Lord, Hear Our Prayer

Regarding the brazen attack on the religious freedom of all Catholics, and, indeed, of all Americans of any faith, including the freedom of atheists to be left alone (for is not the worship of secular idols just as insulting to you, my atheist friends, who despise worship, as it is to us, who despise idols?), and following by the insulting so-called accommodation proffered by an unrepentant administration, Fr. Frank Pavone and Priests for Life have asked us to pray. Here is a link to the page on his website.  Here is the text (copy-and-pasted) from the aforementioned site:

Lord God,
You are the Author of Life and Freedom.
In your Spirit, we have the freedom of the children of God,
And in your Name, we promote the freedom of all
To seek, embrace, and live the truth of your Word.

In that freedom, Lord, we your people stand with Life
And reject whatever destroys life
Or distorts the meaning of human sexuality.

In that freedom, Lord, we your people live our lives
In a way that advances your Kingdom of Life,
And we refuse to cooperate in what is evil.

At this moment, therefore, when our government has decided
To force us to cooperate in evil,
We pray for the grace to be faithful to you
And to oppose the unjust laws and mandates
That have been imposed upon us and our institutions.

We pray for the conversion of those in civil authority
Who fail to appreciate the demands of conscience.
We pray for the complete reversal of all policies
That permit the destruction of life
Or coerce the cooperation of your people
In practices that are wrong.

Bring us to a Culture of Life.

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

My comment: I really should post something about some interesting topic, like why Jack Vance is a finer SF author than Isaac Asimov, but the events of the day continue to draw my attention away from farthest stars and furthest futures to those quotidian matters.

The war against Tash and Sauron the Great and the Dark Eldil, or whatever name he is calling himself these days, in one sense is the central drama of all history: it is the very Ragnarok, the wars fought on the plains of Armageddon.

Here on earth we face his human puppets, who know not whom they serve or why, and it is like debating drunks, because sin darkens the mind and corrodes the soul, so that even matters of plain common sense are closed to them. The victims of vampire bites and lycanthropy are not less worthy of pity, since the soldiery of darkness cannot see the darkness for which they fight, nor see what the result will be.

The elfin lure of Utopia always draws them along and along, visions of sex without babies, food without fatness, willpower without any restraint in morals or logic. It is the Big Rock Candy Mountain, where neither the laws of cause and effect, nor the laws of economics, nor the laws of our forefathers have power any more, but only the omnipotent Leader on Earth, whose benevolence is superhuman.

An idea that stupid, an idol that fails and fails and slays its worshipers like Juggernaut, a mere daydream born of envy and arrogance with no logic to it at all is the lodestone that controls the souls of the modern mind: and yet they dare to call themselves the reality-based community.

It is an idea older than Marx, older than George Bernard Shaw, older than all those quaint and antique progressives of the Victorian Age and their little Darwinian excuses for eugenics and race-hatred. This musty old idea they dare call modern and up to date. Eternal truths the darlings of intellectual fashion dismiss as too ‘last season.’

Such be those arrayed against us. Yet God is for us.

In another sense this war is nothing, it is the vanity of evil, the presumption of lingering patch of dawn twilight against the rising of the sun, the vainglory of a void to be filled by an infinite sea.

We know the end of the tale, beloved sons and daughters of God. Python is slain by Apollo; Typhon by Jove; Tiamat by Marduk; Leviathan by Jehovah; and best of all, the slender heel of our mild queen and virgin shall crush the head of the lying snake who deceived all the poor children of Eve.

We shall prevail in this and in all wars, no matter how many battles we lose.

For this battle, comrades, we need not arms, which are weak things and toys, but prayers, which are the weapons of the angels, thrones, powers, and principalities of deepest heaven.

 

75 Comments

  1. Comment by robertjwizard:

    … like why Jack Vance is a finer SF author than Isaac Asimov,

    That would be interesting.

    You have whatever I can offer that is not prayer – hope, blessings, a terse letter to my congressman – at the least. Every atheist should do the same, it is a full attack on the first amendment; and we should recognize the feel of the rope around our own necks when it is being placed around others.

    • Comment by Sylvie D. Rousseau:

      Sir, if every American was a man of good will like you, it would really be the Land of the Free. I cannot take action as I am not American, but as a Christian I will pray.

      In another train of thought, could not a “full attack on the first amendment” like this one be invoked as a claim for impeachment? Maybe I am being ignorant or even stupid but this question keeps passing in my mind…

      • Comment by John Hutchins:

        Most presidents and most members of congress from both parties have for at least the last half century done things that could be or are considered by some (primarily members of the other party) to be impeachable. As Newt Gingrich and William Clinton have shown there are no sins against the law, morality, oaths of office, or marriage vows that are not quickly forgiven and forgotten by the party that they belong to, as long as they tow the party line.

      • Comment by The Ubiquitous:

        Regarding impeachment, I am in full agreement. I almost want to see Obama in office next term just so the Church meets an even fuller awakening, the Supreme Court knocks him down a few more times, and the mid-term elections create a windfall of support for finally impeaching the man. Now, he’d have to be pretty arrogant to face impeachment long enough to get convicted — I hope for his sake he doesn’t have as much arrogance as I’m tempted to assume he does.

        In any case, because this is an evil means, I do not really want it. But should his re-election come, as it still very well may, the man must be impeached. If not, “I give it up; I do not know what the words mean.

      • Comment by Rade Hagedorn:

        I think that two of the great problems of modern US politics is the incessant clamor for recalls and impeachment.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          I think that two of the great problems of modern US politics is the incessant behavior from politicians which provokes the clamor for recalls and impeachment. Part of this is the deep divide which formed when the Democrat party was taken over by its aggressively Antiamerican and Antichristian wing, the “New Left” in the 1990′s. The fact that Clinton did not step down as

          I have been reading the history of the impeachment against Lincoln’s successor, and am fascinated to see that in that day, as well as in this, whether the charge is handed as a political matter or a criminal one is ambiguous in American law.

          Were it up to me, I would have activist judges impeached for legislating from the bench, overstepping Constitutional limits, and to put the fear of the law into any judges who deem themselves above the law.

          • Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

            Hah! I would have thought that the Democrat leadership that tried to destroy the country in their burning “need” to own Slaves, to deny the humanity of a section of people in their hate and lust for power, would be actually Anti-American, actually Anti-Christian. No, it was not the “90′s”, the rot in the Democrats set in a long, long time ago. Some of us would put the start of it at Oathbreaker Jackson and the Trail of Tears (Echoed by the Democrats in Vietnam. A similar contempt for treaties and oaths, and a similar outcome).

          • Comment by Rade Hagedorn:

            I think that two of the great problems of modern US politics is the incessant behavior from politicians which provokes the clamor for recalls and impeachment.

            My point, of course, is that their need not be any illegitimate behavior from politicians.  Anytime an elected official does something that an activist group disapproves of the modern approach is a call for impeachment or recall.

            Not only does this result in tit-for-tat behavior but is incredibly destructive to the concept of democracy as it sets up the other side to believe that their vote does not matter.  It doesn’t matter the letter behind the politicians name or the ideology that they espouse, there is always an aggrieved group that demands impeachment or recall – to be fair, sometimes the call is one for apology or that the figure step down willingly.

            The genius of the US system is that power is shared by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.  It is this arrangement along with a strong state system that is supposed to reign in the power of the federal government while not disenfranchising voters.

            The first Presidents that I remember are Ford and Carter but only in the context that my class had a ‘vote’ on which should win the Presidency.  My first authentic political memories are of Reagan and as I recall there were calls for his impeachment.  Then there were calls for Bush’s impeachment.  Then Clinton’s.  Then Bush’s.  Now Obama’s.  If Romney, Santorum, or a brokered Republican nominee are elected to the Presidency I fully expect that there will be breathless calls for his impeachment.  The Constitution is so vague as to the concept of impeachment that I dare say that no President can avoid committing some impeachable offense.

            Better than the constant natter for impeachments and recalls I’d suggest that we make actual systemic reforms such as the repeal of the 17th Ammendment and an Ammendment removing the due process clause of the 14th Ammendment.  I’d also suggest that civics classes should be reinstated in schools to the point that each year K-12 there should be a mandatory civics class.

            Were it up to me, I would have activist judges impeached for legislating from the bench, overstepping Constitutional limits, and to put the fear of the law into any judges who deem themselves above the law.

            I’m not certain if that would be a good solution or not.  I’d rather try to pinpoint the issue, and if it is a Constitutional one (probably of ambiguity) then I’d suggest that maybe an Ammendment is in order.  Perhaps less drastically it is simply one of Congress continuing to abrogate its Constitutional powers, and they simply need to stand up to the courts.

    • Comment by The Ubiquitous:

      Sir, if every American was a man of good will like you, it would really be the Land of the Free.

      Hear hear!

  2. Comment by Rolf Andreassen:

    and yet they dare to call themselves the reality-based community.

    There is a certain amount of irony in this; do you recall the origin of the phrase?

  3. Comment by Andrew Brew:

    Oh, and more relevantly, you (the troubled and self-destructive nation of the US) have my prayers, and those of others here in Sydney.

  4. Comment by Oscillon:

    I think the policy is dumb. I think it was dumber politics. I think the whole idea of covering low cost maintenance services through medical insurance is dumb.
    But…..
    I find the over the top reaction a little weird. Why didn’t we see any of this crazy sky is falling, end of the world talk when dozens of states passed effectively the same law. I think your home state has the same policy.
    http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/insurance-coverage-for-contraception-state-laws.aspx

    I never heard a peep until Obama is involved.

    • Comment by The Ubiquitous:

      Believe it or not, the bishops did largely fight the state laws. They lost.

      It helps that they still had other options, like being self-insurers. The Mandate removes this as an option.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Simple: the state mandate had a loophole that Catholic institutions could use, such as by self-insuring. Here that loophole is closed. No one was forced to act against his conscience.

      You are a repeating a Dem talking point.

      And Obama has nothing to do with it. The Bishops would react the same way if George Bush or King George of England or the Chinese Communist Party did the same thing. It is part of the Catholic teaching that contraception, abortion, and sterilization are intrinsically evil. The Church has taught this since the First Century (and, yes, the Romans had contraceptives and abortions also, just not as medically sophisticated as ours.)

      So, your argumentum ad hominem fails.

      • Comment by Oscillon:

        “the state mandate had a loophole that Catholic institutions could use”
        Virginia, right? I don’t think there is an exception. Point to it?

        http://www.nwlc.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/catholic_affiliated_institutions_that_provide_contraceptive_coverage_chart.pdf

        I can completely understand the opposition to this mandate but the tone of the reaction reminds me of the anti-bush over the top stuff from the far left 8 years ago.

        “You are a repeating a Dem talking point.”
        I’ll call your ad hominem and raise you a guilt by association.

        • Comment by The Ubiquitous:

          With that non sequitur, I think that counts as all in. See the above point:

          It helps that they still had other options, like being self-insurers. The Mandate removes this as an option.

          As for the point about Catholic organizations’ heath plans already covering contraception, when true this was discovered to the consternation of bishops unaware that this part of the room had been dirty. Where the Obama Administration comes in is in compelling that part of the room to stay dirty, even though now that we’re aware of the privation we would want to clean it up.

          Reminds me of the arguments which shore up same-sex marriage by pointing to the three-month marriages of socialites. They would have us sit in our filth even after we wake up to it.

    • Comment by Nostreculsus:

      I think the policy is dumb. I think it was dumber politics. I think the whole idea of covering low cost maintenance services through medical insurance is dumb.

      Exactly. The point of insurance is to pool money from many and direct it to pay for the unlucky individuals who face catastrophic losses. The point of insurance is to convert a small risk of catastrophe into a regular, predictable payment.

      Insurance is therefore inappropriate to pay for expenses that are already predictable and recurring: yearly check-ups, screenings, and contraceptives. Why should everyone make regular payments into a common fund, and then everyone withdraw the same routine amount on a regular basis?

      Everyone needs to eat. But we do not have government-mandated food insurance. We do not pool our grocery bills and mail the money to a centralized agency, which provides nutritionally approved “food services” to us all. Adults are supposed to be able to budget for predictable, recurring expenditures.

      The word “insurance” for Obamacare is a term of art. The program is intended to lead to a complete takeover of your medical care.

  5. Comment by Stephen J.:

    I have always loved the concept of being Christian as a battle against evil; but I admit that I find it terribly painful to think of people I love, respect and admire, whose only fault is that they were taught too soon against Christianity and are as loyal to what they believe is right as I am, as enemies in that battle.

    “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law — a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” — Matthew 10:34-37.

    One reason I’m still Christian has been the realization that as I got older and older, the Bible started making more and more sense to me. I understand this passage now in a way that was purely academic at best in my Catholic high school days.

  6. Comment by Gian:

    The word “conscience” has a very confusing and muddled history (See CS Lewis’ Studies in Word for exhaustive details). Its settled meaning (by mid-medieval period) used to be God’s viceroy in a man’s heart. But as CS Lewis shows, it is not the meaning to be found in the New Testament writings (where it means ‘to know with’.).

    Anyway, it is than curious that the atheists who acknowledge no God also claim conscience rights. Itis the result of absurd Kantian philosophy that has made each individual the supreme law-maker of his own “Man as an autonomous creature”. Whence the standard definition of American Freedom by Supreme Court Justice Kennedy” The heart of liberty is the right to define one’s nature”.

    The Kantian usage has entered Church too. So are the bishops claiming to be autonomous or are they claiming to be speaking as God’s viceroy? Is man to be rational animal or autonomous animal?

  7. Comment by Gian:

    The word “conscience” has a very confusing and muddled history (See CS Lewis’ Studies in Word for exhaustive details). Its settled meaning (by mid-medieval period) used to be God’s viceroy in a man’s heart. But as CS Lewis shows, it is not the meaning to be found in the New Testament writings (where it means ‘to know with’.).

    Anyway, it is than curious that the atheists who acknowledge no God also claim conscience rights. Itis the result of absurd Kantian philosophy that has made each individual the supreme law-maker of his own “Man as an autonomous creature”. Whence the standard definition of American Freedom by Supreme Court Justice Kennedy” The heart of liberty is the right to define one’s nature”.

    The Kantian usage has entered Church too. So are the bishops claiming to be autonomous or are they claiming to be speaking as God’s viceroy? Is man to be rational animal or autonomous animal?

    Futher note: A typical example of Kantian abuse of word “conscience” by a Catholic professor at Notre Dame:

    In our democratic society the ultimate arbiter of religious authority is the conscience of the individual believer. It follows that there is no alternative to accepting the members of a religious group as themselves the only legitimate source of the decision to accept their leaders as authorized by God. They may be wrong, but their judgment is answerable to no one but God. In this sense, even
    the Catholic Church is a democracy.
    philosophy professor Gary Gutting, teaches at Notre Dame, writing in NYT, yesterday.

  8. Comment by The Ubiquitous:

    Look. I don’t know if such coverage could be more frustrating.

    It’s going to be a long haul, kiddos. Don’t presume it’s going to be David and Goliath — for all we know, it could be more like Israel into Babylon. Given our shameful record in the last few decades, I think I know which backstory fits better.

  9. Comment by Gian:

    Mr Wright,
    The question is not of religious freedom essentially, as if the Catholic objection to contraception was like Jewish objection to pork, Quaker objection to conscription or Christian Scientist objectio to anesthesia. As Patrick Deenen at Crisis website very clearly writes that cries of conscience and religious freedom are rooted in a liberal world view.

    “By these appeals to the “rights” of religious organizations to hold certain religious beliefs – whatever those may be – and by an appeal to “conscience” informing that belief – no matter what it may hold – critics of the HHS policy have framed their response in the dominant privatistic language of liberalism. Their defense rests on the inscrutability and sanctity of private religious belief. It borrows strongly from sources of private religious devotion that lays no claim to public witness, in keeping with liberalism’s dominant mode of allowing acceptable religious practice so long as it remains outside the public square. The appeal to conscience, while lodged at the level of institutional belief, subjects itself easily to the same claim by adherents within that religious order who might similarly object to a religious mandate (e.g., the prohibition on artificial birth control) on grounds of “conscience” to aspects of that belief (think Martin Luther. Or Andrew Sullivan.)
    :
    .

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I am not sure I understand your point. The objection here is that the Federal government has done something which the Constitution, the document giving the federal government its authority, forbids.

      Myself, I consider the authority of the Church to be superior to that of any worldly prince or republic, which is a view not in keeping with the classical liberal or enlightenment view of the superiority of secular republics over the private hobby known as religion. However, I need not rest my argument on the ground of Church supremacy, since I can rest my argument on Constitutional, that is, classical liberal grounds.

      In other words, the federal government, in the wording of the First Amendment, has promised not to meddle in Church affairs. I believe the promise to be good on caesaropapist grounds, and the liberals think the promise is good on classical liberal grounds. But we need not reach the question of the ultimate grounds of the promise since the issue is settled at first blush: promises made should be kept.

      • Comment by martin17773:

        John new multi-author blog http://orthosphere.org/ do you know the contributors? Could you cross post? Would be great to have your presence too. I’m an avid reader of you both that’s all.

      • Comment by Gian:

        Religious practices can be regulated and have been regulated in America. Mormons no longer practice polygamy nor Hindus practice Suttee.

        My point is far better made at the Catholic website Crisis:
        http://www.crisismagazine.com/2012/43917

      • Comment by Gian:

        The writer at Crisis writes that:

        It is understandable why the American Catholic Bishops would protest that the religious freedom of Catholics is being infringed upon, but it is not understandable why they should think that a protest articulated in terms of religious freedom would be sufficiently effective to prevent such attacks, and worse ones, in the future. It is not understandable as both a judgment of prudence and of principle, for it appears to presuppose ideas about the nature of politics and the relation of Church and state derived from the secular Enlightenment, not the theological Tradition of the Catholic Church. By desiring to protect with state power their godless, therapeutic culture, with its cultic religious practices of baby-murder and sexual perversion, Obama and the HHS are trying to unify church and state, as it were, a principled union Leo XIII explicitly taught as the political ideal and which was not changed at Vatican II. In other words, the Obama regime is, in spite of its Rawlsian-liberal rhetoric, promoting a particular conception of the good, not merely advocating more space for the exercise of individual rights. It is attempting to inculcate what it considers “virtue” and to promote the “well-being” of human persons.

        These are, all things being equal, Aristotelian and Thomistic moral and political goals, and they indicate a non-liberal role and influence for comprehensive conceptions of the good transcending the merely private and sub-political. In other words, though their evaluative moral scheme and worldview is, well, insane, and the particular values they deem good in truth wicked, by seeking to rid the political culture of a practice they deem evil and vicious, not merely infringing on someone’s rights, the Obama regime is, to this extent, behaving in a manner more in line with traditional Catholic political philosophy and theology than that implied by the Bishops’ classical-liberal-Lockean rhetoric

      • Comment by Gian:

        From Crisis website:

        “Church “charity” has come to rely increasingly on politicians, not the laity. Thus, as the Democrats have moved left, our bureaucracies have too – whether by choice or by necessity. After all, they count on billions of taxpayer dollars flowing to Church institutions every year.”

        “Laymen understand what bishops apparently don’t: politicians have allowed us to play in their taxpayer-funded trough because we have played by their rules”

        I have also read recently that the Catholic dioceses derive more funding from Federal Govt than from tithes.
        Do you think it is a satisfactory state of affairs and the non-Catholics should continue to subsidize the Catholic Church?

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          “Do you think it is a satisfactory state of affairs and the non-Catholics should continue to subsidize the Catholic Church?”

          I do think that non-Catholics should subsidize charity, yes. That modern men think the state is a better organ for aiding the poor than the Church is due to the post-Henry VIII worship of the state, which I think is an abomination. So, no, this is not a satisfactory state of affairs, but I cannot envision a better one, given modern statism.

          • Comment by Gian:

            And you have apparently no worries about
            (1) corruption induced in Church and Church officials by large amounts of State money.
            You haven’t noticed a large number of pro-Govt and pro-Left Catholic officials. A lot of Catholic charity is scam and exists only to enrich the official class. Sister Sheehan?
            (2) Violation of the 1st Amendment by which non-Catholics are obliged to support Catholicism.
            3) A relaxed attitude induced towards tithing by the Catholic laity. Since bishops are getting a lot of money from Govt, they don’t need the tithes that much and that contributes to the disconnect between hierarchy and laity.

            (4) Instead you take a mechanical and rather thoughtless approach that focuses only on the money flowing through the system. A typical bureaucratic and Leftist approach, something very unexpected from you.
            (5) As reported in First Things last week, an official of a Catholic institution says that Govt funding is a must since without it, the Catholic institutions would be rendered “uncompetitive”.
            See, for a bureaucratic mind, the point of an institution is to compete with other institutions for talent and Govt money. Such an attitude needs to be destroyed.

            • Comment by John C Wright:

              Is it just me, or is there something about the Internet that makes people think they can just make up stuff about other people, and pretending they have motives, thoughts, philosophies, and what-not they don’t have.

              I don’t know who are you mad at, but take it out on them, not on me. I neither said the things you are attributing to me, nor can your statement be considered a logical deduction from anything I said.

              Speaking as an attorney, I can assure you that using government funds set aside for charity to cooperate with a private charity is as close the establishment as religion as having the government hire contractors to build ships and weapons for the army and navy, or, in other words, not at all.

              • Comment by Patrick:

                Leaving any assumptions one way or another aside, I think his point, particularly, as relates to tithing, is very compelling.

                John, could you respond to that? How should Catholics weigh the leavening effects of government money (and the fact that so many of our charities have been co-opted by people with no intention of promoting our orthodoxy)?

                You probably know that here are a number of faithful Catholic healthcare charities in the NoVa area who don’t accept government money on principal; should this be the model for Catholic charities going forward?

                Anyhow, I’d like somebody to unpack the notion that a missional charity should be ‘competitive’ for me.

                • Comment by John C Wright:

                  I am afraid I am not qualified to answer, except by experience. After my conversion, I spent some weekends helping out in a local soup kitchen that passed out bags of groceries to the poor. My job was stock boy. I would shelf the donations. Some donations came from the government. Some came from local stores who did not want food to be thrown away. Most came from other sources.

                  The gov’t donations were roughly one third to one half of the stock, but they were the most annoying, because we could not use our judgment on how it was to be stored and distributed — everything was done according to minute regulations.

                  To this day, I don’t know the denomination of the kitchen. Maybe it was Catholic, maybe not. Without Big Brother’s help, our output to the poor would have been less. The degree of government intrusion would offend a libertarian but not a Republican, and a Democrat would have panted in heat for more: but in any case, it did not cause any conflict of conscience for me. We were glad for the help.

                  The argument I have heard repeated, which is that taking donations from the government eliminates your rights, or your standing, or your conscience, is total bullshit. It is something people say who have no other argument to take, and they don’t believe it themselves. As well argue that female hitchhikers are asking to be raped. If I take a loaf of bread from Uncle Sam and pass it out to the needy, there is no fine print in the contract that says Uncle Sam can then give me a machete and command me to kill Negro babies in the name of Planned Ethnic Cleansing.

                  From a legal point of view, the United States of America is one of the few nations where the Church can appoint her own bishops without asking leave of the government. The Chinese bishops do not have that right. Cooperation with the government to help the poor is obviously beneficial to the poor. I do not think there is an argument there. As Christians, we are obligated to submit humbly to the laws and prayer for our leaders, even when they persecute us. The only limit is that we are obligated to defy the state when the laws command we break divine laws, and accept whatever punishment the state sees fit to inflict with joy.

                  From that perspective, it is hard for me to see what either the theological or the legal argument is preventing cooperation between the Church and State for the care of the poor.

                  In a better world, I would hope that the State would be small and weak enough, and the Church large and influential enough, to need not to rely on the state. It would certainly sooth the ghosts of my libertarian sentiments if all charity and welfare were private. On the other hand, back in the days when the Church was the sole agency of welfare for the poor, we had institutions like common greens, and the Church was an established institution, backed by the police power, and membership was compulsory.

                  • Comment by Gian:

                    Mr Wright,
                    The State does not do “charity”. It fulfills the social welfare legislations or you can say it does welfare. The word “charity” has undergone a lot of lot of abuse and it should really not take more.

                    The analogy to military contractors does not work. The Church is asking for special exemptions and privileges that the contractors even do not dream of.

                    You are automatically linking State funds for social welfare to poor. Conservatives decry State over-spending and are rightly suspicious of State intrusion into non-essential activities.

                    And you persist in eating your cake and having it too. If the Church takes State money, then it must play by State rules and not plead conscience. The bishops has not yet said that the the mandate is wrong per se. Only that they be exempted from it. So your analogy to “kill Negro babies in the name of Planned Ethnic Cleansing.” does not work.

                    “and the Church was an established institution, backed by the police power, and membership was compulsory.”

                    Hardly. Thee were Jewish communities all over. I never heard that even for non-Jews, it was compulsory. People were Catholic mostly for exactly the reason that children of a Hindu are generally Hindu.

                    • Comment by John C Wright:

                      “The Church is asking for special exemptions and privileges that the contractors even do not dream of. “

                      If this is a reference to the Church asking that EWTN, the Catholic radio station, not being forced to pass out free contraceptives, abortifacients or to fund sterilization, that is an exemption and a privilege guaranteed under the First Amendment.

                      “If the Church takes State money, then it must play by State rules and not plead conscience.”

                      This is a lie. Or, to be more polite about it, there is no precedent in common law, nor in statute, nor in the Constitution, which would justified this outrageous overreach of government power.

                      We are not discussing a case where the members of a Church are employees of a state and take tax money to distribute to the poor objecting to the conditions or regulations under which the state disburses the money. We are talking of a case where an administrative officer has made a general ruling binding on all corporations, businesses, partnerships, and assemblies in the nation, including Catholic charities, hospitals, universities and soup kitchens, and your argument is that those institutions have forfeited their First Amendment rights because some other charity drives took tax money for other purposes, purposes which they fulfilled.

                      We are not talking about a case where there was a contract that stated, ‘We will give you taxpayer funds if in return you trample the crucifix’ nor are we talking about a case where the tax-money was disbursed for the purposes of encouraging the poor and downtrodden to trample the crucifix, and the Church took the money under that understanding. We are talking about a case where an administrative officer has decreed that abortifacients are now “preventative medication” and that all companies and corporations, including any Catholic hospitals, universities, or charities who never took a dime of federal money, must fund abortifacients to their employees ,which, for all practical purposes, is the same as asking us to trample the crucifix. We will not comply.

                      Your argument is that it is illogical or self-contradictory for one group of Catholics to accept federal money for charitable purposes, but then for another group of Catholics to object when commanded by a federal officer unconnected with those moneys or those charities to forswear one’s religious conviction. Your argument does not even make a prima facea case.

                      If you wish, like a libertarian, to say that the federal government may not use money to feed the poor, then as a libertarian you must also say the federal government may not establish a Church nor interfere in the free exercise of religion, and you will be consistent with your own argument.

                      If you wish, like a leftist, to say that the federal government has no limits on its powers, you may make the argument that the federal government has the right to establish that funding abortifacients, contraception, sterilization is no longer a matter of religious conviction, and command the Catholic Church to amend her catechism and teachings.

                      But here you are making the argument that since the federal government may not use money to feed the poor, therefore the federal government has the right to command the Catholic Church to amend her catechism. You reason from libertarian axioms to totalitarian conclusions.

                      There is no connection between those two ideas. If the federal government has overstepped its constitutional boundaries by funding charities, why would that, even in theory, act as laches, waiver, or estoppel to forbid any Catholics from asserting their First Amendment rights?

                      And your only argument in support of these two disconnected ideas is that by feeding the poor all Catholics have committed such an abominable enormity that we have forfeited our right to object when secular powers command us to amend our catechism.

                      You are speaking utter nonsense. Let us hear no more from you on this issue, please.

  10. Comment by The Ubiquitous:

    Mr. Wright: Have you seen what the DOJ filed in response to Belmont Abbey’s claim? Their best defense is, presumably, not that their threatened future actions would be somehow constitutional but that the Administration promises to fix the issues in the future.

    I’m no expert on ripeness, but this smells rotten. It’s the sort of thing which may hold up in court as a technicality.

    It’s stall at best — for political reasons the Administration gave the year of transition time. But that transition time itself impeaches their case. As this is de facto transition time, we are being forced to transition to something we object; therefore, this transition itself constitutes an action, and we can rightly and ripely object to this transition on moral grounds.

    If there is no precedent that we may seek injunction against a pending tyranny of the government, there should be. For something like this the time is ripe.

  11. Comment by robertjwizard:

    The one known as ‘robertjwizard’ doubtless has some sort of point, but it’s hidden in amidst the argumentum ad ignorantiam, argumentum ad populum, argumentum ad hominem (including, specifically, tu quoque), dicto simpliciter and audiatur et altera pars.

    Ah, how cute, you visited that site Mr. Wright recommended, now you’re using giant Latin words you don’t understand! Cutting and pasting words is not understanding them.

    My statement is simple. A communist should not be given a hearing to make his case. He can be laughed at out of hand and dismissed and assigned the proper levels of discussion – like what character on Seaseme Street is the nicest. This is reserved only for communists and Nazis. Flat-earthers and believers in fairies can have a hearing as can Shirley McClaine. I do not mean this as an insult. I actually mean that seriously. But by all means keep making my point for me – proceed.

  12. Ping from Opposed even to God, opposed to the mandate « Prodigal No More:

    [...] opposed even to God, who stated that the Health and Human Services mandate amounts to a rope around his neck — how much more ours? We did not want this fight. If you are in favor of this [...]

  13. Comment by Andrew Brew:

    Of course they are possible, and of course they are self destructive. That’s the point. If you pursue these things you destroy yourself, and your family, and those who love you, and the society that harbours you.

    As for the implications in “the virtual world” (if you’ve read your sci-fi?? John wrote that sci-fi), why would it not be self-destructive there also? I can’t think of any answer that does not pre-suppose that the (virtual) world is already barren – that you start destroyed, and cannot be more destroyed than you already are.

  14. Comment by Andrew Brew:

    OK – I wondered if that’s what you meant with the sci-fi reference, but then decided not. My apologies for being obtuse.

    As for the relationship between virtual and real, you may have lost me.

    Why should not virtual impact on real? How can it not? The whole point of a “virtual” world is that it has at least some of the virtues (i.e. qualities) of the real world. Do you mean that the virtual world can be constructed with rules such that you can eat pretend food there without your pretend body getting fat? Well, of course. But if treating food that way becomes habitual, that will have effects in the real world, no?

  15. Comment by Andrew Brew:

    OK – I wondered if that’s what you meant with the sci-fi reference, but then decided not. My apologies for being obtuse.

    As for the relationship between virtual and real, you may have lost me.

    Why should not virtual impact on real? How can it not? The whole point of a “virtual” world is that it has at least some of the virtues (i.e. qualities) of the real world. Do you mean that the virtual world can be constructed with rules such that you can eat pretend food there without your pretend body getting fat? Well, of course. But if treating food that way becomes habitual, that will have effects in the real world, no?

  16. Comment by John C Wright:

    From time to time I hold comments for review, as is mentioned in the notice appearing on every page. I was looking over your comment to see if it had any scurrilous material which would justify its deletion. Upon review, I decided it did not, and restored it.

    It is not censorship, since I have absolutely no obligation to you, sir, aside from mine own sense of courtesy and honor to allow your comments to stand here. As a rule, I do not delete anything except personal insults, Holocaust deniers, and foul language.

    As a communist and a enemy, your apologetics consists of nothing but ad hominem and self-righteous denunciation of your betters, always delivered in terms of whining scorn and petulant outrage, which borders on personal insult from time to time, so you are subject to closer scrutiny than others.

    If you wish not to be subject to close scrutiny, adopt a courteous and adult demeanor. Courtesy is a two-way street. As a stranger to you, you should not put me in the position of having to act like your mother or your tutor, to tell you what every eight-year-old knows about how to behave in public.

  17. Comment by Andrew Brew:

    I see. Yes, but your original comment did not refer to FPS or strategy games, but to “virtual worlds that can become the real world”. Your followup confirmed that you meant something like the settin of “The Golden Age”. That is a very different matter from FPS games, isn’t it?

    Reply appears to be borked (but at least we can now edit and requset deletions, which is a good thing). As long as it is just the two of us it won’t become confusing…

  18. Comment by Andrew Brew:

    You need not act in accordance with your established habits? Well, no, but it requires an effort not to. If you don’t want to behave in a certain fashion, you’d better not develop a habit of behaving so.

    I’ll let you go, now. You have been gracious in defeat : )

  19. Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

    It’s called “Getting to know you”. Many are “Communists”, innocent souls who given no thought to it, just went to college and paid good money to become ignorant. You have shown yourself to be a Communist, a willing preacher of the “Anti-Life Equation”. You stand with Stalin, Hitler, and Mao. You may claim that they “hijacked the Revolution”, but have given no believable means of stopping future “Hijackings”.

    Now, we, looking at you and your beliefs, have two possibilities. First, that you do stand with Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, and just lie about it, until you get the power that you so burn for in your envy and hate. Second, that you are a naive “Judas Goat”, who actually believes that the ones he leads into the Abattoir will not be butchered this time…..

    Do you see the problem? Neither position lends itself to trusting you. Your burden of proof is high, for you stand in front of a mountain of skulls. That is the history of “Communism”, and you have shown us no Communism to contrast it with……

  20. Comment by Nostreculsus:

    Where are you, branabus? I notice the use of “sir” and “ma’am” is commonplace when I am invited to give talks in Texas. And what are “vaguely advanced language forms”? I ask because I want to start using them, along with calling everyone “sir”.

    I’ve already learned how to make mint juleps.

  21. Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

    Yes, you have many base misunderstandings, that’s why we are hard pressed to trust you.

    No, it is the Communists that see people as nothing more then things that make the system work. That is the point of all the talk about “History”. The idea that people are not special, just molecules, and there is a “Universal Marxist constant” that will predict their movements in-mass, allowing History to be predicted. That is the point of “From each according to his Abilities, to each according to his Needs”. No awareness that people are different, no idea that they are special, that they might have their own ideas about what, exactly, their abilities and needs are…..

    Again that’s what happens under the Communist system, not the strawman you see. Our “system” allows each man to plan for his future, to work as he sees fit, as lot as he sees fit, for he is the one best suited to taking care of himself, for he is unique and special, and no government eater of dust will care as much as he does. And no, Republicans have never been against old age pensions, they just didn’t trust the Government to run them honestly, and they have been proven correct in that, as we have seen the age of collect raised, as the Supreme Court has stated that there is no Right to SS, as we have seen the “trustfund” looted to pay for alcoholics and druggies (SSI) so the Democrats could buy their votes. The parishes did and do a fine job of feeding the needy, to the point the government tries to stop them, the “Separation of Church and State” not being a restriction on the power of the State. Again, it was the Government that stopped the free clinics that helped the poor, as they are attacking the Catholic hospitals right now. You really need a better strawman here, since the Government is right now attack the free market hospitals that care for the poor. Makes it hard to pretend they don’t exist. And no, forced retirement is a Communist idea, not a free market one. The history is quite clear on that.

    No, I say that, given the terrible failures of the previous attempts, we should be very careful about new attempts. No one here is saying that you cannot set up a Communist area and live according to your ideals. Heck, you’re in luck, given that you live in a very free market area, and the free market people will happily sell you the rope you hope to hang them with! Set up your dream. Prove that it can work for three generations. Until then, why should we let you and yours anywhere near the Government? You admit to terrible failures and to the Revolution being hijacked. You have still not given us any assurance it will not be hijacked again.

    I can no more prove that then I can prove that Magical Ponies will not come down from the sky and teach us that Friendship is Magic. I cannot prove a negative. Again, you demand perfection in a fallen world. You make the Perfect the enemy of the Good, and that is why you and yours keep getting mountains of skulls. Truly an arrogant demand, given that you can’t even prove your system will work at all, and we have lots of evidence it doesn’t…….

  22. Comment by John Hutchins:

    You might as well lay all of the deaths due to ‘communism’ at the hands of capitalists, for creating the conditions which led to the revolutions and, in the Cold War, ensuring the deaths of millions through wars to stop ‘communist expansion’.

    I think that people on the blog might be giving you too much respect, rather than not enough when you make statements like this.

    “‘one more pair of hands’. Not special. Not to be cherished”

    One more pair of hands is infinitely more special and cherished then ‘one more mouth to feed’.

    “Because you condemned them to starve in their old age because their parish would not feed them, or you condemned them to die because they could not afford healthcare, or because you removed them from the work which they had been doing all their life because younger people could do it for less.”

    In normal societies the old are cared for and cherished by the young, children have a legal obligation and responsibility to care for their parents and having children is a more sure way of being cared for in old age then any retirement plan. It is the partial implementation of the ideas put forward by the Communists (which is called Socialism) which has changed the situation. Doctors used to provide free services (or highly discounted) to the elderly because to not do so made the doctor untrustworthy for all treatment, it is the partial implementation of Communism that has bankrupted the nation and the elderly.

    In stable industries that are not ridden with debt and government regulations which make short term profits the only concern then the older workers are the firms greatest assets. There is always some churn, that is to be expected and is a price to be paid to have a high standard of living.

    Prove to me that capitalism will not create wars, will give humanity, as Chaplin put it, ‘a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security’.

    Admittedly when corporations are married to the state (Mercantilism) or the state the corporations (Corporatism) then wars of corporate expansion are possible. However, even in these capitalist heresies there is still the truism that if goods don’t cross boarders guns will, and if goods are crossing boarders then guns won’t. Other than everyone loving their neighbor as themselves the closest that nations come to world peace is through trade that makes bitter enemies that severely distrust each other into trading partners that are dependent on the others well being (examples, Europe after WW2, Japan and the US, China and the US).

  23. Comment by John C Wright:

    “John described having children, in a capitalist democracy as ‘one more pair of hands’. Not special. Not to be cherished. Just ‘one more pair of hands’ to run the system, and then to be thrown away and replaced when they get too old to work. As I recall, the Republicans were opposed to old age pensions?”

    Please don’t put words in my mouth. I have words of my own and enough there. If you cannot find in anything I actually say something to which to object, then your office of heckler and spewer of trashtalk is more than your limited skill set can encompass.

    You, the Communist, are accusing me, the Christian, of lacking in sympathy and humanity? I am in awe at your aplomb.

    You and yours killed between 40,000,000 and 200,000,000 between 1900 and 1987. The greatest famines have occurred within the Soviet Union (about 5,000,000 dead during 1921-23 and 7,000,000 from 1932-3) and communist China (about 27,000,000 dead from 1959-61). In total almost 55,000,000 people died in various communist famines and associated diseases, a little over 10,000,000 of them from government orchestrated famine.

    I will happily compare that to the number of men, saved by Christian hospitals, charities, missionary care, orphanages, and so on.

    You and yours regard men as units of consumption to be ordered by the whim of tyrants for the good of some mystical and undefinable utopia where the laws of economics and the laws of cause and effect will vanish softly and suddenly away like the Boojam-hunter from a nonsense poem.

    No, I doubt you have the moral authority to condemn me for saying the Sons of Adam must eat their daily bread through the sweat of their faces. A voice with more authority than mine pronounced that curse.

    We Christians did not coin the term ‘useless bread-gobblers’ or ‘useful idiots’. Your cherished socialists did that. So who cares more for children? Our Saint Joseph or your Saint Stalin?

  24. Comment by Nostreculsus:

    Sir, I propose a formal denunciation of any ad hominem soliloquys, by either side. Such unseemly behaviour ill suits gentlemen engaged in lucubration on the issues bono rei publicae.

    Never forget,sir,dux vitæ ratio.

  25. Comment by Rade Hagedorn:

    Here is an interesting link: http://geography.about.com/od/obtainpopulationdata/a/russiapop.htm.

    One thing that the Russians might try is to reduce the number of abortions — 13 abortions to every 10 live births.

  26. Comment by John C Wright:

    “Additionally, due to pure racism, 3,300,000 people are dead in America alone since 1910. You may take the second statistic as you will.”

    Thank you. I will assume it has the imprimatur of Pravda, or wherever it is you get your novel interpretations of history.

    Have you no other instruments by which to frame an argument than ad hominem? Should it not rouse your suspicions in the justness of your cause that no argument supports your cause aside from denigrating make-believe enemies?

    Let me show you why gratuitous sneers unrelated to the topic are not persuasive: “And, while you are quoting statistics, tell me the number of Irish killed by Englishmen due to “pure racism” since 1192 or thereabouts?” Does this question suddenly flood your mind with the realization that the Labor Theory of Value is false? If not, why do you think similar nonsense will persuade me of anything, other than persuade me that you need to learn (1) elementary logic (2) good manners.

  27. Comment by Andrew Brew:

    … …

    …sorry, I was laughing too hard to type. Branabus, you really need to read some history (real history, not propaganda). And take some courses in logic and statistical method (you are at university now, right? Perfect opportunity!). You are clearly not stupid, but you are trying hard to make yourself so. I really do not mean that as an insult – you are harming your ability to think, and that is a pity.

    Six million in Russia…3.3 million in America. Right.

    In Marxist theory, theory is the same as reality. In reality, they are different.

  28. Comment by Patrick:

    Branabus, if you could, please explain how capitalism causes famine.

    If you have one, please give us a real world example.

  29. Comment by John Hutchins:

    “forces humans to work, or else they will starve.”

    I thought it was the fact that humans are alive that forces them to work unless they starve. I didn’t know that capitalism was the thing that killed the magical food fairies that made it so that everyone that lived under totalitarian repression, feudalism, or communisn-which-is-not-real-communism was able to frolic in the flowers copulating with nymphs all day. I mean the statistics that you gave list communism as being right up there with war (much of which was conducted with at least one party being communist) for deaths in the last century, they all just up and died from having an over abundance of food, freedom, and free lovin.

  30. Comment by John C Wright:

    Please quote me where I said children are not to be cherished, or the other rot you attributed to me? I did indeed say that in Capitalism, every new birth is new pair of hands to work, and under Socialism every new birth is a new mouth to feed. In other words, Capitalism values life, because mutual cooperation and mutual aid is the rule, and Socialism devalues life, because mutual conflict of interest is the rule.

    Conflict of interest is the rule because any system which does not distribute goods by a price scheme, that is, by the law of supply and demand, distributes goods and services by a quota scheme, that is, by the discretion of the political power in charge of distributing the goods. Since the goods are not distributed by supply and demand, the quotas go irrationally and arbitrarily to whomever the political power favors; hence, currying political power is rewarded. Whatever you reward, you get more of.

    I have never told a lie in my life. You are allowed to comment here at my discretion. Maintain a courteous demeanor, please.

  31. Comment by Patrick:

    “However, capitalists believe the opposite and, indeed, that men are units of consumption to be ordered by the whim of tyrants for the good of the tyrants themselves.”

    This is amazing.

    Have you ever actually worked at all?

    We’ve established in previous threads that you’ve never actually been a Communist – when asked, you whined about it being impossible to practice communism when capitalism was too effective at satisfying people’s needs to even find the idea compelling enough to try, as I recall.

    And you’re a college student.

    You’ve already demonstrated intellectual laziness on other topics regularly enough to discredit you pretty thoroughly around here.

    But have you even real experience of being employed to justify your investment in this posture?

    In the past, you have seemed to sort of be a nice person; I think the main reason anybody continues addressing you is the consideration that you may be nice but merely naive, instead of the monotonous, crappily-educated, slovenly whiner you’re appearing more and more to be.

    Nobody wants to think poorly of you, but calling business owners as a whole ‘tyrants’ goes a long way to making people think you’re not a good person inside.

    But if you have all these opinions, your creature comforts AND no relevant work experience to even begin to justify them…

    But no. You’re naive. College is a time to be naive and frivolous and wasteful of your own and other people’s earnings, and experiment with ideas that don’t work, and relationships that don’t work, and to complain about everything and not work. Carry on. Gainsay the world.

  32. Comment by Andrew Brew:

    Since you referred me to this post elsewhere, and the reply heirarchy depth has run out there, I will reply briefly here.

    I make no comment of the accuracy of the figures, since I don’t know their origin. You accept them, so I will for the sake of argument (87 million killed by Communism is way down the low end of esimates that I have seen, but let it pass).

    I suppose your contention that Capitalism has killed more than Communism in the twentieth century is taken from the page’s punchline:
    ■TOTAL: 87M deaths by Communism.
    ■RESIDUE: 116M deaths by non-Communism.
    and assuming that none-Communism = Capitalism.

    It must be obvious to you, surely, that that is not the case. The page lists 87.5 million war dead (which would come under the heading of “non-Communism”). Of these, 17 million would be from the Great War, and 60 million from the Second World War. Neither of these was fought on behalf of Capitalism. I suppose you could make a case for the first war being fought partly between Capitalist nations, but it would be a bit weak. If you take out the war dead figure alone, and continue to make the absurd assumption that all the rest are due to “Capitalism”, Communism is already three times more lethal. It is not clear to me where the rest of his 116 million come from, but I suspect that if you looked at it one line-item at a time, few or none would be attributable to “Capitalism” in the same way that the Gulags, the extermination of the Kulaks, the Great Leap Forward etc. are attributable to Communism.

    I see that your American deaths due to racism figure comes from the same source. Did you look at the assumptions that went into that figure, or just look at the bottom line of the table? It is base solely on the (absurd) assumption that since different races in America have different life expectencies at birth, the difference can be due only to racism. In the paragraph immediately following the table, the author himself sets out several of the more obvious reasons that his assumption is invalid. No doubt Mike Flynn could make a funny story out of this, but lacking his skills in both stats and telling funny stories, I will say no more.

    Why do you waste your time looking at this stuff, and ours by quoting it as if it means something?

  33. Comment by John Hutchins:

    You certainly seem to have a unique way of looking at statistics. You also have a unique view of history.

    I don’t suppose you have ever heard of the Treaty of Versailles of 1919. You also seem to be unfamiliar with the trade protections that were erected at the start of the Great Depression, the Smoot–Hawley Tariff is the US version.

    Vietnam, Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan, and so on don’t count as Cold War conflicts that produced casualties for you then. All completely unrelated conflicts to the world war that was on going between Russia and America.

  34. Comment by John Hutchins:

    Do what? The tariff mention was to show that trade had essentially stopped between nations before WW2. I haven’t said anything about Hoover or Bush being a good president.

    Also, I am in no way Catholic, as far as I know the current Pope is a pretty decent guy but I don’t hold him in an extra special regard in terms of anything. I don’t think any Catholic that is even vaguely aware of their history is able to say that Popes have to be paragons of virtue.

  35. Comment by Patrick:

    “‘Another contributor to society’ might be closer.”

    This belies the fascination of any and all socialist systems for eugenics, abortion, sterilization, and pogrom-style violence against dissenters.

    Start here:

    http://www.amazon.com/War-Against-Peasantry-1927-1930-Countryside/dp/0300106122?ie=UTF8&tag=danlithompag-20&link_code=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969

  36. Comment by Patrick:

    “Old means experience, and hence better value. Up to a point. And that point is when they start commanding decent wages, where it would be cheaper to hire a young person instead.”

    Actually, the point is when more experience ceases to be relevant to the satisfactory performance of the role, as assessed by the company.

    Say you’re a mail carrier for 40 years. You aren’t actually a better mailwoman at 66 than you were at 28 – there is no “advanced mailcarrying” science that mere seniority or experience ripens you of, no theory of parcel post that your package-carrying fingers have mastered over long years. But, after 40+ of working (and assuming raises and anniversaries and ancillary benefits that accrue for loyalty), you’re now much more expensive to employ than the new guy, but the benefit you provide is about equal, or perhaps less, because you are older and weaker. And after 40 years of giving people mail – and nothing else – you’ve not actually done anything worth paying you more for.

    You can be a good person, raise a nice family, and generally be a great soul, but as far as payroll is concerned, you’re an unusually expensive way to get The Johnsonville family’s Sunday paper to them. You’re expensive to the company, because the cost/benefit of You is unattractive, and you’re actually expensive to the Johnsonvilles, who pay your extra vacation days and doctor visits in postage and late deliveries.

    Actually, economically, everybody but ambition-less, talent-less you, would be better off if you had done more with your life than deliver mail for 40 years.

    Their only incentive for keeping you employed is… that they like you?

    Sure, in capitalism, that’s precisely why they keep you – owners have that prerogative!

    But no, most probably today, it’s a union – a group of people who’s entire existence is predicated on making sure you can bury your talent in the field for 40 years and still put your hand out for money you don’t deserve at the end of the day. The master is a hard man, they told you.

    One more example of why the labor theory of value doesn’t work.

  37. Comment by John C Wright:

    “I don’t think any Catholic that is even vaguely aware of their history is able to say that Popes have to be paragons of virtue”

    Indeed, we Catholics regard it as a miracle (akin to the miraculous preservation of the Jewish Race despite millenniums of persecution outlasting all their contemporaries, Jebusites and Philistines and Moabites and Babylonians) that despite the graft and greed and mismanagement at the highest level of our organization, we continue to stay in business, and continue to preach a gospel that condemns graft and greed.

    That said, the recent Popes have been men of astonishing insight and breadth of mind and devout spirit. Even back in my skeptic days, I gave Pope John Paul II, (and Ronald Reagan and Lech Walesia) singular credit for orchestrating the downfall of the Soviet Union without a war.

    Being a newspaperman, I was hornswaggled and appalled that the popular press continued to portray Reagan as a foolish man of limited mental accomplishment. Reading sober biographies of him is enlightening. His strategy for defeating the Reds was based on a clever application of abstract economic theory, and he had outlined glimmerings of this in the 1940′s, decades before it was put into effect and utterly successful.

    To this day, I am baffled by the uniformity of loyalty among newspapers of the Left. One would think that in a capitalist system, one would break ranks, tell the truth, and outsell the others — if the buying public wants the truth, which may be an optimist assessment of mankind.

    Stalin once joked that the Pope had no tank divisions, and therefore could be dismissed. When the Soviet Union failed, it was because faith in communism failed. Unarmed men stood before tanks unharmed. What the Pope had was stronger than tanks, merely invisible to the Marxist.

  38. Comment by John C Wright:

    “The point was that you didn’t say that they were cherished etc, merely that that they were another pair of hands.”

    Then apologize for attributing to me that little bit of inhumanity. You know I did not say it; I assume you also know it does not follow logically from the premise.

    “Now, with a true, honest, and open heart, can you tell me that you have never lied? Not even minor ones, to your children, or at school, when you’d not done your work, or even unintentionally when you said that you were going to do something and did not, or when you were a young child and not yet with such, as Judge Danforth had it, terrible learning? I believe that you cannot.”

    No, never, not once, not as a child, not even in small things. I don’t lie on my income tax, and I don’t tell my boss I need a sick day when I am in good health. I do from time to time frame things politely, or I use hyperbole, or speak self deprecatingly, or tell outrageous jokes, but never with any intent to deceive.

    It is not easy to do. I am tempted to break my perfect record nearly every day.

    Nearly every other commandment I have broken. I am no saint. I am indeed the chief of sinners. But I don’t lie.

    I will accept your grudging offer to be polite. The rule is simple: talk as if you are talking to an equal, someone you do not wish to offend. Do not assume you are talking to an enemy who is out to hurt you, nor to a friend who will forgive slights against his dignity. Talk to others as you would be talked to.

    I acknowledge my courtesy to you has been imperfect, therefore I apologize and beg your pardon. If you grant it, we can continue.

    “Also, Google exercise for you: where did the following quote come from? …and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”

    I am not sure why you think I would need to use Google. It is the description of the early Apostles from the Book of Acts, who, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and trusting in God for their material needs, shared all property in common.

    Now that we are on a more polite footing, I wished you have not reminded me of that. You understand that my enmity for secular communism is greater, not less, than that of a secular Capitalist. The secular Capitalist merely regards the theories of Marx as wrong, that is, illogical, unrelated to the science of economics or in direct contravention of it. Whereas I, as a Catholic, who revere vows of poverty, and the holy orders able to live with property shared in common and devoted to the relief of the poor, feel personally insulted by Marxism mocking and imitating the outward shapes of our holy institutions and orders, while gutting the logic at the heart of them.

    It is like seeing a harlot dressed as a Nun. People who think Nuns are the bride of Christ are more offended than those who regard them as quaint antiques following a European pre-Reformation religion.

    This might explain your friend who is a Marxist Catholic. Some folk cannot distinguish substance and accident.

    If it comforts you, I also think Catholic orders can do Capitalism better than Capitalists. The Monks in the Middle Ages cleared land and drained swamps and were the best and kindest landlords of the era, and build up from the rubble of the fallen Empire what wealth there was to be had in the West, after the collapse of the monetary system. The Knights Templar were reviled and abolished because they were successful bankers.

  39. Comment by John C Wright:

    “John: The point being that capitalism doesn’t stop bad things from happening.”

    But since no one said that capitalism was a utopia where ‘no bad things happen’ and since no sane person seeks utopia on earth where ‘no bad things happen’ the point you are making is irrelevant, the informal logical fallacy known as straw man argument.

    The argument was that under socialism the laws and customs of society deter respect for human life, dignity and decency by creating an inherent conflict of interest between all subjects of the state, since every new birth is a claim on every man’s goods and labor, whereas under capitalism the laws and customs of society create an inherent harmony of interests between all citizens, or at least all productive citizens, since every new birth is a golden opportunity to receive the benefit of mutual exchange.

    “And what argument is not ad hom?”

    Courtesy restrains me from answering this straight line with the punchlines that naturally spring to mind. I will take the question as if it were asked seriously — but I will suggest politely that if indeed your education is so deficient that you do not know the difference between a valid argument and an invalid one, I suggest you not argue.

    To aid your education, I will explain. In logic, a conclusion is said to follow from or cohere with a pair of premises when and only when it follows the proper form: hence if we say ‘all S is M’ and ‘all M is P’ then the statement ‘All S is P’ follows (‘follows’ means ‘of necessity it must be true if the premises are true’) whereas the statement ‘All P is M’ does not follow (meaning it is not necessarily true even if the premises are true).

    Instead of using this technique to move cautiously from what must be true to what must be true, rhetoricians (and unfortunately you fall into this category, even if only as an amateur) appeal to the judgment of the audience by making arguments based either on likelihood or emotion, or some other connection between statements than may or may nor be true, but which are not necessarily true.

    In this example, you, and other lazy thinkers, deem it persuasive to argue as follows: ‘Mr X says S is P’ and ‘Mr.X lies or is unintelligent or suffers bad judgment or suffers a character defect’ from which you conclude ‘therefore S is not P.’

    This shifts the argument to a discussion of the character of Mr X, whether he lies or has a motive to lie, whether he is intelligent or not, whether he has shown good judgment in the past. However, it overlooks the possibility that, even if every other statement in his life is a lie, Mr X in this one case may be telling the truth, he may be telling the truth unwittingly, or he may be repeating something he heard or learned from a man of sterling reputation, intelligence and honesty.

    This type of argument appeals to the Marxist psychology for obvious reasons: you and yours are attempting to hide your own (to us) obvious character defects by denigrating economists, scientists, thinkers, saints, historians, and the common conclusions of common men, so you can admit no men of good character to exist in the opposition camp. Indeed, in pure Marxism even the possibility of good character or honest character is moot, because Marxism holds that all men are merely robots programmed to repeat whatever it is that falls withing their selfish class interests, as defined by their material circumstances and means of production. So you pretend no one sees the truth but you, and that your vision is due to your superior moral vision and mental acuteness.

    It is self flattery. You do not even know the basic rules of logical thinking, but must have an enemy explain them to you.

    Any argument that rests on the merits without bringing into question the character or history of the man making the statement avoids the fallacy of ad hominem.

    You can read up on the basics of logic here: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mathew/logic.html and here: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/

    Please note the irony that I am sending you to an atheist website. They at least take the time to learn the basics of how to argue.

    And here are the logical forms, including their traditional names
    http://www.friesian.com/aristotl.htm

    Please note the irony that these forms were dubbed my medieval monks and schoolmen, who, unlike most modern students, were actually trained in logic. They are the ones who reduced the science of how to argue to an elegant and complete formal system.

  40. Comment by John C Wright:

    “You surprise and awe me, then. I cannot say that I have not lied in my life, despite my current complete honesty.
    Why did you not lie as a child? Not that you should have done so, but what prevented you from doing so?”

    Your awe will be less if you learn I did not lie as a child because of my burning contempt for all mankind. I did not care what people thought of me, or what those who had the power to wound or humiliate me did. Honesty is a good thing, but my motives, when I was young, were not unalloyed.

  41. Comment by John C Wright:

    I freely confess that I attempted no argument against your position. I feel that every economist from Adam Smith onward has done this so admirably that no additional effort from me is called-for.

    For anyone to maintain, having seen the piles of alpine skulls of men and women and children that Communists leave in their wake, that Communism is an honest attempt to produce an efficient economic system belies belief. I thought you were under a spell: I was hoping the shape rebuke would snap you out of it.

    If you are seeking utopia on earth, you are a fool. I regret there is no polite way to say this. Does this point need to be argued?

    Human beings are innately depraved. Look at your own experience. In utopia, every man would say and say truly, that he did not lie and never lied. You yourself have met so few scrupulously honest men in your life your regards reports of such scrupulousness as a rarity akin to seeing a unicorn.

    If everyone you know and have ever heard of lies, how will you built a utopia out of them? You think if every regional manager of the economy and every commissar and every head of every dormitory in the Socialist Commonwealth routinely lies about his needs and his production, that the central planning board can distribute goods and services fairly or rationally? And this is with a Communist system that encourages, nay, demands lying and political correctness and endless propaganda merely to survive year to year. So you are going to create the Garden of Eden, by taking human beings who are innately prone to lying, and putting those human beings is a system that punishes them for telling the truth and rewards them for lying. That does not sound reasonable, or even possible.

    And this just lying. Human commit many more sins than this.

    “Apparently, according to you, an ad hom attack looks like this: Additionally, due to pure racism, 3,300,000 people are dead in America alone since 1910. This is an example used to demonstrate a point.”

    Please read what I read about an hominem argument, and look at the links I provided. At first, I thought you were kidding, but now I am convinced you are not able to tell the difference between a logical argument and an illogical one.

    If I point at the corpses of tens of millions of victims of Communism, and say, “this belies your claim that Communism produces peaceful cooperation” it is not a counterargument to say, “Americans are racist, because so many thousands of murders were performed for motives of pure racism, etc.” It is not even on the same topic. Proving Americans to be racist or proving Americans to be pure of motive does not have any bearing on the question of whether Communism produces innate conflicts of interest.

    You are making an elementary error by conflating economic competition with conflicts of interest. In game theory terms, economic competition is a positive sum game, as each buyer or seller of a good or service seeks partners in trade to maximize his advantage: this requires buyers to raise bids to attract sellers and sellers to lower prices to attract buyers. While a buyer might be overbid by a rival buyer, or a seller undersold by a rival seller, the activity of seeking bargains is driven thereby so that each finds, in so far a possible, a partner for each trade to maximize his benefits. Under Capitalism, if the trade is not seen by both parties as advantageous to himself, the trade need not go through.

    Communism has nothing to do with cooperation or human goodwill. Communism is rationing. In rationing, the supply and demand cannot be established with any certainty, and the exchanges go through despite any disadvantaged perceived by the parties. Inevitably, resources are mis-allocated, with some folk getting more than they would like and other less. The mis-allocation of resources triggers further misallocation of resources, and behaviors that are discouraged under capitalism, such as hording and wasting, are encouraged by this system.

    A single example suffices: the rationing authority distributed goods on the basis of budget needs, it becomes to the advantage of every recipient to overstate his budget needs, or to waste his previous years budget, so that he does not have a surplus at the end of the year: otherwise his ration drops. This is the opposite of a private business, where a year end surplus is profit, so thrift is encouraged. The year end surplus of a ration recipient is loss, since it shows he has more than he needs, so he is encouraged by circumstances, through no fault of his own, not to economize, but the waste resources on marginal or even frivolous expenditures, so that his ration is not cut. In game theory terms, rationing is a zero-sum game or a negative sum game.

    I learned logic in grammar school, and then again from my leisure reading, including a book called INTRODUCTION TO LOGIC by Cohen (http://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Logic-Irving-M-Copi/dp/0130102024) which I recommend, and studied it again in my Sophomore year in college, reading Aristotle.

  42. Comment by John C Wright:

    No, I will not persist. The pile of skulls, larger than any in history created by any other cause, is what you are defending. I had not realized you did not realize that. You justify it by saying a later stage of Communism will produce the good that the early stages did not produce. This is not an argument, but an evasion.

    You still seem not to understand what an ad hominem argument is, nor how to construct an argument without it. Your wording continues to cast yourself as the proud Prometheus defying me, in my awe-inspiring powers, as if I were oppressing you.

    Please become familiar with the basics of how to construct a logical argument, and please stick to the topic. My argument was that Communism by its nature must produce totalitarian dictatorships with all the genocidal death that involves. Bringing up racism, of which, of all nations in history, America is the least guilty, is a red herring, and even if it were true, would not decrease the enormities and mega-deaths you are defending.

    We have 130 years and more of Marxist theory and action. I can point to the real world results of what really happens when Marxism is put into practice. You can point to a prettified version that Marx himself would not recognize of your imaginary commonwealth of utopia, a commonwealth which cannot solve the problem of the innate arbitrariness of rationing as opposed to using prices. Your argument is that the real world evidence so far showing that Marxist does not lead to prosperity should be disregarded on the theory that eventually, under some other set of conditions where a purer form of Marxism were practiced, prosperity greater than the produced by Capitalism would result. I have anticipated this argument and show why it cannot be so, due to the perverse structure of incentives.

    Is there anything more to say? Your and yours lost this argument before Marx even took up his pen. The errors he recites had all been refuted by sober economists long before, from the Labor Theory of Value, to the inevitable immiseration of the masses, to the distinction between labor value and use value, and on and on and on. Marxism has only a psychological, or, rather, a spiritual appeal: your completely understandable and virtuous indignation at the injustices of the world, and the unspoken longing for heaven which heaven puts in each man’s heart, makes the prospect of turning sinful and fallen mankind into the denizens of the New Jerusalem seem reasonable to you.

    Try it. Try running a commune with a large enough group, large enough than some formal means of economizing resources would be needed, or bookkeeping. Let us say, 500 individuals or a thousand, more than one leader can keep in his head at a time. Share all goods and labor in common and distribute the results according to the leader’s judgment of what constitutes need. Better yet, try doing it without a leader.

    Better still, merely look at the history of various communes in Israel and America, including Religious communes. See which ones succeeded and which failed, and why. To help you, let me recommend you read Marx, ut also read critics of Marx who point out his errors, such as Ludwig von Mises. At one time the entirety of his magisterial HUMAN ACTION was online.

  43. Comment by John C Wright:

    “The ‘pile of skulls’ point has been refuted by simple evidence.”

    I beg your pardon? Perhaps you are unaware of the events that took place in this timeline, the version of reality we call real.

    “You do not even attempt to defend the skeletons in your wardrobe, but rather ignore them”

    Please see what I said earlier about an ad hominem argument. Even granting your case in its best possible light, and assuming the United States was a whirlpool of racist bloodshed, it would make no difference to the argument as given.

    But, even granting the argument that, say, the Southern States kept Black slaves, I do not see why getting a communist state to make White and Black slaves also, North and South is superior, particularly since even southerners could legally manumit their slaves, whereas the slavery of communism never ends. Also, you would have to show that the institution of slavery was a by product of the free market rather than, as history shows, an opponent.

    But, be that as it may, the argument as given is that communism requires rationing, which necessitates totalitarianism and irreconcilable conflicts of interest, and shortages, all of which combine to make mass slaughter necessary as part of communist social planning.

    You are making and you continue to make the same mistake in logic, over and over again. I suspect this is because your “philosophy” consists of hatred against those you imagine to be your betters, and so you savage them, using a set of excuses plucked from Marx, but any stick is worthy to beat a dog. This is only a suspicion, but none of your camp with whom I have EVER argued, and I have been at this for 35 years, has ever argued otherwise, at least, not in my hearing.

    Here is the links again:

    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mathew/logic.html and here: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/

    And for logical forms, here:

    http://www.friesian.com/aristotl.htm

    Here is where I came by my figures for the mass deaths. http://hawaii.edu/powerkills/MURDER.HTM

    “You have cast yourself as he who holds all the cards, the only one in this argument that can argue logically, the only one with a rational viewpoint. My, this reversal is occurring rather frequently, is it not?”

    The comment is merely a counter accusation. You don’t seem to have any arguments aside from accusation. Suppose for the sake of argument that some other man, lacking my admitted character flaws, made the same argument I did, that rationing produce shortages and conflicts of interest. Your posturing would be of no persuasive effect there, nor would your accusations.

    I will admit that I am a terrible person. What has that to do with the argument? Is there even an argument, or is this merely a psychological drama you act out?

    “You’ve formed a logical argument, which clearly sets out your premises, inferences and conclusions?”

    No, not at all. What I said was I need not argue basic economics with you, since Adam Smith has already done an admirable job. He makes a mistake about the labor theory of value, of course, but later economists have correct him.

    So far, all I have asked you to do is look at your client, counselor, before you decide to represent him. He is covered in blood. Logically, that is neither here nor there as far as the argument is concerned. But as a human being, look at what you are defending.

    Communes worked just fine. Until external corruption crept in- not internal.

    A childish excuse. Communism can work in communities of religious monks because each man is devoted not to serve his own self-interest. They are not operated to make a profit nor to conserve nor expand resources. A family or a small group can be run with holding all property in common and distributing it, provided the numbers are small enough, and the economic activity simple enough, that no specialization of labor is required and no calculation of how best to use limited resources is needed. Otherwise, rationing produces shortages.

    I promise I will patiently sit and debate with you if you give me an economic argument, not this endless whining and ranting and displays of gulfs of ignorance. Learn how to construct a logical argument. If I am not constructing a logical argument (and I admit I am not) you are not excused from the duty to do so.

    You are the devil’s advocate here, not I. History has already rendered a verdict on your one-hundred-years-and-counting out-of-date Utopian nonsense. You have to make the argument. Otherwise, your case can be dismissed for lack of grounds. A gratuitous statement that capitalism is bad and a version of Communism that exists nowhere but your imagination is good can be, in logic, gratuitously denied.

    Marx says that socialism is MORE productive than capitalism. To prove this, is it insufficient to call a man a racist who points out that Marxism has killed more people than any other single cause in history. To prove this you have to make an economic argument showing how efficiency is increased by centralized planning and distribution of goods and services, and how a social commonwealth would solve the problem of economic calculation.

    Reading Marx will not solve the problem of economic calculation. He does not address it. His account of the origin of prices is deficient, because he promotes the labor theory of value, that is, the theory that the more work goes into a good or service, the more precious it should be in value. By that theory, digging a dry well and digging a well that makes water available for human use is of equal value. By that theory, renting a shovel to a well-digger adds no value to the end product, because the man who owns the shovel expends no work, and if he wishes a return for lending the shovel here as opposed to elsewhere or letting it sit idle, by Marxist theory he is an exploiter, reaping benefit without work, and the system would be more efficient if all were accomplished without him. Hence we see absurdities in real life in Marxist nations as bad as men digging with bare hands while shovels go unused.

    I will direct your attention to the definitive book on Communist atrocities: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Book-Communism-Crimes-Repression/dp/0674076087

    And this is a clear statement of the position you must overcome: Economic Calculation In The Socialist Commonwealth http://mises.org/econcalc.asp

    I hope that after you study up, you can, if you return here, make a sound argument. I have no wish to hear more of this petulant and ignorant rubbish. No matter how self-righteous you get, child, there still ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, and your prophet Marx cannot make manna rain from the skies nor strike the barren rock to bring forth water to quench their thirst.

    There will be poor always: no social organization can prevent that.

    What customs and laws can do is produce wealth, by providing a stable set of simple laws to permit for enforcement of covenants and standardization of weights and measures and coinage, and to retaliate against force and fraud — including fraud by merchants. These things are necessary but not sufficient.

  44. Comment by Patrick:

    “Cuba, despite US sanctions, still retains a pretty brilliant life expectancy and exports doctors to other countries.”

    This strikes me as hilarious, growing up in the midst of so many brilliant Cuban “exports”, who left everything they had and everyone they loved to cross the sea to American freedom. Your ideas of Cuban prosperity are left of reality.

    And then there’s the time you said that all the atrocities and terrors of Communism don’t count because none of the countries that produce them practice Real Communism.

    And the Cuban Revolution is right up there with those atrocities, in the minds of those who know anything about it.

    But suddenly Cuba is Really Communist enough to cite in defense of…

    Wait. But then you called Russia a superpower, and China the most powerful nation in the world.

    A question approaches: would you want to raise your babies in either of those countries?

  45. Comment by Patrick:

    “Cuba is ranked well above the USA in the ‘Happy Planet Index’ (which measures human well-being).”

    End of Line.

    You keep your Happy Planet Index, as you like; you don’t understand it anyways. You prefer lies and idiocy to truth, even to curiosity for truth. I’m not above admitting I’m sobered and saddened by this in real life.

    You’re willing to continue a debate about Communism to claim that CUBA is an example of her successes.

    The lives of real people I know count for more.

    Your demurral to raise your children in a ‘quasi-socialist’ society is unsurprising.

    Mexico and Jamaica are failed states. You cite them to prove… what? It doesn’t matter.

    We’re not equals after all. It’s not worth continuing this.

  46. Comment by robertjwizard:

    I think that people on the blog might be giving you too much respect, rather than not enough when you make statements like this.

    Oh, I haven’t. He’s been making statements like this from the beginning. A communist, after the evidence of the 20th century, let alone the thorough theoretical refutation, should be given an arrowhead and bearskin and sent into the wild, and laughed at – not given a hearing of any kind, shape or form. I’m just waiting for everyone to tell me I am right. You will.

    Might as well have a conversation with Charlie Manson about how whitey will teach blackie after Helter Skelter. No further removed from reality.

  47. Comment by Robert Mitchell Jr:

    Would that they did, Branabus. Unions fight for the special privileges of the Union, not for the rights of the workers. In point of fact, workers have their rights denied when they are under a union. Less or no training, less freedom to leave a job (for his union “pension” is tied to the union, and will not travel to a different company and union). The list goes on. And, of course, the union makes the company less able to deal with problems, so people don’t, as a rule’ lose their jobs, until everyone does, as the union has put a other company out of business. Thus, the paradise of Detroit, Union Capital of the U.S…….

  48. Comment by Patrick:

    “But when things start getting tight, who’s the first to go? And what makes you think that they’ll be any better employed in another industry?”

    The first to go are the least-essential.

    No one is owed a living. You work for your life, and as you value your life, your work is honorable.

    To the Communist, your work is not honorable because it is not yours – it is alternately something you are promised to be liberated from (by “unity”, as it goes in your Utopian rhetoric of whining) and something ‘planned’ by somebody else and demanded of you with absolutely no recognizance on your part.

  49. Comment by John C Wright:

    I decline. I am not willing to debate a man who does not know how to debate on a topic with which he is unfamiliar. My offer was for a future time after you had corrected these shortcomings.

    In the meanwhile, read HUMAN ACTION von Mises. There is no argument I can make which he does not make with considerable more clarity and patience. Here is the link: http://mises.org/document/3250

    If that is too technical for you, I can recommend a fairy story addressing the issue. http://orwell.ru/library/novels/Animal_Farm/english/eaf_go

  50. Comment by John C Wright:

    “We’re not equals after all. It’s not worth continuing this.”

    I have, to my dismay, come to this same conclusion about him. I once prided myself on being unwilling to walk away from any argument. No longer. There are just some piles of verbal bullshit too high and wide and deep to shovel, or, in this case, piles upon piles of nonsense words hiding piles upon piles of corpses.

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