Trump vs Pope

Just wanted to get this out there – the Pope did not say we can’t build a wall…he just said, correctly, that if all you’re about is building a wall, you’re doing it wrong.

It must be kept in mind that the Catholic Church is neither left nor right – it can’t be. The Church, being universal, contains all…a deep concern with the poor as well as a deep concern that people be allowed to hold their own property. And it goes on and on like that on the issues.

Trump, however, decided to lash out – stupidly. Oh, I’m sure it will delight that element of the American population which retains an anti-Catholic animus, but the bottom line is that the Pope did nothing to Trump…just pointed out that if all Trump is about is building a wall (and for a lot of his supporters, that is all Trump is about), then Trump is flat wrong…and I’ve held that position for nearly 9 years now. Border security is a must – but there must also be accommodation for those who are here and for those who wish to come here. People can disagree endlessly about this, but getting in a fight with the Pope for being Catholic is absurd.

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Out and About on a Sunday

Sources say female troops were given special treatment to pass Ranger School. The thing is no enemy of the United States is going to cut us any slack. Any woman who wants to be in a combat unit should have to meet the exact same standards as the men – and no lowering of standards. In fact, I’d like to see the standards raised for all military services – perhaps even a smaller overall Army and Marines, but each soldier and Marine trained up to Special Forces quality. 250,000 such soldiers and Marines could make mincemeat of most global military forces.

Bill Clinton has identified the culprit in the Hillary e mail scandal: the Republicans.

Trump is claiming that his GOP rivals want to start World War Three over Syria. This is an exaggeration, of course – but that is Trump in a nutshell. But it must be kept in mind that unless we decide we want to back the Assad regime (and there is a case to be made for this – I’d set our price at the removal of Hezbollah from Lebanon), there is a risk of war with Iran and Russia, who are backing Assad (so, if we decide to fight Assad, they might decide to fight us). Careful thought is necessary in the Syrian mine field.

Hey, fellow Conservatives, just because it is a defense program doesn’t mean it isn’t a boondoggle. I’m pretty sure that about 1 in 3 dollars spent by Uncle Sam is waste, fraud or abuse. And that goes for military spending, as well. British Admiral Jacky Fisher in the early 20th century managed to reduce Naval spending while also providing Britain with a vastly more powerful Navy – big spending doesn’t necessarily translate into a strong military. I bet we can actually cut defense spending and get a more powerful military – and as we set about trying to get rid of regressive, anti-human social spending, we’ll need to find some military cuts so that our proposed reforms don’t come out as “cut welfare and spend on military”. Politics is an art – and you’ve got to play the game to win.

Corporations are selling each other corporate bonds in order to buy back their own stocks. I’m sure this will end well…

A lot of my fellow conservatives have taken strong issue with some statements by Pope Francis. Well, here’s something he said which will make you happy:

In this place which is symbolic of the American way, I would like to reflect with you on the right to religious freedom. It is a fundamental right which shapes the way we interact socially and personally with our neighbors whose religious views differ from our own. Religious freedom certainly means the right to worship God, individually and in community, as our consciences dictate. But religious liberty, by its nature, transcends places of worship and the private sphere of individuals and families.

In other words, liberals, religious liberty means we’re allowed to act upon our religious beliefs even in the public square.

Pope Francis Open Thread

He does seem to be the subject of conversation, doesn’t he?

First off, Hillary is thrilled that the Pope is in town – it was the perfect time for her to announce her opposition to the Keystone pipeline. Document Dumps – they are a Clinton specialty.

Bernie Sanders is going to join a group of DC workers out on strike while the Pope is in town.

Democrats celebrate the arrival of the head of the Catholic Church in classic Democrat style – blocking a ban on late-term abortions.

Meanwhile, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz will join in various events surrounding the Papal visit.

Arguably the smartest man in the United States, Thomas Sowell, has a critique of Pope Francis:

…As distinguished economic historian David S. Landes put it, “The world has never been a level playing field.” But which has a better track record of helping the less fortunate — fighting for a bigger slice of the economic pie, or producing a bigger pie?

In 1900, only 3 percent of American homes had electric lights but more than 99 percent had them before the end of the century. Infant mortality rates were 165 per thousand in 1900 and 7 per thousand by 1997. By 2001, most Americans living below the official poverty line had central air conditioning, a motor vehicle, cable television with multiple TV sets, and other amenities.

A scholar specializing in the study of Latin America said that the official poverty level in the United States is the upper middle class in Mexico. The much criticized market economy of the United States has done far more for the poor than the ideology of the left.

Pope Francis’ own native Argentina was once among the leading economies of the world, before it was ruined by the kind of ideological notions he is now promoting around the world.

If you’re going to criticize the Pope, at least do it with the grace, wisdom and deep, historical knowledge of Thomas Sowell. That said, I will point out that George Soros is a capitalist. But even laying aside people like Soros (who pile up the cash while claiming to be for social justice), we do need to look at the whole picture, as I’m sure Mr. Sowell would agree. It is good that America’s poor are relatively rich, compared to past measures and, indeed, in comparison with the poor in other nations. But tens of millions of them don’t work: they live on government hand-outs. It is financially “good” that we can use sweated Chinese labor to produce I-crap so cheap that we can afford to give it to our poor…but I don’t believe this is morally good for our poor, the Chinese workers or any of us. We can do better, folks – and that is all Pope Francis is really saying on matters economic.

It isn’t just me – there are other conservative voices in favor of the Pope:

…Pope Francis has also drawn our attention to issues such as income inequality, the plight of immigrants, or the degradation of the environment. At times, he has gotten quite specific. But here is the clincher that people just don’t seem to get. When it comes to how to tackle these complex and difficult topics, the church steps back and leaves it to policymakers to debate and discuss. Even more important, Pope Francis, true to his Jesuit roots, is inviting debate, disagreement and — what was the word? — differences. Difference of opinion on these issues, termed by the church as prudential policy matters, is welcomed by the church and considered healthy and important by Pope Francis. Even when it means disagreeing with the pope…

The Pope will be driven around in a little Fiat. I think every aspirant to the White House should be asked why he or she should be driven around in anything upscale from that.

Laudato Si: My Take On It

As a Catholic, first and foremost I urge everyone to actually read what is written – do not trust MSM summaries of it and don’t take the word of those who have a particular axe to grind. Read it yourself – decide for yourself what it all means. Encyclicals are meant to be read; prayerfully and with mercy and charity. But, also as a Catholic, permit me to speak a bit about it. Here are just a few bits I’ve looked over so far.

The first thing which caught my eye is this:

Pope Benedict asked us to recognize that the natural environment has been gravely damaged by our irresponsible behaviour. The social environment has also suffered damage. Both are ultimately due to the same evil: the notion that there are no indisputable truths to guide our lives, and hence human freedom is limitless.

This is an important thing to say – we are not actually entirely free agents. Our freedom granted by God can only be properly used when we are voluntarily choosing to do what is right. It is true that we can choose evil – that is built into our free will…but when someone chooses to do wrong, that is not an act of freedom. It is, actually, an act of self-slavery – someone riveting chains of servitude upon himself. There are indisputable truths to guide our conduct and we ignore this at our extreme peril.

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Memo to Conservatives: Don’t Trust the MSM on Pope Francis Quotes

A couple days ago, a lot of conservatives got really ticked off at Pope Francis over an alleged quote calling PA leader Abbas an “angel of peace”. Looks like it wasn’t quite like that – via Stephen Kruiser over at PJ Media:

As is tradition with heads of State or of government, Francis presented presented a gift to the Palestinian leader, commenting: “May the angel of peace destroy the evil spirit of war. I thought of you: may you be an angel of peace.”

As Kruiser points out, exhorting someone to be an angel of peace is not exactly the same as calling them an angel of peace. Kruiser further notes the puzzling fact that many on the right – who wouldn’t trust the MSM on anything – blithely swallow whatever the MSM is putting out about the Pope…as if the MSM actually likes the Pope and would actually do him a favor!

Keep in mind regarding Vatican dealings with the PA that there is a small and highly oppressed Christian minority in the West Bank and no one in the world – other than the Vatican – cares about them. In order to secure any sort of peace and justice for this minority, the Vatican has to work with the PA…and this means walking a very, very fine line. You can complain about it all you want, but until someone with power steps forth to protect the Christians of the West Bank, that is the way it will be.

Anyone thinking that Pope Francis is the “commie Pope” just doesn’t understand Pope Francis or the Catholic Church. Kruiser further points out to anyone thinking that Pope Francis is a liberal should note that a very early act of Francis was to defrock and excommunicate a priest who was in favor of gay marriage and female ordination. For those of you who aren’t Catholic, I’ll make something very clear – the Pope cannot unilaterally change doctrine. Pope Francis will not proclaim same-sex marriage, nor modification of the pro-life message, nor female ordination. It just won’t happen. Ever.

For those hung up on Francis’ condemnations of consumerism and capitalism: lump it. The Church has always condemned capitalism and consumerism. It didn’t like it when the Liberals of the Manchester School were using it to grind up the workers of Britain any more than it likes it today. It never will like it – because profit, as a thing, must never be the prime motivation of economic activity. All actions, to be moral, must have as their motive the betterment of humanity. If you can make a profit while doing that, knock yourself out…but if profits start to come before the needs of men and women, then you’re doing it wrong. How we decide to balance the needs of humanity with the needs of profit in work is a prudential judgement – the Church makes no commands about how you do it, other than you must not lie, cheat, steal, poison the environment or screw over your workers while doing it.

End of rant – and may everyone have a blessed Sunday!

Yes, There are Limits

There’s been a lot of back and forth on this since the Charlie Hebdo attack, and now Pope Francis has chimed in:

Pope Francis suggested there are limits to freedom of expression, saying in response to the Charlie Hebdo terror attack that “one cannot make fun of faith” and that anyone who throws insults can expect a “punch.”

The pontiff said that both freedom of faith and freedom of speech were fundamental human rights and that “every religion has its dignity.”

“One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith,” he said. “There is a limit. Every religion has its dignity … in freedom of expression there are limits.”

The pope was speaking to reporters on a plane as he flew from Sri Lanka to the Philippines on his tour of Asia…

Over at Ace, they are little disappointed about this. Allahpundit is also not too pleased. I’ve seen over the past week plenty of comments from conservative and libertarian people who are really not thinking this thing through. To be sure, there is the understandable desire to defend against Islamists who, after all, will kill us no matter what we do – but just because we’re dealing with people like that doesn’t mean we have no responsibility for our own actions. Too many people are getting themselves into the position that unless we applaud the most vile expressions, we are letting the terrorists win. There’s a word for that – but I won’t use it, because it is vulgar and might cause offense…and because I’m someone making failing, weak efforts at being a Christian gentleman, I try not to be offensive.

I’m five feet, seven inches tall. I weigh about 175 pounds. I’m not exactly of the body-builder sort. Now, suppose I had a neighbor who is six feet, six inches tall; weighs about 280 and bench presses cars. I take a dislike to this neighbor because he’s a jerk – and I express my views about him by drawing insulting pictures of him and posting them on a board out in front of my house. Now, to be sure, my gigantic neighbor – who is a jerk, as I said – should still take my insults in stride. There is no actual justification for him to pound me into a pulp because I drew unflattering pictures of him. On the other hand, if I did get pounded into a pulp, how many of you would be thinking – at least – that I shouldn’t have been writing checks my body can’t cash? Even if you called the police to have the man arrested and were willing to testify against him in court because, still, he shouldn’t have pounded me, wouldn’t any reasonable person say that I had played a role in bringing on the pounding? There are plenty of ways I can deal with a jerk – including if really pressed to it, fighting. But if I’m going to fight, then I’d better be ready to fight. If I’m not prepared to actually fight, then maybe I should seek other means of redress? Thinking is a very important part of deciding what to do.

In our definition of free speech there is no license to print whatever you want. You might have heard the word “libel” from time to time. Also, the famous “you can’t shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theater” exception is well known. Even in good, old, First Amendment USA, there is no absolute right to say what one pleases. We have these reasonable restrictions on free speech because they are, well, reasonable. Of course, this still allows a very wide latitude for people to write things – and in the United States, we tend to have the widest latitude in the world. And this is a good thing – a thing I would die in the last ditch to defend. There was nothing legally wrong in what Charlie Hebdo printed. No reasonable person in the United States – or even in France, for that matter – would want Charlie Hebdo shut down over the offensive cartoons. Furthermore, no reasonable person would assert a right of the offended party to do violence against Charlie Hebdo for their offensive cartoons. There is no justification for what happened – and if it had happened in the United States and the perpetrators were caught and brought to trial, I would be only too pleased to pronounce a guilty verdict against them in court…nor would I shed tears if the perpetrators wound up killed by the police, as the French perpetrators ultimately did. But with all those caveats, I still have to say – as unpopular as it might be – that Charlie Hedbo did play a role in bringing on the attack. And they played that role without having made any provision for repelling an attack. I’m guessing because they never imagined that there would be such an attack – or, perhaps, they thought that the French government, which has been slack as all European governments, would protect them?

Choose your battles: that is an old saw; but none the less wise for having been used often. People who have read my stuff over the years know that I’m on board with fighting Islamist terrorists. In fact, I’m in favor of much more vigorous war than we’re doing – and even much more vigorous war than President Bush engaged in. I’m incensed on a regular basis at the crimes of the Islamists – especially, these days, the horrific massacres of Christians. I’d like us to really take the fight to the enemy. But I’m not going to sit here and just write nasty things about Muslims and think I’m doing something against Islamist terrorism. It might make a person feel good – though I really can’t imagine why – to do such things, but I don’t see any point in it. All it does is take our eye off the ball and, additionally, provide additional recruiting tools for the very people we want destroyed. We are, indeed, supposed to be better than the enemy – true, we should be physically stronger and better able to apply force against them, but we should also be more just, more merciful and more respectful of their innate, human dignity. Better. You see?

We’re doing it all wrong, in my view. Obama and the liberals are wrong in that they believe that Muslims are the offended party and if we’ll just show forbearance, they’ll quit. Plenty of conservatives are wrong in that they believe if we just give brag and insult and drop bombs, they’ll quit. Other people are a combination of these things. Me? I want to win the war. I want Islamism destroyed. To do that will take intelligence, foresight, courage and a fine and sensitive touch with the great mass of the Muslim people.

Of course, our real handicap is that far too many people in the West – and probably a majority; especially in Europe – don’t really believe in anything. They don’t believe in honesty. Don’t believe in decency. Don’t believe in self-sacrifice. All they want is their creature comforts and a life free from responsibility – and they’ll bury their heads as deep in the sand as necessary to live like that. We’re easy pickings for people like the Islamists – I am the person entirely unsurprised when Western people volunteer to join them. People, if they are not utterly craven, want to believe. We in the West offer nothing to believe in – just more gadgets and more moral disintegration. Those in the West who do have good beliefs are ridiculed, and absurdly compared to the terrorists, as well. A kid who has been taught to believe in nothing worthy – who, indeed, has been told that worthy beliefs are flat out wrong – and who has been fed a steady diet of nonsense is especially prone to fall for the first charlatan who comes along.

The Islamists offer something to believe in, and a lot of people go for it – and that we know it is stupid and destructive doesn’t alter our position or our peril. The Islamists are not the first people to sucker large numbers into doing evil, while thinking they are doing good. Ultimately, we won’t win this war unless we start to believe in something superior to the Islamists. We’d better figure out real quick who we are and what we believe. Defending a vulgar, little paper like Charlie Hebdo won’t do the trick – in fact, it is our celebration of such that is at the heart of our problem. It is a sign of strength if we tolerate such things in our midst, it is suicide if we praise such things…and while a collection of liberals apparently had a long held feeling of hate towards Charlie Hedbo, that was more a function of cowardice than a desire for standards of decency…we know this because the only thing liberals didn’t like about Charlie Hedbo was that it insulted Islam. This is just a species of “please cut my throat last” cowardice. If we were a people who condemned Charlie Hebdo for all its insults – you know, including the insults against Jews and Christians – while never making a move to suppress it, then we would be morally healthy, and better able to fight and win against Islamists. But that would also be a people who condemned 80%+ of what is in popular culture these days.

I’m getting a little long in the tooth at age 50. No one in their right mind is going to place me on the battlefield – but I assure one and all that I am ready to defend Judeo-Christian, Western civilization. I’m not so willing to die to defend the right of adolescent jerks to insult people. Do you see the difference? I’ll fight and die for “We hold these truths to be self evident…” and “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth…”, but I’m not really pleased at the thought of dying so that the next vulgar little reality series can be broadcast on television. In fact, no one is willing to die for that. The Islamists have their dogmas they are willing to fight and die for – what dogmas are we willing to fight and die for? And if we do have some people believing in dogmas worth fighting for, are there enough of them?

Ultimately, there are limits – because there have to be. The limits are necessary for us to have civilization. You can’t have it all. You can either hold to rigid standards of conduct or you can be destroyed by people who hold to rigid standards of conduct. Those are your choices, boiled down. Among the rigid standards of conduct in our civilization is a cautious courtesy of speech – an unwillingness to cause needless offense. Gracious, there are enough things to offend us all just in day to day living – we don’t need to add to it. Yes, at times we must take the course of King St. Louis – when someone is insanely persistent in demanding death and destruction, we must drive a sword through him as far as it will go. But good King St. Louis also would never have dreamed of just insulting people for the fun of it – and he was a Crusader, my friends; a more devoted enemy of Islamic aggression you will not find in the annals of history.

I really do love this country of ours – warts and all. I really do think that in secular terms, we offer the best that humanity has to offer. I do think our nation worth defending. But it is worth defending only if we live up to the standards upon which it was founded. Look through the Declaration and the Constitution and you’ll see it shot through from start to finish with decency. Even when Jefferson condemned George III before the bar of history, he didn’t offer insult. No one reading that sublime document could conclude other than that the king was in the wrong, and right and justice were on our side. Jefferson offered truth, well written to appeal to the better angels of human nature. Contrast it to the cowardly tripe of modern liberals, or the school-yard insults hurled by some. We’re better than that. At all events, we had better be better – because if we aren’t better than the enemy, we won’t beat him.