Empty Suit and War/Torture Enthusiast Win Iowa!

Suddenly, the Iowa caucuses, after not mattering at all when Paul looked like he might win, matter a great deal and show us the Wisdom of the Voters. Neocons are particularly enthused with Santorum, who promises to ignore the Pope and the catechism on that whole pre-emptive war thing, as well as re-establish torture as a fundamental American value (in keeping with the disproportionately large enthusiasm for torture so-called “conservative” Catholics have in defiance of the teaching of Holy Church). Indeed, the damp-handed Orwellian from Pennsylvania has actually had the temerity to tell Vietnam torture victim John McCain that he doesn’t understand torture as well as he does.

Meanwhile, I still can’t find anybody who actually supports the Presumed Nominee Romney. I do wonder in what sense we live in a democracy when the frontrunner is somebody that nobody wants.

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  • Jack

    Do Mark’s American readers want to consider petioning congress to submit to Queen Elizabeth the 2nd as their head of state and become part of the United Kingdom again?

    Reading about the NDAA, presidential candidates that think torture and blasting a foriegn nation that you disagree with (does Tricky Dicky the 2nd want to use American Nukes to bomb Irans nuclear facilities? – that would be an irony) back to the dark ages are good and wholesome family values and who think that mammon is God (even if they profess to be Christian) makes me realise why nearly a fifth of Americans fought for King George the 3rd during the American war of Independance.

    • Dennis Mahon

      Do Mark’s American readers want to consider petioning congress to submit to Queen Elizabeth the 2nd as their head of state and become part of the United Kingdom again?

      What makes you think they would take us back?

  • Beccolina

    Considering that my state has only 1 electoral vote and that the primary will be decided before it even gets here, I’m beginning to wonder if there’s any point to voting for anyone for president (I’ll vote for my choice of senator and congressman, of course). It feels like there are no good choices for president. I like a lot of what Ron Paul stands for, but I am certainly not “easy in my heart” about him–nor anyone else in the primary. The deciding factors for me might not be the economy or abortion, but things like education (and home schooling) and religious liberties. A good economy isn’t much of a consolation if we can’t education our own children how we choose or feel safe as we worship and express our faith.

    • Arnold

      All states have a minimum of three electoral votes.

      • Beccolina

        Ah, you are right. Thank you–still frustrating to want to see the direction of the country change but feel so powerless to change it.

  • Rebecca in ID

    Maybe you’ve commented more on Santorum before and I just missed it, but I guess I would like to hear more. I haven’t been keeping up on politics much and I didn’t realize Santorum would really be in the running until last night, but right now I am really inclined to think well of him. He seems from his speech and his past actions to be a really principled person and someone I could vote for. I haven’t seen someone so refreshingly solid on abortion/contraception and other related issues for a long time who is actually in the running. I remember reading the Lincoln/Douglas debates and noting that Lincoln, though against slavery, wouldn’t have his daughter marry a black man, but I guess I would have voted for him anyway, though I disagreed with him on that point. I tend to think Santorum is truly wishing to follow the Holy Magisterium, and that he would eventually come around on the matter of torture, since he does have sound principles and it doesn’t seem that the dignity of life is an afterthought for him, just happening to be a Republican platform. Anyway, I’m just kind of thinking aloud, and I certainly don’t want to sell out, but the Santorum thing yesterday kind of struck me as a Gideon sort of moment and I’d like to understand more why you don’t think he is worth considering.

    • Mark Shea

      He’s not worth considering because he advocates grave moral evil (namely, torture and yet another unjust pre-emptive war that will kill perhaps thousands and perhaps millions of innocent people as he continues to live out his neocon priorities which trump Church teaching every time). Opposition to abortion, though very good, does not take away the sins of the world and does not constitute a license to commit whatever other grave evils one chooses. Indeed, Santorum’s opposition to abortion has been very fair weather. When it was a choice between the unborn and party loyalty, he chose party and backed Arlen Specter. No thanks.

      • Rebecca in ID

        I guess I don’t know anything about his position on the war or what he proposes to do, so I can’t comment on that. If he truly proposes something gravely evil that would cost thousands or millions of lives, that would definitely give me pause. I guess I don’t know enough about the Specter matter, either, so maybe it’s time to go do some research.

        • William

          Rebecca, let’s just say that Rick Santorum has little in common with JPII and Benedict regarding wars.

        • Johnny

          Mark, that is a dramatic over simplification of Santorum’s views and I find this post extremely unhelpful in general to guide Catholics towards making just decisions in the upcoming election. The reason I feel that way is because SEVERAL prudential judgements are involved regarding the application of enhanced interrogation techniques and war. Your glossing over these isn’t helpful. To claim that someone is pro-war, let-alone premptive war, is just nutty because the question is never are you PRO-war? But rather SINCE there are tyrants fixated on murdering their own innocent people and pursuing nuclear weapons that they have expressed intent to use on others, what should our response be? What is our duty? You make it sound like our response should be to write them a well thought out letter full of reasons why it is a bad idea. While this would carry far more weight and would be the proper response coming from a church or a Bishop that does NOT mean it is the proper response of a leader or government. Certainly one is justified to come to the self defense of the innocent in fact one has a duty to do just that according to Catholic teaching. That DOESN’T mean you need to engage in all-out war or any other such thing but it doesn’t take that option completely off the table and label it an intrinsic evil as you suggest. Unjust war and torture most certainly are intrinsically evil, but the issues described require much thought and discussion and assistance from smart people like yourself. Passing them off as simplistic issues marginalizes your views and handicaps politicians like Santorum that have a deep desire to follow the teachings of the Catholic church. I firmly believe he is open to having the church write on his heart and implement Catholic thought throughout his governing. I cannot say the same for Biden, Pelosi or many other pro-choice(for abortion) politicians that do not humbly listen to Mother church. A different critique would be far more helpful.

          A question worth considering. If the use of nuclear weapons is an intrinsic evil shouldn’t we have an obligation to destroy or prevent the development, either by us or others, of those intrinsically evil weapons? I don’t have a settled answer on this, but since you like to think and write perhaps you could do so on this subject.

          Also let me say that I do appreciate your motivation and effort which is to make the world, in particular our leaders, better reflect the true teachings of the Catholic church. To that end we could not be more on the same page.

  • I have to think that Santorum has some faithful Catholics who are friends who are challenging him about his views on war and torture. At least, I hope so. Well, he’s probably the “flavor of the week” anyway. We’re just about out of flavors, except for Huntsman.

    That’s OK; Paul and Huntsman are probably the best of the GOP field anyway. I wish Huckabee were in the race…he’s more or less like Santorum, except a bit better, and more likable.

    • Mark Shea

      Why do you have to think that. A man who tells McCain he doesn’t understand torture is totally in the tank for neocon agitprop. Don’t get fooled again.

      • Maybe I should have said, “I would like to think” instead of “I have to think”. Anyway, I just sent a letter to his campaign (extremely poor website, btw) challenging him on these positions in the light of the teaching of the Magisterium. It probably won’t help, but at least he claims to care about the Magisterium, so who knows.

  • Rebecca in ID

    Oh, and I wanted to mention too that yesterday seemed hopeful in that it showed that 75 percent of the Iowa Republicans *do not* want Romney. So if the remaining 75 percent can get themselves together…ya know?

  • Miguel

    Hi Mark. Just so you can meet a Romney almost-supporter, let me say this: I do not support pro-torture views, nor do I believe he would be strong on abortion and the other social issues (though I do think conservatives could hold his feet to the fire as they did with Bush when he nominated Harriet Myers), but as far as *managing* the country, I actually think he would be the most competent of the bunch, and I do think that on the usual statistics that people measure (GDP per capita, health and education levels, etc.) the country would improve by the end of his term. That said, I don’t think he would be very helpful in terms of taking the country morally and culturally in an new, better direction.

    I feel about him rather the opposite way that I feel about Ron Paul. I think Paul is and honest, honorable man who actually can be trusted to keep his word and say what he thinks, but every time I try to see whether I could potentially vote for him, I realize (as should you, for goodness sake!) that his policies are insane and would cause chaos. Why? There are too many reasons to deal with here, but ultimately it is this: that Paul’s policies, if actually enacted, would amount to a revolution. I know we’ve gotten used to that word having a good connotation, but I mean revolution in the bad sense of the word. His policies would cause chaos in the economy, would destabilize (admittedly imprefect, but better than countless alternatives) the international system, and would possibly have corrosive social and moral effects as well. I agree with his anti-torture sentiments and his desire not to go out into the world looking to pick fights, but his idea to completely pull back the US from the world, for better or worse, is simply not something doable right now without risking HUGE unintended consequences. And let’s not even get into his end the Fed campaign, which is nothing but populism driven by his extreme Austrian economic ideology. There is basically no mainstream economist that would really support that view.

    I think you are fine to criticize Romney and Santorum and the others for their morally problematic (even abhorrent) views, but I honestly am very confused about how you can really favor Ron Paul when it comes down not just to character, but actual policy. He might not be insane, but many of his policies are. We need a reformer, not a revolutionist.

    • Rebecca in ID

      There’s some sense in what you say…but I’m curious, why do you say Romney is the best of the bunch? Rather than Santorum?

      • Miguel

        Hi Rebecca,

        Because I think Santorum has good principles (or, at least, *some* good principles) but poor judgement, and a tendency to put his foot in his mouth. Keep in mind, for example, the “man on dog” comment. Sure, he was only attempting a reductio ad absurdum of the argument for gay “marriage,” and rightly so, but he should have realized that his real point would be lost and only the sound bite remain. Additionally, while I am glad that he does seem to honestly care about the average working man, it seems to me his economic policies to protect him might not do so in practice. He has proposals for industrial policy (promoting certain industries), and industrial policy has shown time and again to fail (see, most recently, Obama’s experience with Solyndra, or take the Latin American economies that attempted import-substitution industrialization only to get into huge debt, develop uncompetitive industries, and end up needing huge bailouts from the IMF).

        Romney, by contrast, is a pragmatist. I doubt if he has any real convictions, but I think his judgement works in his favor when he knows what he wants to get done. He’s certainly an intelligent man, excellent at not putting his foot in his mouth, and, so far as I know, hasn’t made any major howlers with regards to economics. In fact, his chief economic adviser is Gregory Mankiw of Harvard, who is truly a notable economist and writer of one of the most popular and well written economics textbooks. In other words, Mitt is a technocrat.

        Again, I may not vote for Mitt given his problematic positions on moral issues that I consider supremely important, but I do think that he would have some success in getting those statistics people love quoting to improve. That doesn’t mean he’s a good candidate, or good for the country. What we really need is a renewal of our culture, a transformation in all those intangibles that can’t be measured with statistics. But for that perhaps we need not a politician, but a prophet.

        • Rebecca in ID

          Thanks for the clarification.

    • Cinlef

      Forgive my Canadian ignorance but my understanding was that while Ron Paul’s economic policies being grounded in libertarian/Ayn Rand nutcase-ry are obviously a serious problem the separation of powers and the fact that Paul is sufficiently outside the mainstream to guarantee a hostile Congress means the extent to which he could implement them are limited. By contrast his more admirable positions: not torturing people not murdering people with drones, not starting an unjust war with Iran, curtailing CIA activities, pardoning non-violent drug offenders, etc are all withing his direct power as head of the Executive branch, consequently the harm he could do would be far more limited than the good…..

      • That’s exactly the reason why I would maybe, possibly, ever consider voting for Paul.

        • William

          JonW, exactly!!

      • Scott W.

        While I’m not yet sold on Ron, he is weird to the point that it is not enough to unsell me to say he is grounded in libertarian/Ayn Randian philosophy–one has to cite a specific, documentable position he holds that is contrary to Church teaching.

  • I’ll step forward as a Romney supporter. I hadn’t heard his views on torture, and if he’s for it, that’s a sticking point. But on most everything else I like him, and did in 2008 as well.

    • Mark Shea

      He, like all the rest except Huntsman and Paul, is foursquare in favor of torture. It plays very well with the conservative base and he is all about pandering.

  • matthew m

    So, what exactly is wrong with Mr. Santorum? With all of the hopefuls, especially since Cain was shotgunned out of the race by the hypocritical, leftist controlled media, if he really believes in the what he said in this article, then one’s concern over a pre-emptive National Security Strategy may be moot. I am confident that he will put better advisor in-place then did the previous GOP and most definitely the current regime. But, unfortunately we sill have to beat the “O” and the information operations campaign that ascended him to power!

    And for the record, I would submit that Mr. Santorum is the farthest away from trying to attract the “neo-con”. http://conservapedia.com/Neoconservatism.

    • Mark Shea

      Aside from his zeal for yet another insane war of choice and the re-institution of American as a torture state? Nothing. And Cain destroyed himself. Get over the conspiracy theorizing.

  • Scott

    Mark is looking for the perfect candidate or he is NOT going to vote, thus giving the election to Obama. Lets just dismiss the utter pounding that Senator Rick Santorum has taken from the Left for years because of his staunch support for human life and traditional marriage. Trying to be a faithful Catholic as a US Senator would be very difficult to say the least but he has come about as close as anyone I have ever seen in that regard. Perfect? No, but then Jesus is not running for president.

    • Mark Shea

      Mark is looking for the perfect candidate

      You, sir, are either a liar, a fool, utterly ignorant or illiterate. Read, and stop regurgitating stupid lies. Also, you should apologize, but that’s too much to expect probably.

      • Miguel

        Mark, calm down. You may be annoyed at Scott, but I don’t see that he called you any names. It’s a bad habit, and you ought to stop it.

        If for no other reason, there’s this: “and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.”

        Those are harsh words, and I try to remind myself of them when I’m exasperated at someone who seems to be saying something utterly stupid. I humbly put forward that you should too.

    • Thomas R

      I think we can go too far on criticism. I think Mr. Shea has every right to vote as he sees fit. If one truly believes Santorum or Romney are just as bad as Obama than one has every reason to not vote for any of them. And to argue against them. And as he lives in Washington State, if I understand it right, nothing he does is likely to make his state go for anyone other than Obama.

      I only object when he seems to make his own personal opinion sound like some kind of preaching on-high. I think there’s plenty of good reasons a Catholic could support Santorum or Romney over Paul or a quixotic write-in. Mr. Shea is a blogger and writer, he has little or no more authority in the Church than I do. If one always keeps that in mind, and if he keeps that in mind, I think it’s fine for him to tout who he prefers. I just don’t like this “My way is the Catholic way” stridency he leans toward at times.

      • Mark Shea

        I have no authority at all and certainly no more authority than the Church. Nobody has to agree with me. However, when you don’t, you are wrong. 🙂

        • Dan C

          “Nobody has to agree with me. But when you don’t you are wrong.”

          I used that line today! Along with: If I’m talking, why aren’t you taking notes?

          • Mark Shea


      • Marthe Lépine

        It seems to me that when someone is taking the trouble to write his own blog, he is perfectly entitled to express his own opinions in whatever way he wishes. If those opinions and the way they are expressed sound to some readers as too much like “preaching on-high”, those readers are entitled to like it or not, and make comments if they wish, but telling him to change his tone because it puts you off (or might offend someone’s sensitivities) does not really make sense to me…. It’s HIS blog! If you do not like it, you are perfectly free to read someone else’s blog, just as much as you are free to purchase or refuse to purchase a book or newspaper that expresses ideas that are not to your liking.

  • Scott

    Me thinks you have some sort of fascination with beating up on candidates whom you know most faithful Catholics would support.

    • Mark Shea

      No. i have a concern with candidates whom Catholics support even though those candidates defy the teaching of Holy Church. Stop with the moronic conspiracy theorizing and pay attention. It’s not like I haven’t made myself extremely clear on this a dozen times. I don’t care about your tribal needs. I don’t care about what “faithful” Catholics support in great numbers if “faithful” Catholics are in defiance of Holy Church (as they are when it comes to support for torture). I care about the teaching of Holy Church. Santorum is as defiant of Holy Church as Catholics for a Free Choice. He’s just defiant in a way acceptable to the Thing that Used to be Conservatism and to the tribe of “faithful” Catholics who get their moral formation from Talk Radio and not from Holy Church. As such, he seduces the faithful and you aid and abet this with you dumb conspiracy theorizing.

      Am I clear yet? I will beat up any “Catholic” candidate–Biden, Pelosi, Gingrich, or Santorum–who defies Holy Church and pretends you can be a good Catholic while you do it. Comprende?

      • Thomas R

        Every candidate that runs in a majority non-Catholic nation, such as ours, is not going to be entirely within the teaching of the Church.

        In the last 40 years the Presidents that weren’t Pro-Choice were

        Reagan – Supported anti-Catholic regimes in Central America.

        Bush Sr. – I don’t think the invasion of Panama counts as a “just war.”

        Bush Jr. – Iraq war.

        You go back before Roe v Wade and you have

        Nixon-Ford bombing places or supporting assassinations of elected leaders.

        LBJ – Intervention in the Dominican Republic, although the regime was anti-Catholic, other issues.

        JFK – Reported involvement in assassinations in Vietnam.

        Eisenhower – Supported coups in Guatemala and Iran.

        Truman – Nuclear bombing of Japan.

        FDR – Internment of people for racial reasons.

        Wilson to Hoover – Various non-justified occupations of Latin American nations.

        Lincoln – Massacres of American Indians.

        Jackson – Indian Removal.

        The Whigs had a fairly anti-Catholic element. Jefferson was anti-clerical and treated indigenous people unfairly. The American Revolution was arguably not even a just war.

        • “Every candidate that runs in a majority non-Catholic nation”

          For the record, I don’t think Catholic nations have been without fault in cases similar to some of those examples.

          • Thomas R

            Well I just meant it’s somewhat more unreal to think a non-Catholic nation is going to have a President that doesn’t support things that are “gravely evil” in Catholic terms.

            Any President who represents this nation is likely going to support things we deem “gravely evil.” If they represent the voters at all they will at least support capital punishment as revenge and distribution of condoms.

            I’m actually not really kidding on saying that I’m not sure the American Revolution was a just war. I can see a case for thinking the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not entirely wrong and that all nations are in some ways compromises with evil. I don’t say the “Pledge of Allegiance” if I can avoid it as I think it is in some ways idolatry. Still I have compromised on that at 9-11 memorials and I guess I’m a bit willing to be part of the world despite some leanings I also have against that.

            • Ah, I get you. But really, that’s what comes with living in a fallen world. Or living in a non-Catholic nation (and as history shows, that doesn’t always help either, being in a Catholic nation).

              My feeling is try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, not just the pol I happen to like or support. Which is basically what we all do – give the benefit of the doubt to the pols we like and support. Since we are electing, generally speaking, non-Catholics to a non-Catholic post in a non-Catholic nation, we all have to hold our noses about something. What we choose is between us and God and I can respect folks for the difficult choice they have to make.

              • Thomas R

                Well I have some stridency in principle that I don’t necessarily practice. Sometimes certain evils can be tolerated to avoid a greater evil. Or at least I think that was what Aquinas stated.

                Whether Santorum gets anywhere or not I was thinking that maybe rather than just castigate him, or compare him to a Pro-Choicer, Catholics should maybe try to talk with him (and other “pro-torture” Catholics) on why he/they are wrong on these things. Maybe it’d be a waste of time, but I think saying “you’re just like Catholics for Free Choice” is kind of just confrontational not instructive.

                • I think I agree with you on this, that’s sort of my point as well. It’s been a while since I came back to this thread, so maybe I said something wrong, but that’s where I’m at. Let’s not throw everything into one big pot.

      • Joshua F

        Dude, you are so right on.

        I really want to know why Catholic people will go to all kinds of lengths to make excuses for their beloved candidates who support unjust wars. This is one of the hallmarks of the neo-con Catholic who puts his personal political preference before Church teaching (or preference, which is certainly more important than my personal preference). Another hallmark is dismissing all attempts to point out this problem as if it’s no big deal, and “I’m just sticking to my Catholic principles”. Like promotion of torture, unjust war, lack of docility, etc, which are apparently Catholic principles…

  • Timbot2000

    Historian Tom DiLorenzo had this to say about why the GOP is so fond of Santorum
    “The GOP establishment is fond of the man who failed to get reelected to the Senate from Pennsylvania, the “pro-life” politician who supported abortion advocates extraordinaire Arlen Specter and Christine Todd Whitman, because he is sort of a dumber George W. Bush. The man who was once voted “the dumbest member of Congress” would be easy to manipulate into another colossal human catastrophe such as the invasion of Iran that would benefit no one on the planet except for the military/industrial/congressional complex that would enrich itself with money and power.”

    • Mark Shea

      The perfect Republican.

    • Well, he was voted the dumbest member of Congress based on his staunch pro-life and traditional marriage views, so I wouldn’t want to defend that.

      I don’t think he comes across as any dumber than any of the general run of politicians, except for saying that McCain doesn’t understand torture. That was dumb. No sugarcoating it. That’s “57 states” dumb.

    • Well that was charitable. Heck of a guy our Mr. DiLorenzo. But then, not too surprising either. Just about what I’ve come to expect from certain political fanbases nowadays.

    • Dale Price

      You forgot to put the quote marks around “historian.”

      I have my problems with Santorum (note my support for Huntsman), but that’s a crock.

      The idea that Santorum–*Santorum*–is the Establishment’s boy detonates the sniff-tester at 100 yards.

      Follow the money–it sure as hell isn’t going to Santorum. It’s going to Romney.

  • Jerry N

    What I find odd is that Dr. Paul was about 3 points behind Santorum and Romney. If his name were “Gingrich” we’d be talking about a three way race.

    • Ghosty

      I noticed this as well. I even saw someone comment “stick a fork in Paul, he’s done”. Really? Romney and Santorum effectively split first place in what is possibly the closest primary vote in history, so I consider Paul a close second place finisher.

      Paul is most definitely still in the game. We’ll see what the next few states bring, however.

      Peace and God bless!

  • gregory

    Santorum worries me. He seems the guy who will use his religion to pander to Christian votes. His track record, however, is dismal. The choice of supporting the pro-abortion senator over the pro-life one is one that Catholics and other Christians should keep in mind. It speaks a lot about the man’s real values. Also his support for pre-emptive war with Iran is certainly not pro-life. Being pro-life does not mean only supporting the unborn, it also means supporting the only ordinary civilian people. Did Santorum support Ron Paul when Ron Paul kept pressing for the passage of the Sanctity of Human Life Act? Did he support Ron Paul when Ron Paul was fighting for the Defense of Marriage Act?

    Dr. Ron Paul introduced the Sanctity of Human Life Act in the Congress, which, had the other congressmen and the White House also supported, would have defined life as beginning at conception. In essence, this bill would have ended Roe versus Wade. Ron Paul also is also a supporter of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Again, not much support.

  • William

    Ron Paul took independents and moderates last night by a 8-to-1 margin. Some of you naysayers wanna talk about electability now?

    • Thomas R

      Talk to me when he wins a state, any state. Montana even.

  • Jack

    When I look at the current crop of GOP hopefuls, I feel that with the exception of Ron Paul (Whom I respect despite the fact that I disagree with him strongly on several points) I am looking at the cast of “dumb and dumber”, I don’t expect POTUS to be an expert on the history of every planet on God’s Earth but I do expect the following of him:

    A) That he is an honourable man and that even If I question the wisdom of his policies I will be able to say that he is a gentleman

    B) That the mouth moves, the lights are on and Mr Brain is resident in the Cranium (he vacated Rick Perry’s cranium a LONG time ago).

    (c) That he does not come out with stupid statments such as alledging that the creation of the NHS was the prime factor for the disintergration of the British Empire (Rick Santourum to a BBC reporter as broadcast on Newsnight the 3rd of January), also I would like to be sure that he will not order the bombing of a country which although it has had frosty relations with the United States for 33yrs, has not commited an overly hostile act toward the US since then (all of the GOP field except Paul and possibly Huntsman)

    D) That when he is meeting allied heads of state I can be confident that on AirForce One there is not a 19yr old intern lying on his bed. (Newt Gingrich I had two affairs and divorces because I LOVED America so much)

    E) He will not actively support any grave and intrinsic evil i.e. Abortion, Torture, pre-emptive strikes, so called same sex marriage ect ect, even if like Ron Paul he doesn’t believe that the federal government should be involved in such matters.

    Seriously guys do WANT to see Obama re-elected? cos unless Dr Paul wins the nommination he’s going have a shoe-in, all he has to do is wait until the wackyness of the other candidates comes to light.

  • Deacon Nathan Allen

    I, like Mark, am not looking for the perfect candidate, just one that meets certain very minimal standards of basic decency. Is it really too much to ask for a candidate who: a) is an abolitionist on abortion, b) is not a corporate shill, c) opposes stupid unconstitutional wars, d) thinks due-process rights might just possibly be something we want to keep, e) has a sane and humane immigration policy, and f) categorically rejects torture as a stupid evil that is conduct unbecoming the United States of America?

    • Chris M

      Apparently this IS too much to ask, Father Deacon.. so very depressing. I keep pondering the epic disaster the Obama administration has been and how childishly simple it ought to be to elect a halfway decent opponent in November.. but then I think “THIS is the best we can come up with? Really? Out of all the people in America, THESE are our choices?!”

  • Tim Shipe

    I would urge all to more deeply consider the libertarian ideology at the heart of Ron Paul’s views on economics- the book I recommend is – The ‘Poisoned Spring’ of Economic Libertarianism- Menger, Mises, Hayek, Rothbard: A Critique of the ‘Austrian School’ of Economics by Angus Sibley. This book offers a more orthodox Catholic perspective on the depth of error that libertarian thought represents in economic theory and practice- bordering on heresy. These are heavy charges but especially since there is so much conservative Catholic leanings toward the libertarian ideology- all Catholics who are spending time considering Ron Paul or promoting this ideology as being acceptable for orthodox Catholics- all such inclined should definitely read this book as a possible corrective. I speak as one who is not supporting any candidate or party- I have no horse in the race – I actually like Ron Paul on many fronts but I think it is safe to say that it is the libertarian ideology on economics that is his greatest interest and passion- so that is exactly where we all should be fixing our gaze when considering what his priorities will be as President. I’ve read his last two books and while I like his personality that comes across in the reads, I am convinced that his ideological motivations on economics is really his bread and butter- in Revolution after describing why he is against abortion he immediately goes to the idea that we shouldn’t think that we should be legislating morality except with the broadest of brushes- he claims that everyone has to choose an ideology that there is no political escape- but that is just wrong- our Catholic social doctrine is not an ideology and refuses, along with the Magisterium to be dumbed-down or hijacked by the ideologues of the Left and Right. Until we have Catholic political leaders who base their politics on the entire Social Doctrine- we will never even come close to finding a peaceful, prosperous civilization of Love- when will a truly orthodox Catholic movement emerge in America? The ideologues and opportunists keep winning and we are declining more and more as we bounce wildly from Dems to Repubs and back again. Anyone seeing the pattern??

  • Telemachus

    What it comes down to for me is this: Ron Paul is needed right now, even if Catholics cannot get 100% behind his personal views. In this race, he is running as a strict constitutionalist, and I believe that that’s what his presidency would look like. To wit:

    (a) Devolve Washington D.C.’s stranglehold on governance back to the States where it belongs according to the intent of the writers of the Constitution. This is subsidiarity plain and simple. It’s needed as a counter-balance.
    (b) Drastically reduce our foreign commitments throughout the globe, saving lives and resources which are needed within our own country. A military empire either dismantles itself willingly or unwillingly.

    I’m sure he will fight to end the Fed, but I doubt he would be able to do this effectively with one-term. It’s necessary in the long-run, though.

    A Ron Paul presidency could only benefit the Church. I am certain we would see the complete repeal of Obamacare, concerted efforts to end all federal interference in “medical issues” (say goodbye, abortion, ESC, etc. funding), and a beginning to the end of the education monopoly which our federal government holds in this country. And if you don’t think this last one is important, check out the documents of Vatican II: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_gravissimum-educationis_en.html. See under heading #6.

    There is no other candidate who is so serious about restricting the federal government to avoid the destruction that has been wrought, at home and abroad. He’s also the only candidate (to my knowledge) that has actually served in the military for any substantial length of time, and who (and maybe this is not that important) has such a level of education and professional experience as he does. Finally, he was re-elected for 12-terms in the House, for St. Peter’s sake! The man must be doing something right.

    I support Ron Paul.

    God bless and Merry Christmas,

    • Dan C

      I am always interested in the term strict constitutionalist. I have read the about the papers and the founders and am well aware of their varied leanings. The term “strict constitutionalist” promotes a concept of constitution that never existed. “Strict constitutionalists” hate the Preamble but LOVE the Declaration of Independence. They hate the Articles of Confederation, the varied state constitutions of the 1780’s and the real imperial designs of a nation that had no boundaieesnor consideration of the other Peoples with whom they shared the continent .

      Its a term with more mythology and less historical reality attached.

      • Telemachus

        Fine, what I mean by “constitutionalist” is that Paul wants to restrict the federal government back to its originally intended purposes. You can’t tell me that even with all the disagreements that the founders had they would look at the country today and would say “Yep, that’s about how we envisioned it.”

        Furthermore, it’s obvious that having the executive office declaring war all over the place without taking it to the Congress is against the constitution. That alone makes Paul a better candidate, i.e. actually recognizing this.

        In the end, I don’t care about political ideology. All I want is a candidate who will try to stop the federal government from destroying us all. Take your smug criticism and focus it on the power-mongers in Washington.

        God bless,

  • Tim Shipe

    The title of Angus Sibley’s book should have read in the second section – Menger, Mises, Hayek, Rothbard: A Critique From Catholic Social Teaching of the ‘Austrian School’ of Economics. I have urged Mark to read and comment on this book since he is spending a lot of time writing about Ron Paul’s candidacy- I know that economics is not Mark’s central concern in this regard- but this is exactly my worry- economics is the heart and soul of Ron Paul’s politics and if he is so fixed upon his deep belief in libertarian economic theory he could make a whole series of huge mistakes that could take our economy down the drain to the point where we re-visit the Depression with no safety nets, no protective regulations or safeguards for the Common Good- all at the service of the Almighty theory that libertarian “freedoms” will eventually make everything good. This is the flipside of the Communist belief in absolute State control- but they are two sides of the same coin of big trouble. There is no doubt that our current crop of political leaders are mightily abusing the powers of governance- often at the behest of those with the most economic power in society- but the old adage “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” needs to be applied here and Ron Paul et al seem to be of the school of thought that wants to bring government down to a size that fits into a bathtub- so that it can be drowned! So much for democratization in politics, the only votes left will be money and the only people that will matter will be corporate persons. When you have huge economic interests in society and you dismantle representative government what do you think happens with no forces in play even ostensibly in existence for the sole purpose of securing the universal common good- which is according to our Church the only reason for the existence of governing authority- take away common good and replace it with millions of self-interests with a few interests holding most of the money and what kind of society emerges? The bottom-line solution from “Poisoned Spring” seems to be mend it don’t end it- which is not an ideological recipe, it is common good common sense. If one wants to get even deeper- read the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church- chapters on Political Authority and Economics

  • Telemachus

    @Tim Shipe.

    Tim, I sympathize with you. I agree that there is much in present-day libertarianism / Austrianism that is not compatible with Catholic teaching because of the foundational assumptions that are used to build these systems of thought. For instance, there is this notion that one’s body is one’s property, which I think is fundamentally at odds with how we view the human person. The body is not an object that can be “owned” like an economic good can be owned. The human person is an integrated whole. The notion of “owning” one’s body is “ghost in the machine”-type thinking.

    However, there is no reason that we as Catholics couldn’t justify many of the same prescriptions as Austrians do, but on Catholic grounds. I think lots of work needs to be done here. For instance, if there is good reason to believe that government management of the money supply will always result in the destabilization the economy, then a free market monetary system becomes a moral good to be achieved by Catholics. I groan when documents are written (even by the Holy Father, unfortunately) which demand that the state be responsible for managing the “stability” of money. Such statements basically assume that from a Catholic POV there is no more debate to be had. That’s a bad move, IMHO.

    If you want to see this “Civilization of Love” you are talking about actually made possible, you have to get the secular state out of the way. That’s what’s useful about the Ron Paul candidacy right now.

    God bless,

  • Telemachus

    Jack said: “Seriously guys do WANT to see Obama re-elected?”


    Actually, even if Obama were re-elected, that wouldn’t be the end of the world. The silver-lining would be that our Bishops would continue to wake up to the threat that is secular totalitarianism. We’ve finally seen them making strong statements about the immorality of contraception and sterilization (albeit in the context of government funding thereof). If this is what it takes to get the Bishops preaching on these topics and to stop supporting the state take-over of every institution of our society, so be it. Obama’s administration has lit a much-needed fire under the arses of our Bishops (no offense to them intended).

    God bless,

  • Tim Shipe

    Here is the link to Ch.8 of Compendium of Social Doctrine- http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html#CHAPTER EIGHT This is the chapter that really needs to be read, absorbed and debated with an openness to the Mind of The Church- something that is not happening in my interaction with Catholic blogs in general. Mark Shea offers more hope for me that just about anyone else out there who is trying to be consistently orthodox and not just conveniently. God bless you Mark- agree or disagree with my advice and counsel and interpretations- I love your body of work and contribution to passionate intellectual Catholic-inspired discourse.

  • Tim Shipe

    I think the danger in the American Catholic intellectual/political realm is this Left-Right misconception that the sad, old Magisterium just can’t get their collective head around the complex world of Sex or Economics- the same ideological presumptions are made by both Left and Right to defend their little bits of turf where they find ideological disconnects with the Pope/Encyclicals/Authoritative Documents- the Right has found a way to claim the high ground of orthodoxy by putting most everything in the Catholic social doctrine relating to political community, economics, and war/peace promotion into little packages of prudential judgments which can be deep-sixed in the ocean. The Left is well the Left and has completely abandoned even the notion of orthodoxy and yet still trots out the Pope and the Bishops on occasion when they are smart enough to agree with them. So- is this what is left of the Mind of the Church- no real worldview- just some relevance here and there but not there or there??

    • Dan C

      The right wing has added that the Magisterium has no competence on such things as matters of war. It is more than just economics. Power and wealth. Oddly referred to by a prominent right winger of the 1970’s as great aphrodisiacs. I suspect the “sex” stuff therefore is more than just a left wing issue (Exhibit A: Newt Gingrich’s first two marriages.)

    • Marthe Lépine

      I think that a very common mistake among Catholics is to forget that Christ said that He would be with His Church to the end of time (or something like this). To me that means that when the Pope and the Magisterium are presenting serious reflections on economic matters, for example, to dismiss them as not knowing what they are talking about, or being too influenced by European ways of thinking, etc. etc., is to neglect that they have been granted the help of the Holy Spirit when it comes to advising Catholics. This may not mean that they are infallible about everything, but I am certain it means that when they teach about matters of “prudential judgement” they are still expressing sound views that deserve our attention, and that we are not supposed to just dismiss them as expressing personal opinions based on limited knowledge, that have little to do with the real world (or our own way of seeing the world).

  • I’m not sure if this would be popular with folks around here, but Ron Paul is opposed to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I think he stands alone in this.

    It shows how Ron Paul sticks to his libertarian/constitutionalist principles. In a way, I think he’s right. Although I’m pleased to see the elimination of Jim Crow laws and the like, it seems that it has opened a door to future federal legislation with respect to the “civil rights” of homosexuals. Why shouldn’t the federal government force the Catholic Church to recognize same-sex “marriages”? (this is a rhetorical question).

    Ron Paul, sticking to his principles, would be opposed to a federal health care plan even if there were no money allocated to contraception and abortions. I doubt that his principled position would be popular with the US bishops. I don’t see how Ron Paul could support any welfare program or social program at the federal level. Would Ron Paul support FEMA for another Katrina-type event? (I honestly don’t know this)

    I’m in agreement with Ron Paul about these things, not because I’m a libertarian, but because I’m a federalist who takes comfort in the principle of subsidiarity. I really do want to see a shrinking of power in the federal government. However, I expect that I’m pretty much a lone voice in Catholic circles, which I think would be prone to say that a strict adherence to federalist principles is imprudent and misguided. I think the average Catholic would rather look to a central authority, than a hodgepodge patchwork of local government programs and institutions (some of which will fail from time to time).

    • Chris

      I think bob’s comment is spot on. Ron paul’s ideas are flawed and i dont have much truck with libertarianism. To this end, when faced with questions a out removing safety nets, Paul shruggs, whereas the strong federalist states that its the states responsibility. This is a tough sell though, for the federalist has to argue that things should be done locally even if they are inefficient, whereas the libertarian has to argue that people need to be responsible for themselves. While both of these are unpopular, they should not be confused.There is a wide gulf here, which is why only in this race, for this office could a federalist like me, who supports environmental protection, and education standardization
      back a libertarian like Paul.

  • I almost posted something, but then I figured what’s the use. Folks have their minds made up, and will likely see things accordingly. I have issues with Santorum, and have before this. But I also admire him on a few levels as well. Many issues with Romney and Gingrich. But I have issues with Paul. So we’ll see. I can’t see me ever supporting Paul, simply because of the whole package sealed and delivered. His recent reactions to the first minor vetting didn’t do much to change my mind. Who knows, maybe for the first time since I’ve been able to, I won’t vote. But if I do, I’m sure I’ll have to hold my nose about something.

  • Peggy R

    I have to say I found myself quibbling with Ron Paul’s insistence, in one of the debates, that his competitors, including Santorum, who do not want Iran to have nuclear power were promoting war with Iran. I don’t think any candidate has advocated war against Iran. They might have said to bomb the nuclear facilities, but that’s not a full scale war. Reagan bombed Tripoli (just or not) and that was that. No war. There is no need and no political support for ground war in Iran.

    Destroy the nuclear facilities, if we must, then let us divest ourselves of the middle east for good. Get our oil from home and friendly western nations.

  • Frank Weathers
    • Frank Weathers

      Doh! See below.

  • Frank Weathers
  • Kirt Higdon

    In fact Rick Santorum has said he will bomb Iran. That’s war. And no – ground war is not contemplated. The preferred model is for the US and its allies to systematically destroy the targeted country by aerial bombardment. This was accomplished with Yugoslavia and Libya. Use mostly drones and missiles and the US armed forces can kill thousands or millions (if desired) without a single American casualty. The destruction of Iran, which has many more people than Yugoslavia or Libya and is a cohesive and ancient nation/civilization, will require the use of nuclear weapons. To the militarists of the regime, this will have the added benefit of intimidating other hated countries such as Russia and China.

    While Ron Paul, the only peace candidate, no longer has any chance of winning the nomination (barring a miracle in New Hampshire), I hope he continues in the race simply to possibly influence Romney, who is a shallow opportunist. But even if Romney is uninfluenced for the good, I’d rather see him as president than Santorum. Since Romney is a Mormon, the evil that he does will not be held against the Catholic Church, while the genocide of Iranians by the “devout Catholic” Santorum is something that will be thrown in the face of Catholics, especially pro-life Catholics, for the next thousand years.

    • Peggy R

      I don’t think there’s any intention or desire to harm the Iranian people. We know they’ve been demonstrating and clamoring for freedom from the Islamic regime. I don’t see why Santorum would go to war with them. I think any “acts of war” considered by the US vis a vis Iran should target the nuclear facilities. I don’t want to see us taking out Amadinijad (spelling?). Let the people take him out themselves, with our strategic support at the most. For the record, supporting the elimination of Qadaffi was not good policy. All of the secular dictatorships, some pro-American, which tumbled are now being replaced with Islamic dictatorship.

      • Marthe Lépine

        Oh! And you suppose “acts of war” against Iran will not bring some kind of retaliation that will bring on a full war? Maybe you are a bit naive!

        • Peggy R

          What can they really do once you take out nuclear facilities? I think I am w/Ron Paul on that. Iran is no threat otherwise.

      • Kirt Higdon

        It is certainly naive to think you can bomb a country’s nuclear facilities with no harm to the people of the country. Could any bombing of US nuclear facilities be conducted without spreading vast fallout and polution which would sicken and kill thousands slowly and painfully in addition to those killed by the immediate attack? In addition Iran has conventional missiles and warships which could retaliate against US ships and mideast bases. Such retaliation would then provide the excuse for futher attacks against Iran. The mere threat of preventing Iran from exporting oil (itself an act of war) has led to retaliatory threats from Iran which have raised the price of oil world wide. So people in Iran and elsewhere are already suffering even before the beginning of all out war. In addition, the US and Israel have for some time now been waging a campaign of sabotage and assassination against Iran which has resulted in the murder of several Iranian scientists and other personnel. What would the US call it if Iranians started murdering American scientists?

  • Marisa

    Some kind of bug crashes the blog on my iPod when I try to read comments.
    Anyhow, well said Mark.

  • Irene Persis

    Can you please say precisely why you think waterboarding is torture? Yes, I know that it’s not something you’d want to happen to you. But neither is imprisonment. Imprisonment deprives you of your liberty and your dignity (to some extent), inflicts plenty of mental pain and physical discomfort……so how does your definition of torture apply to waterboarding but not to imprisonment?

    • Mark Shea

      For a definition of torture that seems sound to me, go here.

      For the strong argument as to why waterboarding is torture, go here.