Happy Independence Day! (A Roundup)

Sunday, July 4, AD 2010

Happy Independence Day, folks! — Here is a roundup of some choice reads as we commemorate the birth of our nation:

Following are two books which I heartily recommend for some engaging historical reading of the American Revolution and our founding fathers.

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Elena Kagan Says It Is Fine If The Law Bans Books

Tuesday, June 29, AD 2010

SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan has argued before the Supreme Court that it’s fine if the Law bans books.

Her rationale?

Because the government won’t really enforce it.

I’m no legal scholar but this sounds like a 3rd grade argument.

Aren’t our nominees suppose to have better reasoning skills and a solid grasp of the U.S. Constitution?  As well as a fundamental understanding  of such concepts like Freedom of Speech?

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14 Responses to Elena Kagan Says It Is Fine If The Law Bans Books

  • Bibles banned in China – is that what is coming here?

  • So is Elena Kagan willing to support banning pornography magazines and books?

  • Like all the other “brilliant” liberals, Kagan the pagan is incapable of right reason.

  • Scratch the thin veneer of liberal bu!!$#it and you slam into totalitarianism.

    Peace, justice and human dignity: the slaves will enjoy free health care, free lunch, and free fornication!!!

  • But don’t you know that if you don’t want free health care, free lunch and free fornication you are part of the “let them eat cake” coalition?

  • And what’s with the new symbol thingies?

  • Phillip and all the non-gravatar readers,

    I got tired of looking at the random abstract icons, so I switched the default to MonsterID’s in the faint hope that some of you guys will sign up for free gravatar accounts/icons.

    😉

  • And what’s with the new symbol thingies?

    Yeah, Tito. How are we supposed to upload a real picture? I tried registering at WordPress, but it won’t accept any reasonable facsimile of my real name as a user name. Can we upload a pic without registering at WordPress?

  • I kinda like my monster thingie. 🙂

  • I also had the same problem as j. Used multiple variations of my name and said they were all used. Must be a govt. program.

  • Phillip et al.,

    Just so everyone knows, MonsterID links that icon permanently to the email address you provide.

    So if you get tired of it, you have motivation to go over to http://en.gravatar.com/ and sign up for a free account!

    🙂

  • To be fair I am rather doubtful that Kagen wantts to ban books. I am trying to recall the exact sequence of events here . I actually think what started this all this were the ealier comments of the Deputy Solicter that gave the SUp COurt Justices the heebee jeevees and thus Kagen here is trying somehow to recover.

    That being said the Supreme Court can make the most seasoned lawyers look like idiots and also (and this is the problem the GOP will have in her hearings) she is basically just working for the boss. So when these hypos come out that go to the most alarming degree well there is not exactly a easy answer.

  • jh

    Nail! Head!

    She’s going to rubber stamp Obama. She’s a nothing and will continue to do nothing except vote for whatever the boss wants.

    Phil, I’m paying for the free health and lunch. They’re on their own when it comes to fornicking. I’m of the “let them have the opportunity to pursue happiness” coalition.

    My grav seems appropriate!

Supreme Court Holds That the Second Amendment Applies to the States

Monday, June 28, AD 2010

In the case of McDonald v. the City of Chicago, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Second Amendment applies to the states.  Read the decision here.  The decision was 5-4 which is absolutely stunning since I think that there was no intellectually respectable argument to be made that the Second Amendment does not apply to the states.

The bill of rights applies to the States due to the Fourteenth Amendment.   In the opinions written by the majority justices, emphasis is given to the importance that the drafters of the Amendment placed upon the rights of freed slaves after the Civil War to keep and bear arms for their defense.  A good day for the Constitution at the Supreme Court.

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16 Responses to Supreme Court Holds That the Second Amendment Applies to the States

  • Apropos of our discussion a few weeks ago regarding Justice Scalia’s view that “tradition” should inform the Court’s “substantive due process” jurisprudence, note that this was key to the Court’s decision. (See also Justice Scalia’s concurrence, in which he masterfully dissects Justice Stevens’ dissent.)

    I think Justice Thomas’ privileges or immunities clause analyisis is the better argument from both an originalist and textualist standpoint. But, given that that ship has already sailed, and given the need to limit the Court’s “substantive due process” jurisprudence to those rights that actually have some grounding in the text of the Constitution and the history and tradition of our nation, I can’t say that I blame the majority for relying on the due process clause rather than privileges or immunities, and using this case as a vehicle for defining the limits of “substantive due process”.

  • One gets the feeling that, should a case that hinges upon the question “Does the Constitution require that there be a House and Senate?” make its way to the SCOTUS, the vote would come down five votes to four. Sadly, no one seems able to predict whether the five would be for or against.

    Those of you who think “we are a nation of laws” will find yourselves confounded by the caprice of five untouchables in black robes.

  • I agree. The vote should have been 9 – 0.

    One, “the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed.” Can the four dissenting read?

    Two, I bet “dollars to donuts” that the four dissenting (plus Kagan) will affirmatively vote (hallucinating) that the constitution gives a woman the RIGHT to have taxpayers pay a medico to exterminate her unborn babies.

  • Incorporation through the 14th has been piecemeal. The court had never adopted a blanket doctrine of incorporation. But I agree that if we’re going to incorporate at all, the 2nd amendment has to be included.

  • I’m with restrainedradical. The incorporation doctrine is hardly an obvious feature of our constitution, but there is no coherent basis for excluding the 2d amendment from its ambit once it has been applied to the other enumerated rights.

  • T. Shaw, I think the four dissenters are right in insisting that the clause you quote–“the right of the people to bear…”–is qualified, and rendered more precise in its intent, by the prior clause, establishing the need for militias. On an originalist reading of this text, the right to bear arms for, eg. the purposes of hunting or personal protection, simply does not exist.

  • WJ,

    That issue was decided and rejected in the Heller case. They had already lost on that. And don’t pretend that your argument is originalist. Calling it such doesn’t make it so.

  • wj:

    I think the four dissenters do not believe we the people should be free people. I doubt they believe in individual liberty.

    You may read the commentaries, minutes, and statements of the “state” conventions, and all the drafters/founders. At no time was the right of US citizens to individually keep and bear arms questioned until around the time the federal government instituted the income tax (they needed to amend the Constitution) and Federal Reserve System.

    But, you’re right. Once the Obama regime packs the court. [I’m ‘chanelling’ Thomas Jefferson here] We’re likely to devolve into slaves to the state.

  • wj:
    Your is a common argument. The problem is that it does not withstand the scrutiny:

    http://www.guncite.com/journals/vanalful.html

    Van Alstyne is one of the leading con law scholars of our time. Although a liberal to the core, he is ruthlessly principled in his constitutional reasoning. for instance he is pro choice as a policy matter, but believes Roe was a terrible decision.

  • I’m aware of van alstyne and heller etc and disagree with the findings of both. You can disagree with heller precisely on originalist grounds; which is not to say you must–just that you can as a matter of interpretation. Both heller and van alstyne perform any number of impressive exegetical contortions to escape what to my mind is the clear intent of the sentence in question. But maybe you’re right that the four dissenters are motivated less by interpretive scruple and more by policy preference.

  • Fair enough, Wj. For what it is worth I have no great interest in gun regulation as a policy matter, and really don’t care if guns are outlawed. But I find Van Alstyne’s exegesis if the 2d Amendment air tight. Moreover, I have known Bill for almost 30 years; he is immune to exegetical contortion. I have no opinion on the motivations of the four dissenters. I just don’t think there exists a reasonable argument for sparing the 2d Amendment from the incorporation doctrine.

  • Way too much education wasted here on a rather simple issue. Where in the Constitution is any branch of the federal government given authority to disarm either the states or the people? The ninth amendment applies. The critical issue here, and the reason many oppposed incorporation of “the Bill”, is that the amendment did not create the right, though it is now treated as if it had; it only acknowledges the right. No one ever would have written the second amendment as it was written to make sure that states allowed their militia to keep arms at their homes (the point of mobilization). To say they would have is simply dishonest. So it comes down to this; you are either for, or against the Constitution. There are no nuances here that merit consideration.

  • I’ve heard estimates that 90,000,000 Americans own firearms.

    “The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.” Thomas Jefferson

    “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…such laws make things worse for the assaulted; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” Thomas Jefferson 1764

    “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” Thomas Jefferson proposed Virginia constitution 1776

    “The Constitution preserves ‘the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation…(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.'” The Federalist #46

    “…arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property…Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived the use of them.” Thomas Paine Thoughts on Defensive War 1775 – proof positive in all the states that infringe the Second Amendment.

    “The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” Samuel Adams 1788: During Massachusetts’ Constitution ratification convention.

    “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.” Patrick Henry: during Virginia’s ratification convention (1788)

    “Arms in the hands of individual citizens may be used at individual discretion…in private self-defense.” John Adams 1788

    “A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves…and include all men capable of bearing arms…To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people possess arms.” Richard Henry Lee Additional Letters From The Federal Farmer 53 (1788)

    “I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people…To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” George Mason: Virginia’s US Constitution ratification convention (1788)

    “To secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” US Constitution

    “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force; like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” George Washington, Farewell Address

  • That Washington quote has to be the best. Seems our Presidents went downhill from there.

  • Kevin, nobody reads the 9th Amendment as you do because it would be ridiculous to do so. The 9th was intended merely to clarify that the Bill of Rights shouldn’t be interpreted to prohibit all other rights. It doesn’t ensure any rights. It only ensures that absent a law prohibiting it, you have the right to do it.

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Sharia Law and the U.S. Constitution

Friday, June 25, AD 2010

[Update I:  I have streamlined the following post to be easily readable to the average layman, but informative enough for a lawyer or law professor to learn a bit more on the similarities and differences between Sharia and U.S. Law]

Is Sharia compatible with the U.S. Constitution?

The simple answer is of course “no”.

But lets take a look at some aspects of Sharia Law and where it may or may not conflict with the U.S. Constitution.  (For disclosure I am not a lawyer nor a legal expert in Sharia or U.S. Law.)

First, what is Sharia?

Wikipedia states Sharia refers to the sacred law of Islam.  All Muslims believe Sharia is God’s law, but they have differences between themselves as to exactly what it entails.  Which will be difficult to discern what to apply when, but we’ll labor along for the sake of discussion.

In Western countries, where Muslim immigration is more recent, Muslim minorities have introduced Sharia family law, for use in their own disputes. Attempts to impose Sharia have been accompanied by controversy, violence, and even warfare (Second Sudanese Civil War).

The recent incidents at the Arab International Festival have reinforced the poor image of Sharia inside the United States and its incompatibility with American culture and law.

The following is a truncated version with a couple of modifications (eliminating repetitious ibids and links) of multiple Wikipedia entries [with my comments]:

Legal and Court Proceedings:

Wikipedia states that Sharia judicial proceedings have significant differences with other legal traditions, including those in both common law and civil law.

1. Sharia courts do not generally employ lawyers; plaintiffs and defendants represent themselves.

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14 Responses to Sharia Law and the U.S. Constitution

  • “Is Sharia compatible with the U.S. Constitution?”

    “The simple answer is of course “no”.”

    I agree 100%.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this most informative article on the differences between Sharia law and the Constitution or/and Civil Law within the U.S.

    Freedom which is one of America’s core principles is not compatible with Sharia Law.

  • This is “one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

    The motto is “e pluribus unum” not “e pluribus pluribus.”

    There is no liberty or justice under sharia, nor is there either under the yoke of Muhammedanism: the summation of evil and all heresies.

    The filthy pagans cannot charge or pay interest; so they have a sort of subterfuge that makes the loan/interest like a lease or installmant sale plan at a profit (not interest) over tte monthly to the seller. I had to try to twist that mare’s nest to fit US accounting and taxes. It was frustrating dealing with the morons.

  • Religion is never to be instituted in government. Not just Islam.

  • Juri,

    The U.S. Constitution is loaded with Christian idioms and language.

    Are you exhibiting some form of Christophobia?

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  • The article ‘Sharia Law and the U.S. Constitution’ misses three (3) very important points for Catholics:

    1. Islam is misclassified as a religion for a reason – Islam is a governmental system of ‘conquest and control’ that is both ‘expansionist and intolerant’.

    2. There is nothing missing in the Laws of the United States of America that needs to be fixed by so-called Sharia Law.

    3. The U.S. Constitution is a divinely-inspired work that speaks of a Republic (i.e. no monarchy) with God-given (i.e. no church) inalienable rights of the individual.

    In point one, Catholics should know the difference between a religion and a cult: A true religion revolves around a spiritual ‘deity’ (i.e. a one and only God); whereas a cult revolves around a human being or multiple pagan gods. To understand this better, one needs only compare the life and teachings of Jesus to the life and teachings of the founders (i.e. human beings) of other cults or religions. The Crusades were a reaction to Islamic aggression and expansion into the Holy Land.

    To point two, Catholics will be the first to remind others that in America, it is religion that is protected from government and not the other way around. It is ‘freedom of religion’ and not ‘freedom from religion’ that we are privileged to enjoy here. In Saudi Arabia, no Christian churches are allowed. All over the world, intolerance towards Christians often results in mass murder and destruction of churches. Christianity is the only true religion of peace.

    As for point three, Catholics need to take a stand between ‘one world governance’ (i.e. economic, religious and military globalism) and ‘American Sovereignty’. (i.e. as guaranteed to them in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.) Catholics also need to be aware of the difference between a collective and mandated ‘social justice’, administered by a socialist government and the spiritually-correct ‘morality and generosity’ exemplified by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Last but not least, Catholics really need to educate themselves about the reason why the Constitution requires Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the United States to be ‘Natural Born Citizens’. (i.e born in the U.S. to parents that are both citizens, etc.) The reason for this is to avoid ‘divided loyalty’. John F. Kennedy, the first and only Catholic President was quite eloquent and clear about his loyalty to the people of the U.S. vs. the Pope. The current president has demonstrated his loyalties are divided between International Globalist Banking and Expansionist Global Islam. Somehow, he seems to have left the American people out of the equation.

    We need to pray for America as we’ve never prayed for her before. And may God bless and protect our Holy Catholic Church.

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  • This is a great short summary, thanks! These are details that most people don’t know.

    Numbers 7 & 8 could be greatly expounded upon. What I’ve heard/read somewhere is that the reason why many women never report rape is that if they cannot prove they were raped and yet in the course of the trial they “admit” to having sex they may be stoned for adultery under Sharia law.

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Sharia in Dearborn?

Thursday, June 24, AD 2010

Apparently the police acting to unconstitutionally arrest individuals attempting to hand out proselytizing literature to Muslims in Dearborn is not unusual according to this release from the Thomas More Law Center:

In what some have described as police enforcement of Sharia law at the annual Dearborn Arab International Festival, last Friday night Dearborn Police Officers arrested four Christian missionaries and illegally confiscated their video cameras which were recording the events surrounding their arrests.  The Thomas More Law Center, a public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, today announced it is representing all of the Christian missionaries.

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28 Responses to Sharia in Dearborn?

  • “Will we see more of this type of official misbehavior wherever Muslim immigrants become the majority…”

    Yes.

  • I don’t know. This sounds more like an attempt by the police to keep the peace.

    I’ve been at pro-life rallies where police have arrested pro-abortion activists who were handing out literature. It’s the same principle, make sure a heated situation doesn’t escalate.

    Given that the missionaries were targeting a large gathering of Muslims, this sounds like it was intended to provoke a reaction. I think it would have been different if they had been handing out literature during a normal day.

    I’m sympathetic to the message of the missionaries, but I don’t think the method is effective.

  • “I don’t know. This sounds more like an attempt by the police to keep the peace.

    I’ve been at pro-life rallies where police have arrested pro-abortion activists who were handing out literature. It’s the same principle, make sure a heated situation doesn’t escalate.”

    Such an action is unconstitutional. You can’t arrest people constitutionally for fear of violence from the targeted audience. That is called a “heckler’s veto” and has been condemned by the Supreme Court many times.

    http://www.rbs2.com/heckler.htm

    This is not a murky area of the law. The Dearborn police knew that legally they could not arrest the missionaries but they did it anyway.

  • Such an action is unconstitutional.

    To be more clear, police in the case I described above did not make any arrests until the pro-abortion people had been warned several times to move across the street.

  • JohnH; I don’t think that affects the question of the constitutionality of the request. Why have the police the right to issue such directives if no laws are being broken? If they do so in order to “keep the peace,” and in doing that they attempt a “heckler’s veto,” then they are acting unconstitutionally.

    Not that our country is very big on members of the state or federal executive branches adhering to the constitution…

    My sense is that these sorts of arrests happen all the time, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these evangelists entered the festival precisely because they knew it would cause conflict. What is being sought here? A true evangelization or an opportunity to score points in the culture wars?

  • WJ

    I know examples of evangelicals doing this at Catholic events, being thrown out (and if they won’t go), being arrested. So you are correct — this kind of thing happens all the time, and yes, the evangelicals are looking for conflict.

  • An example where this happened, and where Protestants have played the martyr card for similar activities against Catholics, look no further than here:

    http://formercatholicsforchrist.com/mrssexton/index.html

    On Monday, Sept.2, a woman walked up to the booth and took some of our tracts. She proceeded to walk into out booth, throw the tracts on the ground and stood on them, blocking the posters. We asked her to stand outside the booth, as we had spent $250 for the booth. I even advised her to purchase a booth next year and call it “Former Catholics For Christ is a hate group” and to use all the information she had gathered in our booth. She refused to leave, stating that she had permission from the Stark County Fair Board to picket us. My sister went to the fair board office to find out if this was true. She had lied. They called security, but to our surprise, the security refused to ask her to leave the booth. They said she was exercising her free speech. Diane explained that the booth was not “free” and that we had purchased the space. We again asked that she be removed to the outside of our booth. The security guards refused. My husband asked, “Is it okay if I take our Jesus is the Only Way poster and stand in the Catholic booth down the isle.” The security guard threatened my husband with jail if he spoke again. Finally an officer in full uniform showed up. He argued with the lady for about 10 minutes until the Stark County board showed up and made her leave. She returned to the sheriff’s booth where she worked (“volunteered”). Many of the booths that witnessed the events came up and offered their support.

  • “My sense is that these sorts of arrests happen all the time, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these evangelists entered the festival precisely because they knew it would cause conflict. What is being sought here? A true evangelization or an opportunity to score points in the culture wars?”

    Considering the fact that three of the four missionaries are converts to Christianity from Islam, I rather suspect an opportunity for true evanagelization. In any case, the important point for me is that cops have no right to arrest individuals who are simply exercising their right of freedom of speech peacefully on public property.

  • By asking the Christian evangelists to move across the street, the intent of the police may not have been so much to deprive them of their right to distribute literature as to exercise a reasonable time, place and manner restriction on their right to assemble. Not sure if this is kosher though if the distribution violated no ordinances, etc. But probably very understandable. I suspect the charges will be related to refusing to comply with police instructions rather than distributing anything, and further suspect they’ll be dropped.

  • I suspect the charges will be related to refusing to comply with police instructions rather than distributing anything, and further suspect they’ll be dropped.

    Ditto.

  • Henry K.,

    Remember this is an Arab International Festival, not a Muslim International Festival.

    Your straw man holds no water.

  • Tito:

    And the festival in Ohio was a public one… not a Catholic one…

  • Tito,

    if it is an Arab festival than perhaps the title of the post, which refernces sharia, should be edited

  • Nope. One of the key elements of Sharia is that proselytizing Muslims is not to be tolerated. The Dearborn police department seem to agree with that.

  • The Dearborn Chief of Police is a Muslim.

  • It is funny how my comment was deleted. But I will try one more time:

    the situation with the booth and the anti-catholic was at a city festival, not a Catholic one…

    [found the comment and restored it]

  • I don’t know what happened to your previous comment Karlson. This is my thread and I’ve approved each comment you’ve made.

  • Well, someone deleted it, perhaps before you saw it, Donald.

  • “Not sure if this is kosher”

    Actually, if we’re talking about Muslims the proper term would be “halal” — the dietary rules of Islam, which actually are similar to those of the Jewish faith in some respects (e.g. banning pork, requiring specific methods of slaughter).

    The event in question bills itself as an Arab International Festival. Now, haven’t some of us been making the point, in posts regarding Israel and the Palestinians, that NOT all Arabs are Muslims? Surely there are Christian Arabs (most likely Maronites or members of other Eastern Rite Churches) in Dearborn as well as Muslims. Do they participate in this festival? It would be nice to get their take on the situation.

    I

  • Yes Elaine, Dearborn has very large Arab population and they are Muslim, Christian, and some rather secular. I’m not familiar with this festival but I’m quite sure it’s open to the general public and people of all faiths and ancestry attend. Dearborn has a very large and popular festival in the summer that many people from all over the region attend. I wouldn’t be surprised if these folks intend on distributing their literature then too. My guess is that if they do they will be sent away or locked up again.

  • It really doesn’t matter if the missionaries are ineffective or a little obnoxious, that’s not the point. The point is that this is America and people are allowed to hand pamphlets to you and say things to you about their beliefs. I’m always polite to the Baptists, Mormons, JWs and anti-corporate union petitioners when they come to my door. I don’t always take their stuff, but I don’t summon the police either. The union people usually need a shower unlike the Mormons, but hey, it takes all kinds.

    When I lived in Pittsburgh there were street preachers downtown and in Oakland. They were totally obnoxious, IMHO, but they were allowed to do their thing due to freedom of speech–they weren’t arrested. We have the freedom to make asses of ourselves. One guy was an ex-Catholic and he tried to engage me in conversation. He was itching for an argument, and I didn’t give him the satisfaction. But I didn’t get offended by him either. I’m just thankful that I don’t need the require the kind of meds that he should have been on. Even so, these people weren’t hurting anybody and more than the pigeons.

    These Muslims need to get used to America. It might be more to our advantage to pass out copies of the founding documents. Obviously it would be nice if they converted to Christianity, but most are too stubborn and brainwashed, not to mention scared, to even think about it.

  • These Muslims need to get used to America. It might be more to our advantage to pass out copies of the founding documents.

    The chief of police in Dearborn is behaving in a manner congruent with the default settings of the educational apparat in this country, which in turn is simpatico with the political class in Canada, Sweden, and the Netherlands, among other loci.

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  • JohnH says:
    Thursday, June 24, 2010 A.D. at 1:26 pm
    I don’t know. This sounds more like an attempt by the police to keep the peace.

    I’ve been at pro-life rallies where police have arrested pro-abortion activists who were handing out literature. It’s the same principle, make sure a heated situation doesn’t escalate.

    Given that the missionaries were targeting a large gathering of Muslims, this sounds like it was intended to provoke a reaction. I think it would have been different if they had been handing out literature during a normal day.

    I’m sympathetic to the message of the missionaries, but I don’t think the method is effective.
    =====
    Um, there’s a freedom of religion, but NO freedoms for abortion within ANY aspects of the Constitution, the Declaration, nor the Bill of Rights. So, for police to arrest someone for passing out PRO-abortion literature is perfectly within the province of law enforcement. Whereas, police have NO rights with respect to what someone does regarding religion and the free exercise thereof. PLEASE READ YOUR FOUNDING DOCUMENTS: Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence before commenting on what you “think” is okay or not. Opinions are NOT valid in a court of popular opinion nor courts of law!

  • It appears to me that the police were very patient, my father raised me to obey the law and if the police asked me to leave the area then i better leave the area. If you hang around and argue you should expect to be arrested. Also the they stated they were across the street, apears to me they were right next to a ride at the event. Bottom line is they went their to get a rise out of the event and they got what they deserved.

  • The missionaries were aqcuitted back in September of the bogus breach of the peace charges:

    http://www.examiner.com/independent-in-detroit/four-christian-missionaries-acquited-of-inciting-dearborn-michigan-muslims

One Percent/End the Fed (Nader-Paul, Paul-Nader American Presidency!)

Sunday, May 16, AD 2010
I just watched the documentary “One Percent” with my wife and I have been reading Ron Paul’s book – End the Fed. Very interesting points of contact and dissonance between the two viewpoints.
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  • The little guy is getting shafted by the World Bank?

    Today’s little guy will usually be the least prepared to weather economic changes. Tomorrow’s little guy has the most to gain but he doesn’t know it yet. Thus, the appeal of protectionism. It’s better to aid the adversely affected than to shield them.

    Lots of little guys depend on big banks and multinationals.

    Both Nader and Paul are experts at proposing the wrong solutions to the right problems. I was swept up in the Ron Paul Revolution in 2008 but I’ve recovered. My biggest issue with him is that, to my knowledge, he’s never articulated how he expects to pay for anything.

  • So the very wealthy investor class member has found a way to get government to print up money to cover the biggest of losses, and enough extra money is spread around giving people some unemployment bail out monies, dubious temporary stimulus paychecks, and other little social service type funds- so that no one wants to completely overturn the current establishment.

    For the record, the folks receiving ‘bailouts’ thus far are as follows:

    1. The Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.

    2. Citigroup and the Bank of America.

    3. Chrysler and General Motors

    4. The American International Group.

    5. Miscellaneous finance and insurance companies who received access to the soft loan windows opened by the Treasury department and the Federal Reserve.

    The last were ancillary beneficiaries. The shareholders of the American International Group saw their stake in the company diluted to the tune of 80%. It was the creditors of AIG who were bailed out. That would be institutions like Citigroup who bought credit default swaps from Mr. Cassano’s outfit, and miscellaneous others.

    The shareholders of Citigroup saw the value of their holdings fall by more than 90%, and those of Bank of America more than 60%. Who got paid in full were the owners of bank bonds. Bank bonds are owned by insurance companies and pension funds, whose clientele may be affluent as a rule, but far from ‘very wealthy’.

    The shareholders and owners of mortgage backed securities issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac likely are an affluent crew, maybe even ‘very wealthy’. Commercial banks held about a quarter of the outstanding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt, and commercial banks have depositors. Sovereign wealth funds held another large bloc, so defaulting would likely create a political problem with the Far East. Please recall that these are leftover New Deal programs and that efforts by the Bush Administration to reform their accounting practices and increase their capital cushions were sabotaged by Barney Frank, whose boy toy was a Fannie Mae official. Frank ‘cares’ about housing, dont’cha know.

    The Chrysler and General Motors deals were a gift bestowed upon the United Auto Workers, whose clientele are certainly better off than the average American, but not ‘very wealthy’.

    The folks who were bailed out were those whose defaults might generate systemic problems and those who had connections. The latter are not the generically wealthy, ‘very’ or not.

    They are both very good at identifying the wastefulness of most of the wars that now seem to be perpetual,

    Identify for me a bloc of years prior to 1940 when there was not armed conflict in progress somewhere on the globe.

    If you are speaking about the United States in particular, we have not been subject to a general mobilization since 1945. In the intervening 64 years, we were at war for 3 years in Korea, 8 years in Indo-China, < 1 year over Kuwait, and 8 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. That would be about a third of the time, which falls short of 'perpetual'. The wars in Korea, Kuwait, and Afghanistan were initiatives of the other party without qualification and none of our opponents in any of these wars were of the character of the Hapsburg or Hohenzollern empires.

    and they both see that the little guys in this country and around the world are basically getting shafted by the global econom

    Yeah, they are being shafted by reductions in excise taxes on imports.

  • I certainly agree with both men in the video. Both parties are owned by the same people behind the scenes. It is easy for us to fall in lockstep with that idea because we hear that American Electorate process is so civil and gives the people real choices.

    The more I learn what it means to be Catholic, the more I reject our broken political process. I really can’t believe my choices last year were John McCain and Obama just like people were forced to choose between Bush and Gore. Believe what you will, but they are all the same people. They are basically owned.

Supremes: Mojave Desert Cross Can Stay

Wednesday, April 28, AD 2010

In a tribute to common sense, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a Cross raised in 1934 as a tribute to U.S. soldiers who died in World War I may stay at the Mojave National Preserve.  The depressing part of this news was that the vote was 5-4.  Stevens, who is retiring, voted with the four justices who viewed the Cross as a threat to our constitutional order.

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2 Responses to Supremes: Mojave Desert Cross Can Stay

  • 4 voted that it was a threat to our constitutional order? I don’t feel threatened? I drove past a (huge) Mosque in Ohio (near Maume) and felt uncomfortable but not threatened. I drove past countless synagoges in New York – never felt threatened. There is family in my town in Michigan that has a Budda in their yard with the flags – I think it looks neat and you know what – I am not threatened…

    I pray the people making decisions are God Inspired not fear inspired. I pray the understand the people they represent without hold some kind predeermend intelectual superiority… God bless tham and our GREAT country…

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Global Warming Freezing Temperatures Hit the Globe

Tuesday, January 12, AD 2010

As freezing temperatures continue to grip the nation and the world I thought this political cartoon apropos to the many climate change proponents that continue to peddle this pseudoscience.

Which is why I am promoting the possibility of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution for the Separation of Science and State.  The new law would make it possible to separate the radical environmentalists and their socialist allies from imposing their false faith in scientism upon Americans.

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33 Responses to Global Warming Freezing Temperatures Hit the Globe

  • While the U.S. has been unusually cold of late, this hasn’t been true of most of the world.

  • BA,

    Could catch.

    Generally speaking.

    😉

  • The over-politicization of the issue of climate change has generated massive-marketing of misinformation and false presumptions, across the political spectrum, about the reality of climate change. This, I think, is a glaring example of it.

    The theory of global warming concerns the increase of the average temperature of the planet, particularly since the latter part of the nineteenth century. Even the most irreputable sources on the subject, e.g. Wikipedia, even points out this very point in its first line on the subject (“Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of Earth’s near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation“).

    This is a very basic and fundamental fact in regard to climate change. What are the implications of such fact? The reality of global warming does not claim that we should never see temperatures fall beyond normal trends, even to the point of seeing record temperatures in terms of coldness. Temperatures can, and do in fact, rise in certain areas and fall in others. The rise in global temperature, as the theory asserts it, is not evenly dispersed throughout the planet in every geographic location.

    Those who are convinced of the reality of climate change — which includes our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, by the way, as well as his Venerable predecessor — believe that the average rise of global temperatures in certain places creates ecological, and therefore, profound dilemmas, and even crises, for socio-economic justice particularly for third world nations — the affects of climate change, arguably, effect these people because of their geographical location. An increase in global temperature which arguably causes the rise of sea levels will affect the amount and pattern of precipitation, affecting agricultural yields which still is the source of economic vitality for many poor nations. Other effects include increases in the intensity of extreme weather. I need not go into more detail because the direct point is not to argue for the theory, but to make a criticism toward the pseudoscience claim.

    The bottom line is that pointing out abnormally cold temperatures in one specific geographical region hardly amounts to “throwing a wrench” into the theory — which in its very definition speaks of the average global temperature. The foundations of the theory of global warming is not shaken by such a critcism. It may be, and is, argued against on other grounds and whether those criticisms hold any water is not the point here. But this very criticism here, if anything, unveils ignorance of a very basic premise of global warming which it seeks to discredit.

    It must be said that no reasonable mind can conclude that everyone who believes in climate change are alarmist ideologues — not that anyone ever asserted such a thing.

    But here is a thought for the skeptics: when Galileo wanted to propose the heliocentric model of Copernicus to replace the geocentric model which had been the status quo consensus for quite some time, he had to propose a new theory and account for all the data and phenomenon that was thought to be explained best by the previous working hypothesis and demonstrate that the case for the new hypotehesis was indeed stronger–that is how science works.

    If you don’t believe in, say, evolution, then it follows that one should propose an alternative theory that readily explains the natural phenomenon just as evolutionary theory claims to do and this new theory should account for any failures or lackings in the theory its seeking to replace. It should, in other words, be a better theory. Again, this is how science works.

    Simply put, everyone who believes in climate change is not some liberal alarmist population control freak. I can speak for myself and I surely am not; neither is the Holy Father. If global warming is pseudoscience and nothing more than a conspiracy, I would imagine you would win more converts if you found, say, a counter-theory and argued for it — a theory that explains, despite the fact that global warming is a farce, why the polar ice caps have not gotten the memo. I have never seen whole bodies of glaciers melt because of consistently cold weather. Why are penguin populations dying? Why are sea levels rising? The climate change debate — and the politicization of it — can go back and forth forever. But if you can succeed in undermining the theory at its edifice by proposing a viable scientific alternative, then you might may just have a case. It certainly would be a better one than casting doubt because scientists wrongly dressed up data that, perhaps, didn’t give off the alarmist impression some research donors or other interest groups might have desired — no intelligent mind would conclude that an independent phenomenon’s reality is contingent on human thought about the truth of that reality, even if there was a scandal that involved people who believe in that very reality.

    But maybe this is really a case as to why we should not politicize science.

    That’s my two cents.

  • Eric,

    I’ve not seen anyone explain why the skeptic’s basic argument is wrong. The argument is that whatever warming we are seeing is the Earth’s recovery from the mini ice age, that the RATE of warming has remained consistent over a period of several hundred years, including a few centuries during which humanity’s use of hydrocarbons was nil or very low, that temperature does not correlate perfectly with carbon dioxide levels but does correlate with solar activity, that human civilization has weathered warmer periods than any that are projected for the 21st century (and that could not have possibly been caused by human activity), that Co2 is not harmful and actually has positive benefits, and there is more, but that should suffice for now.

    It is claimed, and I have seen many fancy charts attesting to, that there was a Medieval Warm Period. There are apparently many scientists who accept it, and it was evidently a fact that one of the leading global warmists tried to deny with his “hockey stick graph.”

    I really, honestly, humbly, sincerely would like to understand why these claims are either wrong or lies. Saying that skeptics are paid by big oil is also a non-answer. I don’t know if what I presented here constitutes in your mind a “viable scientific alternative”, but until I see a satisfactory rebuke of these claims, I will remain skeptical, especially in light of the documented anti-life, anti-family, agenda of the secular environmental movement headquartered at the United Nations (an agenda which is acknowledged and rejected by Pope Benedict, I might add – his recognition of warming trends in no way implies a political support for the UN agenda).

    I support less consumerism and materialism as a matter of spiritual health – I certainly don’t need to be frightened with apocalyptic scenarios in order to take seriously the Church’s already consistent moral argument against these things.

    Right now we have international institutions – the UN and the Chinese government – publicly declaring, openly declaring, that population reduction via the one child policy of forced abortion, sterilization, kidnapping and withholding of benefits to the poor has proven an effective means of reducing humanity’s “carbon footprint.” The clear choice is being establish for us by these institutions; begin taking drastic measures to address “overpopulation” or face the consequences of global warming.

    In the face of such inhuman madness, and with the possibility that the challenge of the skeptics might bear fruit if they are given a chance to more fully develop their critique before an international audience, I say we must err on the side of respect for human life, we must err on the side of skepticism for now – while continuing to take seriously the Church’s already powerful argument against excessive consumerism, which has no need of a global warming theory.

  • Eric,

    The science is questionable.

    Then there is the hurdle that this is man-made.

  • “I’ve not seen anyone explain why the skeptic’s basic argument is wrong. The argument is that whatever warming we are seeing is the Earth’s recovery from the mini ice age, that the RATE of warming has remained consistent over a period of several hundred years, including a few centuries during which humanity’s use of hydrocarbons was nil or very low, that temperature does not correlate perfectly with carbon dioxide levels but does correlate with solar activity, that human civilization has weathered warmer periods than any that are projected for the 21st century (and that could not have possibly been caused by human activity), that Co2 is not harmful and actually has positive benefits, and there is more, but that should suffice for now.”

    The theory of global warming posits that the average temperature of the earth is increasing and that the uneven affects of this has, regardless of its cause, negative consequences in certain regards for certain populations. There is in fact legitimate disagreement about whether or not global warming is solely a naturally occuring phenonmenon, a human-induced phenomenon, or some combination of both of these with varying emphasis on human effects. In other words, not everyone who believes in global warming has in fact a universal, identical belief about its causes. It is entirely parallel with the wide acceptance of evolution with a great number of disagreements over the details.

    Moreover, the argument you just posited — that of the skeptics — acknowledges that there is some sort of warming that is the result of a mini ice age. Therefore, there is warming, it is naturally occuring, and there is nothing to be concerned about insofar as human activity. There is an entire camp of global warming proponents who think this very thing and are critical of the analysis of others who accept climate change.

    This counter-argument may even well be true because it acknowledges global warming as a natural status quo which accounts for all the natural phenomenon we see — the criticism is, as it usually is, the extent of human activity influencing global warming if it does at all. That argument does not even deny global warming, in the sense, that there has been an increase in the average global temperature — it is simply a different reading of the same data, with the conclusion that the temperature rise is apart of a greater naturally occuring and repetitive cycle that has nothing to do with human activity and should not be met with great alarm. That is the position of one of my environmental professors when I was a student who completely accepted the reality of global warming as obvious but disagreed with other conclusions he thought to be unfounded.

    “I really, honestly, humbly, sincerely would like to understand why these claims are either wrong or lies. Saying that skeptics are paid by big oil is also a non-answer. I don’t know if what I presented here constitutes in your mind a “viable scientific alternative”, but until I see a satisfactory rebuke of these claims, I will remain skeptical, especially in light of the documented anti-life, anti-family, agenda of the secular environmental movement headquartered at the United Nations (an agenda which is acknowledged and rejected by Pope Benedict, I might add – his recognition of warming trends in no way implies a political support for the UN agenda).”

    I never made a claim about the skeptics having partisan interests. No, I don’t find what you presented as a “viable scientific alternative” because I don’t see how it denies global warming; in fact, the contrary is true. Moreover if you must remain a skeptic, than do so. However I think it is a basic fallacy of logic to say that X makes argument Y, but since X uses Y to promote immoral means, Y must not be true. Moreover, the advocates of a theory cannot be reduced to what some in the movement are saying. I (obviously) believe in the theory of global warming, as do Pope Benedict XVI and countless other pro-life, pro-family, pro-religion people who somehow see no point of contradiction in our belief. The issues at have at their source false philosophical presumptions not climate change — it is merely being wrongly used as an agent, a Trojan horse to promote a moral evil. Climate change itself is not the thing to be opposed in my view.

    “In the face of such inhuman madness, and with the possibility that the challenge of the skeptics might bear fruit if they are given a chance to more fully develop their critique before an international audience, I say we must err on the side of respect for human life, we must err on the side of skepticism for now – while continuing to take seriously the Church’s already powerful argument against excessive consumerism, which has no need of a global warming theory.”

    I obviously will disagree because our disagreement is fundamental. I’m not going to–not that I have to–discontinue believing something I believe to be objectively true because other people who acknowledge the same reality in the context of their false philosophical and metaphisical worldviews interpret that reality in a such a way that they use it to promote a false evil. This happens with just about every movement you can think of.

    And you’re right, the Church makes a case against consumerism rather well. But I doubt the Church believes it “needs” global warming to make that case. Rather by the judgment of the Holy Father and many scientific experts in the Vatican, it does seem to be the case — an objective reality of which they cannot deny because its inconvenient in other respects. All we can do is Catholics is apply ethical norms to whatever circumstances may arise — indeed, I think God asks no more of us than this.

  • Tito,

    Not every proponent of global warming actually believes that it is man-made. I have read entire scientific articles where the scientist in question is convinced of the reality of global warming and at the same time believes that human activity has nothing to do with it.

    There is not a “one-size-fits-all” view on global warming.

  • The theory of global warming posits that the average temperature of the earth is increasing and that the uneven affects of this has, regardless of its cause, negative consequences in certain regards for certain populations

    This is certainly true. At the same time, an increase in the average temperature of the earth also has positive consequences in certain regards for certain populations, regardless of its cause. Whether the negative consequences outweigh the positive consequences for a given amount of warming is not, I think, something we have a good grasp on, particularly given that the field has become so politicized. The views of climatologists prior to the politicization of the field is probably best summed up in the fact that what we call the Medieval Warm Period used to be called the Medieval Climate Optimum.

  • Eric,

    “There is in fact legitimate disagreement about whether or not global warming is solely a naturally occuring phenonmenon, a human-induced phenomenon, or some combination of both of these with varying emphasis on human effects.”

    The atmosphere of urgency – and in some cases, hysteria – surrounding the Copenhagen meeting, the orchestrated propaganda (such as using school children to beg Obama to save the world for the polar bears – a despicable, Goebbels-like tactic), the magnitude of the changes that the environmentalists wish to impose upon the governments and economies of the world, and the fact that population levels are now linked to carbon levels, all suggest to me that the substantial majority of this movement believes that humanity’s actions play a large enough role in GW to warrant drastic, immediate action.

    It is one thing, and I support it, to prepare for a rise in sea levels due to naturally occurring global warming. Such is our duty to the vulnerable and poor peoples of the world.

    But if there is, as you say, legitimate disagreement as to the role that human activity plays in this phenomenon, then Copenhagen (and next, I believe, Mexico City), which aimed at significantly altering the global economic and political systems, is at best an irresponsible, hasty response – at worst it is a thinly-concealed power grab. This is logically undeniable.

    ” No, I don’t find what you presented as a “viable scientific alternative” because I don’t see how it denies global warming; in fact, the contrary is true.”

    Eric, it ought to be clear that the skepticism is with regards to the role that humans play in global warming. Many of the skeptics – as ought to be self-evident from the claims they make – do not deny warming trends. What they are skeptical of is the contribution of humans, and what such a contribution would logically imply on the economic, political, and social fronts.

    If it wasn’t clear before, I hope it is now.

    “However I think it is a basic fallacy of logic to say that X makes argument Y, but since X uses Y to promote immoral means, Y must not be true.”

    That is not my argument, Eric. Because I don’t think you are deliberately trying to misrepresent me, allow me to restate what I said before: “until I see a satisfactory rebuke of these claims.” Meaning, I am not declaring that the immorality of the secular environmentalists renders the theory of AGW false; I am arguing that in light of both their clearly stated motives AND the possibility that they may simply be wrong on the science, gives us a legitimate reason to remain skeptical of their entire political agenda.

    The rest of your post still rests on the incorrect assumption that I am speaking of global warming as such.

    My apologies for not having made it crystal clear, 100% clear in the original post – I am talking about skepticism of man-made global warming, of a human contribution to warming trends that is so great that it warrants the sort of drastic, sweeping changes demanded by radical environmentalists, the UN, the Obama administration and other institutions.

    In this case I would say you are mistaken if you believe that you have incontrovertible proof that human contribution to global warming is as great as the alarmists make it out to be, alarmists who are not on the fringe but who are the driving force of the entire international push to “fight climate change.”

  • And let me make another thing clear – if the skeptics are right about man’s contribution to global warming, that it is not significant or is nil, then the wind will be taken out of the sails of a mounting anti-life agenda. That is why it is important to subject these claims to the closest scrutiny.

    Of course, if the skeptics are wrong, and the human impact is great – so great that it does warrant drastic political action on pain of major worldwide catastrophes that could potentially cause millions of deaths – then it is hard to argue against the logic of population control. We would be obliged to do it, to resist it at every turn, but in that case the wind would be in our faces and we would be bailing water.

    In the interests of making things easier and not more difficult for ourselves, let us remain skeptical. To remain skeptical is no offense to the truth because the skeptics have raised points that I, albeit as a layman, find quite logical. The facts they present, I am in no position to judge, so I can only judge the reasonableness of their claim until someone can say, “these are not the facts.”

  • Joe — I don’t think I actually ever stated whether or not I believe human activity has any affect on warming trends. Even if there is such a thing, I don’t think the lunacy of the alarmists, which is independent in its reality would have any logical bearing over whether human contributions are real or not.

    In fact, I tend to think that global warming is by and large a natural phenomenon — though I am convinced that human activity is minimally a factor, or at least, I’m open to that possibility.

  • Eric,

    I don’t think you did either. So I should apologize for arguing against AGW as if you did argue for it.

    But I do want to get the argument out there. So again, my apologies.

  • Sometimes we endure hard times, my friend.

    Moreover, I want to add — sometimes when we are debating “global warming,” which I look at solely as a scientific subject, there is a lot of reference to political activity by a group of people who believe in global warming which I see entirely as another subject.

    Much of our disagreement is over the emphasis of association.

  • Eric,

    It isn’t another subject if the science is being guided by the politics – which in the light of scandals such as climategate, to me, is a real possibility. Then we do have to question the human motives at play.

    Yes indeed, science in an ideal world should be kept separate. But when scientists are complaining that their critics might use the Freedom of Information Act to access their data, they aren’t talking about science in that case, but something political, something non-scientific at any rate. And when what I think are credible claims are made that the original IPCC reports on climate change were modified by non-scientific, essentially political bodies, then again politics becomes an issue.

    We do not live in a world of “pure science”, but a fallen world in which scientists themselves are not exempt from human problems. The skeptics claim that the Medieval Warm period, or “optimum” as BA said it was once called, was simply removed from history in order to create the now-discredited “hockey stick chart.” So it appears there is a pattern of, if not outright falsification, manipulation of facts and data, historical and contemporary, to present a certain view.

    We cannot blind ourselves to these real events in the interests of keeping science pure. If these scientists themselves may have poisoned the well, we would do well to drink from it with caution.

  • And…

    ” I don’t think the lunacy of the alarmists, which is independent in its reality would have any logical bearing over whether human contributions are real or not”

    I hope you understand, that is not my position. I would never argue such a foolish thing. The lunacy of the alarmists is simply a more pressing reason to take the claims of skeptics seriously. If they are defeated on the facts, the will be defeated politically. If they are not, then the battle is more difficult. So why not see where the skeptics might take us?

  • Again, the Weart book is worthwhile reading. The second edition is updated from the 2003 release, and probably contains more of the mountain of evidence.

    And yes, while the American *weather* is cold and snowy these days, please don’t fall into the usual trap of mistaking weather, which is what’s happening outside the American door at this moment, for climate, which is the pattern of atmospheric conditions for a region or a planet, over a period of time.

    Also yes, there is an increase in warming trends over the past century, and especially the past forty years which is unprecedented in any warming period since the last glaciation.

    So sure, for the first time in eleven millennia, something natural may be happening. It’s possible. But given the correlation of greenhouse gas emissions, it’s not the most likely answer.

    Alarmists have a political and financial motive, even more so than scientists. Of course, they probably won’t be alive when the North Atlantic flushes with glacier melt and the planet springs back into an ice age. But there’s nothing wrong, so they say, with eating, drinking, and being merry with Big Oil in the meantime.

    The worst thing I saw coming out of the UEA e-mails was that scientists think alarmists and skeptics are nuts. Big deal.

  • The worst thing I saw coming out of the UEA e-mails was that scientists think alarmists and skeptics are nuts.

    If so then you must not have looked at them that closely.

  • It is true that below average temperatures in the US does not negate global warming if it is true. It will also be good to remember that when there are above average temperatures this summer, and the media is screaming “Global Warming!!!!!!!!!!”, that does not necessarily prove global warming either.

    Let’s see the data.

  • “Let’s see the data.”

    Have you read the book yet? If the data is unconvincing, then read the book.

    I don’t listen to the media when they doubt climate change; why would I pay attention when they promote it? They’re only trying to sell toothpaste, cars, and Viagra.

  • Actually would like to see the data that apparently is not being presented in the English University studies. Also with what appears to have been not presented in Russian and Austrailian studies. Also with US studies.

  • Phillip, read the book, man.

    As for your second blog link, Big Oil alarmists are well aware that climate trends in the tropics are far less than at the poles. Otherwise, why would Arctic Ocean ice melt more quickly than the Amazon turn into a desert? That politically minded people would zero in on Australia’s Northern Territory isn’t a surprise. They know the global climate is changing, so why not focus on an area where change is minimal?

    As for your other link, the blogger’s problem is that he can’t get raw information. He suspects there’s a problem with the NASA or GISS data, but he can’t prove it. I have no doubt he would like to prove it, and I wish him the best in his quest for information. If I had it on my computer, I’d send it to him.

    As for saving raw data, as a person with a background in science, I’m not really surprised or dismayed by it. As I said before, if you want to consider yourself well-informed on climate change, read a book, not a blog. If you choose not to read the literature, you’ve chosen the easy path of ignorance. At the very least, you should keep yourself informed from the scientists themselves, rather than the global-warming-alarmist talking head on MSNBC.

  • Not an argument Todd. Looking at it from a scientific perspective. Being from a scientific background you know the raw data needs to be saved so questions like this can be addressed. The fact that organizations are refusing to release it, suggesting it be deleted in emails, and fighting FOI requests is concerning.

    Again this is not to say Global Warming isn’t occuring. Just saying release the raw data for independent peer review.

  • BA and Eric,

    I need to be more precise with my retort.

    I don’t believe global warming is man-made.

    But I do allow for the possibility that there is a recurring cycle that allows for global warming now.

    I’m glad we’re all Christian.

  • Stop the presses, hold the phones, cease and desist everything!

    BA and I agree! 100%!

    🙂

  • Blackadder writes January 12, 2010 A.D. at 3:01 pm:
    “While the U.S. has been unusually cold of late, this hasn’t been true of most of the world”.

    Those caught in the largest snowfall of the decade in England and France and much of Europe might take this statement as a shining example of U.S. provincialism.

    Of course, it has not been “unusually cold of late” below the Equator.

  • Eric Brown writes:
    “But here is a thought for the skeptics: when Galileo wanted to propose the heliocentric model of Copernicus to replace the geocentric model which had been the status quo consensus for quite some time, he had to propose a new theory and account for all the data and phenomenon that was thought to be explained best by the previous working hypothesis and demonstrate that the case for the new hypothesis was indeed stronger–that is how science works”.

    As matter of fact, Galileo did not account for the majority of the data. This was done by Kepler, not relying on a heliocentric theory. [NB: Galileo did not “like” gravity; he also opted for the planetary orbits as perfect circles].

    Galileo’s was a mathematical theory. This is why Card. Borromeo suggested that he propose it as such.

  • Would I be considered too impossibly retrograde to wonder if there is much truth in the theories of global cooling so fashionable four decades ago. These scientific fads are rather tiresome, constantly changing as they do. Sounds like phlogiston.

    Curiously global cooling and global warming seem to have the same solution – prevent babies. Might it be that the solution is the driving force behind both theories.

  • I don’t think anyone denies that Global Warming is a reality. After all, modern temperature taking only started around 1850, when it is acknowledged that that was the end of the Mini Ice Age.

    The dispute is the extent to which MAN has caused, or influenced global warming. My personal view after reading a lot of evidence from both sides; MANKIND MAY have influenced warming to a small extent, but the body of evidence appears to support a natural cycle. The bullshit surrounding Co2 as a “Toxic Substance” is simple lunacy – we need Co2 in our lungs to prompt our next breath; and the acidifying of the oceans by the absorption of Co2 has been debunked as patently false. The politicisation of the topic has cast much doubt on the veracity and credibility of those scientists involved. Indeed, last week we had one of the top IPCC scientists stating that in view of current climate events, we may be in for a 30 year or so “Mini Ice Age.” So who can you believe?

    The above link to Climate Change in Australia is interesting; there wer similar droughts and fires there in the late 80’s/early 90’s when I had lived ther for 10 years and returned to NZ in 1988. The ElNino effect does to Oz what they have stated in the loink, but that does not apply to all the South Pacific. El Nino gives us here in NZ strong and wet sth,westerlies, which cause flooding on our west coast, and droughts on the east coast- and generally cooller that normal temperatures.
    This past winter, we had our coldest May on record.
    We had our coldest October since 1945.
    2008 we had more snowfall than for 30 years.
    2009 (last winter) we had more snowfall for 60years – in some areas, the most in living memory.
    Last summer was wetter than usual, and cool.
    This summer is much cooler than usual.
    So what does this mean – I dunno.

    I think God is sitting there in heaven having a chuckle about this conceited creation – humanity – who think they are a prime cause – smarter than Him.

    I think I’ll chuckle along with Him.

  • I was also wondering why it was so cold in South Texas this winter. So I asked the climate scientists over on http://www.RealClimate.org . They explained it was due to a strongly negative arctic oscillation — a shift from the weather pattern going from west to east to a north to south patterns. They gave me links to data showing that the average temp for the entire world was still above normal warmer, and that it was much warming in the West Arctic, some 7C warmer.

    As Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given unto you.” Or something like that.

    Those with good and sincere hearts will not be dissuaded from mitigating climate change.

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John Adams and the Church of Rome

Thursday, October 15, AD 2009

John Adams, second President of these United States, was a man of very firm convictions.   Once he decided to support a cause, most notably American independence, nothing on this Earth could convince him to change his mind.  In regard to religion he was raised a Congregationalist.  Although described as a Unitarian, I find the evidence ambiguous in his writings and I suspect he remained at heart a fairly conventional Protestant.  As such he was unsympathetic to the Catholic faith by heredity, creed and conviction.  However, he did attend Mass on occasion, and his writings about these visits show attraction mixed with repulsion.

On October 9, 1774 Adams and George Washington attended a Catholic chapel in Philadelphia during the First Continental Congress.  He reported his thoughts about the visit to his wife and constant correspondent Abigail:

“This afternoon, led by Curiosity and good Company I strolled away to Mother Church, or rather Grandmother Church, I mean the Romish Chapel. Heard a good, short, moral Essay upon the Duty of Parents to their Children, founded in justice and Charity, to take care of their Interests temporal and spiritual.

This afternoon’s entertainment was to me most awful (Adams here means awe-inspiring and not the more colloquial use of the term common in our time.) and affecting. The poor wretches fingering their beads, chanting Latin, not a word of which they understood, their Pater Nosters and Ave Marias. Their holy water– their crossing themselves perpetually– their bowing to the name of Jesus wherever they hear it– their bowings, and kneelings, and genuflections before the altar. The dress of the priest was rich with lace– his pulpit was velvet and gold. The altar piece was very rich– little images and crucifixes about– wax candles lighted up. But how shall I describe the picture of our Saviour in a frame of marble over the altar, at full length, upon the cross in the agonies, and the blood dropping and streaming from his wounds.

The music consisting of an organ, and a Choir of singers, went all the afternoon, excepting sermon Time, and the Assembly chanted– most sweetly and exquisitely.

Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination. Everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and the ignorant. I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell.”

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18 Responses to John Adams and the Church of Rome

  • Good stuff. I’ve heard similar sentiments from traditional conservative Protestants. Pomp has its fans. I’d love to see a return of the high and low Mass distinction. The high being a High TLM and the low being a Novus Novus Ordo (guitars, drums, and hand holding).

  • That is a very sound proposal restrained radical.

  • Note to restrainedradical: NO need not be guitars, drums and hand holding. To the contrary, in my experience, that isn’t that case at all. The Holy Father celebrated the NO when visiting the U.S. – was that as irreverent as you suggest?

  • In his description of the aesthetics of the Mass, are we sure Adams is reacting positively? If he is a man of New England prejudices, such things, even if “affecting” and able to “charm and bewitch” are negative. With a low opinion of humanity, the fact that it amazes him that Luther could succeed in leading people away from Catholicism isn’t necessarily praise for the Church – after all, the people were bewitched!

    Additional information on Adams and Catholicism can be found here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1990710/posts
    and here: http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman/2008/04/was-john-adams-an-anticatholic.html.

    In both those cases, Steven Waldman sees in Adams’s letter about the Philadelphia Mass nothing but criticism. I confess to being unsure on the topic; I originally read it that way, but my understanding of the word “awful” was based on the current conventional usage.

    One comment that I thought Don might be sympathetic too, if it were applied to the post Vatican II current of thought in the order, is Adams’s assessment of the Jesuits: “This Society has been a greater Calamity to Mankind than the French Revolution or Napoleans Despotism or Ideology. It has obstructed the Progress of Reformation and the Improvements of the human Mind in Society much longer and more fatally.”

  • Adams was a cross-grained personality Zach. He normally phrased a compliment within a criticism. Something he disliked like the Catholic Church received the full brunt of this habit. As to his comment about the Jesuits, it reminds me that Jesuits were banned from Massachusetts under penalty of death in 1647. Ah for the halcyon days when enemies of the Church were the ones ladling harsh criticism upon the Jesuits.

  • “I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell.”

    Two words: Marty Haugen

    Of course it took a few centuries 🙂

  • Good stuff.

    In my opinion the NO (or Ordinary Form) can be celebrated reverently.

    But in my opinion because of the many NO Masses I have attended in my short life, I have never, ever seen a NO Mass done well or correctly. Until I came to the Anglican Use of the Latin Rite Mass and fell in love with this beautiful Liturgy.

  • Donald:

    This is the first time I’ve ever encountered such a relatively reverent portrayal of a vehemently anti-Catholic like Adams — and, quite ironically, from such a devout and respectable Catholic as yourself.

    While I myself may respect the man for his significance in our American history, other than that, I regard him with as much personal respect as I would a Cromwell or a Cranmer.

  • There’s a striking contrast in just a few of Adams’ paragraphs. First this:

    Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination. Everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and the ignorant.

    I doubt Adams considered himself simple and ignorant, but it sounds like he’s been charmed and bewitched a bit despite himself. Are only the simple and ignorant drawn to beauty?

    Before that, there’s this:

    But how shall I describe the picture of our Saviour in a frame of marble over the altar, at full length, upon the cross in the agonies, and the blood dropping and streaming from his wounds.

    He’s clearly disgusted by the crucifix. Not beautiful at all, in his eyes. I hear echoes of his horror in my Protestant New England mother’s thoughts about some of the more graphic imagery used by the Church.

    The beautiful and the grotesque together: Drawn to one and repulsed by the other, Adams doesn’t seem to be able to make sense of it…

    Nor does this guy:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/14/relics-saint-therese

    Many are drawn, but the teaching is hard, and they walk away.

  • “Adams doesn’t seem to be able to make sense of it.”

    True and tragic.

    “This is the first time I’ve ever encountered such a relatively reverent portrayal of a vehemently anti-Catholic like Adams — and, quite ironically, from such a devout and respectable Catholic as yourself.”

    Truth to tell e. I feel sorry for Mr. Adams. He grew up in an intensely anti-Catholic environment. Unfortunately for him no Road to Damascus experience occurred to him. However, his comments indicate to me that, in spite of himself, he felt on some level an attraction to the Church. He reminds me of the rich young man who walked away from Jesus after the young man learned the cost of discipleship. To embrace the Faith for Adams would have meant turning his back on everything that mattered to him: his Protestant faith, his heritage, his family and his education. I can be sympathetic for someone like Mr. Adams who lacks the light that guides us, especially when the antipathy he felt towards the Church, as far as I know, never tainted his actions as a public official. Adams always stood foursquare for freedom of religion, and in this country that is all Catholics have ever asked.

  • Donald:

    Well, I am appreciative at least of how your entry provides us a somewhat refreshingly different perspective from which to view Adams’ anti-Catholicism, however distasteful I find the man to be personally. Objectively speaking, the man is a great historical figure; yet, on a more intimate note, there remains much to be desired upon closer inspection, particularly regarding one fierce prejudice of his which he could not help but be explicit.

  • I agree with Donald. Adams was a man of his times and place and Massachusetts in the 18th century was clearly not Catholic-friendly. I believe it was only a generation before Adams that religious freedom was actually enacted in Massachusetts, except for those of the “Popish” faith.

    It would be hard to describe Adams as a Unitarian, since the Unitarians were not established as a denomination until about 50 years after Adams death.

    I recently read a book about the role of Sundays in both Britain and New England, including the time of Adams. Strict sabbatarians pretty much ruled in New England in those days. Their expectation was that you attended church services on Sunday essentially all day, which featured a sermon by the preacher that would be at least an hour in length. Very dour, you didn’t dare nod off, no smiling allowed on Sunday at any time or anywhere. The “competition” so to speak for how Sunday should be lived was “the Continent,” where the Church of Rome essentially said “go to church for an hour or so and then relax.” There was great resistence to such a slack observance of the sabbath, but, over time, the Catholic approach prevailed. I suspect that some of Adams’ reaction is based on his experience and assumption of how Sunday “should” be observed.

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  • Trust me, John Adams was not at all attracted to Roman Catholicism. On the contrary he was repulsed, if fascinated, by its lack of attention to the First Commandment, and its prosaic and pedestrian, if spare, use of English.

    If Cathilocs are truly interested, they must study the Pilgrims, the Puritans and those who spent blood and treasure to come here to establish a new country and a new covenant in order precisely to avoid the synergy of Church and State that was extant in their native countries of Europe.

  • Actually Irish Catholics who emigrated to this country had more than enough of state enforced Protestantism, so we Catholics have little to learn from the Pilgrims and Puritans on that score. Incidentally, the Puritans had nothing against an established Church as long as they ran it, as the period of their rule in Massachusetts amply indicates. As for Mr. Adams, his diary entries and letters speak for themselves.

  • It is strange to me that you people can’t see what he was saying when he says “I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell”.

    He wonders, is amazed, that Luther was ABLE to.

    He contemplates the pomp and stage work, the “glamour” of the artifice, notes the ignorant simple peoples not even comprehending the language the chants are in, and is amazed that Luther was able to break the spells hold. Part of the amazement was obviously at Luthers toolset, bland un-glossy reason to combat the pomp, and yet, successful !. Hence his wonder.

    When he says “Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination. Everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and the ignorant”, he means to damn the churches use of pomp and trickery as propaganda to fool the gullible.

  • Thank you for your strenuous efforts in pointing out the obvious Apteryx. Perhaps you could also explain why he kept coming back time and again. The disdain is there, but also wonder at the beauty of it all. Unlike many people, internet atheists for example, Adams was able to contemplate that he might be wrong:

    “yet, perhaps, I was rash and unreasonable, and that it is as much virtue and wisdom in them to adore, as in me to detest and despise.”

The Obama Administration and Freedom of Speech

Wednesday, October 7, AD 2009

George Washington-Freedom of Speech

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Founding Fathers left no doubt which freedoms they held most important.  They inserted them into the First Amendment to the Constitution.  Freedom of speech and of the press come right after freedom of religion.  These freedoms, and all the others set forth in the Constitution, are the birthright of all Americans and a precious example to the rest of the world.  That is why I am bemused by the manner in which the Obama administration appears to be indifferent to attempts to undermine freedom of speech and of the press at the UN.

Hattip to Instapundit.  In an article here at the The Weekly Standard, Anne Bayefsky, writes about the Obama administration signing on to a freedom of expression resolution.

“The new resolution, championed by the Obama administration, has a number of disturbing elements. It emphasizes that “the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities . . .” which include taking action against anything meeting the description of “negative racial and religious stereotyping.” It also purports to “recognize . . . the moral and social responsibilities of the media” and supports “the media’s elaboration of voluntary codes of professional ethical conduct” in relation to “combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”

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One Response to The Obama Administration and Freedom of Speech

  • Two thoughts

    1. I find it interesting that the same resolution that contains “Stresses that condemning and addressing,. . . any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, . . . .” also contains ” Recognizes that the open public debate of ideas can be among the best protections against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance, and can play a positive role in combating national, racial, or religious hatred”

    2. Given our national heritage and values, how many of us shout “there oughta be a law!” when the “Piss-Christ” is displayed? I do not include in that group people who simply point out the tasteless, offensive, sacrilegious and intolerant nature of the “work of art.”

Calling all Federalists!

Thursday, September 24, AD 2009

The Federalists

The Cranky Conservative, Paul Zummo, is beginning a series on his blog on the Federalist Papers.  His comments on Federalist 1 are here. The Founding Fathers created a system of government which has endured for over two centuries.  That is a formidable achievement.  The Federalist Papers, written in the heat of the ratification battles over the Constitution, are the primary text for understanding what motivated those who sought “a more perfect union”, how they expected the new government to function and their arguments in response to the anti-Federalists who opposed the Constitution.  It is easy to draw up schemes of government;  it is very difficult to make them function in reality.  In the Federalist Papers we see at the beginning the drive to create one nation out of the disparate states.  Paul has embarked upon an intellectual adventure in giving an exposition to these theoretical building blocks of our Republic and I urge you to join him for each installment.

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2 Responses to Calling all Federalists!

  • Thank you, Donald. I hope I have not bitten off more than I can chew. But one down, 84 to go!

  • It is a bold task you have set yourself Paul, but I have every confidence that you can meet it! I am certain that your expositions will bring to mind this quote from Madison: “What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable, than that of Liberty and Learning, each leaning on the other for their mutual and surest support?”

Victory in Connecticut

Tuesday, March 10, AD 2009

christ-victor

Lawlor and McDonald, the two anti-Catholic bigots behind a bill to tell the Catholic Church how to operate in Connecticut, have tucked their tails between their legs, cancelled the hearing on their bill, and their hate note to the Catholic Church, disguised as a bill, is dead for this legislative session.  Massive publicitity worked the trick, and endless outraged calls, e-mails and faxes to the legislators.  Kudos to State Senator John McKinney (Republican, Fairfield) who called 24 hours ago for the hearing on this bill to be cancelled and announced that every Republican in the state senate was against this bill, and that the bill was blatantly unconstitutional.  I am sure the bigots will be back, but so will those of us who oppose them.  A good day in Connecticut.

Update: Hmmm.  The bigots were apparently in alliance with members of Voice of the Faithless.  Surprise!

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They Came For The Catholics

Monday, March 9, AD 2009

thomas-nast-anti-catholic-bigot

Anti-Catholic bigots are busily at work in the Connecticut state legislature.   Raised Bill 1098 would effectively place any corporation connected with the Roman Catholic Church in Connecticut under lay control.  The sponsors of the bill, Representative Mike Lawlor, ironically a law professor, and State Senator Andrew J. McDonald, a lawyer, generously allow the local bishop or archbishop to serve on such a board of directors but without a vote.

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11 Responses to They Came For The Catholics

  • Ironically, it’s been argued (Jeffries and Ryan 2001) that the Establishment Clause was incorporated primarily because of anti-Catholicism; specifically a resistance to state funding of Catholic schools. Here, incorporation of the Establishment Clause makes this law almost certainly unconstitutional.

  • Ironically, it’s been argued (Jeffries and Ryan 2001) that the Establishment Clause was incorporated primarily because of anti-Catholicism;

    There’s an interesting history of the Establishment Clause and anti-Catholicism, and I’m kicking myself because I’m forgetting the name of a great book that explores that topic. It may simply be called “Separation of Church and State,” and it discusses how Jefferson’s bit of dicta was used in the late 19th and early 20th century almost primarily as a way of hurting Catholics.

    At any rate, this bit of nonsense will most likely fail, but that doesn’t mean it should not ring alarm bells for all of us. This is just the opening salvo in the new round of anti-Catholic legislation.

  • It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Especially with Proposition 8 out in California that may soon be rescinded, one way or another.

  • The homeschool list was trafficing a lot on this over the weekend. One bit of information that sounded odd to me was the claim that this was just an update of a law on how Catholic parishes were to be run in Conn. which was passed back in the 50s. This was allegedly just an “update” of that law.

    Why in the world would there be a law specifically on how Catholic parishes were to be run? I’d think the Church would have to figure out how to make use of existing means of incorporation and administration and let the state know what it was doing.

    Any of you legal gents know anything about that?

  • Darwin,

    I suppose that the proposed bill is an “updating” of the prior law, in the same way that changing one’s will to disinherit one’s son in favor of one’s new girlfriend is an “updating” of one’s will.

    The law actually dates a lot farther back than the 1950s (exactly how far back I can’t say, but I suspect that the original version of the provision in question has been around since the colonial era). Apparently the way it works is that when Connecticut first set up the state’s corporate law governing religious institutions, it did so based on Congregationalist principles. At some point, they realized that this wouldn’t work for other sorts of religious denominations, so they passed special legislation relating to those churches.

  • I certainly gathered that the proposed law tries to force an absolutely unacceptable rule-by-lay-elected-parish-board structure on Catholic parishes.

    I guess what confused me was that there was even a special set of legal structure having to do with religious institutions. I had assumed (which of course made an ass of me) that states just had one set of non-profit incorporation structures available, and that religious institutions such as Catholic diocese picked whichever of these seemed most appropriate to them. (Drawn, I guess, from reading somewhere or other about how diocese differ as to whether each parish is incorporated or the diocese as a whole is incorporated with all parishes held by it.)

    Interesting…

    On an only semi-related note: I’d always been curious what would happen in regards to property fights and civil law if there was a full out schism in the US with two claimants to a number of diocesan sees (one bishop who had gone into schism versus his replacement appointed by Rome.)

    Would the sort of ruling cited by Donald above mean that the US would refuse to take a position on which bishop actually had control over diocesan property until the Catholic sorted it out and reached some sort of consensus?

  • Why do you presume it is anti-Catholic in intent? Some think it was in fact pushed by Catholics upset at the lack of accountability in their churches.

  • It’s on. Full scale persecution. What with this silly bill. Plus the nakedly bigoted appointment of Sibelius to HHS. For laffs, picked up the Inquirer this morn- have not received it at domicile since about Our Lord’s Birthday. Not just approving pic of Dear Leader and Crew after signing of Embryonic Stem Cell Approval Bill. But op-ed from KC Star from writer Mary Sanchez praising Sibelius and telling Catholic Church in effect to shut up and go away. Away went paper in nearest trash can.

  • “Some think it was in fact pushed by Catholics upset at the lack of accountability in their churches.”

    Rubbish. The anti-Catholic intent is clear. Catholics do not want any government telling them how to conduct their Church affairs. This is all payback on the gay marriage issue.

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Catholics, The 2nd Amendment, & Subsidiarity

Friday, January 2, AD 2009

Ryan Harkins took an initial look at how Catholics should look at the question of whether there is a natural right to own guns in a post last week. The basic thrust of Ryan’s argument, and I ask him to correct me if I misstate this, was to examine the question of whether the benefits of private gun ownership outweighed the potential social evils. This is, in a sense, an obvious way to look at the question. If one is trying to determine the rightness of allowing people to own something potentially destructive, it would seem natural to take a “do the benefits outweigh the dangers?” approach.

I’d like to take a slightly different approach, looking at both the actual text of the second amendment and Catholic Social Teaching. The second amendment reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The libertarian approach to this is to assert that an armed citizenry is required in order to provide a counter-weight to the power of the government. However, I’m not convinced that the thinking behind the second amendment was a merely a balancing of powers in this sense. Rather, it seems to me that to a great extent the US Constitution is written with the point of view that people possess certain natural rights and duties, and that from these spring rights and duties of the government. My understanding is that one of the major controversies in regards to the second amendment (one spoken to fairly definitely in last June’s District of Columbia v. Heller decision) has been whether it secures a right of state militias to have weapons, or a right of individuals to have weapons. While in effect my opinion on the matter lies closer to the individual right side, it seems to me that there is an important distinction which has been increasingly lost in our modern mass society:

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26 Responses to Catholics, The 2nd Amendment, & Subsidiarity

  • If one looks at Catholic social teaching (e.g. the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church), I can find nothing which directly supports the absolute right to own small arms. As far as I can see, all the places where such weapons are mentioned, it is heavily emphasized that (e.g.) “Appropriate measures are needed to control the production, sale, importation and exportation of small arms and light weapons”. This would support a conclusion that the ownership of such weapons is always a prudential matter, and thus not an absolute right.

  • Paul,

    Point taken.

    And I tried to be clear that there is, to my knowledge, no specific Catholic treatment of how the natural right to self defense (which the Church does recognize specifically in the Catechism, 2263-2265) plays out in regards to the question of whether one thus has a right to the means to self defense. Similarly, I am not aware of any statement in Church documents (as opposed to the speculations of individual theologians) as to whether the duty to defend the common good and societal order springs from the rights and duties of the individual, or is a prerogative of “just authority” but never the people.

    However the passages such as you cite are invariably about the containment of various political ills associated with the arms trade and societal disruption, and I’m not clear that one can conclude from the existence of these passages (and silence on the above mentioned matters) that the Church thus teaches that the individual does _not_ have a right to the means to exercise his natural right to self defense.

  • I assume that “criminal record” comes with an “etc.” for other reasonable restrictions, e.g. mental illness, the existence of certain kinds of injunctions, etc.

    Sometime soon I have to ask your opinion on the catechetical series I’m using with Offspring #1, and some interesting assertions it makes regarding Church teaching on labor issues.

  • I assume that “criminal record” comes with an “etc.” for other reasonable restrictions, e.g. mental illness, the existence of certain kinds of injunctions, etc.

    Most definitely.

    Sometime soon I have to ask your opinion on the catechetical series I’m using with Offspring #1, and some interesting assertions it makes regarding Church teaching on labor issues.

    Some have claimed that when I discuss unions I should have my sanity license revoked, but I shall endeavor to behave myself. 🙂

  • I think that when most discussions of the second amendment get off track is dealing with the term “militia”. The founders would not have accepted a standing army (which would probably include the national guard as a part thereof) as dangerous to freedom.

  • Is there a right to self-defense that might be lethal? Yes: the Catechism certainly supports that (#2263-2264). But that is not the question at issue — but rather: Is there an absolute right to own a particular weapon that may be used in self-defense? We both see no teaching directly on the issue. In which case, we then have to look for indirectly related statements, to see what bearing they might have on the question.

    In the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, #511, it says: “Appropriate measures are needed to control the production, sale, importation and exportation of small arms and light weapons, armaments that facilitate many outbreaks of violence to occur. The sale and trafficking of such weapons constitute a serious threat to peace: these arms kill and are used for the most part in internal and regional conflicts; their ready availability increases both the risk of new conflicts and the intensity of those already underway.”

    It is very hard to read that and avoid concluding that, in the appropriate circumstances, a state might legitimately decide to ban the production or sale of small-arms, on the grounds that it would make an existing situation worse. If that conclusion is accepted, then, following on, it would seem that there could be no absolute right to own such a controlled weapon.

  • I would tend to agree with Paul and Ryan that this is a question of proportionality rather than a ‘right’ to firearms as a means of self-defense. There are significant limitations, for example, to individual property rights (e.g. taxes). A restriction on firearms in some contexts could similarly be a reasonable limitation on the right to self-defense.

    That said, I think a good argument can be made that there are proportionate reasons in the U.S. (as well as Constitutional support) for allowing citizens to own firearms.

    As an aside, I thought you were skeptical of additional Catholic ‘rights talk’ DC. Are certain commentators references to your ‘love’ of guns valid? 😉

  • Paul,

    We’re in agreement as to the legitimacy of self defense (and I assume to self defense being a natural right) which might some times be lethal.

    Is there an absolute right to own a particular weapon that may be used in self-defense?

    Actually, I would say: No.

    Come to that, the 2nd Amendment (which is what I’m trying to defend from a Catholic point of view here) actually doesn’t specify any particular weapon either — and I don’t dispute (though perhaps some of the founders would have) the Supreme Court finding that some kinds of weapons (all fully automatic firearms, for instance) can quite legitimately be banned.

    What I do think one can defend from a Catholic point of view is the claim (which would seem to be essentially a 2nd Amendment one) that since one does have a natural right to self defense and to defend and maintain order in one’s immediate community, that stemming from this would be a right to possess those weapons that might legitimately achieve those aims.

    Given that those are aims of limited scope, I would also see strong reason to restrict individual ownership of weapons that go beyond those needs. (After which I’d proceed to argue that given the wide availability of guns in modern American society, it would not be realistic to claim that a total ban on personal ownership of guns would be compatible with allowing people the tools for defense of themselves and their immediate communities.)

    Now, I take your point on the Compendium of Social Doctrine, however given that it p511 comes right between p510 which discusses the need to get rid of landmines (which significantly it goes on to call “a type of small arm that is inhumanly insidious”) and p512 where it strongly condemns the practice of recruiting child soldiers, I guess my big questions would be: Are the “small arms and light weapons” the sort of non-full-auto rifles, pistols and shot guns which are currently legal in the US? And, are we talking here about private citizens owning guns, or are we talking about local strongmen buying crates of AK-47s to hand out to their gangs of boy soldiers?

    Given that the second half of p511 says:
    The position of States that apply severe controls on the international transfer of heavy arms while they never, or only very rarely, restrict the sale and trafficking of small arms and light weapons is an unacceptable contradiction. It is indispensable and urgent that Governments adopt appropriate measures to control the production, stockpiling, sale and trafficking of such arms [1076] in order to stop their growing proliferation, in large part among groups of combatants that are not part of the military forces of a State.

    I guess I’d take it to be a pretty straightforward denunciation of countries making a policy of allowing unrestricted sales of everything from AK-47s to land mines and rocket launchers to trouble-makers in the third world. It doesn’t really strike me as addressing the question of whether households have a natural right to be able to own those weapons which, under the current technological and social conditions, would be sufficient to defend the household and its neighbors from harm.

  • John Henry,

    As an aside, I thought you were skeptical of additional Catholic ‘rights talk’ DC. Are certain commentators references to your ‘love’ of guns valid?

    Well, the specific examples I am concerned about in regards to “rights talk” pertain to claiming rights to be given something (a right to health care, a right to housing, a right to education, a right to a living wage) rather than a right to be able to possess something if you have the means to acquire it.

    I certainly would not say that a “right to bear arms” means that the state is obligated to give you a gun — simply that it may mean, if guns are the only culturally and technologically reasonable means by which you can defend yourself and your neighbors, that you should not be restricted from owning a gun if you choose to go out and take steps to acquire one.

    More generally,

    I recognize that I’m pushing a point here and trying to make an argument that may in the end not hold up. I’m going ahead and defending it strenuously in order to see how well the argument works (and try to make sure that I’ve presented my thinking thoroughly) but I recognize that this certainly is not “what the Church teaches”. At best, I’m hoping that it looks like a fairly reasonable conclusion based on what the Church teaches.

    So while I’ll continue to defend and clarify in an attempt to see how well this argument works, please understand that I’m not trying to simply assert, “The Catholic Church says you have the right to bear arms,” but simply to see if one can successfully make an argument for the personal right to bear arms within a Catholic context.

  • Startling how DC outright confesses his embrace of the rights to consume and possess, if one has the means, right as he rejects to the rights to be nourished educated, housed and paid equitably…

  • Mark,

    If you read my post a while back about “rights talk”, which is what I’m referencing there, I argued that the “right to housing” is not a natural right in the sense that if one is simply left to oneself and does nothing to create one’s own housing, one does not have any housing. The right to free speech, on the other hand, is a natural right in that one is fully capable of speaking until someone comes in and takes that right away from you.

    I am, of course, strongly in favor of people being free to obtain education, housing, and pay — but I don’t think it’s proper to describe something as a “right” which someone else has to come and give to you. That is properly described as a duty. As in: We have duty to provide shelter to the homeless, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, pay the worker, educate the ignorant, etc.

    To call those things rights, in my opinion, ignores the fact that they need to come from other people. They are not things that we naturally possess until someone else comes and takes them away from us.

    I’m not clear if you’re really unclear as to the argument, or you just enjoy a chance to characterize those you disagree with, regardless of whether your characterization bears any resemblance to the truth.

  • DarwinCatholic,

    While “small arms and light weapons” has no precisely agreed-on international definition, “small arms” would generally be reckoned to include revolvers, rifles, and AK-47s; and “light weapons” would be something like grenade launchers or two-person machine-guns.

    You say: “stemming from this [right to self-defense] would be a right to possess those weapons that might legitimately achieve those aims”. I think if that were changed to “… that would legitimately achieve those aims”, it would be defensible from a Catholic point of view.

    For example, suppose in a particular country, two different large groups were close to being in violent conflict. It could, depending on the exact circumstances, be legitimate (along the lines of what the Compendium indicates) for a state to ban the private possession of small arms and light weapons, until the reasons for the conflict were eliminated. Though each individual could say “This weapon is for my personal defense”, the cumulative effect of everyone in both groups claiming that, and acting on it, could tip things over into open conflict, or cause any subsequent conflict to be much worse. The individual’s benefits in possessing small arms have to be balanced against the needs of society (since, after all, each individual is also a a member of society, and is affected by and benefits from it).

    Opinions as to what the 2nd amendment means obviously differ quite widely. I think that if it were taken in some sense like: “Provided it benefits society, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”, that would be consistent both with the Compendium, and with much of how the law has tended to be interpreted (though not by all!).

  • This is a statement by the American Bishops who make clear that people of good will are free to contradict them on the means to the end, but not the ends.

    http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/criminal/handguns.shtml

  • Eric,

    The ends in this case being?

  • Eric,

    Where do they say that people of good will are not free to disagree with them?

  • For example, suppose in a particular country, two different large groups were close to being in violent conflict. It could, depending on the exact circumstances, be legitimate (along the lines of what the Compendium indicates) for a state to ban the private possession of small arms and light weapons, until the reasons for the conflict were eliminated. Though each individual could say “This weapon is for my personal defense”, the cumulative effect of everyone in both groups claiming that, and acting on it, could tip things over into open conflict, or cause any subsequent conflict to be much worse. The individual’s benefits in possessing small arms have to be balanced against the needs of society (since, after all, each individual is also a a member of society, and is affected by and benefits from it).

    I would certainly see the compendium as saying that in such a situation both the local government and outside governments should work to keep military hardware from being poured into the country. Pouring crates of AKs and RPGs into a third world country with a failing government will certainly not do anything to help the common good.

    I’m more skeptical that it would necessarily be a good idea for the local government to ban gun ownership and confiscate the guns that private households already own. The question would be: who in such a situation is likely to use the power to confiscate weapons from private citizens for the common good rather than simply to confiscate weapons from everyone but their own faction?

    From what I’ve read about conflicts in places like Uganda and Somalia, the problem is not that many individual citizens are armed to the teeth and ready to burst into civil war, but rather that the general population is almost completely unarmed while local strongmen have crates of weapons which they pass out to their followers. This makes it far easier for local strongmen to inflict terror on the population, because the population is unable to exercise any form of self defense against them.

    So, I would certainly agree with the Compendiums prescription that when there is great civil unrest in an area shipping in weapons is an additional source of trouble. I also could theoretically see a situation in which an area was sufficiently unarmed or disarmed that it was not necessary for people to own firearms in order to legitimately exercise self defense and control of their own communities — but my concern with suggestions of a confiscatory ban on all guns or whole classes of guns (like the 70s era statement supporting a hand gun ban out of the USCCB) is that when done in the context of rising violence this merely serves to prevent ordinary citizens from defending themselves while leaving the elements of chaos (who aren’t following the law anyway) fully armed.

  • That said, Paul’s interpretation strikes me as being more in keeping with precedent than mine. There were, to my recollection, a whole series of papal statements in the high middle ages attempting to ban specific weapons (notably the crossbow) and ban fighting on certain days of the week and such. To my knowledge, not of this was particularly successful, but it is the approach with history to it.

    To get a Catholic understanding of a right to bear arms one has to assume a new development along the lines of the right to own ones property and own the fruits of one’s labor — which was itself in contradiction to a long history of statements which tacitly accepted the peasant system.

  • -he rejects to the rights to be nourished educated, housed and paid equitably…-

    This sounds like a right to be infantilized.

    I would rather be poor and free, as I am now.

  • Actually, the Constitution was not originally meant to interfere in any of our lives. The document was written to protect states from federal interference. The 2nd amendment meant, when written, that the feds would not be allowed to disarm or disband any state militia.

    It may be hard to believe now, when we think the government should tell us where to live, how to live and why to live, but the constitution was not meant to do any of these things and neither was the federal government. An early Chief Justice (Jay? I’m not sure. It was in the 1820’s or 1830’s), when asked if the Bill of Rights applied to state governments, said,without hesitation, NO! I.e., a state could infringe on your right to bear arms, your free speech, etc. The Bill of Rights only restricted the federal government from doing these things because the founders did not fear their own states (since they controlled them!). The Congregationalist church was the state church in one of the New England states until the early 19th century, Bill of Rights or no.

    The 13th, 14th and 15th amendments changed all this and activist judges began to “incorporate” the rights expressed in the Bill of rights and applied them to all people.

    Really unfortunate, as our states have just been pawns ever since, and not the free, cooperating nations they were meant to be. Under the original intent of the constitution, people in each state would not have their hands tied every time they try to solve a local problem (Wouldn’t it be nice if your state, with a government you elected, could declare certain areas, infested by drugs and gangs, free from guns without the federal hassle and without trying to do the same thing everywhere? And then later reverse the decision if it seemed wise to do so? They could restrict pornography without some ACLU scum breathing down their necks. The present interpretation of the constitution makes us all slaves to out-of-touch nitwits in Washington.)

  • Thoughtful post Darwin. I think it is clear there is a natural right to proportionate self-defense.

    It is also clear that guns are a part of our reality whether we like it or not. No amount of legislation is going to change this fact. What legislation does change is who has the guns, i.e., whether the guns are in the hands of the people, the government and criminals, or alternatively, in the hands of the government and criminals alone.

    I think you’re right about the natural rights case to be made for the second amendment, but I wouldn’t discount the Founders desire to limit the power of government.

    The 2nd Amendment is part of the very fabric of our democracy. It helps underscore and substantiate the essential equality of all the citizens in our Republic. It does this by ensuring there is no substantial power gap between the rulers and the ruled.

    I think this commitment to equality, made significant by limiting the power of the government over its citizens, is very much in accord with the Catholic conception of the common good. We all stand to benefit from there being no one group of people responsible for eveyone’s defense. After all, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The Founders were wise to diffuse power rather than concentrate it.

  • Blackdadder,

    The end is the “joint effort to eliminate the criminal and deadly misuse of handguns.” We all have the same goal, but differing opinions as to how to obtain it and part of that constitutes the regulation of guns.

    Zach,

    You misread me. I said people of good will are, in fact, free to contradict the Bishops on the matter. They aren’t exercising magisterial authority.

  • I’ll add that it is evident from their words that the Bishops believe people of “good faith” can and will oppose gun control measures they collectively support. However, it is implicit (thus, I made my comment) that we are not in fact free to disagree with them on an end. No person of good will, abiding by the natural law, can disagree with the Bishops on the end goal of curbing gun violence. The means — gun control laws or no gun control laws — can be debated. The ends are non-negotiable.

  • Oh, there is no disagreement then. I thought the “end” you were thinking of may have been something like a ban on guns.

  • No person of good will, abiding by the natural law, can disagree with the Bishops on the end goal of curbing gun violence.

    This is true, but since hardly anybody does disagree with this goal, I’m not sure how significant a truth it is.

  • If we have a natural right to self defense, wouldn’t that imply that we have a natural right to effective self defense?

    What I mean by this is saying that a cat has a natural right to self defense, but I’m going to de-claw him and pull his teeth. He has a natural right to self defense, but I have effectively removed the means of the self defense.

    This is important, especially in the case of women who are generally much smaller, physically weaker and less aggressive than men. This means that a woman can’t effectively defend herself against a much bigger, stronger and more violent attacker. Those “less than lethal” methods are generally used closer up, and by that time the attacker is usually within arm’s reach.

    I heard a great quote: “A man use two methods to make me do what he wants. He can either convince me, or force me. A gun guarantees that he stick to the first method”.

  • As an old saying says:

    “God created man, Sam Colt made them equal.”

    Clearly the natural law right to defend oneself in our current milieu would allow the ownership of semi-auto hand guns and (at the least) civilian long guns. It would seem the USCCB position is contrary to this in it’s approach (but not it’s end).

    It also seems to me that the “Compendium of Social Doctrine” and the USCCB (even sometimes the Holy See itself) are sometimes stepping outside of their competence when they start to make judgments about the acceptability of specific weapon systems. As regards the proscription of “indiscriminant” use of weapons which cause mass destruction, it is the ends which are objected to, not the means. It would not necessarily be immoral to use a nuclear weapon against a nuclear missile silo. By the same token, I don’t think it’s reasonable for the hierarchy to judge that there is no legitimate use for land mine technology, if they are be deployed applying the rules of just warfare. The same goes for hand guns in legitimate self-defense, this is just out of the competence of the bishops.

    God Bless,

    Matt

A President Obama Will Silence Catholics

Friday, October 10, AD 2008

Senator Obama has stated that he wants the Internet to be regulated. CNET had this exchange of a MoveOn.org member asking Senator Obama this very question:

He asked Obama: “Would you make it a priority in your first year of office to reinstate Net neutrality as the law of the land? And would you pledge to only appoint FCC commissioners that support open Internet principles like Net neutrality?”

The answer is yes,” Obama replied. “I am a strong supporter of Net neutrality.”

This “Net Neutrality” law would be something along the lines of the Fairness Doctrine. Conservapedia states that the Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters who aired material on controversial issues to provide “equal time” for the expression of opposing views.  The end result was censorship, broadcasters simply refrained from airing public affairs programing.

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17 Responses to A President Obama Will Silence Catholics

  • Tito,

    I think you (or perhaps the author you’re citing) is misunderstanding what “net neutrality” means here — it is largely a technical term in favor of free speech and no restrictions on content:

    Put simply, Net Neutrality means no discrimination. Net Neutrality prevents Internet providers from blocking, speeding up or slowing down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination.

    Net Neutrality is the reason why the Internet has driven economic innovation, democratic participation, and free speech online. It protects the consumer’s right to use any equipment, content, application or service on a non-discriminatory basis without interference from the network provider. With Net Neutrality, the network’s only job is to move data — not choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.

    The counter-position is also chiefly economic — to quote from your own ‘Conservapedia’ source:

    Broadband providers want to manage more actively — and thus profitably — those information bits. They’d like to offer, for instance, new superfast delivery for sites or users willing to pay more (not unlike how FedEx speeds delivery of packages for a fee), or other new services such as online video or telephony.

    Network neutrality would render all that illegal. But why, then, should broadband investors keep building the Web infrastructure needed to keep pace with surging use? Where’s their financial incentive?

    It could be argued that if “net neutrality” were not enforced, internet content providers could effectively slow down or impede access to religious and public-service websites because they were not deemed commercially profitable.

    This is why the USCCB currently situates itself in favor of this principle:

    Bishop Kicanas urged that such protections, termed “net neutrality requirements,” be included in the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act (“COPE Act”). As approved by the House Subcommittee, the COPE bill lacks net neutrality protections.

    “Those protections have particular importance for religious organizations which must rely on the Internet to convey information on matters of faith and on the services they provide to the public,” Bishop Kicanas said. “The Internet is an indispensable medium for distributing USCCB’s views on matters of public concern and on its religious teachings. The Internet was constructed as a unique medium without the editorial control functions of broadcast television, radio or cable television. The Internet is open to any speaker, commercial or noncommercial, whether or not the speech is connected financially to the company providing Internet access, whether it is popular or prophetic,” he said. “Those characteristics make the Internet critical to noncommercial religious speakers,” Bishop Kicanas said. …

    “That open environment, however, is threatened by a lack of response by Congress to the recent decision by the FCC to end the decades-old regulatory regime which fostered the unique freedom and openness of the Internet,” he continued. “When the FCC classified cable broadband service (and later telephone broadband) as an ‘information’ service, it ended more than thirty years of regulation which prohibited the companies which control the infrastructure connecting people to the Internet from interfering with the content distributed on the Internet. Unless Congress requires telephone and cable companies to act as neutral providers of Internet access, as they had been required to do since the birth and through the spectacular growth of the Internet, those companies will use their control over internet access to speed up or down connections to Web sites to benefit themselves financially.”

    At the present time, radio, broadcast television and cable television are largely closed to religious messages, Bishop Kicanas noted. “Years of deregulation and growing consolidation of the media industry have inevitably led to a hostile environment for noncommercial religious voices in broadcasting, whether in the form of short Public Service Announcements, programs on religious themes, news coverage of religious events, or local public affairs programs featuring representatives of local religious organizations. If the Internet becomes, as it inevitably will without strong protections for net neutrality, a medium where speakers must pay to deliver their messages, religious speech will be effectively barred from the Internet,” Bishop Kicanas said.

    So I’m having some difficulty seeing how an advocacy of ‘net neutrality’ actually translates into “a fairness doctrine” which mandates government censorship of all content the Obama administration presumably wouldn’t like. In fact, you couldn’t have that happen without violating the very principle under which people are supporting net neutrality as a concept.

  • Obama’s campaign has demonstrated on several occasions that they like attempting to silence and intimidate critics. If he is elected, I expect a full court press against all groups who stand in his way.

  • What would be stopping people from using servers abroad? Unless US regulations suddenly are enforced all over the planet, this wouldn’t be the end of free speech on the Internet — just on American servers.

  • Which is not to say that any such regulation doesn’t totally suck, but that it wouldn’t be as universal as is presented in the above post.

  • Donald:

    Obama’s campaign has demonstrated on several occasions that they like attempting to silence and intimidate critics. If he is elected, I expect a full court press against all groups who stand in his way.

    This would be true and is already happening (pressure from the Obama campaign to silence criticism they don’t particularly like) — but this isn’t the same thing and shouldn’t be identified with the principle of “net neutrality” — I think there’s some degree of confusion or misrepresentation of what we’re talking about here.

  • Christopher my comment was directed in general in regard to Obama and freedom of expression and not directed towards the net neutrality issue itself. A good overview of the issue is here at the Popular Mechanics Webite.

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/industry/4286547.html

  • Honestly, I’m not overly concerned about blogs being shut down; while I accept Jonah Goldberg’s thesis regarding liberal fascism, I think we’re a long way from that in this country, even under an Obama presidency.

  • That’s a great presentation of the issue — thanks, Don.

  • Christopher Blosser,

    Like the Internet, this legislative/regulatory concept is new and difficult to grasp. I can see where confusion can reign, especially in our day and age where technology is moving at such a fast pace, congressional reaction/oversight may seem confusing and misinterpreted to say the least.

    I’ll take a wait-and-see attitude while the dust settles down on this. I hope you’re right on the misconception of Net Neutrality.

  • Irrespective of the legal nuances & technicalites, the reality is that Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., & his goose stepping minions has shown both in the US and abroad (see Kenya & Corsi being kicked out) a predeliction for silencing and attempting to legally destroy their opponents.

    See Missouri, see Chicago, etc.

  • I may be overly optimistic, but I think any kind of serious regulation of TV, radio, print publications or blogs would never get passed — because it would so clearly be a double-edged sword and because it’s the sort of thing that would unite the civil libertarian wing of the left with nearly the entirity of the right.

  • Carlos,

    While I think that the Obama campaign has shown a mildly disturbing tendency to try to have criticism shut down (based, I think, on a worldview that holds that those opposing them are necessarily morally and intellectually bankrupt, and a conviction that Democrats have lost in the past through not being “tough” enough) — as an editor here I need to ask you to avoid throwing around Senator Obama’s middle name (Hussein) as a pejorative and that you avoid loaded terms like “goose stepping minions”.

    It’s hard to keep a site focused on politics civil, and in order to do so we believe it will be necessary to avoid this kind of inflammatory terminology. Believe me, I don’t want to see Obama elected president at all — but we can express that without getting enflammatory.

  • Christopher’s first comment is right: “net neutrality” has absolutely nothing to do with forcing content providers (e.g., bloggers, newspapers) to be neutral. All it means is that the internet service providers (such as AT&T or Comcast) shouldn’t block or slow down certain types of traffic. Net neutrality would mean, for example, that Comcast couldn’t block an independent VOIP (voice over internet) service like Vonage from letting people make phone calls over their internet connection. Instead, Comcast should be “neutral” towards however people are using their internet connection. That’s the basic idea.

  • Just post outrageous claims, in non-inflamatory language….

    Example: this post.

  • I think Christopher Blosser is a 100% correct on this matter. Sen. Obama has expressed support for Net Netruality for many of the same reasons that the American Bishops have. Net Netruality would have little effect on the internet as it currently is. In fact, opposition to net neutrality would change the internet as we know it.

    Who is advocating Net Neutrality? “The nation’s largest telephone and cable companies — including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner — want to be Internet gatekeepers, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow and which won’t load at all. They want to tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data. They want to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video — while slowing down or blocking their competitors.”

    Essentially big corporations advocate net neutrality, not most people. It affects us. So in this regard, I think you’re mistaken on what you believe that a potential President Obama would do.

  • To be a computer scientist and not know much about net neutrality is somewhat shaming, but then I’m a theorist. We only like to touch the real world with a long stick, and then only justify the existence of a new complexity class with a natural example.

    That aside, having spoken a little with our Systems Administrator here at the University of Wyoming Department of Computer Science, it would seem that the issue of net neutrality is almost of reverse nature to the issue of the Fairness Doctrine. Fairness is involved in both cases, but in terms of the Fairness Doctrine, we’re speaking essentially of being forced to provide products, whereas with net neutrality, we’re speaking of being forced to avoid throttling products.

    The concern is that ISP’s will grant easier access to big companies, like Google or Microsoft, and make other companies lower priority. Or perhaps that ISP’s will block certain sites, certain blocks of IP addresses. Net neutrality wants to pose limitations on how ISPs can limit customers to accessing certain sites.

    The analogy our SysAdmin used is the following: suppose we have Wal Mart, K Mart, and Target right next to each other along a strip, but the designer of the parking lot makes K Mart readily accessible, but Wal Mart and Target nearly impossible to access. That will funnel customers to K Mart and choke off business to Wal Mart and Target. Net neutrality wants to make the parking lot have equal access to Target, K Mart, and Wal Mart.

    The concerns about net neutrality are more along the following lines:

    1) Without careful crafting of law, net neutrality would make it impossible for ISP’s to block sites with illegal material, like child porn

    2) Smaller ISP’s would face a financial burden of giving equal access to low traffic sites and high traffic sites. With concerns about bandwidth and the huge amount of online games and media streaming, ISP’s would prefer to throttle access to those sites so that customers who are frequenting low-bandwidth sites don’t have to wait forever to connect.

    3) Conversely, ISP’s can get a financial edge by giving preference to certain groups, like Google, Microsoft, and other corporations. While this means slower download times on competitors like Yahoo! and Apple, it also means the ISP’s are able to provide services for less money to the customers.

    4) ISP’s would not be able to make prudent calls by throttling IP’s known to make DoS attacks, carry viruses, or contain objectionable material. This is especially true in terms of pornography in general.

    So from what I understand–and granted, there are a huge number of legal details that have been discussed, and it would probably take a year of study to understand them all–we potentially stand more to lose without net neutrality, because ISP’s could decide that, for example, it would be better business to throttle or block all IP’s associated with Catholic sites.

    On the other hand, things seem to be working fine as is, and I read that net neutrality is a “solution looking for a problem”. But remember the government motto: If it ain’t broke, fix it ’til it is.

  • If obama, when asked a direct question, gives a straight answer… I immediatly must begin to investigate WHY he is for it, cause it can’t be a good thing.

    it deservs to be scrutinized to the fullest extent.