 9/11 – IF – then it was clearly aimed at simply bringing down the Twin Towers as a symbolic landmark, whether there was 1 person or 10,000 inside.

    The question isn’t whether you consider the cases to be morally different. The question is whether the fact someone is willing to attack, wound, or possibly even kill a small number of non-citizens means they would have no compunction about killing large numbers of their own citizens. I don’t find that remotely plausible.

    How many people do you think would volunteer to fight and die for what was an obvious, open lie, or a reason so immoral and stupid that it would have to be covered up by a lie?

    The assumption here is that if you have to lie to get people to support a war, then the reasons for going to war must not be compelling. I don’t think the folks who proposed Operation Northwoods saw things that way. They appear to have believed that a Communist Cuba was a severe threat to American national security, and that popular reluctance to take action wasn’t justified.

  • Dale,

    “Not reformable, not fixable at the ballot box, not subject to redress in the courts, but *dead.* It posits that an illegitimate regime has enthroned itself on the corpse of the American republic, having committed the mass murder of American citizens before our eyes for various sordid and squalid ends. ”

    If that’s what’s true, it’s what’s true. In my view it is never intellectually sound to reject a theory because of its implications – yet that is what most people seem to be willing to do. There are perhaps other good reasons to reject the 9/11 conspiracy, but the implications for the American republic is absolutely not one of them. One can believe that this country is finished without believing that 9/11 was an inside job. Personally I think we are hovering on the edge. And I don’t see how that is despair – that is just history.

    Countries, empires, they come and go, they rise and fall. You speak of the sin of despair – there is also the sin of presumption, in this case, that America is a divine institution that cannot fail, like the Church. I’m not saying YOU believe that, but it could follow from what you’ve said.

  • Plus, the wiki entry doesn’t have everything.

    “The Joint Chiefs even proposed using the potential death of astronaut John Glenn during the first attempt to put an American into orbit as a false pretext for war with Cuba, the documents show.

    Should the rocket explode and kill Glenn, they wrote, “the objective is to provide irrevocable proof … that the fault lies with the Communists et all Cuba [sic].”

    Actually, this is mentioned in the Wikipedia article, and the proposal wasn’t to kill John Glenn, but to blame the Cubans for it if he died.

  • For the record, the Project for a New American Century was not a ‘think tank’, but an advocacy group. I believe it employed four people.

  • I had a response typed up, but the internet connection here is so terrible that it failed to load it… and I don’t feel like doing it again.

    Needless to say, I disagree, BA. Briefly, by paragraph.

    1. PNAC also advocated regime change against Iraq, and the Afghan war was planned in advance of 9/11.

    2. Association is not membership.

    3. The thousands if not millions of people who die on both sides of a war also count – anyone willing to go to war under false pretenses at the potential cost of that many lives is certainly capable of carrying out acts of terrorism against citizens.

    4. Obviously, the reasons were not compelling to the American people, or to Congress, that democratically elected and accountable body that alone is supposed to have the authority to declare war.

    Instigating terrorist attacks to spread a level of fear and panic that will lead to a war that will cost thousands of lives is a criminal conspiracy, an act of evil on the scale of 9/11.

    That’s all I’ll say on it.

  • 1. PNAC also advocated regime change against Iraq, and the Afghan war was planned in advance of 9/11.

    Lots of people advocated regime chance in Iraq. What does that have to do with 9/11?

    You cited a PNAC quote about the need for a new Pearl Harbor. As I showed, the PNAC quote doesn’t actually say what you claimed. Do you not care about that?

    I don’t know what you mean when you say the Afghan war was planned in advance of 9/11. Nor do I see what that has to do with PNAC.

    2. Association is not membership.

    I don’t think PNAC even has members. If you’re going by employees of the organization, then it’s not true that they went on to hold high positions in the Bush administration. If you want to include people who were signatories on PNAC statements, then you’ll get people who opposed the Iraq war, as well as those who supported it.

    3. The thousands if not millions of people who die on both sides of a war also count – anyone willing to go to war under false pretenses at the potential cost of that many lives is certainly capable of carrying out acts of terrorism against citizens.

    I don’t say they don’t count. They do, however, count differently, at least to most people (if you don’t think it made a difference to the creators of Operation Northwoods, then why were their proposals so focused on non-citizens and/or plans involving minimal casualties?)

    4. Obviously, the reasons were not compelling to the American people, or to Congress, that democratically elected and accountable body that alone is supposed to have the authority to declare war.

    Sure.

  • Joe,
    You can *perhaps* make a plausible case for the federal government being willing to have the appetite for a horrible false flag operation on this scale (personally I think that is a real stretch when considered in context), but the case for the proposition that it could and did pull it off is simply not plausible. The very idea that thousands of co-conspiritors have successfully remained silent is just plain laughable, and that is why we are all laughing at the 9/11 truthers. The fact that you don’t think it is laughable is frankly kind of disturbing. The willingness to be a contrarian can sometimes be an emblem of courage and intelligence, but only sometimes.

  • BA,

    “Do you not care about that?”

    I do. Obviously that quote has been misused, so I care about that. But there’s still the fact that its foreign policy prognosis required a 9/11 to go into effect. That doesn’t prove anything, as I said.

    The only reason I brought it up was to answer one of your questions – why the Northwoods proposals weren’t as drastic as a 9/11. I said a bigger war, a longer war, a more expensive war on multiple fronts, would probably require a bigger justification. Just such a war was being dreamed up before 9/11. Again, it proves nothing.

    On Afghanistan:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1550366.stm

    “why were their proposals so focused on non-citizens and/or plans involving minimal casualties?”

    See above. The scale of deception and the loss of life that would have resulted make it just as bad. We can only speculate on the reasons why the plan wasn’t more drastic – but when you fit it in with a PATTERN of willingness on the part of the CIA, factions of the military, and others to murder civilians to advance political goals, It ISN’T crazy. The other two operations I mentioned, Gladio and Ajax, involved exactly that. There was also Operation Condor in Latin America which the CIA had a hand in as well.

    People can justify these covert opts and the assassination of innocent civilians however they like. Frankly I would rather debate whether or not such things are justified rather than whether or not they happened, or could happen again.

    I’ll also remind you that I DON’T think the US government pulled off 9/11 – only that I believe that FACTIONS within it are CAPABLE of that level of evil, and that isn’t crazy to say so. That’s all. That’s the argument – that the supposed benevolence of the government, or some supposed barrier in their minds that says “murdering innocent civilians all over the globe is fine, but never ever domestically” is not the reason they wouldn’t do it. And that’s the reason I most frequently hear for dismissing 9/11 truth claims out of hand, without even looking at the evidence.

    If that doesn’t apply to you, then we have no quarrel. If you reject it for other reasons, then we probably agree.

  • Mike,

    “The very idea that thousands of co-conspiritors have successfully remained silent is just plain laughable”

    I don’t think you need “thousands of co-conspirators” – no one argues that. If their premise is that you need thousands of people to orchestrate this, then obviously that is laughable, but I don’t think they accept that premise and there’s no logical reason for them to.

    “The fact that you don’t think it is laughable is frankly kind of disturbing.”

    Again, I do – but I don’t think they would accept being boxed into that corner. So I’m not going to laugh at people for a position they don’t hold.

  • Joe,

    I was going to write out a response, but frankly the disagreement between us is minor enough that it’s probably not worth arguing over. I apologize if I came across as rude or overly hostile/nitpicky.

  • It’s all good. I get too defensive at times myself, so I apologize if I overreacted.

  • I’ll add one more thing for general consumption.

    It wasn’t that long ago that anyone who questioned anthropogenic global warming was considered a kook and a nut. Defenders would ask, “what, are you saying the whole scientific establishment is lying?”

    It turns out that the willful collaboration of thousands of people in a big lie wasn’t really necessary – it took one research team and its accomplices in the UN to trickle down false information to scientists all over the world. Before climategate, glaicergate, amazongate, et. al., the IPCC was consider “the gold standard.” Now it is about as valuable as dirt.

    Climategate and the surrounding “gates” are evidence of a conspiracy among a handful of people in positions of authority to distort and falsify information. They got millions of people to believe them unquestioningly, and thousands of scientists to use their data as a basis for their own research.

    For those who still don’t understand the extent to which the IPCC’s theory has imploded,

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/the-great-global-warming-collapse/article1458206/

    Again, none of this makes a case for 9/11. I reiterate that I don’t think Bush administration planned and executed 9/11. But it shows that conspiracies can begin with a few people “in the know” and spread down through compartmentalization – no one beneath those who know has all or most of the information, only enough to fulfill their part.

  • Hey Joe,

    in one of your beginning responses you said…”The only reason government DIDN’T was because JFK was, in spite of his flaws, a man with a moral compass.”

    I will disagree with you and so does President Diem, he had him murdered.

  • Oh sheesh Bret, I’ve heard plenty of JFK conspiracy theories but that’s the first I heard that President Diem of South Vietnam did it. Actually, if he really did do it (and that’s a big if), more than likely it was his sister-in-law Madame Nhu’s idea. As I posted some weeks ago, Madame Nhu seems to have been the closest thing to a bona fide female dictator in modern history.

    Between “Castro did it,” “the Mob did it,” “the CIA/FBI did it,” “LBJ did it,” and “Woody Harrelson’s father did it,” and now “the South Vietnamese did it,” have we missed anybody?

  • Pingback: The Adventures of Debra “Kadabra” Medina « docweaselblog
  • Elaine,

    “W” and Dick Cheney.

  • Elaine,
    I’m afraid that Bret’s imprecise use of pronouns confused you. I’m sure he was referring to JFK’s alleged involvement in Diem’s murder. The allegation that JFK had Diem murdered is also a bit imprecise. Most historians agree that (i) the US was indeed increasingly uncomfortable with Diem due largely to his contemptable oppression of Viet Nam’s Bhuddist community, (ii) Viet Nam’s military decided that Diem needed to go and plotted a coup, (ii) these military leaders sought and received assurances that the US would not intervene in the event of such a coup, and (iv) the military offered Diem safety if he surrendered, Diem declined and was killed later after being captured.

  • The reason to Vote for Medina is to get the entrenched political classes out of power. Perry is a corporate Republican as far as I have heard. I think the solution is to vote out every incumbant except proven – as in initiators of legislation and spenders of political capital such as Chris Smith of NJ pro-lifers. Perry is part of the problem with his mandatory guardicil vaccinations.

  • Elaine,

    Sorry for my imprecise use of pronouns. Diem was dead before Kennedy was assassinated.

    Mike what you said is true; however, to overthrow one of the Biggest Anticommunist during the middle of the Vietnam war because the press thought that the Buddhist community was being suppressed (which it wasn’t) was lunacy.

    He was a solid Catholic who knew the evils of communism.

    In reality, it was Roger Hilsman, Averell Harriman’s plan with Henry Cabot Lodge doing the ground work. Secretary of State George Ball approved the overthrow and Kennedy agreed (but to Kennedy’s defense he thought it had been cleared with Sec. of Def. McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor which it had not).

    He did not surrender to the Americans because he did not trust Lodge (with good reason). But he did surrender after he went to Holy Mass. He and his brother was gunned down afterwards.

  • Oh by the way Elaine, you have Madame Nhu all wrong. That is another female who was assassinated by the press.

  • How to destroy a 9/11 truther:

  • BREAKING: Sarah Palin 9/11 truther controversy makes hypocrite of Glenn Beck

    http://www.infowars.com/sarah-palin-911-truther-controversy-makes-hypocrite-of-glenn-beck/

  • If you can find a mainstream news organization reporting this it would be appreciated.

  • Glenn Beck is a truther himself. To all of you closed minded hate filled war mongers……

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBn-VIW7ivE&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1]

  • Not a hypocrite,

    I’ve wasted 7 minutes and 31 seconds of my life viewing and searching the video you posted of Glenn Beck accusing the U.S. government and “W” of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks.

    He never said anything remotely close to your claim.

    He did say we have a right to question our government and then quickly pointed out he doesn’t when it comes to 9/11.

    He made a reference to Sandy Berger and questioning if both Slick Willy and “W” were in cahoots in regard to him, but not to 9/11.

    You failed.

    Again.

    To prove that Glenn Beck is a truther.

    I will delete anymore posts that you put up if it includes calumny again.

  • Countries, empires, they come and go, they rise and fall. You speak of the sin of despair – there is also the sin of presumption, in this case, that America is a divine institution that cannot fail, like the Church. I’m not saying YOU believe that, but it could follow from what you’ve said.

    It’s late, but I don’t want to leave a misimpression. No, I don’t believe the U.S. is a divine institution, nor particularly one guided by providence.

    But I won’t back off the analogy of “truth”erism to despair: to the extent the phenomenon breeds a genuine cynicism and paranoia, it is a mental/quasi-spiritual cancer on the republic. I agree that America is in considerable trouble at the moment, but for the sake of my children (the first among many reasons) I don’t want to see it die on my watch. A determined, hard-working, clear-eyed and clear-thinking citizenry is a must at this hour. “Truth”ers present none of those virtues, and in fact prevent the cultivation of the same. Ditto the paranoia of birtherism, albeit on a much smaller scale.

    Put another way: the death of America would be a calamity that would make the fall of Western Rome in the fifth century look like a recession. Imagine Constantinople, Athens and Alexandria being obliterated at the same time, and you have a measure of what would happen.

  • Not a hypocrite:

    1. Tito is right. I’m no fan of Beck, but he is not a “truther.” You are mistaken or worse.

    2. There is only one way to avoid being a hypocrite: Conform you conscience to your actions. For those of us who struggle unsuccessfully to conform our actions to our conscience, we live with the knowledge of imperfections and therefore our hypocricy every day.

    3. Given your statement re Beck, I must assume defamation is not a sin in your book — you not being a hyprocrite and all.

  • Beck might not be a truther, but I think the rather rudely and aggressively stated point was this:

    Beck said the same thing Medina said.
    Medina said we have a right to question.
    Medina was called a “truther”.
    Ergo, Beck is a truther.

    All you have to do is disavow premise 3 for this thing to go away. Debra Medina is not a “truther”, and I hope she wins in TX.

    For Dale,

    “A determined, hard-working, clear-eyed and clear-thinking citizenry is a must at this hour. “Truth”ers present none of those virtues”

    That simply isn’t true, Dale, especially among the educated engineers and political activists in their ranks. Disagreeing with them is one thing; degrading their character is another.

    “the death of America would be a calamity that would make the fall of Western Rome in the fifth century look like a recession.”

    I think you overstate the problem a bit.

  • Joe,
    I don’t know whether Medina is a truther, but her handling of Beck’s question leads one to believe that she falls into one of the following categories:

    1. She is a truther.

    2. She is not a truther but is willing to pander to them.

    3. She is not sure and has no developed opinion either way.

    4. She thinks truthers are wrong but also thinks their opinion is a reasonable one.

    I realize that you are comfortable that a person can hold 3 or 4 and still be fit for office. I’m not.

  • Fair enough, Mike, but do you think that Beck and Palin, who have made similar statements, fall into the same category?

  • “educated engineers and political activists in their ranks”

    They’re the worst of the bunch, and are causing the most damage. A degree is no indicator of character, much less clear thinking. Likewise a career in political activism.

    “I think you overstate the problem a bit.”

    The mightiest nation in history, the lynchpin of the western political system, the strongest economic power ever to exist, going down in flames? Actually, I understate the potential horror. Western Rome didn’t have nukes, for starters. Nor did Rome provide massive amounts of aid to nations struggling with disease and poverty. The cascade effects are incalculable, and would take a great deal of work to overstate. Great empires–and, yes, America is in many ways an empire–do not die peacefully in their beds, unless there happens to be a reasonably like-minded heir to hand off the scepter to. That’s happened once in history–Great Britain passing the baton to America.

    Now, there’s no one to pass the baton to.

  • Joe,
    Yes, if they did in fact make similar statements. That said, I think it is disingenuous to say that Beck and Medina are comparable because both said that people have the *right* to question the government (something no American would disagree with), when Beck then explictly emphasizes his disagreement with truthers to the point of ridicule whereas Medina carefully and obviously deliberately chooses to not do so. And I’m not aware of Palin behaving similary to Medina. If I’m wrong on the facts, I’m all ears.

  • And Joe, I do not think Beck is fit for public office, but for other reasons. Palin is clearly fit for public office, though quite possibly an ill-fit for the presidency, at least at this point in time.

  • Mike,

    Palin, according to the video I saw on youtube, was willing to say publicly that she supported another 9/11 investigation. Though I think her intent was simply to tell the people who asked her what they wanted to hear, Medina supporters might understandably, if illogically, want to play the same game with Palin and say that supporting another 9/11 investigation is tantamount to not believing the official story, which could therefore mean that she gives credence to truther claims.

    Medina, moreover, HAS expressed her disagreement with truthers, unless we are of the mind that she did too little, too late after having been put on the spot. Her statement to the press afterward is good enough for me, and I think it would be more important to get back to the issues. To me its absurd to hold this against a person if you think they’re right on the issues.

    It would be one thing if she persisted and started campaigning on a truther platform, but she hasn’t done that. One moment of hesitation shouldn’t undo a campaign, and the fact that it can is precisely what is wrong with this country. It’s like the Dean scream. It’s media sensationalism and I reject Beck, Fox News, and Rick Perry’s attempt to manipulate the electorate with this irrelevant distraction.

  • Thanks, Joe. I admit that I have not followed this very closely, and it may be that Medina’s later statement is more than adequate — I don’t recall reading it. But I would emphasize that if the statement is basically akin to my option 4 above, it would not be adquate in my view. And it would not be comparable to Beck.

    As for Palin, it depends on context. If all she honestly meant was that thge 9/11 report was deficient and glossed over failures and errors that the public had the right to know about, fair enough. If she was playing with ambiguity to pander to the truthers, then bad on her and I see no difference with Medina at all.

  • To any truthers who might be reading this thread, please go to Popular Mechanics at the link below and learn why you are truly wasting your time.

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/1227842.html

  • In regard to Sarah Palin and 9-11, the question was asked her by someone calling himself Anthony the Activist during a rope line that she was proceeding down. Here is the video he made.

    Unlike Medina, Palin did not have the following question asked to her:

    “Do you believe the government was in any way involved in the bringing down of the World Trade Centers on 9/11?”

    Nor did Palin give this type of answer:

    “I think some very good questions have been raised in that regard,” Medina replied. “There are some very good arguments, and I think the American people have not seen all of the evidence there, so I have not taken a position on that.”

    Comparing what Palin said to what Medina said is like comparing swans and swine.

  • Don,

    It really isn’t like that at all.

    If one voices support for the idea of a new 9/11 investigation, then one can reasonably assume that they believe the old one wasn’t good enough, that there are still problems with the “official story”, etc. That’s what 6 of the 10 people on the panel said anyway.

    That isn’t THAT different from what Medina said – using a little common sense. And it certainly isn’t different than the clarification she made afterward.

    So its probably time to move on and concentrate on the issues. I certainly don’t believe that Medina spends her waking hours in fits of paranoia about government conspiracies.

  • Mike,

    I think BOTH Medina and Palin were doing what politicians do.

    Medina, I think, probably assumed that a lot of her grassroots supporters were sympathetic to, or actually were, 9/11 truthers. And this might be the case, because a lot of them are anti-establishment types, and Medina is an anti-establishment candidate. That’s not her fault. It’s not her fault that polls show 86% of Americans question the official story and that the “truther” position, in one form or another, is a hell of a lot more popular than its opponents understand. And I think THAT ALONE was the real reason for her hesitation.

    Palin was being Palin – telling people what they want to hear. She’s an amazingly gifted politician.

  • Disagree Joe. Medina was specifically answering a question as to whether she believed that the government was involved in bringing down the World Trade Center. Her answer indicated that she believed that the truthers had asked some very good questions and made some very good arguments. She is either a truther, lying or was simply bone ignorant and pandering to Beck since she wrongly assumed that Beck is a truther.

  • As for Palin, she was indicating that she would support a new 9-11 investigation in order to assure that 9-11 didn’t happen again. Presumably she was referring to the miserable intelligence failure prior to the 9-11 attack and a new investigation could highlight steps that could be taken to correct such an intelligence failure in the future.

  • Joe,
    It may be that both Palin and Medina were saying what they thought their audiences wanted to hear, but the more important fact is that they did not say the same thing as Don amply demonstrates. To suggest that they were similar requires taking profoundly unfair and unwarranted inferential liberties with Palin’s statements.
    It may be that there are more truthers out there than I realize, but if so I’m glad I don’t get around more.
    I’m perfectly willing to believe that the 9/11 report failed to disclose certain intelligence failures, perhaps even deliberately failed to do so; but in my view anyone who takes seriously the view that the government was actually involved in some conspiratorial way with the attacks is seriously and sadly out of touch with reality.

  • “To suggest that they were similar requires taking profoundly unfair and unwarranted inferential liberties with Palin’s statements.”

    I think it’s also pretty unfair to not allow Medina to clarify her remarks, or apologize for them if that is what’s called for. This “one strike and you’re out” rule of politics is absurd, especially when the issues are so high. It’s like a shutting off of the mind. I can’t do that.

    The number of genuine truthers who believe that it is a proven fact that 9/11 was an inside job is probably small, but the number of people who think that the government is covering something up is a substantial majority, according to the polls I’ve seen.

  • Joe, I agree completely with your last post. If Medina has issued or will issue a statement that makes it clear that she is not only not a truther (something that I assume she already has done) but also understands that the truther position is irresponsible and nutty, then she is fine by me. In other words, thus far her conduct has led me to believe that she is in one of the last three categories I listed earlier. If she makes it clear that she is not, then we are good to go.

    There is a HUGE difference between believing that our government covered up or might have covered up some things not disclosed in the 9/11 report versus believing our government was actually involved or might have been actually involved in a conspiratorial fashion in arranging and executing the incidents. There are many plausible reasons one might speculate as to why the report could have been less than complete, including some that almost everyone might agree are legitimate. And might the report have glossed over some shortcomings and misteps in order to avoid embarrassing certain powerful parties or interests? Sure, that is possible. But I believe (and hope) that the number of Americans who actually take the inside job possiblity seriously (let alone think it is an established fact) is very small, but I don’t know. My point remains that it is this — the truther — position that is nuts. A candidate who leads me to believe that they don’t think it is nuts is simply not fit in my view.

  • “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

    “1,000 Architects & Engineers Call for New 9/11 Investigation ”

    More than 1,000 worldwide architects and engineers now support the call for a new investigation into the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7 at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. After careful examination of the official explanation, along with the forensic data omitted from official reports, these professionals have concluded that a new independent investigation into these mysterious collapses is needed.

    http://thetruthnews.info/census.html#911

  • Why would a call for an independent investigation into 9/11 throw such abject fear into people?

    And when did “truth” become a dirty word, and someone who wants to know the truth become someone to be despised, and a subject of suspicion?

    If the officially approved version of 9/11 is accurate and true, wouldn’t an independent investigation by “we, the people” just prove that fact?

    We all know that our government would NEVER, EVER lie to us. So what could they, or anyone else, possibly have to fear from some independent fact checking by the citizens?

  • It’s a shame that a Catholic website would attack the 9/11 truth movement. What is wrong with not believing the official story? It is not wrong to question authority. I am a Christian and I don’t believe the official story of 9/11. I am a responsible American, husband, and father. I am not a nutjob or Glenn Beck drone. I make my own decisions.

    Glenn Beck attacked Medina, threw her the question out of left field, to purposely cause her bad press, within 30 min. after hanging up with Glenn, Perry’s campaign had audio excerpts via cold calls sent to Texans trashing Medina.

    Glenn Beck is controlled opposition. His job is to subvert the Tea Party movement, water it down, and lead the masses back to the NEOCONS.

    There is nothing ‘Christian’ about Endless War.
    http://www.wtc7.net/

  • Joey,

    There is absolutely no evidence of government involvement.

    Do you also believe that FDR ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor?

    Do you also believe that the moon landing was staged?

  • Here is a video of Sarah Palin–saying she would like another 911 investigation and another video of Glenn Beck saying he has questions about 911 and its our right and DUTY to question government:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcngiD6Sq6Q&feature=youtu.be, Palin supports new 911 investigation.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FSwztg8Xvk Glenn Beck video, says it’s our DUTY to question government

    It’s noteworthy that both Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin receive their checks from Fox.

    Debra Medina isn’t a 911 truther any more than I am.
    I knew the mud-slinging would start and it has.

    There is a difference between a “Truther”–one who believes the government is responsible for the attack on 9/11, and those who think the government may have known something and failed to stop it–as with the attack at Ft. Hood, Texas.

    Beck has lost a lot of Texas viewers; over 17% of his television audience over this–NOT INCLUDING those who have quit listening to his radio broadcast. One article I read said it was close to 1,000,000,000 viewers–probably a combined figure.

    Oh, and while I’m at it, here a link to an old speech by Governor Perry, in which he admits that he shares Vicente Fox’s dream of an open border with Mexico.

    http://governor.state.tx.us/news/speech/10688/

    Think about THAT before you cast your vote.

  • Beck EVERYDAY questions the validity of this present administration. I listened to him for years and can say that it seemed to me that he definitely had an agenda. Medina is the best for TX and for this country. Perry and Hutchinson are of the establishment and I would rather risk Medina then go with the same old same old making things worse. Take a look at who pays Beck his millions, who his publicist is and then maybe you will understand why he probably obeyed some directive from somewhere. Mr Beck is NOT WELCOMED in my home anymore on radio or TV.

  • Was Perry or Hutchinson ever asked if they were 9/11 truthers? And since when is it wrong to question the government? The greatest country in the world the USA is capable of evil…take a look at abortions…so I am not saying either way I am just saying that the evil perpetrated on our most helpless and who is to say the government never had any false flag operations!?!

  • It’s a free country.

    You have every right to question the government.

    With it comes consequences.

    For example my opinion is that Truther’s are nuts.

    I have a right to that opinion.

    Unfortunately for you and Medina, 99% of the rest of the country thinks Truthers are nuts as well.

  • I did not and do not like the way that Glenn Beck handled the interview with Debra Medina and at the time I accepted her later explanation and seeming clarification, as having been made in good faith. But this is my problem with Debra Medina. Debra Medina should either explain what is going on in the Debra Medina Facebook page or say why she does not accept the basic principles and ethos of the US Constitution ( if that is her position ) or shut up. Frankly, I am sick of Debra Medina rabbiting on, appearing to be a conservative constitutionalist nationalist republican, whilst on the Debra Medina Facebook page if one expresses views in the ethos of Ronald Reagan or Senator Barry Goldwater, one will likely be hounded remorselessly up to and including death threats and yet at the same time, the Debra Medina Facebook page is a comfortable place to express admiration for somebody like the British MP Mr George Galloway.

  • ” John Says:
    Sunday, February 21, 2010 A.D. at 1:13 pm
    “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

    “1,000 Architects & Engineers Call for New 9/11 Investigation ”

    More than 1,000 worldwide architects and engineers now support the call for a new investigation into the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7 at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. After careful examination of the official explanation, along with the forensic data omitted from official reports, these professionals have concluded that a new independent investigation into these mysterious collapses is needed.

    http://thetruthnews.info/census.html#911

    I have tried to engage 9/11 truthers in reasonable debate about the events surrounding the World Trade Center on 9/11 and these folks are simply not willing to do that, what they will most usually do is spew Youtubes and cut and paste at one. In one of the rare instances, that one of these characters was willing to get in to a debate with me, in which in that particular instance they were making an argument that sprinkler fire suppression systems, should have been able to fight and extinguish the fire, having effectively lost the argument on that point, ( re the capabilities of the sprinkler systems ), they then went on to claim that no aircraft had hit the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. What is also interesting, is that when in a popular internet forum, I advanced the possibility that 9/11 might have been a false flag operation but conducted by Aliens from outerspace, this idea attracted little interest, despite the fact it is a more legitimately plausible concept than many of the arguments advanced by the truthers, which fits well with my view that the 9/11 truther movement has very serious ideological and political objectives and its not just a bunch of folks who prefer convoluted conspiracy theories to simple explanations well grounded in facts.

Gov Perry Moves to Stall Investigation of Execution of Innocent Man

Tuesday, October 13, AD 2009

Megan McArdle links to a post by Publius of Obsidian Wings on Governor Perry’s recent move to slow the investigation into likely miscarriage of justice (due to a faulty arson investigation) which resulted in the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. This much-discussed New Yorker article makes a fairly solid case that the evidence that Willingham set fire to his own house (resulting in the death of his three daughters) was far from conclusive. Publius says:

In 2005, after the execution, Texas established a commission to investigate forensic errors, and the commission started reviewing the Willingham case. In the course of its review, the commission hired a nationally recognized fire expert who ultimately wrote a “scathing report” concluding that the arson investigation was a joke.

The expert was originally set to testify about his report on Friday, October 2. On Sept. 30, however, Perry suddenly replaced three members of the panel, including the chair, against their wishes. The new chair promptly canceled the hearing. More recently, Perry replaced a fourth member (he can only appoint four — other state officials appoint the remaining five members).

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15 Responses to Gov Perry Moves to Stall Investigation of Execution of Innocent Man

  • Agreed. It’s funny: I was strongly pro-death penalty until I read Evangelium Vitae, which — between the strength of the case and the authority of the author — relatively quickly led me to change my mind. Upon further review, I found that my former pro-penalty views conflated justice with vengeance, something which I find common for many (albeit not all) death penalty-supporters today.

  • Agreed that Governor Perry was wrong. As to the case itself, after 27 years at the bar, defending accused felons as part of my practice, generally the cases are more complicated than the news media reports. Here is the response of the Chief of the Corsicana Fire Department to the Texas Forensic Science Commission regarding this investigation.

    http://static.cnhi.zope.net/corsicanadailysun/images/City_of_Corsicana_response.pdf

    I normally view media investigations seeking to establish the innocence of someone convicted of a crime with the same skepticism I apply to the prosecution’s case at a trial. Unless I reviewed the trial transcripts I am in no position to judge whether Willingham was wrongfully convicted. I would agree with the article in the New Yorker that jailhouse snitch testimony is worthless. The saving grace is that normally a competent defense attorney can filet the snitch in cross examination and, in my experience, juries usually heavily discount such testimony.

  • #1 The headline of this article is misleading.

    #2 Even for those who strongly support the driving privilege (indeed, perhaps especially for them) citizens should have some assurance that the state takes the use of the driving privilege with utter seriousness and takes every possible precaution to avoid a permanent and tragic miscarriage of safety. One “possible precaution” is to ban automobile use. I’m sure the advocates of taking “every possible precaution” will give up their cars.

  • Mr. McClarey:

    Stick by your reading the transcripts. The state contends that the snitch was unaware of the X pattern in the children’s bedroom yet he testified that Willingham told him he poured the accelerant in an X pattern.

    Some more:

    1) “Cameron Todd Willingham: Media Meltdown & the Death Penalty:
    “Trial by Fire: Did Texas execute an innocent man?”, by David Grann
    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/10/04/cameron-todd-willingham-media-meltdown–the-death-penalty.aspx

    As more reality comes to light, the more into disrepute run’s Grann’s article.

    Myarticle, above, was written and released prior to the Corsicana Fire Marshall’s report, below

    2) EXCLUSIVE: City report on arson probe:
    State panel asks for city response in Willingham case
    http://www.corsicanadailysun.com/news/local_story_276222736.html

    3) No Doubts
    http://www.corsicanadailysun.com/thewillinghamfiles/local_story_250180658.html

    For a collection of articles, go to:

    Corsicana Daily Sun, The Willingham Files
    http://www.corsicanadailysun.com/thewillinghamfiles

    OTHER REPORTS: There is the potential for, at least, 3 more, official, reports on this case: the Texas Fire Marshall’s office, which will give an official and requested reply, the Corsicana Police Dept. and Navarro County District Attorney’s office, both of which, I speculate, may only contribute to the TFM report, but could issue their own reports.

    There is an official “report” which, it appears, few have paid attention to – the trial transcript.

    I find that rather important because, at least six persons, who were involved with the trial, two prosecutors, the defense attorney, two surviving fire investigators and a juror have all voiced support for the verdict, still, in the light of the criticism of the arson forensics.

    One of those original fire investigators is, now, an active certified arson expert.

  • “Death Penalty Support: Modern Catholic Scholars”

    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/07/death-penalty-support-modern-catholic.html

    “Pope John Paul II: Prudential Judgement and the death penalty”

    http://homicidesurvivors.com/2007/07/23/pope-john-paul-ii-his-death-penalty-errors.aspx

  • Just to clarify: I don’t consider the death penalty itself to be unjust, and I’m not strongly persuaded by the suggestion that it’s not needed to protect society in the modern world. I am, however, a bit ambivalent towards capital punishment as it exists in the US in that it seems to me there’s little value of either justice or protection to society in executing someone 15-20 years after the crime, which is what seems to be standard.

    Donald,

    The part of the New Yorker article I found fairly convincing was down in section IV where it talks about Dr. Hurst’s work on arson and overturning of assumptions in other cases that certain burn patterns could only be left by arson.

    Now, maybe I’m overly open to “expert testimony” of an experimental sort, but given that his findings had been used in a several similar cases to establish reasonable doubt, it seems to me like it would have been worth at least putting things on hold while looking into the question. I’m not thoroughly convinced the guy was an upstanding citizen, or anything, but it sounds like there were at least serious questions about the assumptions being used (reasonably enough, because they were standard in the industry) by the arson investigators at the time. And if the article is fully accurate on the arson, I’d be pretty confident the guy was probably innocent.

    That said, I think the vast majority of stuff put out by anti-capital punishment groups in an attempt to prove innocence is so clearly bunk (and transparant bunk at that) that one of the factors here may have been that a few people in the Texas justice system has simply stopped paying much attention to information presented on behalf of people on death row. That might be understandable in a sense, but it’s also a major problem.

    Micha,

    Are you trying to argue that the state _shouldn’t_ make every effort to make sure it only executes guilty people? Really?

  • DC: I certainly agree that the death penalty is not *inherently* unjust (that’s our faith’s teaching), but I disagree that we need the death penalty to protect society, at least in developed countries wherein prison technology keeps the most dangerous away from society. There might be the occasional exception, but in the vast majority of cases, I don’t see how the application of the death penalty *in our country* is needed to protect society.

  • Not only does our faith teach that the death penalty is not inherently unjust, the unbroken tradition of the Church stretching back to the Old Testament is that the death penalty is in fact sometimes a necessary penalty. Because the “moral equilibrium” upset by the crime of murder cannot be righted by any penalty short of death, the common teaching of the Church has always been that both natural and Divine justice require this penalty.

    Even today, under the Catechism’s far more negative treatment of capital punishment, acknowledgement is made that this penalty is sometimes necessary in order to defend the community, and should occur “rarely” only when certain advancements have occured which might render offenders harmless– advancements that have not yet occured, at least in this country, where no reliable methods exist (consonant with our Constitution) to render offenders harmless.

    Any view of capital punishment that denies or disparages the fundamental duty and right of the state to execute certain offenders is closer to the heresy of Waldensianism than to Catholic orthodoxy.

  • Here are but a few of the many examples showing that we do not in fact have the ability to render offenders harmless: http://seeking4justice.blogspot.com/search/label/Rendering%20Offenders%20Harmless
    Nor is it all clear what the Catechism was referring to when it mentioned “the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm.”

    Moreover, since we execute only a tiny fraction of murderers (1/4 of 1%), after fair trials and extensive and thorough appeals on many levels, it can confidently be said that in fact we only execute offenders “rarely.”

  • Tom, we do have the ability to render offenders harmless: supermax prisons come to mind.

    As to moral equilibrium, I think you overstate your case: the Magisterium has never said that anyone guilty of murder must be put to death for justice’s sake. More broadly, the Catholic doctrine of justice has never said that punishment ought to be of the same nature as the offense, and no society with Christian roots that I’m aware of thought of or practiced such a notion of justice (we don’t steal from thieves).

  • I cover the Catholic support for the death penalty above, as well as a review of Gerald’s Hurst’s interview.

    It is arguable that Pope John Paul II made numerous errors in EV and that such were just transferred into the Cathechism.

  • The Church’s solid and perennial teaching has been that the death penalty is in accord with natural and Divine justice, and that states have a right and even a duty to use this penalty.

    No one said that every murder has to be punished with death, only that the state acts justly and well, and not deficiently, when it executes someone convicted of murder. With all due respect, classical notions of justice, embraced by the Church for two millenia, ratify the principle that the moral harm done by murder is generally only fully repaired by what moralists call the “congruent satisfaction” of capital punishment.

    Abolitionism or squeamishness about this penalty does not respect life but in fact cheapens it by lessening the punishment that most closely fits the offense. If you want the long list of citations from Scripture, from the Church Fathers, from the Schoolmen, from the Popes, I can do that for you, but I suspect a smart guy like you probably knows that the Church has always not just tolerated, but blessed the practice of capital punishment.

    As to supermaxes, anyone familiar with these places can tell you that escapes occur, inmates murder or seriously injure each other and the guards; parole rules and executive pardons can result in the release of these offenders years after they are “safely locked away.”

    In any event, it clearly rests with the informed judgment of the civil authorities as to whether an offender is a threat to kill or harm again. In those cases, executions do not contravene even the Catechism’s ambiguous teaching.

  • Tom, I agree with your first ‘graph wholeheartedly.

    I think I need some clarity regarding your views on the appropriate punishment for murder. Previously you stated that “the ‘moral equilibrium’ upset by the crime of murder cannot be righted by any penalty short of death” mean that the death penalty is *required* for murder? I doubt that’s what you meant, which is why I opined that you overstated your case.

    But you seem to both deny & affirm that that’s your meaning in your latest comment when you write, “No one said that every murder has to be punished with death” but then proceed later to add, “the moral harm done by murder is generally only fully repaired by what moralists call the “congruent satisfaction” of capital punishment.” Can you clarify for me? Do you simply mean that *most* murders are appropriately punished by death, but not all? Or something else?

    Regarding supermaxes, I’m not familiar with an successful escapes… I’m guessing that you are, though. Link or reference?

  • When determining the efficacy of prisons rendering offenders harmless, one must take into account (i) the ability of offenders to commit murders while in prison, either by directly murdering guards or fellow “guests” or indirectly doing such or murdering those outside the prison via order. While I generally oppose the death penalty, there may be instances that may still be warranted to protect others.

  • The Catechism provides little time for justice, which must dominate the utilitarian aspect of protection.

    “While punishment does serve the purpose of protecting society, it also and primarily serves the function of manifesting the transcendent, divine order of justice–an order which the state executes by divine delegation.” ” . . . it may be argued that such a conception of punishment, rooted in the restoration of moral balance, always presupposes an awareness of the superordinate dignity of the common good as defined by transcendent moral truths.” (5)

    “Yet the presence of two purposes–retributive and medicinal justice–ought not obscure the priority of assigning punishment proportionate to the crime (just retribution) insofar as the limited jurisdiction of human justice allows. The end is not punishment, but rather the manifestation of a divine norm of retributive justice, which entails proportionate equality vis-à-vis the crime.” “The medicinal goal is not tantamount merely to stopping future evildoing, but rather entails manifesting the truth of the divine order of justice both to the criminal and to society at large. This means that mere stopping of further disorder is insufficient to constitute the full medicinal character of justice, which purpose alike and primarily entails the manifestation of the truth. Thus this foundational sense of the medicinality of penalty is retained even when others drop away.” (6)

    5) “Evangelium Vitae, St. Thomas Aquinas and the Death Penalty”, p 519, Steven A. Long, The Thomist, 63 (1999): 511-552

    6) ibid, p 522