Thursday, February 23, 2012

Just What Does "Debate" Mean To The Warmies?

To justify his acts in fraudulently obtaining the Heartland Institute documents (for background, see here), warmie scientist Peter Gleick issued a mea culpa, stating in relevant part:

I will not comment on the substance or implications of the materials; others have and are doing so. I only note that the scientific understanding of the reality and risks of climate change is strong, compelling, and increasingly disturbing, and a rational public debate is desperately needed. My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved.

Oh really?

It turns out that on January 13, the Heartland Institute formally invited Peter Glieck to appear at their annual dinner to engage in . . .wait for it . . . a rational public debate over global warming. The offer came with all expenses paid plus a $5,000 donation to the charity of Glieck's choice. Glieck ultimately refused the invitation shortly before his act of fraud (well, fraud at least, and most likely forgery in addition). Climate Audit has all the details. If this doesn't spike the hypocrisy meter, nothing will.

And indeed, note that Glieck is accusing the innocent Heartland of doing what Glieck has actually done. Shameless bastard.

But Glieck is not alone in this. He is parroting the warmie line about the need for "rational public debate." The problem is that you don't get that from the warmies. What you get is evasion and dirty tricks on a grand scale in order to delegitimize contrary thought without having to debate. That was the whole gist of Climategate 1 and Climategate 2. What Glieck did was just take that refusal to the next slightly higher level of anti-science and hypocrisy.


Fraud, The Sun, IPCC & Their Modeling

This is an exact inversion of the scientific method, which says that evidence always trumps theory. The IPCC is throwing away the evidence for a solar-magnetic driver of climate because it isn’t satisfied with the theories that have been proposed to account for it. This is the definition of anti-science: putting theory (or ideology, or anything) over evidence. Evidence has to be the trump card, or its not science. The IPCC is engaged in pure, definitional, anti-science, precisely inverting the scientific method.

IPCC Reviewer Alec Rawls, Omitted variable fraud: vast evidence for solar climate driver rates one oblique sentence in AR5. Watts Up With That, 22 Feb. 2012

For a superb overview of the solar theory which is at the heart of Mr. Rawls condemnation of the IPCC, see this presentation from Jasper Kirby, head of CERN's CLOUD experiment.

The quote at the top of the page is Alec Rawls's summary of the fraud he has seen at the heart of the IPCC. He makes that observation as one of the reviewers of the latest IPCC update. What he has found is how the IPCC models the climate, dismissing out of hand solar forcing and counting CO2 as a forty times more potent driver of our climate. Here is his explanation:

“Expert review” of the First Order Draft of AR5 closed on the 10th. Here is the first paragraph of my submitted critique:

My training is in economics where we are very familiar with what statisticians call “the omitted variable problem” (or when it is intentional, “omitted variable fraud”). Whenever an explanatory variable is omitted from a statistical analysis, its explanatory power gets misattributed to any correlated variables that are included. This problem is manifest at the very highest level of AR5, and is built into each step of its analysis.

Like everyone else who participated in this review, I agreed not to cite, quote or distribute the draft. The IPCC also made a further request, which reviewers were not required to agree to, that we “not discuss the contents of the FOD in public fora such as blogs.”

Given what I found—systematic fraud—it would not be moral to honor this un-agreed to request, and because my comments are about what is omitted, the fraud is easy enough to expose without quoting the draft. . . .

For the 1750-2010 period examined, two variables correlate strongly with the observed warming (and hence with each other). Solar magnetic activity and atmospheric CO2 were both trending upwards over the period, and both stepped up to much higher levels over the second half of the 20th century. These two correlations with temperature change give rise to the two main competing theories of 20th century warming. Was it driven by rapidly increasing human release of CO2, or by the 80 year “grand maximum” of solar activity that began in the early 1920′s? (“Grand minima and maxima of solar activity: new observational constraints,” Usoskin et al. 2007.)

The empirical evidence in favor of the solar explanation is overwhelming. Dozens of peer-reviewed studies have found a very high degree of correlation (.5 to .8) between solar-magnetic activity and global temperature going back many thousands of years (Bond2001, Neff 2001, Shaviv 2003, Usoskin 2005, and many others listed below). In other words, solar activity “explains,” in the statistical sense, 50 to 80% of past temperature change.

Such a high degree of correlation over such long time periods implies causality, which can only go one way. Global temperature cannot be driving solar activity, so there must be some mechanism by which solar activity is driving or modulating global temperature change. The high degree of correlation also suggests that solar activity is the primarydriver of global temperature on every time scale studied (which is pretty much every time scale but the Milankovitch cycle).

In contrast, records of CO2 and temperature reveal no discernable warming effect of CO2. There is a correlation between atmospheric CO2 and temperature, but with CO2 changes following temperature changes by an average of about 800 years (Caillon 2003), indicating that it is temperature change that is driving atmospheric CO2 change (as it should, since warming oceans are able to hold less CO2). This does not rule out the possibility that CO2 also drives temperature, and in theory a doubling of CO2 should cause about a 1 degree increase in temperature before any feedback effects are accounted, but feedbacks could be negative (dampening rather than amplifying temperature forcings), so there no reason, just from what we know about the greenhouse mechanism, that CO2 has to be a significant player. The one thing we can say is that whatever the warming effect of CO2, it is not detectable in the raw CO2 vs. temperature data.

This is in glaring contrast to solar activity, which lights up like a neon sign in the raw data. Literally dozens of studies finding .5 to .8 degrees of correlation with temperature. So how is it that the IPCC’s current generation of general circulation models start with theassumption that CO2 has done 40 times as much to warm the planet as solar activity since 1750? This is the ratio of AR5′s radiative forcing estimates for variation in CO2 and variation in total solar effects between 1750 and 2010, as listed in [the table of RF estimates in the chapter on human and natural temperature forcing factors]. RF for CO2 is entered as ___ W/m^2 while RF for total solar effects is entered as ___ W/m^2. [I'm not going to quote the actual numbers, but yeah, the ratio is an astounding 40 to 1, up from 14 to 1 in AR4, which listed total solar forcing as 0.12 W/m^2, vs. 1.66 for CO2.]

So the 50% driver of global temperature according to mountains of temperature correlation data is assumed to have 1/40th the warming effect of something whose warming effect is not even discernable in the temperature record. This is on the input side of the GCM’s. The models aren’t using gigaflops of computing power to find that CO2 has that much larger a warming effect. The warming ratio is fixed at the outset. Garbage in, garbage out.

The “how” is very simple. The 40 times greater warming effect of CO2 is achieved by blatant omitted variable fraud. As I will fully document, all of the evidence for a strong solar magnetic driver of climate is simply left out of AR5. Of the many careful empirical studies that show a high correlation between solar activity and climate, only three papers are obliquely referenced in a single sentence of the entire First Order Draft. On [page___, line ____ of the chapter on aerosols and clouds] there is a bare reference to three papers that found unspecified correlations to some climate variables, with no mention of the dramatic magnitude of the correlations, or the scope and repetition of the findings. And that’s it. Not a single other mention in the entire report. A person reading AR5 from cover to cover would come away with not even a hint that for more than ten years a veritable flood of studies have been finding solar activity to explain something on the order of half of all past temperature variation. The omission is virtually complete. . . .

Do read the whole post. Rawls goes into great detail as to how the IPCC is managing to avoid the evidence of solar as the primary driver of climate change.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Maynard Does Conquistador

Not having one of my better days. Time for some renewal of the soul. Maynard Ferguson's Conquistador usually does the trick. Haunting trumpet followed by some high note jazz from the best upper register trumpeter of all time.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hard Lessons Learned, Compliments of Obama

Yes, yes you did.

(H/T iOwnTheWorld)


A Response To The Warmie Nonsense

In a post here, I pointed out that surface temperatures have not increased in the past 15 years, that all of the IPCC climate models had failed, and that the warmies' AGW theory, that temperatures will increase in direct proportion to the amount of CO2 pumped by humans into the atmosphere, had proven false. Indeed, today, AGW theory rests on a single untested hypothesis from warmie scientist Kevin Trenberth. As I quoted Trenberth from his essay in the WSJ:

[C]omputer models have recently shown that during periods when there is a smaller increase of surface temperatures, warming is occurring elsewhere in the climate system, typically in the deep ocean. Such periods are a relatively common climate phenomenon, are consistent with our physical understanding of how the climate system works, and certainly do not invalidate our understanding of human-induced warming or the models used to simulate that warming.

Trenberth had written the above in response to an essay by sixteen sceptic scientists, "No Need to Panic About Global Warming,". Those same scientists have now responded to Trenberth's essay, including his claim that global warming is continuing, just only in the deep ocean. This from the WSJ:

[A]n important gauge of scientific expertise is the ability to make successful predictions. When predictions fail, we say the theory is "falsified" and we should look for the reasons for the failure. Shown in the nearby graph is the measured annual temperature of the earth since 1989, just before the first report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Also shown are the projections of the likely increase of temperature, as published in the Summaries of each of the four IPCC reports, the first in the year 1990 and the last in the year 2007.

The Trenberth letter tells us that "computer models have recently shown that during periods when there is a smaller increase of surface temperatures, warming is occurring elsewhere in the climate system, typically in the deep ocean." The ARGO system of diving buoys is providing increasingly reliable data on the temperature of the upper layers of the ocean, where much of any heat from global warming must reside. But much like the surface temperature shown in the graph, the heat content of the upper layers of the world's oceans is not increasing nearly as fast as IPCC models predict, perhaps not increasing at all. Why should we now believe exaggerating IPCC models that tell us of "missing heat" hiding in the one place where it cannot yet be reliably measured—the deep ocean?

Why indeed?


Oh What A Tangled Web AGW Fanatics Weave . . .

The Heartland Institute is a tiny libertarian think tank that does a yeomans' job of promoting the many studies and scientific findings that run contrary to the global warming dogma. They run on a shoestring annual budget of $6 million and employ all of 40 people. And yet by pointing out the chinks in the AGW armor, they have become a huge thorn in the side of those who want all to accept unquestioningly the canard of man-made global warming.

A weak ago, on Valentine's Day, there was an "anonymous leak" of documents originating from the Heartland Institute, including one damning "2012 strategy" document that conveniently proved all the things the AGW fanatic crowd just knew to be true about evil global warming deniers - my own personal favorite being that Heartland was conspiring to stop k-12 grades from "teaching science." Within hours of the release, warmie blogs were awash with the news, twitter was on fire with it, and Suzanne Goldenberg wrote an article at the Guardian, highlighting all the juicy bits from the strategy document.

Except . . . it wasn't a "leak," and Heartland claimed that the damning "2012 strategy" document was a forgery. As to the "strategy" document, numerous people pulled that apart to see if it would withstand scrutiny. Megan McArdle at the Atlantic published the best analysis of why the "strategy" document did not appear at all genuine based on technical evidence, along with a follow-up. As to the substance of what appeared in the strategy document, Steve MacIntyre at Climate Audit evaluated its authenticity and found it to be sorely lacking:

On or before Feb 13, the “unknown person” or an associate (who subsequently called himself Heartland Insider), fabricated a document entitled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy Memo”. Its pdf version was created on Feb 13 at 12:41 Pacific time.

Although media that were duped by the fake memo have tried to argue that its contents are fully supported by the board documents, in my opinion, numerous claims in the fake memo, including the money quotes that animated so many articles, are readily seen to be unsupported by the unfabricated documents, as well as being untrue.

1. The fake memo stated that Heartland planned to develop a Global Warming curriculum aimed at “dissuading teachers from teaching science”. This damning phrase occurs nowhere in the board documents or elsewhere.

2. The fake memo put the Koch foundation, prominent in climate activist demonology, in a place of particular prominence and stated that it was funding Heartland’s climate programs to the tune of $200,000 in 2011 and that greater contributions were being sought in 2012. In fact, Koch had contributed only $25,000 to Heartland’s Health Care (HCN) program in 2011 and $200,000 was being sought for this program in 2012. (Quite aside from other marks of forgery, it is inconceivable to me that Bast would make this sort of error in a board memo.)

3. The fake memo stated that Heartland was seeking contributions for their climate programs “especially from corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies”. There is no support for this in the document and it appears to be untrue: the board documents show that Heartland’s climate activities were almost entirely financed by an individual.

4. The fake memo exaggerated the scale of Heartland’s climate programs. It said that they sponsored NIPCC to “undermine” the IPCC (a term not used in the actual documents and a word more characteristic of activist than skeptical literature) and that, additionally, it “paid a team of writers” to produce editions of Climate Change Reconsidered (actual documents – team 0f “scientists”, double-counting the expenditures.

5. The fake memo said that it was “important to keep opposing voices out” of Forbes, which was characterized as having previously been “reliably anti-climate”, but which had now begun “to allow high-profile climate scientists (such as Gleick) to post warmist science essays that counter our own”. There is nothing remotely supporting this assertion in board documents or elsewhere. The anomalous prominence of Gleick (as opposed to the more logical Hansen, Gore or Mann, Jones and the Climategaters) attracted attention in later commentary.

6. The fake memo said that Heartland was coordinating “with external networks (such as WUWT and other groups capable of rapidly mobilizing responses to new scientific findings, news stories, or unfavorable blog posts”, a sort of skeptic answer to the Climate Rapid Response Team of Scott Mandia, John Abraham and Peter Gleick. There is nothing in the actual documents to support this.

7. The fake memo proposed the cultivation of “more neutral voices” such as Revkin and Curry, an idea that surprised both Revkin and Curry and which is not supported in the actual documents.

8. The fake memo gave the impression of “increased” activity in 2012, describing Heartland as “part of a growing network of groups working the climate issues, some of which [they] support financially”, whereas the actual documents showed reduced activity in 2012, as a result of declining funding, with no plans to hold the climate conference that they had sponsored for the previous few years.

Lucia observes in a post today that the fake memo also purports to show intentional deception on the part of Heartland officers by, for example, deliberately concealing the confidential memo from part of the board of directors (“distributed to a subset of Institute Board and senior staff”). See her post for other examples.

As to the "leak," there was no disgruntled "insider" seeking to expose the truth. It turns out that someone had posed as a board member to trick a secretary at Heartland to send them a copy of briefing documents. And today, we now know who that someone was - warmie scientist Peter Gleick, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a frequent lecturer on "integrity in science," and indeed, until today apparently, a member of the American Geophysical Union's (AGU) Task Force on Scientific Ethics. You can read more on Mr. Gliek at the Telegraph, where James Delingpole is obviously enjoying the warmie angst.

At any rate, Mr. Gliek, issued a limited mea culpa today, admitting to fraudulently obtaining the briefing documents, claiming that his actions were justified by Heartland and those who dare question AGW, and further claiming that the 2012 Strategy document was not forged:

At the beginning of 2012, I received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute’s climate program strategy. It contained information about their funders and the Institute’s apparent efforts to muddy public understanding about climate science and policy. I do not know the source of that original document but assumed it was sent to me because of my past exchanges with Heartland and because I was named in it.

Given the potential impact however, I attempted to confirm the accuracy of the information in this document. In an effort to do so, and in a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name. The materials the Heartland Institute sent to me confirmed many of the facts in the original document, including especially their 2012 fundraising strategy and budget. I forwarded, anonymously, the documents I had received to a set of journalists and experts working on climate issues. I can explicitly confirm, as can the Heartland Institute, that the documents they emailed to me are identical to the documents that have been made public. I made no changes or alterations of any kind to any of the Heartland Institute documents or to the original anonymous communication.

I will not comment on the substance or implications of the materials; others have and are doing so. I only note that the scientific understanding of the reality and risks of climate change is strong, compelling, and increasingly disturbing, and a rational public debate is desperately needed. My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved. Nevertheless I deeply regret my own actions in this case. I offer my personal apologies to all those affected.

The many bloggers who have been touting the 2012 Strategy document now claim that Gliek has "authenticated" it for them. They are being willfully blind and refusing to ask even the most basic questions.

This is going to be resolved very quickly. Someone very soon - whether it be law enforcement or a civil attorney for Heartland - is going to demand those "original" documents Gliek claims to have received in January. Just as a threshold matter, if all he can produce is a copy of the 2012 Strategy memo with metadata showing a February 13 creation date, this will all come crashing down around his ears. Indeed, the warmies who are still staking their reputation on Gliek ought to be the first ones demanding he produce the originals that he claims now to have received in January.

The Heartland Institute, which previously issued cease and desist letters to all of the blogs and papers who had made use of the 2012 strategy forgery, released this statement today in response to Mr. Gliek's partial confession:

Earlier this evening, Peter Gleick, a prominent figure in the global warming movement, confessed to stealing electronic documents from The Heartland Institute in an attempt to discredit and embarrass a group that disagrees with his views.

Gleick’s crime was a serious one. The documents he admits stealing contained personal information about Heartland staff members, donors, and allies, the release of which has violated their privacy and endangered their personal safety.

An additional document Gleick represented as coming from The Heartland Institute, a forged memo purporting to set out our strategies on global warming, has been extensively cited by newspapers and in news releases and articles posted on Web sites and blogs around the world. It has caused major and permanent damage to the reputations of The Heartland Institute and many of the scientists, policy experts, and organizations we work with.

A mere apology is not enough to undo the damage.

In his statement, Gleick claims he committed this crime because he believed The Heartland Institute was preventing a “rational debate” from taking place over global warming. This is unbelievable. Heartland has repeatedly asked for real debate on this important topic. Gleick himself was specifically invited to attend a Heartland event to debate global warming just days before he stole the documents. He turned down the invitation.

Gleick also claims he did not write the forged memo, but only stole the documents to confirm the content of the memo he received from an anonymous source. This too is unbelievable. Many independent commentators already have concluded the memo was most likely written by Gleick.

We hope Gleick will make a more complete confession in the next few days.

We are consulting with legal counsel to determine our next steps and plan to release a more complete statement about the situation tomorrow. In the meantime, we ask again that publishers, bloggers, and Web site hosts take the stolen and fraudulent documents off their sites, remove defamatory commentary based on them, and issue retractions.

So that is where we stand today. The warmie blogs and publishers are refusing to budge on their claims that the 2012 Strategy document is anything but true based on the statement of Mr. Gliek. I personally applaud them for their utter refusal to look at this with any intellectual honesty. It will only bring more damage to their own cause. Heartland, it appears,is going to pursue this legally. I have a feeling this situation will, like fresh wine, just improve dramatically with time.

There have been several reactions of note to Gleick's revelations. Andrew Revkin, the NYT's go-to guy for the warmie crowd, has issued a damning indictment of Gleick:

Peter H. Gleick, a water and climate analyst who has been studying aspects of global warming for more than two decades, in recent years became an aggressive critic of organizations and individuals casting doubt on the seriousness of greenhouse-driven climate change. He used blogs, congressional testimony, group letters and other means to make his case.

Now, Gleick has admitted to an act that leaves his reputation in ruins and threatens to undercut the cause he spent so much time pursuing. . . .

Another question, of course, is who wrote the climate strategy document that Gleick now says was mailed to him. His admitted acts of deception in acquiring the cache of authentic Heartland documents surely will sustain suspicion that he created the summary, which Heartland’s leadership insists is fake.

One way or the other, Gleick’s use of deception in pursuit of his cause after years of calling out climate deception has destroyed his credibility and harmed others. (Some of the released documents contain information about Heartland employees that has no bearing on the climate fight.) That is his personal tragedy and shame (and I’m sure devastating for his colleagues, friends and family).

The broader tragedy is that his decision to go to such extremes in his fight with Heartland has greatly set back any prospects of the country having the “rational public debate” that he wrote — correctly — is so desperately needed.

Climate scientist Dr. Judith Curry also offered her own trenchant observations on Gleick's unique form of ethics and finds it a mirror image of Climategate:

Gleick’s ‘integrity’ seems to have nothing to do with scientific integrity, but rather loyalty to and consistency with what I have called the UNFCCC/IPCC ideology. . .

It is fine for people (and scientists) have political ideologies. The problem comes in when you use politics to defend your science, and you use science to demand policies.

Gleick’s unethical action with respect to integrity has been to push fealty to the UNFCCC/IPCC ideology under the guise of promoting integrity and ethics in science. . .

When ‘Heartlandgate’ first broke, I saw no parallels with Climategate. Now, with the involvement of Gleick, there most certainly are parallels. There is the common theme of climate scientists compromising personal and professional ethics, integrity, and responsibility, all in the interests of a ’cause’. . .

And from a twitter from IPCC lead author Richard Tol: "Environmentalists are their own worst enemy. Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Peter Gleick. What fools."

With Mr. Tol's statement in mind - some parting thoughts. Science done within the confines of the scientific method is as trustworthy a source of data as we will ever have. The problem for the AGW crowd is that they gave up on science long ago. When Michael Mann rewrites climate history while withholding the underlying methods and data to test his theory, when Ken Briffa does the cherry picking job of all time on Yamal, when James Hansen adjusts our temperature record at every turn to make warming appear from nowhere, and when Kevin Trenberth demands that we embrace the 'reality' of AGW on the sole basis of an untested hypothesis, then its clear that the AGW crowd who accuse "deniers" of being anti-science have turned reality on its head. Gleick's actions fit in perfectly with the spirit - and ethics - of those "climate scientists" The reality is that they are becoming more shrill and more desperate by the moment as it appears that new research - and indeed, surface temperatures - are not cooperating with their apocalyptic AGW meme. Their angst is well founded. This from WSJ today:

[A]n important gauge of scientific expertise is the ability to make successful predictions. When predictions fail, we say the theory is "falsified" and we should look for the reasons for the failure. Shown in the nearby graph is the measured annual temperature of the earth since 1989, just before the first report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Also shown are the projections of the likely increase of temperature, as published in the Summaries of each of the four IPCC reports, the first in the year 1990 and the last in the year 2007.


A Turning Point In History - Feb. 21, 1848: Marx Publishes The Communist Manifesto

Reposted From Feb. 21, 2011:

On this day in 1848, socialist philosopher Karl Marx and his collaborator, Friedrich Engels, first published their magnum opus, The Communist Manifesto. In it, Marx advocated for a complete reworking of society, starting with the formation of labor unions, building into socialism and then to communism. It marks the single most destructive and distorting philosophy ever put forth in history, bringing untold misery to the world and working destruction upon the fabric of Western civilization to this day. Its promise has always been that society can be perfected by government and utopia achieved on earth. And while it has done some societal good in the West, the overarching reality has been economic misery and massive bloodshed.

I. Background, Philosophy & Goals

At the time Marx wrote his book, he was responding to very real problems in European society during the Industrial Revolution. Sweat shops, dangerous work places and slave wages were only a few of those problems. Moreover, European society tended to be very stratified, with many obstacles to moving between economic and social classes. Marx was also responding to Europe's colonialism as a similar evil of "oppression." And indeed, colonialism of the era, as practiced by all but the British, at least in retrospect, could be so characterized. His solutions, as expressed in The Communist Manifesto and other works, were well intentioned, but as explained below, his basic assumption about the regulation of economic markets was wildly false and his analytical framework of history was both superficial and grossly distorting.

All of that is to say that Marx's socialism is not an inherent evil. Some aspects or legacies of socialism that have found their way throughout Western society since 1848 are quite legitimate. As Bookworm Room states in a very informative post on the topic, protections for workers and a safe workplace are some of those legacies. The great weakening of the class system and the rise of the welfare state are others. And while the latter has gotten wildly out of hand, the proposition that society should provide a minimalist, temporary safety net is quite legitimate. Unfortunately, for what good Marx's socialism has done for society at large, the harm it has done has been exponentially greater.

Marx did not invent socialism, but he greatly stengthened its philosophical underpinnings, as well as describing and agitating for the final stage of socialism, communism. As I described it previously:

Steeped in the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and born in the crucible of the French Revolution, socialism was meant to wholly rework society. Socialist philosophers, most notably Karl Marx, rejected class and religion as the bases for societal structure and advocated remaking society under the watchful eye of a central government that would redistribute the nation's wealth and mandate social equality. At the center of the socialist revolution was the Marxian belief that all events could and should be analyzed in terms of the oppressor and the oppressed, the victim classes and the victimizing class - a simplistic and distorting theme that makes up such a large part of our political discourse today. It creates, in its myopic view, a world of demons and perpetual victims. As Marx wrote in the opening lines of the Communist Manifesto:

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

Inherent in that proposition is a rejection of Western values, history and norms and, in its stead, an embrace of militant secularism, moral relativism and, [in modern form], multiculturalism.

II. The Process:

Marx envisioned a multistep process to communism. The very first step, as he pointed out in The Communist Manifesto, was for workers to create unions:

. . . [T]he workers begin to form combinations (trade unions) against the bourgeois; they club together in order to keep up the rate of wages; they found permanent associations in order to make provision beforehand for these occasional revolts. Here and there, the contest breaks out into riots.

Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lie not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers. This union is helped on by the improved means of communication that are created by Modern Industry, and that place the workers of different localities in contact with one another. It was just this contact that was needed to centralize the numerous local struggles, all of the same character, into one national struggle . . .

From there, Marx envisioned society passing into socialism, with the state owning the means of production, and then into finally into full communism:

The Marxist conception of socialism is that of a specific historical phase that will displace capitalism and precede communism. The major characteristics of socialism (particularly as conceived by Marx and Engels after the Paris Commune of 1871) are that the proletariat [workers] will control the means of production through a workers' state erected by the workers in their interests. Economic activity would still be organised through the use of incentive systems and social classes would still exist, but to a lesser and diminishing extent than under capitalism.

For orthodox Marxists, socialism is the lower stage of communism based on the principle of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution" while upper stage communism is based on the principle of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need"; the upper stage becoming possible only after the socialist stage further develops economic efficiency and the automation of production has led to a superabundance of goods and services.

III. Application Outside Of The West

A. Economic Model

As an economic model, neither communism nor socialism has ever succeeded in comparison to capitalism. This is because the central assumption of the socialist model - that governments can be a more efficient regulator of economies than free markets - has been proven false beyond any iota of rational argument. Related thereto, communism and socialism have failed because they look upon the fiscal self interest motivating the capitalist class as the penultimate sin.

"Greed" is not a dirty word, despite what our Commander in Chief might say in his attacks on capitalism. When fiscal self interest has been championed and combined with free market competition, it has massively lifted the standard of living for all in its ambit, including the lowest economic classes. And it should be noted that, in a free market economy, being a member of the lowest economic class at any given point is, for the vast majority, a transitory state. But when the opportunity to pursue one's fiscal self interest has been denied to the populace at large, as happens under socialism and communism, history has shown the result to be misery.

Those nations that have embraced socialism, with the government owning the means of production, are - or were before their collapse - economic basket cases. The Soviet Union fell apart in the 90's as a result of economic collapse. Communist China was well on their way to following the Soviet Union until Deng Xiaoping become the leader of the country and replaced communist economics with free market economics, starting China's economy on the road to what has been decades of rapid expansion. Cuba, North Korea, and Burma maintain full blown socialist economic systems, and all three have some of the lowest standards of living in the world today. In South America, Chavez is still in the midst of moving Venezuela into socialism, and its standard of living is tanking with stagflation and food rationing.

Similarly, in the Middle East, socialism and its closely related variant, crony capitalism, abound. Neither have worked there. For example, Iran, where government clerics own - and get rich off of - the major industries, is an economic basket case. Egypt is another example of a state with dominant socialist economics - and indeed, economic conditions were the motivating factor behind the recent revolution.

B. Social/Political Model

As a political and social model, Marx's philosophy has been even more destructive than its economic model. Marx's utopian world required an all powerful central government to enforce the distribution of wealth, to perfect society, to enforce equality of outcome, and to motivate people to produce in the absence of a profit motive. Marxism further rejected Judeo-Christian morality, leaving the state as the unchecked final arbiter of what is right and wrong, and thus prioritized individual human life below political goals to benefit the "proletariat" and the state. The end result has been slaughter on a scale never before seen in history. Well over 100 million people were murdered by their own communist regimes in the 20th century.

In China, "official study materials published in 1948 [show that] Mao envisaged that "one-tenth of the peasants" (or about 50,000,000 [people]) "would have to be destroyed" to facilitate agrarian reform." In the end, between the agrarian reform, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution, Mao actually exceeded that total by several million. The Soviet Union purged at least as many of its citizens, if not far more, from its inception through the end of Stalin's regime. China and the Soviet Union were not anamolies. Virtually every country that has seen the imposition of communism has also seen government sponsored mass murder on a wide, if not industrial scale. For example, in Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge slaughtered roughly 20% of its population. In North Korea, somewhere between 710,000 and 3,500,000 of the populace have been slaughtered by the Kim dynasty.

IV. Marxism In The West

A. Europe

Britain is a casebook study in the experimentation with Marx's socialist ethos, both economically through the 1980's and, in social policy, through today. In the aftermath of World War II, Britain embraced socialism, voting in 1945 to reject their war-time leader Winston Churchill, in favor of Labour's Clement Attlee. Attlees's first orders of business were the creation of the welfare state, the nationalization of major industry, the creation of nationalized medicine, and the divestiture of the empire. Tremendous power was placed in the hands of labor unions, and Britain suffered economically for decades. It took Margaret Thatcher to turn things around:

She entered 10 Downing Street determined to reverse what she perceived as a precipitous national decline. Her political philosophy and economic policies emphasised deregulation, particularly of the financial sector, flexible labour markets, and the sale or closure of state-owned companies and withdrawal of subsidies to others. . . She took a hard line against trade unions.

Perhaps most important in the turn from economic socialism, Thatcher significantly weakened the political power of Britain's labor unions, reforming them in a manner not too dissimilar to what we see occurring in Wisconsin today. Such was Britain's economic rebound under Thatcher that the Labour Party ultimately dispensed with the idea of promoting socialism as an economic model, withdrawing the infamous "Clause IV" of its plank calling for nationalization of industry and wide-scale redistribution of wealth. In addition, Labour has continued Thatcher's union policies.

Much of Europe is incrementally trying to follow Britain's lead. Decades of European experimentation with socialism and the welfare state have given Europe moribund economies with slow growth and high unemployment. But that is changing. In the words of the NYT, "socialism is collapsing in Europe."

And socialism is not merely collapsing economically in Europe, it is also collapsing as a driver of society. Multiculturalism is a natural outgrowth of Marx's deeply distorting view that all of society should be analyzed in terms of the "oppressed and oppressor," and that, within that rubric, Western societies, with a history of colonialism and imperialism, are uniquely sinful oppressors. It is a belief system wholly detached from historical reality.

Euorpean multiculturalism encourages minorities to define themselves by the culture of their nationality or by their religion. And because Marxism holds indigenous Western culture to be irredeemably sinful, multiculturalism requires that non-indigenous cultures be accepted non-judgmentally and, indeed, seems to hold them to be superior to indigenous culture. It deliberately balkanizes society and it is particularly insidious as regards to Islamic minorities in Europe. Yet today, it is widely being acknowledged across Europe that multiculturalism has failed utterly. So says French President Sarkozy, Britain's David Cameron, and Germany's Angela Merkel. Hopefully this rejection of multiculturalism is sufficiently timely to cure the toxin Marxian multiculturalism has released into European society.

B. U.S.

Even as Europe moves away from socialism, Obama is trying to drive the U.S. towards the failed European economic model. Obama has set us on the road to nationalizing one sixth of our economy with Obamacare. Our government is today the majority owner of GM and Chrysler. Obama nationalized the student loan industry, ostensibly for greater efficiency. Moreover, Obama is insinuating the government deeply into our economy with a tsunami of new regulations, particularly in the areas of the environment and finance. Then there was the recent power grab to regulate the internet. Obama is ideologically committed to punishing the rich through taxes and redistributing their wealth for the 'greater good' of society. And lastly, Obama is showing a penchant for crony capitalism, picking winners and losers in the marketplace. If that is not incremental economic socialism, then nothing is.

It is not just Obama that is infected with the Marxist philosophy - it pervades the entire left wing in the U.S. The left in America today is not a monolith, but rather a mosaic of pigeon holed permanent victim groups - a toxin directly derived from Marx's oppressed / oppressor analytical framework. It is the maintenance of these 'oppressed' permanent victim groups - be they minority groups, gays, women, or public sector employees - that is the raison d'etre of the modern Democrat party. And indeed, the central financial foundation of the Democrats is taxpayer money laundered through public sector unions, the essential building block of Marx's march toward a communist utopia. This is not to say that a majority of Democrats are agitating to establish full blown socialism in America today. But it is to say that to understand our modern left and their trajectory, the first step is to read Marx. Step two is to study history in order to understand what will happen to our nation if they are allowed to pull our nation along that trajectory.

V. The War On Religion

Central to Marx's goal to entirely remake society was to drive Judaism and Christianity from society. Western culture, morality, history and societal structures are inextricably intertwined with the Judeo-Christian religions. Indeed, one could say that, at least until the Enlightenment, the history of Christianity, and to a lesser extent Judaism, were one and the same as the history of Western civilization. Thus Marx became an implacable enemy of these religions and started a war on them that the left continues to this day:

. . . [S]ocialists have warred against Christianity and Judaism for over two centuries. Indeed, when socialism was born in the crucible of the French Revolution, one of the first acts of the Revolutionary government was to initiate a systematic and brutal war on the Catholic Church and its clergy.

The left has waged this war against Christianity and Judaism ever since. Karl Marx, socialism's greatest philosopher, famously wrote in his Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right that religion is the "opium of the people" and that "[t]he abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness." The British socialist party wrote in their 1911 manifesto that "it is a profound truth that Socialism is the natural enemy of religion." In America, the socialist left has used activist Courts as an a means of removing all aspects of Christianity from the public square while in Britain, the Labour Party is demoting Christianity and deconstructing the Anglican Church. . . .

With the left's partial success in their war on Christianity has come an interesting phenomena - the search for something to replace Christianity among the newly secularized. It would seem that we humans are hard wired to look for what amounts to a religion to give ourselves a moral mooring and a greater purpose in life. Socialist governments recognized this. Indeed, the first socialists in France substituted government sponsored cult movements in place of the Catholic Church. In Communist countries, where raw police power was used - not wholly successfully - to crush Christianity and Judaism, socialism itself was raised to the level of a religion complete with a sainthood - the quasi-deification of communist leaders as part of a cult of personality. Catholics had the Shroud of Turin; Soviets had the mummy of Lenin.

On an individual level, the same search for a substitute is happening in the West. Many of the secular left today embrace environmentalism as a religion - and indeed, it was but a few months ago that UNEP explicitly called for the global warming movement to be pushed as a religious alternative to Christianity. Still others embrace the airy spiritualism of New Age thought.

All of this has existential ramifications for Western society. For the better part of two millennium, the Judeo-Christian ethic has provided a rock solid framework for morality at the heart of Western society - one that puts maximum value on each individual human life and one that provides moral clarity in such things as Christianity's Golden Rule and Judaism's "Great Commandment." Take that mooring away from the ancient expressions of our deity and all morality then becomes dependant on what any particular person or government defines as the greater good.

When governments and individuals can define by their whim what is moral or immoral, what is desirable and what is punishable, human life is almost inevitably devalued. Certainly Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, and Pol Pot, between them responsible for the murder of well over a hundred million people in the 20th century, held to socialist belief systems that devalued human life and elevated in its stead political ideology. Many in the green movement argue that man is a parasite on the world and call for strictly limiting his impact using authoritarian means - including population control, forced sterilization and other such methods. . .

The bottom line is, regardless whether one believes in Judaism or Christianity, we will pay a very heavy price indeed for jettisoning them as the bedrock of Western society. Yet that is precisely what the left has sought for over two centuries, promising in their stead a secular heaven on earth. Ironically, should they fully succeed, history teaches us that their promised earthly heaven will be far more likely to resemble biblical hell.

VI. Conclusion

The allure of Marx's socialist philosophy, despite its utter failure as an economic model and its evil, bloody history as a social and political model, is very much alive. People embrace its utopian ideals wholly irrepsective of historical reality. It is fair to say that, since Marx first published the Communist Manifesto, the clash between Marxist social and economic ethos on one hand and traditional Western freedoms and capitalism on the other has been a reoccurring and often predominant theme across all sectors of society and culture. And indeed, what we see happening in Wisconsin today, pitting democracy against labor unions, is simply one more event in the history of that conflict. Marx may be dead, but his ghost still very much haunts us today.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Liberals Miscounting Women In The Media

According to Time:

The representation of women in U.S. newsrooms is weak. The media industry is overwhelmingly male, and according to a report released this week by The Women’s Media Center, female representation in the press is declining.

The problem here is easy to see. It's true, the liberal media is a bastion of white males. I mean, what do you expect from the left. But its clear that the Women's Media Center is not getting the full count. It's not hard to see why - the Women's Media Center is a construct of Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem. They no doubt watch the news while stirring the brew in their cauldron . . .

. . . and you can bet that their televisions have the Fox News and Business channels blocked.  So they are just not getting the full count from conservative media.

"Fox News" is a well earned name.

They're growing them like weeds over there.


Race & The Multiculti's Gone Mad

They've lost it across the pond I think. Racism is a belief that a person of another race is inherently inferior. So what is "racist" about a 7 year old boy asking a 5 year old boy "are you brown because you come from Africa?" Absolutely nothing of course. But it was enough to get the 7 year old boy a permanent note in his school record branding him a racist. Apparently he now shares that brand with 20,000 other school children under the age of 11 in Britain. This really is multiculturalism taken to its logical - and quite absurd - conclusion. As Prof Reynolds opines at Instapundit: "Britain is overdue for a revolution against such. But then, so are we."


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Every Argument In Support Of The HHS Mandate

Gary Willis, in a blog on that noted theological site, the New York Review of Books, has opined that the uproar over Obama's HHS mandate is being caused by Republican con men and Catholic fanatics. Willis, to his credit, makes virtually every leftie argument in favor of Obama's HHS mandate that I have heard to this point, plus a few more:

- The conflict over the HHS mandate is really about contraception, not religion.

- If the issue is about religion, than the question is whether Catholics can force their views on everyone else.

- Obama has offered a reasonable accommodation, but the Bishops are fanatics acting unreasonably.

- The fact that the Bishops are even complaining about this shows their bad faith.

- Catholics want to impose a religious dictatorship on America.

- The Church got it wrong on contraception, and thus they should be ignored.

- The "religious freedom" argument is about whether we as a nation can disagree with the Bishops (stated while ignoring the HHS mandate)

- The polls are in, contraception is accepted by most Americans, and therefore this core doctrine of the Church is not entitled to be respected under the First Amendment.

- Contraception is not a valid religious issue since there is no mention of it made in the bible,

- Left wing interpretation of natural law is obviously superior to the Pope's. The Pope got it wrong on contraception, and so the Pope can and should be ignored.

- The Catholic Church thinks sex is dirty. Let's hear a cheer for free love!!!

- Catholic doctrine should be subordinate to polling.

What follows is an answer to those issues:

By a revolting combination of con men and fanatics, the current primary race has become a demonstration that the Republican party does not deserve serious consideration for public office. Take the controversy over contraceptives.

Willis begins with a patently false premise. There is no controversy over contraceptives - nor for that matter the plan-B abortion pill Willis ignores throughout his argument. Both contraceptives and plan-B abortion pills are unconditionally available in America to all women today. Indeed, there is nothing stopping the government from opening up kiosks to hand out contraceptives and Plan-B abortion pills like candy, free to any and all. The Catholic Church isn't contesting that. The sole issue is whether the federal government is violating the First Amendment when it forces religious institutions and individuals to pay for those items in violation of their core religious beliefs, with their only remaining alternatives being to pay a fine or dissolve.

American bishops at first opposed having hospitals and schools connected with them pay employee health costs for contraceptives. But when the President backed off from that requirement, saying insurance companies can pay the costs, the bishops doubled down and said no one should have to pay for anything so evil as contraception.

This is a cynical argument. Obama backed off nothing. He announced - without coordination with the bishops - an accounting trick as an accommodation. Contraceptives and abortion pills don't fall off trees. The only way a health insurer can make them available is to collect sufficient premiums to cover their costs. So all Obama is doing is telling insurers of Catholic institutions that they have to use some creative accounting. The costs are still going to be paid by the Catholic institutions for their employees regardless of how the accounting is done. Moreover, Obama has done nothing to address those Catholic institutions that self-insure.

And it is not just Catholic Church institutions that are at issue and that Obama does not address. Most Christian sects share the same doctrines regarding abortion and contraception. And then there are the individual devout believers in Catholicism who run secular businesses, but who will also be required to fund the HHS mandate contrary to their religious beliefs. Mr. Willis describes complaining about that as something radical. But the First Amendment Free Exercise clause is written to protect religious individuals every bit as much as institutions.

Some Republicans are using the bishops’ stupidity to hurt the supposed “moderate” candidate Mitt Romney, giving a temporary leg up to the faux naïf Rick Santorum; others are attacking Barack Obama as an “enemy of religion.”

I must admit, it has been so long since I have read or heard anyone called a "naif" (Ivanhoe?) that I had to look it up. I was prepared to give Willis kudos if it made sense, but "naif" merely means "naive." So Santorum is faux naive? That makes no sense. It does however mark Willis as a faux intellectual. At any rate, Obama is an enemy of religion - as has been virtually every honest socialist since the founding of socialism in the crucible of the French Revolution some two centuries ago.

Pusillanimous Catholics—Mark Shields and even, to a degree, the admirable E. J.Dionne—are saying that Catholics understandably resent an attack on “their” doctrine (even though they do not personally believe in it). Omnidirectional bad-faith arguments have clustered around what is falsely presented as a defense of “faith.” The layers of ignorance are equaled only by the willingness of people “of all faiths” to use them for their own purposes. Consider just some of the layers:

So for the Catholics and other religious in this country to mount a "defense of faith" is, according to Willis, a mark of ignorance and bad faith. I know the left does not like to have to justify their baseless assertions in argument, but this is ridiculous.

Far too many Catholics have fallen for the utopian belief of the left - that society can be perfected on earth under the benevolent hand of an omnipotent government - when we now have two centuries of historical evidence, much of it soaked in blood, and all showing to the contrary. Moreover, much of the Catholic "left wing" don't seem to understand that they have made a bargain with devil in the secular socialist left. These people want to see Christianity as a whole put to the dust-bin of history. It is almost like Stockholm syndrome.

The eyes of many of the Catholic left have apparently been opened on that score thanks to Obama and the HHS. But then again, Obama promised to be a uniter, not a divider.

The Phony Religious Freedom Argument

The bishops’ opposition to contraception is not an argument for a “conscience exemption.” It is a way of imposing Catholic requirements on non-Catholics. This is religious dictatorship, not religious freedom.

Oh, you lefties, you love turning arguments on their head and accusing an innocent opponent of doing what you yourselves are doing. The Bishops' argument is a moral one. It does not impose anything on non-Catholics. It does not stop a single person, Catholic or non-Catholic, from purchasing a contraceptive. The only imposition in this case is of course from Obama, who would impose the costs of contraceptives and abortion pills on the Catholic Church. I would say nice try, but it wasn't.

Contraception is not even a religious matter. Nowhere in Scripture or the Creed is it forbidden. Catholic authorities themselves say it is a matter of “natural law,” over which natural reason is the arbiter—and natural reason, even for Catholics, has long rejected the idea that contraception is evil. More of that later; what matters here is that contraception is legal, ordinary, and accepted even by most Catholics. To say that others must accept what Catholics themselves do not is bad enough. To say that President Obama is “trying to destroy the Catholic Church” if he does not accept it is much, much worse.

For Willis to claim that contraception is not a religious matter is akin to Sebelius ruling that a Catholic charity is not a religious organization. Sebelius and Willis are both applying ridiculously narrow definitions to meet their goals. It is risible. Simply because mention of the pill, the IUD, or abortion does not appear in in the New Testament does not mean that they are of no religious concern. Contraception and abortion directly raise the issue of the creation of life imbued with a soul by God. Maybe its just me, but that sounds kind of central to all of Christianity.

Natural law is not devoid of moral underpinnings, nor does it fall outside the competence of the Church to make binding moral judgments within the rubric of natural law. Thomas Aquinas wrote extensively on that issue. And indeed, Pope Paul VI, in Humanae Vitae, did in fact reason within the construct of natural law to find artificial contraception "immoral" and "evil." (H.V., Par. 14). Willis can have contrary opinions to Church doctrine, but in this case he is being wholly dishonest about the nature of those doctrines.

To disagree with Catholic bishops is called “disrespectful,” an offense against religious freedom. That is why there is a kind of taboo against bringing up Romney’s Mormonism. But if Romney sincerely believed in polygamy on religious grounds, as his grandfather did, he would not even be considered for the presidency—any more than a sincere Christian Scientist, who rejects the use of medicine, would be voted for to handle public health care. Yet a man who believes that contraception is evil is an aberrant from the American norm, like the polygamist or the faith healer.

Disagreeing with Catholic bishops is of course not an offense against "religious freedom" - it is a function of it. Willis nonetheless uses this construct as a means to obfuscate the real argument - that requiring a religious institution to act against the tenets of its faith is where the offense against religious freedom lies.

It is interesting that Willis brings up polygamy as an issue, because it was center stage in Reynolds v. U.S., the first Supreme Court case interpreting the 1st Amendment's Free Exercise of Religion clause. A Mormon man was prosecuted for polygamy and appealed on Free Exercise grounds. The Court resolved that case by looking at mainstream religious doctrine extant at the time of the signing of the Bill of Rights. Mormonism was an invention that preceded the adoption of the First Amendment, and polygamy was "odious" to then extant mainstream Christian traditions. Thus polygamy fell outside the ambit of Free Exercise protections. In the instant case, Catholic Church doctrine on contraception and abortion can be traced back to antiquity, and though reexamined by the Church in the 1960's, were certainly settled doctrines at the time of the inking of the First Amendment. This should qualify for protection under the Free Exercise clause.

Although Willis frames the issue cleverly, what Willis is arguing for in reality is that today, some two and a quarter centuries after the inking of the First Amendment, any religious tenet in conflict with modern secular left wing dogma should not be honored as legitimate and, thus, should fall outside First Amendment protection. Willis and the left would have the rock upon which Christ built his Church loosed into the quicksand of the modern secular socialist left.

The Phony Contraception Argument

The opposition to contraception has, as I said, no scriptural basis. Pope Pius XI once said that it did, citing in his encyclical Casti Connubii (1930) the condemnation of Onan for “spilling his seed” rather than impregnating a woman (Genesis 38.9). But later popes had to back off from this claim, since everyone agrees now that Onan’s sin was not carrying out his duty to give his brother an heir (Deuteronomy 25.5-6). Then the “natural law” was fallen back on, saying that the natural purpose of sex is procreation, and any use of it for other purposes is “unnatural.” But a primary natural purpose does not of necessity exclude ancillary advantages. The purpose of eating is to sustain life, but that does not make all eating that is not necessary to subsistence “unnatural.” One can eat, beyond the bare minimum to exist, to express fellowship, as one can have sex, beyond the begetting of a child with each act, to express love.

And Willis got his theology degree where? You can compare Willis's secular reasoning within the natural law sphere to that of the Pope in Humanae Vitae and perhaps glean a few differences in the moral thrust. That a leftie such as Willis ultimately comes to a different conclusion is hardly surprising, but it is also meaningless. Catholic religious doctrine has been decided by the Pope, sitting ex cathedra.

Willis can't abide that reality that it is only the Pope's view that matters, since to do so is to concede the argument that Obama and the left are in fact conducting an attack directly upon the religious freedom of the Church. Nor can Willis even concede that different people could arrive at different, yet valid conclusions, without likewise conceding the argument. Instead, he declares the Pope's encyclical a "phony" and thus, the modern left can impose their will on the Church, marginalizing it in American society.

The Roman authorities would not have fallen for such a silly argument but for a deep historical disrelish for sex itself. Early Fathers and medieval theologians considered sex unworthy when not actually sinful. That is why virgin saints and celibate priests were prized above married couples. Thomas Aquinas said that priests must not be married, since “those in holy orders handle the sacred vessels and the sacrament itself, and therefore it is proper (decens) that they preserve, by abstinences, a body undefiled (munditia corporalis) (Summa Theologiae, Part 3 Supplement, Question 53, article 3, Response). Marriage, you see, makes for defilement (immunditia). The ban on contraception is a hangover from the period when the body itself was considered unclean, as Peter Brown overwhelmingly proved in The Body and Society (1988).

It is hard to see what relevant point Willis is trying to make here. Pope Paul VI's reasoning in Humanae Vitae is in no way is prudish or implies that sex is "unclean." Is Willis suggesting that, since the modern left has been pushing a secular message of sex without consequence, moral or physical, in and out of marriage, that modern Christian sexual morality is thereby invalidated? Curious.

The Phony “Church Teaches” Argument

Catholics who do not accept the phony argument over contraception are said to be “going against the teachings of their church.” That is nonsense. They are their church. The Second Vatican Council defines the church as “the people of God.” Thinking that the pope is the church is a relic of the days when a monarch was said to be his realm. The king was “Denmark.” Catholics have long realized that their own grasp of certain things, especially sex, has a validity that is lost on the celibate male hierarchy. This is particularly true where celibacy is concerned.

So to restate Willis's argument, Catholicism is antiquated, the Catholic hierarchy cannot pass judgment on moral issues surrounding sex because they aren't out chasing skirt every night, and therefore it is only legitimate that questions of Church doctrine and sexual morality be determined by polling. Unfortunately, Willis neglected to site the biblical references supporting that argument. I have read most of the Bible, and I have yet to see reference to the Prophet Rasmussen or the Book of Pew.

Thus it seems Willis and the left would add an addendum to Mathew 18:18. That's the bit were Jesus told the soon to be First Pope, Peter, that "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven." That is one of the biblical passages that gives the Pope the final authority to pronounce on matters of religious doctrine and morality. Willis would rewrite that bit to add "subject to majority approval." I can't wait to see Willis's rewrite of the Golden Rule. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor, but only when using HHS approved contraceptives."

There was broad disagreement with Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical on the matter. Pope Paul VI set up a study group of loyal and devout Catholics, lay and clerical, to make recommendations. The group overwhelmingly voted to change the teaching of PiusXI. But cardinals in the Roman Curia convinced Paul that any change would suggest that the church’s teachings are not eternal (though Casti Connubii had not been declared infallible, by the papacy’s own standards).

When Paul reaffirmed the ban on birth control in Humanae Vitae (1968) there was massive rejection of it. Some left the church. Some just ignored it. Paradoxically, the document formed to convey the idea that papal teaching is inerrant just convinced most people that it can be loony. The priest-sociologist Andrew Greeley said thatHumanae Vitae did more damage to the papacy than any of the so-called “liberal” movements in Catholicism. When Pius IX condemned democracy and modern science in his Syllabus of Errors (1864), the Catholic historian Lord Acton said that Catholics were too sensible to go crazy every time a pope does. The reaction toHumanae Vitae proves that. . . .

So let's see. The issues of contraception and abortion were given a second look by the Church with the advent of modern contraception, there were two sides to argument, and the Pope picked one. The left disagrees with the Pope's choice. And that matters the tiniest bit why?

The only person whose decision counts is the Pope's. Now, people who disagree with that on a fundamental level can leave the Church, or choose to live in sin. But none of that remotely gives the left in America the right to substitute their morality for Church doctrine. That is, according to Thomas Jefferson, what the Free Exercise clause was meant to prevent.

But to be clear, that is precisely what Willis is arguing for, with the goal of the replacing God with a socialist government as the final arbiter of morality in our society. As I quoted in A Historical Perspective On Religion & The HHS Mandate:

In any left revolution, be it progressive, bolshevik, socialist, fascist, maoist, or bolivaran, it is necessary to knock down organized religion. The Catholic Church competes for the hearts and minds of people and does so effectively, as do the evangelical Protestant churches, etc. Further, the Church is organized and so can put out a message of opposition. So at some point the revolution has to take the Church on, or lose.

And there it is in a nutshell. The left is the enemy of religion and Obama is their standard bearer in this attack on religion through the HHS. Mr. Willis's entire argument, replete with misstatements of fact and use of rhetorical devices, is used to hide that fundamental truth. The HHS mandate is not about contraception, it is about whether God or government will be the final arbiter of our nation's moral code.

On a final note, is it possible that Obama's decision to post the HHS mandate now is a cynical ploy right out of Wag The Dog. Is HHS mandate designed by Obama to create a social policy issue that would deflect from economic concerns going into the 2012 election. Certainly a lot of people are speculating about that, and not without some due cause. Given the apparent collusion on this issue between someone in the HHS decision chain and George Stephanopolous in his moderation of the 8 January Republican debate, it certainly leads one to suspect that this mandate is part of Obama's reelection year strategy. That suspicion gains a lot more life when one sees how the HHS pushed out this mandate long before it had finished what would be a normal review. HHS Sec. Sebelius, in her recent testimony before the Senate, admitted that, in the rush to announce the HHS mandate, she did not bother to float the mandate through the Justice Dept. for an opinion on its First Amendment legality, despite being asked to do so by 27 Senators, nor did HHS bother to studying how the mandate might impact on those 60% - i.e., the majority - of all companies and organizations that are self-insured.


The Benefits Of A Public School Education In San Francisco

SF schools are now acting in loco parentis, combining it with indoctrination. It must be read to be believed. From

Galileo High School celebrated Valentine's Day in a style befitting San Francisco on Tuesday as hundreds of students lined up to "marry" their sweethearts regardless of gender, sexual orientation or relationship status.

They then learned how to correctly put on a condom using goggles that gave them a drunken view of things, and played a variety of games that promoted safer sex.

The school's annual "Love Fest" drew hundred of teens in the school's central courtyard.

. . . The event, sponsored by the Gay Straight Alliance and the Wellness Center, tried to promote acceptance and tolerance at school and safe decisions in the intimate moments that could happen at that age.

At one table, health teacher Raina Meyers put goggles on students that made their vision slightly blurry, simulating a drunken state. She then told them to put a condom on a wooden penis.

Most of the students left air in the condom tip, which could lead to breakage, and that prompted an instructional rebuke from Meyers. . . .

A handful of students milled about at the safer sex exhibits, but the biggest draw was the wedding table, where students fidgeted as they waited for their nuptials.

They signed a photocopied marriage certificate and said a quick "I do" when a student officiant asked about taking the other person as spouse.

The marriage was sealed with optional, one-size-fits-all plastic gold bands.

Many students admitted they decided to participate after teachers said they would get extra credit. . . .

Everything about this story is wrong and objectionable on multiple levels. But that last bit is the topper. Extra Credit? Extra credit for what discipline? English, science, math, history? Someone explain to me how a school is possibly going to up the grade of one of these young future lefties of America from a C to a B in any academic discipline because they learned how to put a condom on an erect penis while drunk? Honestly, it is getting perilously close to the point where its time to burn it all down and start over from scratch.

(H/T The Daily Gator)