Criticize the justice of the Iraq War if you must, but don’t criticize the boobs

October 19, 2007 § 9 Comments

What does it take to get both NRO’s The Corner and Instapundit interested in a post at Catholic and Enjoying It? The Just War doctrine and Iraq? Torture? Global warming? Al Qaeda? Abortion? Economics? Church-state politics?

If you guessed “none of the above”, you guessed right. The thing that piqued the interest of both NRO and Instapundit was the jiggling endowments of bikini-clad Hebrew women, and the right of maturity-arrested beachgoers to drool over them in Israeli state-sponsored blasphemous advertisements.

At some point, one hopes, adulthood will return as something other than a rare anomolous interior state in post-pubescent homo sapiens.

UPDATE: A commenter at CAEI points out that the blasphemous commercial, unlike the soft-porn Maxim shoot of soldierettes, was not state funded.

UPDATE II: Ramesh Ponneru Chimes in (and good show).

(The full video of the blasphemous Internet commercial is here. I don’t particularly recommend that you watch it, but I include the link for the sake of documenting the post.)


October 19, 2007 § Leave a comment

Not… going… to… post… on… this… subject… again…

You Can’t Legislate Honor

October 13, 2007 § 6 Comments

The story in brief:

Four Navy SEALs on a covert mission come across some unarmed civilians in remote Afghanistan. They now face a moral dilemma: kill the civilians and thereby assure that they are not exposed to local Taliban, or let the civilians go and risk betrayal and exposure.

Their natural sense of honor supported by the legislated morality embodied in their formal rules of engagement, the SEALs let the civilians go. The civilians promptly betray them to the Taliban. Three of the SEALs and sixteen members of a reinforcement team give their lives as a result of the choice to release the civilians rather than summarily executing them.

The badly wounded sole survivor of the original four SEALs, Marcus Luttrell, is taken in by a group of friendly Afghans. As Luttrell puts it, “I probably killed one of their cousins. And now I’m shot up, and they’re using all the village medical supplies to help me.” These Afghans go for help from the US Marines, carrying a note from Luttrell, and Luttrell is eventually rescued.

In a world with less honor in it, nineteen American soldiers would still be alive. The commander of the four-man SEAL team, Lt. Michael P. Murphy, has been posthumously awarded the Navy Medal of Honor. It is hard to imagine anything more appropriate. These men valorously and quite directly gave their lives for no other objective purpose than to preserve the honor, the integrity, the basic goodness of America. What we do both reflects and makes us into what we are. Heaven help us if we alter our rules of engagement – Heaven help us that we have already altered our rules of interrogation – in such a way as to dishonor the sacrifice made by these men.

(Cross-posted at What’s Wrong With the World)

You Can’t Fool Mother Nature

October 11, 2007 § 3 Comments

“Judge” and “legislator” are natural categories.

Man is a social animal, and as a social animal it becomes necessary for man situated in a community to be subject to the authority of other men. One function of that authority is to choose as a prudential matter what general rules from among all possible morally licit rules are to apply to the particular community: this is the natural function of legislator, who establishes positive law. Another function is to apply and enforce the law (positive rules resting on natural law) in particular cases: this is the natural function of judge or magistrate coupled with police and penitential enforcement arms. These latter supportive roles can be (but are not necessarily in all cases) coordinated under executive leadership.

These are natural functions which arise in every community of sufficient size and scope. The legislator decides that we will drive on the right; the judge assesses a fine from Harry for failing to do so. These functions may be shared by the same body or person, or may be divided among different functionaries and jurisdictions in a given government, and may be entangled with each other for various prudential or accidental reasons either explicitly or implicitly. But the fact that particular choices are made by men about division of labor or allocation of authority does not imply that the legislative and judicial functions are themselves intrinsically positive creations of the will of men. They are not. The role of judge and the role of legislator are natural roles, and they cannot be arbitrarily shaped by men to be whatever men choose to assert them to be.

“Conservative” judicial positivism (equivocally going under the name of “originalism”, which is often positivist in character but is not necessarily so) seems to me to have arisen as a contingent historical matter. Because of the fact that the Supreme Court has taken upon itself broad powers of judicial review of all legislation, it has inserted itself into the natural legislative process: the process of making positive rules which apply to everyone, as distinct from the process of applying the law to particular cases. As a result the SCOTUS de facto holds not merely supreme judicial but supreme legislative power; and in well-founded terror of the tyrannical implications and historical particular abuses of this, conservatives invoke judicial positivism as an incantation intended to contain that power.

But positivism isn’t going to help, in the long run. Judicial positivism may as a local contingent historical matter delay or hamper various tyrannies; but in the long run it is guaranteed to turn on its would-be trainers and eat them. Because at least in the long run, you can’t fool Mother Nature.

Absolution by Positivist Political Theory

October 11, 2007 § Leave a comment

One of the more interesting points about the politicians-and-Communion controversy was made by Paul Zummo (Cranky Con) in the comments at Res Publica et Cetera. Paul writes:

The more I reflect on this debate it seems that our responses will be shaped by our own theories of government. Those of us who believe that Supreme Court Justices ought to interpret the Constitution according to an originalist understanding, AND that legislators ought to be Burkean agents that vote based on their own personal deliberation might argue that legislators are freer to act and as such more susceptible to being denied the sacraments.

I tend to think – that is to say, I assert vehemently – that positivist theories of constrained action are not exculpatory: that a politician is not licensed to do wrong simply because his theory of government, if he adheres to it in a particular case or on a particular question, constrains him to a choice of evils.

This, in addition to my own natural law understanding of politics, is why I think there is no excuse for Judge Roberts’ declaration during his appellate confirmation hearing that Roe vs Wade is “settled law” and that “[t]here’s nothing in [his] personal views that would prevent [him] from fully and faithfully applying that precedent.” Those who attempt to justify that statement attempt to do so on the basis of an appeal to political theory. But no appeal to political theory can justify formal cooperation with evil, and expressing an intention to fully and faithfully enforce Roe is formal cooperation with evil.

“Personally opposed, but…” is never exculpatory. Don’t even start.

This Is Going To Hurt Me A Lot More Than It Is Going To Hurt You

October 10, 2007 § 17 Comments

Recent discussions about denying Communion to various politicians as punishment for their objectively wicked and very public acts have reinforced my impression that we have lost perspective on what it means to punish the guilty.

The primary purpose of punishment is always to correct the guilty party himself, and to redress the particular wrong he has done. Treating punishment as if it were primarily about political effects or preventing scandal or whatever is completely wrongheaded, in my understanding. Deterrent and other positive political effects of punishment are salutary to the extent they are side effects of punishment, but when punishment becomes about the side effects it isn’t punishment anymore. Licit punishment of a guilty party is always the best we can do for the punished person himself: even executing a murderer, when it is licit, represents the best we can do for the guilty party himself. Licit punishment always proceeds from charity, and never uses a person (not even a guilty person) as nothing but a means to some (however laudible) end.

So when we ask a question like “should John Kerry be denied Communion?” the proper formulation of the question is “would it be objectively good for John Kerry himself if he were denied Communion?” Doubtless there is plenty of controversy wrapped up in answering that question; but at least it is the right question.

A Rising Tide Drowns Short People

October 5, 2007 § 2 Comments

An interesting discourse on the economics of globalization.

(HT: A Thinking Reed)

Meat Market

October 4, 2007 § 2 Comments

Speaking of keeping the wolves away from the cattle, The New Atlantis brings us this eye-opening book review by Cheryl Miller.

She asks too whether feminists’ commitment to equality and “social justice” is compatible with the eugenic possibilities of ART [assisted reproductive technologies – ed.], particularly the way clinics divide women into the different “categories” of donors and surrogates. “Most surrogates I come across are not typical donor caliber as far as looks, physical features, or education,” one doctor explains. “Most egg donors are smart young girls doing it for the money to pay for college. Most surrogates are—you know, they need the money; they’re at home with four kids—of a lower socioeconomic class.” Or as another physician more succinctly explains the value of this “breeder class” of women: “Moo.”

Note to self: when someone says

“[I]t is insufficient to consider only the welfare of the child, which cannot, in any case, be isolated from that of the parent. Thus the primary concern should be for the welfare of the family as a whole.”

… what he means is …

“The most important thing is fulfilling the narcissistic desires of adults. If we have to feed a few untermensch children, sperm donors, and breeder-women into a meat grinder in order to carry out the will of the free and equal superman, so be it.”

(Cross-posted to Whats Wrong With the World)

Who’s Your Daddy?

October 2, 2007 § 15 Comments

Donor-conceived babies aren’t babies anymore, and more evidence that Mary Eberstadt was right that Eminem is right:

Around this time, my mother and I moved in with a friend and — along with several other teenagers, one infant and some other adults — lived with her for nearly a year. I went through a teenage anger stage; I would stay in my room, listening to Avril Lavigne and to Eminem’s lyrics of broken homes and broken people. I felt broken, too. All the other teenagers in the house had problems with their dads. I would sit with them through tears during various rough times, and then I’d go back to my room and listen to some more Eminem. I was angry, too, and angry that I had nowhere to direct my anger.

(HT: Stony Creek Digest)

Where Am I?

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