Monday, August 17, 2009

Making it simple . . .

Thanks to Athos at The Three Massketeers, here are three short sentences from Archbishop Charles Chaput that encapsulate my own take on the current hot topic:
The whole meaning of “health care” would be subverted by any plan that involves mandated abortion access or abortion funding. The reason is obvious. Killing or funding the killing of unborn children has nothing to do with promoting human health, and including these things in any “health care” proposal, no matter how shrewdly hidden, would simply be a form of lying.


Kevin said...

So do you support health care reform, but not some provisions or do you not support it at all?
Ad Astra Per Aspera,

Gil Bailie said...

I don't know enough to speak intelligently about the issue, but of one thing I am perfectly clear: I do not trust Barack Obama, on this issue or any other. He is "above his pay grade" on this and most other issues, and his fall-back positions are ideologically predetermined. His position on abortion is morally reprehensible, and that does not bode well for the life issues near the end of life.

Unknown said...

Gil, if you don't know enough to speak intelligently about the issues which you are blogging about, perhaps you should pause and do a little research. I'm referring to your last comment about the health care debate, which is, in your mind, and in the mind of those unseemly folks running around with guns in their socks talking about watering the tree of liberty, actually a referendum on abortion or euthanasia. You said a while back that you are "neutral" on the issue of global warming -- no doubt because you "don't know enough to speak intelligently on the issue." But that admission of ignorance was also used as a means of restating the one thing you do know about -- that abortion is wrong. I agree with this -- it is wrong, very wrong. An important, critical issue. One where the church and my fellow Christians have all but abandoned the playing field to liberals on the left and gun-toting tree of liberty waterers on the right. That's you, Gil, that's what you've become. You are now the official Glenn Beck of the Girardians. It's horrible to see, having known your work a long time ago. Rene Girard has emphasized in his work -- especially his last book on the apocalypse, but it's been there for a long time -- that we are facing a SERIOUS ENVIRONMENTAL THREAT. One that threatens to destroy the entire planet. There is a nuclear threat he also invokes -- one that more and more pressing due to the possibility that city-destroying power can fall into the hands of small bands of men who pride themselves on creating as many victims as they can. This is not the same morality as in the abortion issue -- which is one where the "murderers" are ALSO interested in protecting victims. I know you know this argument, since it is Girard's and you were there: but the abortion issue is one where each side puts forward their own victims: is it the mother who without any or with little social network must bring the unwanted child to term, or the child who will never be born? The spinning around on the spindle of "who is the bigger victim" is just one more Satanic trick that needs to be decoded. So those you oppose with such hatred are actually -- in their minds -- also concerned, AS CONCERNED, with victims as you are. They are just wrongheaded, they put the emphasis in wrong place. This is a huge scandal to you, and that makes sense to me. But what is a disgrace to your Girardian training is that you are actually SCANDALIZED by this. You yourself admit as much: you don't know anything about the environment or the healthcare debate. You have made those issues into the issue of abortion. Girard does not do this. He is more and more frankly apocalyptic because of the threat to the environment -- an issue you won't even bother with, which you dismiss with a wave of the hand, again like at typical right-winger, as most likely just a bunch of left wing clap-trap. Health care. This is a total failure of this country and another example of the failure of the church to spread its values. Girard has also spoken of the importance of the hospital as an avatar of Christianity. You won't take up the challenge or look into what this is and what is at stake her for millions of Americans -- instead you denigrate the President, who is above his pay grade. Right! And you "an intellectual"? When you abandon the issues of the day in order to scream about the one and only issue that bothers you? Let's hear you take up the environmental destruction with half the passion you do the abortion debate. You've become a rightwing crank, Gil, and it's depressing.

Athos said...

But before you do make the environment as vehement a concern as the preceding gentleman wants, Gil, let us consider what Archbishop Chaput said; namely,
The whole meaning of “health care” would be subverted by any plan that involves mandated abortion access or abortion funding. The reason is obvious. Killing or funding the killing of unborn children has nothing to do with promoting human health, and including these things in any “health care” proposal, no matter how shrewdly hidden, would simply be a form of lying.

and also from his book, Render Unto Caesar (207),
In our day, sanctity-of-life issues are foundational - not because of anyone's "religious" views about abortion, although these are important; but because the act of dehumanizing and killing the unborn child attacks human dignity in a uniquely grave way. Deliberately killing the innocent is always, inexcusably wrong. It sets a pattern of contempt for every other aspect of human dignity. In redefining when human life begins and what is and isn't a human person, the logic behind permissive abortion makes all human rights politically contingent.

What critics (and name-callers, it seems) fail to do is follow arguments out far enough, particularly these days about human nature, imago dei, the use of euphemisms (e.g., lying), and the radical importance of truth (Gr. aletheia - "to stop forgetting") in relation to sacred power with the present age's proclivity to shoe-horning everyone into one of two Marxian categories of doubling rivalry (right/left, tree-huggers/gun-totting knotheads, et al).

I, for one, can think of no one on the right or left, Republican or Democrat I feel supports the magisterial truth of the Church.

But I suppose that makes me a "rightwing crank" somehow, too.

Mike O'Malley said...

Say Kevin, I doubt you ever heard the faux Marxist slogan, "a century of failure doesn't mean a thing!". I've been reading Amity Shlaes' excellent book on Hoover, FDR and the Great Depression, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression and several new Congressional Budget Office reports and I've got to say that slogan seems inescapable.

Yet this slogan is not entirely accurate. There are historical instances wherein common ownership and equitable distribute have succeeded ... for century after century ... Yet they never seem to be invoked by those whose goal is the nationalization of various industries. One is left to ponder why. But perhaps you can help Kevin. Common ownership of the means of production, including communal ownership and control of wages from labor (including low tech forms of universal health care) do succeed in Catholic, Orthodox and Buddhist monastic orders. The Shakers also established communities, which operated on the basis of common ownership and care, and they succeeded for centuries. Membership is voluntary and a member donates all property and future income to the communal order upon the taking of final vows.

Tell us Kevin, why don't leftist supporters of universal health care ever establish similar voluntary universal health care communities and use those voluntary communal health care cooperative as an institutional working model for a reformed national health care system? Why don't the great foundations which are largely controlled by the left so invest? Why don't leftist supporters of universal health care ever donate all of their property and future income to such a voluntary communal health care cooperative and care for each other and the poor thereby?


Please note that the working poor tend to give a larger share of their earnings than people of higher income, and that conservatives tend to give appreciably more than liberals. Strong families, church attendance, earned income (as opposed to state-subsidized income) seem to be a defining factor in who gives and perhaps why. See In Who Really Cares?: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism by Arthur C. Brooks, at the time of authorship a professor of public administration at Syracuse University, and now president of the American Enterprise Institute.


So Kevin, tell us.

Doughlas Remy said...

Gil, your double standard about Obama’s health care plan, as expressed in your comment (above) was nothing less than breathtaking. You tell us that you don’t know enough about the health care issue to speak intelligently about it, but that you don’t trust Obama on this issue or on any other issue. Isn’t this just another way of saying you don’t expect much from Obama’s plan because it is coming from…Obama? And then, in the next breath, you tell us that “his” fall-back positions are ideologically predetermined. Didn’t you just give us a sterling example of ideological predetermination, also familiarly known as “prejudging the issues”? Do you think there might be some chance that your verdict on the health care plan will be colored by your dislike of Obama?

Doughlas Remy said...

I appreciated Paul’s comments about broadening the scope of our attention, and I share his frustration that the abortion issue has crowded all the others off the stage. It is one thing to oppose abortion and to devote one’s energies to overturning Roe vs. Wade. But it is quite another to allow the abortion issue to become one’s sole yardstick in measuring the worth of a president who is committed to meaningfully addressing both health care reform and climate change.

These issues have to be prioritized. As important as the abortion issue is, it is nearly inconsequential when compared to anthropogenic global warming. Environmental activist Bill McKibben tells us that the question of climate change is of “transcendent urgency” and that “it represents the one overarching global civilizational challenge that humans have ever faced.” Forget the demographic winter. Carbon dioxide levels, now at 380 parts per million (ppm) (up from 280 ppm at the beginning of the industrial revolution), are projected to reach 500 parts per million (ppm) within the next forty years. That’s by 2050, within the lifetimes of many people now living, including our own children. As inconceivable as it may seem, this could mean the end of human civilization as we know it. The last “hot spell” like the one we’re about to see occurred 55 million years ago and lasted about 200,000 years.

Many climate scientists believe we have already passed the threshold of irreversible change and that the tipping point for CO2 was at something around 350 ppm. Arctic and glacial ice, already reduced by about 50% since the middle of the last century, will virtually disappear, shifting the Earth’s albedo toward darker, heat-absorbing colors. Greenland’s ice is melting at an alarming rate and threatens to reverse the course of the Gulf Stream. Rapid deforestation is removing one important means of “pumping down” CO2, and disappearance of ocean algae (as a result of warming) is removing another. Meanwhile, the warming of the oceans and of arctic tundra is releasing millions of tons of methane gas, 20 times more potent than CO2, into the atmosphere every day. Sea levels are expected to rise nearly 12 meters, submerging major population centers around the world.

This scenario isn’t just about the future. It is happening now, and it is observable and measurable. The unspeakable tragedy of it all is that we continue to live in denial and that we lack the political will to take effective action. We should be educating our children about it. Every school child should know about albedo and CO2 levels, methane gas and rising sea levels. Instead, our children, who can recount the latest Harry Potter story in great detail, know next to nothing about any of this and don’t want to hear about it. Perhaps this is because they hear us still quibbling about it and don’t want to risk taking sides. And the quibbling will go on as long as the oil and gas interests can convince us, in their smarmy TV ads, that they’ve got everything under control and that they have our best interests at heart. I predict that London and New York City will be under water long before climate change deniers wake up to what has happened and why.

When there is such a clear choice between a president who is committed to meaningful action on this issue and one who is not, our decision should be a no-brainer. If you don’t like his position on abortion, then fight him about it. The “all-or-nothing” approach is a big mistake. It’s the kind of blinkered thinking that got us into this mess in the first place.

Unknown said...

One of the standard measurements on a continuously expanding list of concerns among environmentalists and conservationists is mercury pollution. While you apparently continue ignoring everything around you so you can better focus on the evils of abortion, consider this: Federal studies by the USGS show that of 300 streams tested across the country, every single species of fish tested positive for mercury poisoning. One fourth of the fish tested had levels of mercury that rendered them unsafe for human consumption. Mercury consumed by eating fish can damage the nervous system and cause learning disabilities in developing fetuses and young children. I know you're probably upset by the distinction between fetuses and children, but that will soon be rectified. The main source of mercury in most of the streams tested, according to the researchers, is emissions from coal-fired power plants. The mercury released from smokestacks here and abroad rains down into waterways, where natural processes convert it into methylmercury – a form that allows the toxin to wind its way up the food chain into fish. My point? The decision to abort may soon be rendered moot by the ongoing rampage of human folly. Of course, if you're oblivious to it, and don't have "enough knowledge to render an opinion" nature will kindly step in and render it for you. And that awful Obama fellow? The one you don't trust? His administration said it would begin crafting new regulations to control mercury emissions from power plants after a federal appeals court threw out plans drafted by the Bush administration and favored by industry. So, in spite of your best efforts to demonize him as a baby killer and a moral monster, he's at least attempting to fix a problem which apparently has yet to appear on your radar screen.

If you outlaw abortion, the historical reality remains as implacable and long standing as it ever was: Women will willingly put their own lives at risk in greater numbers to eliminate unwanted children without the protection of law which insures them autonomy over their own bodies and a better standard of care then they would receive with deficient and illegal methods. No law will ever stop abortion. There were 1.2 million abortions performed each year before Roe v. Wade. Keep the laws in place, and those who've tasked themselves with being perpetually morally vigilant will squeal about the loss of human dignity while refusing to allow the slightest spark of empathy to escape the animus and sheer contempt for anyone who doesn't see the world through the enlightened eyes of such arbitrary Christian compassion. This much I know for sure: The numbers of aborted babies since Roe V. Wade and the number of citizens who lack medical insurance coverage are roughly equivalent.

Why can't we find the resources to take care of our sick and uninsured? Because it's easier to belabor what we can't fix through single issue zeitgeist than to take action where it will do some good? Our military defense budget is 10 times our current health budget. In fact, it's bigger than all other domestic budgets combined. Our bombs, planes, aircraft carriers, tanks, submarines and boats are getting excellent care and continuous maintenance. Neglect isn't an issue if you're a bomb. Even one third of the present military budget allocated for health would both provide for our defense and give us a standard of care that would exceed every industrial nation in the world (which, by the way, presently leave us in the dust). According to the World Health Organization, we are currently ranked 37th in overall performance, right next to Slovenia, and 72nd by overall level of health. There were 191 countries in the study.

Mike O'Malley said...

I don't see a double standard in Gil's post and response above, Mr. Remy. The health care proposals of the Administration and the Democratic congress are highly complex and shifting. Gil confined his original commentary to mandated abortion access and abortion funding under a Orwellian misnomer of "health care". Surely a reasonable man can understand why Gil might find this tactic to be shrewd and disingenuous.

For whatever reason Gil does not trust Pres. Obama. That too seems fair or at least hardly breathtaking. As are Gil's assessments that Pres. Obama in operating "above his pay grade" and that a one time New Party (socialist) candidate' fallback positions might be ideologically predetermined. Without doubt Pres. Obama's position on abortion and infanticide are morally reprehensible, and that, together with his selection of Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel as a national health care reform adviser, "does not bode well for the life issues near the end of life".

This is what feminist blogger Dr. Violet Socks had to say about Pres. Obama's inexperience and obviously lack intellectual preparation for office at the national level.

"... it has not escaped my attention that many of the things Palin is accused of, falsely, are actually true of Obama. This is a guy who, as a U.S. senator from Illinois, didn't even know which Senate committees he was on or which states bordered his own. (And don't even get me started on Joe "The Talking Donkey" Biden, who thinks FDR was president during the stock market crash and that people watched TV back then.) I'm not saying Obama's a moron, but he's sure as hell no genius. People say Sarah Palin rambles; excuse me, but have you actually heard Obama speak extemporaneously? As for being a diva, surely we all remember the Possomus sign and the special embroidered pillow on the Obama campaign plane. The fact is, Obama is an intellectually mediocre narcissist with a thin resume who's lost without a teleprompter and whose entire campaign had all the substance and gravity of a Pepsi commercial."
Hmmm, one might find Gil above to be a gentlemenly model of restraint.

Mike O'Malley said...

Dean said... "There were 1.2 million abortions performed each year before Roe v. Wade.

1.2 million...? That's simply nonsense.

Unknown said...

I gotta come to Gil's defence here (belatedly to be sure). Those who have heard his talks cannot but acknowledge his intelligence and thoughtfulness. Whilst some may wish to disagree on some points, he cannot possibly be written off as a crank, much less a winged one.

I suspect that underlying Gil's regular emphasis on the issues of life and the dignity of personhood is the awareness that they are so foundational as to affect every other social issue we might care about (the Church has clearly articulated this). Whatever potential collective calamities we might be faced with in due course--and our age would certainly not be unique in this regard, despite the human predilection for overemphasising the significance of one's own age--if we don't have the life / personhood compass aligned well, any efforts we make are bound to unleash further unforseen tragedies. We can already see this in the well-meaning but tragically short-sighted sentiments underlying the coming tide of euthanasia.

Furthermore, it is precisely the confusion surrounding who the most pressing victim is that makes abortion so culturally--not to mention personally--destructive. Any thoughtful Girardian can see that, as Christianity has taken hold of a culture, further attempts at scape-goating need to be presented as being in aid of victims in order for them to have any legitimacy. It is precisely this confusion that "Satan" exploits to maintain business as usual. The difficulties faced by women with unwanted pregnancies demand our help, but they are at least alive to experience them.

As for the question of pre-judging: we all make pre-judgements every day, and many of them are perfectly reasonable (e.g. pre-judging the stability of a car we're about to drive in). If Gil's wariness here was due to the President being black / left-handed / from Illinois / etc. that would of course be unacceptable. However, basing a judgement on a demonstrated pattern of policies and statements makes it perfectly reasonable to expect more of the same unless clearly shown otherwise. This is simple inference, not ideology.

Mike O'Malley said...

Dean said: Why can't we find the resources to take care of our sick and uninsured? Because it's easier to belabor what we can't fix through single issue zeitgeist than to take action where it will do some good? Our military defense budget is 10 times our current health budget. In fact, it's bigger than all other domestic budgets combined.

And that sir is what has been commonly know as "lying with statistics".

Try comparing the 2008 fiscal year budgeted defense expenditures to something meaningful, such as:
1) total federal entitlement and discretionary expenditures for health care in 2008 to that same $ 481.1 billion of budgeted defense expenditures,

2) total federal, state and local government expenditures for health care in 2008 to that same $ 481.1 billion of budgeted defense expenditures, and

3) total private sector and government sector expenditures for health care in 2008 to that same $ 481.1 billion of budgeted defense expenditures.

Given the fact that your link clearly indicates that nondiscretionary federal spending is excluded from your statistics, as are all state and local government and private sector expenditures, I'd say Dean that you are either trying to mislead us or that you are insufficiently informed to discuss this aspect of health care reform.

Dean said: According to the World Health Organization, we are currently ranked 37th in overall performance, right next to Slovenia, and 72nd by overall level of health. There were 191 countries in the study.

An acquaintance of mine, a senior scientist at the FDA, on more than a few occasions detailed for me that numerous problems with that particular WHO statistical measure. In summary, that particular measure is statistically flawed. Those flaws are significant. Among things, this WHO statical measure does not adjust for differences in reporting criteria and medical definition between countries nor does it adjust for no small amounts of cooking of the books by bureaucrats in countries with government run national health care plans. If you are unaware to these substantial flaws in this WHO health care measure you would be well advise to broaden your reading to include the Wall Street Journal and/or Investors Business Daily.

Mark Gordon said...

Well, Gil, you certainly have stepped in it now. Don't you know that any criticism of President Obama, direct or implied, is beyond the pale and marks you as a gun-toting, tree of liberty watering, right-wing crank? As anyone who voted for President Obama knows, the healthcare debate has nothing to do with abortion and euthanasia because President Obama says so, and you know what? President Obama should know because healthcare reform was his idea! That's right, he thought it up! And even though he hasn't proposed his own plan for healthcare reform, President Obama is in complete control of the Democrats on Capitol Hill and he would never let them pass a bill that had anything to do at all with abortion and euthanasia.

Gil, I'm worried about you. Apparently, you also missed the faculty memo that there is to be no dissent on the issue of anthropogenic climate change. Not that you've actually dissented, but your foolish obsession with abortion amounts to dissent since it suggests that something - anything - else could possibly be more important than climate change. I mean, it's as if you never even saw "An Inconvenient Truth." Gil, you did see "An Inconvenient Truth," didn't you? Aren't you the least bit concerned about mercury poisoning and how it is contributing to the 42 million permanently uninsured children in America, infants who never had insurance, but who now have President Obama to give them insurance out of his own pocket and save the planet from sea level rise so they won't have to fight in Iraq and can instead fight for change they can believe in and get this economy back on track after the evil Bush Administration torched the Bill of Rights and tortured everyone in Iran ... and ... and ...

Didn't you get the faculty memo on all of this, Gil?

Cheryl Maslow said...

To Doughlas: I would agree that denial of anthropogenic climate change will be with us until the very end and that it will continue to drag against urgently needed change. We’ve seen the active form of this denial recently on this very blog site. But there is the more passive form that you alluded to: your example was of children who can tell you everything about Harry Potter but know next to nothing about the planet that they live on. And when do they learn about our planet? Probably never, unless they major in earth science. According to Gallup polls, 18% of Americans think the sun orbits the earth and about 45% hold the creationist view that God created the earth sometime within the last 10,000 years. If our ignorance about the earth continues at these levels, there is little hope for our survival.

Even those who understand the threat that faces us seem incapable of action. And I include myself in this group. We are creatures of habit and we are drawn to whatever increases our comfort and reduces our anxiety. We dislike disturbing other people with dire forecasts, and we try to protect our children from any unpleasant reality. And, above all, we are addicted to our wasteful and consumptive lifestyles. The “meaningful change” you hoped for will not come without both understanding (knowledge) and resolve, and we have neither. It’s easier to just deny that any problem exists and to mock those who take it seriously.

You raised the issue of priorities, and I would just like to add that we are all going to be called upon to work on many different fronts. A lot of the issues that we get excited about are going to be moot if climate scientists are right about the direction we are headed. This doesn’t mean that we abandon these issues, but only that we keep them in perspective. I am personally vexed with Obama about several decisions that he has either made or not made, but I would still vote for him again if the alternative was John McCain, and this is because he has already delivered far more than McCain even promised. We can infer from your earlier comments that you are at least disappointed in Obama because of his inaction on the gays-in-the-military issue, but his action on health care and the environment appear to have your support, at least in general terms. You are weighting the issues not just on the basis of their importance for the group for which you advocate (or with which you identify) but for all Americans and indeed all of humankind. I am not a single-issue voter, and I think single-issue politics is a terrible mistake, now more than ever. Dean was quite right and prescient to point out the connection between abortion rates and the deplorable state of our health care system. There are so many other connections to be made. What is called for is a truly systemic approach that will recognize the interconnectedness of all these issues. Then we need the will and the bandwidth to inform ourselves about them. However, none of this—the changed approach, the will, or the bandwidth—will make any difference as long as we cling to our tribal mindsets and insist on behaving like soccer fans when confronted with political choices.

Unknown said...

Mike said: And that sir is what has been commonly know as "lying with statistics".
No. That sir, is what comes from trying to make heads or tails of the indecipherable U.S. budget. Discretionary and non-discretionary are just budget law jargon and shouldn't be taken to imply anything about the permanence or ultimate cost of any program, because as we know federal programs are damn near immortal. There is no such thing as non-discretionary defense spending.
Discretionary spending requires an annual appropriation bill, the legislation which authorizes the government to spend money. Discretionary spending is typically set by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Since the spending is typically for a fixed period (usually a year), it is said to be under the discretion of the Congress. Some appropriations last for more than one year. In particular, multi-year appropriations are often used for housing programs and military procurement programs. Factor in budget authority, outlays, subcommittee requests, mandatory spending, direct spending, conference committees and it becomes very confusing indeed.
The graph I linked too was an analysis of funding requests, not appropriations granted. The statistics come straight from the Department of Defense. They apparently want a lot more funding then they get. Even if you reconfigure it by expenditures, the appropriations are nearly double health care costs. I suspect when you factor in black budgets (which are undisclosed to the general accounting office) they are even higher. I was not trying to be deceitful or juggle statistics to create a better case. By whatever measure you assess it, they're getting too big a piece of the pie and there's very little accountability for it.
The main stumbling block against providing health insurance for all Americans, aside from the ideological Palin and MCaughey voodooism about death panels and euthanasia, is the question of who will pay for this. The government will need a revenue source to subsidize those not getting it through workplace or unable to pay otherwise — about $100 billion annually.
Marginal tax rates can and should be raised on high-earners, e.g. those over $500,000 a year. But another very visible funding source, albeit never mentioned, can come from even a modest cut in military spending, which now is running amok at over $600 billion annually. With all the different budget and appropriation prestidigitators doing their Criss Angel magician's magic, the pentagon is like the Aegean stables of the military-industrial complex into which money vanishes as if into a black hole.
The Pentagon's spending rate is now higher than it was at the height of the Cold War, and is about one-half of the entire world's military spending, although the US has only about 5% of the world population. At this rate it is no wonder that the US has not enough money to pay for health care like other industrialized nations do.
Here's an excellent common sense summary of the present health care bill from an unexpected source. And here is the followup article published soon after.
It just occurred to me that Gil became eligible for MediCare two days ago on his 65th birthday. Roger Ebert is 67. Both have had cancer. Even though Ebert was quite well off financially at the start of his illness, 6 operations have pretty much exhausted his financial resources. But that nice little socialized form of medical welfare kicked in at just the right moment. Nobody argues that this is a bad system. The so called "Public Option" would make MediCare available to the general population without replacing private insurance. It just offers you more options.

Doughlas Remy said...

I would heartily recommend the two Roger Ebert articles that Dean has linked to. They are not only informative but inspiring, and they are some of the best writing I’ve seen so far on the public option plan. As one interested in meme theory, I was particularly impressed with his take on the expression “death panel” as a powerfully destructive self-replicating meme that shows every sign of having been crafted by someone much more astute than Sarah Palin (and then channeled through her... what more perfect conduit could one hope for?) There is little hope for us until we can understand where such toxic memes originate (following the money trail will usually get us there) and how insanely manipulated we are by them. Ebert’s graphs showing Wall Street’s reaction to the apparent death of the public health option should be enough to convince anyone that the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are driving efforts to discredit Obama’s plan, and that they find fertile ground among those who are so aggrieved against him (because he’s a Democrat, because he’s black, because he is pro-choice, and yady-yady-yah) that they are simply incapable of judging any of his programs on their merits. Worse, many of them just “spit in the soup,” as the French say. We will never have a decent health care plan in this country until we stop acting like spoiled children.

And once again we are treated to the spectacle of so-called “Christians” resisting a plan that can ensure health care for everyone. This should not surprise us, especially after hearing Mr. O’Malley’s views on torture following one of these earlier blog posts, and his defense of Sarah Palin’s lies. Come on! Do we have to argue about whether lying is morally wrong? What is it about the Ten Commandments and the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount that is not clear to some of you folks? Sorry if I sound perturbed, but I have always heard from Christians that it is people like myself who lack a moral compass. But I actually do read the Bible, and I’m beginning to wonder if I don’t take some of the core teachings of Jesus a lot more to heart than some of you. Ebert’s quotation of Matthew 25:31-46 was very moving to me, and I’ve read it repeatedly since I was a child. How can anyone read those verses and not get behind a health plan that will end the suffering of millions of Americans? Well, I guess I know the answer. Obama hatred far outweighs any concern we have for the afflicted. Rush Limbaugh expressed it so well when he said, “I want Obama to fail.”

Mark Gordon said...

Doughlas must be in menopause because his latest post is just one long emotional jerimiad, although the hilarious concluding paragraph was worth the price of admission.

So, there are three healthcare reform plans moving through Congress. None of them is the President's plan because the President doesn't have a plan. All the President has offered are three 'principles' for healthcare reform, principles that are in a constant state of revision and redefinition.

My question for the Christians here - as opposed to those of us pagans who, never having read Matthew 25, are dubious about healthcare reform - is this: which plan do you support? Every pro-healthcare reform poster here has written as if there is one plan, clearly defined and understood, against which anyone opposed stands. But that simply is not true. Two distinct bills have been introduced in the House, and one of those bills has two versions. Three "plans." And yet none of the real Christians here has offered a defense of any one plan over another. All Saints Paul, Dean and Doughlas have done is scapegoat Gil for admitting that he doesn't know enough to speak intelligently on the issue, but that he doesn't trust Barack Obama.

So, again, my question: Which plan do you three support?

I can hear the furious Googling right now. In fact, I'm sure neither Paul, Doughlas or Dean can answer the question without a good Google (not that they'll ever admit it). That's because, unlike Gil, they refuse to be honest and write something along these lines: " I don't know enough to speak intelligently about the issue, but of one thing I am perfectly clear: I trust Barack Obama, on this issue and any other."

Unknown said...

Sure, Mark. I'll take a stab at it. I don't know enough about health care to do anything, so I'll do nothing. I'll complain, ruminate, point fingers, and warn about the cost and the consequences. I'll shout at the top of my lungs at town hall meetings, insinuate that our President is an idiot, and live in abject paranoia about the state of the world. I'll hunker down as I divide the world into "safe" categories consisting of us/them, of which I will of course be the principle "us". and then I'll pivot on what I perceive is everyone's self righteousness but my own. Finally, I'll take a bath and wash the dirt from my soul, along with the capacity for any kind of self assessment, and I'll do it all without Googling a single word.

Actually, Doughlas, Cheryl, Paul, Kevin, Norma, Doug, Lloyd and Pelican are among a fairly large group of folks here whose opinions and input I respect and look forward to because they are respectful, thoughtful in their responses, and they actually seem to care enough to think for themselves and offer opinions and ideas that contribute to something other than parroting party line ideology.

As for my imagined "saintliness", I'll let Bruce Cockburn speak for me:

"Even though I know who loves me,
I'm not that much less lost."

Of course, Rocket launcher is good too, but maybe we can use that on another day.

Personally, I'm for a public option system that keeps MediCare intact, provides coverage for everyone regardless of "pre-existing conditions" and allows the marketplace to provide competitive choices. I would like to see less spent on defense so that it can be channelled into care. I'm sure the final package for reform will contain some of these idea and lack others. The important thing is that we come in line with trends in the industrialized world and offer a system that helps everyone. Hope that helps.

Cheryl Maslow said...

Mark, your “menopause” remark was not too surprising in light of views that you have expressed in the past, including ones on your own blog site. The target was just too tempting, wasn't it? I’ll just bet that you’ve got an impressive collection of anti-gay slurs just waiting for the right occasion.

Mark Gordon said...

Dean has admitted that doesn't know enough about the specific reform plans on the table to speak intelligently about the issue.

He's also shown that he hasn't reviewed his own earlier posts, which featured the very sort of complaining, ruminating, fingerpointing, insinuation, paranoia, divisiveness, and self-righteousness he now decries in others.

It's funny, but all Gil wrote was "I don't know enough to speak :I don't know enough to speak intelligently about the issue, but of one thing I am perfectly clear: I do not trust Barack Obama, on this issue or any other. He is 'above his pay grade' on this and most other issues, and his fall-back positions are ideologically predetermined. His position on abortion is morally reprehensible, and that does not bode well for the life issues near the end of life."

That's it. And yet look at the amount of animus this one paragraph has generated, beginning with Paul, but continuing through Cheryl, Doughlas, Dean. Read through this thread and see the names that Gil has been called, read the unhinged purple prose, feel the negative emotion pouring off the screen. I mean, just try to follow Paul's screed at 10:46, or the last paragraph of Doughlas's post at 2:36 PM. Or this gem, from Dean:

"No law will ever stop abortion. There were 1.2 million abortions performed each year before Roe v. Wade. Keep the laws in place, and those who've tasked themselves with being perpetually morally vigilant will squeal about the loss of human dignity while refusing to allow the slightest spark of empathy to escape the animus and sheer contempt for anyone who doesn't see the world through the enlightened eyes of such arbitrary Christian compassion."

That's some sick shit right there.

Just imagine if Gil had written: "No law will ever stop poverty. There were millions of uninsured people for years before Obama. Keep the laws in place, and those who've tasked themselves with being perpetually morally vigilant will squeal about the loss of human dignity while refusing to allow the slightest spark of empathy to escape the animus and sheer contempt for anyone who doesn't see the world through the enlightened eyes of such arbitrary Christian compassion."

But I digress. Any other champion of healthcare reform have any idea at all what the hell they're talking about?

Dan Florio said...

It's almost sadly comical to me that those of us who claim to be "Girardians" can just as easily as anyone else slip into the swirling vortex of anger, self-righteousness, and hate-speech that inevitably leads to a monstrous-double scenario. We should be the first to recognize and avoid this, but we're just as likely to be the first to get sucked into the black hole of hate.

Of course, I'm not against strongly putting forth one's opinions--for example, though many important issues exist, I cannot believe any of you will simply label abortion another "issue" alongside a host of other issues. Abortion is not an "issue"--it's simply killing. There. That's my opinion.

However, this blog again and again, in my opinion, devolves into something quite apart from the substance of the arguments involved: it becomes a verbal battle with no end in sight. It seems no one is learning; all are merely preaching.

Let us Christians stand outside the fray, pointing out all the truth, all the virtue, all the evil we can discern, not letting ourselves become trapped inside a party or ideology, angered at 50% of the evil and defending 50% of the victims. The truth shall set you free, but owning merely 50% of the truth shall only keep you in bondage.

This is not a particular criticism (or absolution) of Gil or anyone else on here; I'm merely making an observation that I believe it is the irony or ironies that Girardians (or Christians of any stripe) will let themselves get caught up in the kind of very partisan, one-upping, verbal violence that Girard's work deconstructs so beautifully. Let us repent daily, knowing of our propensity for such things. In that spirit, I apologize in advance if I have mispoken; I merely speak, I hope, from whatever faint light of wisdom may have been granted to me.

Mark Gordon said...

Cheryl, you can always be counted on for the very finest in politically correct theory and practice. Google 'male menopause,' then come back and tell us which of the three healthcare reform bills moving through Congress you support.

Unknown said...

The point was this: in regard to health care reform, Gil Bailie substitutes ideology for argument, because he has no argument for or against. No case need be made for my assertion. It is completely revealed in his comment, in which he turned the question of health care reform into the abortion question (for which, as we know, he has a ready answer). This short cut is, sadly, the old sacrificial two-step. Let's not forget who suggested that, when it comes to the (one should think) enormously complex issue of how health care should be handled in a nation of 300,000,000, we ought to "keep it simple." That, I suggested, is the pagan religious gesture par excellence. When faced with a complex issue such as what to do about health care -- one of those conundrums which any Girardian worth his or her salt should know ought not to be polarized into right and left -- one decides it very, very simply indeed. Health care: messy. Abortion: simple. So let's make the one into the other. And drop it. There are many people in this country who voted for the Palin-McCain ticket because they were thereby "voting with God." How do they conclude this? They reach this certainty through the Gil Bailie two-step: they are voting with God because Palin and McCain (after he changed his mind) were both for overturning Roe vs. Wade. Interesting maneuver, but from a Girardian perspective, a total "stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off" cop-out. Douglas R. asked about our priorities: given a limited amount of resources, where should we direct our energy? Towards fighting on many fronts to ward off technological, ecological and biological catastrophe? Or should we decide that the only catastrophe worth our attention is that of the current state of the abortion debate? Gil has copped out on questions regarding the environment, and questions regarding health care reform: two important "Girardian" issues of the day. This encourages all his epigones to do the same. And, judging from this thread, many of them are.

Doughlas Remy said...

(My response to Dan, submitted in error under another posting)
Dan writes: I cannot believe any of you will simply label abortion another "issue" alongside a host of other issues. Abortion is not an "issue"--it's simply killing.

Dan, this seems to be a bit of wishful thinking. Abortion is in fact an “issue,” and your attempt to give it some kind of transcendent status over all other issues—many of which also involve either killing, abuse, or neglect—exemplifies the political tendency that we have been discussing here. That tendency is to become so with one single issue that (1) we become totally blinkered to other issues of equal or greater importance, and (2) we are unable to achieve a holistic or systemic view of them. I realize that abortion is an important issue for you, as it is for all of us, but climate change, health care, the economy, war, and human rights abuses are also important to many of us. Furthermore, I think many of these issues could in principle be rationally “weighted,” as Cheryl says, but that we’ll never manage to do so—precisely because many of feel that our issues are transcendent. If I were to attach the word “transcendent” to any issue, it would be that of climate change. (Environmentalist Bill McKibben has in fact said that this issue is of “transcendent urgency.”)

Yes, I agree with you about the “swirling vortex of anger, self-righteousness,” etc., and we occasionally need some kindly spirit like yourself to pull us up. I am serious, and seriously grateful. Someone needs to occasionally step in a say, “Alright, boys and girls, this is getting out of hand. Break it up!” You have done this before, and it is very effective, like the Zen slap, if we may mix religious traditions here a bit.

And, as you say, we engage in verbal battles “with no end in sight.” But how could there be an end? We wake up every morning to a world that needs fixing, and we’re never going to agree about how to fix it. The conversation, with all its acrimony, at least stimulates our problem-solving faculties, shows us where the fault lines are, and sharpens our powers of persuasion, for all the good it will do. I realize it must look like mud-wrestling at times, but the Internet medium ensures that we all stay in our separate cages and the writing process ensures at least a modicum of deliberation. Best of all, no one can really “get in your face” on a blog site, because one always has the option of disengaging. And, thankfully, we are spared the body language.

It’s a bit like being in traffic. There is some road rage to deal with, and one has to occasionally honk one’s horn at the guy cutting in. But the alternative is staying home. Despite all the ugliness and rancor, there is still enough thoughtful and provocative writing here to my interest, selective though it may be, and I am thankful for many of the exchanges I’ve had here. The rest is just theatre.

Dan Florio said...

Doug, I appreciate your response to my thoughts. However, you may have assumed that because I mentioned abortion--which I threw into the middle of my diatribe on the nature of this blog's tendency toward devolution just to show I can be opinionated too--that I'm just another political one-trick pony.

The truth is, I agonize over my vote every time. I agonize over the world's problems. I weep over mankind's inability to stop killing, shooting without shame over pieces of dirt essentially. I long for a heavenly oneness. I cringe when George Bush talks about "smokin' 'em out o' their holes" and Sarah Palin stumbles over her words, and I also cringe when Obama kisses up to Planned Parenthood and calls the abortion debate "so '90's." I wonder where all the trash goes, and what we're doing to our air, water, and what we're consuming in processed food. I think about child obesity. AIDS. Poverty. I think about how some 40000 people are killed annually in the USA in auto accidents, but nobody talks about it as a life issue, because we all want our cars. I think of how the military seems to be a necessary thing to defend freedom, but I also think that young men have to be make to be nearly inhuman in order to carry out their missions at times. What about those trained to kill on our behalf. Aren't they being "sacrificed?"

I think, agonize, and pray over all these things and more. I think everything I've mentioned is a true pro-life issue, and many of the concerns of the "left" and "right" on and off this blog are truly pro-life issues. But if I choose abortion as a paramount problem, it's because even if there are truly a thousand "pro-life" issues out there, abortion is the most fundamental and widespread and accepted-as-normal pro-life issue. To me the cutting down of human beings that are in the earliest stagest of development is a basic, fundamental problem, the greatest moral issue. This is not to downplay other, very serious problems. It's just that after ca. 50 million abortions in the country, I believe abortions trumps all other issues is the moral problem of moral problems. And I do not believe, while we harvest 3000-4000 innocent souls a day in this country alone, that we will ever solve the other problems we face until we address abortion itself in a better way. I don't believe we will learn to appreciate, nurture, and protect, post-born life until we learn to appreciate, nurture, and protect pre-born life. The same spiritual "muscles" are involved in both cases.

You are of course welcome to disagree with any or all of this. I just ask you not to assume that I sit around chafing about all the abortions and meanwhile I couldn't care less about the myriad other ways in which we are not a "pro-life" society. It's not true.

And as far as the debate, with occasional road-rage, I think you are probably right. It's worth bouncing the ideas around, even if the temperature rises now and then. I just don't have a personal taste for debate, and was simply trying to point out the irony of Christians/Girardians getting all worked up and verbally violent when we should be first to recognize the phenomenon of blame, within and without ourselves.


Mike O'Malley said...

Thank you Dan Florio for you elegant contribution.

I came to the study of Girard recently finding in it powerful explanation of some of my most difficult and painful experiences as a union official and organizer. As an orthodox Catholic I find Girard and Bailie often challenging, yet too deeply insightful to ignore. One is moved to ponder how expansive is the freedom we have been gifted by G-d, and how deep the abyss before our feet. Saul killed his thousands and David his tens of thousands, but the Nietzschean anti-Christians of the 20th Century killed their tens of millions and hundreds of millions ... and the Enlightened eagerly provided apologetics for the makers of mass graves. One might think that the 21st Century does not boded well. Can one read through some of these exchanges and find reason for despair? Perhaps. Christopher Lasch maintained that one needs the argument of those with whom one disagrees to test and explore one's own thought and that without democratic debate one can never know the dangers and implications of ones own ideas. Keep in mind that Jesus' Himself took part in heated debate. He was a Jewish eschatological preacher. Yet even self professed Girardians can just as easily as anyone else slip into the swirling vortex of anger, self-righteousness, and hate-speech. This too is anticipated by Girard and seems an all but inescapable part of human nature.

As Jesus said in one of those heated debates:
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers! [Matt 23:29-33]

Why should we think that we are any better than the Pharisees?

If I may be so direct, there is no subset of humanity which is immune to mimetic rivalry. One is mistaken if one thinks one's self part of such an enlightened subset.

If I may be so bold as to paraphrase:
"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to reciprocal violence? [Matt 23:33-34]


Have you heard, Mr. Florio? It seems that Dr. Girard is about to publish another book: Achever Clausewitz. Dr Girard published an introductory essay in First Things.

Here is a link to First Things:

Here is an essay by Charles Hampton on this book:

Mike O'Malley said...

Gil do you know when Michigan State University Press is expected to publish the English translation of Achever Clausewitz: Battling to the End: Politics, War, and Apocalypse?

Dan Florio said...

Thanks, Mike, and yes, I read the Girard essay in First Things and found it just fascinating. Sadly so, perhaps, yet hopefully so as well.

Of course you are right that I would be nothing but pompous to think reading a few Girardian books would exempt me from the long inexorable history of human sin and violence. I'm sure I'm guilty of this at times and yesterday's gospel about the Pharisees brings it home powerfully: no matter now much we think we know or how holy is our behavior, we are still slaves to a law at work in our members, a body of death from which only God can rescue us. But thanks for reminding me. Still--again--it does seem to me we who are exposed to Girard and Bailie in tandem with the Gospels should at least be good diagnosticians of our own disease, if not able to provide a magical cure that only comes from the Spirit.

Gil Bailie said...

Mike, I'm not sure, but I believe it should be very soon. This fall at any rate. My best.

Cheryl Maslow said...

Dan, after re-reading the thread from Paul’s most recent comment on down, my impression is that you’ve confirmed what Paul and Doughlas said about the “political tendency” to hold all other issues hostage to successful resolution of the abortion debate. Doughlas never suggested that you were unconcerned about war, poverty, and injustice. Your concern is deeply appreciated, but it is not the issue.

You expressed your own position most clearly when you wrote, “abortion trumps all other issues [and] is the moral problem of all moral problems,” and “...we will never solve the other problems we face until we address abortion itself in a better way.”

If you believe this in a very literal sense, then there is simply no point in addressing any other issue until Roe vs. Wade is overturned. Even if you cannot fully support such a proposition, it is nonetheless a political tendency, and it may account for a lot of the weird and warped effects we’re observing in the political process today. It sometimes seems that certain pro-life conservatives will forgive an elected leader anything as long as he or she has the correct position on abortion, and that they will unilaterally oppose any programs, even desperately-needed reforms, that are advocated by political leaders who happen to be pro-choice. This is just single-issue politics gone berzerk. It is expressed in the formula, “If President/Senator/candidate X is for program Y, then I have got to be against it, because President/Senator/candidate X has a position on issue Z that I do not agree with.” People of all political persuasions fall prey to this kind of thinking, and I can give you the example of Democrats who hated Bush so much that they were unable to recognize that his swift action in response to the economic crisis that began in the fall of 2008 was constructive. My own opinion of the Bush-Cheney administration’s record is overwhelmingly (but not uniformly) negative. I can honestly say that I tried to give credit where credit was due, but that I was appalled by that administration’s inaction on climate change, its lies about WMD in Iraq and its subsequent invasion of that country, and its flouting of international laws about torture, among many other things. And I believe that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others should be prosecuted. As for Obama, I am certainly not in phase with him on all issues. He’s much too centrist for my taste, and I am very disappointed with his stonewalling and inaction on the torture issue. Furthermore, I agree with Glenn Greenwald that Obama has not been straightforward with us about health care.

Another problem, in my view, with the position that you’ve taken (i.e., that ...”we will never solve the other problems ... until we address abortion”) is that successfully addressing the abortion issue may actually require addressing other problems. This is the “systemic” approach that I alluded to earlier, and it starts with the recognition that many issues are so interconnected that we cannot deal with them in isolation. Several of the contributors to this blog have made this point more eloquently than I. Income disparity, lack of adequate health care, environmental pollution, and even climate change may influence a woman’s decision to carry her baby to term. The last of these may not seem obvious now, but just wait until the realization begins to sink in among billions of our planet’s inhabitants that civilizational collapse may be unavoidable within the lifetimes of their children. We are going to see levels of fear and despair unlike anything we as a species have ever witnessed, and our anxieties about nuclear winters and demographic winters will pale in comparison.

You made many interesting points, and I would like to comment some other time on “the irony of Christians/Girardians getting all worked up and verbally violent.” This turning of our attention to our “process” is very important, and I think it opens up a rich territory for discussion.

Cheryl Maslow said...

Dan, in reference to your intuition that young men trained to kill on our behalf are being “sacrificed,” I heartily agree, and I believe you might be interested in a book by Carolyn Marvin, called “Blood Sacrifice and the Nation: Totem Rituals and the American Flag” (1999), and one by Richard A. Koenigsberg: “Nations Have the Right to Kill” (2009), which is poorly written but nonetheless very insightful.

Mike O'Malley said...

Cheryl Maslow said; ... the Bush-Cheney administration's record is overwhelmingly (but not uniformly) negative. ... but that I was appalled by that administration's inaction on climate change, its lies about WMD in Iraq and its subsequent invasion of that country, and its flouting of international laws about torture, ... I believe that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others should be prosecuted.

But what if the science and computer models behind the "Anthropic Global Warning" claims are unsound. What if the proposed solutions will have marginal and uncertain benefits which will not be measurable for the better part of a century? What if the economic costs of the proposed remedies are known to be so prohibitively costly that they will impoverish much of the world's population?

What if the Bush Administration did not lie about Saddam's WMD capabilities? What if the invasion of Iraq was justified?

What international laws did the Bush Administration actually flout? The Bush Administration did not break any such American law. The enhanced interrogation techniques authorized by the Bush Administration were not torture as the term "torture" was understood before the Iraq War, nor were they torture under current American law.

What if prosecuting Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others is craven act of betrayal, cowardice and appeasement?


In the Winter of 2002, the Bush Administration Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell wisely backed India and Pakistan away form the very brink of nuclear war. A war in which the US Defense Department estimated that India and Pakistan would likely suffer as many as 125 million casualties. Thereafter the Bush Administration persuaded India and Pakistan to cooperate together in the war on terror.

Are you aware of this Cheryl?

Mike O'Malley said...

The candidate for POTUS who I supported in the 2008 election cycle was Rudy Giuliani. He was one of the few candidates available who in my view had the toughness and experience necessary for that job at this particular time. Not one of the final four measure(d) up in my view.

Yet IMHO abortion is central to this American moment. Abortion in the moral corruption that poisons the well of American political discourse. It seems all American public institutions are being subordinated to and compromised by abortion. From my experience I have come to expect that most abortion advocates either consciously know or intuitively know that abortion kills a baby. It is hard to imagine the conditions under which someone who is pro-abortion would publicly concede that abortion kills a baby. I have heard tape recordings of abortionist/doctors instructing their newly hired nursing staff in no uncertain terms that abortion kills a baby, only to hear them deny as much when confronted in public. On more than a few occasion a guilt ridden women or teenager has bent my sympathetic ear to express their regret for the death of their aborted baby. The moral confusion and suffering of such women has always been profound. But abortion requires self deception and public deception such as that of the abortion providers mentioned above and such as the sad compromises of memory of those women who shared with me their regret.

There will be no peace in the world until there is first peace in the womb.

Cheryl Maslow said...

So many hypotheticals, Mr. O’Malley! Here are some for you to puzzle over:
What if continental drift is all a big lie?
What if the Russians really did notinvade Afghanistan in 1979?
What if the Earth really is less than 10,000 years old?
What if the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is just kidding around about CO2 levels?
What if exonerating Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld for torture is a craven act of betrayal, cowardice, and appeasement?

Dean’s responses to you about the torture issue (over the past couple of months) have been extremely thorough and well-researched, and I cannot offer anything better. As far as climate change is concerned, I’m still waiting for you to offer the name of one major scientific organization that disagrees with the more than 2000 climate scientists of the IPCC.

Here is a downloadable Carbon Counter desktop widget for you. It is courtesy of Deutsche Bank and displays the same figure as is shown on DB’s large-scale counter located in NYC across 33rd St. from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden.

Mike O'Malley said...

Cheryl Maslow said...So many hypotheticals, Mr. O'Malley!...

Hypotheticals, Ms. Maslow? Let's try one.


First you wrote: Cheryl Maslow said; ... the Bush-Cheney administration's record is overwhelmingly (but not uniformly) negative. ... its lies about WMD in Iraq

I responded, "What if the Bush Administration did not lie about Saddam's WMD capabilities?"


Last June Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post wrote: "But dive into Rockefeller's report, in search of where exactly President Bush lied about what his intelligence agencies were telling him about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and you may be surprised by what you find.

On Iraq's nuclear weapons program? The president's statements "were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates."

On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president's statements"were substantiated by intelligence information."

On chemical weapons, then? "Substantiated by intelligence information."

On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information." Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? "Generally substantiated by available intelligence." Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information."

As you read through the report, you begin to think maybe you've mistakenly picked up the minority dissent. But, no, this is the Rockefeller indictment. So, you think, the smoking gun must appear in the section on Bush's claims about Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to terrorism.

But statements regarding Iraq's support for terrorist groups other than al-Qaeda "were substantiated by intelligence information." Statements that Iraq provided safe haven for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda "were substantiated by the intelligence assessments," and statements regarding Iraq's contacts with al-Qaeda "were substantiated by intelligence information." ...

After all, it was not Bush, but Rockefeller, who said in October 2002: "There has been some debate over how 'imminent' a threat Iraq poses. I do believe Iraq poses an imminent threat. I also believe after September 11, that question is increasingly outdated. . . . To insist on further evidence could put some of our fellow Americans at risk. Can we afford to take that chance? I do not think we can."

'Bush Lied'? If Only It Were That Simple.
By Fred Hiatt, Monday, June 9, 2008; A17, Washington Post


Perhaps Ms. Maslow, modesty about what you know and do not know would serve you better.


I must decline your offer of Deutsche Bank's toy. It is useless ... as my computer does not run on Windows.


BTW Ms. Maslow: do you know from which French company in 1998 Saddam tried to purchase dual use medical equipment that employed a high-speed krytron switches similar to those used to trigger nuclear warheads? Along with the six medical machines, Iraq sought to purchase 120 spare krytrons.

I do.

Do you know which German company secretly sold Saddam those high-speed krytron switches?

I do.

Do you know the illicit source of funding for Saddam's illicit WMD programs in the late 1990s?

I do.