Thursday, December 16, 2004

More Details

Okay, here are a few more details regarding my successful completion of the doctorate...

My dissertation is entitled, "The Sinfulness of the Justified in Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue in the United States of America". I sought to examine the Lutheran & Catholic scholarship on the issue of justification in general and concupiscence in particular to see if and how we might resolve our differences on the question of the simul justus et peccator (at the same time just and sinner); that is, can the sinful tendencies (concupiscence) which remain after baptism be described as sin (as Lutherans do) or not (the Catholic position)?

In order to complete my task, I examined virtually every piece of scholarship produced by American Lutherans and Catholics on these issues, and synthesized them according to argument. I then analyzed and critiqued each category of argument in order to find which was most likely to resolve the differences, and I then developed and elaborated the argument "most likely to succeed".

In the end, I argued that throughout the Catholic tradition, mortal sin is the only proper sense of sin, but that the term "sin" is applied in other instances in analogous sense (venial and original). I argued that an analogous sense of sin may also be applied to concupiscence, and hence that there was sufficient "room" in our dogmatic tradition to call concupiscence in the justified "sin". I also argued that we not only can do so, but should do so, for ecumenical reasons but also because it would help to heal that rift between dogmatic theology and spirituality which folks like Hans Urs von Balthasar have decried for so long.

So, that's the argument of my dissertation. It was approved for defense by my moderator (Rev. Fred Bliss, SM) and the censor/second-reader (Rev. Charles Morerod, OP). At the defense, I had 20 minutes to explain my dissertation & its arguments, and then addressed questions from my moderator (20 min.), from the censor (20 min.), and from others (that ended up being about 15 min.).

The panel (moderator, censor, and vice-dean) then left the room to consult, and after a few minutes, returned to inform me and the (naturally captive) audience that I was awarded the doctorate in sacred theology (the infamous acronym of STD, the canonical equivalent of a PhD).

I found out two days later that I received 19/20 on the dissertation, and 30/30 on the defense, scores which naturally pleased me. However (if that's the right word), the dissertation score is multiplied by just over 3, giving me (on a scale of 1-100) a score of 96.3. Because 97.5 is necessary to received summa cum laude, I received magna cum laude instead. But hey... a week before the defense, I was telling people that I didn't care if I got any honors... I just wanted to get through the defense! Of course, I would have loved to receive summa, but I'm very happy to receive the scores I did.

So there you have it -- how I achieved the title of Dr. Chris Burgwald. It took me three years in Rome and seven years overall, but I got that STD!

Friday, December 10, 2004


I'm (obviously) pleased to inform the readers of this blog that onTuesday night (Rome time) I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation and in so doing earned Doctorate in Sacred Theology.

More later, but needless to say, your prayers were much appreciated.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Prayers welcome

Well, it's nearly upon me: my doctoral defense will take place next Tuesday, December 7th at 5:00 PM at the Angelicum in Rome (that's 10:00 AM Central time, and I'll let the rest of you figure it out from there for your own time zone).

Preparation for the defense accounts for the sparse posting and commenting of late (I plan to reply to some of the comments in the last post), as I'm sure you can imagine. I hope to blog more frequently after the New Year, but I will let you know how things go in Rome.

So, any prayers you can offer for safe travel for us and a successful defense are -- needless to say -- most welcome.

Talk to you all soon.

Monday, November 15, 2004


The folks at The Village Gate want to help America "move past its adolescence" (meaning, of course, those "adolescents" who reelected the President, i.e. narrow-minded judgmental bigots like myself).

I propose that we help help the left move past its college freshmenness. You know how college freshman can be... they take a philosophy 101 or liberal arts core class, and suddenly they know what's best, how to solve the world's problems, and how their elders are backward thinkers.

This behavioral status has been manifested of late in the diatribes by various left-leaning folk against the Red State Morons (as they would have it).

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Justice, Rights, and the Culture War

In the aftermath of the election, I've been reading a number of liberal blogs -- Christian and secular -- to see how things are going. I've mentioned some of what I've seen previously, in other posts. Here I want to begin a discussion about another complaint I see being made: oppression.

If you read blogs (political ones in particular), you will have seen that the "moral values" issue was the major topic of discussion for most of the past week, in light of the fact that some 22% of voters pegged that as their number one issue in voting, and some 80% of them went for Bush. Quite a few bloggers (here, predominantly on the left) connected that with the same-sex marriage issue. The argument goes like this: Bush (or rather, Rove) made sure that constitutional amendments on marriage were on the ballots in a number of states (eleven, to be precise), betting that this culture war issue would result in a huge turnout of evangelical Christians, who would also vote for Bush; and he was right.

Now, although this argument was very popular late last week, many bloggers and pundits didn't accept it, including yours truly... to me, "moral values" refers first to the life issues, than to other things. A number of commentators made similar arguments, and over the last four or five days, the previous argument has waned in popularity.

Nonetheless, a number of liberals still think that Bush won this election thanks -- essentially -- to all the homophobes in the red states who have empowered the President to continue to deny them basic civil rights, i.e. the right to marry their same-sex partners. Bush et al -- the assertions go -- are oppressing gays & lesbians; they are denying them their civil right to marry; they are unjustly discriminating against them.

Here's the thing: it's easy to assert that one's rights are being denied. But in the face of opposition -- and especially when your position constitutes a radical departure from the past -- you also need to demonstrate that you actually possess the right that's allegedly being denied.

Let me put it another way. I think those who cry "discrimination!" when the government refuses to marry them have an insufficient understanding of justice. Justice is (classically) defined as giving someone what they are due. But the very point of the same-sex marriage controversy lies in the last four words: "what they are due". Is it due to someone that they may marry someone of the same sex? If so, what is the rational argument in defense of that claim? Thus far, I have never seen these questions addressed. I see plenty of people (gay & straight) saying that it's unjust to disallow gay marriages, but I've yet to see a rational demonstration of the right to marry someone of the same sex.

I'm sure that proponents of same sex marriage are mystified and dumbfounded by this line of argument. After all, why can't gays & lesbians marry? Their right to marry is, well, self-evident, and the only reason people like me can't see that is because we either hate, fear, or don't understand gays & lesbians.

I'm sorry, but that won't cut it.

There is a rational basis for every right we possess, and hence there is a rational argument which can be made to set forth any particular right, in every case.

Again, I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of justice at work here. To help illustrate this, I'd like to quote from the document, "Family, Marriage and 'De facto' Unions" issued in 2000 by the Pontifical Council for the Family:
    (10) Equality before the law must respect the principle of justice which means treating equals equally, and what is different differently: i.e., to give each one his due in justice.This principle of justice would be violated if de facto unions were given a juridical treatment similar or equivalent to the family based on marriage. If the family based on marriage and de facto unions are neither similar nor equivalent in their duties, functions and services in society, then they cannot be similar or equivalent in their juridical status.

    The pretext used for exerting pressure to recognize de facto unions (i.e., their “non-discrimination”) implies a real discrimination against the family based on marriage because it would be considered on a level similar to any other form of cohabitation, regardless of whether there is a commitment to reciprocal fidelity and the begetting and up-bringing of children or not. The orientation of some political communities today of discriminating against marriage by attributing an institutional status to de facto unions that is similar, or even equivalent to marriage and the family, is a serious sign of the contemporary breakdown in the social moral conscience, of “weak thought” with regard to the common good, when it is not a real and proper ideological imposition exerted by influential pressure groups.
Now, the Council is referring here to de facto unions in general and not to same-sex unions in particular, but the point is the same: justice involves treating equals equally, and unequals unequally, and same-sex unions and marriages between man and woman simply are not equals. Why? Because the former are not ordered to the procreation and education of children, while the latter are, even if the couple doesn't have any children.

If same sex unions are going to be equated with marriages between a man and a woman, someone must at least attempt to argue that there is a right to marry someone of the same sex. I haven't seen that yet.

Now, before I get flamed, I want to make something perfectly clear: I don't hate or fear gays and lesbians. Yes, I do know homosexuals. This has nothing to do with denying anybody their rights, but is all about recognizing the natural order of marriage and the family. If you want to disagree with me, fine. But don't do so by merely accusing me of bigotry and discrimination; instead, make your case. Show me how marriage is open to same sex unions. And when you do so, know that my first question will be this: if it's unjust to deny marriage to gays and lesbians, why isn't it unjust to deny marriage to more than two people? So make sure that your argument takes that into account.

Again, this isn't about hatred or fear. It's about recognizing how we are created and what the natural order of the family is meant to be. In other words, it's how we are all meant to find fulfillment and true, lasting happiness.

More on the justice thing to come.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Is this guy on to something?

Andrew, the Backseat Philosopher, is a Democrat. Today he penned a post entitled, "To My Fellow Democrats". The post opens as follows:

    We Democrats are supposedly the party of the therapists, the teachers, and the 'relationship experts.' If anybody would be proud of the title, 'active listener', it would be a Democrat. We're the soft ones who understand where the other side is coming from and negotiate.

    Many Democrats think that our patience and understanding are our weakness. "We don't know how to fight like the Republicans," we all told ourselves after Florida 2000. "We have to be more like them: tougher, meaner." "We have to energize our base more."

    Actually, no. Our error is that we Democrats are far less understanding than we think we are. Our version of understanding the other side is to look at them from a psychological point of view while being completely unwilling to take their arguments seriously. "Well, he can't help himself, he's a right-wing religious zealot, so of course he's going to think like that." "Republicans who never served in war are hypocrites to send young men to die. " "Republicans are homophobes, probably because they can't deal with their secret desires." Anything but actually listening and responding to the arguments being made.

    And when I say 'responding,' I don't just mean 'coming up with the best counterargument and pushing it.' Sometimes responding to an argument means finding the merit in it and possibly changing one's position. That is part of growth, right?

I think he's on to something, but I'll let me Democratic family and friends let me know.

I honestly believe that what is needed in politics today is an attempt to crawl inside the other side's head and try to understand where they're coming from; to attempt to construct the best possible argument for an opposing viewpoint, not merely to debunk it, but to understand where the other guy is coming from.

Now, you always won't be successful in the attempt. It was precisely my inability to understand John Kerry on abortion & embryonic stem cell research that led me to conclusions which provoked angry responses. I simply saw no rational basis for his position, and it angered me.

But I really believe that we need to do more to try to understand one another. What that requires, though, is a real grappling with issues, and it's honestly something I've had a hard time doing lately with many of those who disagree with me. That's one reason that led me to stop commenting at The Village Gate/The Right Christians... I simply felt that my ideas were never engaged by those who disagreed with them. Rather than reason and interact with my ideas, they attacked me. And I've seen the same thing happen in reverse.

Nonetheless, I still think that we (me included) need to do more to make this attempt.

I hope this is just post-election hysteria

I've seen way too many liberals responding to the election as if George Bush is about to install a theocracy (for example, see these comments, and many of the posts here).

What this tells me is that people who believe this simply have no idea who people like me are. Somehow, conservative Christian is equated with Pat Robertson. Now, Pat and I might share some common views, but he definitely does not reflect my theology nor how my theology impacts my politics. I have absolutely zero interest in a theocracy, and I know that the vast majority of people who think like me are in the same boat.

The "moral values" people who gave Bush the election aren't interested in theocracy... they're just interested in human rights (in the case of abortion) and maintaining the traditional family structure (in the case of same-sex marriage). Neither of these require the imposition of a religious viewpoint, meaning that they can be understood through reason alone. That they aren't is sometimes the fault of those making the argument, and sometimes the fault of those hearing it. Either way, we don't need to replace the Constitution with the Bible or the Catechism to make the pro-life and pro-family case. For whatever reason (and the fault is sometimes our own), that's not typically understood by those who disagree with those views.

There is no theocracy coming. Hopefully, just a better recognition of human dignity and the nature of the human family.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


It's with a sense of relief, gratitude, and -- most of all -- excitement that I write this post. 24 hours ago, my mood was much different, as I was still absorbing the first round of exit poll data (get rid of 'em, I say!).

But today, I am pleased to see a Bush re-election (over 50% of the popular vote, not done by a Presidential candidate since 1988!), a Daschle loss (his first ever!), the passage of marriage amendments in all eleven states were they were on the ballot, and data showing that "moral values" were the issue that won this election for the President.

There's a lot for me to comment on, some in looking back, some in looking forward, and I plan to do so over the next few days. Possible topics include: my level of anger toward Kerry as the election approached; my nearly-exclusive focus on life issues (abortion & embryonic stem cell research); the goofy behavior of the networks in (not) calling states last night (did you know that Kerry's margin of victory was smaller in PA than was Bush's in OH?); the (signficant) work which remains to improve the Republican party and its platform; on the (im?)possibility of bridging the gap between conservatives and liberals through reasoned discourse; and more on the importance of one's understanding of faith and morality viz. politics, and how that understanding itself bears on political matters.

Stay tuned.

And, watch as this blog returns to issues of a more theological nature.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Charlotte Allen explains "Why Catholics Should Vote for Bush"

The article begins thus:
    As a Catholic, I'm voting for President George W. Bush on Nov. 2. The reason is simple: Although Bush isn't a Catholic, and not all of his positions are always consistent with Catholic teaching, it is he, not his nominally Catholic opponent, John F. Kerry, who promises to foster and defend the Catholic ethic of life.

    At the core of that ethic--and I'll say it bluntly--lies abortion, the life issue that most sharply divides Bush and Kerry. Bush supports at least some restrictions on abortion; Kerry supports almost none. Related to it are the Catholic Church's positions against euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research.

    Opposition to these three practices is not an idiosyncratic Catholic "tenet" (as Kerry put in a speech this past weekend)--a specifically Catholic doctrine like the immaculate conception of Mary that Catholics might affirm in private but should refrain from imposing on their fellow citizens. Rather, the sacredness of each individual human life is a moral proposition: every human entity, no matter how small, unformed, weak, disabled, or decrepit, deserves to be treated with dignity as a member of the human family. We were all once "dots," as Sen. Thomas Harkin calls human embryos, and we are all destined to die in helplessness.
Amen, Charlotte.

Read it all.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The first Catholic Carnival

The first Catholic Carnival is up a Living Catholicism.

Check it out.

(For an intro to blog carnivals and some of the other carnivals out there, see this.)

Sunday, October 24, 2004

You gotta be kidding me

So today, John Kerry gave his long-awaited "My faith" speech in Florida. He explained how his faith has always guided him, and continues to guide him.

In the course of the speech, he said the following:
    My faith, and the faith I have seen in the lives of so many Americans, also teaches me that, "Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me." That means we have a moral obligation to one another, to the forgotten, and to those who live in the shadows. This is a moral obligation at the heart of all our great religious traditions. It is also the vision of America: "E Pluribus Unum." The ethical test of a good society is how it treats its most vulnerable members.
Amen! Well said, Senator Kerry! I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment.

He then elaborated,
    Who among us is more vulnerable today than the 8 million Americans who are out of work? Who is more vulnerable than the 45 million Americans without health insurance? Who is more vulnerable than the parents who have to choose between food and medicine for their children?
This is who, Senator: the 43 million people we have allowed to be killed since abortion was legalized in 1973. That's 4000 people a day, today, Senator. Where are you for those vulnerable? Here's where:
    I know there are some Bishops who have suggested that as a public official I must cast votes or take public positions - on issues like a woman's right to choose and stem cell research - that carry out the tenets of the Catholic Church. I love my Church; I respect the Bishops; but I respectfully disagree.
Respectfully, Senator, you just don't get it.

Senator, the Church's teaching on abortion & embryonic stem cell research isn't sectarian... it isn't based solely on revelation. It's based on the view that all human beings -- no matter their age or size -- are of equal dignity and worth, and that deliberately killing innocent human beings is always gravely unjust.

This is no more a matter of exclusively Catholic doctrine than the Church's teaching on slavery. In other words, Senator, would you oppose making the Catholic doctrine that no one can be owned by another into law because the Catholic Church teaches it?

As with slavery, the Church's teaching on abortion is one accessible even to those who do not accept the authority of Scripture, Tradition, or the Magisterium It is open to anyone who applies their intellect to questions of human nature, dignity, and justice.

Sadly, the Democratic nominee for President does not see this. He is one of the following: either poorly catechized, or thoroughly disingenuous when it comes to his faith. Either way, as an adult he retains some degree of culpability.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Is this true?

According to the Republican Majority for Choice, 73% of Republicans are pro-abortion. I wonder if that's really the case.

The RMC is currently running ads, urging fellow pro-abortion Republicans to support Republican candidates of like values, and they mention (and display) Schwarzenegger and Giuliani as examples. Kathryn Jean Lopez comments:
    The Republican Majority for Choice is running ads arguing that 73 percent of Republicans are pro-abortion. They plan to run it in the likes of New York, Conn. & Penn. PENNSYLVANIA? I haven’t seen the ad but, my gut is that helps Kerry. He’s arguing he’s really pro-life in his heart and on what matters most (flu shots) and they’re arguing that the GOP is’t against abortion anyway. Thanks, “Republicans.”
You got that right.

Meanwhile, Lopez and fellow Cornerite Jack Fowler post excerpts from the former Governor of Pennsylvania, Bob Casey. Casey -- may he rest in peace -- is best known as a pro-life, Catholic Democrat who was slated to speak at the 1992 Democratic Convention but was denied the opportunity because he's pro-life.

Lopez's excerpt is from a speech at Notre Dame in 1995, which is available online here. The excerpt she posted is as follows:
    The fundamental question posed is this: once a child has been conceived, what is the proper response of a good society - of America at her best? If pregnancy presents a challenge, do we as a society rise to the challenge by dispensing with the child? And when a pregnancy comes at a difficult time, what is the worthier response? Do we surround mother and child with protection and love, or do we hold out to her the cold comfort of a trip to an abortionist? Where is our true character as a nation to be seen - let's ask ourselves this question: Where is our true character to be seen, in an adoptive home, or in an abortion clinic? Who are we? Who are we America? That question deserves an answer. And what woman is truly empowered, I ask you, the woman who takes life, or the woman who gives life?
Fowler's excerpt is from a 1996 Wall Street Journal editorial, and it reads as follows
    For a generation we have lived with abortion on demand. Starting 23 years ago with Roe v. Wade, this policy was sold to America as a kind of social cure. Instead it has left us wounded and divided. We were promised it would broaden the circle of humanity. We were told the whole matter was settled and would soon pass from our minds; 23 years later it tears at our souls.

    The truth is that Roe has failed to deliver. Failed to lift women out of poverty, failed to curb domestic abuse and violence against women. Instead, the feminization of poverty has only grown worse, and domestic violence has spread like a pestilence. Women, along with their children, are now victims of the license to abort. The cruel irony is that abortion rights have underwritten the cynical and chauvinistic exploitation of women by predatory men, who so often abandon them. That is why, contrary to the abortion industry's spin doctors, most women in America oppose abortion on demand, while the most avid supporters of abortion are unmarried males between 18 and 35.

Fowler himself comments,
    More domestic violence, more exploitation of women: This is what the former altar boy now running for President has helped bring about with his 20 Senate years of defending Roe. And yet some Catholics, even those who consider themselves pro-life, are backing Kerry.
We need more Bob Caseys and Ray Flynns in the Democratic Party.
Being disingenuous at the cost of American lives

Senator Kerry was in Columbus, Ohio, today. You can find his remarks here. I want to pull out an excerpt:
    we are going to help cure disease by investing in science and new technologies. We will not stand in the way of the future. We will find it. We will lift President Bush's ban on federal funding for stem cell research.

    By blocking stem cell research, President Bush has sacrificed science to ideology. I agree with leaders from both political parties that stem cell research represents some of the best hopes of humanity. We are going to make funding for this research a priority. And we will uphold the highest ethical standards in the process.

I can't stand this man.

I really can't.

I understand that some degree of obfuscation and disingenuousness is a part of political speech, and always has been. I know that President Bush and probably most/many/nearly all Republican politicians have engaged in a little stretching of the truth now and then.

But Kerry's comments here are over the top.

First, the fact of the matter is, there is no ban on "stem cell research," nor on federal funding for it. The only ban there is is on federally-funded embryonic stem cell research. But Kerry never uses the world "embryo" or any derivations thereof. He simply says that Bush is against federally-funded stem cell research, which simply isn't true. Do all the stem cell research you want, but don't expect my tax dollars to pay for people to create human beings and kill them!!!!! It's enough of an injustice that embryonic stem cell research is even allowed in our country; don't expect me to agree to the compounding of that injustice by using tax dollars in this abhorrent "research".

And that's where Kerry gets completely laughable... "we will uphold the highest ethical standards in the process." The highest ethical standards???? Senator Kerry, who are you kidding??? "The process" requires killing people!!!! But I'm sure it will be done in an ethical manner.

Gimme a break.

Chaput in the Times

By now, many of you will have already heard about -- if not read -- Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput's op-ed in the New York Times, entitled "Faith and Patriotism".

Because it's available for free on the NYTimes website, I'm going to post it here. (If this is in violation of copyright law, please comment accordingly.)
    The theologian Karl Barth once said, "To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world."

    That saying comes to mind as the election approaches and I hear more lectures about how Roman Catholics must not "impose their beliefs on society" or warnings about the need for "the separation of church and state." These are two of the emptiest slogans in current American politics, intended to discourage serious debate. No one in mainstream American politics wants a theocracy. Nor does anyone doubt the importance of morality in public life. Therefore, we should recognize these slogans for what they are: frequently dishonest and ultimately dangerous sound bites.

    Lawmaking inevitably involves some group imposing its beliefs on the rest of us. That's the nature of the democratic process. If we say that we "ought" to do something, we are making a moral judgment. When our legislators turn that judgment into law, somebody's ought becomes a "must" for the whole of society. This is not inherently dangerous; it's how pluralism works.

    Democracy depends on people of conviction expressing their views, confidently and without embarrassment. This give-and-take is an American tradition, and religious believers play a vital role in it. We don't serve our country - in fact we weaken it intellectually - if we downplay our principles or fail to speak forcefully out of some misguided sense of good manners.

    People who support permissive abortion laws have no qualms about imposing their views on society. Often working against popular opinion, they have tried to block any effort to change permissive abortion laws since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. That's fair. That's their right. But why should the rules of engagement be different for citizens who oppose those laws?

    Catholics have an obligation to work for the common good and the dignity of every person. We see abortion as a matter of civil rights and human dignity, not simply as a matter of religious teaching. We are doubly unfaithful - both to our religious convictions and to our democratic responsibilities - if we fail to support the right to life of the unborn child. Our duties to social justice by no means end there. But they do always begin there, because the right to life is foundational.

    For Catholics to take a "pro-choice" view toward abortion contradicts our identity and makes us complicit in how the choice plays out. The "choice" in abortion always involves the choice to end the life of an unborn human being. For anyone who sees this fact clearly, neutrality, silence or private disapproval are not options. They are evils almost as grave as abortion itself. If religious believers do not advance their convictions about public morality in public debate, they are demonstrating not tolerance but cowardice.

    The civil order has its own sphere of responsibility, and its own proper autonomy, apart from the church or any other religious community. But civil authorities are never exempt from moral engagement and criticism, either from the church or its members. The founders themselves realized this.

    The founders sought to prevent the establishment of an official state church. Given America's history of anti-Catholic nativism, Catholics strongly support the Constitution's approach to religious freedom. But the Constitution does not, nor was it ever intended to, prohibit people or communities of faith from playing an active role in public life. Exiling religion from civic debate separates government from morality and citizens from their consciences. That road leads to politics without character, now a national epidemic.

    Words are cheap. Actions matter. If we believe in the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, we need to prove that by our actions, including our political choices. Anything less leads to the corruption of our integrity. Patriotism, which is a virtue for people of all faiths, requires that we fight, ethically and nonviolently, for what we believe. Claiming that "we don't want to impose our beliefs on society" is not merely politically convenient; it is morally incoherent and irresponsible.

    As James 2:17 reminds us, in a passage quoted in the final presidential debate, "Faith without works is dead." It is a valid point. People should act on what they claim to believe. Otherwise they are violating their own conscience, and lying to themselves and the rest of us.

In the spirit of the World Series, I'd say that this is definitely an October Classic.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Not Just Democrats

I'm imagine that a reading of my blog over the last few weeks would lead one to conclude that my ire against Catholic politicians who fail to allow their faith to sufficiently form their politics is selectively aimed a Democrats, and John Kerry in particular.

There is some truth to that, and I think it's justified, for a couple reasons. First, Kerry is running not just for senate or even a governor's seat, but for the highest office in the land, from which he will be able to influence the entire nation. Second, Kerry has tried to argue that his faith in fact does inform his politics, something which is simply mindboggling to me.

Nonetheless, Kerry and his party most definitely do not have a monopoly on Catholic pols who don't always act Catholic in their voting and policy stances.

A notable and recent example of this is California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who this week came out in support of a ballot initiative which would send three billion California dollars to embryonic stem cell research. In other words the good governor wants to spend billions and billions of taxpayer dollars on research which will destroy hundreds (if not thousands) of human lives.

I guess there's a reason they call him the Terminator.

Former Boston mayor Ray Flynn -- pro-life Catholic Democrat -- appropriate took Schwarzenegger to task in a letter:
    After reading your stance on stem cell research, I seriously question whether you understand the teachings of our Catholic faith on the importance of promoting a culture of life in our country.
    I implore that you reconsider why you are a Catholic and consider correcting your stance on authorizing tax-exempt, general obligation bonds to fund embryonic stem cell research.'
Well said, Mr. Flynn.
Catholic Profs discuss voting for Kerry

Last week, I linked an article by Profs. Robert George Gerard Bradley on how Catholics need to vote for Bush, because of the abortion issue.

Their essay prompted a response in disagreement from Notre Dame law and theology prof Cathleen Kaveny, which was posted at Mirror of Justice.

Her response provoked a flurry of emails to her, and as a result, she commented again.

And that prompted a posting by Greg Sisk, again at Mirror of Justice, in agreement with George & Bradley and disagreement with Kaveny.

It's all good, meaty stuff, which is why I didn't post any excerpts... just read 'em all!

(Hat tip: Amy Welborn)
Cardinal George on admonishment

Last night Christopher Blosser posted the following excerpt from Cardinal George's column, "Catholic participation in political life, revisited":
    . . . that abortion is intrinsically immoral is clear to many and is clearly taught to all Catholics. Some Catholics would argue, however, that not everything immoral need be illegal and that abortion, while always immoral, is so fundamentally ensconced in our American way of life that any attempt to outlaw it now would destroy social peace. It must therefore be tolerated precisely for the common good.

    That argument makes its point, however, only if the one making it is working actively to change attitudes toward abortion with a view of eventually coming to protect in law every unborn child. Because it is hard to see how one can make the argument in good conscience while proclaiming abortion a "right"? and vowing to protect it all costs, many Catholics have lost patience with politicians who claim to share their faith while piling up a completely "pro-choice" voting record. The U.S. Bishops last June, bringing once again the question of conscience to participation in political life, said that voting to protect legal abortion is a form of cooperating in the evil of abortion itself.

    Do all Catholic politicians understand their obligations in conscience? Apparently not, which means that their pastors have to take the time to speak with them personally. A pastoral conversation about the formation of conscience is not an interference in the political process. It is an exercise in pastoral charity, motivated by a desire for a politician's salvation. The politician will someday be asked by the Lord: "What did you do to the least of my brothers and sisters?"? And the pastor will be asked by the same Lord: "What did you do to warn them? How did you help them form their conscience?"? Like Lazarus, the poor man ignored by the rich man until it was too late for the rich man to be saved (Luke 16: 19-31), those killed in their mother's womb will be at the gates of paradise but unable to come to the assistance of those condemned to hell because they killed unborn children or supported their being killed. . . .
There's a reason this man is called the intellectual heart of the US Bishops Conference.
Stem Cell Ads

The Catholic Bishops Conference's Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities bought space in some national newspapers yesterday for ads regarding stem cell research.

Check 'em out.

(Hat tip: Bill Cork)
Kerry's Rolling Stone Interview

Erick of Redstate has some interesting thoughts here.
Abortion rates up under Bush?

There's been quite a bit of discussion and commentary this week regarding this article, in which the authors (an investigative journalist and a pro-life Christian ethicist with training in statistical analysis) claim that while abortion rates were declining under Clinton, they've got back up in Bush's term.

If true, it is good for Kerry and bad for Bush; there are a lot of people trying to argue that even if you vote solely on abortion, voting for Kerry is the better choice, because whatever his views on abortion are, his economic policies will reduce the need for abortions, and hence abortions.

Now, I think the argument is riddled with errors, but I recognize the rhetorical value that an increase in abortion rates represents.

However, the arguments made in the article in question may not be as solid as some would like. The National Right to Life Committee has looked closely at the statistical analysis, and sees serious errors. You can find their report here.

(Hat tip: K-Lo)
Another open-minded liberal

You know how its conservatives who are the close-minded, intolerant ones, right? Check out the following "reader review" [sic] at of John J. Miller's new book, "Our Oldest Enemy: A History of America's Disasterous Relationship with France":
    I haven't read this juvenile book, and for a good reason, October 21, 2004
    Reviewer: Manish Gyawali - See all my reviews

    Two good reasons actually. First, of course, notice the title itself. Anything that silly, that reductionist, that one sided, when the weight of history should lead any rational person to conclude that there might have been times when the two countries agreed greatly in matters of culture and the prospects for the world ought to be proof itself not to take the book seriously.
    And second, and as tellingly, notice the reviews of the book by people who agree with what the book has to say--nothing but general and rather simple-minded views about how disgusting and smelly and wimpy the French are.
    But this is the sort of thing you would expect from someone who works for the "National Reveiw"--high volume,low intellect, my way or the highway style arguments that leave no reason for any nuance or context.
"I haven't read this book, but boy is it bad!"

Jeez. If I were going to slam a book I'd never even read, I sure wouldn't come out at trumpet the fact that I hadn't read it.

(Hat tip: John J. Miller)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

"Kerry cites Catholic-vote record"

That's the headline of a Denver Post story from yesterday, highlighted on Greg Belfrage's local talk show. The story begins,
    Sen. John Kerry urged Catholic voters Monday to look at his entire record in public office, and not just his position on abortion rights, before deciding whom to vote for on Election Day.
And then, if you can believe it, he appeals to Cardinal Ratzinger's note to the Bishops!
Kerry at St. Kate's

Tomorrow night, John Kerry will speak at a campaign rally at the College of St. Catherine in Minneapolis.

St. Catherine, as you know, was beheaded for refusing the renounce her Catholic faith.
And if the Draft wasn't bad enough...

If George Bush is reelected,
    Abortion might be a crime in most states. Gay people could be thrown in prison for having sex in their homes. States might be free to become mini-theocracies, endorsing Christianity and using tax money to help spread the gospel. The Constitution might no longer protect inmates from being brutalized by prison guards. Family and medical leave and environmental protections could disappear.
That, according to Adam Cohen's Monday editorial in the NYTimes.

Scare, scare, scare!
The Draft is coming! The Draft is coming!

So, John Kerry has been saying that if Bush is reelected, he'll bring back the draft. Bush has repeatedly denied it, but Kerry's comeback is basically, "yeah, well he said Saddam had WMDs, too!"

Jonah Goldberg replies,

    Shoot your dog, eat your best cold fried chicken, jam your Xerox machine, grope your wife, give nukes to the Crips and the Bloods, raise taxes on the poor to 110%, give Margaret Cho a two hour nightly "comedy" special, replace vegetables with sand on all high school cafeteria menus and require that all women be handcuffed to their basement radiators until they breed the requisite 3 Aryan children this countries needs. If minority women can't churn out the good stuff, they stay handcuffed. And -- oh yeah -- he'll reinstitute the draft.

    Why doesn't John Kerry say all of these things instead of merely saying Bush will bring back the draft? I mean whenever he's asked "Why are you saying this when the president has denied it categorically?" He responds, "Well, he also said there were weapons of mass destruction. He has no credibility."

    Never mind the asinine cynicism involved in that Kerry also said he thought there were WMDs (don't make me go through the list of others who did as well). But if you aren't bound by evidence and the President's denials don't count, why not really cut loose with some scary scenarios. The president will require that all taco meat be replaced with blue cheese. A 500 foot nude statue of Helen Thomas will replace the Washington Monument -- that towering symbol of our phallocracy. Puppies will burn, kittens will fly, diapers will chafe -- all if George W. Bush is elected.
Run for the hills!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

St. John (Kerry)

So I'm reading this Washington Post story about how John Kerry is making faith a larger part of his campaign, and I read about how last Saturday he attended Mass (his attendance was unannounced, which I give him credit for), and how the priest -- one Father Lawrence Hummer -- praised Kerry and told him, "God bless you. Win, will you?" after Mass.

This led me on a series of Google searches, in which I found out that Fr. Hummer is a priest at St. Mary's Church in Chillicothe, Ohio, which is in the Diocese of Columbus, and only about 45 miles from my in-laws, also in the Columbus Diocese.

I also found this article in the local paper, in which some locals who happened to be at the Kerry-attended Mass commented on the experience. One, in particular, was interesting:
    "It was so exciting," said Eileen Lovensheimer. "He was so reverent and prayerful."

    Just speaking about the experience brought tears to Lovensheimer's eyes. Kerry didn't speak, she said, but shared with parishioners how he felt about the church he called a "great place" once outside among the crowd.

    "He was so excited to be around friends and have a peaceful celebration with people he could call his friend," she said.
St. John Kerry.

Now, I know that this post might come across as mean-spirited and judgmental to some. I mean, how can I demean the man's faith and reverence, right? Okay, let's make some things clear: I think John Kerry is sincere. But I also think he's more interested in politics than in his faith. Based on his public statements on various issues, I see no evidence of an attempt by Kerry to really understand his religion's position on various moral issues and on the duties of a Catholic (politician or not) in the public realm. Frankly, I don't see how someone who so egregiously misunderstands his faith and its teachings on any number of issues relevant in today's society can be understood as a good Catholic. Sincere, yes. But sincerely wrong.

I know that this is a harsh post, and maybe I'll edit it tomorrow. But right now, I'm really worked up. I'm tired of Catholic politicians who so thoroughly misunderstand the faith which to which they belong. I'm tired of Catholic politicians who are legal positivists. I'm tired of Catholic politicians who are indistinguishable from politicians who practice no faith whatsoever. Being Catholic is supposed to mean something, it's supposed to impact you all week, not just on Sunday mornings. I see no evidence that this is the case with John Kerry. His stances on any number of issues are just as easily attributed to his political ideology as they are to his faith.
Democrats and the Abortion Lobby

Apropos of an earlier post, I noted the following from a National Catholic Register story on Ray Flynn, former mayor of Boston, and pro-life, Catholic Democrat:
    Kristen Day, executive director of Washington-based Democrats for Life, says the party's pro-abortion platform is driven by cash.

    "It all has to do with the amount of money that Planned Parenthood and NARAL (Nation Abortion Rights Action League) channel into the Democratic Party," Day said. "There is a growing pro-life momvement in the Democratic Party, but the abortion industry is paying the party to defend abortion rights" (Wayne Laugesen, "Flynn Would Rather Fight Than Switch," National Catholic Register, October 10-16, p. 3).
As I've said, I think that's the only way to explain how very intelligent people (Kerry) have said very stupid things (trying to explain his position on abortion).
New Ratzinger book

Ignatius Press recently published the english translation of Cardinal Ratzinger's latest book on Christianity and world religions. It goes by the title "Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions".

I received my copy last week, and soon discovered that this book was (another) compilation of (mostly) previously published essays Ratzinger had previously written. I was somewhat disappointed in that fact, but as I read the first essay (originally published in 1964, and the only essay published more than a decade ago), that disappointment was alleviated. Why? Because whether or not the medium is an essay, monograph, or book, the lucidity and insight which Joseph Ratzinger brings to bear is always apparent. This collection is no different. I'm only on the second essay now, but so far, more-than-good. On one of the hot topics in contemporary theology, Ratzinger brings his impressive theological acumen to bear, and the results are worthy of the reputation held by those familiar with his work.

If you're interested in what one of today's top Catholic theologians has to say about the relationship between Christianity and world religions, and how that relationship bears on the understanding of truth, faith, and tolerance, I highly recommend this book.

General Tommy Franks (Ret.) today penned an op-ed on the War on Terrorism and the two presidential candidates. He specifically addresses the issues of the attack on Tora Bora and the campaign in Afghanistan in general. He closes the piece thus:
    the gravest danger would result from the withdrawal of American troops before we finish our work. Today we are asking our servicemen and women to do more, in more places, than we have in decades. They deserve honest, consistent, no-spin leadership that respects them, their families and their sacrifices. The war against terrorism is the right war at the right time for the right reasons. And Iraq is one of the places that war must be fought and won. George W. Bush has his eye on that ball and Senator John Kerry does not.


Yesterday "Ken" dropped by to offer a comment to this post. His comment was as follows:
    You clowns act as if an embryo has all the attributes of a person. I know it may be too subtle a point for such pointy heads as yourselves but whatever personhood means for an embryo does not supercede personhood for the rest of us. In fact it means less.
Hear ye, hear ye: if you're going to come to this blog and try to argue the abortion issue, you better come with more substance that Ken does.

Fact: the embryo is a human being. It is a member of the human species, a living, self-directed, integrated homo sapien, just like neonate, adolescent, and adult human beings. That's an embryological, biological, scientific fact.

Now, if you assert that embryos do not possess the same rights that other homo sapiens possess, you are thereby asserting that some human beings have rights and others do not. Now, that's already a precarious situation to find yourself in... there have been plenty of folks throughout human history who have said that some human beings are not equal in dignity and possession of rights to other human beings, but they're generally not the kind of people one likes to be identified with (I trust I don't need to specify whom I'm talking about). Better, I say, to stay with the view that says all men and women are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

If, though, you continue to assert that some human beings do not have rights, I want to know what the basis of your assertion is. Unfortunately, when it comes to embryonic human beings, the only things assertable are lack of physiological development and size. In other words, smaller, less developed human beings are not worthy of protection under the law. Is that the kind of view you want to be associated with? How is size more relevant to rights than, say, religion, culture, or skin color?

So go ahead... refuse to recognize the rights of some human beings. Then look around and see the historical company you're keeping. I'd rather side with those who recognize the value of every human being.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Soros's response to Terrorism: Kyoto & the ICC

As you know, billionaire George Soros has devoted millions upon millions of his dollars to try to defeat George W. Bush. Today at Red State, Paul Cella discusses the political worldview of Mr. Soros.

He notes that in a recent interview, Soros' answer to a question about how to defeat Islamic terrorism was to pass the Kyoto environmental treaty and join the International Criminal Court.

Paul aptly deconstructs this idiocy and the mentality behind it.
Debate; and Kids

Tonight John Thune and Tom Daschle met for their first, live, local debate in the race for Daschle's US Senate seat.

All in all, it was pretty standard fair. Daschle is -- as always -- a master politician, and he has that ability to seem "local", folksy, and downhome-ish. Thune isn't as skilled in that way, but he was effective in raising a number of powerful arguments which will probably resonate with voters of the state, the ethanol vote of last year being chief among them.

But it's the debate over Social Security that is prompting this post. Daschle accused Thune of wanting to privatize Social Security, which would (allegedly) result in a 40% drop in moneys to senior citizens today. Regardless of the accuracy of that number, it's not Thune's position: he believes that younger workers should be able to take a small portion of their payroll tax and invest it in a government-approved investment account.

I'm all for that type of account, for the simple reason that Social Security will be bankrupt by the time I retire, unless some kind of reform (like Thune's proposal) is enacted.

This is where Democratic rhetoric really chaps my hide. Democrats in particular are always talking about how we need to think about our children and their future, and about what's best for them. But what about Social Security? What about our retirement? The fact of the matter is, the "what about the children?" line is a rhetorical tactic in many cases. If Daschle really cared about Generations X and Y (isn't Z around too?), then he'd support real Social Security reform. But since the Boomers are about to retire, and they constitute a considerable voting block, that's not going to happen.

Now to be fair to Tom, there are plenty of Republicans who cower in fear before Social Security reform as well. But Tom is running on his record as a leader who is willing to buck his party when necessary.

If only that were true when it comes to the children.
Moral Equivalency

A few Catholics have tried to argue that voting for John Kerry is better for the pro-life cause than voting for George Bush. They usually argue this in primarily two ways: first, Kerry's economic policies will reduce the need for and hence the number of abortions. Second, Kerry's position on the death penalty and the war in Iraq are more pro-life than Bush's positions on those issues.

There are a number of problems with these arguments, but rather than rehash them myself, I'll simply point you to this essay by Profs. Robert George and Gerard Bradley. It's a terrific read.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

More Kerry camp "tolerance"

One of our seminarians -- Deacon Dana Christensen -- is attending Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis. He led a group of seminarians from Kenrick in a peaceful, silent protest at the America's Center on Friday night, where there was a post-debate Kerry rally.

Go read Dana's blog to see what happened: Part I, Part II.

Once again, the CW that it's only conservatives who are mean-spirited, divisive, insulting and grossly intolerant of other viewpoints is exploded by reality. Course, if you still thought that the CW was correct, you haven't been paying much attention to the national political scene over the last four years.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Another thing on Kerry and "Personally opposed, but..."

If John Kerry believes that embryos are human beings, but that that's his and his faith's opinion which cannot be forced [sic] on anyone else, why does he support embryonic stem cell research so strongly?

Kerry says he wants to see fewer abortions in our country. But at the same time, he wants to increase embryonic stem cell research. That simply doesn't make sense. If Kerry personally opposes abortion because embryos are human beings, why would he not merely tolerate, but advocate vociferously for the killing of thousands more embryonic people?

Maybe John Kerry is personally opposed to abortion. But I don't think he knows why he is.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Daschle, Catholicism, and Abortion

Speaking of convoluted logic as I was in the last post, Tom Daschle's internal polling data must not be pretty, because this week has been quite the interesting one for us here in South Dakota.

First, Daschle has a new "Values" tv ad (go here and click on "Values" to see it), in which he speaks about how he learned his values growing up in Aberdeen "as an altar boy," among other things. It's an attempt to reach out to the Catholic vote, which -- as in the rest of the country -- was solidly Democratic until the last 10-20 years when the Dems embraced radical feminism (and its cold, hard cash) and sold out to the abortion lobby.

Relatedly, Senator Daschle was interviewed over the phone this week by a journalist for the Rapid City Journal. In discussing the issue of abortion, Daschle refused to acknowledge that he is pro-choice, refusing in general to state what he is in favor of; he would only say what he's against: sending a woman or her abortionist to jail. He even went so far to say that he was anti-abortion, and that he did "not think that abortion should be allowed"!!! That's a quote, folks! Greg Belfrage -- a local talk show host -- played the interview over the air, and repeated some sections, including that one!

As Daschle's challenger, John Thune, said today, Daschle is anti-abortion one month every six years: the month of October before the election for his seat.

Can you believe the gall? Who could seriously believe that Daschle is anti-abortion? I'd like him to name a politician who is pro-abortion and explain the difference between their positions!

Furthermore, if Daschle were seriously concerned about reducing the numbers of abortion in our country but sincerely believed that the law of the land prevented outlawing it, wouldn't there be some evidence of such activity? Wouldn't we be able to see some legislative measure proposing increased funding for pro-life crisis pregnancy centers, or at least a public statement in support of those centers? William Murchison has an outstanding article in the latest issue of Touchstone Magazine (unfortunately, it's not available yet) in which he proposes concrete actions that all of these "I'm personally opposed, but..." politicians like Daschle and Kerry could take, actions which would demonstrate that they really mean what they say: that they believe abortion is the taking of a human life.

But pigs will fly before we see either man take such action. Their either too afraid of the abortion lobby, or they don't believe what they say one month every six years.
Round Two

Once again, work prevented me from seeing all of the debate (Theology on Tap, this time). However, I was able to watch the last 30-35 minutes, and Bush definitely did better than last time. Based on substance, I thought Bush won, of course. Based on style, they were close (I'd have to see the whole thing to give a better take on that). So, Bush wins!

Now, I do have to say, Kerry invoking his Catholicism ("I was an altar boy") is deeply unfortunate, because he simply doesn't understand his Church's position on the issue in question (abortion). Like tonight, he continuously refers to the pro-life position as an article of his faith, which thus makes it impossible for him to "impose" on others. But the fact is, the pro-life position is a human rights position, just as much as slavery was (I wish the President would have drawn the Dred Scott-Roe v. Wade connection when he referred to the former). You don't need to be Catholic to be pro-life: you simply have to recognize the biological, scientific fact that the human being comes to exist at the moment of conception. And in our nation, we (supposedly) respect the rights of every human being, especially the most innocent and most helpless.

Another point: Kerry said that he has to govern the entire country, not just those opposed to abortion. But Senator, if you continue your stance of supporting the strongest abortion rights [sic] policies, how are you respecting the views of pro-lifers? I'm sure he'll run to the, "Well, it's the law of the land" defense, but that goes nowhere: slavery was also the Supreme Court-confirmed law of the land; would he have supported slave owners' rights because of that?

Let's face it: radical feminism (and its $$) has the Democratic Party wrapped around its little finger, and until that changes, Democratic presidential nominees will be forced to offer this same, convoluted, tortured logic in defense of an indefensible position.
No Dittos from me

I heard a bit of Rush Limbaugh today, in which he made some, well, ridiculous claims.

Talking about making mistakes and admitting that we've done so, Rush opined that we never recognize that a particular course of action was erroneous until some amount of time has passed. Now, I'd tend to agree with that.

But Rush went on to argue that because we don't know that a particular course of action is erroneous at the time is was done, you really can't say that it was a mistake. Rush holds that because you (presumably) thought it was the right thing to do at the time, you shouldn't say that you made a mistake.

I think Rush is making two mistakes: failing to distinguish a wrong action from culpability, and then applying "mistake" to the latter exclusively. A mistake is simply a wrong course of action; to say that you made a mistake does not mean that you are (necessarily) at fault for it... that's the separate issue of culpability. Rather, it's simpy acknowledging that what you did was wrong. Because Rush erred in this way, he's forced to take the ridiculous position that nobody ever makes mistakes, because when people act, they (presumably) think what they are doing is the right thing. (NB: I'm not using "right" and "wrong" in moral terms alone; "appropriate" and "inappropriate" are the proper synonyms for my point.)

Rush compounded his failure when he proceeded to discuss the question of hindsight. Specifically, he said that you never know "now" what you know later. That's ridiculous. I know what Rush probably meant to say: that oftentimes, we don't know all of the relevant factors leading up to a decision on how to act. But that doesn't mean that such is always the case.

Rush needs to be a little more precise when making these arguments.
Bribery and Intentions

So, yesterday the Iraq Survey Group -- which was/is responsible for finding WMDs in Iraq -- released its long-awaited, 1000 page report.

Now, if all your news comes from the MSM -- like this AP story -- then you're bound not to hear certain things, like the fact that Saddam bribed politicians, journalists, and anyone else he thought would help him get rid of the sanctions on Iraq. Specifically, he went after France, Russia, and China, three countries which -- surprise! -- happen to have veto power on the UN Security Council.

In addition, the ISG found that Saddam's intent was that once sanctions were gone, he would begin -- again -- to actually develop WMDs, because the infrastructure for their production remained.

Again, though, you won't hear much of that from the MSM.

But if you read Instapundit, Redstate, Power Line, The Corner, and Claudia Rosett, you'll already know that and the many details I omitted for brevity's sake.

Relatedly, I highly recommend the documentary on Kerry's various positions on Iraq as found here.
"Political music now, they say, is less formative and more reactionary."

That's an excerpt from this Knight-Ridder story on how younger voters (college-age kids) are turned off by Springsteen et al.

Pretty good story... go take a look.

(Hat tip: Drudge.)

Thursday, October 07, 2004

What's that saying about a pot and kettle?

Today, Terry McAuliffe said the following in regard to the President: "Someone who lies about the little things will lie about the big things too."

One wonders which president he was referring to.

(Hat tip: Mark Shea.)

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


First, I still tend to think that the Iraq War was just(ified). But I have a question for some of those who have argued vociferously on behalf of its justice, specifically when responding to the views of John Paul II on the war. Let me lay the groundwork first:

Catholics who accept the authority of the Magisterium argue(d) that going to war involves prudential judgment, and that ultimately it is the leaders of a nation who are responsible for making that judgment. By use of this argument, these Catholics sought to show how one could legitimately disagree with the Pope on this matter.

Now, I generally agree with this position... I made the same argument myself on more than one occasion. The question I have is this: if you take this argument at face value, how can the pope (or anyone else, for that matter) ever definitely state that a war is unjust? To use an easy example: was Hitler exercising his prudential judgment in invading Poland, France, Russia, et al? If he had come out and claimed that he had weighed the issues, and believed that he had to take this action for the good of his nation, would he have effectively neutered any definitive moral condemnation? Why not, if it is ultimately only one's national leaders who can determine if a particular course of military action is just or not?

Again, I do think that the war was just; my question is directed at a possible lacuna within the arguments of faithful Catholics explaining how their disagreement with the Pope is not dissent.
I hope we get more of this

Thanks to krempasky of Redstate (and those who responded to his request), I found and read President Bush's speech in Wilkes-Barre, PA today. Following up on Cheney's criticisms from last night's debate, Bush made a point I've been waiting to hear from him viz. Senator Kerry's position on Iraq and war in general, and repeated another point worth repeating (among a number of other worthy arguments).

What had I been waiting to hear? The following:
    These days he praises America's broad coalition in the Persian Gulf War. But in 1991, he criticized those coalition members as "shadow battlefield allies who barely carry a burden." Sounds familiar. At that time, he voted against the war. If that coalition didn't pass his global test, clearly, nothing will.
Exactly. One of Kerry's big complaints about Iraq was the lack of international support (that is, apparently, France and Germany). Yet when we had their support in '91, it didn't matter: Kerry still opposed the Gulf War.

The point I want repeated is implicit in the same paragraph: Kerry's disparaging remarks regarding our present allies in the Iraq War. Kerry continually disses nations that are supporting the war, and that's hardly the way to build up our image with the world (which again, Senator, extends beyond France & Germany).

Way Off Topic

Ever had a deep-fried Snickers? (Been there.) Or dipped fries in your Frosty? (Done that.) What about grilling PB&J sandwiches? (Nope.) Then there's that weird practice of putting vinegar on fries (my Ohioan wife showed me that, but I've stayed away).

These and other weird food combos can be read about in this story, and found at this website.

The Battle for the Little Brown Jug

This weekend, the Universities of Minnesota and Michigan will battle for the Little Brown Jug for the 86th time.

The game was supposed to be broadcast on ESPN, but due to the possibility of the game being preempted by baseball playoffs, it will be aired on ESPN Classic (and simulcast on ESPN if there is no baseball game), the first live game to air on the channel. In addition, the game will be preceded by 18 hours of Minnesota and Michigan football coverage.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Bush-Cheney spin

From The Corner:

"Senator Kerry picked one of the best lawyers in America as his running mate, and yet in the debate tonight that lawyer was unable to defend Senator Kerry's record. If Senator Edwards can't defend Kerry's record on Iraq, defense, taxes, etc., then it must truly be indefensible."

Good one.

Although it's indicative of the state of modern American politics that the party of the guy that most people think won needs to spin.
In more important news...

Twins win! Twins win! Twins win!

"VP Debate Ends: Viewers Eager to Learn Who Won"

Sadly, this probably has a good deal of truth in it.
And the winner is...


I thought he was himself: calm, precise, and effective. Yeah, he had some lame arguments, but all in all, he responded to Edwards' attacks, and blasted him when appropriate.

Edwards reminded me of Clinton. Without the bottom lip bite, and not as effective.

I see in some preliminary surfing that some other Bush supporters think Edwards got pounded... I'm not sure if I agree with that, but I do think Cheney won the debate.

What effect will it have? Who knows.

Monday, October 04, 2004


Apparently, the Air Force has been working on anti-matter weapons, which would dwarf even nukes in terms of destructive power.

The question is, should we develop them?
New ITC document

Thanks to Kevin Miller, I see that the International Theological Commission has come out with a new document: "Communion and Service: The Human Person Created in the Image of God." As Kevin summarizes the Zenit report, the text "offers a basis to debate such current topics as evolution, environmental ethics and bioethics."

Course, if I was keeping up on my Zenit reports, I'd have seen it already... sigh.
Good news!

My second reader gave his approval to my dissertation, which means that I get to go to Rome sometime in the next month or two, publicly defend the dissertation, and (presuming that goes well) earn the doctorate!

Scientism: making a god out of Science

In light of Senator Kerry's speech today on the need [sic] for increased killing of the youngest of human beings -- er, for embryonic stem cell research, that is -- Paul Cella offers some outstanding thoughts. I was tempted to post the entire thing, but here's blurb whet your appetite:
    What this is, it seems to me, is not science but scientism; and when men argue that philosophical or theological objections to theory X or procedure Y ought to be discounted, and the decisions about its use made purely on the basis of “good science,” it is very difficult for a detached observer to conclude that they really mean what they say. Some philosophical system must animate science’s interaction with human endeavors. There is no way around this: it cannot illuminate its own applications. The scientific method tells us how a discrete question is to be answered; it does not tell us how to apply the answer to life. We want to discover whether genetic cloning at the embryonic stage is possible: science can answer that question. But it can tell us almost precisely nothing about whether such technology ought to be used by men (the only assistance I can imagine science providing on this latter question is to inform us that cloning carries high risks of failure.) Bereft of first principles, Science is nothing but a decaying mass of unconnected facts, an organ with no mind to command it.
Okay, so that was a hefty blurb. But there's plenty more to read... go do so.

Friday, October 01, 2004

An election issue? Darn right!

Bill Cork on the importance of today's defeat in the House of the constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
First Debate

I was teaching the diocesan bible study & apologetics courses last night, and hence only caught the last ten minutes or so of the debate, and that on the radio.

Based on what I heard, I thought Kerry did a slightly better job. I spoke with my wife, and she thought Bush came off better on TV than on the radio.

From what I've seen, it sounds like the consensus (among both sides of the aisle) is that it was a narrow Kerry victory (although a few think it was a draw, and some think Bush won). Quite a few folks think that Kerry needed a knockout, and hence his narrow victory was insufficient. While I don't think he scored a knockout (based on what I heard and what I've seen after the fact), I do think this debate was helpful to Kerry, although there's room for debate about the extent of the help.

One thing, though: one of the questions I caught pertained to Russia and Putin (can someone teach George to pronounce "Vladimir" as "Vladimeer" and not "Vladimer"?). In his time, Kerry noted how shortly after the fall of the USSR, he saw all the files in KGB headquarters, underneath Treblinka Square.

There's a little problem... Treblinka was a Nazi death camp! Kerry was referring to Lubyankaya Square. Now, that's really not that big of a deal. But somehow I suspect that if the President had said it, we'd be hearing a lot more about it.

In spite of that gaffe, I still give the debate to Kerry, slightly.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

"I'm a Pro-Life Democrat"

An interview with the Executive Director of Democrats for Life of America

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Keep this in mind

The next time someone talks about how President Bush "stole the election," remind them of this:
    A comprehensive study of the 2000 presidential election in Florida suggests that if the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed a statewide vote recount to proceed, Republican candidate George W. Bush would still have been elected president.

    The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago conducted the six-month study for a consortium of eight news media companies, including CNN.

Of course, some people never let things like facts get in the way of their political views.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

More 'ad limina' addresses

This spring, I linked the first seven addresses by the Holy Father to the bishops of the U.S. making their ad limina reports to Rome.

John Paul II received another group in June, and has received two more in September.

The June address was to the bishops of the Provinces of Portland, Seattle, and Anchorage.

The first September address was to the bishops of the Provinces of Boston and Hartford.

The second was to the bishops of the Region of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

New link!

I've become pretty bad about keeping up on linking other blogs these days. One of those who have been overlooked is "Anne Shirley" of Ruminations. The really sad thing is that Anne is probably the geographically closest blogger to me, at least in St. Blogs and the other circles I travel in in Blogdom.

Sorry for the delinquency, Anne!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Chill out, people

Apropos of this post of mine from last week, I want to reiterate something: this election is not, I repeat, not, the end all and be all of our existence on the planet Earth. I've seen way too many people (chiefly on the left, but not exclusively) working themselves into hysterics about the outcome of the presidential election, to the point that I'm thinking they're treating this like a religion.

Chill out, folks.

Yes, this election is important, and vitally so. But it is not the sum meaning of our lives. The fact of the matter is, many of the things that both sides dislike and even abhor about the other side will continue after the election: we'll still have troops in Iraq (thank God!), and abortion will still be legal (sadly). Again, the election is important: President Bush has the right overall stance on both hotbutton issues, and the actions he'd take will make a difference on both issues.

Nonetheless, there are still more important things than this race, and I think we need to remember that.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

More AP bias

From Powerline, here and here.
Bush v. Kerry

I've found a couple interesting quotes in stories on the election over the last couple of days.

In this MSNBC story, we find the following:
    Betsy Bodenhamer, a 33-year-old teacher’s aide and mother of two from Galesburg, Ill., says she has always voted for Democrats in recent presidential elections. This year, she’s leaning toward Bush.

    “I think if Kerry gets elected, he’s going to pull everybody out of Iraq and they’ll have to fend for themselves,” she said. “Situations like 9/11 will happen again and again.”
And in this Newsweek internet exclusive, we find this quote (from this NYTimes story):
    Tom Ampleman, a blue-collar union member who lives near this suburb just outside St. Louis, says he voted for Bill Clinton twice and then Al Gore, but he is now grappling with deep religious misgivings about the Democratic Party.

    "I haven't declared myself a Republican, but if I had to go in there and vote right now I probably would vote for the Republicans," Mr. Ampleman said recently, sitting in his pickup truck at a public park here.

    "I'm not happy with the moral issues at all with the Democrats," continued Mr. Ampleman, who works as a welder at an aerospace company. "The Republicans will hurt me in the long run in providing for my family, but it's probably more important to watch out for the unborn and that kind of stuff."
Now, I disagree with Mr. Ampleman when he says that Republican policies will be more harmful to his ability to provide for his family, but regardless... statements like this befuddle liberals to no end. How -- they wonder -- can people vote for politicians whose policies are harmful to them? Ampleman gives them the answer: because on the most important issues, those politicians have it right, and voters like these are more interested in voting according to principle than pocketbook.

You realize what's going on here? You have voters who act against their own self-interests, and liberals -- who constantly attack and villify conservatives as the supporters of the rich and opporessors of the little guy, i.e. as the ones who act solely according to their own self-interests -- are upset and dumbfounded!

For more on this, read the Newsweek exlusive I linked... the title of the story is, "It's About Abortion, Stupid," and its point is that
    Democrats stick to the uninspiring and oversimplified notion that people reliably vote their pocketbook, period. In this view, even Iraq is as much as anything else an economic disaster. “This is the Clinton legacy; never strike a moral issue,” complains one Kerry adviser who feels his alternative view has not been heard.
The author also notes, regarding Mr. Ampleman,
    I find it wonderful that there are Tom Amplemans out there for whom voting is not only an economic calculation—a what’s-in-it-for-me? decision—but a moral exercise, a matter of trying to do the right thing.

    But Democrats don’t seem to get that. And they don’t get Tom at all.

Crazy world, as Scorpions said.

(Hat tip to Emily of After Abortion for linking the Newsweek article.)

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Santorum sets the record straight

Recently there has been some complaining in St. Blogs that Senator Rick Santorum not only supported pro-abortion Arlen Spector in his primary battle with pro-life Pat Toomey, but now also supports the rape & incest exceptions for abortion.

Santorum replied to both complaints in a letter to the editor (responding to another letter) in the Sept. 19-25 issue of National Catholic Register. He states that he "would not require exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother." So that's that.

As far as his support for Spector, he reiterates what he's said before: pro-life legislation can only pass if there is a Republican majority in the Senate, and since Spector stands a much better chance of winning the general election than Toomey, the overall pro-life cause led him to endorse Spector. Now, there's obviously other ways to read the situation, but I think it's unreasonable to think that Santorum has suddenly jettisoned his pro-life principles for partisan political reasons. Of course, I could be wrong, but I'd rather give the guy the benefit of the doubt. Were he to continue to act in a questionable manner, I'd revisit my stance. But at this point, I believe the guy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

"Public Schools No Place for Teachers' Kids"

That's the headline for this Washington Times story, which details the results of a study which found that "nationwide, public school teachers are almost twice as likely as other parents to choose private schools for their own children," and that "more than 1 in 5 public school teachers said their children attend private schools."
Flip-flop, but not who you think

Yesterday, John J. Miller posted the following at The Corner:
    "In the end, what difference does it make what one candidate or the other did or didn't do during the Vietnam War? In some ways, that war is as distant as the Napoleonic campaigns." That's Dan Rather, talking about the Swift Boat Vets in an interview published on Aug 30. I hadn't seen it before reading today's WSJ editorial--which goes on to make this simple observation: "Nine days later Mr. Rather was reporting on Mr. Bush's National Guard service as if it were the story of a lifetime." Let's hope it really is the story of a lifetime--the one for which Dan Rather is always remembered.
How transparent can you be?
Run for the hills!

Some of you may have heard of the webforum Democratic Underground. It's where the most partisan folks of the left hang out to talk, discuss, and rant. And boy, do they rant.

One of their number, Koko01, recently asked,
    Oldie DU'ers where are you planning on moving? I can't stay and fight. But, I don't know where to go. I don't like in Canada. But, when Rather caves I know it's time...if one get outta here.
Hmm... so, a major network news anchor admitting (and he barely did that) that there might be problems with memos used to "prove" that Bush was a poor TANG officer is the tipping point to leave the country? Huh???

That's not all... in response to some comments, Koko01 went on to say,
    Yes...I will vote before I go...but I need to make plans. I don't want to be left here like the Jews who didn't get out in Nazi Germany. I have a big's hard for me to "blend in." I've already lost friends and family members because of Bush, so I know just like with Ann Frank's experience in Holland...I and my family would be turned in because I have an "aura" of Resistence. Folks can just tell about folks like me.

    I will have to leave here. Many of you can "blend in" and go "unnoticed with a "practiced Repug...blend in ...making your subtle points and thereby you can stay to mount La RESISTANCe....But, I am not blessed with virtue of "blending." I'm tired of this and I know I can't do I will have to find a place...I just am stymied as to where..

If John Kerry were to win the election, I'd be very disappointed. But I'd never think something like this, let alone express it, in public or private.

Not only that, but the fact is there isn't anywhere to go. I've lived abroad, and I've enjoyed doing so. And I know plenty of people who have moved to other countries, usually for family or cultural reasons. But the fact of the matter is, you aren't going to find anywhere else more free than the US.

It's possible to take politics too seriously. Koko01 is Exhibit A.

(Hat tip: Jonah Goldberg.)