Sunday, August 21, 2005


Stephen Hand's Dick Durbinesque Definition of Torture

I am sure you all painfully remember this embarrassingly seditious remark from Senator Dick Durbin regarding "torture" of prisoners at Club Gitmo (aka Guantanamo Bay, Cuba):

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold....On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

Well, taking his cue from the Illinois Democrap, Stephen Hand says the following in the Musings (Oozings is more like it because this statement, like much of what he says is a real infected pus rocket) section on his website:

The Return of Torture

A society which allows the courts to dictate that the disabled may be dehydrated and starved to death or otherwise euthanized may not have to wait too very long before torture is openly fair game again. As in the days of ancient Rome... With the United States shipping prisoners to countries which specialize in the atrocity of torture (how's that for legalistic hypocrisy?), with people like Alan Dershowitz running around from television camera to television camera asking that writs of torture be made legal and respectable again, and with the light flashed unexpectedly onto Gitmo and Abu Ghraib as it was... Are we really any better than Saddam when we hide civilian deaths and kill in the name of freedom and compassion?
Pray for the victims of torture all over the world. Death is a far easier fate.

For starters, the same element in society that has been able to "dictate that the disabled may be dehydrated and starved to death or otherwise euthanized" are the same ones who are spewing the same seditious drivel that Stephen is in the interests of "peace." While I believe that President Bush, his brother Jeb, and the Republicans in congress did not do all that they could have to spare Terri Schiavo's life, they weren't adamant in supporting her court-ordered starvation like many of Stephen's anti-war buddies were.

Yes, Stephen, we ARE better than Saddam. In fact, although we are not perfect by any means, but we are a lot better than Saddam. The fact that you would even pose such a rhetorical question shows how badly your anti-Americanism has warped your mind. (I know, I know, you're not anti-American. Yeah, and O.J. is still looking for the real killers)

I would like to know how many people had their tongues ripped out in Abu Ghraib under American control? How many children were raped and murdered in front of their parents by American soldiers? All of this happened routinely under Saddam. In fact, I don't think anyone died at the hands of Americans at Abu Ghraib. The abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib by a few renegade American soldiers, which was embarrassing and grotesque, was NOT sanctioned by the Bush Administration or the Rumsfeld Defense Department. In fact, it was quickly halted when it was discovered and those responsible were punished for what they did.

Only a bigot with nothing but hatred in his heart for the country that, while not perfect by any means, has given him so much could compare putting women's panties on the heads of terrorists and making them pig pile while naked to ripping tongues out of people while still alive and raping and murdering children in front of their parents.

As far as Club Gitmo is concerned, the prisoners are treated unreasonably well there. That is why Rush Limbaugh appropriately calls it Club Gitmo. Special care is taken in the way the religious rights of prisoners are respected that include calls to prayer over loudspeakers five times a day, as per Islamic law, handling of Korans according to Islamic customs (Does anyone dispute the fact that the religious sensitivities of Americans would not be respected if the tables were turned?), and culturally-sensitive foods that include orange-glazed Chicken, fresh fruit roupee, steamed peas and mushrooms, and rice pilaf. I can almost gaurantee that the prisoners are eating much better than the troops that are guarding them.

Of course, no detainee has died at Club Gitmo. I will bet that if there is a death at Club Gitmo, it will be from hardening of the arteries from all the rich food the prisoners are eating, not torture. Many prisoners have gained weight while in detention at Club Gitmo. I can just see it now: the ACLU (Anti-American Criminally Leftist Union) will file lawsuits holding the Bush Administration and Pentagon responsible for prisoners' problems with obesity. And I'm sure Mr. Hand will be more than happy to place his skills as an attorney (or paralegal, or whatever the hell his legal background is) at the service of the ACLU in helping write the legal briefs.

What Stephen continues to overlook here is the fact that those detained at Club Gitmo are TERRORISTS!!! And these TERRORISTS would not hesitate in cutting an innocent American's head off, including Mr. Hand's, if given the chance. It seems that Stephen is not at all alarmed at the prospect of having his head cut off. This is entirely understandable. Given the thinking manifested in his insane rantings over the last couple of years, I wouldn't want his head on my shoulders either.

Friday, August 19, 2005


The A-Bomb Drops on Japan: Is There Room In the Catholic Conscience to Support Truman's Decision?

The 60th anniversary of the atomic bomb drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and V-J Day marking the end of World War II came and went. And again, the impression painted by certain popular Catholic aplogists is that there is no way that the bomb drops can be justified in light of Catholic moral principles.

Is this assessment correct? Or is there a legitimate diversity of opinion as to whether or not Truman acted within the parameters of Catholic moral teaching regarding conduct in war (ius in bello)?

Well, if a Catholic can in no way approve of the bombings, then why did Pope Pius XII never unequivocally condemn the bombings in any fashion, much less with a magisterial voice? It would have been his pastoral duty to do so when we consider that fact that many American Catholics (as well as many Catholics in other allied countries) believed Truman was morally justified in doing what he did. When I did a Google search for any statements of Pius XII and asked those making the claim that Pius XII did in fact condemn the bombings to provide some proof and the best we were able to come up with were secondary sources that are way too ambiguous to add up to a condemnation such as the New York Times' front page of 8 August 1945 headlines: "Vatican Deplores Use of Atom Bomb" and a 1946 l'Osservatore Romano editorial that states:

"While we repeat the condemnation, the unavoidable condemnation, of this ordnance ofdeath... we cannot however forget how this was nothing but the finalendpoint of so many horrors, far too prolonged, which had brought theallied forces to propel themselves in the just enterprise ofdestroying the forces of evil."

Heck, JPII was more harsh in his opposition to the death penalty. And a Catholic is free to disagree with the Holy Father on the death penalty, as Cardinal Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) made clear in an official CDF comm unique to the USCCB last year.

When one looks at the statements above in the overall context of how the political Vaticanese toward war issues had developed over at least the last fifty years prior to the time of Pius XII (especially during the time of Benedict XV), you will see that are relatively mild in their tone. Again, the tone of Vatican officials toward the Iraq war was more "condemning" and Catholics are free to disagree on whether or not the conditions justified the U.S. led invasion.

Imagine if Truman had a private audience with Pope Pius XII to seek his moral guidance on the matter before making his decision. I know that secrecy and security concerns would made such a meeting impossible, but work with me here.

Truman lays the matter before the Holy Father thus, "Your Holiness, I am faced with a extremely difficult decision. To end this dreadful war with Japan, I have to decide between an invasion of the mainland or drop a couple of atomic bombs on mainland military targets. The former will cost in upwards of over one million American troops casualties, deaths accounting for almost half of those along with about three times that amount of Japanese casualties and deaths, most of those being civilians. We also have good reason to believe that Japanese civilians, including women and children, are being trained and encouraged to fight invading troops with everything from small arms to sharpened bamboo sticks. Although the thought of using an atomic weapon saddens me greatly and will cost about 100,000 to 200,000 deaths, most of them being civilians, it seems to be the least destructive of options that I have available to me. Your thoughts, Holy Father." Pius would respond with something like this," I would beg of you, Mr. President, to please find some other way. But given the scenario you have presented, and it is within your, not my, competence to evaluate what the least catastrophic course of action to take, I cannot, in my official capacity as Supreme Pontiff, condemn such action as being intrinsically evil because it seems clear that such action could be {1} justifiable under the principle of double effect ."

CCC 2314 and Gaudium et Spes #80 are not damning evidence making the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings intrinsically evil. Note what they both actually say: "Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation. (Emphasis Added)" As the bold italics suggests, "indiscriminate" is the operative word. The U.S. atom bomb drops were not indiscriminate destruction of cities. They were ostensible military targets, as the decision making process in favor of the bomb drops over an invasion make clear. Truman's diary entry of July 25, 1945 also makes this clear:

"This weapon is to be used against Japan between now and August 10th. I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson to use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the world for the common welfare cannot drop this terrible bomb on the old Capitol or the new."

Nor do the use of nukes, in and of themselves, make the bomb drops intrinsically evil. John Paul II acknowledged the moral licitness of nuclear weapons build-up as a means of deterrence. Now, if it is licit to have nukes as a means of deterrence, it is, by default, also licit to actually use them, should circumstances require it. And it is my contention that the bomb drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki constituted such licit use viz. the circumstance.

However, I acknowledge that a Catholic can believe otherwise, that such action was not justifiable. But it is the responsibility of Catholics who engage in apologetics, especially those who have far-reaching influence and those who are ordained pastors of souls to not present their opinions, legitimate though they may be, as though they bind the Catholic conscience when they in fact do not.

Regardless of what side of the opinion divide we find ourselves on regarding this issue, we can stand together in gratitude to Almighty God in His goodness that he used this fateful event to restore Japan to its proper place among the family of nations.

{1} Update 8/29/05- I have changed the wording here because the previouswording I used gave the impression that I was implying that Pius XII would have given blanket approval to Truman's decision. This, of course, would be inaccurate and was not what I intended to convey. GAM

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Pseudo-peacemakers, The Real War Mongers

Isn't it ironic that those who incessantly wail about giving peace a chance every time this country takes up arms to protect itself promote policies of appeasement that always lead to bigger and bloodier wars.

The anti war crowd is also violent both in their rhetoric and in their actions.

So much for "Blessed are the peacemakers."

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Victor Davis Hanson On the 60th Anniversary of the A-Bommb Drops on Japan

Leave it to VDH to put the smackdown on the revisionist historians and hand wringers.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


The Catholic Church: Mother, Teacher...and Student

“THE Catholic Church has been established by Jesus Christ as MOTHER AND TEACHER of nations, so that all who in the course of centuries come to her loving embrace, may find salvation as well as the fullness of a more excellent life. To this Church, "the pillar and mainstay of the truth," her most holy Founder has entrusted the double task of begetting sons unto herself, and of educating and governing those whom she begets, guiding with maternal providence the life both of individuals and of peoples. The lofty dignity of this life, she has always held in the highest respect and guarded with watchful care.”

This introduction to the 1961 encyclical letter Mater et Magistra of Pope John XXIII beautifully states, in capsule form, the maternal solicitude of the Church’s teaching authority.

This “ salvation as well as the fullness of a more excellent life “, found in the bosom of Holy Mother Church, is not merely an abstract theory, but a most concrete reality that involves every aspect of human life.

By unceasingly nurturing her children with the light of divine revelation, the Church enables them to make use those things that are understandable. This is most strikingly evident in her contributions to the philosophical and scientific disciplines. For instance, the theological thought of such great thinkers as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas have illustrated that the disciplines of philosophy and psychology have as their end something of real meaning, vice play toys of speculation and relativism.

Likewise, in the physical sciences, the idea of the heliocentric nature of our solar system (That of the solar system revolving around the sun.), first advanced by the Polish Catholic Nicholaus Copernicus in the sixteenth century, has undoubtedly been indispensable in advent of aerospace technology, not to mention the advancement of astronomy as a whole. Our ability to understand, and consequently control, the devastating mechanisms of disease would not have been possible without the pioneering work of the French Catholic chemist Louis Pasteur in the field of bacteriology.

Both Copernicus and Pasteur attributed their gift of scientific knowledge to their Catholic faith. In a letter to his children, Pasteur expressed the dependence of his knowledge on his faith this way: “The more I know, the more nearly is my faith that of a Breton peasant. Could I but know all I would have the faith of a Breton peasant woman. “

We also owe much of our advances in agriculture to the monks. They were able to devise ways to clear land that had been hitherto inaccessible by clearing forests to build roads, building bridges over rivers, and turning desert land into farmland and gardens through their cultivation efforts.

The monks also preserved the texts of ancient literature throughout the Dark Ages. They copied by hand not only the Scriptures, but ancient philosophical and other literary texts as well. In their contemplation of the truth and beauty of God’s revelation, they were able to see its manifestation in the tangible created world and that preserving it was worth the great effort and sacrifice they undertook.

Attentiveness to what her children say and do is a hallmark characteristic of any good mother. She not only lovingly corrects them when they err, she also learns from their discoveries and is fortified by their virtue. The same is true for Holy Mother Church. In fact, this is a major catalyst for the development of her doctrine and her growth in holiness. In recognition for their contributions and to serve as a means of inspiration for succeeding generations, the Church canonizes some of her children as saints, and in real special cases, doctors of the Church.

Here we see the Catholic Church not only as mother and teacher, but also as student. It is here we see that the infallibility the Church existing not only in her proclamation of the truth, but in the recognition of it as well.

With confidence that no truth exists anywhere that evades the ownership of her Lord, the Church can also recognize the truth even when it exists outside of her formal boundaries.

We see this with St. Paul, who in Acts 17:22&23 uses the altar of the unknown god in Athens as a vehicle to begin to preach Christ Jesus:

Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.

Following St. Paul, saints such as Justin Martyr, Augustine, and Aquinas recognized in the thought of such Greek philosophers as Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle an understanding of absolute truth in human reason and material creation and often used it as a means to articulate Christian revelation.

It is this same confidence that has animated the Church’s missionary activity over the course of the centuries, not only as it regards truth found in modes of thought, but also in culture as a whole.

Pope John Paul II gives voice to this principle when he says: “From the moment when, through the Paschal Mystery, she received the gift of the ultimate truth about human life, the Church has made her pilgrim way along the paths of the world to proclaim that Jesus Christ is "the way, and the truth, and the life" (Jn 14:6). It is her duty to serve humanity in different ways, but one way in particular imposes a responsibility of a quite special kind: the diakonia of the truth. This mission ....makes the believing community a partner in humanity's shared struggle to arrive at truth;” (Encyclical Letter On the Understanding of the Relationship Between Faith and Reason Fides et Ratio)

Nothing brings more pain to the heart of a mother than when some of her children go astray. No one knows this better than Holy Mother Church. Throughout her history, the sword of countless heresies, schisms, and internal dissensions has pierced the heart of the Church. Just as the exemplary example of the saints and magnified the Church’s holiness, the scandalous behavior of some of her children have contributed to these divisions. In her decree on ecumenism, Vatican II acknowledges this:

For although the Catholic Church has been endowed with all divinely revealed truth and with all means of grace, yet its members fail to live by them with all the fervor that they should, so that the radiance of the Church's image is less clear in the eyes of our separated brethren and of the world at large, and the growth of God's kingdom is delayed. (Unitatis redintegratio #4)

Just as the infallible charism allows the Church to recognize the truth, regardless of where it may exist, it also demands that she recognize sin and falsehood, even when it is being spread by her own members. From the ashes of these failures have come some of Mother Church’s greatest successes. Responses to these betrayals have led to growth in her holiness and greater exposition in doctrine. The so-called counter reformation of the sixteenth century revivified the Church with a greater sense of mysticism, the Arian crisis of the fourth century led to a greater exposition of the doctrine Christ’s divinity, and some today’s problems of dissent and scandal will, as is already evidenced in the flourishing New Evangelization, give way to a new springtime in the Church.

These are the hallmarks of the Catholic Church—Mother, Teacher, and Student.

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