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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Gifts for Atheists?

At Fox News, William Lane Craig has an article titled, "A Christmas Gift for Atheists: Five Reasons Why God Exists." While as a Catholic theologian I agree with Mr Craig's reasoning, I disagree with him that these arguments will well received by atheists.

Let me summarize his arguments.

The first reason is, "God is the best explanation of the origin of the universe." This argument relates well to St Thomas' famous First Cause, Prime Mover, and Necessary Agent arguments. A universe full of things and motion that do not need to exist of themselves, and indeed cannot, suggests that there is a transcendent, all powerful Creator. Science cannot offer a better explanation. Prominent and brilliant atheists will respond, "Yet." That is, science cannot offer a better explanation yet. And such atheists already propose a kind of circularity of time and space that they believe circumvents the need for a First Cause (a la Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Time).

The second reason is, "God provides the best reason for the fine-tuning of the universe," which relates to St Thomas' Fifth Way, pertaining to the governance of the universe. In addition to harmony, St Thomas adds that things both sentient and non-living act towards ends that are reasonable, as if there were some intelligent participant in the events of the universe. Atheists poo-poo this and reduce it to obedience to physical laws and evolution.

The third is, "God provides the best explanation of objective moral values and duties," which I basically agree with. Without God, there is no objective morality possible - it all reduces to subjective goals and judgments of "good." I have argued this many times; just search "atheism" or "atheist" on this blog to see. To a certain extent, this third reason relates to St Thomas' Fourth Way, that of the gradation of things - we see goodness in everything, but there must be something that is perfectly good, goodness itself, in which all good things participate in some way. But the atheist could say that there doesn't have to be an objective moral order or an objective perfect good, as long as we have laws and we all try to get along. And therein, for me, lies the problem. Because "law" is malleable by those in power, and so it becomes a matter of might making right and tyranny. Atheism ends in tyranny - or at best, anarchy.

The fourth reason is, "God provides the best explanation of the historical facts concerning Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection." While I agree with this statement, I don't think I'd find it especially compelling if I were an atheist. After all, only if the apostles had a firm conviction of the resurrection of Jesus would they do what they did - no one invites persecution and poverty, torture and death, unless one holds firmly as true the thing that is ticking people off. But the atheist could say, "Maybe they were just insane." It's convenient and it also explains the facts, and since they hold as a premise that God does not exist, it is the only explanation that actually fits the facts.

The fifth reason is, "God can be personally known and experienced." Yes, but unless an atheist personally experiences God, he will not give any credence to those who claim to have personally experienced God. And if he does personally experience God, he is likely to attribute some other cause to the experience, something that could be explained by science, if science had the right instruments and knowledge to figure it out.

So although I agree with Mr. Craig and hope and pray he has good results with this approach, I think it may not really work as well as he believes it may. After all, atheists have been dealing with St Thomas' Five Ways for about 800 years now, and Mr. Craig doesn't really advance the argument in a compelling way.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

More on the economic - and ethical - consistency between Francis and his predecssors

It turns out I was right - here's something from Ethica Politica that quotes Benedict XVI, writing while he was Cardinal prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

Nothing particularly new here. I missed it because it wasn't a papal document while he was pope, and so it didn't show up in my search of the Vatican website for "capitalism."

The writings of Cardinal Ratzinger appeared as a 1985 symposium titled, Church and Economy in Dialogue. It features other cardinals and a speech by John Paul II to the symposium participants.

You can find it here: http://ordosocialis.de/pdf/lroos/K%20u%20W%20in%20Dialog/dialoenga4neu.pdf

It is worth reading by anyone who wants clarity as to whether the Church supports any particular economic theory. In short: Without the participants in an economy acting morally - with virtue and ethical standards that consider the big picture of "we're all human beings and we're all in this together" - ANY economic system will be fraught with injustice and exploitation.

And that is the common thread of magisterial texts on the subject, and with which Pope Francis is very much in line.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pope Francis vs His Predecessors on Capitalism, Part 2

So yesterday we saw that ever since the birth of capitalism, the Popes and also the bishops (in the documents of Vatican II), have not ceased to point out the deficiencies of that economic philosophy. We heard from Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum - which is a long document only tiny parts of which were presented. There is much in there of relevance, cited by succeeding popes. We also heard from Pius XI, John XXIII, Vatican II, and Paul VI. Unbridled capitalism was understood as liberalism, not conservativism, and seen as the equally defective but opposite error as marxism/communism/socialism.

Now let us hear from John Paul II. 1991 was the 100th anniversary of Rerum Novarum, and the occasion of him writing an encyclical on the topic, Centesimus Annus. Referring to Rerum Novarum, John Paul II writes:
[9]... A workman's wages should be sufficient to enable him to support himself, his wife and his children. "If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accepts harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice". [The quote is from Rerum Novarum n.131.]
Would that these words, written at a time when what has been called "unbridled capitalism" was pressing forward, should not have to be repeated today with the same severity. Unfortunately, even today one finds instances of contracts between employers and employees which lack reference to the most elementary justice regarding the employment of children or women, working hours, the hygienic condition of the work-place and fair pay; and this is the case despite the International Declarations and Conventions on the subject and the internal laws of States. The Pope attributed to the "public authority" the "strict duty" of providing properly for the welfare of the workers, because a failure to do so violates justice; indeed, he did not hesitate to speak of "distributive justice".
John Paul II, the victim and enemy of Soviet Bloc communism, sounds a little Marxist himself in endorsing and reapplying this 100-year-old observations of one of his predecessors, doesn't he? Well, it would be a liberal error to say that if he criticizes capitalism, he must be a commie.
[33]... Many other people, while not completely marginalized, live in situations in which the struggle for a bare minimum is uppermost. These are situations in which the rules of the earliest period of capitalism still flourish in conditions of "ruthlessness" in no way inferior to the darkest moments of the first phase of industrialization. In other cases the land is still the central element in the economic process, but those who cultivate it are excluded from ownership and are reduced to a state of quasi-servitude. In these cases, it is still possible today, as in the days of Rerum novarum, to speak of inhuman exploitation. In spite of the great changes which have taken place in the more advanced societies, the human inadequacies of capitalism and the resulting domination of things over people are far from disappearing. In fact, for the poor, to the lack of material goods has been added a lack of knowledge and training which prevents them from escaping their state of humiliating subjection.
[35]...In this sense, it is right to speak of a struggle against an economic system, if the latter is understood as a method of upholding the absolute predominance of capital, the possession of the means of production and of the land, in contrast to the free and personal nature of human work. In the struggle against such a system, what is being proposed as an alternative is not the socialist system, which in fact turns out to be State capitalism, but rather a society of free work, of enterprise and of participation. [STATE CAPITALISM. You know, the people on the very top of the global economic food chain are capitalists. State capitalism is simply economic forces controlling the government, or vice-versa, but it amounts to the same. How many harsh capitalistic organizations - corporations - are run internally like communist dictatorships? An awful lot. What if every major industry in the US was privately held, but all held by one corporation and it dominated the government, what would the country be like? Probably a lot like Soviet communism. And consider that the US government is totally dependent upon the capitalistic Federal Reserve - you think the Fed cares if the government is socialist or not? Does it run on principles of free enterprise or on what is ultimately in its own best interest? Socialism is just "state capitalism" - a brilliant observation.] Such a society [the society of free work, etc., mentioned just before] is not directed against the market, but demands that the market be appropriately controlled by the forces of society and by the State, so as to guarantee that the basic needs of the whole of society are satisfied.
The Church acknowledges the legitimate role of profit as an indication that a business is functioning well. [So the Church is not Marxist or against free enterprise.] When a firm makes a profit, this means that productive factors have been properly employed and corresponding human needs have been duly satisfied. But profitability is not the only indicator of a firm's condition. It is possible for the financial accounts to be in order, and yet for the people — who make up the firm's most valuable asset — to be humiliated and their dignity offended. Besides being morally inadmissible, this will eventually have negative repercussions on the firm's economic efficiency. In fact, the purpose of a business firm is not simply to make a profit, but is to be found in its very existence as a community of persons who in various ways are endeavouring to satisfy their basic needs, and who form a particular group at the service of the whole of society. Profit is a regulator of the life of a business, but it is not the only one; other human and moral factors must also be considered which, in the long term, are at least equally important for the life of a business.
We have seen that it is unacceptable to say that the defeat of so-called "Real Socialism" leaves capitalism as the only model of economic organization. It is necessary to break down the barriers and monopolies which leave so many countries on the margins of development, and to provide all individuals and nations with the basic conditions which will enable them to share in development. This goal calls for programmed and responsible efforts on the part of the entire international community. Stronger nations must offer weaker ones opportunities for taking their place in international life, and the latter must learn how to use these opportunities by making the necessary efforts and sacrifices and by ensuring political and economic stability, the certainty of better prospects for the future, the improvement of workers' skills, and the training of competent business leaders who are conscious of their responsibilities. ...
[39]... All of this can be summed up by repeating once more that economic freedom is only one element of human freedom. When it becomes autonomous, when man is seen more as a producer or consumer of goods than as a subject who produces and consumes in order to live, then economic freedom loses its necessary relationship to the human person and ends up by alienating and oppressing him.
40. It is the task of the State to provide for the defence and preservation of common goods such as the natural and human environments, which cannot be safeguarded simply by market forces. Just as in the time of primitive capitalism the State had the duty of defending the basic rights of workers, so now, with the new capitalism, the State and all of society have the duty of defending those collective goods which, among others, constitute the essential framework for the legitimate pursuit of personal goals on the part of each individual.
Here we find a new limit on the market: there are collective and qualitative needs which cannot be satisfied by market mechanisms. There are important human needs which escape its logic. There are goods which by their very nature cannot and must not be bought or sold. Certainly the mechanisms of the market offer secure advantages: they help to utilize resources better; they promote the exchange of products; above all they give central place to the person's desires and preferences, which, in a contract, meet the desires and preferences of another person. Nevertheless, these mechanisms carry the risk of an "idolatry" of the market, an idolatry which ignores the existence of goods which by their nature are not and cannot be mere commodities.
That's enough from Centesimus Annus. John Paul II makes his point pretty clearly. Economic activity must be at the service of authentic human goods, of which economic freedom - that is, the ability to engage in free enterprise - is only one, and not necessarily the most important. The profit motive has advantages - but it also has pitfalls that are dangerous. In being subordinate to other important goals of enterprise - that is to say, authentic human goods that can limit profitability - the desire for profits often sees these authentic human goods as unjust hindrances.

In Sollicitude Rei Socialis of 1987, he said, "The Church's social doctrine is not a "third way" between liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism, nor even a possible alternative to other solutions less radically opposed to one another: rather, it constitutes a category of its own. Nor is it an ideology, but rather the accurate formulation of the results of a careful reflection on the complex realities of human existence, in society and in the international order, in the light of faith and of the Church's tradition. Its main aim is to interpret these realities, determining their conformity with or divergence from the lines of the Gospel teaching on man and his vocation, a vocation which is at once earthly and transcendent; its aim is thus to guide Christian behavior."

So, the Church looks at the Gospel, the authentic anthropology that situates man at the center of God's creation as His image, but a fallen image and prone to sin, and applies these to what she sees around her. Sin can affect economic activities and philosophies and whole systems. Capitalism and socialism both suffer from the effects of sin. The solution is not a third "economic system" but a moral, virtuous approach to human freedom in economic matters. This presupposes moral, virtuous persons as players in free economic activities. If economies and governments are to be just and virtuous, the people must be, too. Atheism - be it Ayn Rand capitalism or Marxist communism - cannot ensure anything but tyranny of those in power and exploitation of those without it.

You can find similar expressions of JP-II's thought in 1991's Laborem Exercens (sec.7; written for the 90th anniversary of Rerum Novarum); and in his address to the participants in the colloquium "Capitalism and Ethics" in 1992. He probably addresses the topic without using the term "capitalism" on many other occasions, but I searched for this particular term at the Vatican website.

Now let us turn to Benedict XVI. The Pope Emeritus has not addressed the term "capitalism" directly in a major doctrinal or pastoral document. He does say briefly the same sort of things as JP-II in a message for the World Day of Peace on January 1 of this year, in the midst of dealing with financial and banking troubles at the Vatican: "In effect, our times, marked by globalization with its positive and negative aspects, as well as the continuation of violent conflicts and threats of war, demand a new, shared commitment in pursuit of the common good and the development of all men, and of the whole man. It is alarming to see hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism."

You can also find a very interesting paragraph that mentions a "reckless capitalism" in the context of a "technological Prometheanism" and an "atheistic anthropology" in an address to the participants in the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

So now has Pope Francis, as The Atlantic seems to think, identified a "new enemy" of the Church in capitalism? Francis definitely has a more emphatic style, he speaks more from and to the heart as opposed to the head, and I think he could use some help picking the right words. But it is clear that the substance is very much in line with the Church's perennial critique of capitalism.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Pope Francis vs His Predecessors on Capitalism, Part 1

I am getting sick of all the so-called "conservative" Catholics and their dimwitted supporters in the comboxes lambasting Pope Francis for what he said in his recent Apostolic Exhortation.

If any of them read this blog and those words, they will undoubtedly think I'm a liberal. Well, all I can say is search the term "Obama" on this blog and see what turns up. Search "abortion." Search "tyranny." Go ahead, read them words, too.

I say "so-called" and "dimwitted" because they seem to think that John Paul II and Benedict XVI were capitalists. JP-II, OF COURSE, was a capitalist, they would say, because he grew up under and worked against the Communists in Poland! But it is a liberal fallacy that if you oppose one thing you must therefore support its direct opposite. If you oppose Social Security, you want to push Grandpa off a cliff in his wheelchair. If you oppose Obamacare, you want poor people to get sick and die. So here come "conservatives" saying that if JP-II opposed Polish Communism, he must therefore love capitalism.

Bull. JP-II did grow up under Communism and he did fight hard against it. His role in bringing down the Iron Curtain is underappreciated by the media. But what has he SAID about capitalism? Could it be, as I mentioned the other day, that capitalism, too, has its problems? That communism and capitalism stand as opposite extremes? One overemphasizes community and the other freedom, both of which are Christian values, but each when it is destructive of the other becomes destructive of human goods generally.

So I thought it might be useful to do what these brilliant pundits have failed to do, and conduct a little research. Here's what I did - and I suggest you do it, too. I went to the Vatican website and searched for the term "capitalism."

Let's start with Leo XIII and Rerum Novarum of 1891. EIGHTEEN NINETY ONE. That's the height of the industrial revolution, and 122 years ago. Old Man Potter was a bright young thing at the time. Communism and socialism was on the rise. And this document is contrary to socialism. The word "capital" appears only 5 times, and two of them are in the title and first heading. So, it condemns socialism in no uncertain terms - does it thereby endorse capitalism? Let Leo XIII speak for himself:
19. The great mistake made in regard to the matter now under consideration is to take up with the notion that class is naturally hostile to class, and that the wealthy and the working men are intended by nature to live in mutual conflict. So irrational and so false is this view that the direct contrary is the truth. Just as the symmetry of the human frame is the result of the suitable arrangement of the different parts of the body, so in a State is it ordained by nature that these two classes should dwell in harmony and agreement, so as to maintain the balance of the body politic. Each needs the other: capital cannot do without labor, nor labor without capital. Mutual agreement results in the beauty of good order, while perpetual conflict necessarily produces confusion and savage barbarity. [He will go on to suggest that the perpetual conflict may be the fault of the bosses.] Now, in preventing such strife as this, and in uprooting it, the efficacy of Christian institutions is marvellous and manifold. First of all, there is no intermediary more powerful than religion (whereof the Church is the interpreter and guardian) in drawing the rich and the working class together, by reminding each of its duties to the other, and especially of the obligations of justice.

20. Of these duties, the following bind the proletarian and the worker: fully and faithfully to perform the work which has been freely and equitably agreed upon; never to injure the property, nor to outrage the person, of an employer; never to resort to violence in defending their own cause, nor to engage in riot or disorder; and to have nothing to do with men of evil principles, who work upon the people with artful promises of great results, and excite foolish hopes which usually end in useless regrets and grievous loss. The following duties bind the wealthy owner and the employer: not to look upon their work people as their bondsmen, but to respect in every man his dignity as a person ennobled by Christian character. They are reminded that, according to natural reason and Christian philosophy, working for gain is creditable, not shameful, to a man, since it enables him to earn an honorable livelihood; but to misuse men as though they were things in the pursuit of gain, or to value them solely for their physical powers - that is truly shameful and inhuman. Again justice demands that, in dealing with the working man, religion and the good of his soul must be kept in mind. Hence, the employer is bound to see that the worker has time for his religious duties; that he be not exposed to corrupting influences and dangerous occasions; and that he be not led away to neglect his home and family, or to squander his earnings. Furthermore, the employer must never tax his work people beyond their strength, or employ them in work unsuited to their sex and age. His great and principal duty is to give every one what is just. Doubtless, before deciding whether wages are fair, many things have to be considered; but wealthy owners and all masters of labor should be mindful of this - that to exercise pressure upon the indigent and the destitute for the sake of gain [what he means is pay people squat because you can, because they're poor and are desperate for work - they should be paid a living wage regardless of "market conditions"], and to gather one's profit out of the need of another, is condemned by all laws, human and divine. To defraud any one of wages that are his due is a great crime which cries to the avenging anger of Heaven. "Behold, the hire of the laborers... which by fraud has been kept back by you, crieth; and the cry of them hath entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth."(6) Lastly, the rich must religiously refrain from cutting down the workmen's earnings, whether by force, by fraud, or by usurious dealing; and with all the greater reason because the laboring man is, as a rule, weak and unprotected, and because his slender means should in proportion to their scantiness be accounted sacred. Were these precepts carefully obeyed and followed out, would they not be sufficient of themselves to keep under all strife and all its causes? [In other words, greedy capitalists have only themselves to blame if they makeselves the adversaries of their workers, who are thereby driven to unionize and become socialists to be treated fairly.]

21. But the Church, with Jesus Christ as her Master and Guide, aims higher still. She lays down precepts yet more perfect, and tries to bind class to class in friendliness and good feeling. The things of earth cannot be understood or valued aright without taking into consideration the life to come, the life that will know no death. [In other words, there are eternal consequences to being an Old Man Potter.]
Let us move on to Pius XI and Quadragessimo Anno, published on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Rerum Novarum. Perhaps Pius XI has come to his senses, and endorsed capitalism? After all, it is now 1931, and Russia has been demonstrating the wondrous benefits of atheist socialism on a national scale for 14 years. Speak, O Pius XI:
[53. He cites Rerum Novarum on the interdependency of capital and labor.] Wherefore it is wholly false to ascribe to property [i.e., capital] alone or to labor alone whatever has been obtained through the combined effort of both, and it is wholly unjust for either, denying the efficacy of the other, to arrogate to itself whatever has been produced. [He thus condemns both extremes: unbridled capitalism and socialism/communism.]

54. Property, that is, "capital," has undoubtedly long been able to appropriate too much to itself. Whatever was produced, whatever returns accrued, capital claimed for itself, hardly leaving to the worker enough to restore and renew his strength. For the doctrine was preached that all accumulation of capital falls by an absolutely insuperable economic law to the rich, and that by the same law the workers are given over and bound to perpetual want, to the scantiest of livelihoods. It is true, indeed, that things have not always and everywhere corresponded with this sort of teaching of the so-called Manchesterian Liberals [HAH! Unbridled capitalism is LIBERAL!!!]; yet it cannot be denied that economic social institutions have moved steadily in that direction. That these false ideas, these erroneous suppositions, have been vigorously assailed, and not by those alone who through them were being deprived of their innate right to obtain better conditions, will surprise no one.

55. And therefore, to the harassed workers there have come "intellectuals," as they are called, setting up in opposition to a fictitious law the equally fictitious moral principle that all products and profits, save only enough to repair and renew capital, belong by very right to the workers. [Capitalism and communism--opposite errors, but equally errors, both of them. AND, if workers become marxists, it's because they have not been treated justly by the capitalists.] This error [communism], much more specious than that of certain of the Socialists who hold that whatever serves to produce goods ought to be transferred to the State, or, as they say "socialized," is consequently all the more dangerous and the more apt to deceive the unwary. It is an alluring poison which many have eagerly drunk whom open Socialism had not been able to deceive. ... 
58. To each, therefore, must be given his own share of goods, and the distribution of created goods, which, as every discerning person knows, is laboring today under the gravest evils due to the huge disparity between the few exceedingly rich and the unnumbered propertyless, must be effectively called back to and brought into conformity with the norms of the common good, that is, social justice.

OK, so it's only 1931, we've only taken a look at one document from each of two popes, and so far, Francis seems to be in perfect alignment with them. Indeed, if Pius XI had said paragraph 58 today instead of in 1931, he'd be called a Marxist and Rush Limbaugh would be ripping what little hair he has out.

Let us skip over a few popes and decades to Blessed John XXIII and Mater et Magistra of 1961. Commenting on the economic conditions under which Leo XIII wrote Rerum Novarum, he said the following:
11. As is well known, the outlook that prevailed on economic matters was for the most part a purely naturalistic one, which denied any correlation between economics and morality. Personal gain was considered the only valid motive for economic activity. In business the main operative principle was that of free and unrestricted competition. Interest on capital, prices—whether of goods or of services—profits and wages, were to be determined by the purely mechanical application of the laws of the market place. Every precaution was to be taken to prevent the civil authority from intervening in any way in economic matters. The status of trade unions varied in different countries. They were either forbidden, tolerated, or recognized as having private legal personality only. 

12. In an economic world of this character, it was the might of the strongest which not only arrogated to itself the force of law, but also dominated the ordinary business relationships between individuals, and thereby undermined the whole economic structure

13. Enormous riches accumulated in the hands of a few, while large numbers of workingmen found themselves in conditions of ever-increasing hardship. Wages were insufficient even to the point of reaching starvation level, and working conditions were often of such a nature as to be injurious alike to health, morality and religious faith. Especially inhuman were the working conditions to which women and children were sometimes subjected. There was also the constant spectre of unemployment and the progressive disruption of family life. 

14. The natural consequence of all this was a spirit of indignation and open protest on the part of the workingman, and a widespread tendency to subscribe to extremist theories far worse in their effects than the evils they purported to remedy. ...
18. They concern first of all the question of work, which must be regarded not merely as a commodity, but as a specifically human activity. In the majority of cases a man's work is his sole means of livelihood. Its remuneration, therefore, cannot be made to depend on the state of the market. It must be determined by the laws of justice and equity. [Workers should be paid justly--not based solely on market forces. It would be exploitive to underpay people because they are desperate for work and income.] Any other procedure would be a clear violation of justice, even supposing the contract of work to have been freely entered into by both parties.
19. Secondly, private ownership of property, including that of productive goods, is a natural right which the State cannot suppress. But it naturally entails a social obligation as well. It is a right which must be exercised not only for one's own personal benefit but also for the benefit of others. [Your own property is not simply speaking your own--beause you simply speaking are not entirely autonomous. Your moral obligation is to use your property well--it's not so much that others have a legitmate say in what you do with it, as much as what your duty is. Just because it is left to your prudential judgment, that doesn't mean anything you choose to do is equally moral or equally satisfies that duty.]

20. As for the State, its whole raison d'etre is the realization of the common good in the temporal order. It cannot, therefore, hold aloof from economic matters. On the contrary, it must do all in its power to promote the production of a sufficient supply of material goods, "the use of which is necessary for the practice of virtue."
Now let's go to 1964 and the document from Vatical II called Gaudium et Spes:
[67]...Since economic activity for the most part implies the associated work of human beings, any way of organizing and directing it which may be detrimental to any working men and women would be wrong and inhuman. [this covers "any way" that dehumanizes the workers--that would include socialism as well as capitalism.] It happens too often, however, even in our days, that workers are reduced to the level of being slaves to their own work. This is by no means justified by the so-called economic laws. The entire process of productive work, therefore, must be adapted to the needs of the person and to his way of life, above all to his domestic life, especially in respect to mothers of families, always with due regard for sex and age. The opportunity, moreover, should be granted to workers to unfold their own abilities and personality through the performance of their work. Applying their time and strength to their employment with a due sense of responsibility, they should also all enjoy sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social and religious life. They should also have the opportunity freely to develop the energies and potentialities which perhaps they cannot bring to much fruition in their professional work. [Workers in justice deserve a living wage--and the opportunity to actually live outside the workplace. Now, it should be clear that capitalism gave us the 35-hour work week and 4 weeks of vacation for those high enough up the ladder--but it was also capitalism that has taken my 35-hour work week and made it 40 hours again, and which makes it 8.5 hours a day to get half a day off every other Friday during the summer months. Pretty much the whole world has an 8-hour day and a 40-hour week, and not the whole world is capitalistic.]

68. In economic enterprises it is persons who are joined together, that is, free and independent human beings created to the image of God. Therefore, with attention to the functions of each—owners or employers, management or labor—and without doing harm to the necessary unity of management, the active sharing of all in the administration and profits of these enterprises in ways to be properly determined is to be promoted. Since more often, however, decisions concerning economic and social conditions, on which the future lot of the workers and of their children depends, are made not within the business itself but by institutions on a higher level, the workers themselves should have a share also in determining these conditions.
A few years later, Paul VI published Populorum Progressio.  Under the heading "Unbridled Liberalism" (yes LIBERALISM!), he says:
26. However, certain concepts have somehow arisen out of these new conditions and insinuated themselves into the fabric of human society. These concepts present profit as the chief spur to economic progress, free competition as the guiding norm of economics, and private ownership of the means of production as an absolute right, having no limits nor concomitant social obligations.

This unbridled liberalism [!!!!] paves the way for a particular type of tyranny, rightly condemned by Our predecessor Pius XI, for it results in the "international imperialism of money."

Such improper manipulations of economic forces can never be condemned enough; let it be said once again that economics is supposed to be in the service of man.

But if it is true that a type of capitalism, as it is commonly called, has given rise to hardships, unjust practices, and fratricidal conflicts that persist to this day, it would be a mistake to attribute these evils to the rise of industrialization itself, for they really derive from the pernicious economic concepts that grew up along with it. We must in all fairness acknowledge the vital role played by labor systemization and industrial organization in the task of development.
OK, I'm gonna stop there for now. I'll get to JP-II and B-XVI in a future post, hopefully tomorrow.

But -- check this out -- unbridled capitalism in the minds of the mid-20th Century people who were living it -- is LIBERALISM. So what idea of liberalism is at work here? Only this: That "I" get to decide what is right and wrong, good and evil, and no one has the right to tell me otherwise. What is conservativism then? Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Overpopulation, schmoverpopulation

Check out this picture:


The majority of the people in the world live in a small section of it. Having lived in Wyoming for a few years and now living in the most densly populated state in the US, I have to say that people who live in cities have a distorted view of the population of the planet.

Source of the pic: http://twistedsifter.com/2013/08/maps-that-will-help-you-make-sense-of-the-world/

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Right-wing ugliness

The stats for this blog are microscopic.

But anyone who DOES read this blog knows one thing: I am no fan of our current president, his policies, or his party. It's guys like the president that have me resolved never to vote Democratic again.

And, although I do not wear my Catholicism on my sleeve, I strive to be consistent with the Catholic faith and represent it well. I am a theologian by education after all.

Now, the Pope has issued an apostolic exhortation. As far as papal documents go, an apostolic exhortation is not especially binding. According to this website, an apostolic exhortation is "a papal reflection on a particular topic that does not contain dogmatic definitions or policy directives, addressed to bishops, clergy and all the faithful of the entire Catholic Church. Apostolic exhortations are not legislative documents." If so, then the document is exactly what it says it is, an exhortation, a strong, ethusiastic suggestion, following which is left up to the prudential judgment of the people exhorted.

An encyclical or an apostolic letter, by contrast, is "a formal papal teaching document, not used for dogmatic definitions of doctrine, but to give counsel to the Church on points of doctrine that require deeper explanation in the light of particular circumstances or situations in various parts of the world." Its purpose is to explain and apply doctrine, and so there's less room for prudential judgment and more need for acceptance.

Rush Limbaugh and this fellow Sorrentino (an ex-Catholic) at Breitbart are having (as Fr. Z might say) spittle-flecked nutties over some of the economic exhortations the Pope has given in this document.

And the comments at Breitbart are full of such vitriol, bigotry, false readings, and demonizing, that one can see that the liberal accusation of the Tea Party being full of ignorant bigots apparently has some merit. These comments also have me hoping someone has the audacity to come up with a viable third party (the Tea Party is not it, because Breitbart attracts a lot of the Tea Partiers), so I can resolve never to vote Republican again, too.

All I can say to the radial right wingers is this: Catholics are not gonna fall in line behind you like the mindless sheep you think we are just because we can't stand the Democrats. And if that ticks you off, being bigotted against us isn't going to inspire us to follow you.

The opposite of one error isn't truth--it's usually another error. If excess is evil, so is deprivation. Truth is in the middle. If marxism is evil as excessive government control of the economy, that doesn't mean that government-sponsored economic anarchy is good. If heavy government regulation and redistributive programs are damaging to an economy and people's spirits by making them dependent on government and lazy, that doesn't mean we should have greedy profiteering that gives us shoddy and dangerous products, horrible working conditions, and low pay. Religious extremism is coupled not with religious moderation, but with atheism. Too much is paird with too little.

The Catholic faith, insofar as it proposes the truth, often proposes the "just right" in the middle.

I have a strong dislike of communism and modern liberalism. But today, I officially announce a strong dislike of the opposite end of the spectrum, too.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Obamacare, Thanksgiving, and Indigestion

This is going to backfire, Mr. President.

The Obama campaign arm - the man is always campaigning instead of presiding - is apparently trying to persuade supporters of Obamacare to persuade their family members over Thanksgiving dinner.

Why will this backfire?  Three reasons:
  • There are way too few supporters of Obamacare--if anyone brings up the topic, you can be sure that about 70% of the people around the table will be hostile to it. Just think. Alcohol, football, overeating, normal family discussions and interpersonal fireworks, and relatives one can't stand anyway but is trying to get along with for the sake of the holiday -- and said relative mentions, "Hey, let me tell you why I think the ACA is great!" Might as well try and fix a heating oil leak while smoking.
  • People have way more important and interesting things to talk about.
  • Even if Obamacare supporters succeed in persuading their family members, the new converts will not be able to sign up! The call centers will be closed and the website is (still) not working. So they'll have the weekend, or at least until the tryptophan and alcohol wear off, to come to their senses.
Hey I think I figured out Team Obama's strategy! Get people while they're drowsy and tipsy!

Ha, ha. Won't work for me. Talking about Obamacare under such conditions is only likely to make me cranky.

Also, I'd like to make an observation. Team Obama is apprently telling people to "have the talk" -- in this case, meaning about Obamacare. But "to have the talk" is usually what happens between a parent and child when that child is maturing physically and needs to know the "facts of life." It's "the talk." THE talk.

After talking about voting for the first time for Obama being like losing one's virginity, after using blatant sex and the availability of free contraception to promote Obamacare, I am totally not surprised that Team Obama is talking about "having the talk." Ugh. Is that all they think about?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Are we sensing a pattern in Mideast violence yet?

A few months ago we saw how those brave warriors of Boko Haram faced a Christian elementary school in Nigeria and burned the students alive. I posited at the time that the unrest throughout the mid-east appears to be targeting Christians to drive out the remnant from what used to be Christian lands. I wondered whose side the US should be on in Syria. But the plight of Christians in Iraq and elsewhere is underreported in the mainstream media.

And then comes this: Syrian rebels are specifically targeting non-combatant Christian facilities, like schools, the Apostolic Nunciature, and churches. I find it funny how, now that the Russians are commanding the conversation instead of us on Syria, Syria is out of the mainstream news.

But at the same time, so are this attacks on defenseless Chrstians facilities.

Children. They are targeting and killing children. They are rebelling against Assad and they are killing Christian children.

No. These actions are not of God.

And yes. There is a pattern here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The beginning of the duty to die

Wesley Smith has often said that the mere legal availability of euthanasia (and with it assisted suicide) to respect the "right" to die with "dignity" will lead to a duty to die.

Only the selfish will choose life over death. Selfish because in dying slowly rather than quickly they:
  • Consume massive amounts of healthcare resources and medicines, depriving others more needing of it
  • Impose needless expenses on loved ones as well as the health system
  • Cause those loved ones needless suffering by having to watch the dying person deteriorate and making them make special trips to hospitals or other facilities
  • Only extend their own suffering with modest gains in life duration and no gain or even decrements of life quality
Therefore, people should just hurry up and die when they find themselves in difficult situations.

Here is an article complaining about how, in Australia, the slowly dying consume one-fourth of that country's entire health budget. It is titled, "Too much medicine wasted on the dying, end-of-life care report says." Doctors are "pleading" with patients to ensure that, when the time comes, they don't make the problem worse.

Now, it is undoubtedly true that at least some of the aged and the infirm receive inappropriate or futile care or even care they would otherwise refuse - but the dramatic cases they discuss are hardly typical. To get our imaginations going, the article cites the 70-something man with kidney failure and respiratory distress who needed emergency heart surgery that ended up taking 9 hours (very expensive), using 20 units of blood (excessive consumption), and displacing three other heart surgeries (presumably of people who were more deserving), only to die after 13 days in the (very expensive) ICU. First of all, I have a question - were his other difficulties a result of the heart condition? If so, then emergency heart surgery would probably seem like the right course. If the fellow had kidney and respiratory failure due to other reasons and an unrelated heart condition, then maybe the intervention for the heart condition would have been a little agressive. But it sounds like they went in and found something unexpected with the heart, so maybe the pre-op workup was faulty.

Yet, with this as the example, we are given to think that Australia is plagued by frail, dying elderly people getting massive, aggressive interventions that are basically pointless and deprive others of needed health resources.

It also mentions that 90% of people would prefer to die at home than in a hospital. I can buy that.

Yet, I believe that 100% of them would rather receive potentially life-saving care in the hospital rather than at home. To the moron who justified depriving people of potentially life-saving care because 90% of people don't want to die in a hospital: People don't go to a hospital when they are dying to die - they go when they are dying to stay alive. People who are dying stand a much better chance of living if they go to a hospital.

And that is precisely the problem, isn't it?

So if I were pro-euthanasia, I'd keep up this rhetoric for a while. Maybe float a mandatory "living will" law, knowing it will fail. Then keep at it. Sooner or later, we'll have a country that passes not just a "right to die" law, but a "duty to die" law.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

That ridiculous contraception ad for Obamacare

I object to this ad on numerous levels.

You have heard of this ad, featuring a young lady on oral contraceptives oh so happy she can have sex safely with that.... I-guess-he's-attractive-but-he-looks-slimy-to-me.... "guy" - I hesitate to use the word "man"... because she is sooooo smart and signed up for health insurance that lets her pay $300 a month (or whatever) to someone to pay for her $30 a month contraceptives.

First, let me object on professional grounds. I am a creative director in healthcare advertising, and this ad is, what we say in the business, "sh*t." Yes, that is the technical term for it.
  • It is creatively bankrupt. It is a lampoon of the iconic and ingenious "Got milk?" campaign, which just turned 20. Gotta hand it to the dairy folks' ad agency for coming up with that one. It was brilliant. (I especially loved the commercial that revealed the origin of the name, Oreo.) But an agency that spins a 20-year-old milk adverstising campaign for health insurance is just lazy and stupid. It might be funny, if you're, like, OMG! 12.
  • And using "OMG!" OMG, really? That is supposed to be hip and sexy and smart and all that? C'mon, Yahoo uses it for its silly entertainment gossip "news," even my wife's gym uses it (but spins it to "Our Monthly Guarantee" which is what you gotta do if you're gonna use a cliche). Again, maybe it's ok if the audience is, like, 12 or 13. And OMG! what kind of slimy "guy" likes a girl who talks like that? LOL! WT*! Man.
  • And "let's get physical" -- what, from an Olivia Newton John song from 1981?? Anyway, this makes three - count them, three -- overplayed, trite, and inept cliches in the first 6 words of the ad. If my copywriter came to me with this, I'd be really ticked.
  • Regarding the graphics, it looks composed in Photoshop of two separate people. It is an unreal composition. She is too small, her hips are too high in relation to his for their relative heights. Her expression is over the top too happy about having birth control. And, the birth control was probably PhotoShopped into her hand. She is more likely (this is just a guess) in the original photo to have been holding something like, say, an iPhone than birth control.
I will tell you who the hip, young advertising pros are who did this ad. They're people who were irresponsible hippy teeanagers in the 1970s, aging 30-something teenagers when "Physical" came out, jealous that someone else younger and smarter than them came up with the Got Milk? campaign in their 40s, and who are now in their 60s. Aging hippies who think they think young and who wished they had "free" birth control back in the day. There is no other way to explain it.

Now I will object to it on a bioethical level.
  • It proves that Obamacare health insurance isn't about taking care of your health, but about facilitating your indulgent pleasures -- at taxpayer expense. The ad is very explicit about having insurance coverage so she doesn't have to worry about having sex.
  • Birth control pills are not medicines. They are drugs, but not medicines. They alter the body's normal, healthy functioning and make it function abnormally. They neither treate nor prevent any disease but regard health and pregnancy as diseases. For these reasons, they are unethical on the face of it.
  • Their mode of action may include abortifacient effects
  • They are not a legitimate part of health care, but a lifestyle choice; although it is understandable that people who want them would rationalize it as "health care" since they are drugs and require a doctor's prescription. Yet they address no health issue and such people should, like people who want cosmetic surgery, just pay for it themselves
  • Birth control should not be covered by health insurance, or if it is, the customer should pay for that coverage separately
  • That the government is focusing on this issue to drive up enrollment is telling
  • It demeans women and exploits them, it reduces them to making major life decisions based on the effect of those decisions on their sex life - most importantly, it comes off to me as a ludicrous and weak attempt to rally the liberal, self-indulgent Obamacare base
Now I will object to it as a theologian.
  • "OMG!" means "Oh my God!" Actually, it probably should be "O my God!" In many cases, it is indeed a prayer and not always taking the name of God in vain. But here, it is sacreligious.
  • It is insidious that it uses this phrase in this context of sexual promiscuity and immorality
  • It says "all she has to worry about" in having sex with the "guy" is actually convincing him to have sex with her. There is a little disclaimer about sexually transmitted diseases, so she still has to worry about that, too. But what about if the guy turns out to be a jerk? What if he turns out to be an abuser? What if she falls in love with him and he turns out to just want her for sex, since that was the whole purpose of them hooking up? What about her immortal soul? She has a lot to worry about actually.
Now I will object to it as a man.
  • If the male human being in this ad is supposed to be a "hot" guy, ok, well, look, I am not a young woman so I have no idea what they think of as a hot guy. I think he looks slimy.
  • Men are only as slimy as women let us get away with. Now, I'm not blaming women - men should find it in themselves to be decent men. But, if women are "easy" then men are going to resist commitment and will act like immature brats and dump them when the relationship gets too difficult or requires too much sacrifice. The guy in the add seems like such a guy, because he's hooking up with a chemically sterilized airhead floozy who thinks he's hot
  • I object to the notion that such a man is a desirable man, or that getting "between the sheets" with such a man is WHY someone should buy for health insurance
But, in the last presidential election, Mr Obama ran an ad about the "first time" someone voted, making it sound like it was losing one's virginity - to Obama. So, I am totally not surprised.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The days of natural child conception are over

Call me an alarmist, but a new gene splitting, repairing, and reattaching technique has been developed. Now it is possible to take an early embryo, test one of its cells for genetic disorders, cut out the defective genetic sequence, replace it with a normal bit, and reassert it in the cell to let the baby develop without that genetic disease.

But this is only possible with IVF.

Already proponents of the technology are saying how unethical it would be to allow a child to live with a disease that could be repaired with this genetic technique.

And that means a couple conceiving in the natural way are doing something unethical if there is any chance that their child could have a genetic disorder.

Call me an alarmist, but some day, you will see natural conception occuring only in places in the world where the technology is not available. Maybe not next year. Maybe not in 10 years. But it will happen.

Of course, with all bioethical issues, the proponents of the practice emphasize the ability to treat diseases and reduce suffering, which are in themselves noble goals.

But the technique can also be used to "fix" perfectly normal but in some way undesired traits. Such as hair color. Sex. Physical stature. Intelligence, insofar as this is genetic. Looks. Possibly talents and athletic abilities. Or traits of animals, such as the ability to glow in the dark.

Or vice-versa. Making super-intelligent animals, or other human-animal hybrids of some kind. Monsters from Greek mythology will be walking the earth.

The transhumanists are gonna love this. And they WILL be making genetically modified humans to server their vanity, er, I mean, progress. No, I really mean vanity.

Call me an alarmist, but normal, natural being-a-human-being is gonna change forever.

Monday, November 4, 2013

But he didn't think it was a person!

Here's a story about a guy and his friend out hunting Bigfoot in Oklahoma.

OK, that's already a comical combination of words, I know.

So what happened is this. They were out hunting, and were apparently not very close to each other. The one guy hears barking noises, turns around, and fires -- and shoots his buddy in the back. The buddy survived but clearly when a hunter shoots at his prey, his intention is to kill the thing he's shooting at.

I am not saying he wanted to kill his friend. I am just saying that shooting is an act ordered to killing, and he shot at something that happened to be his friend.

He has been arrested and charged with reckless conduct with a firearm for the shooting. It seems he should have known that what he was trying to kill was a human being.

It seems to me, though, that being out in the woods of Oklahoma, that it could have been many, many things bedsides a human. It could have been a deer, or a bear, or a wolf, a bush, or even maybe Bigfoot. Still, I happen to agree, he should have positively ruled out that it was a human being before shooting. In fact, he should have also ruled out that it was any out-of-season animal. But primarily, he needed to be certain it was not a human being. And he wasn't certain -- because it was a human being.

An argument in support of abortion is that what is growing and living inside a woman's uterus is not a human being. Or, that we can't know for sure that it is.

We can know for sure what it isn't. It isn't Bigfoot. It definitely isn't a bear or wolf or deer or shrub. We know that for certain.

And yet, do we not have the same moral obligation as the hunter? To rule out with certainty that it isn't a human being?

Now, the shooter could claim that HE was certain it wasn't his friend or any other person when he fired. But we know from later on that it was, and he knows now he was mistaken. Therefore, he didn't know well enough and his certitude was based on insufficient evidence. Had he waited for more evidence, he would have gotten the certitude that he needed.

Yet with abortion, the standard of evidence is all topsy-turvy. The less we know, the more certain we are it's not a human being, the more we can do the procedure without any moral difficulty.

We know, if we doubt it to be a member of the human species, that it certainly cannot be a member of any other species, either. We know it has some relation to the human species in some way, because of the way it came into existence. We know it is alive, or else an abortion would not be necessary. We know if an abortion is not performed, and everything goes normally, a human baby will be born, or else there would be no need for abortion.

That is the whole point of abortion - to prevent the last thing said - the eventual birth of a human baby - from happening. Say what you want about abortion, that is what it boils down to: An abortion is "necessary" because without one a human baby will be born. The object of destruction is that future human baby, as much as the undeveloped contents of the woman's uterus.

And yet, "we don't know when personhood occurs" is a defense of abortion. Ignorance justifies the procedure.

But ignorance is precisely the crime that the hunter who shot his friend is guilty of.

That's the world we live in.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Yahoo CEO's ethical dilemma - and the NSA's ethical confusion

Sometimes I think that I'm gonna get myself into big trouble with the blog. Luckily, very few people read it. (Did a blogger just say that? Wow. And in a nation that values Freedom of Speech.)

So, the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, gave an interview in which she said she was pressured by the NSA and its branches into complying with their demands for data -- by threatening her with prosecution for treason.


So she can either be a traitor and protect the privacy of personal emails and other stuff and go to jail, or give in and help - help - the government spy on its citizens and go on drawing a huge salary and living the high life.

She chose the latter.

Ethically speaking, being a traitor, when one is actually a traitor, is unethical. Betraying your country is not good.

But we need to make some distinctions.

The government is not the country. Resisting the government is not in itself treason. We are in trouble if "our nation" and "the government" are one and the same. If they are, there will come a time when petitioning the government for redress of grievances will be seen as treason. Any proposal to change the government will be treason. Everyone will be an enemy of the state just for disagreeing with the government's policies on any matter whatsoever. No, the nation is not the government. The rule of law in this nation is the Constitution, and the Constitution protects both freedom of speech and privacy.

But for now, breaking the country's laws is not in itself treason. I fail to see how Mayer could be considered a traitor in any respect. Contempt of court (for refusing to abide by an order of the all-powerful Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) maybe. Obstruction of justice, perhaps. Withholding of evidence.


Now look, if Yahoo KNEW who of its users - and I mean real people, not MrDucky2013@rocketmail.com, were using its services for evil against our country, and it went out of its way to protect or assist them, then maybe that would be treason.

But was the Post Office guilty of treason for delivering anthrax-laced packages? Does the NSA have the right to open people's physical mail? If not, why not? Is it because the USPS is a branch of the government, or because of the sender's and recipient's privacy rights? If the latter, then why is not email accorded the same treatment?

Notice I asked if the NSA has the right to open people's mail. I did not ask whether or not they do open people's mail. There's a difference between a government's agent opening mail and having the right to do so.

But if it's treason to say that the government and the nation are not the same thing, then call me a traitor. I am a proud and patriotic American, and AS SUCH, I find tyranny objectionable. It is possible for the government of the United States of America to become a tyranny, and it would be FOR THE SAKE of the nation, out of LOVE for the nation, to resist the government.

Melissa mayer made her choice. I wonder if I'd have made the same.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

If I could ask President Obama a question today, 9/11/13

Dear Mr. President,

Why on earth have you been so desirous to attack a government that has done nothing to us to defend rebels who include our enemies, when you have done nothing but stonewall and hem and haw where it concerns a murderous attack by those enemies on one of our consulates?

Seriously, Mr. President, why this hyped-up push to punish Assad in light of your immense foot dragging and stonewalling in response to Benghazi?

I just want to know.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Whose side is Obama on in Syria?

Seriously, I want to know.

I know that he is vaguely anti-Assad, but that doesn't say much.

Whose side is he on?

The side of THESE rebels, who are also anti-Assad?

I know whose side I'm on.

I'm on the side of the Christians.

Dear Mr Obama: The CHRISTIANS are the real victims in Syria. THE CHRISTIANS. You want to intervene in Syria? Take the part of the Christians and I'll support you. But if you attack Assad, you merely fuel the destruction of the Christians. And honestly, I feel more strongly connected to the dead Christians lying in the street of Maaloula than I do to any non-Christian gas attack victims.

And so what if the Muslims accuse you have launching "a crusade." First of all, the Muslims don't need excuses like that to hate the US. You attack Assad, and Iranian Muslims will hate you. Don't, and Al-Quaeda Muslims will hate you. And besides, the Crusades were for the most part wars to defend Christians fighting to keep their homelands from Muslim invaders.

At any rate, it's the Christians who are the biggest victims in all this fighting. O Great Liberal, take the side of this voiceless, helpless group of the disenfranchised victims of imperialistic, militaristic fundamentalists.

Oh, I forgot. Liberalism isn't really about speaking for the voiceless and helping the helpless and all that, now is it?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Where is Susan Sarandon when you need her?

Ten years ago, Susan Sarandon and whole bunch of Hollywood types were having hissy fits over American military incursions into Iraq.

Now that our Fearless Leader is trying to punish Syria, we have to wonder where these anti-war peaceniks are. They are remarkably silent.

Now say what you like about the Iraq expedition, I won't argue with you. But let's at least learn from this.

Is Assad really the enemy here? Is the opposition really pro-democracy with American-style civil rights, like, say, freedom of religion and the exalted position homosexuals and women now hold in the power structures of the establishment?

I am personally dubious.

Now, it could very well be that NEITHER side in the Syrian conflict is a side that America should take. Maybe two camps of our enemies are fighting each other. Maybe it's Al Qaeda versus a Russian-sympathizing dictator. Maybe it's two arms of barbarism killing each other off.

Maybe it's time we protect Israel but let the rest of the mideast annihilate each other. They've been doing it for centuries. Tribal and sectarian warfare is their national pastime. What makes us think we're gonna stop it? Protect Israel but otherwise stay out of it.

But if we're serious about responding to the "slaughter," as Kerry put it, then we have dig a little deeper than accusing Assad of chemical warfare.

You know why Iraq didn't work out the way we hoped 10 years ago? I'll tell you. It's because we didn't seek and destroy radical Islamists. Maybe all Moslems are radial Islamists - it could very well be. But some are clearly so. And the attempt to stop short of eradicating them, to "let the democratic process work," only left the infection festering in the wound. If you want to cure an infected wound you have to eradicate the infecting organism. E. Rad.I.Cate.

If we are going to respond to the slaughter in the hope of ending it, then we have to get rid of those perpetrating slaughter, and honestly, it's not just Assad. Maybe BOTH sides in Syria (and Iraq and Iran and Egypt and Pakistan and Afghanistan and so on and so on) need to be gotten rid of.

Maybe we should start supporting the CHRISTIANS in the middle east who have been driven out of the area. You know, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, Saudi Arabi - these were all Christian countries once. Yep, Christian. Christian. What happened to the Christians? Islam. Why is Spain still (at least nominally) Christian and Lebanon not? Christian forces succeeded thwarting Islam in Spain but not in Lebanon. But I digress.

Now if we do not have the resolve in war to eradicate the infection, then we should not enter into the war. And insofar as we lacked that resolve in Iraq, so we should not have even entered the country, and yeah, I never thought I'd say this, but I think I now agree with Susan Sarandon. But not for the same reasons as her. She would say, "all war (uh, perpetrated by a Republican) is evil." I would say, "All war in which the real enemy is not well recognized and not defeated is evil." Well there are other evil wars, but assuming that going to war itself is justified, it's an evil war that that does not accomplish its goals.

Sec. Kerry meanwhile is calling it dangerous - dangerous - to American security not to attack Assad. And what shall we do? Airstrikes, but no US foot soldiers. Just CIA-trained Syrian foot soldiers. What is this going to accomplish? That American means what it says and that our allies can count on us, like Kerry says? Is that the purpose of this?

Oh, he said we should not standby and watch the slaughter. Slaughter. OK. What about the slaughter in Nigeria? Sudan? China? Egypt? What about the slaughter of American citizens in Lybia? Why is THIS slaughter so important for us to intervene in? Because Obama said he would if Assad crossed a red line? Because Obama's credibility is on the line? Believe me, this won't help Obama's credibility.

Does not any US action in the area bring more vitriol against Israel? How does that help our national security in the mideast?

I am unconvinced of the Sec. of State's arguments.

But I will say this.

If we go into Syria, we better ACCOMPLISH something MORE than a repair to our reputation that has been systematically undermined since the present administration took office. Poor Assad. The scapegoat for Obama's failures.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Deleting some posts

Namely three posts pertaining to advertisements run by our illustrious president, which happen to be getting the most visits on my blog. I am assuming that these visits are automated anyway.

Oh well, my stats - which are nothing to write home about to begin with - are gonna drop about 80%.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Well THIS is interesting!

I'll just put in the link...

You know, this blog isn't what you call popular. But if anyone out there who does happen to read this - and I'm not counting on whatever bot it is that keeps hitting my post about Obama ads appearing on my blog during the 2012 campaign - so if any real human happens to really read this and wants to comment, I'll ad my views.

But considering the topic, please use good taste if you decide to comment!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The DOJ, Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin, and the Federal Thought Police - UPDATES

OK, I think one of the good things the Federal Government does is have a Department of Justice. I think though, this is also a department that can easily be abused.

Here is the FoxNews story about how the DOJ is looking into filing civil rights charges against Zimmerman. Here is a paragraph quoting Attorney General Holder, a man who is at least 4 years in office longer than he should be:

He added that the shooting provides an opportunity to speak "honestly" about the charged issues involved in the case, and that "we must not ... let this opportunity pass." Holder even appeared to suggest the possibility of bias in this case, saying it's important to address "underlying attitudes, mistaken beliefs and stereotypes that serve as the basis for these too common incidents."
So now the DOJ is concerned about THOUGHT. They must investigate whether Zimmerman's "attitudes" and "beliefs" and functional "stereotypes" are "underlying" his choice to kill Martin, and that maybe if his attitudes were different, his beliefs not "mistaken" and so on, that maybe Martin would be alive today.

If someone is bashing your head against the sidewalk, I think if you have a fairly low opinion of the assailant, if your attitude toward him is bad, your beliefs about him are negative, and you've classified him as possibly a homicidal thug, you'd be right and well within your rights of using a gun, and you've shown restraint up until this moment if you haven't used it yet. And if you're a black homosexual whose head is being beaten against the sidewalk by a white, straight male, I'd say the same thing as if the roles were reversed. They guy bashing your head may just kill you and you should defend yourself.

NOW, honestly, I didn't follow this case very closely. But what I just said has nothing to do with race. And the last thing you're gonna do with your bloodied, bashed head is use it to ponder whether or not defending yourself is gonna get you in trouble because people are gonna PROFILE YOU as a racist and ACCUSE YOU of profiling your assailant because of his race. 

And that is a very liberal tactic. Accuse the opposition of the very thing you are doing. Yes, because Zimmerman killed a black man, the liberals are profiling him as a racist.

My point, though, is that the DOJ has determined, as a matter of justice worthy of a federal investigation, investigate attitudes, beliefs, and stereotypes held by a potential perpetrator. 

They have officially made themselves - and have explicitly done so - the Thought Police.


MEANWHILE, according to the allegations of the apparent victim, a group of black males randomly abducted and assaulted a white male, for no clear reason other than in retaliation "for Trayvon." Sorry, but this, if it's true, does nothing to undo false stereotypes.

Also, even though the lady in the picture in this article is totally correct with her placard that says, "Being black is not a crime," it must be said that Trayvon was not killed for being black. Furthermore, looting, pillaging, stopping traffic on a freeway, and attacking innocent people on a sidewalk ARE crimes. And what brought on this behavior? A black man who was in a fight with an Hispanic man got shot and the Hispanic man was found innocent by reason of self defense, and the rioters - the article calls them protestors, but they are really a violent, rioting MOB - didn't like the verdict. Why did they feel justified in vandalism, stealing, violence, and assault against those people, what did those people DO to deserve such treatment? Nothing, except live in a society where an Hispanic man can kill a black man in self defense and be acquitted of murder and manslaughter.

Let's see if the DOJ investigates the rioters' thoughts, THEIR beliefs, attitudes, and stereotypes that led to these WIDESPREAD violence and law breaking. Zimmerman broke no laws, apparently. And these rioters? Let's see law enforcement in action, and learn whether the DOJ has some underlying beliefs, attitudes, and stereotypes at work themselves.