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The Notre Dame Controversy: Dissension Among U.S. Catholics is Nothing New

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Regular readers of Blogcritics Magazine's Politics pages know that I am not a religious man. What most of you don't know, however, is that I have more than a passing familiarity with the Roman Catholic religion. Understandably, most of you won't care about my personal religious viewpoint, but I bring it up it because it is germane to this discussion.

I was raised in the Catholic faith by my very devout mother, with the acquiescence of my father, who was an Agnostic, leaning toward atheism. My mother had me baptized as a baby, confirmed as I approached adolescence, and sent me to Catechism classes throughout my childhood. I was even graduated from a Catholic high school.

Throughout this period of indoctrination by my mother and the Church, my father stood benignly by, never interjecting his own viewpoint unless I asked him a direct question. I asked him many questions, as I did of the priests whose paths crossed mine, and finally, in my late teens, I decided that my father's answers were more cogent and made better sense than those of the clergy. While I obviously cannot characterize myself as impartial on the issue of religion, clearly my bias is not on the side of the Church.

I have watched with interest as the controversy over President Obama's invitation to speak at the University of Notre Dame commencement tomorrow has raged across the country. Obama will be the ninth sitting U.S. President to deliver Notre Dame's commencement address, and certainly the most controversial.

Many of the pundits on both sides of the issue have aimed their opinions at the question of Obama having been invited to speak at the commencement, in spite of his pro-choice stance. But this is only part of the controversy; Catholic opinion is divided, and many of the Catholics opposing Obama's appearance have another concern: the customary conferring of an honorary degree (in this case, in Law) on the President. While many of the Catholics who have vowed to protest Obama's appearance have indicated their opposition to his presence, the stance of the Vatican, in the person of Pope Benedict, has remained studiedly neutral, with the Pope refraining from even discussing the controversy. The locus of official opposition on the part of the Church is a vocal minority (about 20%) of U.S. Catholic Bishops, led by Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who reacted to the announcement from Notre Dame, saying, "It is clear that Notre Dame didn't understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation."

One of the most principled and important of the protesters has received little mention in the press. She is Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard law professor and a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. Glendon, a conservative Catholic voice, was also slated to speak at the commencement, undoubtedly as a counterpoint to the President's speech, and was to have received the Laetare medal, considered to be one of the most important Catholic honors for a lay person. Glendon, in protest, bowed out. Notes John Kass, in the Chicago Tribune:

In her letter, Glendon said that she did not oppose Obama speaking to the graduates. What bothered her was Notre Dame conferring an honorary degree on a president who supports abortion rights.

She noted that such an award would be in direct violation of a 2004 statement by U.S. Catholic bishops declaring that Catholic institutions "should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles" and that such persons "should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

"That request," wrote Glendon to Rev. Jenkins [president of Notre Dame], "which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution's freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it."

By a 60 to 34 percent margin, US Catholic lay persons do not oppose the invitation, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll published May 14th. Interestingly, the same poll indicates that similar results were obtained from the general population, which would seem to signal that the issue is political, not religious.

Even within the ranks of Catholic lay leadership, opinions are divided. Brent Lang, of CBS News, writes,

…[T]his week, James Salt, communications director of Catholics United, and Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, clashed over the Obama invitation. Both men believed that Mr. Obama should be allowed to speak, but Donohue, whose group has opposed to Notre Dame's decision, felt that the university should have refrained from bestowing an honorary degree on somebody who differed with the church on abortion.

The University of Notre Dame commencement ceremony will be broadcast live on the Internet on the university's commencement Web site, starting at 2 p.m. on May 17, as well as on most broadcast news outlets.

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About Clavos

Raised in Mexico by American parents, Clavos is proudly bi-cultural, and considers both Spanish and English as his native languages. A lifelong boating enthusiast, Clavos lives aboard his ancient trawler, Second Act, in Coconut Grove, Florida and enjoys cruising the Bahamas and Florida Keys from that base. When not dealing with the never-ending maintenance issues inherent in ancient trawlers, Clavos sells yachts to finance his boat habit, but his real love (after boating, of course) is writing and editing; a craft he has practiced at Blogcritics since 2006.
  • Roger, Do you have two computers? I only have one.. I am jumping around here like a rabbit! Why don’t we all have a teleconference and have done with it!

  • Rick might have been referring to the Born Alive Infant Protection Act that (then Senator) Obama blocked.
    Rick & Irene, I need to learn about this!
    (Once upon a time, a nurse was outraged about what she was ordered to do to a fetus who was a persistent little bugger and persisted in clinging to life after being aborted…) Was it snuck into another bill he was blocking or did it stand alone?

  • Irene Wagner

    All right, Roger. That’ll probably be in comment #890 or thereabouts.

  • Nice talking to you, Irene.
    Till next time.

  • Utilitarianism in the sense of maximizing the benefit – be it moral, pragmatic, or whatever.

    The “moral objection” – in the movie – is that this kind of rational calculation is akin to playing God. There’s something to be said for this kind of sentiment, despite the dictates of logic.

  • Irene Wagner

    He couldn’t save both. I’m not sure that’s “utilitarianism.” Hospital personnel have to do “triage” every day.

  • Quite right, Irene. Rick is not. But he does believe that Obama’s a kind of monster.

  • From a quick look at the Wiki, though, triage strikes me as a form of (moral) utilitarianism.

    An interesting example of such from I. Asimov’s “I, Robot,” the movie: the robot rescues the protagonist (Will Smith) because of the 40 percent chance of survival (instead of the little girl with only 10 percent).

  • Irene Wagner

    Rick, I don’t think you’re a liar.

  • But Irene. I wasn’t focusing on the example at hand. I was addressing the optimal mode of relating to one another. I just think that Jeannie has that quality; and you, too.

  • Irene Wagner

    I believe its called “triage,” Roger.

  • Irene Wagner

    That’d be the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, Jeannie. The reference has scrolled back to the “Previous 20 Comments” page.

  • What about the rest of us, the sinners? It’d seem to me that is us who need it the most.

  • Irene Wagner

    Nope. Not when babies and other innocents are involved, I don’t.

  • You don’t have a problem with a kindness/toughness combo, Irene, do you?
    It’s a great quality to have. I should be so lucky to try to have the two work in tandem. Working on it, though.

  • Irene Wagner

    And I’m happy to have the comment stand on its own merits, without references to the kindness/lack of kindness of the person who posted it.

  • Irene Wagner

    Rick might have been referring to the Born Alive Infant Protection Act that (then Senator) Obama blocked.

    Once upon a time, a nurse was outraged about what she was ordered to do to a fetus who was a persistent little bugger and persisted in clinging to life after being aborted…

  • Hi, Jeannie,

    Spoken like a champ. I’m surely glad you’ve joined our little community. You bring to the table that rare quality of kindness and toughness – a winning combination.

    Good show.

  • Rick, your comment is an absolute lie and you know it. President Obama does not support infanticide…prove it with an article or video! If you cannot do that then take your lie home with you.

  • I am a devout Bible believing Christian, and a former Roman Catholic. Religion/spirituality aside this man Barrack O’bama not only supports abortion – he supports infantacide. leaving a born baby to die ! How inhumane is that. You can be arrested for doing that to an animal, but not a human baby. Even if you are an atheist there is something sick with that. I’m a DAV and i know Combat Vets that could not and would not have the heart to do that. Would you support a warped and vile killer such as he is?

  • Where do I draw the line? That’s easy.

    Before CHAT

    The line —————————–


  • Roger,

    Just in case you are not very tempted to go to my link, based on what I already put–Michael Kinsley is dealing specifically with K’s argument as he sums up below:

    “The argument, made by Charles Krauthammer in the Weekly Standard, is, in a nutshell: 1) No rational moral calculus could possibly justify sacrificing a million innocent lives in order to spare the would-be mass murderer a few minutes of pain. And 2) once you accept that torture would be justified in one situation, avoiding the use of torture on other situations is no longer a moral imperative. The question becomes where you draw the line.”

  • Clav,

    Ahhhh, I see. But if you said: dura lex sed lex

    I would, of course, reply:

    Ego reputo lex est indignus or maybe–

    Cogito lex est indignus.

  • Roger,

    What you are calling form, I don’t quite understand. It seems like you’re saying that K brought up what you feel is a reasonable point, a convincing scenario (at least in your mind with your particular sensibilities). Is that what ‘form’ is? What is ‘form’?

    What do you think of this. Would it not be a good idea to check arguments with good form (plus reliable facts) that dispute K, no matter how much his form seems to please?

    See what you think about Michael Kinsley’s form:

    Torture for Dummies: Exploding the “ticking bomb” argument.

    “What if you knew for sure that the cute little baby burbling and smiling at you from his stroller in the park was going to grow up to be another Hitler, responsible for a global cataclysm and millions of deaths? Would you be justified in picking up a rock and bashing his adorable head in? Wouldn’t you be morally depraved if you didn’t?

    Or what if a mad scientist developed a poison so strong that two drops in the water supply would kill everyone in Chicago? And you could destroy the poison, but only by killing the scientist and 10 innocent family members? Should you do it?

    Or what if an international terrorist planted a nuclear bomb somewhere in Manhattan, set to go off in an hour and kill a million people. You’ve got him in custody, but he won’t say where the bomb is. Is it moral to torture him until he gives up the information?”

    (continued at link)

  • Clavos


    *Can’t help it either. I took Latin.:O]

    So did I — four years of it.

    De Facto distinguishes that which exists in fact from that which exists in the law, De Jure.

    You were saying, if I read you correctly, that all torture is in fact, wrong, period. Since some torture is actually legal, it is, De Jure, not “wrong.”

    Hence my quibble. You could, at this point, tell me de minimis non curat praetor ,to which I naturally would have to respond, dura lex sed lex.

  • Lisa,

    Thanks. I’ll check out the book reviews.

  • Clavos

    Anyone seen my thread?

    It’s a cute little thing, about a week old, has something to do with the controversy surrounding Obama’s commencement speech at that school in Indiana that used to be Catholic?*

    *Just kidding folks — carry on, I’m enjoying the B & F.

  • I do know that he has some book reviews in the pipeline (and published one here last week). I did see the comment you left on the feminism piece, and agree that it’s a good one. You might be interested in checking out his blog.

  • Lisa,

    I really really really love his piece about global feminism.

    Maybe some day he’ll write something in politics.

  • Assertions don’t cut it. In fact, K was probably pushing for going to war sooner.

  • Baronius

    I’ve got no problem with Tenet; I think we should have gone to war sooner; Krauthammer’s wrong.

  • Great to know, Lisa. I’ll do a few review myself just to get away from the political crowd.

  • Hi Clavos, I was hoping you were around at 9:30 I’m having trouble uploading pictures and thought someone could give me a clearer instruction hint or tip! oh well, nite πŸ™‚

  • Are you related to Bryan McKay? (Sorry if that is too personal a question, just ignore me.)

    It’s not too personal a question. Yes, we’re related. And he’s one of the Books editors here!

  • Exactly. I’m able to emotionally dissociate myself from the practical question and consider the form of the argument in its purity; just as I can relate a a beautiful work of art or music and indulge myself in my aesthetic impulse while forgetting for a single moment that there is a great deal of injustice in the world.

  • Bliffle,

    As I said, I can’t comment on the accuracy of the intelligence reports. I indicated already that they’re likely to be self-serving. Also, as to whether waterboarding is torture or not, I’ve expressed my opinion on that already (shrouded in the legal technicality is it still seems to be). I was only addressing the form of the argument, namely that under the “ticking bomb” scenario, “enhanced interrogation techniques” might be admissible IF is were known for a fact that they’d produce the requisite results. Lots of big IF here, I’d be the first to admit, but that’s the form of the argument and I was addressing only this and no other matter.

  • TY Lisa McKay. I have gone there. I just was too frustrated to write.

    Are you related to Bryan McKay? (Sorry if that is too personal a question, just ignore me.)

  • I am still shaking my head in disbelief. We are talking about torturing human beings. And yet there is a case being made not based on factual evidence but on admiration for format.

    Sorry…hard to just let that slide without impressing this point for future remeberance.

  • Thanks, Lisa. I got your email.

  • That’s a matter of factual dispute – a contingent thing, as I stated in the second paragraph of # 384, the weakest link besides – but for all of that, inconsequential to the hypothetical form of the argument.

    WHAT??!!?? Weakest link to what?!?

    If you can say that, how can anyone take you seriously?

    Just goes to show you, form of argument is meaningless. I am not sure what to make of an argument that suggests that a factual discussion that upholds a lie is good or acceptable in any way merely because it has some format appeal. It is foreign thinking to me. It’s not something I can give credibility to.

    Those cakes in a Greek diner always have such good form. They look delicious and beautiful. Once in awhile I am fooled into buying one. Then I take a bite and they taste like a blob of crisco. I’d rather eat those lopsided ones that don’t have such good form but have value because they are made with good ingredients.

  • Bliffle

    First of all, George Tenet is a professional espionage guy and his public utterances cannot be believed because part of his DUTY is to sow disinformation among the enemy while providing good info to his superiors. Thus, what he says publicly may not be believed.

    But Tenet also failed his duty to his superiors when he said “slam dunk”, which was probably speculative instead of certain. He failed his duty.

    So many people shirked their duty during the early years of the Bush administration that it is truly astounding. For example, C Rice was too busy finding cushy jobs for cronies to appreciate the Intelligence Estimates she was getting.

    Pelosi is even more culpable because she FAILED to provide the Loyal Opposition, instead choosing to bandwagon what she probably thought was a slam dunk Bush war and she wanted to be on the side of the angels.

    As for the notion that waterboarding is NOT torture, then one must ask: why would anyone use it? If it isn’t torture and cannot coerce the subject into revealing truths that he holds, what good is it?

    Clearly, it is a simple contradiction and therefore untenable.

  • Roger, if you still have the emails you were sent when you signed up, it’s in there. It gets sent to every writer who joins. I’ll email you one.

  • I couldn’t find the link (to the website address of the Yahoo Group), Lisa.

  • You do read your Blogcritics emails, right?

    Also, as a BC writer, Cindy is eligible to be a member of the writers’ Yahoo group, as are all the other writers/commenters here who have issues with or questions about the site redesign.

    Writers are very regularly receiving updates about the ongoing tech refinements via the Yahoo group.

  • So what? It’s obviously play on words, because I don’t believe he is a moral utilitarian. I definitely am not!

    So you can accuse him of being pompous and intellectually-playful, conceited no doubt. Personally, I don’t mind a little “cleverness” introduced into the argument. It tickles the mind.

  • um er Big C, yeah…well, I look at the titles before I delete them! Does that count?

    hmmm, and of course I read every comment you make! Twice! I must have forgotten where you said we would have all the comments in one page. (please be kind to your elders, we have memory flaws)


  • It just wouldn’t have sounded as important.

  • That’s a matter of factual dispute – a contingent thing, as I stated in the second paragraph of # 384, the weakest link besides – but for all of that, inconsequential to the hypothetical form of the argument. And I am only addressing the hypothetical/logical structure of the argument – not whether the material conditions have actually obtained that would satisfy it.

    That’s another matter entirely.

  • K uses the term of “calculus” only as a figure of speech.

    It’s pompous, pretentious and empty. He might as well have said ‘moral algebra’ or ‘moral field hockey’ or ‘moral Thai cooking’ – it would have made just as much/little sense.

  • I am agreeing with Prof. Bliffle’s view on this one.

    And I will add my own opinion: Krauthammer is an unreliable source for information. That he uses the twice discredited “Yes we can sell the American people on weapons of mass destruction”–No America does not torture” Tenet to make his points seems to suggest he has a very partial audience he’s writing for. Secondly, as far as his ‘good analysis’ goes–a beautiful cake cake made out of dogshit will still taste bad.


    How can someone’s analysis be good if it isn’t based on factual information? The guy is a writer with a perspective. Rather than be blown about by whatever wind presents itself. Might be a good idea to do one’s own research before making up one’s mind. Otherwise one’s credibility suffers.

    As for your comment to Bliffle. It becomes clear to me the shoe seems to be on the other foot here.

    From the Krauthammer article.

    Did it work? The current evidence is fairly compelling. George Tenet said that the “enhanced interrogation” program alone yielded more information than everything gotten from “the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency put together.”

  • Cindy, if you haven’t seen feedback then not only are you not reading my comments religiously (sob), you’re not reading the frequent updates that are being emailed to all Blogcritics writers. You do read your Blogcritics emails, right?

  • K uses the term of “calculus” only as a figure of speech. In addition, he discusses the situation pretty much in the abstract – under the so-called “ticking bomb” scenario.
    Moreover, he bequeaths the term “torture” to his opponents – i.e., yields on this “weak” point of the argument – but actually speaks of waterboarding.

    As to whether the actual conditions at work justified being subsumed under the “ticking bomb” scenario, he assumes they were on the basis of the intelligence reports he cites in support of that. (He ASSUMES that because obviously he wasn’t at the scene to witness the “enhanced interrogation techniques” actually employed, or whether they constituted “torture” or not.)

    That’s, in a nutshell, the argument. Any further work that I be required to do is not going to be free of charge.

  • Baronius

    Dread, I’m going to push this to 95% just for you, and say that I don’t know that waterboarding isn’t torture. I believe that there was legitimate consideration of the issue before the waterboarding took place. The fact that no one was flayed alive tells me something about the character of the interrogators. I wouldn’t trust Krauthammer to make those judgement calls, though. I don’t sense good faith behind his calculus. And don’t give me the “good intel” line. Of course you can get information by torturing someone. You could also eliminate the Iranian threat by nuking Tehran. That doesn’t make it right.

  • Aye aye Big C!

    (sounds hopeful about the all comments in one view thing)

    Much easier to be patient with feedback. πŸ™‚

  • OK, Just to let you know I’m quite adjusted to the system and I’m out of whatever discussion others may wish to initiate.

    5,150 – my goodness. It’s almost a book.

  • Baronius

    Chris, I’ve been through two system changeovers (one of which was abandoned midway), and I can only guess what you all have been going through. I’m glad to hear that you’re looking into a change in the comment system.

  • Roger, I’m not really prepared to wade through all the 5,150 comments you have now made at Blogcritics (congrats on that by the way), so you’ll just have to take my word for it that there have been quite a few others from you over the last few weeks, and every one has hurt!

  • That was only one critical comment in at least a week or so (and it was more or less directed to myself); compare this now with the avalanche today; I was totally out of it.

  • Roger, only yesterday you wrote “These goddamn pages only twenty-comments strong. What a pain.” You must have meant today!

  • Well, Doc. Your assertion that it’s “a false analogy” without reference to both articles and the overall context – and just leaving it at that – doesn’t cut it either.

  • Hey, Chris. I haven’t made a single complaint, none whatever. So please exclude me from his honorary list.

  • Bliffle, Baronius, Roger and Cindy, for what I swear is the last time, we all KNOW the comments system needs work and that work is proceeding as fast as the tech team can get there. Please have a little patience, everything should be resolved soon.

  • Baronius, this doesn’t happen often, so we should probably cherish it, but I’m in 90% agreement with you.

    My bullshit detector is off the scale right now. I mean, what the fuck is moral calculus (pardon my Ukrainian)? Krauthammer clearly chose the term because it sounds impressive – but it’s utterly meaningless.

    The 10% where I disagree with you is, you’ll not be surprised to learn, in your opinion that waterboarding is not torture. It is. It was when the Japanese did it to Allied soldiers, and it was when the CIA or whoever it was did it to Guantanamo inmates. It may not be as bad as flaying someone alive and then pouring vinegar all over them while buggering them with a red-hot poker, but then again murdering someone by injecting them with poison while they’re asleep is probably not as bad as doing a Jeffrey Dahmer.

  • Why? Do you think I’d be contrary just to contradict Baronius?

  • Irene Wagner

    Roger Nowosielski probably decided he likes the comments the way they are, now that Baronius has suggested a change. JUST KIDDING. I’d better go now.

  • Irene Wagner

    Baronius, Bliffle, Cindy and I are countin’ on ya, Dr. Dreadful-#362/#363! Baronius, I thought I overheard someone say that the comments editors are keeping their eyes peeled for suggestions in the comments section.

    Cindy – I’m not sure a woman could’ve photographed the footage in that film, though. I’m talking about “the dead people” footage. As for the live people footage: a female director’s touch might have been helpful there. Examples were in interviews with women from refugee camps who, when they venture forth to get (hard to find) water and firewood, are raped by the janjaweed routinely. Another one was with a mother whose son had been abducted, and possibly pressed into service with the janjaweed: yet another complication when considering a forceful resolution to the conflict. China has rights to the oil there–probably a bigger complication, and the real reason nothing’s being done.

  • The moral calculus attends the circumstances as to when certain actions may be deemed justifiable. Also, there’s no commitment here to the definition. K was speaking of waterboarding, and he played into the hands of those who regard it as such. It’s you who are being more evasive here than K, by hiding behind definitions.

    Again, you are projecting. Why should I hate you? You’re a pain in the arse sometimes, but that’s all. And as to whether you’re consistent, I’m not so sure. I haven’t made up my mind yet, or better yet, didn’t catch you yet with your hand in the cookie jar.

    As a matter of fact, I do find K’s analysis here clearer than anything else presented thus far. And so we do seem to have another irreconcilable difference, it seems. Our standards as to what constitutes a cogent argument. But so what?

    No, I don’t hate you!

  • But, Irene, maybe you did understand my question. Anyway I wanted to comment on the medic – warrior thing again…but I have to run -later…

  • Baronius

    Cindy, I’m sure that they care, but there are so many things happening during a transition that nobody’s looking for extra work. Considering how often the Technorati monster has escaped, they’ve got their hands full already. That said, they really should have publicized the crossover and set up a suggestions/complaints thread. It would have made their jobs easier as well as given us a voice.

    Irene, your suggestion is good too.

  • “That can either be a religious cop-out, or an incentive to keep pressing toward the best in spite of the temporary nature of any good one is likely to do on earth. It’s an eternal/temporal analogue to the adage to “think globally/act locally.”

    Definitely the latter. And it starts at the level of personal relationships – prior to local, national and geopolitics.

  • Irene,

    Just so you understand, I’m not asking you for a value judgment on men and women.

    Really I’m asking did having a female director give a different perspective on war than one might expect? Was there anything different? Did it have any views from a female perspective? Maybe it would be an impossible thing to tell. Maybe there was nothing different. Maybe the differences wouldn’t be noticeable.

    Certainly, some stories are told through a woman’s eyes. The Color Purple, for example. Now this film is a story about a man’s experience. So, that’s not a perfect example of what I mean. But maybe good enough…

  • I used to use the browser’s edit/find in page function too. I am very unhappy about not having the comments all in one page.

    They could give that as an option. I don’t know who to complain to. I would hate to discover no one cares what we think.

  • Baronius

    Bliffle – Do you think that a pages/nonpages toggle would do the trick? I think it was Cindy who mentioned the old ease of cutting and pasting an entire thread for casual perusing; a toggle would allow that too. If we agreed on our wishes, then found a place to submit them (maybe in Oz)…

  • Irene Wagner

    #346 Dr. D. LOL. And a DISTANT fourth it was, too! You can guess the placing Three I put my money on πŸ™‚

    Bliffle, maybe there should be a “Number of Comments to Show On Page” drop-down menu.

    Cindy, about The Devil Came on Horseback. Brian Steidl’s sister Gretchen Wallace (who also worked on the film) was actually the one who wrote the book about her brother’s experience in Darfur, and encouraged him to speak out. What do I think? Behind many a great man there’s a great woman. And behind many a great woman there’s a great man. (I’m the mistress of noncommittal answers today.)

    As for being disillusioned with the oil and vinegar relationship between convictions and military/governmental leadership–who was it who said, My kingdom is not of this world? That can either be a religious cop-out, or an incentive to keep pressing toward the best in spite of the temporary nature of any good one is likely to do on earth. It’s an eternal/temporal analogue to the adage to “think globally/act locally.”

  • There’s no accusation there, Baronius, just a speculation. So don’t put words in my mouth.

  • Baronius

    Roger, you’ve accused me of changing my position on this issue before. I’ve been consistent. In fact, that’s the thing you hate about me.

    The US shouldn’t torture anyone under any circumstances. But defining what is and isn’t torture is a fool’s game. I just don’t believe that waterboarding is torture.

    I read Krauthammer’s second article, and it’s essentially the same article, but more derisive. And I don’t appreciate his coyness about opposing torture, but accepting “what needs to be done”. There is no moral calculus about torture.

  • Comments #323 and #348.

  • Everyone’s entitled to their opinions because as the saying goes … I don’t need to complete it.
    Lots of liberals have a difficult dealing with the kind of precision and rigor of thought by such as Mr. K or George Will, so they easily dismiss all such with a banal gesture.

    In so doing, they’re no different, however, from their very opponents whom they equally dismiss with a wave of their hand for being bigoted, prejudices and hopelessly opinionated.

    I’m sorry Mr. Bliffle, but you’ve just displayed a certain intolerance of thought with which you might disagree on the worst possible grounds – general principles. And in this respect, you’re just as bigoted as the very people you so readily point your fingers at.

  • Bliffle

    Oh, and this new BC format is horrible: how can a person find the citation to the Krauthammer article?

    One used to be able to search thru the comment string with a simple browser text search, but now, with paging, it’s impossible.

  • Bliffle

    354 – Baronius:

    “Krauthammer is occasionally wrong, but he’s never intellectually imprecise. In this article, he’s both.”

    When has Krauthammer ever been right? I concluded a few years ago that he says what he says out of PC fervor, not out of thoughtfulness. So I ignore him. I figured he was a sortof affirmative action quota hire. I’m always surprised to see him still on TV.

  • “From there, it’s easy to generalize to torturing in any really tough situation…because you’ve already said that torture is acceptable.”

    I don’t think he does that – in fact, he’s aware he’s treading a very thin line.
    I don’t find these TWO articles as flawed as you do. In fact, even his use of the “torture” term is couched in a context.

    The “moral calculus” consideration is also well taken, IMO, as well as many other distinctions he makes. And I’m saying that even though I am not a moral utilitarian (after Bentham) of either crude or subtle variety.

    It’s odd we happen to disagree on this issue, almost as though you’re making a turnaround in your thinking.

  • Baronius

    I read Krauthammer’s article. He’s normally a clear thinker, but this was a mess. First of all, he didn’t make the distinction between interrogation and torture. More importantly, he assumes that torture is acceptable in the time-bomb scenario. From there, it’s easy to generalize to torturing in any really tough situation…because you’ve already said that torture is acceptable.

    Krauthammer is occasionally wrong, but he’s never intellectually imprecise. In this article, he’s both.

  • lol Clav…an addict…

    (argues for her case that ipso facto is de facto correct in that usage)

    *Can’t help it either. I took Latin.:O]

  • A more valid objection, Doc, would be in terms that Irene provided up the thread. That is something to consider – as to whether we’re dealing here with realistic possibilities.

    But apart from that, Krauthammer’s argument in terms of “moral calculus” – that at times certain kinds of decisions may have to be made – isn’t so easy to dismiss.

  • Clavos

    De Facto.*

    *Sorry. Can’t help it — I’m an addict. :>)

  • It’s like saying sometimes beating up your kids is necessary. Whatever comes after that can’t possibly justify it.

  • I agree with Dr.D. It’s ipso facto wrong.

  • I think you should read the entire article, Doc. In addition to the link provided above, here’s the follow-up.

  • It’s a false analogy, Roger. War, by definition, involves killing people, so if somebody has a problem with that, of course you shouldn’t let, expect or force them to be a soldier.

    But what does torture have to do with national defense?

  • The Devil came on Horseback


    Damn, and I had 20 bucks on him…

  • Why, Doc? I happen to think he makes a cogent distinction – especially as regards conscientious objectors.

  • “It is similarly imprudent to have a person who would abjure torture in all circumstances making national security decisions upon which depends the protection of 300 million countrymen.”


  • Wrong example.

  • Benjamin Disraeli may be another example.

  • I’d like to believe exceptions are possible – “an enlightened monarch,” e.g., Elizabeth the Great.

  • I’m also not sure how many people make it to the “key positions” at any level above small-town mayor without being willing to compromise what may have once been strongly held convictions. Reality, or something else, sets in.

    Governments and military and people who run them can’t exist without compromising values that are right and good and human. It’s the nature of power and authority. It’s what it is.

  • I really mean what I said in #337; the association wasn’t intended.

  • Thanks for that film recommendation Irene. I will definitely want to see that. The first director is a woman too. I wonder if that might have an effect on how it is presented. What do you think?

  • That’s a heck of a story, Cindy.

  • BTW, Clavos,

    #286 (and duplicate) wasn’t addressed at you, and the question was only parenthetical. I’m sorry I haven’t made it clearer.

  • say at my bar = sat at my bar

  • 316

    Irene, Just to clarify, I’m not very big on blaming the average enlisted soldiers and sailors for being duped. They’re part of a system that informs their beliefs about wars and things. And it’s not like they made an educated decision (the way I see it). But, if one of them is going to try to sell me the malarkey he was fed about ‘fighting for the freedom of all’ and especially for my freedom, then I’ll have to protest.

    Military has a weird culture. In 1990-91, I worked as a bartender at a resort. There was a weekend event there for the generals from west point. If you have never met such people in a group, you have no idea how demented their thinking is. They rank people from general down to the lowest people on earth–civilians (who are below privates).

    They say at my bar and bragged about the skyscrapers they owned and would leave 25 cents for a tip. They had a party and they were such cheap bastards that for the first time in the history of the hotel, the hotel itself had to contribute $50 to each bartender to make up for the failure in appropriate tipping by the generals and their ilk.

    One of the generals wives, said she came out of her way to get her drink from me because she thought mine were the best. After I served her, asked me for change of a dollar (on a $7 tab). And she went out of her way to tell me that she wanted to give me a ‘good’ tip as I make the best piΓ±a colada. But that $1 was way too much.

  • But you meant this.

  • That’s what I came up with for Drat.

  • Interesting comment.
    I’m not certain whether the argument is rendered thus as a bogus one – something to consider.

  • Clavos


  • Clavos

    “Work — The curse of the blogging class.”

  • Irene Wagner

    I’ve read it Roger, and the article Jordan wrote before that one, where I commented.

  • Irene Wagner

    I’m also not sure how many people make it to the “key positions” at any level above small-town mayor without being willing to compromise what may have once been strongly held convictions. Reality, or something else, sets in. I don’t know if my “thinking about it more” is going to settle anything. It’s to work I must go, now.

  • Irene,

    Check out the thread on Jordan’s last piece (in Politics); it’s a short one.

    I think you’ll enjoy it – especially “the view from the East.”

    I’d be interested in your comments.

  • “Sergeant York” comes to mind.

  • Irene Wagner

    I’m not really sure there is a dichotomy, Roger Nowosielski, although I few days ago I mentioned to Cindy I thought that both roles were important, but difficult to fill simultaneously. I’m still not sure if most people could do what the two men Clavos described on the previous comments page could do.

  • BTW, Charles Krauthammer makes an interesting observation re: conscientious objectors (see second paragraph) and I quote:

    “Some people, however, believe you never torture. Ever. They are akin to conscientious objectors who will never fight in any war under any circumstances, and for whom we correctly show respect by exempting them from war duty. But we would never make one of them Centcom commander. Private principles are fine, but you don’t entrust such a person with the military decisions upon which hinges the safety of the nation. It is similarly imprudent to have a person who would abjure torture in all circumstances making national security decisions upon which depends the protection of 300 million countrymen.”

  • The medic-warrior dichotomy. Can you expand on it some?

  • Clavos

    Persistence always pays off!

  • Irene Wagner

    The Devil came on Horseback

    4th. I’m raising awareness alright!

  • Clavos

    My unit in Vietnam included two Conscientious Objectors whose religion forbade them from even touching a firearm. Both of these guys, however, felt they had an obligation to serve their country, so they had volunteered for the Army together and became medics.

    They were the only two completely unarmed soldiers we had; they were cool as cucumbers under fire, and both were damn fine medics.

    They were two of the bravest men I’ve ever met in my life, and I’ve met a few.

    Oh, and they were both African-Americans — wait, no — they were AMERICANS — of African descent.

  • Irene Wagner

    Visit W3Schools

    Third time’s a charm?

  • Irene Wagner

    “The Devil Came on Horseback?”

    Pride cometh before a fall! I had to post the link twice…at least…

  • Irene Wagner

    There’s the warrior vs. medic conundrum again, Cindy. Neither you nor I trust the behind-the-scenes war-makers. Incidents such as the sinking of the Lusitania come to mind, as do some of the war-profiteers/fomenters on both sides of so many conflicts. Still, I’m not ready to withdraw all appreciation for soldiers, because I’d say most of them acted in good faith, and possibly provided real protection.

    By the way, have you seen “The Devil Came on Horseback?” It was made by a soldier who has what appears to be a very good heart. Maybe he’s a warrior AND a medic.

  • Irene Wagner

    Cindy and Jeannie – the term Cindy used, “bracket thingies,” is more descriptive than: “less than” and “greater than” symbols, the former being a shift “comma” and the latter being a shift “period aka full stop.” To make your words more right-leaning (HA!) type: shift-comma i shift-period words shift-comma shift-questionmark i shift-period.

  • Andy,

    Don’t bother defending my freedom…just in case you thought you were doing me a favor too. I don’t think picking up arms is rational or good. Conscientious Objectors are who I trust to defend my freedom and that of other people who have the right to continue living.

  • You’re not the only one, buddy. If you became a lifer, it was your decision, for whatever reasons. Don’t ask me for a medal.
    As to your conception of reality, it streaks through your pages. You didn’t need to provide me with details of your life.

    And yes, life is good. Still, I’ve got to say your concept of reality sucks.

    In fact, you kinda remind me of Ruvy.

  • I think she spelled it that way on purpose. As regards her presumed illiteracy, I suggest you look up her pieces in the Culture section. It’ll make your own writing style seem more than inadequate.

  • Roger- you’re right about these twenty comments…political rectitude? WTF?

    Do you really think you have any idea of what my conception of reality might be? Could you possibly know the reality of a person that’s lived his life in the military…in service to his country? A father that missed his daughters birthday to defend your right to talk shit? Or maybe you see a person who couldn’t hack it on the outside? As I’ve heard that bull shit line from so many civilians over the years too.

    I’m just kinda curious where you might think you get off explaining my perceptions of life…Because personally, I think life’s pretty fucking good! Just in case you were wondering…

    Honestly Cindy, who’s better than who at what?

  • lol Thanks Clav.

    It was part of my autoethnography for Grammars of English (2007) which was not about grammar at all–well except the evidence against teaching it. The name of the course was was being changed to ‘Transformational Learning’.

    Anyway, I figured you’d be likely to pick up details other people wouldn’t, like the verbals in the verbal title–like that.

  • Clavos

    Interesting piece, Cindy, very interesting. How long ago did you write it?

    You could, I suppose, call it your Alliterate Anarchist Allegory, but that would perhaps be too obvious and wouldn’t do the actual (essay?) (script?) (exercise?) (fable?) (manifesto?) justice.

    I like it. A lot.

  • Cindy, I went over and followed! sent a direct tweet πŸ™‚ till tomorrow(catch ya later) and Cindy…thanks

  • Clav,

    Here is my thing…dunno what to call it…story? It’s really just a few paragraphs from a paper I wrote. You might find it amusing. My Subjunctive Mood

  • Cindy, I think I have been following too many news outlets that have automatic search engines. When I look at their numbers they are humanly impossible. I #tagged a couple of times and I really liked that, but it was a month ago. I learned to cut and paste last week! So then I went RT crazy. I got so tired of RT’s that I haven’t tweeted a thing since.

  • Jeannie, I did know that point. His already being a lawyer is what’s so comical about the outrage. He doesn’t get extra legal powers for each honorary degree he gets.

    If you are going to raise pointless points, you should do yourself a favor and avoid the insult attempts. I don’t know what’s sadder: that the best you can come up with is the rather obvious, eighth-grade level insult or the fact that you couldn’t even spell it right.

  • Jeannie html code, for your purposes here, is just a few characters and very simple to do.

    If you can type 2 ‘i’s’ and two sets of bracket thingies (I don’t remember what those arrowy looking brackets are called.) You can do italics.

    Congratulations on your computer literacy. πŸ™‚

  • Interesting Jeannie, that is about the exact opposite of my experience on twitter. I have met people I could never otherwise talk to, people with a similar outlook, people working for every cause I can imagine, a couple great women I really have fun with. News from all over the world. (Local news in Afghanistan, for example.) Really funny people….like that…

    Some other people say the same as you do. I wonder if it is who you follow. Do you think it could be?

  • “Hopefully, Catholics who were so concerned about an honorary law degree that the President won’t be using (I can’t imagine Obama working as a lawyer once he’s no longer President, but I guess anything is possible.”
    Let me remind you or perhaps you don’t know this fact.
    President Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review at age thirty. What may I ask were YOU doing at your age thirty. We should be happy we finally have someone besides a C student for President! EL BITHCO

  • I have now come to my own conclusion: “Twitter Sucks” compared to “here” At first it was great! I felt as though people could hear my voice, but that was an illusion. Here at Clavos’s comment thread people speak directly to me even when they don’t care for my ideas! On Twitter the only ones I got a response from were salespeople and nuts. Except for one woman from California and a women’s group the rest of the people were not who they appeared to be.

  • I will try to learn html code, but it scares me to look at it! πŸ™‚

  • Cindy, If you only knew..OK I have to fess up here! I first touched a computer keyboard two and a half months ago! I started out on Face book with my young niece and one of my cousins. One night I discovered Twitter and I haven’t shut up since! This is my water-shed moment…Now I have a blog and I’m a writer on BC! Maybe I’m a gulible old dreamer and a backwater fool, but you know? I don’t give a damn. I’m here to write! πŸ™‚

  • A report from a nine-year investigation by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse details “decades of rapes, humiliation and beatings at Catholic Church-run reform schools” in Ireland.

    Hopefully, Catholics who were so concerned about an honorary law degree that the President won’t be using (I can’t imagine Obama working as a lawyer once he’s no longer President, but I guess anything is possible) will bring the same piety and sanctimony in reaction to the “secret Vatican records that demonstrated church knowledge of pedophiles in their ranks all the way back to the 1930s.”

  • You can Jeannie. Dr.D or Christopher Rose have a good site to get the html code to do that. Some tags don’t work, but if you try different things (or ask) you’ll find out what does.

  • Oh! OK Cindy, I get ya now! My paranoid brain thought you were singling out my words to mock.
    I wish I could also change my text in the middle of a comment; I like the style of the response.

  • And remember that one of the most famous sentences in the English language of the last 50 years contains a split infinitive

    Also recall that Churchill’s famous and pithily correct margin note ‘this is the sort of English up with which I will not put’ [attrib.], is one of the most horrendous manglings of the language since Gilbert and Sullivan.

  • And no, I wasn’t an English major, unfortunately. I didn’t understand back then that literature is the best vehicle of social change. Besides, it took me over twenty year to acquire the ear and the love of it. So my experience with it is rather limited, I’m sorry to say. But that’s part of having been uprooted from my own country, I venture to say. The price I have to pay.

  • My penchant is for breaking the rules, not enforcing them.

  • Roger is the most flagrant violator, the corrupter of the youth and the innocent.

    Oddly enough, we both endorse the reinstatement of H&C, although for different reasons.

  • ha! Or you might just have been an English major (like Clav was) and have a passion/penchant for such things. πŸ™‚

  • Baronius

    Jeannie – It’s free range on the comment threads. You can mispell, complain about someone else’s grammar, post to a years-old thread, whatever. I’d personally offer three suggestions to newcomers:

    – read the original article
    – tangents are okay, but don’t change the subject
    – if you’re responding to an earlier comment, make it clear (and don’t trust comment #’s)

    But really, you can do whatever you want, as long as it doesn’t break the “no personal attacks” policy. BTW, I took a peek at your blog, and I can’t imagine that we agree about anything, but you should find others on this site who will.

  • Just associations. You’ve got to be constricted, or constipated to say the least, to be that rigorous.

    Am I so off?

  • Roger,

    Where do you get these ideas? lol

  • It’s a compulsive, anal-retentive trait. Anything that smacks of a pedantic state of mind can be traced to those underpinnings. I believe that the Virgos are especially endowed with this quality.

    Is Clavos a Virgo?

  • It’s a compulsive, anal-retentive trait. Anything that smacks of a pedantic state of mind can be traced to those underpinnings. I believe that the Virgos are especially endowed with this quality.

    Is Clavos a Virgo?

  • Clav,

    I have a very short piece I wrote a couple years ago. It’s a satire about grammar and psychiatry I think–or English teachers and how they make you crazy–something like that. Anyway you might like it. I’ll put in on my blog when I get home.

  • You mean “break a rule”? Of course.

    The purists insist on the purity of language, and that has its proper place – from the aesthetic vantage point at least. But what they forget that language is also a tool – to communicate, come across, whatever. And that’s another consideration.

  • Well, I can think of a few reason I do.

    To single out an idea I’m responding to.
    To make an argument clear to anyone reading.
    To make it easy for the person to respond.
    Because sometimes people won’t answer the same day and their comment is 20 comments ago.

  • Hold that thought Roger! I have to go cook for my man, bye πŸ™‚

  • Great to hear, Dave, that you’re not a grammar Nazi. Rules must be learned; which doesn’t mean they can’t be broken. \

    In fact, some of the best writing in English exemplifies rule-breaking. Gertrude Stein had made it a point to do away with punctuation. Samuel Becket (the Malone series) have done away with paragraphs. The entire novel is one continuous narrative. And examples abound.

  • Split infinitives are very poetic. I like them.

  • yes

  • Jeannie,

    Nah, you don’t have to worry about grammar. Clav loves to correct grammar though. It’s like his hobby. It makes him happy. I learn some things that way too.

    Why does everyone rewrite each other?

    You mean like this? lol

  • Well, Jeannie. Welcome to the real world of diversion and subterfuge. “Winning hearts and minds” would be perhaps a better expression of what these pages ought to be about – and some desperately try, however strong the impulse to unload the equalizer and rid the world of the tyranny of the evil men (Pulp Fiction, Samuel Jackson’s rendition of a verse in Ezekiel). But the truth of the matter is, the wayward children will present all kinds of obstacles in your path if you try to bring them aright.

    So I’m trying, trying my very best, to be my brother’s keeper, the shepherd, and the protector of the oppressed and the innocent children in the valley of death rather than unleash the vengeance which is the Lord’s.

  • And remember that one of the most famous sentences in the English language of the last 50 years contains a split infinitive and it works just fine for those of us who want to boldly go where no man has gone before.


  • I have spent most of my life looking in at everyone from the outside, now I really feel I have a way in somewhere damn it! Who cares who’s better or worse? We are here now and what is,is. Sorry my grammar was incorrect. I’m not hurting anyone’s sensibilities that much. I Use a spellchecker!

  • p.s. and I don’t even have a wife!

  • Contrary to Clav’s protestations, it doesn’t really matter what part of speech you want to end your sentences in. πŸ˜‰

    The only reason English has grammar rules at all is because, during the 18th century when it became plain that it was becoming the international language of commerce, certain scholars were appalled at the thought that such an uncouth, scruffy and generally greasy language might take over the world.

    They decided that it, like the tongue it was supplanting, Latin, needed lots of nice restrictive rules. So they decreed that, for example, under no circumstances were you to willfully split your infinitives – just as in Latin. (They neglected to mention that it is in fact impossible to split an infinitive in Latin.)

    The great thing is that English just wasn’t willing to be kept down, with the upshot that just about any English grammar rule you can think of has numerous very well-known exceptions to it.

  • 256, 257

    Since I mostly work at home I can pretend I have to stay at my desk 9-5 like in an office. If the phone doesn’t ring or there aren’t any invoices or e-mails or bills to pay, I figure don’t have to do much else. After all, if I were in an office, there would be nothing else I could do…so why make life hard? Right?

    (hmmm, so why do I still feel like I should be doing other things?)

  • I thought in the comment section we could speak our minds and hearts without worrying about grammar and punctuation! Am I a fool?

  • What pages, Jeannie?

    Well, I don’t think it’s a matter of re-writing what other people say. It’s more a case of having them own up to what they say – no ifs, ands or buts about it; in short, to make ’em face up with the consequences.

    Integrity demands that. You can’t just let any one statement stand if it’s even in the slightest suspect. We’ve got our youth to think about. Can’t afford any corrupting influence.

  • Why does everyone rewrite each other? I must be missing the boat here again!
    Roger I found those pages! thanks πŸ™‚

  • should read “political recklessness”

  • I thought it kind of funny being enforced by someone who, regardless of context, is a firm believer in political rectitude. But then again, Andy soft-pedaled on this issue, to his credit.

  • Isn’t there some rule about ending a sentence in a preposition?

    Yeah, it’s there for people who want to follow and enforce other people’s rules.

  • No, #260 is right. These goddamn pages only twenty-comments strong. What a pain.

  • Should be #259

  • #260,

    I don’t think it will work, Cindy. That’s part of Andy’s conception of reality.

  • BTW, Jeannie. Have you taken courses in creative writing? You do have a natural knack. Just curious how it came about.

  • Well, it’s because you displayed talent.
    Even Republican ignoramuses can’t be deaf, I should hope, to the power of the written word – provided they’re literate, of course.

    But seriously, fictional literature is perhaps the best vehicle to melt hearts and do away with the prejudices.

  • Andy,

    Can we get past who’s better who’s worse and talk about reality for awhile?

    Get back to me on that. Then maybe we can have a conversation.

  • OK Don’t change a thing for me please! I can’t spend all my time over there saying thank you πŸ™‚
    Anyway, opinion in culture is easy in the comment section. What are you all going to do, come over and tell me you don’t like my family?

  • So I guess you recommend James Patterson for at least one read.

  • I feel ya, Clav – I get the same complaint from mine (she thinks it unfair that I get every other Friday off, and tries to make sure I have a long list of chores!) and certainly feel, often, that I should be doing other things – not least writing, for BC and elsewhere.

  • Clavos

    Gotta love this site…!

    …And I sure do!! It’s truly unique, with wide -ranging appeal. The downside for me is that I spend waayyy too much time having fun here, instead of taking care of my chores (according to my wife — but what does she know?).

  • There’s also the Harley-Davidson one, which seems to have metamorphosed into a sort of biker forum; and the Maximum Ride one, which has turned into a pre-teen writers’ workshop. Gotta love this site…!

  • Clavos, I’m sure you’re right. I remember being very skeptical of claims about Buckethead, but the recent Guns’N’Roses album has finally convinced me. πŸ™‚

    I actually do have stuff to say about the Notre Dame speech, but I’ll hold off for now.

  • Just expressed personal preference, Chris, that’s all.

  • Clavos

    Phillip, that top guitarists thread will probably never wind down — not as long as new musicians continue to be born…

  • Roger, there is no such thing as editor of choice and all editors work to the same brief; it is all just a case of – next! – although section editors tend to their own patches first obviously.

  • I think the current record-holder is this article, with 3359 comments, and room for more.

  • Jeannie, we don’t close comments threads so the discussion will go on as long as people want it to.

    This one is nothing, there are articles on Blogcritics with over a thousand comments and still climbing.

  • Andy, play nice with the new girl!

    The answer to the grammar question is, of course, that the writers do what they do and we editors fix it up for them – just like we do with your stuff!

  • Just one source.

    And here’s another/

  • Wow Roger! now I need a dictionary to decipher what you just said! way over my education level… anyway Suzie homemaker has to go clean the fridge! I’ll be back and I hope you are all still here in-between your living of course! πŸ™‚

  • Clavos

    There are very successful Indians now with casinos, but just like our present political system they do not share the wealth.

    They share it within their respective tribes; in the case of the Seminoles (who, BTW, are the only Indians who were NOT “conquered” by the US — They never signed a treaty with the US after the Seminole Wars, and technically are still at war with this country),everyone in the tribe shares in the tribe’s wealth, whether or not they actually work in the tribe-owned businesses, and regardless of their own personal wealth. I personally applaud them for that, and I don’t see why they should share beyond that.

    It’s my understanding that the successful northern tribes follow the same principle. Interestingly, I’ve read that this has given rise to a number of non-tribe people trying to claim Indian blood in an effort to share in the moolah.

  • You are bad…

  • I stretch the point, somewhat – especially as regards social decorum, etc. Yet, it does imply a certain sensitivity to context.
    The point really is that recklessness in some areas and pedagogy and/or pedantic attitudes in another is something to think about.

  • Hey…what happened?

  • As Clavos well knows and most anyone else here should know, I could really give a hoot about your grammar. It just seems kinda funny, that someone would make a comment like that…I thought they only let superior writers in…isn’t that almost like an oxymoron?

    As far as that chain metaphor goes…sometimes…what’s hanging on the end of the chain just needs to fall off!

  • I compiled maps (map spot) in rural New York! I loved that job and being as nosey as I am. It was a perfect job. πŸ™‚

  • Clavos

    Roger , thank you for the “attaboy” (“I’ve told you, Jeannie, on another thread that Clavos is the man. Whatever his political opinions, he should be your editor of choice.”), but I’m just one of more than two dozen editors on the site, ALL of whom, in my and many others’ opinions, are outstanding editors.

    Jeannie, you can’t go wrong, no matter who edits your articles.

  • Clavos

    What I find curious, however, that someone who is an ardent opponent of political correctness (to include rules of polite conversation, social decorum and graces) would be a great stickler for grammar.

    Political Correctness, as defined in the popular sense, does not include grammar nor “…rules of polite conversation, social decorum and graces…”

  • Yes I agree with you on that point Clavos! There are very successful Indians now with casinos, but just like our present political system they do not share the wealth. I must be a bit of a socialist because I really believe! pardon the left wing slogan Clavos “a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link” πŸ™‚

  • Clavos


    I, too, worked the 2000 Census. I was an enumerator first, then a crew chief and finally an instructor for new enumerators and crew chiefs. I loved it, and have already been contacted to work in the 2010 census.

    Very interesting work.

  • I’ve told you, Jeannie, on another thread that Clavos is the man. Whatever his political opinions, he should be your editor of choice.

  • And I also can not punctuate perfectly as you can see, but I can think on my feet πŸ™‚

  • Jordan Richardson

    Tell me please ! is someone from BC going to pull the plug here or are we just going to go on on on on on on ….:)

    Nope, these threads just go on and on and on and on. It’s like a giant pissing contest and everyone’s had a lot of water.

  • Clavos

    Jeannie sez,

    I live close to a res. & after working for the census one year I got an eye full of how poorly we treat our original hosts here!

    Unfortunately, that is still true — on some reservations; on others, the Indians themselves have coped very well, and done so for decades.

    Excellent examples here in Florida are the Seminoles and the Miccosukees, both of which are headed up by very bright, savvy chiefs.

    In the case of the Seminoles, as long ago as the forties they had set up tourist attractions which were so successful they still run most of them today, despite the fact that their annual income has reached the six figure level for every man, woman, and child in the tribe, thanks to their casinos. They are so successful, in fact, that a year or so ago the bought the entire worldwide Hard Rock Cafe chain of restaurants, hotels and casinos.

    There are numerous northern tribes which are also doing quite well; they’re easily Googled.

  • Jeannie (#229),

    What do you mean “pull the plug”?

  • Yes I need help with my sentence structure. Thanks Andy I,m a firm believer in the saying ” remain teachable!”

  • Clavos, you’re a classicist. But really, modern usage has departed in many ways from the old rules – especially in informal English.

    What we post on these threads should not be held to such strict standards as formal writing. It’s a personal decision, IMO. You may be more of a stickler in these matters, and that’s fine.

    What I find curious, however, that someone who is an ardent opponent of political correctness (to include rules of polite conversation, social decorum and graces) would be a great stickler for grammar.

  • Tell me please ! is someone from BC going to pull the plug here or are we just going to go on on on on on on ….:)

  • Clavos

    No longer consider that binding in modern usage



  • That wasn’t a reference to you, only to an expression used up the thread.

  • Old fart? I’ll have you know, I’m starting to resemble that remark!

  • Hi Andy, in comment 204 I re-acted to your Indian smear..I live close to a res. & after working for the census one year I got an eye full of how poorly we treat our original hosts here! I do have a good sense of humor though, my husband and I laugh all the time when we watch, it shall forever be nameless, news. anyway what I want to say is Clavos’s comment thread is better than Twitter! πŸ™‚ Hi clavos

  • type: “were not”

  • I thought you very not a PC addict. Well, perhaps you’re a grammar addict.

    Yes, there used to be rule to some such effect in formal and by now archaic English. No longer consider that binding in modern usage. Still, rigorously adhered to by old farts.

  • “Andy, I thought BC only allowed superior writers in.”

    Isn’t there some rule about ending a sentence in a preposition? All you “superior” writers?

    Don’t quit your day jobs!

  • There may still be some angels in Broadway productions. Not so in the dirty business of politics.

  • So he’s just using the democratic/liberal platform for financial gain? It wouldn’t surprise me.

  • Clavos

    …the evil George Soros who is hellbent on destroying America – so the argument goes.

    Soros, like T. Boone Pickens, with his wind power commercials, is really just setting up opportunities to make a few more billion. Look up his financials, especially his current holdings; they can be found on the ‘net.

  • “Andy, I thought BC only allowed superior writers in.”

    You can’t mean that, Jeannie. For your info, anybody can participate on BC threads. It is a democratic forum.

  • Ramstein Germany 1981, a terrorist organization calling themselves the Red Army placed a car bomb at the front entrance to USAFE headquarters, it went off earlier than planned thank God, but a General lost his leg, the main-stream media never covered it at home as far as I know. The woman that was murdered across the street from our dorm was only in her twenties and had a six month old baby at home. please don’t let me ramble here. I don’t want to hog the conversation…

  • Well, you could argue that some of best rulers were women. Elizabeth I was my idol. Even Margaret Thatcher had more balls than most men.

    The old farts will eventually die out. The problem is – there’s a new generation in waiting. How come they still keep on breeding?

  • Cindy – Those same people you defend, of course you won’t say you’re defending them, would take you in a back room and mangle your body and tell you it was good for you! That it was the will of some imaginary being!

    And they flew those planes into the towers because you don’t think the way they do.

    So the children of Afghanistan see their villages blown up by Americans and that makes all Americans bad…

    …why is it that American children shouldn’t see that it’s Afghanistan and they’re poppy industry that is destroying Americas’ inner cities? And Afghanistan and the rest of the middle east’s religion that destroyed downtown Manhattan on September 11, 2001?

    You break it down to nations, I broke it down to what it really is, religion. Nobody wants to break the PC bubble here and call the spade the spade, but it’s the religion that started it all.

    You wanna blame it on the white guys, I say that all the problems in the middle east can be blamed on a brown guy that lived there around 1400 years ago. But that’s just me.

    If you fly a plane into a building because you think god wants you to then you’re fucking crazy, try to justify it any way you want…but if you wanna keep playing that due process and all that, in a court of law, they’d put them in the loony bin!

    Jeannie, comment 204, if I thought you were making a joke I’d say it was funny. But I can tell from all your other comments that you have no sense of humor.

    Clav – Thank you!

  • I’m tired of looking at all the old white farts that run this country..aren’t all of you ? No matter what political party you lean towards? you know, if you suffer from the slightest bit of dementia, they pull your drivers licence! but the SUPREME COURT? you can sit on that bench till your bones…why?

  • I haven’t heard of that incident, Jeannie. What was it about?

  • Yes, Cindy. What I resent is having to do all the work. They just spout their views, giving it no thought, and that’s the easiest thing in the world. But here am I, like a warrior waiting in ambush for the first slip up, to detect a chink in their armor. They’ve all got one, you know. It’s like the prey and the predator type of game, and it’s called hunting. I don’t mind the game, it’s just too energy-consuming to be so laying in wait for the opportunity to strike and make the kill.

    You understand?

  • My bubble burst when I was stationed In Germany..I sat on a bus in front of USAFE headquarters was bombed in 81, but America claimed we were in peace time, and then when they pulled the billeting night desk workers severed arm out of the dumpster outside my dorm window I knew it was time to come home for the spoiled brat American woman..It wasn’t fun anymore. I’m not looking for pity here Clavos. I’m looking for a seat at the table.

  • 205 – Good point Roger.

  • Not scarier, just more difficult to pierce.

  • Well, I hate to burst your bubble, Jeannie, for the argument could be made that they are funded by the evil George Soros who is hellbent on destroying America – so the argument goes.

  • Clavos

    At last[sic] his opinions weren’t couched in fine words and the cloak of reasonableness.

    Exactly! Andy’s scarier to the lefties.

  • Andy,

    Yes, that is a good observation–it is people who use power over others that I am against. Sometimes they are white men, sometimes they are Spanish men, Arab men, etc. But, white men pulled ahead of them all with the US domination of the planet.

    If they had, the towers would still be standing!

    The towers are not standing because white men run around dominating people–who they see more like ‘ideas of people’ than actual people.

    For example: You see things called ‘nations’–there is a war in Afghanistan. It’s as if there are no people being affected by it. If you are an Afghan boy and all you see is the US coming in and bombing and killing your family and community–do you think you might develop hatred? Enough to blow up some buildings one day?

    Grow up. Your whole way of putting things sounds like you’re talking about playing leggos rather than killing people.


    Thanks Clav! Incas.

  • Dave, #167:

    I’ve been thinking about the term “revisionist history.” You’re aware of course that the educational establishment is itself a community that, like any other community, is bent on protecting all its privileges and rights. So their own pronouncements on the matter, since they are somewhat self-serving, are also subject to question.


  • Andy, I thought BC only allowed superior writers in…And my suggestion to all of us here is that there are more news outlets out there besides Fox,MSNBC(although I love ED!)and CNN. Would anyone like to join me in Democracy__now, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez are honest, principled, and they are not owned by Corporate America…wink!

  • Clavos


    It’s Incas, no second “n”. My sister in law (my brother’s wife) is one.

  • Clavos

    Good to see your politically incorrect comments again, Andy. Welcome back.

    Some of us missed them!

  • Cindy – I’m not real big on PCness. I was just making an observation.

    I don’t know, scum of the earth might work. But, by your comment 199, it really is just the ones with power.

    Personally, I’m kinda glad the white guys that came over here did what they did and started this silly mess we call the U.S.! And if it wasn’t for all the silly white guys with power, who knows, we might all be smoking cigarettes and gambling all our savings away at the local tribal casino!

    I know, that’s so crass!

    Maybe I should have said living in Teepees and smoking cigarettes.

    It’s just like grammar school was…you get so much time and then you get left back. They were nomading it around the continent and it was time to settle down.

    Somebody shoulda went into the middle east and done it about the same time they did it in North America! If they had, the towers would still be standing!

    I know, I should be ashamed of myself…but I’m not!

  • 195 – Andy,

    That’s funny. I know white males who would say just what I say. They don’t hate white men any more than I do. Maybe it’s because I am female.

    You’re counting a thread where I am differentiating whites from Native Americans? What should I have called them? You have any PC term you’d prefer? I mean if I were talking about how the Spanish wiped out the Incans, I shouldn’t call them ‘the Spanish’?

    I don’t hate any particular white men, I could substitute the word privileged dominators. It happens that they were white and male! I think it is a mistake to forget this. (because it isn’t like the privileged group has changed much)

  • Jeannie – Just so you know, that feminist nazi thing, that’s pretty exclusive to Rush listeners, the rest of us use a much more colloquial term…hope I spelled that word right…I’ll not repeat it here for fear of being censored! A term that may be thrown around like nothing at an AKC meeting, but not here at BC!

    Keep in mind that I am in no way inferring that you are either a feminist, nazi or anything else. I’m just making a point.

    I personally don’t listen to Rush, so, when denigrating an assertive woman, I prefer to use the other term.

    And for those of you that can’t help but slam Fox news, you really should try to watch something other than Rachel Maddow and Keith Olberman. There really is more to the news day than what those two think fox did wrong on any given day!

  • “I’ve found that those I know who have the broadest cultural experience are more likely to appreciate the unique qualities of America than those with very limited experience of the world.”

    That’s easy: comparison and contrast. Or, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

  • I want to appoligise for the comment I made about 911. I can admit when I have gone too far! in retrospect 911 is still way to fresh in all our minds to be bantered about lightly like that..:(
    Clavos, you do not know me any more than I really know you. I do like conservatives, if I didn’t I would never be invited to most of my family functions. We are diverse.
    And to all the other people, in this most enjoyable thread, I would like you all to know that being assertive does not make a woman a “feminist Nazi”. We have opinions like the rest of you and it really should not matter what sex we are! We are human…

  • Cidny – I have to know, do you hate ALL white men, or just the ones with power? I’m only asking because you’ve slammed white men in at least ten comments on this thread alone! Of course, I could be understating the number of comments too…

  • If I’m the example of the “evil white establishment male” yet have likely been exposed to far more different cultures on both the long and short term than anyone here, what does that say about the argument that culture produces the attitudes which Cindy objects to?

    In actuality, I’ve found that those I know who have the broadest cultural experience are more likely to appreciate the unique qualities of America than those with very limited experience of the world.


  • Hi Cindy! πŸ™‚ and thank you Roger for reading my essay “The Conservative Soul: A View From The Center” Yes Clavos, I consider myself the center!

  • Well Clavos, This is true I don’t want there to be an end to this conversation, but why do I need to blind you with facts and figures? I can speak from the heart and my words are not Left-Wing slogans; they are tried and true beliefs handed down to me by the people in my life that believe there is more to life than the almighty dollar.. You know I got out of the air force in 1982 and I came home to a nation of spoiled brats just like myself!
    After 911, and God rest their souls anyone that died then, the world didn’t change then like many conservatives lamented! For one thing we are not the center of the universe, we are part of the family of man and as long as we have blow-hards like Limbaugh and everyone who works on Fox news(as far as I can tell!) trying to keep America’s blinders on, then we will never rise above the greed and corruption of The Bush Administration’s base; The haves and have even more! I could continue with facts about our illustrious former Vice-Pres who by the way has been in the White House since FORD! but then I would be giving you an idea for your next BLOG!!! smile

  • (P.S. Two more things, as I run out the door:

    1) It’s not that hard and yet can be extremely hard. It calls for a) desire to do so and b) intentionally challenging the precepts of one’s culture. c) sometimes some help from others.

    Example: One can challenge the assumption of beauty their culture imposes on them. At this point one may become aware that the idea of who is attractive has been indoctrinated.

    Technology and science are easy. Changing a human is anything but.

    2) Yes, that’s why my focus is children. Indoctrination is much easier to prevent than to cure. Thus, critical thinking is a big part of my pedagogy. ‘Question everything’, as the saying goes.

  • Technology and science are easy. Changing a human is anything but.

    Yes, later.

  • Well, you brought up beauty.

    So what do you mean? Our obsession with the celebrities, like Paris Hilton? Why should that be relevant? Obviously, that’s the product of hype. Also a comment on “the common man,” the extent he/she is/are capable of being duped by the machinery, anything to divert them from thinking.

    It’s part of the scheme – bread and circus, an old formula.

  • Roger,

    It took awhile to get to the moon. I’ll try to be patient. πŸ™‚ It’s not like I am a maverick. There are plenty of other people doing the same thing. It’s part of what you call progress. It’s just my particular area of focus.

    Now I have to think about dinner and have a walk. So, if you write something I will see it later.

  • Okay, but don’t confuse innateness of aesthetic impulse with what I am saying. They are two different discussions. Whether it is innate or not is outside the point.

    Also, I am not discussing art. I am discussing attraction. Who people see as beautiful–what are attractive qualities–is indoctrinated by culture. Again within a range and there is always a normal curve.

  • I’m not into judging either. It’s just that I see no way of expediting this thing. It’s going to take it’s sweet time, if at all,

    You want to change humanity? Just think how difficult it is to change a single person.

  • By “relationships” I mean even.

    As to the aesthetic impulse, I think it’s innate. Surely, the society’s norms of what constituted “good art” was a factor. But nonetheless, the arts kept on evolving. It was only the matter of public acceptance.

    Even atonal music is played in concert-halls today.

  • And remember Roger, my goal isn’t judging people, to say who’s to blame. It’s also not simply academic. It’s for the practical purpose of changing things–faster than ‘progress’–finding ways where we can move past blindspots and elicit conscious thinking in areas where we are unaware.

  • Baronius

    “the academic vestigal organ of the Notre Dame football programme”

    Cannon, heh. ND better have a good academic program, because if you have to judge them as a football team or as a Catholic institution, they’d be in trouble.

  • Relationship is extraordinarily important and what I feel is most important is–type of relationship. Where the trouble begins is the relationship with uneven power, in my view.

    But I think I have an example of what I mean by unconscious indoctrination. The idea of who we think of as beautiful is a cultural indoctrination. There is a range with rather fuzzy edges. Can you see that, when you think about it?

  • It always is, and always will be, a matter of progress, We can’t be judged guilty for what we fail to perceive so long as we try to keep an open mind. And in this respect, again, the heart is the best possible guarantee that we’re on the right tract.

    As to the nitty-gritty, again, relationships are the key. Nothing teaches a person better about the other, and about oneself for that matter, than a relationship. Only then do we really realize how all alike we all are.

    So in my rather simplistic view of things, it’s has all got to do with the humanity of it all, and the person’s emotional development/maturity to be able to take it all in.

    Believe it or not – emotional maturity has more to do with it than most would suppose.

    It is the key!

  • Yes, we do rise above our culture. See, that is a conscious experience you are describing and you are aware of it. It is where we are not conscious that we can’t realize–until we do become conscious of that particular–like the movie character.

    We don’t like to see ourselves as blind. But it’s no criticism I’m making. I am trying to describe something that is a quality of being human. I am very specifically focused on that which is out of our awareness. None of us rise above being human. None of us have nothing that is out of our awareness.

    Where there is understanding of a process, conscious change is possible.

  • Yea. But I’m talking about relationships – with all kinds of people so different than you. That’s what I mean by exposure. And relationships change one. But you do know that, of course.

  • Being exposed to another cultures alone does not make us able see through their eyes. It might depend on if we are a part of that culture, not just learning ‘about’ it as an outsider. It might depend on where our sympathies lie. It might depend on if we could change our own world view enough to see things differently. Probably would depend on 42 other things as well.

    I mean, look at just women and men. Two different cultures. Often they don’t understand each other and yet have have forever to practice.

  • Perhaps the reason why I give Dave, and others, more credit because I’m projecting. I’d like to believe that for the most part, I overcame the constraints of culture, individual upbringing, whatever parochial prejudices I was originally imbued with. I know this statement cannot be entirely correct because we all got “blind spots,” remember. That’s unavoidable because perfect consciousness is a matter of attaining perfection, and none of us are there yet, not even the saint. Still, for the most part it’s true. I am on the way. Which is to say, in the very least, I have no problem whatever with whatever view, and I do, really do, believe there are no essential differences between people. We’re all human and share the same lot.

    I said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s a matter of heart. you’ve got to see all with the same eye, friend and enemy alike. The idea is to embrace everyone, not to exclude. You know the word that’s most appropriate for the occasion, but I will not use it. Later perhaps.

  • Roger,

    I will have to work out how to explain what I am trying to explain. But, it is not a conscious process I am discussing. (But I am not speaking in a Freudian sense of ‘the unconscious’ though. Just to stave off another potential misunderstanding. It’s more like, learning to talk or walk is something we do not really think about.)

    It only becomes conscious when we do a certain thing–we challenge a precept of our culture. Or something challenges it for us. Remember the ‘new information’ discussion?

    You like films. Think of it like when the main character, having spent his whole life thinking one thing comes to some other realization–sees something in a different new way, with new understanding.

    It is the character’s former mentality, before he made that discovery, and how he acquired that former mentality, that I am trying to talk about. He couldn’t see past it. So, I try to ask why that is so. Then I try to find information that answers why.

    Life is just a work in progress, so I am always adding to my ideas and looking in more places for answers. But these are my big questions: How do we get the way we are and why can’t we see through the eyes of the ‘other’.

    It’s important to look at that, I think, if one wants to be in the ‘business’ of changing the world.

  • Of course. How can I disagree. It’s only because we allow ourselves to think of others as somehow less human than ourselves that we are capable of committing the atrocities we do.

    De Niro’s film, “The Mission,” is a hell of a “romantic” picture of individual conversion. It’s worth seeing over and over again.

  • Roger, It isn’t very surprising about kicking around chopped off heads when you consider how people subjugate others.

    As far as I can see, they fail to see the other as human. You can see this in colonialist and slaveholder mentality.

    To me part of the job of those trying to change people’s consciousness is figuring out how to get people to deeply feel the humanity of others who are very different and include them in the group.

  • So are you saying, then, that his education, his exposure to elements of culture diverse from his way of thinking, had no effect?

    I have two points to make in this respect.

    One, it would have definitely been true in the past, when we were all a part of a traditional community, where no different viewpoints were tolerated or available; it’s certainly not true today, especially in America with its diversity of culture and peoples from all walks of life, especially in metropolitan areas.

    Two, it is true that depending on the locale (the Deep South, e.g.) or the individual, especially the latter, some individuals (and we surely know that even from examining the little BC microcosm) are particularly “resilient” when it comes to adopting a view that runs contrary to their set of beliefs.

    My problem is, I just don’t see Dave as falling in either of those categories.

  • I will check that out. Thanks Dave. I hadn’t thought of looking at archaeology.

  • There is another factor to consider when dealing with the history of colonial interraction with indians. It’s one of the most extreme examples of the victors getting to write the history books, because the native tribes were pre-literate and left behind very little in the way of records, so even the accounts of brutality by colonists are based on their own reports of the events and then perhaps a certain amount of extrapolation. We really only have one side of the story to refer to in many cases. It can also be hard to judge the biases of the writers when you have only one group’s perspective. Are they being accurate? Are they whitewashing their own misdeeds? Are they boasting and exaggerating what they did to seem more successful than they really were?

    Archaeological evidence is more objective and suggests that the Pequot War came very close to wiping out the colonists and inflicted terrible losses on them. It’s possible that as they wrote their history of it they minimized the successes of their enemies and exaggerated their own, creating an impression that they were actually more brutal than they were to the modern reader.


  • Dr.D,

    I think both. The Dr. Coach Love article was about that Discovery Channel show I think.

    I don’t ovulate–still like the smell of men though. (wink)

  • 164

    Hmmmm, no, I’m not saying that. I’m not saying he is being duplicitous at all. I think he’s being as honest as he can be. I mean, we all tend to see the things in our favor more than those things not in our favor.

    But what I said is about more than that or about deluding oneself. It’s actually more than just about Dave. I don’t know why, but I always have trouble explaining this idea.

    Why do you think most people in a Muslim country are Muslims? Why in a Catholic country do they turn out to be Catholics? It’s not like people choose from a wide range of choices all of which are equally available to all of them.

    This is what I have, in the past, tried to explain regarding my thinking on cultural indoctrination. My thinking in this regard is not about deciding who to blame–culture or individual. It is about how culture is transmitted to each member and how culture’s indoctrinated premises block other information.

    I am saying Dave is partial to the history as it is written by the dominant culture–he is a member of it and also actively supports it. Why wouldn’t he be? That is the only judgment I made. It’s pretty innocuous. I just put it in a snarky way.

  • Cindy,

    There is research which suggests that women are repelled by the smell of men unless they’re ovulating, at which point we become irresistible. Did I read that in Dr Coach Love’s article or see it on Discovery Health? Can’t remember. Sounds a bit simplistic to me, but it seems biologically sound.

  • Cindy, “Revisionist History” is a specific academic term, not a belief in the idea that history needs to be revised and kept up to date, which all reasonable historians agree on.

    Specifically it refers to the movement whose objective was to “correct” the evils of past historians by rewriting history to be politically correct and to essentially compensate for the one-sided view of history in the past, with the inevitable result that the revised version was just as one-sided in the other direction.

    Responsible historians understand that history cannot be shaped by modern politics and should include a balanced view of events and the people involved in them.


  • Cannonshop

    Speaking as a non-catholic, what’s the big deal- the academic vestigal organ of the Notre Dame football programme gave Barry Obama an ‘honorary’ degree…so what? It’s not like they scouted him to throw passes in Ivy League play or anything…

  • Well, here’s one possible account.

    “The white settlers descended upon the New Continent and found the Red Man. Through a variety of guises – including alcohol, beads, and trinkets, not to mention pacts of friendship and non-aggression (all designed for the purpose of inciting a tribe against a tribe) – they’ve managed to conquer and subdue their enemy – the Red Man – and take full possession of his bountiful land. Those few that survived were granted their reservations, where they could leave peacefully provided they were so interned.”

    OK now! We all know that more or less, something of that nature happened. In moral terms, to say the least – never mind now the details. So the question is: what are we going to do with this?

  • Do you really think he is so consciously duplicitous as you describe in #61? That’s beyond deluding oneself but smacks of deliberate exercise of bad faith. I am not willing to make such a judgment. What you suggests implies no integrity whatever.

    Again, I don’t think they’re minor characters. But just as Clavos had said in one of the earlier remarks, the victors are entitled to their spoils.

    Mind you know, I am not discussing the moral question here – only the veracity of whatever narrative.

  • I’m not surprised. That’s the usual way people determine history. Guess–based on whether someone sounds reasonable.

  • I think Dave’s is being rather evenhanded here. In any war or conquest, there are brutalities on either side, that goes without saying. (Which isn’t to say that the war or the conquest are just – that’s another matter.) Look at Ruvy and his vendetta, and that’s modern times. So why should I suppose that times were gentler and kinder three hundred years ago. My #143 kind of addresses that eventuality – regardless or the right or wrong of the issue. (Kicking chopped heads as soccer balls, that surprised me.)

    But does one goes, anyway, about ascertaining which narrative is more true or accurate – and that’s apart from judging the morality of the question?

  • Roger

    Be aware of the fact that Dave’s interest is in making the nation’s founding, and events that preceded it, look as legitimate and upstanding as possible whilst maintaining a breath of ‘realism’. No one is going to buy complete bullshit after all. So, non-important characters can be thrown under a bus to give realistic affect.

    He has to do that so his floundering fathers come out to be fighters for truth and liberty, instead of rich bastards trying to create a nation for landowners to protect there ill-gotten gains.

    ‘The people’ after all were not women, blacks, Indians or non-land-owners. They were white, wealthy land-owners. Those were ‘the people’.

  • By the way, tossing around the phrase ‘revistionist history’ is a convenience and distraction sometimes used to disparage what is the legitimate inclusion of important new information.

    Most good historical accounts come to be considered good through constant revision as new information comes to light.

    Not sure of what kind of historian doesn’t think so.

  • Clavos,

    Forgot to ask you. Are you anywhere near Sarasota? My sister and brother-in-law have a two-mil condo in there. Unfortunately, it’s a kind of co-op, so even I can’t live there unless they’re there, too. Which is only two or three times a year, for a two week stretch.

    What a waste of money!

  • Roger,

    There are many more than two sides to any story. You may wish to check them out yourself.

    Who’s story do you think Dave is telling? After all, Dave is a history teacher.

  • Dave ignores the part in the story where it says: “Cheered by their “victory”, the brave colonists and their Indian allies attacked village after village.”

    English settlers had been given land by agreement with multiple tribes, not just one treaty negotiated with Squanto…

    Read it again Dave. It doesn’t say that. It says the Squanto was trying to negotiate with the Pequot. The Pequot did not agree to what he was trying to negotiate with them. It does not say or imply anything about Squanto being the only negotiator for all the tribes or that no other agreements were otherwise made.

  • If women didn’t like the smell of men, the human race would have long become extinct.

  • It depends on the mood, I suppose. If I’m at home, and lately by myself, I’m less mindful of my hygienic habits. Never when I was with a woman. And certainly never when we were public.

  • Well, there you go, Dave. There are at least two sides to every story; and they’ve all got to be represented and assigned their relative weight, it seems, to present as truthful and objective a narrative as humanly possible.

  • Roger,

    Dr.D and I both know I think men smell fine. There was an article written by Dr. Coach Love, about a study that said women don’t like the smell of men. I was skeptical.

    But really, I do wish they’d wash their hands in the bathroom. A friend of mine once said he estimated about 25% of men wash their hands in a bathroom. Is that about right?

  • “to put it down when done.”

  • 146

    I’ll take a look Dr.D. Leacock is an anthropologist. Her work I think is a culmination of 30 years of study done, I believe, by her. (I left the book at the office, so I can’t look.)

    Her direction in anthropology grew out of being pissed at Margaret Mead, as I recall from the book cover.

  • Well, I used to be chastised by former girlfriend , and severely, when a pee drop would end up on the toilet seat; so I would raise it up, but then I would forget to put it down when down. So that was another outrage when she’d flop straight into the bowl.

    She was a German and very finicky, as Germans are capable of. And I was young.

    Anyways, these were the trial days. I’ve learned my lesson since.

  • Cindy’s thanksgiving story which is originally by someone named Susan Bates (not genealogist Susan Baldwin Bates or the famous knitter Susan Bates) is a good example of revisionist history. The basic events reported in it are true and will be found in most contemporary history books, but the emphasis on Thanksgiving and the one-sided description of the Pequot war are more propaganda than history.

    A legitimate historical account would point out that the English settlers had been given land by agreement with multiple tribes, not just one treaty negotiated with Squanto, and that the land they took was largely unoccupied land belonging to the Naragansett tribe, with which they had friendly relations throughout the period and who were never massacred. It would also point out that the Pequot War included massacres of English settlers by indians in which about 2/3 of the colony’s population was killed, including women and children. Most importantly it would include the fact that the attacks carried out against the Pequots were carried out by forces which consisted not only of English and Dutch soldiers, but which also included large numbers of indians from other tribes like the Naragansett, Abnakei and Wampanoag who were using the presence of the English as a means to settle old conflicts with the Pequots.

    What a real historian would point out is that the Pequot War was bloody and horrible and that excesses were committed by both sides, and that it was as much a war between native tribes as it was between the English and the Pequots. Any account which says it was just the English protecting themselves or the English gratuitously massacring innocent indians is equally wrong.


  • Right, history is essentially a story (told from a point of view); although the original meaning – by Herodotus – it meant “research.” I’m well aware the extent to which points of view and interpretations come it.

    Look at contemporary events and the wide disagreement that accompanies every single event: it’s almost mind-boggling.

    The one characteristic of modernity is of course journalism and the media. So the future generations will at least have access to a variety of sources, each presenting a different viewpoint. So it will be relatively easier for them to decide not just what happened but the meaning of the events. Such records, however, are rather scarce when we try to discern the truth about our not so distant past.

    The distinction between a fact and a story (or interpretation) – narrative is a good word – is well taken though. Facts in and of themselves signify nothing. It’s the meaning we attach to them and how we string them together is what matters.

  • Clav,

    Hmm… remind me to use a paper towel to open the restroom door if I ever see you coming out of one ahead of me.

  • Cindy,

    Leacock’s book sounds a bit like a retooling of Greer’s The Female Eunuch.

  • Clavos


    How quaint! Is that a Brit thing?

  • Doc, she’s saying that just a teaser.

  • Well, “not being ashamed of killing Indians” goes without saying – since the Indians were “their natural enemy,” the only thing that stood between them and possession of the land (in relative security and peace); not counting of course whatever squabbles had existed among themselves. So even the idea of “celebration” in the aftermath of a victory is understandable. But kicking the chopped heads on the streets like a football – that is barbaric and beyond my conception of a civilized man (even for those times).

  • Roger,

    There is another aspect of how story version differs. It’s a sort of viewpoint limitation. It’s roughly the framework we have ingrained in us through our membership in any group. We see things through our own framework. It is very difficult to assess reality through the framework of a member of a different group–different meaning not European’s and Americans who are quite similar, but say, Americans/Europeans and Aborigines. (But this breaks down further into marginalized groups within a culture too.) Everything we take in is filtered through our understanding. So when you have an anthropologist going to study some other group that does not have the same framework. That other group’s view or understanding is not put into the story. It’s a limitation of being human. We can’t change the reality through which we filter incoming information. We interpret reality.

    This is why I find Mary Louise Pratt’s Arts of the Contact Zone very relevant. People create contact zones with each other (see her explanation) within which they struggle to be heard and understood. Creating these consciously is something that may be important to changing the consciousness of people.

    This relates to what I had been discussing about my ideas of bias indoctrination and not only having to have new information, but being capable or able to let it in and have it change us. My interest is transformational learning.

    I just picked up a book called: ‘Myths of Male Dominance’ by an anthropologist named Eleanor Burke Leacock. Haven’t read it. But it is an anthropological study that looks at historical evidence for egalitarian societies and documents how women struggled against efforts to “isolate their labor and roles in society”. It challenges that idea that women simply accepted dominance or that male dominance was universal. It suggests that Europeans misread roles in egalitarian societies and made presumptions about male dominance. That is not hard to believe, when you understand the things I’m saying above. The book looks like it also discusses the role of Colonialism’s on gender roles.

    People look at history as fact when it’s only a story. It is also a story that when told by a dominant group, always marginalizes the views of the subordinated group–even when trying not to. When there are two realities–only the dominant group’s version will prevail in the mainstream.

    But, in the ordinary sense of distortion, intentional–Sri Lanka is a good example.

    The Sri Lankan gov’t is actively suppressing the Tamil viewpoint and making itself out to be the legitimate player. There is a framework in place in the world that already legitimizes the sovereign nation versus any insurgent uprising. (I’m not validating the Tigers here.) If we don’t hear the Tamil voice–how can you expect this will effect historical accounts 20 years later. What story will be told in the mainstream?

  • Guys are fine and all (but they’re smelly–at least so I’ve been told) πŸ™‚

    Your information is correct. We are quite staggeringly smelly. It’s all that car engine dismantling, wrestling and crushing beer cans on our heads that we’re inclined to do. You’d think by now we of the male species would have evolved to develop more efficient ways of demonstrating our manliness – or at least ones that don’t produce a personal aroma capable of blowing you backwards halfway across the room. Oh well. Get back to us in a million years or so, by which time our chromosomes may at last contain the washing-hands-after-peeing gene.

  • Cindy @ #136:

    Hence my qualifier. Of course such things are in the historical records. The early white settlers weren’t ashamed of killing Indians – quite the opposite.

    But there is both light and shade in every perspective of history. I try to bear that in mind.

  • Anyway, she just started to write for BC – her first piece was in the Culture section – something like Grandma’s recipes; it was loved by everyone. So I asked her to write some for the Politics section, too, to offset the prevailing view.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised by the brutality of any human, white, red or whatever – as individuals or as groups. And I’m certain that Doc has sense enough not to be surprised either.

  • 135-

    Thanks! I did. And I did!

  • It’s probably propaganda, but no more so than the traditional Thanksgiving story everyone knows.

    Says a white man who glancing out of the corner of his eye thinks he understands enough to make such calls.

    The funny thing is it is difficult to gain the perspective of the marginalized even with great effort (because of cultural bias). I have struggled weeks to understand things even with the headstart that I have of being open to such folly and desirous to understand.

    I’m afraid casual assessments based on reading the title of a book from across the room leave me cold as far as the value of the book review that results.

    On the contrary to it being ‘propaganda’ it’s even in our own historical records, albeit not paid any mind.

  • You should visit Jeannie’s blog, Cindy. You will like it.

  • OK, Dave. But aside from that, how would one go about ascertaining the validity of “the Thanksgiving story” posted by Cindy above?

  • As someone who has taught history in college and in fact served on the textbook committee in my history department, I can assure you that the history books are published by commercial enterprises looking to make money and with no political agenda, and that they overwhelmingly hire about the most left-leaning, anti-capitalist and in many cases anti-American professors they can find to write those history textbooks. Our lament in vetting the books was constantly that we saw important historical events minimized or completely removed from the books to make room for larger and larger sections of social history and enormous special feature sections on slave history and native american history.


  • Hi Jeannie,

    This is a good place to fight. lol

    So nice to see another woman too. Guys are fine and all (but they’re smelly–at least so I’ve been told) πŸ™‚

  • Jeannie,

    You don’t really want there be an end, do you? There’d be no more fun. But to answer your question – a resounding NO!

  • One more comment on this comment thread! I really respect you Clavos and all the other writers here on BC. No matter what I express I believe this is a healthy exchange of views and opinions. I actually am a nice lady. πŸ™‚ but is there and end to this conversation? EVER?

  • Clavos


    You should take a leaf from Cindy’s book. Notice that she doesn’t just blather left wing slogans; she reads, does her homework, and presents real opposing viewpoints, complete with links to sources.

    I don’t always agree with her, but I do always pay attention to her.

  • Right On Cindy! And who might I ask Clavos owns the companies that publish your “so called history of the United States?” Certainly not the people who would finally be empowered in this world if it were changed or to say the least, “truthful.”

  • The importance of the lying/exaggerating thing seems most significant where it allows the powerful to keep their power. No one is ever completely objective. But, it’s the part of the story that is left out that holds the clues to what the truth is imo.

    Example: Remember what people were saying about Bush and his museum. They were changing history to make him into a great American. Leaving out part of the story.

    I don’t find that both sides are equal in their distortions. It’s the ones who have the power to hold that have a big stake in lying and distortion. A certain image has to be maintained to keep power. There is a stake in making things look like they were done for goodness and fairness and justice.

    Washington Irving created some history, for example. He said a new country needs its own stories. His stories about Columbus and Paul Revere (I think it was) got written into history. He wrote a book (out of print now)–I forget the name—a history of George Washington, something along those lines.

  • I’m aware of all that. But if both sides are lying or exaggerating, then how can one tell what really happened?

  • I mean their history says something else. It’s different from the white man’s version.

    Any time you have two groups with unequal power you have two different views of reality. The dominant group justifies itself and tells a story that makes itself look good. It leaves out as much as possible that would show it in a negative light.

    Since the dominant group controls media and educational resources, it’s story is the one that is indoctrinated into the dominant culture. (You and me, the people who go to school and read news.)

    Indians have their own story. It doesn’t make the papers. But they tell it to each other. It’s all there for anyone who wants to look.

  • The history of the world by those who think they own it–and glorify themselves in their conquest–is the history of the imperial mindset. This is the history that is in the interests of nations to indoctrinate people into thinking is the most significant.

  • I hope by “distinct” you don’t mean “falsified”

  • Here is an article on the Thanksgiving tradition – going back to the times of the Puritans in England. (same website)

  • The importance of historical events seems to be directly correlated with who’s interested in them.

    American Indians have a history entirely distinct from dominant cultural history. I doubt they’d feel it is of ‘less significance’.

  • …but you do get the sense that he’s inflating certain events beyond their historical significance…

    Could be…could be you just hang out with the wrong people. lol

    But it’s always useful to have a counterpoint to the generally received version of history.

    Indeed if the world is to ever make progress, it’s imperative to stop marginalizing people and their voices. Besides top dog history is so boring and distorted–who needs more white heroes?

  • It’s probably propaganda, but no more so than the traditional Thanksgiving story everyone knows.

  • Well, but what did strike me as perfidious is “the Thanksgiving” story – to celebrate the massacre. That I never heard before.

  • Yes. Zinn does have an agenda, of course, so take what he says with a pinch of salt. (I’m not saying that he makes things up – his material is extremely well-researched – but you do get the sense that he’s inflating certain events beyond their historical significance.) But it’s always useful to have a counterpoint to the generally received version of history.

  • The first by Howard Zinn, no?

  • Unfucking believable. You won’t find any of this in the history books.

    Yes, you will, Roger. Try A People’s History of the United States and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee for starters.

  • zingzing

    clavos: “Cute little scenarios, zing. You make ’em up all by yourself, or did your mommy help you?”

    well, i did consult her, as i thought a female perspective on the subject, it being that bush’s clause almost invariably backs up, mollifies and legalizes christianity’s hatred of women, was necessary. if you don’t see that, you’re a fool and/or haven’t thought that shit through.

  • Obama’s visit (or those of the eight Presidents who delivered commencement addresses at Notre Dame before him) was in no way a violation of the First Amendment.

    Agreed. He wasn’t officiating: the university invited him to speak. And there’s even a case for saying that he was doing so in his capacity as a private citizen rather than as the President of the United States.

    Besides which, Notre Dame is a private university and as such, is not bound by the establishment clause.

  • In other words, in Ruvy’s eyes it’s not over till it’s over.

  • Clavos

    I think he would, Roger. Why else does he advocate pre-emptive strikes against Israel’s enemies?

  • OK. To the victor belong the spoils.
    I’m not certain that Ruvy would subscribe to this view of history – especially as regards Jerusalem (with the present push to have it divided between the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims).

  • Clavos


    There is nothing in the legal framework of the US that mentions “separation of church and state.” That’s from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a religious group, the Danbury Baptists, explaining the meaning of the First Amendment.

    What the First Amendment does say is:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    Obama’s visit (or those of the eight Presidents who delivered commencement addresses at Notre Dame before him) was in no way a violation of the First Amendment.

  • Clavos

    Jordan asks,

    By that logic, can anyone actually be truly “native” to anywhere beyond where the first human beings originated?

    Exactly. No. No one is “native.” Read Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer-winning book, Guns, Germs, and Steel for an authoritative, scholarly look at who colonized what and when in the Americas, which were the last place on earth to be colonized.

    And if the Indians deserve the land back, I’m fine with that, but, as a Mexican, I insist we get all of the western US back first. While we’re at it, the Japs should get back all the Pacific islands we “stole” from them, as well.

    Oh hell, let’s just kick all the whites out of the entire hemisphere; after all it all “belongs” to the “natives.”

    And Cindy, I’m not interested in the Indian perspective: whites came to the Americas, fought the “natives,” conquered them and took over. It’s happened thousands of times throughout history, all over the world. Now they’re getting rich taking the whites’ money in casinos. It’s over. Done. Reds lost, Whites won. End of story.

  • Unfucking believable. You won’t find any of this in the history books.

  • Clav was reading from a history book written by white men. You know it’s funny how their history is so different from anyone else’s. In their history white men, especially the ones with money, were always grand and good and no one could have done a thing without them. They invented the world and everything in it for the benefit of all. White male dominators are always heroes. Just look at the fictional movies to this day it’s the same story.

    Thanksgiving, an Indian perspective:

    “But as word spread in England about the paradise to be found in the new world, religious zealots called Puritans began arriving by the boat load. Finding no fences around the land, they considered it to be in the public domain. Joined by other British settlers, they seized land, capturing strong young Natives for slaves and killing the rest. But the Pequot Nation had not agreed to the peace treaty Squanto had negotiated and they fought back. The Pequot War was one of the bloodiest Indian wars ever fought.

    In 1637 near present day Groton, Connecticut, over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival, which was the tribe’s Thanksgiving celebration. In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside. Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared “A Day of Thanksgiving” because 700 unarmed men, women and children had been murdered.

    Cheered by their “victory”, the brave colonists and their Indian allies attacked village after village. Women and children over 14 were sold into slavery while the rest were murdered. Boats loaded with a many as 500 slaves regularly left the ports of New England. Bounties were paid for Indian scalps to encourage as many deaths as possible.

    Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what is now Stamford, Connecticut, the churches announced a second day of “thanksgiving” to celebrate victory over the heathen savages. During the feasting, the hacked off heads of Natives were kicked through the streets like soccer balls. Even the friendly Wampanoag did not escape the madness. Their chief was beheaded, and his head impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where it remained on display for 24 years.

    The killings became more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre. Later Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal national holiday during the Civil War – on the same day he ordered troops to march against the starving Sioux in Minnesota.”

  • Nice regression on the “native Americans” point, Clavos. By that logic, can anyone actually be truly “native” to anywhere beyond where the first human beings originated?

    They were the native Americans. They were native by definition to the Americas before the Europeans arrived. They were the initial founders of America.

    Now, the suggestion that they were “massacring” each other is far from an anthropological fact. It is, to say the least, contested. While they may have been fighting one another as human beings are prone to do, the impact of those “massacres” was nothing in contrast to the brutality of the conquistadors or with the arrival of diseases when Europeans and Africans arrived.

    There are obvious theories about whether or not the diseases were spread intentionally or whether it was accidental, but it really doesn’t matter in the end. Whether Franciscans poisoned the well or whether there were smallpox blankets is largely irrelevant to the fact that one of the largest decimations in human history took place. It was THE leading cause of decline amongst the population of indigenous peoples in America.

    As to how widespread warfare was amongst the pre-Columbian Americans, there’s a whole lot of dispute regarding that. When Europeans brought over their gunpowder and steel, war and killing became obviously much easier. There’s a reason the Europeans were able to largely overwhelm the native population in combat.

    War among the natives was also very ritualistic; there is little evidence that they merely fought for land or conquest as the Europeans did when they arrived.

    Russell Thornton’s American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492 is a pretty good one to read on the subject. There’s also Charles C. Mann’s 1491, a recent book which posits that native traditions of autonomy and social equality and that it was explorers like HernΓ‘n CortΓ©s and early Hispaniola slave traders that accidentally axed around 95% of the pre-Columbian population.

    So it’s interesting, to say the least, that there exists this inference that the whites came along and made everything better for everybody. The truth is probably that the explorers and conquerers accidentally wiped out the population due to their ignorance, possibly earlier than originally thought, and proceeded to subsequently massacre what was left in a land that was hugely populated by natives that did, to some degree, come over from Asia over time. They then borrowed from existing social structures and concepts and grafted together their own society as a hybrid of what they observed the natives doing and what they maintained from their home traditions.

  • STM

    What about separation of Church and state?

    I realise there is historical precedent in the case of Notre Dame (and many other places too, in the US, probably).

    But should a president really be officiating at any institution that has a religious affiliation?

    My personal view is that it’s OK, and despite some real differences, in some respects Obama’s views on a whole range of issues might be close to that of the Church, especially regarding his concept of “community”.

    However, given that the Church is quite literally “a broad church”, with moral and ethical views that cover the entire spectrum, there is bound to be dissent from some quarters and not others.

    The Church is nevertheless bigger than itself, and in some ways this could be seen as a reaching out.

    There are ways and then there are more subtle ways of prosletysing.

    I would imagine Obama’s recent olive branches offered all around the world – to places like Iran and Cuba – dovetail very nicely with the Pope’s recent message of hope and peace delivered on his visit to the Holy Land.

  • Clavos

    Cute little scenarios, zing. You make ’em up all by yourself, or did your mommy help you?

  • Clavos

    Without those industrialists and inventors today’s auto mechanics, plumbers, factory workers, etc. wouldn’t have jobs to go to.

    The “native americans” (who were not really native — their ancestors came from Asia) were massacring each other long before the whites came along and they didn’t “afford” the land to anyone — they fought like hell to keep it.

    The slaves made the agrarian south rich for a few decades; they contributed little to the industrialization of the north, which was already taking place during that time.

    You’re right, we aren’t all shareholders, but tens of millions of us are, both directly and indirectly, through union pension funds, for example. Every UAW auto worker has been a shareholder in a variety of enterprises for years — now, they even own Chrysler, and shortly, Government Motors — too bad they’re both headed for bankruptcy, brought on in large part by the unions themselves.

    I see a lot more ignorance than blindness in this country.

  • STM

    There’s nuttin like a (Notre) Dame …

  • Henry Ford And Alexander Graham Bell and all the other inventors you mentioned would not have had ANYTHING if it were not for the slave labor and massacered native Americans that afforded the English this land to begin with! Clavos it is I who laugh at the blindness I see in this country. Wake Up! We are not all share holders we are all Americans. Thank you :)I needed that…

  • zingzing

    you can’t be serious, clavos. i can’t believe you, of all people, would defend that heinous, stupid clause that bush added. it’s absolutely and fundamentally wrong. abortion is only part of it.

    consider the following scene:

    mother to be: i’m pregnant?
    doctor: yes.
    mother to be: i can’t be pregnant! i’m only 16, my boyfriend’s a 45-year-old drunk and i live with my abusive father who told me he’d kill me if i got pregnant, i’ve got AIDS and i smoke meth four times daily. the kid’ll come out all fucked up.
    doctor: …
    mother to be: i need an abortion.
    doctor: …
    mother to be: ok…
    doctor: …
    mother to be: listen, just give me a referral.
    doctor: …
    mother to be: listen, you little creep who just had his religious hand up my twat, i’m going to put your head in my basket and tra-la-la all the way home if you don’t give me a referral.
    doctor: go somewhere else.
    mother to be: this is rural alaska!
    doctor: i’m sorry.
    mother to be: no you’re not, asshole.
    doctor: you should curse so much, hussy.


    college student: oh my god, i just had sex and i need one of those whatdoyacallem’s…
    pharmacist: morning after pills?
    college student: yeah, that’s it! gimme!
    pharmacist: nope. gonna have to wait til tomorrow when perkins gets on. that freak will sell any baby-killing thing you want. but i didn’t say that.
    college student: but it’s the MORNING AFTER pill! and it’s the morning after!
    pharmacist: sorry, goes against my beliefs.
    college student: i believe you better be birthing this child then.
    pharmacist: you’re the one with the slutty nethers.
    college student: you’re judging me?!
    pharmacist: ain’t you?


    young girl: my boyfriend is pushing me towards having sex.
    health worker: you shouldn’t.
    young girl: but i just want to know what my options are.
    health worker: don’t do it.
    young girl: but don’t you think…
    health worker: that you shouldn’t do it? yes. the answer to your question is yes.
    young girl: yes, what? what about condoms? i don’t even know how to work one… what else is out there… i need answers…
    health worker: you came to the wrong place.
    young girl: the clinic?
    health worker: well, you came to the wrong person.
    health worker: bush said i don’t have to actually do that, and i can’t be reprimanded or punished in any way for not doing my job.
    young girl: so what do you do all day?
    health worker: just tell girls not to do it.
    young girl: sounds pretty easy.
    health worker: yeah, it is.
    young girl: pay a lot?
    health worker: not really, but it pays the bills you know.
    young girl: sweet. i’m gonna get this job and that way i can pay for an abortion!
    health worker: don’t do that either.

  • Irene,

    I found a John B. who wrote two articles about Hitchcock films. And he is an English teacher from Wichita, Kansas who posted to his blog yesterday. I don’t think that is Mark.

    I also checked Prof. Bliffle, to see if he ever wrote under that name. Nothing.

    But I was surprised to find 5 article by Pablo. I don’t know how I could have missed them.

  • Baronius

    OK, Roger. You got me. You say that I don’t care about the poor unless I give money to them, and non-governmental money doesn’t count. That’s an iron rhetorical trap you set for me.

  • Irene: ‘”T ro ll aka M ar k” as John B.’

    The boat? Who is John B.? What is that line from Ayn Rand? Who is…whatshisname? somebody…can’t recall.

    So is he a writer? Maybe he wrote something good. I’ll investigate. I wish Bliffle and Les Slater and Mark wrote things. I’d read all that.

  • Clavos

    What an interesting viewpoint, Jeannie!

    You’re saying that unions and their members created the American economy, ignoring the investors who actually put up the funds to build the factories, the mines which have provided the iron and other materials to build the country’s infrastructure, and the myriad of inventions which facilitated and expanded our industrial growth.

    You’re saying that the UAW, not Henry Ford, established and grew the Ford Motor Company, despite the fact that the UAW didn’t even exist until Ford was already a giant corporation.

    You say that McCormick, Fulton, Whitney, Bell, and a whole host of other inventors, entrepreneurs and industrialists did not build the world’s largest (at one time) economy?

    It’s also worth noting that “the wealth and freedom of America,” as you put it, was established and growing long before the “poor and huddled masses” began to arrive in any kind of numbers, a phenomenon which did not take off significantly until after the Civil War. If I remember my history correctly, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution (including the Bill of Rights) were drawn up and in force in the 18th century, and they and the freedom they offered, along with the existence of opportunity to advance themselves are what drew the “poor and huddled masses” here in the first place.

    “Forgive you?” Of course I forgive you, what other response could I give to such nonsense, other than forgiveness? Laughter, perhaps, but forgiveness is kinder.

  • Forgive me for pointing out that what really fostered the true growth and freedom of America was the poor and huddled masses getting together and organizing for better wages and working conditions while the mostly English aristocracy stayed at home and in the front office!

  • Clavos

    My point exactly, Roger, that’s what grew the middle class.

  • “it was a combination of an industrious, hard-working people, an abundant supply of natural resources, a manufacturing base unequaled”

    But that is the middle class. Of course you know that, Clavos, only arguing in a backhanded kind of way.

  • Clavos

    Aren’t we forgetting what grew the middle class in this country to begin with?

    Maybe I am forgetting, but it seems to me that it was a combination of an industrious, hard-working people, an abundant supply of natural resources, a manufacturing base unequaled (until recently) anywhere else in the world, and a Constitution that ensures a stable, democratic society with (until recently) minimal government interference and intrusion.

  • Right, Baronius. The same old story. Leave it to the charity so if and when you do help, at least you’ll feel good about yourself. No thank you! Keep your stinking charity.

  • “why they could really give a damn about the child once it is born.”

    That’s exactly my beef with these people, Jeannie, their utter hypocrisy. They’re gonna pound on you with the sanctity of the human life, but once a child is born, their heart and sympathy are gone; they’ll let it go to hell.

  • Baronius

    Jeannie – Glad you joined in. No need to feel queasy about being argumentative; take a look at some of these threads!

    I can’t think of any reason why the separation of church and state would affect a Presidential speech at a graduation. Also, as a Catholic conservative, I certainly care for all people from conception to (natural!) death. I’ve been involved with a few crisis pregnancy centers / homes for unwed mothers. It’s my duty to care for the needy; but I don’t believe that government is the most effective way of implementing that care.

  • Coming from a forced Catholic education I am definitely catholic-lite. After yesterday I am probably catholic-less. There is a clear separation of church and state defined in the Constitution, but like all the amendments and articles, we only follow the ones we like. I want to ask all the conservatives that are so up in arms about abortion to explain why they could really give a damn about the child once it is born. Unless of course it is theirs. I constantly hear how social programs are bad and shouldn’t be funded by the government. Aren’t we forgetting what grew the middle class in this country to begin with? Or maybe we should all grab our aprons and become servants for a ruling class in this country. The last time I looked, this was not merry old England. I am not trying to be argumentative here Clavos, I just wanted to join in the discussion. πŸ™‚

  • Clavos

    Discipline is also why the military is one of the few things run by the government that actually works.

  • Clavos

    Dead on, Andy.

    Discipline has always been at the center of Catholic schools’ MO, and you’re right, it makes an enormous difference to the students’ performance.

  • Clavos – Do you remember as I remember WHY the edustaion in Catholic school is so much better?

    The way I remember it (and I only went to catholic school for eleven years) was they, the nuns and lay teachers. didn’t take any shit from students. You went to class, sat down, shut up and learned, or you were disciplined. As far as I know, that’s still the way it is today!

    Public school kids don’t have a clue!

  • Baronius, #78

    Don’t be silly. I explained what I meant a comment or two later. Why would I want to call Irish drunks, or anything like that. Have I ever engaged in any ethnic slurs on any of the threads or in my writings? Your comment is totally out of place.

  • Mr. Dock Ellis

    For a socialist/progressive agenda to work, the family and the church must attacked. The government becomes the only power in the society. Remember Obama’s “church” in Chicago? What did they teach? Liberation Theology. What’s that? A Marxist doctrine that originated with radical priests in Central and South America in the 1960’s and 70’s

    Just another way for the Comintern to spread the communist word. Rather ironic that catholic priests would push a doctrine that is ultimately opposed to religion!

    This is the built in contradiction of modern Christian religion in the Western world. It is aiming for Marxism, but achieving that goal would obliterate religion itself! This why you get a split in the Catholic community about Obama. Many dig the whole Liberation Theology claptrap, but others despise his abortion position.

  • Clavos

    Oops, irene, you’ve caught me with my red face on; I did propose that despots such as Pol Pot and Hitler have killed more folks than religion.

    Can’t remember whether or not I actually provided incontrovertible proof (I think not), but I did so argue, you;re right.

    But, I definitely am not the one who outed troll/M ar k as John B; that one’s news to me.

    I agree, BTW, (and said so upthread) that abortion for purposes of saving the mother’s life is extremely rare, which does make that argument a red herring.

  • Baronius

    Irene – It’s not my field of expertise, but that statement looks right.

  • Irene Wagner

    Jordan Richardson (and Clavos and Doug Hunter later on.) There was a very good question upthread about abortion to save the life of the mother. It was a good one, and this might help clear things up. Baronius, this was true in 1998. Is it still?

    … those cases where both mother and child are dying…there are really only three situations like this that I can think of and that’s ectopic pregnancy, cancer of the uterus, and perhaps trauma, or an accidental traumatic injury to the uterus. And if you don’t do anything then both mother and child will die. Now if you treat the mother for whatever needs to be treated, the uterus is bleeding, and you remove the uterus and the baby is still in there, and you do nothing to kill the baby, that is if you had a means an artificial incubator, some day we will have it, I’m sure, you could put that baby in there, so in no way do you directly attack the life of the baby. But you can foresee that that baby will lose its life, but it will lose its life anyhow but without directly attacking. Those are the three instances, very rare, very rare, but those are not abortions. If you look at the five ways that abortions are done, which is the only purpose is to kill the child, none of these techniques are the methods used in these operations…And you don’t need a law, you don’t need an exception because for ages that treatment of ectopic pregnancy, once the mother starts bleeding or has life-threatening complications, the treatment of cancer of the uterus, that has been always permissible without …having to legalize abortion.” Interview in priestsforlife with Dr. George Isajiw, medical doctor in internal medicine, and past president of the Catholic Medical Association

    I don’t know Clavos, I thought I overheard you and Doug Hunter talking a while back–and you cited a whole raft of sources to support the opinion that religion was NOT responsible for the murders of more people in history than anything else. Is my memory completely shot to heck (like when I “remembered” Clavos outing “T ro ll aka M ar k” as John B.? (LOL)

  • Baronius

    Clavos, let me rephrase that, this time coherently: the best predictor of whether someone votes for a Republican or Democrat in the presidential election is frequency of church attendance. It holds true for Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and (last time I checked) Muslims.

    Roger, I’m glad that Dave called you out on the whole Irish and Italian “immigrant” thing. The next thing I was expecting you to say is that Irish are drunks and Italians talk with their hands a lot. Anyway, if you want to use broad caricatures, the largest group of recent immigrants is also the largest Catholic minority, Hispanics, and they lean pro-life.

  • Clavos

    In fact, the best forecaster for voting in the presidential elections is frequency of religious attendence, not money or race or anything else.

    That’s very interesting, Baronius, I hadn’t heard that before. Where did you find it? Are the churchgoers the voters or the nonvoters?

  • Baronius

    There are about twice as many Protestants as Catholics in the US. The split between Catholics and Protestants is generally greater than between Protestant denominations, but there are exceptions. Anglicans/Episcopaleans are a lot like Catholics in their worship, and some of them lean Catholic in their beliefs. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are outside the mainstream of Christianity, with different conceptions of God.

    The changes implemented during and after Vatican II weren’t doctrinal. A lot of them were unpopular though, and there’s been some movement back to older practices.

    Like most faiths, there’s a big difference between the beliefs of practicing and non-practicing members. In fact, the best forecaster for voting in the presidential elections is frequency of religious attendence, not money or race or anything else.

  • Well, I would have never thought that American Catholics were that conservative, especially on the abortion issue. The few I knew personally certainly were not.

  • Clavos


    That’s exactly why they’re losing their members, Roger, they’ve lost their hold on the people because of, ironically, one of the seven deadly sins: pride/hubris.

    Which, come to think of it, they have in common with most modern pols.

  • Here’s the link.

  • Well, you know, Clavos, how the theologians view the laity? With contempt. For not being able to read the word in the original language and therefore dumb. Of course, the laity is who pays the dues. Although in the case of the Catholic Church, I think they have enough assets to just make it off their investments.

    I worked on Wall Street, corner of Broadway – just opposite the Trinity Church – a prime piece of real estate even then. I’d hate to think how much it’s worth today.

  • Clavos

    The theologians don’t count — the laity does.

    It was a huge mistake, which the Vatican realized, which is why they’ve been backpedaling in recent years.

  • You’re right. The laity didn’t but the theologians – and they were all radicals and progressives then – did. Even the Protestant churches were affected, especially by the works of Rudolf Bultmann, German theologian.

    I was at Andrews, Berrien Springs, MI, at the time.

  • All I’m going to say on this is that the split between the Reformation churches and the Holy See is far greater in matters of theological substance than the differences between them. Even the Seventh-Day Adventists – I was a member once and attended their Theological Seminary for two years – with all their peculiarities (like dietary laws, no jewelry, or observance of the Sabbath rather than Sunday) – have more in common with all Reformation churches than with Catholicism. They all tend to regard Rome as a perversion, and the Pope as the anti-Christ.

  • Clavos

    long ways from Vatican II, in mid-seventies, which represented a kind of thawing.

    Which resulted in the greatest loss of the church’s membership on modern times, so apparently the laity didn’t like it.

  • Clavos

    But by and large, I’d think that the distinctions between the mainstream Protestant churches are minimal, so we can group them together…

    You might want to think so, Roger, and that’s your right, but they are nonetheless all Protestant, and all separate religions.

  • Well, it looks like the Vatican grew conservative over the years – long ways from Vatican II, in mid-seventies, which represented a kind of thawing.

    Don’t forget, too, the sex-scandals is an issue that’s already behind. So perhaps the best defense, they figure, is to go on offense,

  • Clavos

    One of the reasons why I reject religion, bliffle.

    Religions have killed far more people in history than madmen and despots have, and at least the madmen and despots are not usually hypocritical about their killing.

  • Well, I’m excluding sects, of course (even the Mormons). But by and large, I’d think that the distinctions between the mainstream Protestant churches are minimal, so we can group them together; but their differences with the Catholic faith is substantial.

    The Religious Right certainly is a composite. The little dogma differences is no obstacle.

  • Clavos

    Exactly why I reject religion, bliffle.

    Religions have killed far more people in history than madmen and despots have.

  • Bliffle

    How sad:

    “…2004 statement by U.S. Catholic bishops declaring that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

    So I conclude that genocide and harboring mass killers is not “…in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” since they are going to make a saint of Pope Pius.

  • Clavos

    Of course they do, Roger, but as you say, they are multiple (and widely varying) “denominations,” not a single religion.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses have virtually nothing in common with Episcopalians, yet they are both “Protestant denominations,” although they are definitely not the same religion.

  • “Catholicism is the largest (by membership) religion, in the US”

    I would regard this fact as misleading; surely all the Protestant denominations in the US must surpass the Catholic membership at least five to one – just a rough guess.

  • Obviously, I meant ex-immigrants, Dave – as distinct from the first, the British wave – the Plymouth guys, if you know what I mean.

  • It just won’t let me post the link to the speech.

  • Clavos

    re #58:

    Should have been “it’s a sizable minority.

  • 3) mostly immigrants – Irish, Italians, etc;

    Just as an aside, we really need to get over this practice of thinking of the Irish and Italians as “immigrants.” The Irish came here more than 150 years ago and the Italian migration was almost 100 years ago.


  • Clavos

    It’s a minority of Catholics, claiming to speak for Catholics as a whole, that generated this teapot tempest.

    A minority, yes, especially in light of the fact that Catholicism is the largest (by membership) religion, in the US, and largest Christian religion in the world.

    Nonetheless, it’s a sizable majority, more than 360,000 American Catholics signed the protest declaration.

  • Clavos

    I just watched the actual speech. It will surprise no one that I thought it was typically masterful, turning the coniroversy itself inside out.

    So did I.

    It was, unsurprisingly, a masterful speech; I expected nothing less, though I don’t see how he “turn[ed] the controversy inside out.”

    A pity his leadership skills don’t measure up to his oratorical skills, but again, not surprising; he’s had very little leadership experience — barely more than a hundred days’ worth.

  • Not even that, Handy. I think it’s the Catholic hierarchy that is raising the stink. As I argued earlier, American Catholics and not that political, nowhere near like the Christian Right.

  • I just watched the actual speech. It will surprise no one that I thought it was typically masterful, turning the coniroversy itself inside out.

    Obama’s presidency is surely about more than abortion law. And as has been pointed out, GW Bush as governor executed a lot of prisoners, snd yet he spoke at Notre Dame, as have most presidents, without this kind of political hissy-fit occurring. [He spoke in May 2001, before the controversial wars that might have added another reason for objections by some Catholics.]

    It’s a minority of Catholics, claiming to speak for Catholics as a whole, that generated this teapot tempest.

  • #41 – Jordan,

    Did they have a say in what that oath entailed? My thinking is much like Lysander Spooner’s in No Treason.

    I see a real overarching problem with both the left and the right–the liberal and the conservative. I’m working on a blog post regarding the many ways this problem appears as far as I see. Both have, the way I see it, an inability to get beyond the authoritarian.

  • #47 Clav – It was a miracle, I tell you! My comment rearranged itself into the proper form–as if helped by an invisible hand.

  • Very good presentation, Clavos.
    I do happen to believe this is a storm in a teacup. My understanding of the majority of Catholic population in America is as follows:
    1) liberal rather than conservative;
    2) less affluent than the Protestants;
    3) mostly immigrants – Irish, Italians, etc;

    I also wouldn’t compare the piety of American Catholics with those who are still in their home country – e.g., Ireland or Italy.

    All this seems to suggest that it’s just a move by the Catholic church hierarchy, of making a stand, because their control over the rank and file has steadily been slipping. In addition, the “pro-choice” position, as I believe you’ve already indicated in one of your comments, is not as offensive to American Catholics as it is to the Christian Right. Again, because of the demographic factors, American Catholics are by and large not a part of the Christian Right and far less politicized as a movement – especially around the “pro-life” issue.

  • Clavos

    One other point, Jordan,

    Abortion is rarely “necessary to treat illness.”

  • Clavos

    Cindy #40:

    Why are you making obeisance to the “editor gods”? They certainly are not worthy of it.

  • Clavos

    If we start allowing doctors to opt out of certain bits and pieces of scientific procedure necessary to treat illnesses, we’re really entering shaky ground.

    Perhaps in Canada they can’t, but here they can and do, routinely, for non-religious reasons.

  • Clavos


    ‘Course, they can deny their child blood transfusions all they like and inflict their beliefs on innocent kiddies all they like, but that’s another matter.

    Sarcasm aside, I defend their right to do so, however, in practice, the law gives the final say to the physician — case in point: my wife has an advance directive which indicates she does not want to be intubated; we have been told, not only by physicians but by our attorney as well, that if the attending physician determines that intubating her will save her life, he has the obligation to do so.

    Similarly, a physician has (and should have) the right to choose what services he will provide; my urologist won’t treat my cardiovascular system or set my broken finger, he’ll send me to a doc who will.

  • Irene,

    There are two additional concerns we address to the attention of our fellow-citizens. On the one hand, we are especially troubled by the fact that a generation of culture warring, reinforced by understandable reactions to religious extremism around the world, is creating a powerful backlash against all religion in public life among many educated people. If this were to harden and become an American equivalent of the long-held European animosity toward religion in the public life, the result would be disastrous for
    the American republic and a severe constriction of liberty for people of all faiths. We therefore warn of the striking intolerance evident among the new atheists, and call on all citizens of goodwill and believers of all faiths and none to join with us in working for a civil public square and the restoration of a tough-minded civility that is in the interests of all.


    As this global public square emerges, we see two equal and opposite errors to
    avoid: coercive secularism on one side, once typified by communism and now by the
    softer but strict French-style secularism; and religious extremism on the other side,
    typified by Islamist violence.

    At the same time, we repudiate the two main positions into which many are now
    falling. On the one hand, we repudiate those who believe their way is the only way and the way for everyone, and are therefore prepared to coerce others. Whatever the faith or ideology in question communism, Islam, or even democracy, this position leads inevitably to conflict.
    Undoubtedly, many people would place all Christians in this category, because of
    the Emperor Constantine and the state-sponsored oppression he inaugurated, leading to the dangerous alliance between church and state continued in European church-state relations down to the present.

    These are interesting points of view. Considering what I see in articles coming out of Blogcritics Magazine, especially as they relate to American life, it is evident that the militant anti-clericalism that has infected and finally crippled Europe, both morally and economically, has reached your shores, mush as did the black plague two centuries ago.

    A pity.

  • Ooooh, looks like the Monster released my other comment too!

  • Clavos, exactly where I’m going. A JW would not finish medical school due to their beliefs and therefore would not be in the position to deny necessary care to a willing patient. ‘Course, they can deny their child blood transfusions all they like and inflict their beliefs on innocent kiddies all they like, but that’s another matter.

    Doctors who, as a result of ethical, moral, or religious standards, will not perform a particular medical task required of them to save the patient’s life or prevent illness are not doing their job. They voluntarily took on the profession as a doctor and, as such, their oath and their dedication of service to the patient trumps their own personal beliefs.

    Should we start the act of divvying up hospitals into Abortion and No Abortion sections? Maybe that’s the extent of ridiculousness required to solve this silliness. But the bottom line is that the patient’s rights must come first, as per the Hippocratic oath. You wouldn’t expect an anti-abortion individual to go work for Planned Parenthood, but there are parts of medicine that transcend religious ground.

    If we start allowing doctors to opt out of certain bits and pieces of scientific procedure necessary to treat illnesses, we’re really entering shaky ground. The whole science vs. evolution thing in schools would be a cakewalk compared to this.

  • Doctors voluntarily enter a profession in which they are at the service of the patient. They voluntarily take an oath of service and swear to uphold that oath, therefore they do not simply get to “do what they want.” Doctors can’t duck out on the icky parts, so why should they be able to do the same with procedures that they morally disagree with?

  • *bows 5 times to the editor god(s)*

  • Clavos

    Jordan, in an attempt to answer your hypothetical dilemma in re blood transfusions, I believe only the Jehovah’s Witnesses are opposed to them. Back in my corporate days, I had a secretary who was a Witness from whom I learned a lot about their tenets. From what she explained to me, I think it highly unlikely that a Jehovah’s Witness would be able to make it through medical school (because of their beliefs), much less obtain a license to practice.

  • I can’t go along with forcing people to do what we think they should do. So far, it hasn’t been a good plan in any way it’s been done that I can think of.

    Now if, as a community, we all participated in the hospital decisions, I would strongly be against having a doctor who refused to perform an abortion on the emergency team.

  • I see the time is in pacific time. It tricked me into thinking you were long gone Irene. I couldn’t tell this conversation was in real time.

  • Irene Wagner

    Ah thanks Cindy. Glad to help πŸ™‚

  • rofl @ Clav!

    Thanks Irene for the file. It was really because you were showing me the state of the thinking in evangelism. It was broad thinking. I wanted to finish it to understand your ideas. Then I lost it.

    Jesus has my heart, as does Ghandi and Tolstoy and MLK. (Mother Teresa, no– not so much, I’m afraid. I read Michael Parenti though, not Hitchens.) But no, I ain’t gettin’ religion. πŸ™‚

    I don’t think anyone should be forced to perform abortions if they are appalled and even if they aren’t. I think women should go where they want and doctors should do what they want.

  • I know this particular issue is about abortion at the moment, but what if it were about blood transfusions? There are many religious individuals who do not “believe in” blood transfusions, yet they obviously save lives and are sometimes the only procedure that can be performed that can save a life.

    How does that refusal to perform the necessary care square with the Hippocratic oath?

    The truth is that it doesn’t square with the oath, IMO. As far as I can tell, the obligation of the doctor is to his or her patient. It is within the patient’s right to refuse any procedure that may help them, but it remains that the “special obligation” of the doctor is to help the patient primarily, not themselves or their particular religious or philosophical persuasion.

    Imagine rushing into a hospital, any hospital, with an emergency situation where an abortion is the only measure that can save a woman’s life. And imagine rushing into a hospital that refuses to perform abortions based upon “moral ground.” It may be a slightly-stretched hypothetical, but I think it begs the question as to where our doctors’ priorities ought to be and where they are when discussions become politicized in this fashion.

    Some might ask “What if a doctor doesn’t want to perform an abortion because of A, B, or C?” And I would have to reply, so what? If abortion is legal and a recognized part of the profession, it is not up to the individual doctors to cherrypick which parts of medicine they choose to perform and which ones they do not.

    IMO, the rights of the patient to have a competent, skilled, prepared physician doing all he or she can to help trumps any religious rights in these cases.

  • LOL @ #28. Clav, you’re incorrigible…

    In my view, Notre Dame got themselves in this pickle in the first place with this silly custom of bestowing honorary degrees. (And yes, I know it’s not just them.) Especially giving one to a serving politician, which is just playing with matches, let’s face it.

    Now they’re Damed if they do and Damed if they don’t. (I can’t believe no-one’s said that yet.) I understand the concern about Obama’s stance on abortion, but there’s also the tiny question of insulting the President of the United States…

  • Irene Wagner

    …To your hypothetical question, Cindy, not Clavos’…

  • Irene Wagner

    I mean I’d say, “yes.”

  • Irene Wagner

    Sacre BLEU, Clavos!

  • Irene Wagner

    Cindy, it’s the .pdf file at the bottom.

    I know you and I disagree on abortion, and I doubt we’re going to see eye-to-eye on that tonight, but what do you think about requiring someone who is appalled by the thought of abortion to perform one? There are women who would go to a practice that did not perform or refer to abortions.

    I suppose you MIGHT say, well, is that worse than not letting a woman who wants an abortion an abortion. And I’d say, “no.” And then you’d say….But I don’t want to put words in your mouth. I can’t stay on much longer tonight to see what you say tonight, but soon…

  • Clavos

    Cindy, your computer is no place to keep contraceptives…

  • Irene Wagner

    Eh, I’ll find it for you. Probably something about the abortion discussion, I’ll bet.

  • Irene Wagner

    Cindy! You’re…you’re not thinking of giving your heart to Jesus are you?

  • Irene, do you happen to have the link to the evangelist manifesto? My computer was overwhelmed by trojans and then with the BC change I forgot where it was.

  • Irene Wagner

    re#2 El B. #2 Maybe you’d have to be a Monstervision fan? Read the link again, or for the first time. Or maybe this logical diagram will help:

    Catholics who opposed Bush’s War but welcome Obama’s Surge in Afghanistan, plans to reverse the Conscience Provision, and his speaking engagement at ND : Catholics who oppose ND’s decision to invite Bush to speak
    :: Atheists who are pro-choice and yet OK with giving Mother Teresa the 1979 Nobel Peace prize, and would’ve been delighted had she come to speak at the Atheist Alliance International Convention, a highly unlikely event given the fact that she’s dead and wouldn’t be caught there even in that condition : Christopher Hitchens, who …meh, google it.

  • Ruvy

    Notre Dame is typical of the watered-down American Catholicism that Clavos describes

    It’s rapidly getting to that point with most “Jewish” schools in the States too.

    Unless there is going to be some nasty actions by the American administration regarding religion, I don’t view all this as more than the typical ass-kissing one sees out of academics eager for a buck….a tempest in a teapot with a cross bubbling over.

  • Baronius

    EB – The Catholic Church teaches that the death penalty can in some cases be morally acceptable, but that abortion is never morally acceptable.

  • Irene, I am not sure what you are trying to say in #2, but since the university awarded death-penalty proponent GW Bush an honorary degree, then they have no defense to not give Obama one other than sheer hypocrisy. Although there would be no surprise in ND resembling a Cafeteria Catholic like so many members of the Church have become.

  • Baronius

    Notre Dame is typical of the watered-down American Catholicism that Clavos describes. Most Catholics don’t perceive it as any different from, say, Ohio State. Georgetown is a similar story. The president recently spoke there, and at his request the university covered up all religious symbols in the hall.

    Why would Obama’s team ask for that? I don’t know. Why would the school comply? Are they positioning themselves, as Irene suggests? I don’t think so. I just don’t think it occurs to them that they’re supposed to be witnesses for Christ.

    The current pope has talked quite a bit about the Church risking its popularity, and its numbers, in a stand against the culture. John Paul was a cuddly guy whom people could love without agreeing with him. Benedict is an academic who doesn’t shy away from controntation.

  • Baronius

    Irene – No offense taken, at all. I don’t even see why I would take offense.

    Clavos – Ditto. I appreciate the quality and neutrality of your article. That’s part of the reason I highlighted the difference between opinion and analysis: however either of us view the Catholic Church, it doesn’t affect our assessment of the current controversy.

    I’ve got a little more to say, but I want to make sure I post this comment right away so I can score the magic #20 slot. Eternal fame! The comment that everyone will see!

  • Irene Wagner

    I’m not throwing away my door hangers Clavos πŸ™‚ See ya!

  • Clavos

    Forcing health care workers to perform abortions or give up their licenses and jobs is a horse of a different color.

    The Church will simply stop offering those services in their owned facilities, as it did when the government declared they would have to allow adoptions by gays. Catholics working in non-denominational or government facilities will, of course, still be in jeopardy.

    I personally am opposed to the government getting involved in what amount to personal decisions on any level, including those you mention, as well as such issues as what people do in their bedrooms or how they educate their children.

    But, the PC do-gooders are in charge now, so I suppose we’ll be seeing a lot more government interference in the future.

  • Clavos

    There’s never been any reason before to make a distinction between Catholic School and the Catholic church. That’s why Catholic parents send their kids there.

    Many parents send their kids to Catholic schools for the religious exposure, to be sure. But most Catholic schools’ enrollment is as much as half non-Catholic, because they are generally very superior to public schools, and non-Catholic students are exempted from religion classes.

    That was true in my day, and continues to be true today.

  • Irene Wagner

    No, Clavos, Notre Dame’s decision DOES surprise me. Celibacy and genders issue have to do with considerations of the contributions various kinds of people (women, men with children) can make to the Catholic community (and those contributions are most certaintly NOT limited to the priesthood.)

    Forcing health care workers to perform abortions or give up their licenses and jobs is a horse of a different color.

  • Clavos

    LOL, Jordan.

    Actually, it’s pronounced Coot-ee-ay.

  • Irene Wagner

    And Baronius, that wasn’t intended to be a slam at the Catholic church in general. It was a slam at the schools. There’s never been any reason before to make a distinction between Catholic School and the Catholic church. That’s why Catholic parents send their kids there.

  • Jordan Richardson

    the rule of celibacy (a hot topic in South Florida right now, because of Fr. Cutier)

    C’mon. You made that up, Clavos. πŸ˜‰

  • Clavos

    Notre Dame’s action does surprise me.

    What’s going on? Is the American Catholic elite trying to “build bridges” with Obama to get some sort of mitigation for aforementioned health care workers?

    It shouldn’t surprise you, Irene. American Catholics have been at odds with the Vatican for several decades now; the Americans have consistently been more progressive than the Vatican, and there have been strong disagreements before. American Catholics, for example, have long dissented regarding women as priests, and the rule of celibacy (a hot topic in South Florida right now, because of Fr. Cutier), and of course, there’s the issue of Liberation Theology, another American idea.

  • Irene Wagner

    And Baronius, there’s nothing in that comment that was intended to insult you or the Catholic church. This isn’t the first time an American Catholic university has thumbed its nose at the people who put together its endowment. Ask anyone who’s gone to Catholic school. There hasn’t been much of a distinction in people’s minds between “Catholic church” and “Catholic school.” There shouldn’t have needed to have been.

  • Clavos

    I understand your point, Baronius, but I deliberately expressed no opinion in the article as to the dichotomy between belief and non-belief — it has no relevance to the subject of the article, which is why I asked you the question.

    As to the analysis issue: again, I didn’t “analyze” the controversy, I simply reported the various aspects of it. You may be right, it may well be the start of something big within the ranks of Catholics, but it’s of limited concern for the country, especially in light of the fact that Catholics seem to mirror the opinions of the non-Catholic population, according to the Quinnipiac poll.

  • Irene Wagner

    Well, Obama’s move doesn’t surprise me at all Clavos –especially since he’s rescinding a law put into place in the very last days of Bush’s presidency. Notre Dame’s action does surprise me.

    What’s going on? Is the American Catholic elite trying to “build bridges” with Obama to get some sort of mitigation for aforementioned health care workers? From the sounds of Baronius’ comment, no.

    I know from the experience I’ve had watching my own church, that there are roads the government and church travel arm-in-arm, roads that make a WIDE detour around heaven.

  • Baronius

    Clavos, we disagree on matters of faith. I’m a devout Catholic, as I think you’re aware. That’d be the “opinion” part (although I didn’t intend to describe faith that way). The “analysis” part is that I see this controversy as the beginning of something big.

  • Clavos

    Good point about the Provider Conscience Law, Irene. If it is rescinded, we will not only lose health care workers, we’ll also lose entire health care organizations because of it.

    I think it’s unconscionable that the government has no problem with forcing people to betray their consciences and religious beliefs, but I’m not surprised that the current administration would attempt to do so.

  • Clavos

    With what opinion of mine do you not agree, Baronius?

    For that matter, what analysis of mine do you dispute?

  • Irene Wagner

    I didn’t mean to be so flippant.

    There are health care workers — and many of them are Catholic– who would be horrified to do harm to a human being in utero. This February, the Obama administration announced it intended to rescind the Provider Conscience Law which protects the right of workers to refuse involvement in abortions and other procedures they may object to on moral or religious grounds.

    The objections of some Catholic health care workers to Notre Dame’s decision to invite the president to speak are a reaction to what must feel like a kick in the stomach.

  • Baronius

    What’s that? A discussion of religion on the BC boards? I wonder if Baronius will stop by.

    You can guess that my opinion is different from Clavos’. My analysis is different as well. I see tensions building toward a fight. We have a Catholic VP and Speaker of the House publicly disputing the Church’s pro-life stance, even disputing that the Church is opposed to abortion. Numerous bishops are refusing to give communion to leading pro-choice Democrats. The Vatican has turned down each of President Obama’s picks for Ambassador. Secretary Sibelius’ bishop even protested her nomination to HHS.

    My bet is, something big is going to happen in the next year or so that will affect the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party.

  • Irene Wagner

    Would you expect Christopher Hitchens to approve if Mother Teresa were asked to give the keynote address at a Atheist Alliance International Convention.

    There’d be some atheists who’d probably consiser it an honor, and then there’d be Christopher Hitchens. So there you go.

  • Have they awarded degrees to graduates who are pro-choice? If so (and quite likely in my opinion), these protests are just more phony political grandstanding, which may be an oxymoron.